I was always terrified of change. In fact I was always terrified of everything. The dark, water, being alone, being in crowds, relationships, loneliness. I masked it all and developed the persona of a cool, quiet guy, unruffled, calm. But beneath the surface I was paddling away like mad. Caught in an endless debate of should I, shouldn’t I? I was terrified of consequences, thinking they would be invariably bad...or troublesome....or maybe just unpredictable.
Perhaps I was a control freak as they say. Couldn’t handle the unexpected so forestalled it by anticipating the worst. Strange, by nature I never thought of myself as a pessimist. Always full of good advice to others to look on the bright side, always telling them that things would surely get better.
Only later did I twig that part of it came from my mother who was permanently tuned to the awfulness of life, whose Methodist upbringing induced guilt from any enjoyment; who had a Hindu’s belief in the inevitability of fate and karma, and the inevitable price that was to be paid for pleasure, egotism, or selfishness. She was a good woman believe me and I don’t suppose she anticipated that her own fear of the unknown, would be my legacy from her. Not that it was the only one. Although my father read avidly, I have no doubt my early love of books and sensual addiction to the scent of must and lavender polish of our local library was down to her. Strange that our mutual and vicarious escape into books was comforting rather than frightening; those fictional or historical worlds were never going to impinge on ours. In fact we lived in a bubble immured from the physical realities of a strange world beyond. That real world may well have been on another planet.Read more