Archive for the ‘A letter to myself’ Category

This July I will reach the grand old age of fifty two and the only suit I have ever owned is my birthday suit, the one in which I was born and feel most comfortable wearing.   I also do not own a collared shirt, tie, nor at present a proper pair of shoes.

However, necessity is fast catching up on me and my slight and casual wardrobe cannot conjure up an adequate substitute for a formal dress occasion; my eldest son’s graduation ceremony.

Such is the excitement in my family of my impending suit transformation that my mother in law has offered to buy the suit for me as long a she can have a photograph to blackmail me with.   My sons are seriously amused by the prospect of seeing me suited and booted for the first time, whereas my wife has been overcome with air of opportune purpose, and is now happily planning the unavoidable, yet long delayed clothes shopping trip that she has waited for, for over twenty five years.

My dilemma

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Why can’t I be a casual observer upon the world, a pragmatist rather than an idealist, is it within me to make this radical change and if I could, would I want to be a social and political pedestrian, would my life be devalued, and would it matter?   

Am I dispassionate to the emotional despair and hardships of those I physically associate with, and if so, do I interrupt my own psychological suffering as superior, when compared to theirs, are my prejudices unrecognised by me but yet deeply hurtful to those who seek my compassion and empathy?

By concentrating on the anguish of strangers who live far beyond my physical reach, through impersonal charitable and political actions, am I protecting myself from the truth, that my personal influence within my own social circles is insignificant?

Is writing a form of egotistical therapy, a distraction from the perceived hopelessness of my human existence; a self-propagating delusion so as to allow me to believe I am more that just flesh and bone?

Is friendship a wise distraction from my path of self-examination, by involving myself more in other people’s lives; would I be confronted by the realism of my own drastic circumstance, is solitude an mechanism to avert my critical eye from our own imperfections, responsibly and guilt and would my life be more satisfying or simply intolerable if I was more receptive to the approaches of strangers, friends and family?

There is not peace in my soul; am I travelling the wrong road and asking the wrong questions, or is this the right road and am I asking the right questions because there is no peace in my soul?

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© Paul Nichol.  July 2014

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I have flayed my guilt ridden conscience today,

stripped the stale flesh from my lazy bones.

For only harsh punishment can correct my inexcusable neglect,

of those who have chosen follow my blog.

Therefore, beginning this night, here on WordPress,

I will set out on a long journey to correct my blunder.

Over the next few days, weeks or even months I will endeavour to visit all your blogs,

I will read your wise words, and admire your creative talents.

Leaving my own small mark Paul Waz Here to let you know I came,

time is a hard master; and my internet steed is old and ailing.

Travelling around the world to visit you all, will be exhausting,

So, if I’m later than you expected, leave the door on the latch

The fire burning and the whiskey bottle by the hearth.

Forgive my lateness, for I am nearly old.

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© Paul Nichol,  1st May 2014

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This lunchtime I took my two eldest sons to the Pub for a pint.   J was recently eighteen and O is home from University for a few days of eating, drinking and washing.

This was an important time for me, a ‘rite of passage’ in my relationship with J, for he too is an introvert.   J seldom asks us for things and he is intensely caring and reserved, but when he is the focus of our love and attention, he shines as a beckon of joy that fills our bruised hearts.

As I sat with J in the Pub, talking, and watching him play pool with his brother, I could not help but reflect on my own life aged eighteen, how, by then I was already lost to such family bonding experiences.   My own Father had died just before my seventeenth birthday so I never experienced this kind of physical transition into adulthood and the emotional significances such moments generate.  My relationship with my own Father was torrid and unpleasant and I have few memories which are worthy of recall.    I expect the disappointments he saw reflected in me blinded him form recognising my better qualities, for he saw only his own disabling failings revealing themselves in my adolescent character, and therefore, he disliked me almost as much as I suspect he disliked himself.

How significant can going to the Pub with your Dad be, when measured against all the other emotional and physical dilemmas’ confronting an adolescent youth?    How pleased would I have been to share a pint with my Father if he had lived, not very, I suspect, alcohol was neither his friend nor mine.   However, that was then and I am not my Father, I know am better than him.  Fatherhood is more than a social trophy with which to beat those under your protection with, either psychologically, emotionally or physically.   Fatherhood is an honour.  Fatherhood is the greatest challenge any man can face in his lifetime, a Father must challenge his own failings and correct any damaging behaviours before they are transferred to his child, he must encourage, affirm, love unconditional, share himself without prejudice of favour, listen, laugh, cry, but most importantly he must be there; for a disengaged Father is no Father at all.

