Root Menu

Roman Krznaric

A Self-Portrait

Photo

One evening early last year I was alone in a large house, deep in the winter woods of Western Massachusetts. This was a difficult time in my life. The relationship I had travelled so far to be part of seemed to be falling apart or had already fallen apart. And I felt great loneliness, despair and uncertainty. I remember thinking that I couldn’t allow myself to fall too deeply into a hole. It was then that I had the idea for The Tree. I cut out small pieces of paper, one centimetre high and a few centimetres across. On each piece I wrote a word. What were these words? I had decided to write down what seemed to me to be the most important words in my life, words that represented ideas, ideals, feelings, hopes, priorities, practices. Words that said to me ‘how to live, what to do’. They were words like ‘understanding’, ‘sharing’ ‘sense experience’, ‘freedom’, ‘curiosity’, ‘security’, ‘love’, ‘now’, ‘communication’, ‘empathy’, ‘spontaneity’, ‘trust’, ‘equality’, ‘integration’, ‘assumptions’, ‘I-thou’. I also drew some symbols on the pieces of paper – a hand, a wave, a candle. Each of these words and pictures meant something special to me, each was a story in my life, or a potential story. I then arranged the pieces of paper into the shape of a tree. Some formed the roots, others the trunk, still others made the branches. I created what, at that moment, seemed to be a representation of the most important things in my life. I did not use the word ‘priorities’ in my head, but perhaps they could be called priorities. In the roots were ‘security’, ‘love’ and ‘trust’. I think that I very much wanted to feel these at that particular time. Through the trunk ran words like ‘integration’, ‘understanding’ and ‘equality’, which reminded me of the importance of breaking down the distinctions between self and world, to reach out and share life with others, to see the world from their point of view. The Tree branched out into ‘curiosity’, ‘sense experience’ and other wonders.

The Tree was designed to be ever-changeable. It could grow and transform through the seasons. Another tree might sprout up by its side and the branches intertwine. Perhaps The Tree might be burned down and the seeds scattered. The Tree has no hierarchy, no parts of it are more important than any others.

Now and then I add a word to The Tree or rearrange its elements. So by looking at the changes in The Tree I can see how my priorities have changed. By creating an imaginary tree of what I remember about being a teenager or in my twenties, I can contrast my current priorities with my priorities of earlier years. What do I see? I see, for instance, an increasing desire to develop a sense of personal autonomy in combination with a life that involves communicating and sharing with others. I see myself wanting to make fewer judgements about other people and to question more of my own assumptions. I see that The Tree will change in ways that I cannot possibly imagine.

***

Around five years ago I began interviewing my father about his life. When we see each other each year I make another recording or two. We approach the conversation both thematically and chronologically, but he feels most comfortable with a chronological narrative, starting with his childhood in Poland, the war years, being a refugee in Berlin, emigrating to Australia, finding a job, a home, a family, creating security and stability after turmoil and loss. Our ongoing conversation has been decisive, enjoyable and difficult. It has encapsulated so many emotions and discoveries. Perhaps the most enjoyable aspect for me has been to understand new and important things about someone to whom I feel so close. I used to be a little disdainful of the middle class suburban paradise that I grew up with in Sydney and critical of Dad’s near obsessions with a steady job and a family home. But now I think I can see why he needed these things so much: he was searching for that which he had lost or never had. One of the most difficult aspects of the conversation has been talking about mothers – his mother and my own. It was only during our third or fourth period of interviewing that he talked openly about his relationship with his mother. This pained him greatly. And it was only in our most recent interview that he talked extensively about my mother, who died when I was a child. He spoke about the years that she was dying. He cried, as did I. These conversations have been decisive in the way that they have altered or represented the changing relationship between parent and child. In some sense he has become the child, and I the parent. He more often looks to me for advice, he confides in me in new ways, he reveals his own sense of vulnerability. He is somehow more dependent on me - but in a positive way. I, in turn, feel that I can help him in new ways, that I can respond to his emotional needs. It is not that our roles have been totally reversed, but rather that they have become more shared.

It is difficult to answer a question on what I’d like to talk about more or less at work, for at the moment I mostly work alone all day, trying to finish my doctoral thesis. Given my current isolation, it is not that there are things that I would like to talk about ‘more’ or ‘less’, but that I would like to talk ‘more’ rather than ‘less’.

