When something you want desperately lies just out of reach, all the muscles in your frame stretch a little bit further, risk spraining an ankle or dislocating a shoulder just so your fingers will close around it in triumph.
That’s how it goes when you want something badly enough. You stop at nothing, risk everything, try anything to get it. And if you haven’t exhausted all your options and your mitochondria then you simply didn’t want it that much in the first place.
I first heard about Calabash in third form – 2005, the early part – and how elated I was to find out that an event purely about books and writers and writing was happening on this island, my island, which I had come to regard as sort of a prison that kept me from being truly literary.
I was fourteen at the time, and therefore required supervision for the cross-island journey. The only family member who showed any interest was my aunt and she suggested that we drive on down to Jake’s-on-Treasure-Beach-St.-Elizabeth to soak up some literature.
She has been suggesting that every year since, and suggesting is pretty much as far as it gets (through no fault of hers – because she reads this blog and hello Aunty, I’m not blaming you).
The fact remains that I have never been to a Calabash festival in any of its incarnations, and I have never overly exerted myself to do so, beyond the usual pestering by a child of a disinterested adult.
Q.E.D., I did not want to attend the Calabash festival badly enough.
I feel cheated by time and circumstance and academic obligations and finances. I rage against a universe that perpetually sets me back in this one specific regard: that I will always have an uphill battle with literature. That it will never be enough to merely want it, that I will always have to want it so badly I cannot breathe, or else I am condemned to a Sisyphean sort of life and my boulder will never breach the hill.
In the day-to-day choices I have to make between the literary life and the medical one where every decision leaves me riddled with guilt over conflicting obligations, the question is never whether I want it badly enough; it’s whether I can afford to.