Does writing upon reflection yield better results than writing on the spot? Do you over think, or become too emotional in that your writing may become biased or overly sentimental? Recently, I visited an old University friend, and its one of those friendships that you can pick up instantly despite not having seen each other for a couple of decades. That kind of familiarity was comfy, but also got me thinking about how our lives are now after our hey days at University. It made me pause and think about what I had done, what I wished I had done, and what I think I ought to be doing now.
I’d gone to visit with a few writing projects in hand, but as ever when I arrived things changed. Actually what changed my perspective and I was more pensive after we did a video chat with an old housemate together who has cancer, I reflected upon our carefree days and how their lives and mine had turned out. One is divorced with two teenagers and cancer, and the other is a deputy head married to an old boyfriend she bumped into when she returned to her hometown. Then there is me who was one of the clever ones where I was expected to do great things, but with no defined career still. The thing is when you love writing, you don’t want it to be a career because it’s simply part of who you are.
Did I lose my path or am I still trying to find it? I can’t compare myself to my friends who valued security more than their dreams. They both seem content, and I realize that it I have not changed that much. A little scarred in places, but fundamentally I am the same person with the same values and morals as I was in my early twenties.
I didn’t write much while I was there, and instead I mourned my past because I was far too serious and didn’t take time to enjoy myself back then. It was a time when you think being 25 is old, and in reality it’s actually when you are just starting to grow up. It was easy going shopping together; she went to look at clothes for her daughter and I looked at buying more black leggings in the sale. We used to go shopping in the local high street when we lived together every week, and it was like old times. She even threw a strop when her mum wanted to pay for her own things in the grocery store, and again it was something I was used to, and felt normal. Being around her I was 100% myself again, and that gave me time to look at the real me. That may sound weird, but when you are with people where you don’t have to be so conscious of what you do or say, it’s actually very liberating.
Reflecting means you can be more objective, but then again you can pause perhaps a little too long. When the weekend was over, reality hit when she had to go back to work and I spent the day traveling home. Regret is the wrong word for I don’t feel regret for the things I missed out on, but more annoyed that I didn’t live for the moment, and tried to plan too much to get things perfect.
Listening to our cancer striken pal on a video chat took us back a couple of decades where we discovered she had bulimia because we couldn’t find any plates in the kitchen. We found them all under her bed, and she had addiction issues back then (and we tried to help), but they followed her for the next couple of decades where she can now face them. We were sad, because we did try to help back then, but there was only so much we could do. My friend and I reflected, wondering if we could have done more back then. The truth is we couldn’t have, but that doesn’t stop you thinking what else you could have done. This is what I mean about reflective over thinking. It can get melancholy, and can make you stop too long to think and thus not write. Yet it has some purpose because we can write with a complete picture.
The familiarity was comfortable, but with it came a slow and resigned sense of melancholia where I stopped to think about what I had done in the last two decades. Had I achieved what I had wanted? I am nowhere near, and I see my peers settled and content whereas I am still meandering.. What have I actually done, and was any of it what I wanted or did it just happen by chance?
I haven’t actually written much in the past two weeks whilst reflecting upon this, and what I realize is that time and life is so transient in that we must live for the now, write in the present rather than think I will sit and write for a few hours. My visit was to reinvigorate me, yet I returned a little sad in the realization that I have let society dictate my path, and I was aware of it all this time, but now I wonder what can I do about that?