About my brother/ being human

Here’s a nice song. Have a listen!

I often wish that my brother and I had another sibling. I feel like we’d be closer if there were three of us.

My brother and I are not particularly close. Mainly because we’re very different people, with very different interests, and very different views on life. We’ve always been like this.

He’s three years older then me, and is making his way in the world as a successful businessman.

When we were kids, my brother and I used to alternate between having massive full on fights and playing endless games of which I was always the boss. As we got older, we grew apart, and since my brother moved out, we don’t really talk that much anymore.

I used to be quite jealous of my brother. He’s had two jobs in his life, the second of which he’s ben in since high school ended and which he’s doing very well in. He has a long term relationship with a pretty girl, he has an investment property, a shiny car, a fat bank balance, an apartment in the city.

In other words, he’s twenty one and lives the kind of life most people would be living in their thirties or forties.

As for me, I’ve worked at six jobs, none of which have ever had any lasting potential. I’m perpetually single. I’m heading off soon to live the penniless existence of a student, and my beloved yellow car is soon to be sold and replaced by a pushbike.

Putting our lives side by side, the differences are huge. My brother is a conservative, I attend protests with placards and sign endless petitions to force change. My brother is a carnivore, I’ve been a vegetarian for nearly six years. My brother’s never left the east side of Australia, I’ve backpacked across ten different countries on my own.

Weird to think two such different people could have been raised under the same roof.

My brother has however, as the elder sibling, often set the bar. When we were kids and he started reading big books, so did I. When he dyed his hair blonde and started listening to rock, I dyed my hair red and started listening to punk. When he did his HSC, I was determined to beat his score. After he was school captain, I ran and got vice.
Push and shove, push and shove, all our lives. It’s only been in recent years that’s started to taper off and our differences became more and more apparent and we started to lead very different lives.

I do still watch my brother and try to learn a thing or two now and then. Although, these days, admittedly, I tend to look at his life and see everything I don’t want to aspire to, rather then a challenge to beat.

I don’t like the way my brother treats his girlfriend, for example. They don’t see each other very often, only when he comes to visit on weekends, and he does that less and less and less. Like a girlfriend on tap. Someone to listen to him rant and someone soft to cuddle, then someone to phone up each night without actually having to make an effort.
I don’t like the way my brother makes his work his life. All he ever talks about is business, money, deals, promotions. Beyond being boring as a sack of cucumbers, it makes him sound shallow.
I don’t like the way my brother doesn’t seem to care about things that don’t directly affect him. I’m sure he does, but he doesn’t express it. The only times I’ve ever seen him riled up and passionate are when he’s onto some aspect of some business deal that will bring him some advantage.
I don’t like the way his actions come across as selfish. He wasn’t always like this, but things like forgetting birthdays, not giving a shit about charity, his constant talk about money and corporate life, are becoming more and more frequent. My dad’s birthday, mum’s birthday and my own have passed, and each of us got nothing but a text message. Which would be fine, except that brother dear is rolling in it, and even when reminded doesn’t seem to give a shit. When he does give presents, it’s stuff he picked up from work for cheap, or a freebie he scored, and more often then not is some useless gadget or device that doesn’t mean anything and we don’t really need. It’s the thought that counts, and the thought seems to be nil.

Standing on the precipice of life and trying to work out the person I want to be and the life I want to have, I look at my brother and see everything I want to avoid. I don’t want to take relationships for granted, I don’t want my means of income to be my entire life, I don’t want to come across as selfish or careless or shallow. I don’t want my life to be so boring.

He’s happy, and I wish him all the best for it, and I know I am guilty of the above myself. But the point is, that I see my brother doing these things and all I can think is that I don’t want to become like that.

The one final way that my brother inspires me, which is the reason I started writing this blog post, is that my brother is one unhealthy dude. During the courtship days of him and his girlfriend, he was going to the gym a lot, eating good food, and it certainly showed. But since he got the girl and got the job and the car and the life, he’s been slacking off, slowing down, taking the lazy way. He eats shit and plenty of it, and the result is he has gotten seriously fat. Fat, and unhealthy, and man it shows.
Even since I got back home and saw my brother again, I’ve been examining my life and changing as much as I can. The food I eat, the exercise I do. Just because above all else, I do not want to end up like that.

Even if this is selfish, I think the major reason I’ve grown apart from my brother and stand here before you today to criticise his life and decisions, despite the fact it gives me an icky feeling inside, are not so much our differences, but the fact that he will not admit to caring.
Everything is a joke. Everything is breezed over and difficult things are ignored. My mum and dad’s hints about his unhealthy lifestyle and the way he treats his girlfriend are casually ignored, despite the fact you can see it striking a chord somewhere inside. The way he forgets our birthdays and doesn’t give two thoughts to a decent gift, he shrugs and grunts an apology but you can see the guilt.
I often wondered over the past few months if he gave so much as a tenth of a crap about me. While I did my HSC, while I was travelling, there wasn’t a curious email or a message or a “by the way, how was your trip?” to break the one conversation we had that centred around his work and some deal he was pushing.
I’m sure he does care, maybe, but I wish he would just show it. Show some interest, in the world, in life outside the office. Show some humility, to his girlfriend and to us. Show some care, about his own health and about things that exist outside of money and comfort.

When you consider the ways which you are different to people, so often it’s easy to look on a very shallow level. The things you’ve physically done and the way you live your life on the outside. Look on the surface and every person can be classified as so so different, or exactly the same. When people are so much more complicated then that.

We all have an inside. A messy, confused, emotional, churning inside that reacts in ways our outsides don’t necessarily reflect. I’m not talking about a soul or just emotions alone. I’m talking about the chemicals and electrical signals that send messages through us and react and respond and control all the things. The real complicated bits and pieces that make every person a human being. The bits inside that we all have, but that we hide. The bits that seem so entirely devastatingly complex and unique that it’s impossible to believe that anyone else could possibly feel anything like it. It’s impossible to express, so simplify, deconstruct, tuck away and let sleeping dogs lie. It’s not a bad thing. It’s a very human thing.

All people struggle. We all feel pain and anger, happiness and sympathy, sadness and complexity. It’s easy to get so wrapped up in our own perfect complexity that we fail to recognise it in others.

I worry about my brother, because for all the ways we are different and all the ways I could sit and criticise him and he could ignore me, I worry that inside we’re not so different.

I worry that he does feel the same things I feel, thinks the same thoughts I think. In his own way of course, but just as intense. I worry that he locks that complexity inside with no release, no admittance, no resignation. I worry that if the cracks do appear, he won’t know what to do. I worry that the surface layer has become so thick and so all consuming, that all the inside stuff comes second, then third, then gets pushed away and down inside so it almost disappears. The dangerous complexity that makes us human, being pushed away and compressed.
To quote my friend Sally, if you push down on a basketball too hard, it will either explode or fling away from your reach.

Or maybe I’m totally wrong and he really is just a dude living every day exactly how he wants and not giving a crap. Or someone else completely.

Who knows.

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