When you’re a single man in a world of married families you quickly know the difference. For a start you move in different circles. When the circles overlap, as occasionally they will, you find they do things a lot different over there. There’s obviously a mindshift when you get married, and a huge mindshift when you become a parent. To someone like me it looks an enclosed world.
For the married person his first consideration and great love is his family. That’s perfectly understandable. While they remain a part of and are directly impacted by the wider world and the currents that beset it, they are first and foremost members of a small nucleus that is their family.
It is different for the likes of me. Because I am not ensconced within a family group such as that I look outward. What is important to me ripples out from my self, first to my friends and family, then beyond that, to the arts that enrich my life, to the world beyond in which I have travelled and delighted in, and to the national and international affairs which both fascinate and have a direct bearing upon how I live my life, now and in the future. Ultimately I see it as a difference in engagement.
One of the most obvious differences is conversation. Small, domestic conversations, about children and the house, about gossip and the TV shows they all watch and the plans they have together make up the bulk of it, mixed up in all the other conversation, about sport and work and maybe somewhere, something on the latest international news.
Sometimes I think to be a part of a family like that is to live in an airtight, transparent capsule. They travel through the times and ride out the storms within that capsule, buffeted sometimes by the events of the day, but self-contained and together, passively content to pass through the times safe in their capsule.
I can’t imagine that on so many levels. It goes against the grain to be that passive. I would like a family and I imagine being deeply infatuated by them, and just as fascinated by my children as others are by theirs. Like everyone else I want a comfortable home and safe environment, and will work towards attaining that. But I want to be a part of the wider world as well, not cut off from it. I would rather feel those storms directly, sheltering my family from them, and by so doing have the opportunity to act and to be. Likewise I don’t want ever to cut myself off from the things that are important to me now. For me they are the stuff of life, and necessary for the individual to ever-develop. These things mean just as much whether you are a father or not: possibly more so.
I wrote earlier today about the transience of life. It’s so easy to overlook that when you are caught up in your own journey. It requires perspective to understand it. It’s a perspective that won’t come from looking inwardly. And it’s a perspective worth gaining in order to fully appreciate the great gifts life has to offer. The journey is made up of many things, some good, some bad. It’s a journey as an individual you want to feel, and as a parent it’s something you should share with your children for their future happiness.