***

To be alone is not to be lonely. When I walk along the river from Iffley Lock looking at the Canada geese or spotting a kingfisher, I am alone but not lonely. I feel engaged and integrated into the world. A tree in a field is alone but not lonely. Sometimes I can feel lonely when I am in a crowd. Loneliness, for me, is a feeling of being rejected by the world, being unloved, perhaps also worthlessness and having no outlets for sharing with others. During many periods of my life I have been alone – living alone, travelling alone, working alone. But these activities in themselves have not induced loneliness. I think I have felt most lonely when rejected by lovers or when it is difficult to find people I care about with whom I can share some of the daily joys of life – from food to thoughts. As for remedies, I try to remember that to be alone is not to be lonely. To remember that I can phone my dad and step-mum, or a few good friends, and feel connected to people important to me. To know that I can strike up a conversation with someone in a coffee shop and find out that we both collect succulents. Most of my remedies concern creating the connections that surround us all day and every day, latent and hidden in an atomised society. That are, to borrow a phrase, like a seed beneath the snow.

***

I sometimes say that I love real tennis or I love my dad’s potato salad. I could probably find a different word than ‘love’ for how I feel about these things. Perhaps I have learned not about the varieties of love but about what is common to my experiences of love. When I say ‘I love that person’ it is to say something beyond the rational. It is a statement of mystery. I cannot provide a list of reasons as to why I love this person. A friend of mine, who works in book conservation, was restoring Darwin’s papers. She showed me a piece of paper divided in two by a line. One side was headed ‘To marry’ and the other ‘Not to marry’. Below were lists of reasons. At the bottom he had written, repeatedly, ‘To marry’, ‘To marry’, ‘To marry’. This does not seem like my idea of love. The other thing I may have learned about love concerns eyes. I am not sure that I could love someone without having looked into their eyes and somehow having been drawn inside. My experiences of love have had this kind of connection or meeting. I can imagine, however, loving somehow whose eyes have been so damaged by disease that I cannot easily look into them, or loving someone I have come to know at a distance, maybe on the internet. But I have yet to experience these varieties of love.

***

‘Violets smell like burnt sugar cubes that have been dipped in lemon and velvet.’ So says Diane Ackerman in her book, A Natural History of the Senses. I remember when I first read this book. It was during a family holiday in Wales. We rented a cottage by the sea and walked along the coastal path. The book inspired me to immerse myself in my senses, so I was feeling the grasses with my outstretched hands, smelling the sea, listening to the gulls speak with each other, tasting my salty skin, watching the water swirl its way around the rocks. I was probably open to reading this book because I was already interested in the idea of cultivating each of my senses. Now that I think about it, I also remember some years earlier believing that the meaning of life was to seek sense experiences of every different type. I used to say to myself ‘I live in a sense suit’. I thought that since I was always wearing this special suit that I should be open to all the possible sense experiences around me.

It seems that in our society we have become very dependent on some senses rather than others. For example, our language is filled with metaphors of sight – ‘the way I look at it’, ‘can’t you see what I’m talking about?’ I hear myself say these things. It is not surprising that this imbalance has occurred. We are bombarded by images in the media. As radio has given way to television and a thousand other visual aids, we have had our senses changed for us.

I cultivate my senses by remembering that I have them. At the end of last year I hurt my back and was lying on the floor for two months, more or less unable to move without pain. I tried (though it was difficult) to turn the experience into something positive in any way I could. One thing I did was to train my musical ear. I listened to my favourite pieces of music with great concentration, separating out the different instruments, the melodies, the notes. It gave new meaning to listening to music. I also try to cultivate my senses by attempting to live in the present, to experience the now. Ruminating on the future or the past is usually a distraction from sense experience (although thoughts about future joys or past suffering can be accompanied by physical sensations).

Sometimes I go through periods when I ‘forget’ to cultivate my senses. Then suddenly I remember the quote from Diane Ackerman about the smell of violets, and I resume the cultivation.

In recent years I have interviewed many people, from Guatemalan oligarchs to professional real tennis players to my father. I think that through these experiences I have been developing an ability to sense when people feel insecure about themselves, and have become more aware of my own insecurities. This may be my sixth sense.

How have my tastes changed? ‘Tastes’ has many meanings. Perhaps most of the questions in this Portrait are about changing tastes. So I feel that my answer to this question can be found in my answer to the others. It is possible that I have given this answer because I am feeling tired and have no energy to think hard. It’s late on Sunday evening, my Keith Jarrett tape has finished, and it is time for bed.

