I have been an employee all my life. I am passably good at what I do: I have more letters after my name than the average Russian General, and yet nobody takes the slightest bit of notice of what I have to say. If I ask somebody to do something, they invariably have any number of reasons why they should not do so; why any attempt to compel them to do so would precipitate a disastrous series of events. I could stamp my little feet, scream and shout and get things done, but it’s easier, frankly, and much gentler on the nerves to just do it myself, trusting others to get on with mundane daily tasks whilst I unblock the toilet. I don’t have the will to get into battles over matters of little consequence these days.
My goal, for what remains of this earthly journey, is to keep the path as smooth as possible – even though it is littered with hillocks. I will fight when I feel that it is right, but I have a four word mantra that buzzes through my head each time I begin to get too exercised about nothing: Is it worth it? Is the fight worth the pain of embroilment? Almost inevitably the answer is ‘No’. If I was taking part in the Charge of the Light Brigade, I just know that I would be galloping along, close to the back (never actually last – that’s a step too far) chuntering quietly about the futility of the whole exercise and muttering darkly to anyone that would listen about how it would all end in tears.
Throughout my life, trouble has always found it very easy to find me: I cannot think of a single reason to head off in search of it. I never look for a fight for the very simple reason that I have a tendency to lose them. (Losing my temper is, by the way, something that I always try to avoid. My blood pressure – although moderated by pills and exercise – remains similar to that of Jupiter and I do not particularly wish to become embroiled in any activity that might raise it to fatal levels without the promise of at least some reward. Especially when the possibility of taking a punch in the bracket is on the agenda.)
Now, you might think – probably with a certain justification – that this makes me sound incredibly effete. I couldn’t possibly comment – at least not before I’ve looked the word up – but I can tell you what brought this particular spell of introspection upon me. It is twofold. Firstly, I am currently nursing a papercut, suffered during the proofreading process of my previous post (Yes, I do!) and it made me think about how troublesome even the smallest of physical intrusions can prove. Upon realising that I had suffered such a laceration, and without pausing, even for a second, to retrieve the dummy I had just spat out, I decided that I would no longer proofread in my normal, archaic manner. I even picked up my pencil and pad to write a post about it before realised how seldom I actually write in any other fashion. It is almost always with pen on lethally sharp paper (and not, as many of you might believe, with a nice, blunt, wax crayon) which I painstakingly transcribe onto the computer before printing it up in order to revise it with another, differently coloured pen. Minor inconveniences, you see, do not generally provide sufficient incentive for me to change habit. I smooth my own way by following the path of least resistance. It works for me. I decided it was ok. Then (Reasons for Introspection – part two) my wife chided me for being a push-over for the grandkids: that I am perpetually at their beck and call. Again, basically true, but where’s the problem? Grandchildren will hang out with grandparents for a very limited period of time – nature will see to that: one of them grows, one of them dies. I try to enjoy every second, and if that means dressing up as a cowboy, partaking of an imaginary cup of tea, accompanied by a unicorn, a princess and a pull-along wooden dog, then so be it. If I’d sooner watch the second half of the match, what of it? Will the football give me a hug and tell me how much it loves me? Will the football cheer me up without the faintest effort? And if I tell the kids that I just need a minute to mend the plumbing, will they listen to me, or will they bring a blanket, a book and demand that I read them a story first?
Take a guess.