Y. Y, Y, O, Y can I still smell the scent of that classroom, whenever I sit and think of those heady days as milk monitor back in Infant 3. It was sort of a cloying mix of ‘Charlie’, a musky women’s perfume (yes, there was a woman’s perfume named after a bloke… ‘Derek’ hadn’t taken off the year previously as hoped) emanating from… the wooden floors I think, wax polish from the toilets and disinfectant from the dinner ladies. It was a while ago so really… I only just remember the finished cocktail. The aftertaste at the back of my throat has pretty much cleared, and I’m just left with… memories.
I could break into song here but, my management team (0) have a strategy about royalties that involves an exclusive debut tour, and live singing performance in front of The Prince of Wales (and, stop me if you’ve heard this one!) also in front of The Duke of Argyle and The Bricklayers Arms and The Railway Tavern.
None of this is true of course, I’m just dumping material on here that I can’t use on my other blog, it’s called – ‘A Serious Thesis Historically Investigating Loose Limbed Yetis By Inspecting Leftover Limbs of Yetis’ – it’s a niche I know, but they are quite a serious crowd on there, and they don’t appreciate humour without a week’s notice in writing. The blog name is too long of course, and it operates under its acronym… ‘A. S.T.H.I.L.L.Y. B.I.L.L.Y.’ I’m hoping that doesn’t affect the general gravitas of the site I was going for. No-one has said anything yet. They don’t usually raise complaints until the A.G.M. Maybe I get an odd (truly odd) raised eyebrow on a Zoom call, which is quite affecting in its own way; especially Gerardo who has the whole ‘monobrow’ thing going on.
Now…where was I? Ah yes, memories, I almost forgot. When I had that memory this morning, it made me think about that little boy at school, who used to call himself me. I considered, really he is still around in some form, but I would like to think, I am much more mature now….yes – I would like to think that.
I’ve been walking around now like an adult for 35 years or so. I get away with it for long periods, especially with people who don’t know me; like in shops and that. From the outside, I have got a recognizable shape of an adult and, I can do the voice too. Still, that little milk monitor is shuffling around inside here somewhere; eating yesterdays chewing gum and wondering – what is the real reason girls don’t like having their pigtails pulled?
So, I am the same person as he; only I have lived through experiences he hasn’t yet. What is it that life’s experience has given me, that that young boy has yet to receive? As we live our lives we play a multitude of roles; we experience highs and lows, we are supported, and we give our support; we cause pain to others and we are hurt by others too, have doubt and belief at different times, we make decisions we may regret, and sometimes we don’t make decisions at all, and maybe regret that too. We know degrees of endeavour, achievement and success; and only know their true value because we have also shared close quarters with fear and failure.
Life magnified is adolescence. It was both good and bad; fun, embarrassing, exciting, everything was new; the first time you kissed a girl, the first time you were ever humiliated in front of your class, for simply splitting your trousers (they were old anyway!). Was it an adventure, Yes! Was it just great in so many ways, Yes! Are you richer for the experience? Yes! Do you want to go back and do it again? No!
Now don’t get me wrong, all you adolescents out there, you’re doing it exactly right, just as you’re supposed to; yes it is supposed to feel like that. You don’t get the full enjoyment of releasing others opinions of you, back out into the wild where they belong, if you don’t first spend ten years or more having sleepless nights about the colour of your trainers or the width of your elbows.
Memories make us who we are. Not to say we live in the past, that’s retrograde of course, but what we do today is informed by everything we’ve ever been. All the days we’ve ever known, amidst the crowd or all alone, the rights and wrongs we’ve ever done, led here today, which we can’t outrun. Poetry eh! You didn’t know you were getting poetry when you got out of bed this morning did you! Neither did I to be fair. We’ll move on.
People say, what would you say to your younger self? That little boy as he looked out through the classroom window onto the playing fields, wondering what life was all about, questioning what life had in store. If you said, not to worry, there is a masterplan. When fear or doubt present themselves; know that everything passes. When joy and wonder join the fray; embrace them and share them for the gifts that they are. But if I said to that young boy that the fear and the doubt were gifts too; would he understand? Could I explain that these unruly party guests would stay awhile, gorging on themselves, for what may seem, too long. But the time would come, when they would leave; and leave you with something too. An insight of what is unwanted, dark and destructive; but also, an understanding, that is intrinsically entwined through this negativity, which is an instinctive comprehension of their opposites. An insight into, and hunger for, positivity, empathy and acceptance. This is the gift that pain would leave you.
Because of this, because of those memories, in your older years, you would observe an act of selflessness and your heart would spring, you would watch a bird feed it’s young, and see meaning beyond its immediate purpose. In witnessing failure, in others and yourself; the wind will die in your sails in the rush to judgement… towards both parties. Failure brings with it the gifts of humility and a little wisdom, failure to try, is forever empty handed.
If I told him this, would he be ready to understand, without having felt the heat of the fires in those moments. Perhaps not; he is where he is. He is where he should be. So if I had the ability to impress any thought into, this grazed knee little soldier, as he looked out that window into the world – what might it be? It might be, to try to understand, that whatever colour your day is, as you pass through each one, the one tool you always have in your hands, that no one can take from you, is the power of endeavour – and don’t let anxiety stop you from using it, for fear of failing. Memories are how we got here, endeavour can take us forward.