***

I was brought up in a rather egalitarian household in terms of gender roles and thinking. My dad did most of the cooking; my step-mum worked and was always speaking of women who have been forgotten by history or the ongoing struggle for women’s rights. So I, like my dad, do lots of cooking (with great joy) and cleaning (with somewhat less joy). Most of these classically gendered activities I share with Kate, with whom I live. I don’t feel like a particularly macho person. I am disturbed by sexism. I sometimes used to play real tennis at all-male clubs and I remember feeling some guilt about this. Now I don’t let myself play at these clubs, for they represent not only ‘men doing their thing’ but are very much about the exclusion of women. Yet when I hear a sexist joke or comment I rarely openly object. Perhaps I could take a stronger stand. Instead I try to avoid the person or situation. I am no great activist in this sense. Someone once pointed out to me that most of the books on my shelves were by male writers. She was correct, of course! I felt a kind of shame. Who am I to think I treat women like I treat men? How much have I learned?

Issues come and go. Maybe in fifty years time the question to ask will not be about the two sexes but about the young and old. How do you treat children? Why, in our society, are children permitted so little control over their own lives?

***

I don’t think that

MONEY

Or

POWER

Mean that much to me.

I would like respect

From people I respect.

***

I once went out with a woman, Revan, with whom I did lots and lots of walking. It was wonderful. We’d go to Portobello Market and end up on Goldborn Road eating custard cakes at the Portuguese cafe (and I sometimes spoiled myself with a chorizo roll). We’d go to Brick Lane on Sunday mornings and eat bagels with salmon and cream cheese for 90 pence, thinking about the old Jewish East Enders, and then wander around the streets. We explored the mysteries of the eroding Essex and Suffolk coast on clear winter days. She was usually leading the walks, deciding where we would go, keeping a sense of direction on our behalf, making the choice to go left or right. She helped me to understand that her leading and my propensity or desire to follow revealed some fundamental difficulties in the nature of our interaction.

I am not exactly clear when I should lead, or when I should follow, or when I should be doing neither or both. But I am learning to be aware of this.

I have had some experiences of working or participating in very cooperative environments in which decisions are usually made by consensus: the division between leader and follower is broken down in some fundamental ways. At times the decision-making took a long time, which can be a little frustrating, and both leaders and followers occasionally emerge. But overall I have found these experiences to be very fulfilling for those involved, including myself. A little more cooperation and participation, and a little less hierarchy are, I think, probably very good for us.

At times I have found academic work extremely frustrating due to the pressures to conform with the rules: the disciplinary boundaries, quoting the accepted authorities, writing to the appropriate length, suppressing human voices, eradicating ambiguity, silencing passion or humour. In other words, there is quite a lot of following involved. I love doing scholarly work (amongst other things). But I love doing it in my own way. In the British university system, I am not sure that this is possible. So I am inclined to leave this system and find another path.

I often think about something that Thoreau says: ‘If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.’

***

Since I started seeing Kate last year, many fears have floated away, disappeared, and transformed in positive ways. Sometimes I can barely remember that I had these fears.

***

At times I feel a little too reliant on books, that they are a bit of a crutch. When someone comes for dinner I invariably find myself wanting to pull down books from the shelf. It’s a bit of a bad habit, a kind of disease.

‘You already know enough. So do I. It is not knowledge we lack. What is missing is the courage to understand what we know and to draw conclusions.’

Sven Lindqvist, Exterminate all the Brutes

What do I like learning?

I might ask someone: What do you like singing? And they may answer: I just like singing.

Someone asks me: What do you like learning? And I answer: I just like learning.

***

Who are my enemies? I don’t really like the language of enemies and allies. The world could do with fewer warfare metaphors.

