Looking at the child that I once was everything I have become could have been predicted from some of my fundamental behaviours. I don’t know if this is the case for most folk looking back at their childhood, but the more I consider and collate the more what I have become seems laughably obvious. My mother often said when I was a teenager that “this isn’t what I raised you to become” in relation to my rebellious nature and my general incredulity at the world’s general issues. Whatever her intentions for me I was already making my own way right under her nose.
Recently we took a trip into the ‘loft’ and looked through the stuff that we kept from my primary school work. I tell people that when I was 7 years old I decided to study Marine Biology and made it my goal to get to university. To an extent this is true- adults generally ask kids what they want to be when they’re older and it was after this age that my answer never changed. Not even through high school did I ever outwardly waver that I was going to study marine life at university. In fact, years before applying to any courses through the school system, I had already researched what course I wanted to do, where I wanted to study, and had figured out what the grade requirements were for that at that particular time. In the collection of items in the loft there was a lot of art work from my very first year at the school. Although understandably the art is messy and unrefined as kids’ art tends to be there are some discernible figures amongst the scribbles. A few pictures seem to be a progression of me trying harder and harder to get my vision of what I wanted to draw more and more accurate. This is not only an example of my tenacity, but also I think a show of my vivid imagination. Just from the drawings you can see that my mind’s eye saw something I couldn’t imprint there in crayon. It just didn’t live up to what I imagined. Also, if I wasn’t going to decide on studying marine life then I would have ended up being pretty damn boring- it seems there wouldn’t have been anything else I would have focused on with such determination. The succession you can see through the picture messes is a central blob with eyes and lots of squiggly lines protruding from it. All is in red, the exception being the big black eyes, and each picture seems that I am trying to portray that this is a creature that can move flowingly as the lines change orientation around the central blob. Eventually the last picture even has messy blue undulating lines in the background. An octopus.
The work from a year later shows that I have learned basic writing skills with exceedingly bad spelling (a display of minor dyslexia the full story of the signs of which would make this blog even more unnecessarily longer than I already intend it to be. I just used spell check to completely rearrange the letters of unnecessarily. And again.) The teacher got us to keep a weekend diary that each Monday we would make an entry into, a task to help improve our descriptive abilities I think. The entries that stick out like sore thumbs in mine? Ones about trips to Deep Sea World, the sea life center in North Queensferry, and Blair Drummond Safari park in Stirling. The details in these entries are the most descriptive and distinctly larger than anything else I write about. I harp on about sharks at Deep Sea World and the sea lion show at the Safari park in other entries, saying I wished I had gotten to go there that weekend and that I hoped I could go soon. I seriously gave no one any reason to think I would ever change my mind on what I would end up doing as an adult. Being honest with myself, I don’t even know why I would/have doubts regardless of the years that have passed- I still love marine life, possibly even to the point you might call it an obsession.
Of my rebelliousness? Well most people can say they had a little bit of a tough adjustment to the realizations that puberty brings and so in a way even mild rebellion to something or someone is normal. I guess what my Mum meant was that she never expected me to be particularly moody or that I might ever fall out with her over anything more important than music taste. She probably didn’t even expect the change in music taste. “Mummy’s girl” was an accurate description of kid-me. I didn’t try so hard at every subject in school just because I had a goal, a set determination to achieve in life, no. I didn’t try so hard at every subject in school because it made me feel like I had something the other kids didn’t (like a brain) or because the teachers appreciated me for always listening. I tried so hard at every subject because it made my Mum proud. You can also deduce from that that I never rebelled against class mates or teachers either, so in a way Mum was right to say that used to be such a nice little girl. Where I see my inner rebel is in what I didn’t tell anyone I was thinking until much later. The subject matter that always made me suppress like this considering how opinionated I was about every other thing? Religion and religious assemblies at school. I may tell the story of how much I truly did not understand religion at a later date, but safe to mention here that the first person I ever openly rebelled against was a lovely female pastor that came to tell us bible stories irregularly through out the year. In the 90’s I’m pretty sure teaching bible was indeed part of the curriculum in Scotland and I’m pretty sure it isn’t anymore. At least I think. The pastor was a lovely balanced thinking person to the effect that when she realized how strongly I didn’t think her stories were factual, she told me that lots of people believe different things on the importance of life and where we have come from, and that I had every right to my belief. She did finish with the statement “I’m just here to tell you about some things I strongly believe in so that you know they exist, and in the hope you will all be open to other peoples way of thinking.” I conceded this. In our household there was a strong opinion of equality and leaving people alone as long as they don’t pester you. The implication that the bible stories were more true than the fossils I had been enamored with on museum visits bothered me, but this pastor did not. She seemed to be of the same opinion as my Mum- share your ideas and opinions with others, but don’t be pushy.
My Atheism is really fundamental and during high school it was the subject I learned to debate in first. The reason it comes up so prominently in this nostalgic blog and the discussion of what I have become, is because the strength of conviction I have for it and the incredulity I feel towards religion is threatening to tare apart everything I have worked towards up to this point. I have no idea whether I should let it. Is my long standing ambition more fundamental than it is? I cannot say, although it could be argued. My atheism has lead me into my political beliefs, my preferences in what journalistic media to listen to… And on, and on, to what my mind currently focuses on. It’s stealing me to move onto something else in life and I don’t even know what. Will I write? Will I follow an activist movement? Will I make music or art? Will I become a lobbyist? Most of these are laughable. Has this shaken my world that I want to retreat to a quieter life where I do a mediocre job, with a nice wage and a mellow existence?
This is what I look to explore in this blog. This first article may imply what I may end up talking about later. Anyone can presume that if they read these they’ll be going on a journey with me. Hopefully, I can conclude what I end up deciding is of less importance, and I can move away from it. There is a slightly addictive nature underlying my tenacity and compulsiveness yet it has only ever manifested itself in socially acceptable pursuits: obsessive curiousity for marine life, conviction with my opinions in atheism and politics, fervour for the cries of the working class in this economic climatic-knife-edge… and a passive addiction to the vanilla-y goodness of Oreo cookies.