Back in 1981 I had a patch on my ‘learner’ cut-down that said “Live now, Pay later”. A few years later I was in a right state with overloaded credit cards and all the other usual credit obligations of the time. I thought I’d hit the ‘Pay later’ a little early. I had no clue.
Enter a new phase of my life where a girl I met became my wife and supported me through the bad times until my ability with computing brought us to dual-income-no-kids nirvana. A life full of exotic holidays and all the toys you could imagine (for the very well off eccentric rather than the super-rich). We loaded the mortgages and played the credit game well and had the trophies to prove it.
In amongst that solvent time, I discovered several unpleasant facts about me and eventually realised that my ideal future with a loving wife etcetera was actually a long way off. I was just starting to return to my truths from where my compromises had taken me when she found love with another gent and left. No chance for reconciliation, no chance for realisation. In truth, I had no appetite to try, even if there had been a chance. I hurtled into the future with naught but my overweening arrogance and inflated opinion of self for guidance.
I thought I’d come back. I really thought I was back to me again, connecting with old friends and generally doing the single bloke with a big income thing. Then a few hiccups occurred, rumblings of the storm to come, but I shrugged them off as I could always find another job because I was just that good. Big fish in a small pond syndrome.
Then the obligations so long obvious but ignored arrived at my door demanding an accounting. It all went bad but I could handle it. Because I was that good at what I did. Bloody marvellous me. Stupid, stupid, stupid me actually.
As I started to execute my cunning plan, the credit crunch arrived and the wheels fell off my wagon. Only two, at opposite corners, so I could roll on if I kept a delicate balance. So I did. The assumptions made then stagger me even now. Blindness does not even come close. I would call it denial or self-deceit, but it was bigger and so blithely assured that nothing bad would actually happen. Then the third wheel came off…
I am still bouncing down that dusty road. Where I will stop, I do not know.
In amongst the bruised pride and arrogance beaten into manageable, I have discovered many more of my truths. Having a lack of things gives much time for reflection and at least I had the time to rediscover my common sense and finally learn from my mistakes. As those reflections occured against the stark contrasts of the difficulties that some of my friends were going through, the shadows cast revealed more truths and dare I say it, a little wisdom.
I helped my friends where I could, discovered I could fall madly in love, rediscovered my poetry and writing, found I could sell enormous quantities of the toys I had left and not miss them, and most importantly became truer to the me I am happy with than I had been in a long time.
But I kept rolling down the road and have finally realised that it’s a slope. The obligations so easy to accrue are adhesive. The organisations that service them are designed to take you down and take everything, despite noble pledges of help. They are not doctors, they are triage surgeons. They will leave you alive but skeletal, and cannot do anything else. Real assistance is negligible.
On the personal side, I have discovered that love does not conquer all and the very best intentions can bring heartache. Taking their fuel from the lonely engendered by that, the feelings of isolation and being amongst the uncaring have been difficult to deal with, and some days I still struggle. It’s not that no-one cares, it’s just that everyone has their problems these days and each of us has only so much solace to go round after coping with our own issues.
So, in the end, this dusty, ragged figure bounces and rolls down a dimly lit road, the occasional streetlight flickering on his attempts to stand up. He occasionally does so, even managing a few steps, but so far has always toppled over again. In the distance his dreams are waiting; standing, drifting or weeping as he gets further away.
But he is still fighting. He is a better man for this journey on the long road down, although he’s not enjoying it.
“Live now, Pay later”.
Never sign up for it.