Until recently I had gone ten years or more barely speaking with my sister, who lives in Sydney. Her heroin addiction made her a difficult person to deal with and I used to get angry and upset about the ways that her actions hurt our family, especially my dad. Sometimes I even wished that my sister wasn’t around, that she didn’t exist. I don’t think that I coped well with the situation. I used to make overtures towards her now and then – writing a letter, phoning her up. But none of these things seemed to bring any response. So I more or less gave up on being reconciled with her. I thought I had tried hard enough. Sometimes, though, I felt as if I wasn’t really trying, that I could do more. But with the anger I felt, it was hard to do more. I had little compassion for her, I wasn’t able to develop a deep sense of empathy. But things changed early this year. I heard that she had recently got email. I thought, ‘this is an important opportunity’. So I wrote her an email telling her how I felt about not communicating with her, asking her about her memories of our dead mother (something we hadn’t spoken about). I just came out with it, a kind of last attempt at reconciliation. And when she opened her email account for the first time, the message sitting there was this one from me. I think it really moved her and she wrote me a lovely message. So from then on we began writing across the empty oceans of our shared past. It was extraordinary to be communicating with her, an important change in my life. I don’t know why she wrote. Partly it was the way that email can sometimes allow a certain openness through its anonymity. More important, perhaps, were changes in her life that were slowly bringing her off her drug habit. She wanted, or needed, to talk. And so now she is becoming a friend.

***

In some ways I seem to run away from ambition. I don’t really feel that I need to be a great this or that, a great political sociologist or whatever. It may be that I decide against being ambitious in these ways because on some level I believe that I cannot achieve the goal: so lack of ambition becomes a form of self-protection. But I am ambitious in the sense that I very much want to lead the kind of life I want to live, with autonomy, community, and various kinds of meaning (see The Tree). I am ambitious, for instance, about my connections with people being real. And I make various decisions in conformity with these ambitions. For example, once I worked as a financial journalist on a magazine. After being there for three months I was offered a permanent position and lots more money. I realised that I didn’t want to lead the kind of life associated with the job. So I resigned, just at the moment society was telling me that I should stay on. This was quite a successful method of escaping the obvious pathway of success and ambition. After I left I went and lived in Madrid for a year. My life opened up in many ways. (For a few years afterwards I did financial journalism on a freelance basis. This helped satisfy some of the freedom that I desired. In other ways I found it less palatable.)

I could probably say that I run away from certain worldly ambitions, certain kinds of accepted forms of success, like being at the top of a status or financial hierarchy. But this would be being a little dishonest. At times I imagine writing a brilliant book about something or other. And with these imaginings are some thoughts of fame. But they are usually quite fleeting thoughts. I don’t really need fame. But I do feel that I need a bit of recognition now and then from people around me. Maybe just to remind myself that I am here. It’s a little like Bishop Berkeley’s tree. There’s a tree in the middle of a forest that nobody has ever seen. Does it exist? (Maybe this wasn’t Berkeley. It doesn’t really matter.)

In what ways do I wish to become more courageous? Not sure…

***

Earlier this year I visited a coffee plantation in Guatemala. The woman on the left, Silvia, works as a cook in the main house on the plantation. She took me down to the village where she lives, and introduced me to her parents (next to her in the photo). Her parents had both spent their whole lives picking coffee on the local plantations, which are all owned by big landowners of German descent whose families came to Guatemala around a century ago.

Guatemala by Roman

The situation is very difficult now. World coffee prices have collapsed and the plantations have sacked many of their workers. The plantations are almost the only sources of employment in the area, so people are penniless. And they can’t grow food on the surrounding land as it is all the property of the big finqueros. So many people are moving down to the coast in search of work, or are trying to get by where they are, scavenging for food in the hills. Consuelo, the woman on the right, told me how they can barely afford corn. Starvation has become a serious problem in the area, just as it is in other parts of the country.

I was grateful to hear their stories and enjoyed talking with them. I know that people in these isolated areas love to have photos of themselves and their families. So I offered to take a photo and send them a copy. They were very happy about this and rushed inside their one-room home and put on their best clothes. I took the photo, and some weeks later sent them copies.

What did I do for these people? Very little. Could I have done more? Yes, of course. I could be sending them money. I could have tried to find them work in Guatemala City. Did I do this? No. Why not? Ultimately because I do not care enough. They are too far away from my own life. It is too easy for them to fade in my moral consciousness, just as their real life faces become less clear in a photograph, and the photo becomes less clear when scanned into the computer.

I don’t think that I could ever feel that I do enough for others.

***

I have moved house many times and normally it doesn’t take long before I am calling somewhere ‘home’. I don’t feel very settled if I am surrounded by boxes, if my books are not on the shelves. The books are a kind of company.

