I wonder who I am following two decades of adulthood. I feel I have experienced lots of things and taken some surprising directions. And yet I also feel like the person I was in childhood – contemplative… sentimental… cautious yet whimsical. As much as things change they stay the same. Is that a problem? Sometimes. I think I will never change that much in fundamentals but I can and do shift the focus on facets of who I am. I tend to go with the flow but recently have gotten better – in fits and starts – at making things happen for me. This entry takes care of much of what I have done in recent years.
I decided that it is okay to just have work rather than a career. This is a controversial statement because of the popular notion that we have to be productive go-getting self-starters. Ultimately I want a good life and jobs are only part of that. I do have to work on motivation but I accept that I will never be an ambitious stress-junkie and that gives me a kind of freedom. Part of that involves developing non-work past-times.
Just recently I have put more concerted effort into the solitary things I have always enjoyed. And the ironic thing is that part of that effort has involved asking others to help me do that. This has had varying degrees of success. I made contact with some academics to ask them whether the ideological classification I developed in the Political Objectives Test warrants further exploration in the form of me returning to study as a post-graduate. For this I have gotten zero response and that includes polite reminders from me. How far can I go in turning “asking” into “nagging” or “cajoling”? I have never done those things all that well and wonder whether it is worth it. I prefer asking nicely.
I participated in Monash Wordfest 2010 by entering this short story. I also attended a number of writing workshops and in one the author-facilitator expressed admiration of my impromptu writing. This sort of feedback made me think my entry would be recognized in an award category but that never happened. It was a mixed experience therefore but one I will try on a regular basis because sharing what one makes is a good thing.
One of the best experiences in asking recently has come in the form of inviting some friends to pose for me to sketch. From those human sketches I then derive the basic lines to invent landscapes. Rather than just doodling now-and-then I have produced dozens of pencil sketches and have a modest folio. I feel I have got more than that, however, as those who helped me seemed to derive something from the experience, which is in turn gratifying for me. So much in life comes from positive feedback loops among humans.
A theme of my autoblographing has been that of my ‘solitary self’. I want to assure friends however that becoming a hermit is the furthest thing from my mind. As I stated here humans make me human even if solitude allows me to be me (incidentally the ‘doldrums’ in that post have been exiled for now). I am integrated into my life… my society… my world and I am committed to that. The form that integration takes has changed however.
Sharing solitary interests with others is one change. Another is that my focus on a civic life has narrowed to desiring to help improve the lives of those who are a part of mine. And yet another is my perspective on relationships. In this most recent timeframe I stumbled into three. Astounding given past frequency. Did I just get more attractive or did I wander into some kind of wonderland? I suspect choristers will say it is the latter. Such experiences enrich life but are also challenging and alter thinking.
Lest you think I am self-deprecating (which I can be) I stress that words in this paragraph are descriptive rather than judgemental. I am a good person but I am also lazy and selfish. I desire companionship but am now wary of partnership with its demand for regular indicators-of-progress towards some distant life objective. This may well set me apart from my peers at that coming class reunion. Mortgages… children… divorces… it may just be all too much for me. I prefer the meeting rather than the merging of lives. But even that is a want rather than a need. To be me and be part of a community is what matters and anything more is a bonus.
I have fantastic support structures… a caring if fractured family… a share home which allows me to balance comfort with economic simplicity… amazing long-term friends… amazing newer friends… you have opened doors for me and sometimes given me a push in the right direction… I have almost had moments of telepathy with you… thanks for who you are.
At the start of this set of posts I stated that we “are all alone - nobody will ever truly understand what it is to be me.” I stand by that but I also think it is an heroic undertaking to seek to combat that harsh fact as best we can. That is what friends are for so expect me to be the late-night conversationalist I have always been. And in seeking to understand you I will also do my best to understand who I am in isolation from you. Finally if I have drawn any conclusions from this let it be known that they are subject to change as life changes. I am still some kind of work-in-progress.