I pity my Father because he failed me, and as a consequence, I failed him, and so the spiral of mistrust, anger and bitterness grew every stronger.  He was the adult and should have taken responsibility for our crumbling relationship and taken steps to rectify or to at least stop our collapsing bond.   I know now what a difficult task that would have been; for I was that angry young man, mature beyond my years, disaffected and fiercely stubborn, touching the point of self-destruction., but still a child.

As I look upon my own children, who exhibit qualities of emotional and social maturity which I never processed at their age, I consider whether I should finally acknowledge my achievement as their Father.   For all my sons must carry the same flawed character traits that plagued my early years and those of my kin, and it would be naive of me not to acknowledge the potential for them to erupt once more in any of us:  And I can only hope that through the love, time and commitment I have given my children, those destructive character traits have been permanently transformed into qualities, strong and virtuous.

I have inevitably made mistakes as a Father and now it is up to my sons to recognise them and know not repeat them.  My children give me pure joy; my own Father never experienced this powerful sensation, he never knew my possibilities.

How significant can going to the Pub with your Dad be?   Isn’t it obvious……………Cheers.

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© Paul Nichol.  April 2014

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I have failed yet again, to change my ways.

Solitary habits, etched on my brain.

Social interaction a passing phase.

I have failed yet again, to change my ways.

With best of intentions I start new days.   

Eyes on the future, discarding chains.

I have failed yet again, to change my ways.

Solitary habits, etched on my brain.

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© Paul Nichol.  April 2014

Dear Paul  aged 12

I, so therefore you have nearly reached the astonishing age of fifty, there will be times in your life when this feat will seem impossible, however this letter from the older you to yourself aged twelve proves what I write is true.   There is no easy beginning to letters such as these, so therefore I will just write my thoughts.

I wish I could tell you that you were going to have an easy life, but the truth is, you are not.   As I look back over my past life and your future, I have to tell you that I retain very few memories of our early life, but what memories I do have are the strongest and I suspect the happiest of our childhood. 

I also wish I could tell you that your need for moments of deep solitude would fade and that your family would grow to embrace your uniqueness and in the end they will celebrate your many traits of individuality, but sadly, they will not and your innate need for solitude will only grow ever stronger.

Eventually you will be lost to extended birth family, you will become a stranger in education, philosophy, political ideology and spiritual belief; you will cast yourself beyond their reach in every aspect of your existence, for it is only by doing so that you ensure your personal growth and physical survival.    Your journey will be lonely and extremely difficult, you will inflict much heartache on those you encounter, change their perceptions of humanity and destroy life.  However, your stubbornness, your strong characteristics that others condemn will prove to be your salvation and will eventually save your life. 

The struggle that you must face will be worth the personal cost, for as I write this difficult letter to you my younger self, I want you to know that you will find true happiness, a special love that will define the very purpose of life and a level of spiritual contentment unobtainable without meaningful sacrifice.

I cannot remember if you, I, were every really happy at the age of twelve, however I had to chose an age for me to write to myself and twelve seemed appropriate,  you are not too young as to be overtly naïve, or too old as to have become cynical.      I believe you still enjoy many aspects of school life and that you still participated in the many extra curriculum activities that the school offers.   You should make the most of these opportunities for it is the memories of these events that you will recall as the happiest of your childhood with the passing of many years, even though I suspect they were not so happy at the time. 

I remember one such outing, it is my strongest childhood memory, and it was our climb to the rocky summit of Great Gable.    Four schoolboys and a teacher, whose names I have forgotten but whose memories, images and influences still linger somewhere within me.    I recall it was bitterly cold, windy and the low grey clouds swept about us, but still we climbed and reached the peak.   I suspect you think me sentimental for holding on to such an average memory.    Why else would I need to write such an unconventional letter, if not because I was emotionally weak, but you would be wrong in your presumption, for I write this letter with purpose, and from a position of strength.

I intend to write to you again shortly, although for me it might be a few days, weeks or even months; however, for you, time will soon become painfully slow as you beginning our long, difficult journey.

Paul aged 50