I do not seem to have a great range of emotions. I can do anger and self-righteousness (though I would rather avoid both but the former seems to come to me particularly easily), frustration, and sadness fairly well I would say and I am trying to put out appreciation (enthusiasm possibly?) nowadays but things like happiness, joy and love are a bit of a mystery (yep, Valentine’s day seems like a commercial venture to me I’m afraid). I do care though, deeply it would seem, though it would be through actions rather than words which doesn’t suit everyone.
Recently I have been watching a bit of television and twice I found myself crying triggered by what I was watching at the time. The first was whilst watching Cold Feet. I think there were four seasons of this popular BBC drama in the eighties which though I enjoyed I didn’t avidly follow so I probably missed most of them. Last year though, there was a reunion series which also proved very popular. My wife enjoyed watching the new series and thought we could watch it together but somehow this failed and instead I got the entire five series as a Christmas present. My wife and I have committed to watching an episode today every Friday night but so far we have managed two episodes in two months which can be considered rather slow progress compared to the binge watching of programmes now possible with catch-up.
At the end of the first episode of the first season, one of the three couples has a baby and it is lying in its cot whilst both the other couples take it in turn to peep in and admire it. One of the couples already has a toddler and seeing the new born, seems to trigger a desire to have another child. The other couple have been together a year and recently decided to find a flat to share, the new-born seems to trigger a desire to commit to having children together in this pair. As a parent myself, I shed tears for different reasons. I am the kind of guy that loves new born babies, I will hold and jiggle a baby for hours (preferable to eighties synth music) until they fall asleep and we can both snooze together on the sofa. Just writing those words brings a smile to myself, I can be content with a baby (though “red-tomato face” screaming is not a pleasant experience for anyone).
I shed tears for the baby because I missed those days of having a newborn. No I’m not getting broody, I definitely do not want anymore dependent children in my life though I do think a child once-removed might be nice (less responsibility). It wasn’t just missing my babies though, it was also missing my children fall stop. My older two kids are away making new homes and carving out new lives for themselves and quite simply I miss them. My youngest is still at home, though she is also quite rightly separating from her parents and will soon also be gone. I guess I shed tears because not only do I miss my children but I also miss being needed by them. Somehow my children validated me as a somebody, I was needed and I made a difference, but perhaps more importantly I knew I was needed and made a difference to their lives.
Now I do know that I am needed and make a difference to other people’s lives, my wife most obviously, but somehow that doesn’t validate me in the same way. It doesn’t seem so important to me which is rather a shame really though perhaps working away at appreciation will change that slowly. This leads me onto the second time I shed a tear or two. We were watching another BBC programme called “Back in Black” which was a tribute programme made by fans of the writer Terry Pratchett who died 11 months ago now. I found it an interesting programme because it gave me insights into the inspiration that Pratchett gave his fans but also for the support he gave.
In particular, the first interview he gave was to a teenager called Neil Gaiman and they became friends and Pratchett encourage Gaiman to write by co-authoring his first book. Gaiman is now a respected author in his own right and continued being a good friend to the end of Pratchett’s life despite seeing his mentor diminish through Alzheimer’s Disease. There was a scene when Gaiman spoke about his anguish at Pratchett’s death and how much he missed his friend. His face contorted for a few seconds with his grief and he reminded me of an upset teenager overcome by feelings. I guess it touched my own experiences of grief when I was a teenager and my grandfather died but also of when as a young father of two my own father died. Grief seems to be another emotion I understand.
One of the other things I learnt about Terry Pratchett was that his bristled against unjust things and he channelled the anger he felt into writing. What a wonderful thing to do I thought, to be able to channel something as powerful as anger into something as entertaining and inspiring as Pratchett’s novels. Would it be possible for me to do the same thing? Could using the dark side be a force for the light (to get carried away with Star Wars metaphors, to which the answer would be no if I understand Yoda correctly)?
I suppose I have written when I’ve been angry, though it isn’t the type of stuff that I would put up on the internet because it tends to be focused on individuals, so perhaps then I need to find a more general thing to be angry about? I think the problem though is that I’ve spent too long containing my anger and dissipating it through understanding, explaining it away, as I said at the start, I don’t do emotion very well. I can feel anger no problem, but showing it tends to be rather explosive due to too much containment I suppose; perhaps I could reduce the pressure cooker’s weights and make use of the gentle pressure release to power something. I wonder if I would be any good at writing satire?