Friday 21 October 2016

Then, here and later

"It's just I'm surprised that five years on I'm still surprised how relentless it is. The lack of time that I thought would be abundant to do things for me. Dreams of pursuing a dream or exercise or reading or anything else are still just dreams. Even to sit and dream is just a dream."

The above is a quote from a blog post I wrote five years ago about being a parent. How that before I became a parent, I believed I'd be this mother earth type who'd suddenly have all this time to dedicate to myself and my child. I was obviously deluded and the reality was actually years of relentless hard work. While I might get depressed about this and tell myself that my life is slipping away or monotonously mundane (which it no doubt is), it is just one part of many parts of my life.   

I was recently watching Dazed and Confused again, I hadn't watched it in years and it brought back lots of memories. There's a line near the end of the movie though that goes something like this: "If in 20 years time, I say that school was the best time of my life, please kill me".

I don't think there's a parent out there who hasn't been told: "Oh soak up this wonderful time, it goes too fast." And as you stand there unshowered, unslept and with spew and poo down your front, think you'd really rather forget it all, thanks anyway.

When you're in the middle of the grind. The tedium. Whatever stage of life. You often fail to take note of the good stuff that's happening around you. You may lament that it's  not as you thought it would be, let's face it, it rarely is. We spend all of our lives, waiting for life to really start happening. Then that waiting for something becomes life. As time moves on, you forget the tedium and all those good times, however minuscule, are the ones that remain. Spending all day, every day with your friends. No bills. Little responsibility. Laughing as your baby giggles uncontrollably. Watching them take their first steps. A glass of wine and a singalong after a long day.

It's like when you go on that holiday or camping trip. At the time you're obsessed with that lost piece of luggage. Getting ripped off by that guy in the market. The rain that poured down and flooded your tent. Missing that train. All these things are going to destroy what should be the time of your life, dammit. Down the track, all you remember is that cocktail on the beach. How good that gelato in the square tasted. Long hours of conversation round the campfire. When you do remember the lost luggage or getting ripped off, it simply makes for a rollicking dinner party story.

The rise of social media, ensures that we can curate the 'good' bits and edit the bad in the here and now without the necessary passage of time to help soften the memory. We are reassured the good moments are indeed good by how many "likes" we get. And if we don't get enough likes, we can try again with another "good" moment. That scares me, I have to admit. The pressure on those "good" bits has escalated to a point where we don't even enjoy them anymore (unless we get validation from someone else that yes, that's good and we're liked). Then we have to up the ante and find another good moment. Ironically we stop enjoying those small gems of good time. Those simple joys are suddenly promoted to the time-of-your-life moments. Such a lot of pressure. 

Hindsight is always 20-20. I could go back and tell myself to not worry so much about school. I could tell  my 18-year-old self, to not cover up on the beach embarrassed because, love, that's as good as it's going to get. I could tell my 25-year-old self to stop wasting so much money and put something away. I could tell my 30-year-old self to stop worrying and enjoy that tiny baby. The thing is I wouldn't listen, even to my older and wiser myself. What I can do, is to tell myself now, that this is just one moment in time. That sleepless night worrying about XYZ won't matter in 12 months or 10 years time. The small gems of joy that may escape my vision right now will appear later on, like a developing photograph. 


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