I am becoming my parents. There; I’ve said it!
It’s true and it’s something I never, ever thought I would confess to in a zillion years. But as I get older I hear myself telling my daughter things my mother told me – and just lately, with my half century looming, I’m getting cranky like the old man! (Better do a limb count; legs don’t run in our family).
But you know what? It’s not so bad in most respects. The alternative is not great i.e. staying young forever. And given the choice, I’d NEVER go through my 20s again. Never! Not in a zillion years. And my 30s weren’t so great either. My 40s, bless ‘em, have been epiphanous and, if what my uncle says is true, I will be hitting my stride in the coming years.
Everyone who knows me well is familiar with my main flaw, trait or perhaps attribute, and that’s knowing stuff. It doesn’t have to be academic – I’m really quite happy knowing trivial crap as much as deep philosophies. I enjoy understanding the way social things work as much as the qualities of good compost, or that X number of actors have portrayed a literary character, or that a drake’s penis is very long and shaped like a corkscrew! Sorry about that last one – it’s a chapter in a book of wisdom I’m currently ghost writing.
I first heard the term ‘garbage trap mind’ from my first editor and it’s a term I have adopted for my own chaotic attic. He believed devoutly that writers must have broad knowledge to be able to execute their craft and that they must seek out and collect as much as their minds can take.
So, I’ve studied, I’ve read, I’ve experienced and fed a voracious appetite to ‘know’ stuff. It’s not enough to just know it though. My nature is to share. It’s not that I want to show people how very clever I think I am. I don’t think this at all, rather that I accept I might know something the next person does not. However, I do like to share, to enjoy, to delight and to make people laugh. That brings me joy. Sometimes I guess I try too hard and it comes across as being a smart arse. Apologies for past, present and future perceptions, although I am not about to change the one thing about my character I do really like.
I’m brought very quickly down to Earth when I spout useless ‘interesting’ facts about something to a much younger friend and realise they haven’t a clue what or who I’m talking about and don’t really care to know. This is where the ageist me stands up and tells me to pull my head in; or the inner persona voice that busily fights against that other voice that I believe is possibly Dad and his determination to always be right.
The one thing that is very clear to me in the last few days of my 49th year (or is it the actual last few days of my 50th year … after all, our birthdays are at the end of the year of life and not the start!) is that I have accumulated a lot of information and I am best placed now in my life to use it in my writing.
My cringe since very young is that I was not destined to be a wunderkind. I didn’t learn ballet from age 3, or music from 6. I didn’t start playing sports seriously until 14 so I truly missed the ‘sensation’ boat there. And I didn’t publish my first book in my teens (like the wonderful writer Isobel Carmody). At almost 50 I am somewhat reluctantly taking stock of my achievements … and you know what? I’ve not done so badly. I have published a novel, three anthologies of my own short stories, edited and published four books of short stories from a collection of authors, and won a handful of prizes with my art. I’ve proven I can do it! Now to get on with it and do it some more.
The point is, my parents know a thing or two. With the growing awareness of ‘the other’ as a child and that I have my own identity, I pulled away from them and not wanting to be anything like them, as we do. But now I can embrace, with some confidence, the qualities I have learned from my parents, their knowledge, values and wisdom … not cringe, but instead be proud of who I am in no small part to their natures and nurturing.
Just thinking about it.
Just thought I’d write about it.
Just the ponderings on things that flash through my mind every few seconds.