I was reading Jeremy Paxman’s book “The English” a few weeks ago, a very entertaining and worthwhile read BTW. In it he attempts to define what “Englishness” is, he looks at stereotypes, how we view foreigners, the importance sport plays in our lives, the ability to drink tea by the gallon and most importantly for me right now, how our history and legend shaped us into the people we are today.
The English don’t have pride in our country in the way Americans do, it’s less obvious and very different. Smaller, a little more personal, certainly more ingrained and perhaps ultimately more powerful.
Our most important possessions were our steadfastness in the face of adversity, the classic British stiff-upper-lipness of stereotypes, and most important of all was our sense of humour.
I’d like to relay a story, someone had just had a somewhat significant racing accident, who and where is not important. I was one of the first on the scene, it was a big accident and his right leg was all but severed at the knee, clearly he was in trouble. Medical help arrived just as I was getting out of my car. The driver of the crumpled car was going into shock, but yelled that he’d lost his leg. One of the medics glanced in and knew that indeed the leg was too mangled to save, he looked at the driver and said something along the lines of “No, you’ve not lost it, most of it’s over here and the rest over there…” Not the greatest bedside manner, but perfect for the situation.
It’s understanding and being right for what was happening that was important. While my personal sense of humour is blacker and a little more twisted than most, the above was what the moment called for.
I have a strong identity that is rooted in where I come from and that’s formed a lot of who I am. Over the last couple of years I’ve lost or compromised a lot of what I believed, and for that I am truly sorry.
Last fall something happened, a line was crossed and I don’t think can ever go back. That moment drove a lot of anguish, a lot of compromise and a number of bad decisions.
The thing I’d been most fearful of happened, I’d been told it never would, but it did and it changed the way in which I dealt with some people in my life. There may be good reasons behind some of those changes, but ultimately they were not healthy.
Over the last couple of days I’ve spent a lot of time being less introspective and rather more reflective in my dealings with others. I’ve compromised myself far too much and in part that was driven by the events of the last year, have somewhat backed me into a corner and I made mistakes. I’m truly sorry.
One of the clearest things I got from Paxmans book was that throughout English history we, as both individuals and collectively have had our clearest idea about what we stand for when the going is the toughest.
Today the going was hard, emotional and from that I understand where I changed too much, and what I need to take back to become the person I know I can be.
I’ve talked of needing this change a couple of times and it’s my blog and I can repeat it again. This weekend has focused me on what the change looks like. It’s time to stop living with my crisis of self belief, accept where I went wrong, do something about it and live in the way I was brought up to. With humour, with character and with belief in who I am.
I understand the situation today, with far more clarity than I had perviously. It’s time for me to do the right thing for myself and those in my life to get to the place I want to be.
A friend said to me a few weeks ago “Life isn’t enjoyable if your goal is to always be perfect. The best times we have are in our flawed moments.”
You were right I was lost, thank you.