Being a sentimental sort of chap whose sentimentality is triggered by feelings of profound frustration with my current circumstances I am often given to bouts of “if only I’d...” and “why didn’t I [fill in the blank] when I had the chance?”
These bouts of bemoaning the clouds in my coffee for not realizing themselves into the life I have always dreamed of seem to increase the older I get. Maybe because I have more to regret or even because, as my knowledge and understanding increase (albeit in small increments), I am perhaps more aware of what I should have done when I look back at my formative years.
Don’t get me wrong. I have much to be thankful for. A loving wife and two healthy rumbustious boys.
But I can’t help feeling that modern living is inimical to my spiritual contentment.
Take my career. Or what I laughingly refer to as my career.
I never aspired to anything.
Well. That’s not strictly true. I have always and still do aspire to write. All I ever wanted to do was write. So as a consequence I never aspired to be anything tangible in the career food-chain. I never wanted to be a bank manager. Or a bus driver. Or an electrician. Something that would have required training or an apprenticeship. Something whose usefulness to modern society (with the exception of bank manager) would never go out of date or popularity.
I was a fool to myself. I would still have strived to write but I would have had a fallback position.
But even this wouldn’t have been smart enough. And I think what I am bemoaning most of all in this post is my naivety and my laziness in not properly contemplating how I would really like to spend my work days back when I had the youth and the non-pressure of living at home with my parents to actually invest some time and sacrifice some wages in order to achieve it.
Because any kind of retraining now is going to cost money and time that I don’t have. And energy beyond my capacity to generate.
You know what I’d most like to do? How I’d ideally like to spend my days and earn my money?
I’d like to work outside.
Forestry commission. Farming. Landscape gardening.
Just something... out there; outside, out of the dull soul-eating cube of the office. Away from the dusty fans of soulless PCs and the subliminal thought-knife of the telephone ringtone.
And years ago I could have done it. I could have still written. I wouldn’t have lost anything because, beyond a few published poems, I was never in danger of hitting the big time.
And right now I’d be coppicing a wood (no euphemism intended) in the sunshine. I’d have my hand up a cow’s arse in the Cotswolds. I’d be digging out the foundations for a ha-ha at Blenheim Palace.
But instead of those things I am beating my brains out against a brick wall of spreadsheets and Health & Safety legislation, wondering where the hell the sunshine has gone.
Well, I’ll tell you where it’s bloody gone.
It’s hiding behind the ruddy great clouds in my coffee.