Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Pressure points

I am going to see my folks in Germany right after Christmas. I am looking forward to it, but I am also a bit wary... now that I have finished studying, I really have no more excuse for pissing about in low-responsibility jobs. Having gotten that job in the bookshop saves my ass a little.

See, I love my dad, and I know he means just the best. But when he came over for my graduation, I kinda had this feeling. What I expected all along happened. Dad and I had “the talk”. The talk involving “why haven’t you got a job yet, and I wish I had you with me in Berlin, so I could sort things out for you.” That’s a sentence that made me physically ill. I know my dad just means well, but it’s just one of those things you don’t say to your 28-year-old daughter, even if she is as late-blooming as me. The thing is, I don’t want anyone to sort stuff out for me. I want to sort things out for myself and know I can do it. Only that way can I have peace, knowing I can live my life without depending on anyone. Because what if that person isn’t there anymore one day? What will happen to me? When you are growing older, your courage does not come from youthful naiveté and unlimited hope anymore, because that simply springs from not having been disillusioned yet. When you’re older, your courage and hope comes from knowing you can survive this because you have survived other things before. Unless, of course, you haven’t, because someone has always bailed you out.
Going back to Germany is a thought that terrifies me. I could pack my bag and move to anywhere in England, possibly. I wouldn’t want to, but it wouldn’t kill me. But packing up to return to Germany would equal absolute failure; all my work and effort would have not saved me and gotten me away. Going back to Germany would mean going back to the perpetual atmosphere of paralysing dread of the future, nagging existential angst and confusion, the negativity which is so much a trademark of German mentality. It is so intrinsic that people don’t even notice anymore, until they go somewhere else. Even my cousin noticed that when she came over here. Living in Germany these days is kinda like clinging to a slowly breaking twig while hanging over an abyss. Even if someone reaches down for you, even if the edge is close, you are too afraid to let go, too afraid to look any further than your immediate safety. People put up with bad work conditions because they feel the only other option is to not have a job at all, and we all know where that leads. We desperately stay in the same places, terrified to move and to risk, because too much is at stake. No wonder so many young people want to get away while they still can. Nothing can grow in this miasma of fear. It’s an environment that literally drove me insane, that feeds into my OCD; to keep my sanity, I must stay away.
It was hard to explain that to Dad, and it felt so futile because I knew too well what he would say. It’s the only time we ever argue, because we are so different in our approach to life, and even though he is older than I am and does know a lot about life and can possibly give me lots of advice, the thing that always sets us off is his (well-meant) attempts to lecture me in how to see life… and as much as I love him, I just can’t agree with him on most of these matters.
And it is hard to make him understand – without hurting him or making myself sound ungrateful – that I gotta do things my own way, at my own pace and my own time, and to convince him that my own approach to things, my own Weltanschauung, if you like, my own catalyst of hope is not just a fantasy like he thinks. And that even if it is, it has helped me through so far and has done its job in preventing me to turn into some completely jaded cunt who believes in nothing more than the ideal temperature of his latte and his rights as a customer. This is probably why I hang out so much with people younger than me. Partly that’s just the circumstance, with me being an ex-mature student. But partly it is because there aren’t many people my age that have preserved this youthful energy and faith and hope, which I just need to live, not to just merely exist. As much as I need Dad, what I need him for is support, not pressure. I guess that’s why I like independence – it means I don’t have to make excuses to anyone for my decisions. Most of my decisions are based on instinct, not reason, and so far they have worked out for the best. I can’t trust reason, because what is reason than just another form of reductionism that drastically limits the opportunities, if not a form of self-doubt?
But I guess he is just being a dad. It’s better, I suppose, than not giving a crap at all.

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