Right, I’m back. sort of. At the moment. We’ve been booking flights for a trip to Europe this Summer. London, Copenhagen, Amsterdam and the Sarf ‘a France. Current booking progress is flights to Amsterdam, London and Copenhagen sorted. We have places to rest our travelworn heads of a night and I’m looking at an apartment to rent somewhere in the Narbonne / Beziers area, away from the overpriced areas of Nice and Monaco to ride the French back roads in a small hire car this July. Although we might shoehorn in a day trip to cruise past Juan-le-Pins and join the holiday traffic jams along the coast road through Cannes. Or maybe not. My thoughts are for the majestic fortress of Carcasonne and perhaps the rose granite of Toulouse. I’ve never been a one to lie on a beach all day, then dance the night away despite severe sunburn. My pleasures nowadays are more cerebral.
Talking of which, I’ve just bought a copy of Jordan Peterson’s “12 Rules for life” that I’m working my way through in small doses. He’s a little biblical for my tastes, but his recounting of 1970’s Alberta rural Teenage life is interesting. I see parallels with my own mis-spent youth, but more from the perspective of one of his stoner ex-friends. The alienation and nihilism he describes are all familiar territory. Because we were repeatedly told that nuclear annihilation were just minutes away we fell in love with the idea of a short licentious life. Or perhaps we grew to love the glamour of death. I cannot say. All I know is that I am one of four from our little peer group still breathing, that I know of. Actuarial tables, eh? Who knew how prophetic they were.
It’s easy, reading Peterson’s work, to dream of a life that could have been. Had we not swallowed the lie of the ‘live fast, die young’ era. So many of us did. Die young that is. We saw the writing on the air and took the singers at their word, believing we had no better choices when we did.
We were told we would be free. Free of what? Free of constraint, of fear? Or perhaps of a life we felt ill-equipped to succeed in. We said we did not fear the reaper, but that did not stop him coming for so many of us. And despite our affected worldliness we knew so little of it. Most of my contemporaries got to see so little of this big wide planet before they were laid beneath the sod. Daisy pushing seemed to be looking like a competitive sport among us during the late 70’s and early 80’s.
Am I saying I regret those years, my foolish days, the wild times? Yes and no. Without them I would not appreciate what I now have. Family, a few friends, a relatively good life. A few things ticked off the old bucket list. It hasn’t been so bad so far. However, Peterson’s book raises the age old question; what would I have done differently? Quite a few things. Not all of them moral or ‘nice’. Most of them to settle scores. Others for my own gratification. And others which might have made me a happier, wealthier man. Others not, but we can all be wise in hindsight.
On the whole I’d say Peterson’s book is for those just starting out in life, unsure of where to go. Because it gives you a bloody useful walkaround all those difficult questions such as “Who do I want to be?” or “Does anything I want to do with my life matter?” The questions we all instinctively know the answers to, but can’t bring ourselves to believe the answers are that simple. Be born, live, love, breed, mentor, guide and die.