The Bearable Lightness of Absurdity

Just before Christmas I took a decision to keep a journal. This blog is that journal. The documenting of some, only some, of the thoughts and feelings I experience as I come to terms with who I am. I knew that it would be a tough, long and lonely road. My intention was to record it, and to say it out loud as it were. The problem with the degree to which I am isolated from social human contact is that unless I at least try to explain how I feel to someone, it turns in on itself. Reflection becomes rumination. This is not good. So trying to capture the bizarre and absurd things that sometimes clutter my mind is a way of talking to someone.

So far it’s going well for me. Obviously I am not so inured to solitude that I am unaware that this might, indeed almost certainly does, appear a bit weird. Unusual. But I a unconcerned with others perception. My reality is not necessarily yours. I appreciate that my experience of being a human being has been different. And that from the perspective of a stationary observer my path through life, the process of living out loud (in part) has a Doppler effect. It appears to the observer to be different but only because it is being observed from a static point meanwhile life moves. Though perhaps I should have stuck with my description of “Plato’s Captive”.

So today, it being my 22nd wedding anniversary and not being in contact with my estranged wife, I think I can be forgiven for reflecting. I actually wrote a fairly long piece just now about elements of that marriage. Things I’m proud of that it feels it would be improper to talk about. It feels wrong even though, objectively, I would like there to be a record of things I think perhaps should have counted for more than they did. In summary, I stood by her when she was diagnosed with a serious condition. I got less than 2 months after my heart attack. Life isn;t fair. The universe isn’t balanced in that way. But. BUT,  if I tell you something, it’s no comment on the marriage or her. Just, well, me reflecting out loud on things I am proud of. And I need that today.

She got very ill in her second year at university as a mature student. It was later diagnosed as MS. We didn’t live together at that point but she struggled to complete assignments. So I would finish work and call in and write her essays for her using her very basic notes. She was a single parent trying to survive on a student loan and was terrified of dropping out because of the financial implications. So I just did something which would help. (She passed the year and then dropped out) and I then argued her case with the Loan Company and got the entire debt written off.

What makes it remarkable to me is that she was taking a ‘gender studies’ course. Which was essentially a feminist syllabus. And I passed. History module, Eastern Philosphy and Identity, Genetics and Literature. History and Literature were plain sailing. Didn’t need notes for that. My grandfather had been in military intelligence during the second world war and many of the stories he told were of ordinary life in extraordinary places such that the Far East wasn’t exotic or remote to me. But genetics ? That actually did take some study. It has left me with some odd knowledge. A petent can be granted for a gene if it can be isolated and does not exist independently naturally. For example the University of Michigan and the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto jointly own the licensing rights for research into cystic fibrosis.Just stuff I know.

I ran into trouble at one point though. There was an essay on Madonna. Instead of the hagiography of a strong woman making her mark, I wrote an essay about how Madonna was/is a brand like MacDonalds and the executives of the record companies who make the real money out of ‘Madonna’ are nearly all men. Which is a fairly mundane and ordinary story of how actual power can be mistaken for wealth. The tutor did not believe my wife had the intellectual capacity to come up with this and spent a long time (she, the tutor confessed this begrudgingly to my wife) researching books looking for the source of the obvious plagiarism. Without success. It cam out of my head one Tuesday night at 10:30. I missed the last bus finishing it and had to walk 5 miles home. Worth it though.

Anyway, that’s it. Something I did. I’ve always been one to try something if it’s interesting. If it benefits someone. I’ve done it in many ways over the years. So when I look around at where I am right now, in my life, I am proud of how I got here mostly. I value the disappointment in human beings I feel when I am betrayed by them. I refuse to be cynical or selfish. I gave 18 years to my wife after her diagnosis, trying to be a better husband and carer and friend. From my heart attack to the split, it was barely 8 weeks. It’s a fact not a conclusion. Life isn’t fair and blaming others for that is simply, straightforwardly morally wrong. I may not know who I am right now, but I know who I’m not.


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