Another day, another bout of introspection. It’s been a nice weekend: quiet, couple of cinema expeditions, some nice beers and a whole lot of sitting about watching TV, reading and building LEGO sets. I’m noting these ordinary things purely in the interests of paying attention to what I’m doing. It’s so easy to do stuff and let it all just drift past. That’s somewhat exacerbated by my enjoyment of transient activities like improvised comedy – I enjoy doing it, but I’m damned if I can remember anything I did on stage from more than a week ago – and I guess a lot of the other things I do are similar. Hell, maybe everything is transient: I can remember reading a book and I love the experience of being immersed in the storytelling, but I suppose I don’t remember that much of it afterwards, and certainly can’t call back to favourite memories of being deeply into reading the book. Maybe I shouldn’t be able to remember anything at all! Anyway, these are all fine pursuits, indulging in both the arts and nice self-centering action.
We haven’t really seen anyone else other than ourselves and the cats (who seem to be enjoying their newly transparent cat flap), and I reckon that a lot of the time, this four is quite enough. Since I work at home, it’s relatively easy to go for several days without seeing or talking to anyone else. In general I’m much in favour, and the planned interruptions of work meetings tend to rankle. It’s not that I don’t want to see those people, most of whom I find interesting and enjoyable, but I tend to be quite involved in whatever I’m doing, and it’s annoying having to stop. Most of my weekly human time is in going to the improv drop-in on Thursdays – that’s a whole bunch of people – and I think that generally fulfils whatever need I have for random interaction. Beyond that, there are semi-regular friends’ birthday parties and family events to catch up with most of the other humans I see routinely. It’s them others, the ones who I don’t see routinely, who I don’t have an automatic “excuse” like a nice planned weekly activity who I’ve drifted away from.
We saw a lovely little pack of old pals at a friend’s birthday a couple of weeks ago (an excuse we all seized upon to see each other for the first time in about twenty years). I was rather shocked that it had actually been so long, and I was simultaneously delighted to see everyone and utterly dismayed and ashamed that I’d let it be such a very long time. I was quite shocked at how intense the sensation of being with people I’ve known and not seen for years was. And by the sharp spike of remembered and present affection that accompanied it. Such a long time to have not had the fun and light of these people in my life, and I feel a real grief for what I’ve missed: the opportunities to cheer them along and celebrate their victories, to commiserate or be enraged by their sadder times. But of course, it’s not just me who hasn’t kept in touch – it’s them too. I can’t take all of that on myself. But there’s a gap there somewhere, between thinking fondly of people and actually reaching out to them. I wonder if it’s the same on both sides: “well, they’re probably busy, but I hope they’re well. It would be lovely to see them, but if they needed us they surely would have sought us out.” Yet, plainly we – I – haven’t. Even though I did want them, did need them. Self-punishment, or just being carried away by the present? The more the present doesn’t contain certain people and things, the more the past doesn’t either, and so to the future.