Hi J.C. I know it’s been a while.
I mean, how long has it been since we talked?
Eight, nine years maybe?
Look, I know what you’re thinking, OK, so let me set you straight.
I’m not here for forgiveness.
I don’t care about redemption.
Like, seriously, not interested, so don’t even try it, OK?
I don’t care that you were never there for me when things took a dive.
In fact, I’m GLAD you were never there.
No, hear me out on this J.C…
You taught me how to fend for myself.
You abandoned me to the wolves, and I came out alive.
Not unscathed, sure, but stronger.
I know all your buddies tell me that I should go back to you.
Like you can fix my problems the way you fixed theirs.
I mean, well done for fixing them too I guess…
But like you, they all miss the point.
I know I’m a sinner (according to some of your pals we all are, right?)
I know I’ve messed up more than a few times.
Not proud of it.
No, don’t start on the redemption shit, OK?
I told you.
I cling to my sin because it defines me.
Every mistake I’ve made, every step I’ve strayed
From your cleanly laid out path
Every promise broken, every lie I’ve spoken
To further personal gain
It defines me
Every doctrine challenged, all your dogma balanced
With heavy scepticism and critical thinking;
That is what defines me.
Take that away and I’m nothing.
Cleanse me of my sins and I become a shell of a man
With nothing to regret,
Nothing to learn from
And no more choices to make.
The only redemption I need is that which is delivered by my own hands.
Learning, and growing, and adapting, and failing,
But paying credence at all times to that oft-repeated mantra:
Was mich nicht umbringt, macht mich stärker.
I’m taking on water.
I have been for years.
I’m bailing it out as fast as I can,
And I don’t need you to save me.
Sometimes I think I’m taking on water faster than I can bail it out,
But I’m still above the waterline.
This sinking ship will not be abandoned.
Sometimes I sit and I consider consequences of actions I never took. I think of the myriad paths I never followed, and I wonder where I would be now if I had taken some of them. I think about theories of infinite possible universes where all possible actions are played out, and then I start to postulate that if such a thing as fate exists, then those unimaginable infinities must surely converge at some point. I wonder if God has a game plan…. then I remember that she’s a crazy lady, and even if she did, she certainly wouldn’t stick to it.
Herein are described some of the what-ifs, should-haves and never-weres which I have been thinking about recently (in roughly chronological order).
What if I’d avoided Gemma Kauffman? You know the story. You’re in high school, and there’s that girl you like. The one you have to have. And you think that she likes you too; at least she gives off that impression just enough to keep you interested, to keep you on the hunt. Heh, “on the hunt”, that’s a joke. I was the prey all along. So for years I chased after Gemma. A few times I sort of caught her too. A kiss here, a lost evening there. But as you probably know, those girls you chase after in high school, they see you as playthings. She was the first girl I loved, and the first to break my heart. She got mad when I eventually decided to force myself away from her. Like she only started really wanting me when she realised she couldn’t have me (crazy ladies – I worship one, remember?). So what would have happened if I’d have decided from the outset that I had no interest in her? Would my school life have turned out differently? What if I’d listened to Lucy Dickinson, when she told me right at the start that Gemma was bad news? What if I’d actually told someone, anyone, that actually I really liked Lucy more than anyone else?
To be honest, I don’t think much would have changed. I’d have still been the dumb 17 year old without a clue what life was about, and besides, after I went to university I’d have left my school days far behind…
So what if I’d decided to stay in Leicester that night? That weekend when I was 18 and I caught the train back to Coventry to see Vicki. What if I’d never hooked up with her? Well that would have made a huge difference. You see, Vix and I spent years together. I never fully put roots down in Leicester because I was back in Coventry every weekend to see her. But I never had time to properly put roots down in Coventry either. So when, years later, Vix left me and moved out, I was suddenly left alone in a house I couldn’t afford, with years of my life seemingly stolen from me. But if I’d have stayed in Leicester that weekend it would have been different. I’d have probably stayed single. I don’t know what that would have meant, but I DO know that I would have had time to adjust and develop, and not feel like the world had been ripped out from under me when she left…
What if I’d not quit drinking when I was 16? I’d have become my father… That’s something I don’t want to think about.
So the final musing is this: What if I had never endured the heartache, pain and suffering that I’ve been through? What if I’d made “the right decision” every time? What if nothing bad had ever happened. The only thing I can say for sure is that I would not be the person I am today.
Our suffering defines us. Take strength from that.