Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Forward or back?

There are those who look to the past for their meaning and pleasure. Some spend years trawling though their family tree for the detail of their ancestry - perhaps seeking a rationale for their lives from the experiences of their forefathers.
There are many who cherish their memories, knowing that their past has shaped their present. Some time ago Philip wrote about Sweet Sweet Memory on his blog, and the increasing pleasure he is gaining from turning the pages of his memory book.
I wish it worked like that for me, but that's not the way it is. I find more resonance in The L P Hartley quote - 'The past is a foreign country' - just because I've been somewhere doesn't mean I'd want to go back or live there. My daydreams are always about the future - about something I'm working towards, planning to do, or simply looking forward to. Sometimes it's been the big things - like thinking about my children as successful happy adults or working to save for a deposit on a house. At others it's just the comfort of looking to the weekend from the woes of a mid-working-week Wednesday. I'm more likely to get excited by the potential of a new football season than any reflection on the glories of the season gone. And I'm definitely the target audience for those boxing day adverts to book a summer holiday - just the thought of a holiday is enough to get me through the winter gloom and no end of daily drudge.
So for ages I've been fine - I've had the promise of both a grand prix and a grandchild to feed my need for anticipation and expectation. Both turned out even better than I'd hoped. So am I contented? Am I heck. With a blatant and total disregard of the pleasure I get from my present - which is lovely - and dismissing any thought of counting my blessings, I'm feeling bereft.
I know I should give myself a serious talking to, and in response to at least one anticipated comment - I know I should get over myself and be glad for what I have. But right now, I don't know what to look forward to next and my dissatisfaction is compounded by a growing sense of doom about my age. I've always believed in the notion of endless possibility - that each of us can continue to change and grow or try out new things whenever we set our minds to it, but it's slowly dawning on me that the older I get, the less future there is to look forward to, and the longer the list of all those things I'll never get round to learning or achieving.
I've known for some time that I'll never be a ballet dancer, and I realise that my dreams of becoming Eliza Doolittle on the west end stage have always been tinged with more fantasy than reality, but I'm not yet ready for the shrinking horizons of 'later life'.
What I need is a plan, a cunning plan. What I need, in the immortal words of Edmund Blackadder is
"a plan so cunning you could put a tail on it and call it a weasel"


Elisabeth said...

My husband talks of needing to have a project. His latest is to make a table. For me my goals are generally writing related.

I'm sorry to hear that you are having a hard time of it. Hopefully in time you'll come out of it. Can you set yourself a manageable project, maybe f for you it to is one that involves writing, you can look both forwards and ack.

Most of our fears for the future are based on what's already happened, which is one reason why it can be useful to reflect back, to get some idea of where you've come from - that you an use in you writing, too - but not to the exclusion of the present.

Good luck with it.

Pat said...

Writing my memoirs has been a mixture of pain and pleasure; the painful parts were - in the end cathartic- and the pleasure is still with me like a soft comfy cardigan.
I always need some thing to look forward to and with children and grandchildren there is lots of scope.
I don't know how old you are but at 49 I took a rather large risk and changed my life for ever.
It's never too late.

Sharon Longworth said...

Elisabeth, Pat,
Thank you both for your insightful and supportive comments - much appreciated.
You will see from my more recent blog that I've tried to be a bit more positive and started looking at some small memories that I can relate to my writing and hopefully that will give me a bit of a momentum.