Sunday, May 21, 2006


I got a bit of a peek into my own psyche yesterday: I am a commitment-phobe.

Brett and I spent several hours discussing ideas for what to do after he’s been made redundant. I’ve been feeling increasingly itchy feet this last year or so and I proposed that we just go walkabout around the world. I think it would do both of us good to get out of the rat race for a while and expand our horizons.

The more we talked and the more I thought on this idea, the more attractive it became and at the same time it kind of crystallised why I haven’t really been gung-ho for buying a house; besides the practical problems of not having the necessary savings (which Brett’s redundancy money could possibly solve) at the back of my mind has been lurking the fear of being tied-down. I know it’s a largely irrational fear, but committing to buying a house in London would commit us both to paying a sizable mortgage for the rest of our working lives. Already I feel that we are living to work, rather than working to live and signing a mortgage would take away even the theoretical possibility that we could pack up and head off into the sunset on a whim.

And that’s what I want to be able to do.

I understand all of the long-term-investment arguments about getting onto the property ladder as soon as possible (although in so many ways I see it as a chain gang rather than a ladder!) but I would rather experience the world today, with Brett at my side and then be able to reminisce about it in a pokey little flat when we retire, than spend our lives on a treadmill preparing for the increasingly uncertain world that old-age is becoming, hoping we’ll have the health, means and opportunity to do it all then.

[By coincidence, in the Travel section of the paper yesterday I came across an advert for; a travel company which provides a good combination of holiday-style sightseeing, with periods of the kind of cultural immersion that I think would be an ideal way to explore the world.]

The fear-of-commitment idea also ties-in with why I’ve never felt it’s the right moment to propose to Brett. I don’t feel able to promise to do anything for ever. The future, as I think Shakespeare said, is an undiscovered country and the further you try to look into the future, the more possible outcomes there are and so the more obscure the view. I can promise that I want to love Brett forever and spend the rest of my life with him, but I can’t promise that I will do those things, because I don’t know what life is going to throw at me/us within that span of time. For all that divorce is relatively easy these days, if I’m going to take a solemn oath, I want to be certain I mean what I say.

So there you go; a man who wants to live day-to-day and not make any long-term commitments. Living in fear of my own inadequacy? Cynical? Pragmatic? For all my stiff-upper-lipped self-reliance, there are times when I think it might not be a bad thing to have an hour chatting to a psychologist about my hopes and fears.

And in the meantime, can I persuade Brett that he wants to move out of suburban comfort to face the challenge of improving the lot of street children in Latin America and helping protect Malaysian Orang-utans with his tree-hugging hippy of a partner?

No comments: