Saturday, April 06, 2013

Life happens to the un-canny

The mid life crisis has really kicked in. I am quite startled at how I have become "old" ish and I have neither made an impact, had a successful career nor even, yet, left a lasting legacy. The feeling is uncomfortable. I have missed the mark on many things and it would be facile to say "It's never too late!" because it patently is. However,  I do feel the need to ask the question "Why?"

Why did I marry the wrong guy? Why didn't I follow a career that allowed me to be creative? Why did I not use my unquestionable gift for foreign languages? How did I end up only having one child?How did I end up living on the opposite side of the world to my loved ones?

And here is the answer. From my earliest childhood, my philosophy on life was that it is something that happens TO you. I can only assume that others are more canny. My understanding has always been that life is like a movie, a story waiting to unfold. You jump at opportunities when they arise, but essentially you are on a roller coaster and there is no getting off, or changing its course.

So it was that, like Cinderella or any of the other fairytale princesses, I dreamt of who I was going to marry. My diaries would have probably said it explicitly "I wonder who I'm going to marry". The vision was always a happy and benevolent one. A person would come along, or perhaps according to my mother's advice I would put myself in the right place at the right time. In due course there would be home, family and in accordance with social mores of the time and my mothers ambition for me I would also have a career. Maybe a doctor.

In the early hours when I can't sleep I try to unravel all those questions and yes, the answer is a lack of self determination. And what of those other "canny" ones?  there is no other explanation than they planned their lives, saw their main chance.

When approaching marriage they weighed up the options - quite right. What man would just say yes to the first woman who swept him off his feet? In some ways it seems liberated to have the self respect to take each offer on its merits and reject them if they do not advantage you.  It's probably the only time an object in a shop window gets to choose its owner.  I was just grateful someone had finally asked me. I was the last to get a bra, start my periods, get engaged... I waited in vain for so long  on all occaisions and when Simon finally asked me it was with gratitude that I welcomed this next stage in lifes progression.  I didn't look that hard at the man I was marrying or the implications of this marriage on my future life.

The canny ones would re-chart  their lives when they went off course. They would have enough assertiveness not to be held to ransom over when they would give birth, or whether they would live near their families

The canny ones would recognise that earning a living was secondary to doing something that makes your heart sing because really you only get one life.

So it's a personality thing. This inclination to accept what is thrown at you? or is it upbringing? It might work if everyone did the right thing and behaved well. As for selecting a husband from the myriad of offers (which there weren't) money didn't come into it. I thought it crass to even think that money was an issue. Like being bought like a whore. Marriage really would've been prostitution. You marry for LOVE. Yet somehow, whilst being completely and properly in love my "canny" friends managed to marry someone who could earn a living and in most cases support them fully whilst they took a number of years off to bring up children.

A slightly more tricky one is being brought up a Christian, with a hope of eternal life. The job in this life being to be nice to people, work hard and be honest and have integrity in everything you do. This is counter-productive to having a career. So naked ambition is out the window and so is doing something to please yourself. You might be forgiven in your late 40s for looking back and hoping to god there is an eternal life to look forward to because you just squandered this one on trying to make other people happy. Canny friends heard those truisms "life is not a rehearsal" or "your life lies before you like a path of snow, be careful how you tread it, for every step will show"  and they heard listened and comprehended them. It makes me wonder how someone like me with a modicam of intelligence could have been so stupid to realise these were not just cliches.


Anonymous said...

I love your blog. I am female, just approaching fifty, and I think you have great insight into life and relationships as it pertains to women at this stage in their life. And you write beautifully! I often check here to see if you have updated your posts. Please don't stop!

Anonymous said...

Thank you anonymous. Life has become very busy, but I really should blog more