Dusting a crammed shelf next to my desk, my working copy of Trapped falls to the floor and I pick it up and open it.
It is unexpected reading; and I am scared, not because, as used to be the case, I am anxious about finding grammar glitches and typos, but because I wonder now, how I will feel about the writing, and the experiences after so long. Have they finally left me and gone away to a dignified retirement? Am I encouraged by what I read?
I’m baffled and bemused to discover that it still makes my eyes water; and I notice in the midst of what was always an appeal for help, the acres of time I wasted. Even as an adolescent, I was aware of that wasted time and regretted it; but now, I think, Why did I accept it? How the Hell did I tolerate it?
The answer, like these questions that have sat up and beg me to pay attention, lies I suspect in the discipline and open-ness to truth that is forced on me by getting older. There is something about being young, that feeling of having all the time in the world, that gives us permission to sit and wait. That sense of timelessness which we can squander is often characterised as the joyous, endless horizon of youth, the notion that anything is possible. And so it is, providing we take the chance to do something. Or else, it can become a field of endless, formless regrets.
Inevitably, the field narrows as we get older, until our demise ceases to be a remote probability and becomes an urgent motivator: It’s got to be now or never! While young, I accepted my situation because I could see no way to get out of it, and I tolerated it, because there was no choice. I had neither the type of Georgette Heyer character nor the energy to defy expectations by leaping up and eloping. Nor, in fact, did I have any idea what I would rather do. Oh, yes, of course I knew I wanted to get away, and dreaming of escape has always been a favourite fantasy, but after the escape, what then? That was always the stumbling block.
Thanks for reading.