I took a call the other day from an old neighbour. We’d had a falling out over some promotion deal gone wrong, well over a decade ago, and I never expected to hear from him again. And yet there he was, on the other end of the line, chatting away as if . . . as if we were just reminiscing about the past. I let the mellowness sweep over me and played along.
As it turned out, the new ideas we then shared looked exciting, as long, I thought, as somebody else picks up the responsibility torch and it’s not my head on the line. I was delighted that we’d been able to chat and resolve some things; life is too short to bear a grudge for so long.
I realised, to my chagrin, that there might be a kind of personal personality issue running through my own life, that this issue might have causality a generation, two even, back in family life. My brother tells me that this realisation is a critical first step to addressing the problem — when we ourselves realise that we can actually do better than say our parent had done. I mentioned this to our daughter, who is having similar inter- and intra-personal issues of impatience and frustration, this matter of a common thread running through our family. Hmmm, we both murmured, hmmm.
In my science fiction series, I raise the issue of a viral meme, pathogenic in character, which threatens the very survival of a community. I’ve probably not given it the right name, but certainly some terrible TikTok ideas have been life-threatening to vulnerable folks over the past few years. But it also makes sense that the very thing that makes each of us unique might also be a kind of flaw that could destroy us. Unless we’re able to let things mellow out a bit perhaps. We don’t need to invoke social media to realise that we ourselves carry the seeds of our own potential misfortune. Thanks for that Will Shakespeare, or any of the ancient Greek tragedians.
On the whole, now that we’re old and rather more mellow than ever we were in our youth, it’s comfortable to live quietly, without too much emotional disruption. But I hesitate to think that that’s all we want now out of life. I’m not sure I want to be put out to placid pasture, not just yet!
I’ll take the mellow, that’s fine, but a bit of surprising stimulus once in a while, something to jangle the old nerves up a bit, that’ll do us good too. Like a surprising call out of the blue from the past, and a revisiting of those old battles, without any contemporary angst besides the reminiscence. Especially since the past somehow becomes rosier with distance. And that equanimity, that understanding of life, surely makes the next unexpected stimuli that much easier to handle.
I’ll try to take the rough with the smooth, then, and revel in both!