“Only connect” is the foreword to A Passage to India – EM Forster’s tale of English colonial arrogance in India – and of how terrible the consequences can be when we choose not to listen to one another. It’s my starting point today for many reasons:
- My web access has been madly impaired this last month (temporary location change = lack of wifi = broadband dongle virginity being lost = dongle antennae ‘experiences ‘= absolute, screaming, frustration = invention, of a sort, being born of necessity
- New life experiences (the Imp’s now a step-parent to delightful mini-imps) and new extended family relationships
- A new eye on old memories – now I’m on the other side of the parent / child fence (“good God – I did that all the time- that’s terrible! My poor parents!”)
So, lucky you – you get to share my shallow insights, as I sit here with two computers (the family desktop PC with magical tinterweb and my hissy-fit laptop with all my files on it, refusing to find a web connection), two mice and two keyboards, aimlessly (resultlessly) hitting one then the other and swearing. It’s good to be back.
There’s nothing like life changes to make you see yourself, I now think. Perhaps I should say, to force to you ‘connect’; to widen your world view, empathise, and take deep breaths.
There I was, this time last year, happily imping, just closer to 40 than 30, with cash, time and liberty. Now I have school runs, after-school clubs, weekends in with the giggly box (mind you, there’s some wonderfully inventive kids’ theatre out there – thank you, Kneehigh!) or out with the rollerskates – and it’s alright, actually. There’s a great deal about it, in fact, that is jolly fine, when you’re not investigating the depths of your navel!
But there’s this business model thing – you might have heard of it : “form-storm-perform” – and it certainly applies to my inner experiences (inner child foot-stamping vs. any issues with playgrounds or packed lunch-making). The form/storm/perform idea, briefly and perhaps inaccurately, is that when a new team comes together (a family as much as a work team), they go through periods of squabbling / anger / boundary pushing, before they can really come together as a great team to perform. It’s all about boundary testing, creating, forging, understanding one another.
And with this new team as a background to my life, it’s been my ideas of me fighting my ideas of me! IE, having to accept that I’ve moved up into the next generation, without actually having made it so myself (by deliberately sprogging) ; accepting that my childhood/teen fantasy me being an Imp entirely in charge of her own destiny has – from necessity – had to leave now, become a past experience, because I’m responsible for other people. And it’s been fascinating to watch my self deal with this (narcissistic? the Imp?! “Don’t you know who I am?!”) ;-)
I didn’t realise that we – naturally – grieve in some ways when we change. Even though change is necessary and very good for us – we ought to go through periods of ‘storm’, of chrysalis-breaking. And when I look at it that way, when I see I’m not leaving something very enjoyable behind, but rather building on it, I’m happy to accept it; excited about the future, instead of lamenting the (completed) past.
These are sometimes things we’re not supposed to talk about, but I now find people whispering to me, because my situation is transparently unusual – and because of that whisper, we’re connecting; showing empathy, feeling relief we’re not alone in having ‘tricky’ feelings about growing up, about leaving child-free / family-lite life behind. And connecting, reaching out to one another – that is very fine indeed.