The European Championships (football) kicked-off on Friday. I, like always, have so far seen about 37 minutes of the 990 minutes on offer. The familiar rush of excitement in the weeks preluding the first game; the sudden apathy as soon as the tournament actually begins. Maybe apathy is a strong word. I still check the results on the BBC. So... distractibility. Or rather, always finding something "more important" to do.
It's like this every World Cup. Every Champions League season. Every Olympic Games, Wimbledon and Quantum Leap marathon on TV.....
And then, exactly 1.5 games before the tournament is over, my passion will re-spark. Followed by a hard twist of nostalgia for all the games I've missed. And the wish that I'd watched many more.
This beautiful article (http://waitbutwhy.com/2015/12/the-tail-end.html) captures the theory behind the feeling so well. As a result of reading it, I also now ponder how many more European Championships I will have the opportunity to be distracted from. Which is a morbid thought and.... well, yeah. Makes for great chat in the Biergarten.
The article also sets out a way of thinking about the remaining time we have with all the people we care most about. In particular, the family and friends we grew up alongside. But who, for many of us, are now distant. Either geographically or - in equal sense - emotionally. And how, for most of these people - the ones who matter much but who are so very far away - we're in the tail end of these relationships.
It's a sad realisation. And no less sad from the fact of knowing it. Sadder even than the thought that I may never again see Scotland "compete" (?) at a major football Championship.
And one which, if more people heeded in their personal relationships, would lead to much less bickering over the spoilt turkey at Christmas.
Analogous to this, is the characterization of the people who we didn't even have the chance to grow up with. The ones who only arrived only later in life. This doesn't mean that they're any less significant. And just because we're not yet in the "tail end", doesn't mean that this isn't cause for reflection. Indeed, the entire relationship might just have fewer shared moments. Maybe it's the soul mate you rocked out with for three days in Phnom Penh, but whom you now only see in triennial catchups and the occasional Skype. Or your sibling’s kids growing up on a foreign continent.
For me, this person would be my brother. There is a fourteen-year gap between us, and so moving to a different country when I was twenty-two meant that I missed the greatest part of him growing up. Some people who leave their birth countries miss the food. Others, their local tongue. I've never suffered from even the slightest scent of homesickness. But it is difficult to write anything that touches on this subject without a tight feeling forming at the base of my throat. And of thinking of those lost years, those missed birthdays... all those important moments which I only know of from stories and photographs. So maybe no tail end. But definitely a lost middle.
....maybe I'll try and catch a couple of more games this week.
P.S. @Brother, this does not mean you're getting a bigger Christmas present.