Do as I say, don’t do as I do…
I’m chatting online to a friend, ‘Teresa’, who’s off to Glastonbury festival. She’s a good friend and I like her a lot. She’s also very attractive, wild, intelligent, sexy, ‘out there’ and prone to bouts of quite outrageous nihilism. She reminds me of me, poor cow! She sometimes likes to tell me about how she indulges in drugged-fuelled orgies with her boyfriend, as I listen on with a non-judgmental grin. I am a lover of stories, after all, and she has verve for their telling…
I tell her to take care of herself at Glastonbury, not really because she’s in danger from other people, hopefully, but more because she’s liable to go too hard and then suffer the consequences. As am I. And then the danger becomes yourself and the situations you put yourself in, because you’re no longer in control, you’re no longer the pilot of the plane – hell, you’re not even in the fucking plane! You’re free-falling, man. And the ground’s gonna come sooner or later. You just better hope you remember how to open the goddamn ‘chute in time!
I guess I explain my past excessive behaviour to myself as: when you love life and love interacting with people and you’re addicted to the excesses that make that love possible, it’s hard to stop yourself, really hard. Sometimes the only things that stop you are something that happens externally, say a fight or an accident, perhaps, or something internally, like say if your body or mind stops it for you. My body and mind are very good at telling me when to stop. I’m blessed that way. I’m just not very good at listening to them… Or at least I haven’t been in the past. But I’m learning, and we’re currently holding ongoing peace talks.
So anyway, I tell Teresa, ‘Take care of yourself. Seriously. Because there’s no-one else responsible for your well-being apart from you.’ (Big brother chat, I know, but I tell her nonetheless, because I know how wild she can be…) But I mean it, the responsibility bit. Her boyfriend’s not responsible for her, her friends aren’t, no one is. They obviously care about her but they aren’t responsible for her. She is solely responsible for and to herself, as say a mother is to her child.
Why do I tell her this? Because she reminds me of me, and it’s something that no one told me until I figured it out for myself. Well maybe they did, but I couldn’t hear them… We can read and listen to many wise things in this life, but until we experience them for ourselves, we cannot fully appreciate their truth. I have no doubt that Teresa took on board what I said and will do whatever the fuck she likes, when she likes and how she likes anyway… I just hope she comes back in one piece and tells me all about it!
We’ve all seen it before: at festivals, raves, parties, pubs and anywhere that people hit it hard; a girl or boy drinks too much/takes too much of something, wants to go off and party like only they know how at that precise moment, arguments ensue, girl or boy storms off into the melee in tears with defiance and wildness in their eyes. And hopefully girl or boy comes back in one piece at some future time… Hopefully. Sometimes they don’t. Sometimes bad things do happen. They happen every day in every town in the world.
But hey, it’s her life, right. She’s a big girl and can do what she wants. Sure. As long as she knows what she’s doing at the time, as long as she does it in a safe environment. And knowing that’s the trickiest thing of all, because when you’re ‘on it’ you’re pretty much oblivious to most things in the world, apart from perhaps your inner monologue, whatever that might be at the time… Wildness blurs the boundaries between desire and informed decision-making, and regret is the greatest teacher we’ll ever have. But that’s a path we’ve each got to walk alone…
‘Don’t worry’, Teresa says. ‘It’s just some fairy dust and cider in a field, no biggy.’ Uh huh, that’s how it starts, I think… But hey, I’ve said my part. You can’t be responsible for friends and lovers, not fully, and you can’t tell them what to do. You can only impart what you know, from your own experiences and feelings and hope they use it in the best way they can.
But you can be there to help them if and when they need it, whilst all the while hoping they never do… Shit. Have I just described parenting??… God, I sound like a grown-up! Has anyone got a spare Glastonbury ticket?!
© Compo June 2014
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