I used to think that I would always need to be on the move, that we are by nature restless beings. Our nature lies in movement, complete calm is death, and so on. I then started thinking that the journeys didn’t need to be physical journeys around the world, a kind of travel accumulation instead of capital accumulation. Rather, they could be journeys around my head, or unusual encounters with people in the local fruit market. It’s not that I feel an overwhelming desire for stability, for a sense of physical permanence. It is more a recognition that there are many ways for me to feel at home.

I do love the company of friends and family, even when there are difficult moments. Then I feel at home.

Why do so many paragraphs begin with ‘I’?!

The kind of difference of which I am becoming increasingly tolerant is difference within myself. I think that I am increasingly aware of my contradictions and inconsistencies. Sometimes I am frustrated by them, but over time I am becoming more accepting of them. I can feel both confidence and lack of confidence, I can desire engagement and withdrawal, and can help others and be selfish. We are complicated beings. I have to learn to live with my own differences.

***

I don’t want the various forms of journey I have been taking to cease. I like to take the road less travelled.

***

I spend money on food, rent, second hand books and real tennis. That’s about it. I think my spending habits are fairly sane. I try not to buy too many new things. If I need a fork it isn’t necessary to buy a new one – there are plenty of good second hand forks in street markets. I also like to find things in skips. (One ambition I have is to make many of the things I use, such as chairs.) I do, though, have quite large debts and no income at the moment, so it would be good to be spending less. My money situation is making me a little anxious. But I don’t see the point of unduly depriving myself – I’d rather go into a bit more debt. Life’s too short.

Money cannot buy many, or even most, things that I need. One of these is time. Many of the things I love doing, such as going for a walk with a friend, don’t cost anything. But they require the time to do it. So I try to have lots of time to do these things and can feel frustrated when I don’t.

***

Let me say something about friendship. I used to think that I had lots of friends, particularly when I was an undergraduate. I knew lots of people and they knew me. I was invited places. I had lots of friends. It took some years for me to realise that I was very rarely open with my friends. They didn’t really know much about me. I was always happy and smiling and jokey. I rarely revealed sadness, uncertainty, vulnerability. I remember a time in my mid 20s, when I was living in Madrid, that I had a kind of realisation or revelation about friendship. I was in a bar with a friend, Paddy. He’s a very sensitive and open person. He was telling me about things going on his life and I suddenly understood that I was not very open with him, nor with many other of my ‘friends’. I now see this as a defining moment, but no doubt I have manufactured this to some extent and the realisation about friendship developed more slowly. The point, though, is that I now have fewer friends, but they are closer friends. I reveal my uncertainties, I express my sadness. I ask for help at times. I don’t demand openness from my friends. Instead, I try to make them feel like its OK to talk, and I attempt to create the kind of interaction or context in which this is possible. Sometimes I do this well. At other times I don’t.

***

As a teenager I used to think of my life in terms of five-year plans (I must have been doing ‘The Soviet Union’ in my O-level history class.) I would be a diplomat for five years, then a journalist for five, then a writer, then a tennis coach, and so on. At this stage in my life I’m a little less clear, although I still cherish the idea of variety. I often think of the future in terms of projects and unknown possibilities. In the next year I’d like to complete a couple of projects that I’ve been working on. But I’d also like to have new and unplanned experiences. I want to feel open to the multiple possibilities of my future history. (I have to think more about what I mean by ‘my future history’.) I like to think of the uncertainties as possibilities. ‘Uncertainty’ sounds quite negative, whereas ‘possibility’ seems to be a little more open to both the positive and the negative.

How should death be classified? I am uncertain about when it might occur, but the fact that it will occur brings it into the realm of inevitability. At the moment I don’t ruminate much about my forthcoming death. But I am aware that I might well drop dead tomorrow, so I don’t really want to spend my life doing things as a means to an end – I might be cut off while I’m still undertaking the means. I like activities that are an end in themselves (even though they might help me in the future in some way). The idea of spending years studying for the sake of getting a PhD is anathema to me. I just enjoy the studying, and like to think of the piece of paper at the end as a useful by-product that might come in handy.

I think I am fairly accepting of what the future might hold. This feeling of acceptance doesn’t seem particularly rational, emotional or superstitious. It doesn’t feel like resignation. I see my own future as constructed of possibilities that may be painful or joyful, intense or quiet. On some level they are all the same: things that happen. I do feel that I can shape my own future, find my own path, listen to my own drummer. In a broader sense, thinking about the future of the world, I feel quite divided. At times I feel great hope as I see the wonderful examples of cooperation and caring around me every day, of people discovering meaning in their lives. At other times I feel great pessimism, and see that poverty and authority are almost impossible to challenge.

