October 31, 2008

All About Nothing

A blank page to a writer or an artist holds the same potential and the same fears. It has the potential to hold everything or nothing and the fear is of the first stroke you make on the page. That first mark is as important as the last one. This paragraph is my first mark.

I have no idea what I'm going to write about. I just feel like writing. All sorts of ideas keep flashing into my head so I thought I'd see where this went. I'll begin with the thing that is foremost in my mind. I'm listening to something quite jolly on Radio 3. The cats are asleep on the sofa. It's warm and cosy in here. And I've got a beer in the cupboard that I keep forgetting about.

Just after my 50th birthday I had one of those revelations that come to you through life now and again. You know, those bursts of insight that don't quite solve life's difficulties but can help with them. Once you've had one you know that it highlights the difference between knowing something and knowing something and understanding it fully. The supernova of revelation feels quite life-changing at the time but like any other burst of energy it wanes and loses its radiance. Doubt and uncertainty can creep in and you might have to remind yourself of the effect this insight had on you. Your own levels of confidence in yourself and your sense of self-belief eventually affect those revelations you have about your self.

My revelation was about me. I recall a poem about growing old disgracefully. I can't recall the title of the poem but it involved things like dragging your walking stick along the railings, spitting in the street, jumping in puddles, etc. The message was really about being yourself! Just because you're old doesn't mean you don't want to do those things. I love jumping in puddles now - and I'm 53. The content of the poem fits in with the realisation, for me, that I could do and say as I liked.

As long as I wasn't being deliberately hurtful, malicious, or criminal I could say what I liked and if somebody didn't like it then it really was their problem. I've always considered myself outspoken but I might not have been as outspoken as I thought I was. I often feared what others would think of me if I said or did what I was really feeling like doing or saying. If it damaged their perception of me would it, by default, damage my own self-esteem or self-worth? The answer often seemed to be yes. Like I give a shit anymore.

There are ways of saying things that can be as kind and thoughtful and diplomatic as you like. It's often how what is said is taken by the recipient that can cause the problems. I'm no longer afraid of the possible outcome like I used to be. Things are never as bad as you fear them to be. I realised one day that I'd overcome the fear of a result that might not happen anyway. That result certainly needn't damage my self-esteem or self-worth. It is only me who can do that.

If that sounds a bit arrogant it's because it is. That was another thing that came with being 50 - more arrogance. It's not at a dangerous level and I can't be classed as an arrogant person, it's just that I don't care. It's part of the development of my Grumpy Old Man phase, I think.

The impact, or causal effect, to stimulus external to our self is a subjective phenomena. It is our personal history, our genes, our primal instincts, that contribute towards our understanding of the outside world. In effect we all have a unique picture of the world and how it works. My picture is similar to yours but it will never be the same and I will never understand or experience it in quite the same way as you.

So I'm getting on with living in my world and experiencing it in my own way because it's comfortable and exciting to be me. I can't be anyone else anyway.

Not bad for having nothing to write about, huh?

And I still forgot about the beer! I'll have it now.

1 comment:

  1. As we've realised, We Can Do What We Like. Right? ;)

    That poem is called Warning:

    When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
    With a red hat which doesn't go, and doesn't suit me.
    And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
    And satin sandals, and say we've no money for butter.
    I shall sit down on the pavement when I'm tired
    And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
    And run my stick along the public railings
    And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
    I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
    And pick flowers in other people's gardens
    And learn to spit.

    You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat
    And eat three pounds of sausages at a go
    Or only bread and pickle for a week
    And hoard pens and pencils and beermats and things in boxes.

    But now we must have clothes that keep us dry
    And pay our rent and not swear in the street
    And set a good example for the children.
    We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.

    But maybe I ought to practice a little now?
    So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
    When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.

    ReplyDelete

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