My commitment to non-committal started out innocently enough. A social double-booking irreparably altered my attitude towards attendance. The freeing feeling of not going where I didn’t want to go, not doing something I didn’t want to do, was exhilarating. It changed me. All of a sudden I realised that the world wouldn’t spontaneously combust if I didn’t attend a birthday party (even though I’d said I would). I was not a social leper if I missed after-work drinks with friends (even though I’d said I would). I made a momentous decision right there and then. Instead of being the dependable life-of-the-party, committed to attending the opening of any envelope, I learned to just say, ‘maybe’.
‘Feel like heading to Sanctuary?’ Mmm, let’s have a see, shall we? ‘Want to head to a friend’s after-after party in a villa somewhere in Al Quoz, even though it’s already 5am?’ Ooh, tough one, call me in five (hours). ‘Getting all dressed up to head to the Cavalli Club?’ Let’s play that one by ear.
What I suddenly found was that all around me others were doing the same. For instance, have you noticed that – perhaps after you pass 25 – friends who once berated you for Some would call it selfi sh, but perhaps this attitude is not a lack of loyalty, merely an act of preservation. Think about it: if you committed to every function, party, wedding, funeral, concert, coffee, cocktail and get-together you’re invited to just looking at your diary would give you a coronary. Knowing that ‘if you don’t want to, you don’t have to’ halts an inevitable meltdown.
I often think about generations gone by with their commitment to family, friends and community and wonder if I’m part of a flakier generation – or whether we simply have more to do than our forefathers? They may have made jam from scratch, built their own furniture and sewed a frock or two but they didn’t have to contend with online networking groups, tempting free club nights or that all-pervading prattling device, Twitter.
Whatever the answer, if I’m seen as lazy, disloyal or flighty, it can’t dissuade me from my convictions. So if you’d like to get together next week, I’ll put it in my diary (in pencil) and hey, let’s see how we go shall we?
Angela Gilltrap’s travel memoir, Sunshine On Sugar Hill is published by ABC Books.