Often, too often, I long back to when things were less complicated, back to when it was just M and me, or even to before that, when it was only me. It’s not regret; it’s the typical behaviour of a mind that shies away from real complicated things rather than complex plots or poems or abstract complexities (when it can be bothered to engage with abstract complexities, that is, which it often thinks are actually just a waste of time). Our lives, my life, have become so complicated, so full of things we don’t need, full of obligations we don’t actually want or need. Of course, being a writer who wants to have success (critical or populist) means having obligations, juggling many different things, and sometimes I think the only way out of these would be to give up writing, but I can’t, nor do I particularly want to.
Perhaps this is something that happens to me most often at the onset of autumn, that cliched season of melancholy, but I’m not entirely sure about that. In therapy I often talk about how I feel that I run away from complex and/or confrontational situations, partly because I can’t be bothered with them, and partly because I am afraid of them, and afraid of the potential loss being confrontational might bring with it. My therapist (and I) think it’s part of the legacy of my upbringing, where the feeling in the family was that if you stood up to my father you’d end up not being allowed to be a part of the family anymore. I am still putting off writing my never-to-be-sent (or read by anyone else) letter of closure to my father (who did have some good bits to him, for the sake of completeness).
Of course, when I think back to the days when it was just me, there were complexities, too, but of a different kind, ones that didn’t carry with them the same degree of responsibility that being a husband and a father bring with them. Some extremely complicated situations with girlfriends and work. The thing that always amuses me, looking back, is that I never thought I was boyfriend material, but that my sisters thought, in today’s parlance, that I was a bit of a player. I never was, in truth, and I never knew if a woman liked me, could never read the signs like that. For a man who says he’s sensitive, this is a remarkable failing. And, in truth, I still can’t really read people’s reactions to me. Therapist and family tell me that’s due to my continuing low self-esteem. Perhaps complexities at this stage of my life arise because I am more aware of things about me that my 25-year-old self never thought of nor was aware of.
What’s spurred this train of thought I don’t know. Perhaps it’s because I’ve been shifting things from office to garage, getting the dust of ages on my hands, and the volumes of poetry, especially those of my poetry for M when we first met, are emerging from the chaos of the mess in the office as it becomes tidier. And, as I say, no regrets. I am here now, and wouldn’t actually want to be anywhere else (except for that parental desire for all our children to be happy).
AGGIE’S ART OF HAPPINESS – CHAPTER 219