We have been entertaining this weekend; Bryan’s siblings came to visit this weekend, so things have been busy. Being children, they like adventure and activity, so Clip & Climb was the order of Saturday – my feet remained resolutely on the ground, however; it’s not that I’m a coward, but I much prefer being grounded and not fretting about the fall.
When I took Bryan up to London for his birthday, we went to Go Ape in Battersea Park; there were different levels, and Bryan was keen to try the first level without hesitation. I had thought I’d be able to do it just as easily, but when it came to suiting up … I just couldn’t. The bridges were unbalanced, and that made me feel a little sick; I’m rather uncoordinated myself (I have dyspraxia), so really felt unable to manage it.
I was disappointed – I wanted to experience it alongside my son – but he was very understanding (thank heavens), and in the end, I got to watch him from the ground and film him being incredibly confident. That made me smile, and Bryan was just downright proud of himself, so I couldn’t argue with that.
I’ve never been that focused on having a long-term career; when I was a teenager, the thought of being a fiction writer wasn’t something I realised people like me could do. That was a career done by clever people, or people with the right connections. I realise now that wasn’t true, but it still was a difficult profession to get into. I’ve never wanted to be a journalist – I prefer making up stories from the recesses of my brain rather than establishing facts and learning the laws of libel – and I went through a lot of different options when I was at school.
During my actual career, I’ve been very varied in what I’ve chosen to do – everything from published writer to the local council, library to a children’s charity – and it’s left me with a lot of experience, but not necessarily a clear career path. Bryan, at the moment, wants to be a dancer; I can definitely see him succeeding if determination and ambition were the criteria, but there’s a lot of competition in the business.
He’s at a good dance school that supports the pupils and he’d probably be there every day of the week if he were allowed; as it is, he does four regular dance classes a week, and has temporarily joined a fifth during rehearsals for a dance show he’ll be doing in July. He has a real and genuine passion for it, and I respect that; I have a passion for writing and words, so I can recognise a passion in someone else when I see it.
It’s not necessary, of course, to be passionate about a high-powered career that leads you to the role of chief executive or something similar. You can be good at what you do, and enjoy it, without needing to be in charge of the whole thing. I’ve never once been a chief executive or senior manager and haven’t ever sought out those kind of roles; I’d be terrible at them, for a start, and would be miserable. I like niche jobs that suit my personality – and, wherever possible, pushed me a little bit; made me stretch myself. You don’t need to be at the top of the tree in order to do that. I wish we could be more explicit at school and in society about that; we can express our passions outside of work, while holding down a job that financially sustains us, or have a job that consumes your waking hours because you genuinely care about it and find a sense of joy whilst doing it.
But this weekend has been about family; whilst Bryan hasn’t had the chance to see his nan and granddad, he’s been able to spend some quality time with his siblings, and I treasure seeing them together. They bring joy to each other’s lives, and it’s a privilege to be a part of their lives.