Monday, April 23, 2012

Would Have Should Have Could Have

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 Something whose usefulness to modern society (with the exception of bank manager) would never go out of date or popularity.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.

*sigh*

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.


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29 comments:

vegemitevix said...

Oh but Steve you are a writer and a brilliant one at that. "Thought-knife" - what a brilliant phrase, and your work is littered with such gems. I'm so sorry things are so frustrating for you at the moment. Hang in there, silver lining and all that. Vix x

Steve said...

Vix: hi-ho-silver lining... away!

Dick Carter said...

Great post Steve. You're not the only person feeling that way.

Sarah of 'Catching the Magic' said...

It's been ages since I stopped by. Your writing is amazing. I hope you get a moment to escape the office soon :-)

Readily A Parent said...

But just think of all the material your tortured existence has given you? We must thank the madness, for without it we are far too ordinary to be brilliant.

Also. Hugs. I know exactly how you feel. What say we run away to the tropics and spend our days collecting beach shells to sell to tourists?

Steve said...

Dick: if everybody who felt like this got together we'd have an army that could take over the world. I'm free next Friday - how about you?

Sarah: I'm digging a tunnel even as I type.

Readily A Parent: I guess you're right. Art needs torture and yearning like the artist needs a muse. Or a paintbrush. Or even a seashell.

the fly in the web said...

Set yourself up as a trainer...or a life coach...or whatever the current mumbo jumbo is.

For some reason people are willing to pay money for someone to tell them the obvious.

But I suspect you could not maintain the gravity necessary for the client to feel that their trivia is being taken seriously.

John Gray said...

me thinks you are being a little TOO hard on yourself...
things we could have done better ,in my experience are not done for a reason...even be it only a case of not the right time or the right place

be nicer to yourself

libby said...

I wish I had a pound for every time I had thought along the same lines.....although the cow/arm thing does not appeal to me....but do you know what is even more frustrating? Having a 27 year old son who did'nt listen to me pre Uni and who now is wishing he had taken another route, one I had tried to encourage, because I know my son - yet he has had to make his own mistakes I guess....so I am doubly sad and frustrated.....anyhoo Steve...maybe writing will be the eventual career of choice for you and we can all say we knew you back in your blog days!

Susan said...

Life in local government is pretty shit at the moment isn't it? I don't remember morale ever being that low before. I have never exactly looked forward to going to work, but I didn't used to wake up and think 'oh god, not that again' every day. I am finding the prospect of retiring is looking more attractive every day - just hoping CallMeDave doesn't move the goalposts again.

Steve said...

The fly in the web: I'm like a haphazard asteroid. No real gravity at all.

John: at last! Advice I can follow!

Libby: good point. It ain't over till the fat lady sings and she isn't singing yet.

Susan: I wouldn't trust Pastie Dave as far as I could throw him. I fully expect to be moaning about working in an office when I'm 95.

Marginalia said...

"Hand up a cow's arse". Hold on to that thought whenever you're feeling you should be somewhere other than in your office at work.

Steve said...

Marginalia: I can honestly say that I would genuinely rather have my hand up a cow's arse.

Lady Mondegreen's Secret Garden said...

Oh Steve, all that yearning. Isn't there some way to get Outdoors through the back door? You know volunteer for weekend service at Coombe Abbey or Blenheim or your local dairy farm, and let it lead you on. I do suspect that having young children makes this sort of outlet un-do-able for now unless the kids join in!
I could always do with an eager WWOOFer in the Secret Garden. There's plenty of work amongst the stinkhorns at the moment :-)

Steve said...

Lady Mondegreen's Secret Garden: the kids do make it difficult plus time is at a premium fullstop - only so much time to write, etc. Also, any kind of work needs to be generating an income too... we're down to the wire here and have been getting by on the skin of our teeth for the last few years.

Gorilla Bananas said...

