I remember buying a black A5 hardback diary in 1990 and I remember thinking that I needed to begin recording my thoughts and experiences before I forgot them and they drifted off and out of my reach forevermore. Most of them are lost now of course because I think I got as far as January 6th of that year before the diary slipped to the bottom of a drawer never to be looked at again until I moved house around 1999 and threw away the poor unfinished, neglected and unwanted reminder of my inability to finish things. It was gone and so is 1990. It’s now what? Thirty three years later (I find I have to think about what year it is now rather than just knowing it as fact) and I’ve never revisited the idea of a diary, save for a handful of aborted attempts at blogging. As I said, I can’t finish things.
Those thirty three years haven’t passed by in flash – they seem impossibly distant to me now and the twenty year old who briefly filled a handful of those pages was a very different person to the fifty three year old tapping away on his iPad right now. I’ve changed hugely but I don’t think I’ve done much and I’ve achieved very little by most common measures of achievement. I’ve thought about whether I can be reasonably considered a failure and I must confess that it’s a fair conclusion. I’d say that this coming year is something of an acceptance of who I am and a search for simple contentment with myself. I could call it a happiness within the confines that life now brings to me. I have a life that lacks freedom, inspiration, challenges, love, friendship and hope and my aim is to walk a path where I can find some peace and contentment within the life I’ve found myself living. For too long I’ve stubbornly refused, I’ve fought against the obvious and consequently made myself unhappy for no reason. I feel like a prisoner serving a life sentence so am I able to accept that and make the most of this? We shall see.
I recently read that a person’s fifties are hard for many because in your head you still feel like your young, yet your body relentlessly and mercilessly reminds you that you are not and the tension between the mental and physical can bring anguish and imbalance. I think there’s a lot of truth in that. I don’t think of myself as old yet when I catch sight of myself when I’m out and passing by a large mirror, I’m shocked by what I see- the image I have of myself in my head is a mere distant relation of the old guy who stares back at me. Having a haircut offers up a similar dawn of realisation for me. Every time, and I do mean every time I sit down in the barber’s chair I recall my ten year old self asking the barber to spike up my hair to make it look ‘punky’ and then begins the parade of images appearing in the mirror before me and my life flashes before my eyes. Where my thick, dark brown hair once tumbled from my shoulders to the floor, now my thinning mostly grey hair floats lazily downward and the barber tries to trim hair from ear and nose in a way that’s very familiar to the middle-aged man and completely absent from the younger men’s experience. I still can’t think of any small-talk and the barber soon gives up after the usual handful of banal enquiries.