It is not the first time I’ve read Maestro. Neither is it the second or the third. However, since I haven’t picked up the book in more than twelve years, I am still counting it as one of my twenty books read this year.
Peter Goldsworthy is an Australian author, about my parents’ age. The book is set in mostly Darwin in the late 1960’s, with Paul, the protagonist, about to enter his last years of schooling, although it finishes in the late 1970’s, roughly ten years after he leaves school.
Which is interesting for me since I read it in my final years of school, having studied it for the HSC, and am re-reading it not much more than ten years after I finished school.
I picked it up at the library, a no-longer-wanted book. I hadn’t seen the pattern then, it’s only now that I’ve finished the book, again, that I can see it.
Paul’s teen years were somewhat different, wilder, than mine although looking back now I connect more with the brashness of youth and the arrogance of the teen years. Now, twelve years older and hopefully somewhat wiser, I connect more fully with the older Paul, the Paul at the end of the book.
And, at the same time, I don’t.
I never had a significant adult in my teen years. Of course, my parents were there, and many other adults played cameo roles for better or for worse, but doesn’t every teen long for an adult that they can confide in, that doesn’t criticise? Or an adult they can look up to, who will give them stern advice and a degree of stability? I didn’t really have any one adult in my life for long enough.
Also, Paul at the closing of the book is full of regrets. Of what might have been, had he chosen his future, his direction, more consciously. Of course I wonder, from time to time, what might have been, had choices been made differently. But regrets, no, not really.
The life of a wife, mother, home educator and home maker is demanding. It can be stressful and frustrating. And yet, I wouldn’t change it for the world.
Paul has regrets over his career, his musical aspirations. If I was to have regrets over anything, over any part of my life for the last ten or so years, it would be my character. It’s not the one decision here or the little detour there but the cumulative snowball of bad choices in several areas of my life that have left me with 20+kg to lose and not nearly enough patience, diligence, self-discipline or stamina.
While Paul wishes he could change what he has become, I wish I could improve the who I have become.
The work of a lifetime, no doubt.