when I am 78: I would have been okay with dying
70 years ago when I was a happy little boy.
Given the choice - would I have been glad to die
(peacefully and painlessly of course) when I was 8,
before my happiness was hacked away by hierarchy ?
I was an introspective child, so perhaps I would have.
But I'm still living - now quite happily again
(and thinking as old people do about my past)
and quite content for each day to be my last.
My 18-year old self (reading Ibsen, Kafka Dostoyevsky)
would have been quite pleased at how I live now,
in the south of France, with a small but adequate income,
in what I consider to be winter wood-burning,
summer cool-breezy, wine-drinking luxury
close to trees and water, still reading voraciously with great pleasure
(currently White Nights by Dostoyevsky),
scribbling daily thoughts and observations on scraps of paper
some of which become my daily blogs (since February 2008),
surrounded by ceramics, paintings, rugs, plants...
Until that age I told everyone who questioned me
that I wanted to be a doctor - since that was what was expected of me
by my semi-medical family.
By 18, however, I had begun consciously to drift.
Even if I had had the mathematical abilities to matriculate for medicine
I would have dropped out - as I later did from philosophy.
I'd have made a terrible doctor - though perhaps a competent researcher.
I can't think what I would have been good at
apart from the home-maker that I am
and played at being well before the age of eight.
Maybe a weather-watcher like my mother.
Perhaps a literary copy-editor. I would have been excellent at that.
My 18-year old self would have regretted
my failure to be a prize-winning poet
(itself sufficient reason for suicide).
But I have no regrets or shame at being blessed by fate
for 60 years: a quietly-creative, shiftless (but not witless)
burden on the planet and (thanks to the European Union)
more than one nation-state.