Smile lines

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I think I’m starting to get “smile lines”, and I find I don’t mind. In part, it’s because they don’t look too severe yet, but it’s also because it’s kind of a victory condition for me. Getting these particular wrinkles on my face means, specifically, that I have spent more of my life crinkling my face-skin into smile patterns rather than frowns. It also means, as I get older and continue to smile, this is going to be my face’s natural look from now on. The lines will begin to make me look happy in my resting state.

This fills me with positivity. As I look back on my life, it is sometimes difficult to know if I’ve had more happy times than sad. I spent a long time alone and lonely, even in the middle of my family. I lost my mum young, I didn’t feel like I fit in at school. I was, informally, voted “most likely to be a serial killer”, and I accepted this. I moped about being single. I didn’t feel like I was just rejected by the opposite sex, but that I was actually repulsive to them. When I married, a lot of that changed, but then we basically can’t have kids, which was another massive ball of pain and hurt.

However, I do have a loving wife, a wonderful family, some great friends, a nice little house, some fun side hobbies and the cutest, most fun nephew in the entire world. And it seems, overall, that those positives have outweighed the negatives to leave me with a smile carved into my crinkled-up face. I think that’s worth being happy about.

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Being average

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It’s hard to make a living in the world if you are average or middling. This is a huge problem, because most of the world is average. That’s what “average” means. I understand the idea that starting something new, being the boss, doing something extraordinary is the way to succeed in life, but most of us will never reach those heights, will we? That’s the nature of the world. For those who are exceptional, it’s hard to understand that, say, going out on your own and just making a living selling your crazy hats or whatever isn’t an option, because we just aren’t that good.

Is it self pity or realism to know that I am not exceptional? I don’t consider myself a great programmer, nor a great writer or a great actor. At all of these things, I believe I am merely adequate. I am an adequate runner, adequate speaker, adequate housekeeper. What does someone do in the world with a range of adequate skills?

Maybe this is fear. Maybe I am just afraid to start something and push myself to extraordinary heights, out of my ordinariness and into the light, the giddy stratosphere of being truly amazing. Perhaps I am middling because I’ve never been tested by the fire. I’ve never found out what I’m truly made of, because I’ve had it (relatively) easy my whole life.

Whether I’m being safe or over-cautious, sometimes I have this nagging feeling that I’m not doing everything I could be doing with my life. I could achieve more if I were more active in pursuing my goals and dreams, but I still have bills to pay. I have a feeling that a lot of great artists, musicians, writers, photographers, poets, singers, dancers and actors are not reaching their potential because, in the end, the risk of pursuing that dream is too high.

Responsibility

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To me, the measure of a man is how he deals with responsibility. When you are put in charge of a project, a pet or a person, how do you react? How do you manage to maintain that focus and discipline, 24/7? How do you ensure that you maintain respect in both directions? It’s a big deal. A man rises to the challenge. When I think of the men I respect, this is exactly what I picture: competence in the face of great responsibility.

This makes it all the harder to know that, in myself, I don’t see that. What I want most in life is to be free of all responsibilities, so that I just do what I want. In my own eyes, this makes me more of a child than a man. It can be fun, certainly, but endless amusement is not adulthood. I believe I deal with the few responsibilities that come my way, but I don’t especially believe that keeping plates and laundry clean and the bills paid in themselves make me a man.

Perhaps I’ll never believe it. Perhaps those few times I’ve been in charge and I’ve blown it – really blown it badly – have convinced me that it’s not for me. Perhaps that part of me is right, and I will never be a leader of any kind. They say the world needs followers, too. I feel like that’s just a thing they say to failures and cowards.

Support

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Occasionally I circle around the idea of a support group for childless couples, but I always end up dismissing the idea. There probably exist such groups, but infertility is a weird, kind of taboo issue in society. You’re allowed to be infertile, and you’re allowed to talk about it for a bit, but if you take your friends’ advice, see the doctors and still find yourself unable to have children, that’s the last you’re allowed to talk about it. You won’t see your friends again. They’ve got kids, and their world revolves around that now, so anything they do is kid-centred. Inviting childless couples to kid-centred events feels either inappropriate or awkward, like you’re rubbing it in.

So, in theory, it’s the perfect situation around which to form a support group. Come along, tell your story, give and receive encouragement, learn coping strategies. It should work.
Then I think about the problems. You’d get couples in their 50s who have all but accepted their fate trying to talk to couples in their 20s who have been “trying for ages”, by which they mean six months. What do those couples have in common that they can talk about? Then there’s the problem of hope, as well. When couples are going through IVF, they’re having a hard time balancing hope with realistic expectations and trying not to get their hearts broken. It’s a tricky tightrope to walk, and it’s tricky enough without other couples trying to either build you up or tamp you down, as the situation requires.

Lastly, there’s the leaving. Sometimes, those couples in their 20s or 30s will suddenly succeed at overcoming their infertility in some way. The IVF will suddenly take on the third try, or they just miraculously conceive after seven years, or maybe they were never infertile at all and their long, hard, gruelling six months of waiting is finally over. The rest of the group will notice when someone stops showing up, and they will know what that means. They know, and it hurts. It’s worse than losing a friend. It’s losing a solidarity partner – someone who was struggling through the same problems as you, who then suddenly doesn’t have them any more. That’s not what they want to do really – cause pain and leave – but they’ve lost any and all connection to the group now. Those left behind just get a reminder about how their own problems are not shared by everyone, and not even shared equally by everyone in the group. It’s also a reminder of the times your friends had kids and stopped seeing you because that is actually happening all over again.

So. Even if there were a support group for childless couples, and even if it works really well for those people, I doubt we would go.

John

Aside

I realise it’s been over a year since I’ve posted here. I’m not going to make excuses or promises. After all, I’ve still been posting at my other blog every single weekday. What I’d like to say is that this place, this other blog, might be more personal than that. Maybe.

Years ago, I started blogging because I wanted to share my life. I believed at the time that I was likely to be single for the rest of my life, and blogging actually helped fill that void. Even though I wasn’t really sharing my life with a particular person, I was sharing it. It made me feel better. I mostly put aside that aspect when I got married, and I talk with my wife about everything, but sometimes I still write my feelings and maybe this could be a place to share that, if and when I want to.

So. Posts might be irregular here, or there might never be another one. We’ll see.

John.

Where’s the scheduled post feature?

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Something I’m struggling with about switching to WordPress is scheduled posting. I’m sure it’s a feature – I’ve seen it on other WordPress sites I manage – but I haven’t found it here on WordPress.com yet. I use scheduled posting all the time on Blogger, particularly when I go away on holidays, so that my blog keeps updating every weekday. I guess I just need to poke around here some more. Until I find that feature, and until I get more used to the idea of leaving behind all I’ve done before, my posts here might be a bit scarce. I’m honestly not too bothered by that right now. Until next time,

I Am Also John.

In the re-beginning

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I’m considering moving here to WordPress, because that’s what all the cool kids are doing. Also, this is a chance to create a consistent online presence under one name, which I’ve wanted to do for a while. We’ll see how it goes.

John.