Where the past can explain nothing


“All we really want is to get to the point where the past can explain nothing about us and we can get on with life.”
Richard Ford; The Sportswriter – Bloomsbury, 1986, p.21

I was drawn to this book by the blurb on the cover which told me it was about a bloke who was entering his own midlife journey and I have found much to like about the way it is written and some parallels with my own.

The sentence I quote above struck a particular chord with me because since I stumbled unknowingly onto this path I have spent a great deal of time pondering the long distant past. There are many events that lead us to where we are now and in the natural evaluation that comes with a midlife episode we spend a lot of time pondering the wotifs.

For me there are many that are a direct consequence of childhood – wotif my Dad didn’t drink to excess, wotif he had not had an affair, wotif Uncle Arthur didn’t die as a comparatively young man, wotif Dad had not had to work two jobs or if agoraphobia had not set in? Wotif I hadn’t joined the police force, or if I didn’t leave the police force when I did? Wotif the business I bought into had not failed? I could go on forever and of course the answers are moot anyway because all of these things did happen and all of them have made me what I am today.

I am not an angel. I am doing my best to put regrets behind me and not to dwell too much on things I can no longer change. Easier said than done.

I was told a couple of years ago that I appeared to be depressed and that I should see someone about it – I did and the diagnosis was that I wasn’t, which I already knew anyway. What I did find, however, was that there was much about my life with which I was dissatisfied and in being unhappy I was withdrawing and making those around me unhappy as well. I regret that but again I cannot change it.

It is very hard to forgive yourself for so many things when you spend so much time dwelling on the past, so like Frank Bascombe, the sportswriter, I look forward to the time when the past will reveal no more.

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