A Turning Point

Every one of us has times in our lives when a simple choice has massive implications. Where to be educated, whether to begin or end a relationship, where to work and in what industry, et cetera. I am at a turning point in my own life, it is plain to see. I am moving to a new city to a new job. I am not losing much sleep about this it has to be said. I am sad to be leaving the friends and colleagues I have in Bristol and I will miss the town, but I am sufficiently practised at enduring change in my life. Plus I’m excited about the new life I will have in London.

That is not the turning point I want to write about though. What I want to write about is a seemingly minor matter that is of great importance to me: In order to move to London I need to find a place to stay. None of my London friends have a place for me, so I’ll be moving in with strangers. I went through to London this week with the aim of finding a place before I had to come back to Bristol. I expressed interest in two houseshares and of the two, one has responded positively. If I want to move in I can.

This flat is owned by a woman in her mid thirties, who rents out three bedrooms. It’s a lovely flat and the room is nice too. The atmosphere of the house is pleasant, and there is even an excitable dog in the place, something that I would really appreciate. The people in the house seem friendly and interesting, and I’m sure would have been lovely people to live with.

There was one problem though: When I was talking with the woman who owned the place, who has travelled the world many times over and is an interesting character, she said something that I haven’t been able to forget. She was pressing me for details on my work, what is the application of what I do? Aware that this was a person who might be offended to learn that my work has potential applications in defence, national security and the oil industry, I tried to list some of the more universally appealling aspects of my work. It is low power, so better for the environment and it has applications in drug discovery and genetics, potentially opening the door to breakthroughs in healthcare. I hand-wavingly mentioned cancer and HIV as examples of diseases, as if that would make my work fundamentally good, rather than a tool to be used for good or bad as people see fit.

To this my potential flatmate and landlady stated that we didn’t need machines such as mine in her circle of friends was a man who could heal cancer and HIV, by the means of some mystical process that was not detailed to me. I hastily changed the subject. It was clear to me though that her belief in this man’s powers was quite fundamental to her.

Overall my visit went well. We drank coffee and smoked, and talked on various subjects. I got to thinking that this warm, pleasant house and the spiritually-minded people would be a nice complement to the days I will spend tackling ones and zeroes, in what is an intellectually but not spiritually satisfying job. After I left though, the statement about the healer troubled me.

I phoned Dave, to ask his opinion. Could I live with someone with such beliefs? I desperately wanted him to say that I could, because I was running out of time in London, and needed to settle the issue of where I would stay. Dave and I agreed that I could be diplomatic, and it would be good for me to have my beliefs challenged, it takes all sorts to make the world go round, that kind of chat.

Back in Bristol, I am now due to respond to this woman’s offer of having me stay. I can’t do it. I have to recognise that my belief in rationality and science is too strong, and living with people who believe in quack cures for serious illnesses is just too offensive to me.

I could explain further, but I think that people will either understand that stance as it is, or they will not understand no matter how much I try to explain. Science is a kind of religion, it is my religion and it is the one true religion.

I mean that both as a sincere, truthful statement, and as a self-knowing, ironical joke.

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9 responses to “A Turning Point

  1. For what it’s worth I think you are doing completely the right thing. Would you feel as if you need to bite your tongue when having an open and frank discussion whichn in turn wouldn’t be- open and frank that is. In addition it’s been my experience that people who beliieve in alternative medicines etc are more than happy to foist their opinions on you, but not aren’t so happy with the converse.

    End of ramble.

  2. I’d move in. At least not for the long term but until I found something better.

    Sounds far more interesting than going with what you’re comfortable with.

  3. But then again, don’t listen to me. I moved to a fucking war zone.

  4. Mr Deed, that’s what I thought I would do, challenge myself. The more I thought about it, the more it seemed like the wrong kind of challenge, like moving in with a bunch of friendly BNP activists, I don’t think it would make me a better person.

    What are you up to now, you back in the UK now?

    Lainey, I think you describe it right…

  5. Well, after living in a stupidly dumb place for a while, which although enjoyable was not exactly easy, I made the move to the Maasai Mara, Kenya. Which is like a permanent holiday, only better. And couldn’t have come about if I hadn’t have lived in Congo first.

    I think it’s all about having a sense of humour – if you think that you’re not going to find it funny, then don’t bother. Or something.

  6. So how long do you think you’ll be in the Maasai Mara?

    I’m often tempted to go off and do something, but it’s the fear of having to come back that stops me. I was in Cuba last December, and thought seriously about riding horses for a few years. I figured I could help this Cuban family draw in tourists to go trekking.

  7. Not sure. Probably another year at least – well, that’s the latest I could make my return flight.

  8. Robin – I find if I find something weird/irritating about someone I move in with it only gets worse as time goes on. At some point you were bound to tell her what you thought, so best out of it!

    Meanwhile have you tried Easyroommate? I used them when I moved to london and ended up with nice people, and I used it to let my room back out when i left. Good luck x

  9. I found a place! I should really blog soon…

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