“I nearly…sang ‘Bat Out of Hell’ to Bill Clinton and Kevin Spacey but Jack Straw stopped me.”
Now there’s a story.
Oh, the things we nearly did. Think of your own ‘I nearly…..’ Not just something that didn’t happen, but something that very nearly did. Have a look at this collection of Nearlies (including the quote above) to get you thinking. That ‘nearly’ is your subject.
You nearly went to college, but got pregnant and stayed at home. You nearly married that girl, but found out just in time about her kleptomania, and now she’s dead. You nearly took a job in Ipswich; nearly got a tattoo but chickened out; nearly met John Lennon but went to the snooker club instead. You nearly passed the 11+ and your life was changed. You nearly failed the 11+ and wish you had. You nearly died; you nearly missed being there when someone else did. What happened in that exact moment – were you aware of your choice, or was it an innocent split second that changed everything without you even grasping that you had made a choice?
The things we do shape our lives – but the things we nearly do, the events we nearly miss, the people we nearly shared our lives with, the advice we thought about taking but thought better of – these things also make us who we are.
Nearly takes us to conditions of health and hope – and not always our own. When Milton was almost blind, when Newton was moments away from an understanding of gravity – or when a child in the park is nearly able to walk – what does the proximity to such a great event, the anticipation of it show us?
Don’t think too hard about the word – just see where it takes you. Even a small opportunity, whether missed or taken, will provide you with your ‘nearly’. You could detail all the minutiae of the moment, explaining what you so nearly did. Or use the title to explain all that, and expand instead on what happened – and what it led to.
Sometimes, the things we nearly did leave a subtle taste of failure. Sometimes, the idea of them is so powerful that it almost seems we did them after all – ask Wendy Cope. The difference between what nearly happened and what really happened? That, dear 52er, has made all the difference.