It is never too late in life to reinvent yourself, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t difficult. Recently I made a mental pact to become less political not because I think I am wrong, but rather because living for the Left hasn’t made me happy. But reinventing yourself doesn’t mean you get to escape yourself and true to form I started day one of my new life as Nick Byard: defined by other things by telling new friends about the Tolpuddle Martyrs Festival, getting drunk and singing the Red Flag.
The trouble with trying to think differently is how much do you leave out? The old things you cared about are still important and part who you are, but at what point does having a healthy relationship with the person you were become repeating old thinking patterns and habits? These are questions touched upon by Arthur Koestler’s Arrival and Departure in which his protagonist, Peter Slavek, discovers his political idealism to be merely a symptom of a personal psychological trauma yet chooses to continue to fight the good fight anyway because without it his life has no meaning.
I feel bit like Peter Slavek right now. Unlike Peter I’m not a victim of childhood trauma and I definitely haven’t been tortured by Nazis (although the way things are going I wouldn’t rule it out just yet). But now God is dead I am struggling to find meaning and risk repeating old habits and similar thinking patterns. Perhaps this is a good thing. The world as it is needs more ideological egotists who put political causes above their own happiness. More than this, talking and thinking progressive politics is something that I’m good at. Thanks to my efforts I like to think that more people have a positive view of the Left and an idea about what the hell dialectics is. But the whole point of trying to reinvent yourself is giving enough space to experience and get good at other things.
So for the meantime I’m sacrificing certainty, but hopefully in its place will come opportunity.