So the question needs to be asked – as a self confessed underachiever – why bother telling my story? And, of course, as a reader, why bother surrendering any of your own precious time learning about someone you could really care less about? After all, mine is not a tale of great triumph over adversary (though I did survive a “Canadian Concentration School” – not everyone did); I am not a talented and driven personality who has attracted fame (though I have had a number of encounters with gifted people who have) and I haven’t had any especially lurid and depraved sexual adventures (at least none I’m willing to share). So again – why bother?
Firstly, let’s deal with the whole ‘underachiever’ tag. To dub oneself an ‘underachiever’ is a double act in self deprecation and trumpet blowing. On the one hand it’s an admission of failure and on the other it’s a declaration that, at least at one stage, the potential for better outcomes once existed – or so one believes. And I do believe that, especially in my twenties, I was showing promise of fulfilling at least one of my many ambitions of becoming either a writer, director, producer or media baron. The fact that a number of my peers from that time have since written books, directed movies, produced documentaries, television series etc. etc., only re-enforces my own sense of underachievement.
I have actually made numerous attempts over the years to write (scripts, stories, a novel), direct documentaries and create tv series. But although I can come up with decent ideas and begin the process, it is often in the follow through where I come unstuck. I attribute this largely to ingrained laziness and fear of failure. In fact – I even wrote a kid’s story about overcoming one’s fear of failure but gave up trying to get it published after a couple of knock backs. So given this combination, underachievement will remain my destiny.
However, I also believe that I have had a rather blessed life. I was fortunate enough to be born a white male in the world’s most prosperous country to loving parents who never beat me (though they did send me to a place where people did – you guessed it – “Canadian Concentration School”). I have lived in three different countries and have been lucky enough to travel to many more. I earn a living from home by watching tv and then re-arranging it in an effort to entice others to also watch tv. I am currently married to a gorgeous and, for the most part, tolerant woman who indulges me more than many would. I live about two minutes walk from one of the world’s most magnificent beaches. And, although somewhat of a late starter, I am the father of one of the most interesting, weird, lovable and infuriating boys on the planet. Oh – and I have a woolly two toned cavoodle who thinks I’m God. So I hardly consider myself a total loser (though you may already disagree).
So then – with such an underwhelming track record, is there really much point in attempting to document my life? Probably not. But here’s the thing – even though everything I’ve attempted in the past has not come to much – I’ve always enjoyed the creative process involved. I love the buzz of creating something new, something that starts as inspiration and then takes shape as a new entity. As lazy as I am, I still seem to have a creative itch begging to be scratched. And for some reason, the idea of writing my own story and flinging it out into the universe is one that has been gnawing at me for some time now.
I’m attracted to the idea of doing a ‘blog-oir’ – an internet memoir – but one that I do on my own terms. Apart from a series of condensed overviews (“A Brief History of Me”), the rest will not be a linear, chronological unveiling of my experiences. Instead, I will post individual episodes as I wish – most likely beginning with some of my encounters with famous high achievers such as (cue appropriate name dropping music) David Lynch, Michael Hutchence, Nick Cave, Timothy Leary and The Wiggles. Then I imagine I’ll move on to detailing what it was like to survive a “Canadian Concentration School” in the 1970’s. After that – who knows? In all likelihood my laziness will have won out by then and this will just be one more of my many unfinished under-achievements.
But why put this out into the world? Why risk being judged? Why not just write this for the creative buzz and leave it as a file on my laptop? These are valid questions. Perhaps I want to release my story via the net as some sort of exercise in self-validation – to prove that even though my life has not turned out how I once imagined, maybe somebody else out there might still find it interesting enough to spend time reading about it. Is this a pathetic notion?
The best advice a parent ever gave me was: “It doesn’t matter what other people think.” While this is a wonderful ideal, it is one that is difficult to always adhere to. After all – we all seek some sort of approval from others. Having said that, I am discovering that, the older I get, the easier it becomes to not give a stuff about what other people think about me. As an example – I am a grey haired man in his fifties who often gets around riding a scooter – not the motorized kind but one powered by my foot pushing against the pavement. This attracts various reactions from onlookers but I suspect the most common is them thinking: “What a dick.” I know this because, even though I’m a scooter pusher myself, as soon as I see another adult on a scooter, I always think: “What a dick.” Yet still I ride my scooter because I enjoy it and it’s a quick and fun way to get around.
So yes – assuming anyone at all stumbles across this and decides to read it – there is every possibility I could be judged to be a ‘dick’ – or worse. But as with my scooter, as long it continues to be fun to write my fading memories, this underachiever won’t really give a stuff about what other people think.