This time, about seven years ago, I'll almost certainly have been seated at my office desk, probably writing yet another fax begging for a proper distributor for the music software we had finally just released. We never did manage to secure the distribution channels we wanted; it may sound corny, but the world really wasn't yet ready for what we were offering, and simply didn't understand just how "virtual" sound synthesis was going to totally transform music making. So six months later my contract was about to come to an end, and I was soon to agree to terminate the royalty agreement on those few sales the company still managed to make, in return for sole rights to the software. I've been sitting on it ever since, and it's sadly probably too late to de-mothball it and bring it up to date and capitalise on the market we helped invent in the first place.
All that's by the by though, merely setting a bit of a scene. I'm pretty sure that at the time my office was in a former flat of sorts, above a stable. We were glad to move out into another building later in the year, it not being much fun trying to get one's head round tricky programming problems while the horses downstairs were kicking at their stable doors and generally making a racket. It was a lovely environment in general, but had its downsides - and I never have been the biggest fan of horses anyway. The complex was just outside the Hampshire village of Odiham, just across the fields from the RAF helicopter base, seeing lots of action at the time as Chinooks and Pumas would fly out to the Bosnian conflict in particular. I liked the area down there and quickly established a lot of friends, in particular from the church in Hartley Wintney.
But then when my contract came to a close in the summer of 1996, I obviously needed to seek alternative work, and my mum sent me details of what remains my current job at the Open University. As long-time or more avid readers of this diary will already know, I was almost thwarted in my attempts to get this job, when my car was stolen from outside my parents' house while I stopped off there overnight en route to Milton Keynes. Such things simply weren't supposed to happen in my parents' quiet village street, and least of all to me, at such a personally important time! I refused to be defeated, though; Dad kindly drove me up here for the interview, and Mum pushed ahead with replacing her car, selling me her Metro, which I ended up keeping much longer than planned!
After all that, I felt sure that I was in Milton Keynes for a reason, and I don't just mean because that's where I happened to be employed! The theft of my car I saw as a clear-cut spiritual attack, trying to stop me from serving out God's purposes for me at the time. Yet for the last six or more years, I've still been seeking. Seeking, seeking, seeking. Although I've largely been happy up here, and have made some of the best friends I could ever hope for, that special something has never quite clicked, to really made me feel that this is the place where I'm really going to work out God's will. I've shared before in here I believe, that I sometimes wonder if I've been thinking too geographically, in assuming that God brought me to Milton Keynes because of what he wanted me to do here, and now I'm beginning to wonder it again, that maybe I'm here more to test and suss me out than anything else. That's not to say it's a penance, as some might joke, ignorant of what kind of place Milton Keynes really is, but maybe it's been to throw me into a different and somewhat alien situation for a season and see what it is that I really value, and what really motivates and inspires me in various aspects of life.
Perhaps it's just coincidence, but I do find it somewhat ironic that almost all the people I've felt anything more than a platonic attraction or attachment to while I've been living up here, have very much not been from this area. Not only that, though - they've all hailed from an area no more than twenty miles or so across, and within a stone's throw of Odiham, where I lived and worked all those years ago now. I didn't know any of these people when I lived down that way, so it's not just "old connections" getting kindled into flame. Nor have I actively been seeking people from that area, I should add! I would far rather find someone closer to home if I really could, but that's simply proved to be impossible - though I should emphasise I'm not bothered in the least, especially if what I said above with regards to Milton Keynes and my "destiny" is indeed the case! No, I'm not moving south just yet, and I'm sure there are more surprises and revelations in store for me while I am up here, that might even completely change things around again, but it's definite food for thought!
The "worst nightmare" scenario though is that maybe God never wanted me to come to Milton Keynes at all. I assumed at the time that the business with my car was a spiritual attack, whereas it might have been God trying to ram it home to someone too thick-skulled to realise by any other means what he was trying to tell me. I came up here in my own power, maybe, even, not trusting in him to provide if it was the right thing for me to do - and I spent a couple of months in the wilderness rather after I did so. But on the other hand, I was not aware of any opportunities down that way after my contract finished, and surely if God had wanted me to stay there he would have shown me some? Ultimately, I just don't know, and I cannot dwell on water that has passed under the bridge so long ago. I just thank God that whether I did or didn't do the right thing all those years ago, he still loves me, still has a purpose for me, and is someone with whom I've been able to grow closer as time has passed. Perhaps we are still at that relationship-forming stage, building a solid friendship, and it will be only when that is done, or as done as it ever can be, that he will really start showing me his plans for me - but I do get the feeling he's dropping some pretty unsubtle hints at the moment that I simply cannot ignore!