get what you’re given

This Christmas I laid out a mission to be slightly better around my parents, when it was just me, them and the dog.  Try to be a less objectionable, surly teenager, I told myself.  It can’t be hard.  While my brother frowns upon this behaviour as he finds it easy to act, be cheerful and upbeat, which shouldn’t be all that hard for him – looking from the outside at his beautiful family and life, it’s also not too uncommon to regress to former selves like this.

Many do it, a self-fulfilling prophecy, almost what’s expected of you.  In a podcast interview I listened to recently the successful Hollywood actor, Michael Sheen, from a small south Wales town of Port Talbot, confessed the same.  It happens a lot, so I’ve never significantly beaten myself up for it.  But it was still no reason not to try and be better.

And be better was, I think, what I achieved.  In fact, I was given fairly solid evidence of it by overhearing my Mum comment to my Dad, “he’s better company this year.”

Er, thanks Mum.  Success!

Recent exposure to horrible, tragic and traumatic real life stories enforces perspective too.  Look what you have around you; your family unit, your generally fit and healthy parents, your brother and his gorgeous kids and nice wife.  So you don’t see any of them all that often.  So they all have their quirks and oddities, some of which perhaps you wish they didn’t.  Who doesn’t?  You have tons.  It’s about learning to accept all of them as you get older, appreciate them – they’re less likely to change; care less, grieve less about stuff you don’t have.

It reinforced a belief and personal paradox: that it’s important to surround yourself with people, if you possibly can.  I was reminded of this again last night, after a curry and beers with my oldest school-friends, most of whom I only see a handful of times a year at most, but we all click back into our roles, helped by the large slabs of shared experience.  Humans are what matters.

And yet, here comes the paradox, I don’t like lots of them.  In fact I take an instant dislike to many.  I live and work very much alone so could legitimately be labelled a sad loner.  Despite the fact that I think humans are very important.

No, I don’t understand either.

This is beginning to sound like a slightly embarrassing, sanctimonious sermon borne of an unspectacular but perfectly pleasant seasonal period of reconciliation and acceptance – as well as a dash of broader perspective.  I’m sure I’ll be moaning and whining about the usual things before too long.


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