Sunday, November 30, 2008

A Proud Father

I have three great boys: 14, 13 and 8 years old.

The eldest two are home educated, the youngest attends school. Today, he was playing tag rugby for his school at a tournament in Watford. Despite a couple of injuries (and some dodgy refereeing) he played very well and scored a try.

All three of them are their own people, being who they are, not who someone else thinks they should be. They stand up for themselves and argue their position when they think they're right (which can be difficult for me).

In short, they are proper people, not robots. For that reason, and many others, I am very proud of them.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

A Melancholy Man

Stop for a moment. Think of your life up to the age of 21. Now remember three moments in which you were really happy. When you've managed it, keep on reading.

How long did it take? A few seconds or longer? When I try this exercise I struggle to get beyond two and that takes me a couple of minutes.

Don't feel sorry for me, or feel that you have to comfort me. Melancholy shaped my early life and has been part of my existence since, but I don't reject it or fight it anymore. I now know who I could have been if misery hadn't changed me. It taught me the value of life and to not judge the experiences of others, or be harsh to them.

I have had happy moments since that time: the births of my children; my wedding day; my baptism; being on stage for the first time; having an article accepted for publication. These events may have occurred after I was 21, but they did occur.

People who have had good, relatively trouble-free lives from birth tend not to appreciate how lucky they have been. They have been:

- born to their parents and not someone else's
- given a random set of genes that have given them their looks and abilities
- given an education that equipped them for the lives they lead etc.

The list can on a long way and will point out plenty of things that they had no control over, but helped them have the life they live now. Would any of them have their current job if a different person interviewed them, or a different person had marked their degree course?

I have my own genes and my own life that was handed to me before I knew that I could make choices. I can do nothing about that, nor was I given the choice before birth of where or when to be born, or to whom. I couldn't choose my genes or the early influences on my life. No one can.

If life is a cloth being woven as we get older, then my cloth will be mostly black, but it will only serve to illuminate the occasional happiness. Not just my own, but the happiness I have brought to others. The smiles when I tell a joke; the relief when I assure them that they are not wrong; the comfort of a hug or a kind word. I have been able to draw on my darkest moments to help people, but only because I have learned from those moments.

Had I been the recipient of some better luck, or been able to take the chances they were occasionally laid before me, I may have ended up an arrogant man, full of my own importance. That may still happen.

I have made the most of the life I've had. I sometimes wish it had been different and spend some time wondering what may have been. But I can't change any of that, nor can I be the person that others wish I was, see in me or want me to be. I am who I am: a melancholy man.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Black and White

I like to draw nature. Partly because it's colourful, and I need more colour in my life, but also because I cannot draw animate objects, although I do sometimes try.

The flower on the left is roughly based on a daffodil, but it's design and colouring are my own creation, drawn freehand and 'off the cuff'. I'm proud of it.

Nature is full of shades. How many different greens exist when the sun shines on a leaf? How many whites on a falling snowflake? Is grey a colour of itself, or a shade of black, or of white?

The world around us is full of variation and subtlety. So why do so many people see life in terms of black and white? We have left or right in politics; capitalism or communism in economics; right and wrong in morality.

There are places and instances where there is only one answer, where it is black or white, but those are rarities. Mathematics is right or wrong. 2 + 2 will only ever equal 4, whatever philosophers may sometimes argue.

What of killing? Is it always wrong? Is there such a thing a good murder?

Politicians believe that state ordained killing in the form of war is justified, as do some religions. Assisted death, or Euthanasia is another example where killing can seem to be justified to some people.

Ten years ago I would have said that neither is right, now I'm not so sure. In an ideal world there would be no war, no military forces and no killing in the name of the state, but we don't live in a an ideal world. Ours is an imperfect mix of societies and customs that conflict with each other, conflicts that are heightened by those with a desire to control the lives of others. Should we let those people rule the world in order for there to be no war?

If we can avoid a fight, we should do so, but some people give you no choice but to fight. They will not listen to reason, or accept your point of view. They want you to agree with them, submit to them, or die. Or force you to watch your children die until you submit.

Is killing justified to destroy the violent? Is it a choice between two evils? Those who would say that it is better to submit than kill tend see the world in terms of black and white, right and wrong and have usually never lived under the rule of the violent.

Discussions over Euthanasia follow the same path. It is usually condemned by those who are not in the position of the unfortunate few for whom death is a merciful release. Those who know pain have more sympathy.

The world we live in has shades of colour. Some of those shades lighten our life and bring variety to our existence. We meet and make friends with people who, in terms of personality, are shades of ourselves, but we are forced to live lives that allow only for extremes. Why? Control.

My ex-wife was, and still is, a person of extremes. She would swing from one mood to another, leaving me confused and frustrated, verbally poking me until she got a reaction, then all apologetic when I was angry. Politicians and businesses do the same, swinging us from boom to bust, apologising or blaming when it goes wrong. When the situation has calmed, they start again.

We are led by those who live by the philosophy of 'black and white'; when all we want to do is live in shades.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

And so it begins.....

Blogging, diarying, philosophical musings: is there any difference between the three? It all depends on your view of life, on your nature and how you've been nurtured.

I hope that I've broken with some of my nurturing and adapted some of my nature to the life I live now and the life I want to live.

I've started this blog for three main reasons:
- because I am a writer (yes I have been published and paid)
- because I am at the computer most of the day (writing, creating websites, emailing, researching etc)
- I find it easier to write daily at a computer than by sitting down in my armchair with a pen and a paper.

I keep a diary, albeit irregularly, and I write ideas and notes in a notebook, but I need something else and I need to have it 'out there'.

Although I have had some work published, I, like all writers, find it frustrating to get kicked back time after time. I put effort into something and it gets rejected, usually several times. So this blog is for myself and to fill my need to have something that I have created available for anyone to see and, maybe, appreciate.


Who am I? My name is Martin Willoughby, but that is not who I am: it is the name I am recognised by.

I, am a 45 year old divorcee, father of three boys. I have worked at many jobs and for many companies in my life, none of which I felt any attachment to. I enjoy reading and writing; playing my guitar; drawing nature in pencil, pastels or ink; creating things that last; being with good people; drinking tea; eating curry with naan bread and my fingers; collecting books, DVDs and CDs; playing games; sitting in my armchair and thinking about whatever happens to be on my mind; people saying thankyou.

I, am not loud; aggressive; forceful. I, don't enjoy large crowds; surprise parties; fuss.

That is not ALL that I am, but it does give you a window into who and what I am. Pretentious? Maybe I am. You can pass your own judgement over the weeks, months and (hopefully) years that I write this blog.