Tuesday, August 24, 2004

My life in the margin for error, part 3 (final)

In the previous 2 parts of this tale in 3 parts, I promised to tell you about a wee episode of self-reflection brought on by my being polled on my door step by someone from the Morgan polling company.

I was peppered with question after question (did I mention I was there for forty minutes?) such as: ‘what bank do you have your mortgage with?’and ‘do you favour the decriminalisation of marijuana?’ and ‘who will you vote for in the next Federal election’.

But one question caught me by surprise. I was given four options and asked which of them I saw as being what my life principally about. Two of the options were immediately discarded by my brain so completely that I cannot even begin to remember what they were. But it took me a while to choose between the other two options.

(1) A life centred on achievement and winning the respect of others (or something like that) OR
(2) A life centred upon your family (or something like that).

After hesitating for a few moments, I chose the first option. Because it’s been my official internal reason-for-being since I was knee-high to a freakishly large grass-hopper. I’ve always dreamed of success in some field of endeavour, probably writing, perhaps as a novelist. And although my family is very important to me, it didn’t seem able in that moment on my porch to usurp my number one goal.

But I reflected on this choice for sometime afterwards. Had I betrayed my family by not choosing option 2? But am I really ready to give up my claim on the Booker prize?

I’ve been struggling as a writer for about ten or more years now (and legend has it that this blog is just another way to avoid writing – psshaw, as if I need a blog to do that). It’s occurred to me that I like being a writer or having written more than I actually like writing.

This is perhaps because I crave the attention that success brings. And this is the difficult thing about a life based upon ‘achievement’. If you are pursuing achievement for its own sake (rather than to achieve a specific result – for example, to write a novel that you are deeply proud of even if nobody reads it) then you have to wonder whether such achievement is not some kind of psychological prop for a damaged self.

On the other hand, a life centred on family seems to me to be more about a calm life of contendedness, wrapped in quotidian satisfaction. There are no medals or prizes to be won (except maybe ‘Dad of the Year’ which will never be featured as an Olympic sport).

So. The thinking is to relax my white-knuckle grip on dreams of achievement (because, let’s face it, my life is not weighed down with too much success) and to simply enjoy my family, sunshine, friends and a well-thrown frisbee after a barbecue in the park across the road. To abandon myself to a life of warm and easy mediocrity.

And then maybe one day, to write, if I feel like it.

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