Farmers are unsentimental beasts, I don't think you'd have made a success of that. But clipping hedges and trimming bushes in a garden sounds right up your alley. Is it too late to offer your services to Vanessa Feltz?

Steve said...

Gorilla Bananas: I imagine her bush is so overgrown I would need to learn how to operate a combine harvester...

Being Me said...

I wonder if what this is, is the frustration of your creative self breaking its bounds? You've written pretty much everything that you need to write, perhaps, about the position you are currently in. And that is why your heart is stirring.

Here's a crazy idea..... Live the dream, Steve. Start looking - and being open about looking, and saying you're looking - for a job outdoors. And keep writing. It feels dreadful, I can identify deeply with what you're expressing in this post. But ya gotta push through it! There's no use thinking this is your lot. Because if you do think that way, then... yes. It is your lot. See what I"m saying? Much love to ya, buddy.

English Rider said...

I'd be looking at ads for caretaker of country estate in U.K. or elsewhere. They usually provide a small house and a car which changes the inescapable expenses part of the shall-I, shan't-I equation.

Steve said...

Being Me: eminently wise as always, thank you. You are right. What we settle for proves to be our fate. To aspire is to aspire to escape or to do better or to travel further. Look I shall.

English Rider: and what a spiffing job that would be. I wonder if they'd supply me with a blunderbuss? Get orf my laaaand!

Rol said...

I often dreamed of working outdoors. I suspect that, like me, your dreams are less of the work or the countryside and more about not being surrounded by so many arseholes in my day-to-day existence.

Steve said...

Rol: it's like you are in my head living my life for me.

English Rider said...

Steve, put aside your knee-jerk, reverse snobbery and consider that I was serious. I have friends who have had great jobs, caring for the homes of people (in France and England) who had to work in the City but wanted to keep a country place for weekends etc. I was looking into this myself as a way to return to Europe. There are many variations on what is required and several agencies that specialize in this kind of placement. I could tell you that the classifieds in Horse and Hound Magazine are a good place to start, but then you'd have to get back on your high horse again, wouldn't you?

The Poet Laura-eate said...

A brilliant treatise on the exact same conundrum I face.

Have been so busy trying to be a writer and valuing both it and life over a career, I have a job rather than a career, with little room to progress.

Whereas my partner who is equally dreamy. sociable and devoted to writing has managed to scale the career ladder to impressive heights. Then again he's very motivated which is something I have also sadly lacked. Hopefully listening to all those Paul McKenna self-confidence tapes will help me make up for lost time.

Steve said...

English Rider: I can't afford any snobbery, reverse or forwards or any kind. Sorry, if my reply seemed overly glib - it was merely meant to be amusing and entertaining. Plainly it failed on both counts. Consider my high horse duly whipped.

Laura: you and I sound very alike. Except I am worse. I can't even summon the motivation to try and like Paul McKenna.

The Poet Laura-eate said...

I didn't like Paul McKenna when he was just a stage hypnotist humilating members of the public either by hypnotising them into making arses of themselves either. But since he has turned his talents to theraputic hypnosis I find I have much more respect and time for him (and a couple of his tapes are amazing, particularly the Change your life in 7 days one and Self-Confidence)

lunarossa said...

Dear Steve, try to see it like this: with the weather we have at the moment I think you are lucky not to work outside! I often wish to be a WAG (which is not really a job but who cares?) but considering my age and two kids on tow I think the dream is getting less and less feasible! Ciao. A.xx PS I'm having problems with blogger so that's why I'm not commenting very often...

Nota Bene said...

Have you seen the weather? You really want to work outside? It's warm and cosy inside with hot and cold running tea and coffee. But no birds

Steve said...

Laura: he still comes across as sinister and unsavoury in my book. Maybe I need hypnosis to overcome this?

Lunarossa: at least if I was outside now I'd know for sure it really was raining down my neck and not someone pissing on me telling me it was rain. ;-)

Nota Bene: you ought to see the crows from where I'm sitting.