Playing small

On Sunday evening I watched a video reel. It was a video reel of the funeral of a musician friend who I had played in youth orchestras with, lost touch with, and reconnected with a couple of years ago. She died of cancer earlier this year at the age of 55. I was aware of her passion for early musical instruments, but not until I watched the celebration of her life did I appreciate just what she had achieved in her (too short) life. This came hot on the heels of discovering that two other friends, younger in years than me but with lengthy service in teaching, were taking retirement this summer… something that for me often seems to be a point I am destined never to reach. And these moments have led me to undertake some concentrated introspection.

I believe I have documented before (see for example Struggling or Stick or twist) my inner tussles with my place in this world. And I do find the concept of my insignificance, and the thought of not having achieved anything ‘noteworthy’ in my life play on my mind a lot. I also struggle frequently with the mundanity of life’s path… study, work, procreate, work some more, care for kids, care for elders, work some more, retire, die. There must be more to life…

My new job, which I started in April, is so much better than my old one. Being part of a team that listen to one another, and being able to offer ideas that are welcomed and given due consideration, makes a nice change. And the work itself is at least semi-interesting. But it’s not life-changing or earth-shattering. I’m not making the sort of difference I long to make… and the hamster-wheel niggles are already beginning to resurface. I feel small. I have more to offer than this… and yet here I am, in another job, muddling along, pretty much invisible, lacking passion, and not feeling that I am making any discernible difference in life.

Added to this, my physical location has recently come to the fore as an area of concern. When I returned from my recent holiday to Montenegro, I was struck by how grey, dirty, graffiti-ridden and litter-strewn my home town had become. Yesterday, I made a quick dash into the city centre to return some purchases, and was struck by the number of empty shopping units, the lack of footfall, and the mundanity of what there was to see, do and buy. Even my own house does not afford me the sense of sanctuary and belonging that I would like – After the challenge of restoring it from wreck to home (see Home sweet home), I now find myself twitching at the ever increasing list of snags, and wondering whether I want to invest more time and money in this house. I look out of my windows at the back and the front of rows and rows of admittedly very handsome, but nevertheless identical, facades and rooftops. And I long for something different.

The very foundation of my wonderings is the question why I am currently living in the city I was born in? Not very ‘adventurous’, is it? I did leave for a while… I went to University. And came back. My first teaching job was on the south coast of England. After a year I came back. I got married and followed my husband’s job for 7 years, living in Oxfordshire and London. And then we came back. And I’m still here 18 years later. And I’m bored!

So, what to do?

Well, firstly I know I need to think this through carefully myself. I may want to talk to friends (and maybe family) about it, but I know from experience that discrimination is called for here. Of course, not everyone understands or accords with such ideas; they will have their own good/bad experiences and opinions; sometimes their own worries will project onto my situation; or their counsel may be based on how this may affect them, rather than how this may affect me.

With regard to where I want to live, I know my parents would prefer to have me ‘local’… (maybe they always have, and maybe (just maybe) that answers the questions and ponderings earlier in this post). But no amount of physical proximity will change my fractured relationship with mother, father and sister… And neither of my own kids live at home permanently any more, so I’m not staying here for them. As for friends… yes, I have a good number of local friends along with many others dotted far and wide. And I have learned in my 56 years that friendships that are destined to last the course will last the course however geographically disparate the friends may be. Maybe I could consider a small ‘base’ in Cardiff, and another place to live somewhere more appealing?!

With regard to work, I am back to pondering how I could make enough money to live, without being tied to a 9-5. Worse, a 9-5 with only 25 days holiday a year 😦

This does seem to be a cyclical circumspection for me… and the cycles are getting shorter. I am on the hunt for ways of looking at life differently and as always, dear reader, I would welcome your perspectives either as comments or private messages! #timeforchange #learntobebrave

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