Given to fly

I got a lift to the funeral yesterday by someone I hadn’t seen for 18 months. She’s the separated wife of a good friend. In the way of these things I’ve seen him regularly since they split, and she not once till yesterday. We always had a good relationship though, and I’m strictly bi-partisan regarding their situation. I see him more because he was friends first, and because we’re both blokes.

After the funeral we drove back to her place and shared half a bottle of white between us and caught up on all the stuff that’s happened since. At one stage she mentioned that I was different from before. Was it her, or the situation I’ve been in. I’m not conscious of being any different, but I knew it wasn’t her.

I didn’t ask what the difference was. I don’t think I wanted to know. I asked other friends recently if they thought I was different and they said no – but then they see me just about on a weekly basis. Someone who hasn’t seen me for 18 months is more likely to notice a change than they will.

I’m presuming I’m more subdued than I used to be, and if so I understand why. We only have a finite amount of mental and emotional energy, and when you use so much just trying to get by there’s not a lot left for the rest of the world. I expect I will return somewhere towards my old self as life settles down again, though I also expect to find that have changed in ways that are as yet indiscernible.

All that will come out in the wash, and some of it may be significant to how I go about it in the future. Right now the externals may appear altered, but I think internally I’m not much different to what I ever was. I’m still positive and confident, though in a smaller, humbler way. I’m determined, and despite everything, remain a great believer that I will create my own destiny. Perhaps I’m delusional, but if I am now then I ever have been.

I’m a great believer in taking personal responsibility for your own life. If you make a blue, then own it, but don’t mope on it – there’s lots more to do. I always used to be a firm believer in the dictum that you make your own luck. I believe that still, though in a modified definition. There have been times when I felt like I couldn’t take a trick. I realised that there is a randomness in the affairs of men, but then so should there be. If life was as easy as perfecting a plan and executing it perfectly without any risk of aberration then it would be a very dull and predictable place.

Luck exists, though you can label it any way you want – chance, randomness, whatever. Bad luck exists, but so to does good luck. Sometimes its just a rogue wave or out of control bowling ball, or whatever, but there’s a ripple in the fabric of life that allows these things to happen. You just have to be good enough to survive them.

While luck may exist outside of cause and effect, I wonder sometimes if luck is a product of the environment you create. There’ve been times I’ve taken it very personally. I’ve always been positive, ambitious, even aggressive. I’ve had high expectations and great hopes. Why can’t I do this? Why can’t I make it so? That attitude has served me well in general because it propelled me forward. Could it be though that over years of that kind of striving and self-belief that from it there comes a toxic by-product that accumulates over the years?

That’s what it has felt like at times, as if the negative turn of events is my comeuppance. Poke your head up too many times H, and we’re going to start clobbering it.

If that’s the case then the obvious solution is to quit poking my head up – except that feels wrong, and besides, I’m too stubborn to give in to such tyranny. There must be another lesson from it, something more subtle.

I’m too old now to change in any significant way. If I’ve learnt anything it is that you should be true to yourself. If this is the man I am then I can be better at it, but I won’t compromise it. I couldn’t anyway. It’s your nature, and it’s my nature to believe in myself and to believe in the future, I just can’t help it. I always think I’ll make it happen.

This is a relevant conversation right now because I had a conversation the other day with a financial counsellor who, after hearing my story, advised me to apply for bankruptcy. I’ve had experts tell me that about ten times now, and they’re probably right. It’s crossed my mind. I know it’s a sensible option in so many ways, it’s just that I can’t bring myself to do it.

There are many reasons I don’t want to. The practical reasons are the constraints it places on me – the restrictions on travel, the inability to operate a business under any name but my own, the difficulty it creates in getting credit/a home etc, as well as the mark against my name. I tell myself I want to face up to the problem, realising all the while that bankruptcy is a legitimate and merciful option.

In the end it boils down to two things, neither of which are practical.

I recognise that bankruptcy is a valid option, but for me it feels like the easy way out. It feels like handing in the towel while the fight is still going. It’s just not me. I’ll find a way I think, and I think I’ve gone this long without succumbing then I’m not going to give up now. Call it pig-headed. Call it stupidity. Maybe just call it defiant.

The other reason is that I believe I can trade my way out of it. I believe in that, believe in myself. I understand the perspective of others who look at my situation and blanche, but they’re not me. They may point to a salary that’s barely enough to exist on, but I know that I can earn 2, 3, 4 times as much. I’ve got energy, ambition, ideas, fuck, I believe I have genuine talent (that’s maybe where the toxic build-up comes from). There’s no doubt I can do it. I’m pretty certain I will do it too. The question is timing: when will I do it?

Call me a dumb fuck, but I’m not going bankrupt. They say I should be weary from the struggle, and I am, but I’m also made strong by it. It builds muscles where there were none before. There was a dip, but I survived it, and now I can go on. I’m about to start working again, soon I’ll be in my own home again. Nows not the time to give up.

These things mean maybe I don’t seem the same person I was before, because they demand so much of me. So be it. No rest for the wicked. Inside I believe just as much as I ever did, and though at times I’m frail, I’m also stronger than I’ve ever been.

I believe when I get it going I will fly. There you go.

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