Why Brownlee Left
Why Brownlee left, and where he went,
Is a mystery even now.
For if a man should have been content
It was him; two acres of barley,
One of potatoes, four bullocks,
A milker, a slated farmhouse.
He was last seen going out to plough
On a March morning, bright and early.
By noon Brownlee was famous;
They had found all abandoned, with
The last rig unbroken, his pair of black
Horses, like man and wife,
Shifting their weight from foot to
Foot, and gazing into the future.
I'm sure that most people have thought of walking out on things at one time or another. A malignant surf of red bills on the doormat or an abusive and unhappy relationship can make even the most seemingly stable individual contemplate walking.
In some ways it can seem an attractive option; the prospect of reinventing ones personality and starting afresh having cut all ties and commitments preferable to a real and present turmoil. Of course it's an illusion. You can't reinvent yourself, and in abandoning the nexus of relationships that make you who you are you become void.
There are thousands of missing people in this country, their families left in anguish by the unexplained disappearance of a loved one. I'm sure the people who disappear don't intend their absence to be permanent, it just becomes impossible for them to reconnect.
I walked out once. The agony of a failed relationship had pushed me to the verge of suicide, the palette of my colours reduced to grey and black. One afternoon I walked to the Clifton Suspension bridge in Bristol intending to jump, but chickened out as I gazed down at the river below me. Instead I went to the pub and drank six pints of beer, and then visited the off licence where I purchased a bottle of whisky. The next day I packed my bags and got the bus to Heathrow. I flew never to return
I left some very dear friends but it was necessary for me to do so to excise that period of my life from memory. Nineteen years have passed and the agony has evaporated, or so I thought.
I reconnected with those friends from so long ago, and the well of memory began to gush. I don't regret doing it, and I will never lose touch with those dear people again, but I have discovered that a deeply repressed emotion can emerge with as much vigour as it had in the distant past.
Thankfully I am a stronger man today, and can deal with this resurrected pain. Sometimes things in the past have to be confronted. There can be no true closure otherwise.
3 days ago