There is something delicious about normality and routine
Tom - 65. Father and teacher.
How are you?
I’m doing fine - in some respects I am accepting how I am and how things are. Is it a cop out or am I giving up? I’m playing devils advocate.
I’m seeing my life in cycles - thinking back; the first 10 years of my working life I was a musician. I was married, being very creative and loved it. The second chunk of my life I was married to my second wife. I was living more of a corporate life with a proper day job. And the most recent phase which is more than 10 years now has been back to more independence. I’ve taken a degree and become a teacher. There have roughly been three cycles of ten years and this is where I’m at. I enjoy playing my music now more than ever. It’s not gone away and that means everything.
How do you see yourself?
I see myself as a free spirit. I know I have been weak willed in my relationship so I don’t think too much of myself about that. I’m gentle and a little out of my depth.
How do you think other people see you?
I think people see me with enthusiasm, energy and a bit of love. Generous. I give of my time. If I’ve got something to give - I give it. I think in terms of relationships - a bit of a hopeless case, a bit weak and miserable in that area. I think people get frustrated with me. I’m too easy going, too nice. I’m not good at saying no, then you’re into people pleasing and care-taking and that’s a slippery slope.
What do you like about yourself?
I like my enthusiasm for people. I like the fact that I appreciate creativity, my openness and interest in other people. The channels can easily be blocked by circumstances; people, mortgages etc. I like that I am quite determined and committed to creativity.
I like that I do feel young. The body’s still chugging along. I like that I am still amorous. I feel alive. I’m family minded.
Where does all your energy go?
A lot of it goes to my head and I have nose bleeds to prove it. I put a lot of energy into music. I know the ingredients for relaxation.
I’m always on the go. I get to bed too late because I’ve been looking at the computer. A lot of my energy goes into an illusion, I want to get back to a reality. I am not a fantasist but I get caught up in some ideal over some optimistic view point.
What makes you tick - what are your dreams?
I like keeping busy. I do a lot of stuff when I’m trying to avoid an emotional question. I’m excited about music and about teaching. I’m excited about falling in love - making love, a flurry of flirtation.
Real motivation for me is doing something different, making something different. I like to feel different. My upbringing was completely lacking in everyday, routine. I look for that now - I look for regularity.
Growing up, my mum was down a lot. My dad had left, he was always leaving - having affairs. I love normality. There is something delicious about normality and routine. When I got married for the second time - a big part was the routine. Get up, go to bed at the same time, see people. We had normality. I got a mortgage. We were doing it “right”.
What do you think about Life?
Life is about edge, expression, passion, being different. Putting everything into it. Energy and fun.
What do you think about Death?
Last year both my dad and brother both died. My dad died at a ripe old age. It’s connected me with life - it was so natural, he’d had a full life. An eventful life. I feel more self reliant now. Then my brother went shortly after. I found myself perfectly content with life and feeling peaceful. Not needing anyone. I didn’t have that feeling that I’d better ring someone - there was a feeling of calm and space. It was a solitary feeling. I don’t know if it’s grieving. I feel stronger for it. I feel I can handle things better. Then my brother in-law died shortly after that too! I am becoming more conscious of time, my age and doing things. I want to get on with life.
Death is the end. I think it’s a peaceful place. I feel there is a sense of peace and moving on for the person going. An end of a chapter but definitely not the end.
What’s your view on faith?
Faith is essential for all of us - it has helped me. Faith is without the dogma is a strength that people don’t realise. It’s a shared thing, a community thing. It’s humbling. It’s good for all of us. There is something bigger and more powerful than we are and it tends to deflate the ego quite successfully.
Religion is a powerful thing. Historically it’s been involved in so much history - we haven't got a faith for our time. I think the internet culture has encouraged young people that they don’t need it - they’ve got the internet.
Faith came to me when my life crashed. I grew up going to church. I even went out with the vicars daughter. I got confirmed late. I realised that circumstances were bigger than I was. The year 2000 for me was so profound, my marriage was in trouble. My son had lots of issues. I couldn't deal with it on an everyday basis - I asked for help. I got down on my knees and prayed ‘God help me’. God is just a big God - universe, not something poking out of the bible. The act of reaching out to the universe and saying - “look, I am acknowledging you and I am feeling like I’m being tossed and turned on the waves and I need your help”. It’s not a rational thing but then things happen and you associate them with that and you find some solace in the moment.
When I was a teenager I was interested in Buddhism, Astrology and Tai chi - I still am. I think your faith is what you make of it. It sounds a contradiction. We project who we are on to it - it’s very much about us. Which I think is where the dogmas grates a little bit. At times you’re asked to be a servant, to give up everything. I am prepared to give up everything but … . There’s something incongruous about it. The bible is a great book, there’s some great stories in it.
What have you taken from this experience?
It’s very helpful to talk like this.