***

I have a strange disposition to find positive aspects in difficult experiences. I wouldn’t say that I have a naïve, rosy view of life. Rather, I feel that I can learn from almost everything. So as I look back at my life I tend not to see periods of it as having been wasted. No relationship seems wasted, no travelling seems wasted. If there was a time that I didn’t have my eyes open to what was around me, I can now think that this has helped me learn to open my eyes in the present (that eyesight metaphor once again!). Yet I sometimes think that at particular moments there were opportunities that I didn’t take, and these can seem like a waste. A very simple example is that when I did my first degree I spent lots of time reading bits of books or superficially reading articles, yet I never really delved deeply into any particular subject or developed a profound understanding of any specific issue. In some sense, I probably didn’t do a lot of hard thinking. On the other hand, maybe I wasn’t ready for this. My superficial reading allowed me time to do other things, like fall in love or play sport. I was also experimenting by reading very widely, and I realise that this was an important aspect of my learning. (Whether or not this is all true isn’t necessarily the point. What’s important here is that this is my narrative of these years, how I have come to remember myself.)

Certain daily tasks can feel like wasted time – dealing with bills, answering emails, cleaning the cooker. It is not always easy to do these activities ‘mindfully’, as the Buddhists say. Speculating about the future or worrying about the past can also feel like a waste of time. The past is past, and the future is unknown (although I sometimes like to be prepared for it). As I wrote above, I sometimes feel that experiences are wasted if I can’t share them. What is the point of learning about sociology if I cannot share the learning? It can often seem too selfish to keep the learning to myself. This is one of the reasons that I enjoy teaching. My time does not feel wasted if I am helping somebody understand an idea or make a connection between something they read and some aspect of their own life.

What alternatives have I? At the very least, the two alternatives mentioned above: carrying out activities ‘mindfully’ and sharing daily experiences with others.

***

One of the best moments that I can remember spending with my real mother was a few years ago when I visited her grave for the first time since her funeral. I had a picnic sitting on top of the grass where she was buried, and looked up at the winter sky.

I do have difficult moments with my dad and step-mum. When I phone them in Australia, they often just want to talk of superficial things – the weather and so on. I can get frustrated. I want to hear more about how they are feeling about their own lives. All Dad can normally say is, ‘everything’s great’. It sounds like a cliché. But I don’t want to force too much out of these conversations, to bring up too many difficult things. Why not? Partly because they want the moments they spend with me (either on the phone or in person) to be somehow ‘perfect’. Deep conversations are quite difficult for both of them, especially Dad (which is why the interviews are so special). So who am I to impose a different kind of conversation on them? Ah – realisation! I couldn’t think about what to write on the question above on ‘In what ways do I wish to become more courageous?’ Perhaps I wish to have greater courage to let them know how I feel about these phone calls with them. (I do try now and then, but not hard enough.)

***

I’m not a parent. Are you? What can you tell me about your experiences?

***

I feel that I have already said a lot about the directions I have taken in life. I have often tried to take paths that permit certain kinds of self-fulfilment, that help other people (or don’t obviously harm them), that are ends in themselves, that give me new experiences, that are in some way at odds with the social norm.

Sometimes my expectations are realised and sometimes they are not. If I knew the outcome of everything that I might do, it may not seem so interesting to do these things. In this sense, the unknown is important to me. I feel there are so many things that I might learn about myself and the world, but I am not certain what they are or how I would learn them.

Can I make another choice now? Yes. I am at a kind of cross-roads in my life (being within weeks of finishing my PhD) and am looking for new possibilities. I am aware, though, of certain constraints. I live with a wonderful woman, so I want my choices to be OK for her as well as for me. (This doesn’t really feel like a constraint – I think of it more in terms of being part of the context of my life. And in so many ways my relationship with Kate makes me feel that life is full of possibilities.) My finances are poor and I have to pay for food and rent, so I need at least some of my regular activities to earn me a basic income. Apart from these things, I feel that the world is open to me, and I to it.

***

If this Portrait has managed to say something about the kind of person I am, then maybe you, Reader, can help me discover new paths and possibilities.


October 2002
Sit in Roman's virtual chair