Reality and the Line of Least Resistance
By Parson Thru
“I tried to flush my security pass down the toilet today. It wasn’t a serious attempt, more a cry for help.”
I was going to write a piece around those thoughts until I heard some news and decided that, of all days, this wasn’t the one. But we all have our demons. Twenty-one years ago, the demons took my brother, too. And then there was one. So I will write the piece, or something like it.
I’m a trier. God loves a trier, I’m told. He even set aside a patron saint of lost causes. Saint Jude. When all else is doomed, you could do worse – so tradition has it. The daft thing is that the Big G did bless me with a talent. It’s just not somewhere that most people would spot it and tends to get hidden behind secure doors. You need a pass to reach it.
It isn’t a place that I would have wanted to find myself in my wildest dreams. But, you have to say, it has been beneficial. I remember my dear student bank manager, Sheila, being so proud that I managed to settle my overdraft and Student Loan in short order. And I was so pleased that she was proud of me. It was like having my mother beaming beatifically down on me.
Sometimes you don’t even realise when these things are happening to you. I wanted to be conventional – to be able to afford a mortgage. Pay into a pension again. And so it went. Now, fifteen years on, I don’t know what I want.
It appears that I am pretty good at what people pay me for – not that I get paid a lot. I have previously, but then I took a look at myself and drove lorries for a while, but that wasn’t right either. So now I unpack my toolkit, do my stuff in the furtherance of other people’s careers and receive my stipend. They seem happy enough. But I’m not.
I suppose I'm never satisfied – perhaps I was dropped on my head at birth. Maybe it was the rosehip syrup or any one of the wonderful products spoon-fed to the children of the ‘60s. Perhaps the dentist’s gas – I’m told it took an inordinate amount of time for me to wake up after my second over-crowding extraction. But shit happened in those days, before the Revolution retired to a position of Health & Safety.
Whatever it was, I have suffered from chronic discontentment for many a long year. “Best job in York” my dad used to brag about my trade at Rowntree’s. It came as a shock when I chucked it in to become a milkman. And it’s still the same today. By complete fluke, over the years I have found my way into the trust of senior managers in London and Bristol because I seem to know what I'm doing and haven’t yet dropped any of them in the shit. But there is a thread that tugs away at the comforts – probably the on-going effect of the bang on the head or rosehip syrup poisoning.
I write – poetry mainly, but some prose. I play guitar and sometimes sing. This is the depressing bit. I have no talent. I’ve been trying to play guitar for thirty years. If there was talent, it would have manifested itself by now. People have been kind about my writing, and I thank them. I’ve done a number of poetry readings and listened to the recordings. They are dire. I have seen myself bumped off the list at the last minute, sitting there running through my lines and never called. You might call it humiliating, or simply a reality-check. Good feedback maybe.
So there I was today, poised over the corporate porcelain, dangling my pass. But in the end, I couldn’t quite do it, because I knew my life followed the line of least resistance. I flushed away the amber pool and stuffed the pass back in my pocket. If God or the patron saint were present, they would have guided my fingers to release it, just as they would have moved them across the guitar frets to produce music or inhabited my voice at the open mic.
I’m sure there’s something I can do to make a mark other than the one I’ll leave when I hit something unyielding at speed. For the time being, though, I’ll blink a couple of times, check myself in the mirror and play to my strengths.