How do you express yourself as you get older?
When you are in your forties, you are beginning to look like a grown adult. The kind of person your parents, teachers, community leaders looked like when you were a little kid. You are resembling the people who are mainly in authority, and who younger members of society — even if they are rebelling against them — look to for information, advice, and sometimes, a sense of direction.
So often, the job roles you are in, involve some kind of training, or advice — you have to pull back on your own radical thoughts and feelings — and make room for a younger person to express themselves, and sometimes, this pushes you into a more conservative role, where you are a little bit more reserved, perhaps in an attempt to be professional.
But you still have your own thoughts and feelings. So what do you do? Do you sit on them? Let them come out in dreams and surprise you by their vividness and sophistication? Wait to you have a beer with friends and let it all hang out?
What about writing? What sort of stories do you tell in middle-age? Are you subversive, still? Rebelling? Rebelling against what? Your peers? The older generation, who are slowly moving out of positions of power? Do you complain about young people being different to you? Do you write about feelings of isolation, of not belonging? Do you write about behaving badly?
If you love a particular type of woman, do you write about that? And will it seem strange and immature for a middle-aged man to be writing a love story? Do you find a sophisticated (that word again) way to express it, in an analogous tale, where the source of the feeling is disguised as a parallel situation to your own? Or do you write honestly, and put yourself at the centre of it, ready for ridicule and scorn, maybe even great shame, if it doesn’t fit the social ethos of the day?
Anyway, I’ve had a good crack at hiding here behind a series of rhetorical questions. I keep writing stories and I try to express myself honestly. And when I notice in a real life situation that perhaps I like someone, or feel hurt, but cannot socially express it, then I later console myself, often on a train ride home, with the thought that someday I might be able to say it in a story, and let my feelings bubble to the surface where they belong.