MY BROTHER IS only now finishing up his Masters in International Relations. Today he acquired a 2.1 before the admittance of an, undoubtedly, well researched thesis. The journal of Politics and Economics wishes to publish one of his papers and in two months time he leaves for Vietnam to do a three-month stint of clerical paper-pushing before a similar role in Vienna. After this his last logical stop will be that of the UN. I am incredibly proud of him.
My brother has raised the bar so high in my household, I am no longer sure I can even raise the pole-vaulting stick. All because I chose to take some seven years off and let him slip by me and over take me. I only kid myself here however. It was his determination and drive that did it. The bar was never that high to begin with. Ours is a household of two bankers for parents who never set foot in a college, and I had my chance, my illustrious three year advantage on him, that in turn diminished resulting in me now being many behind him. I blame my apathetic nature and the booze and many, many other factors. When in doubt: reward blame.
I was the first born and perhaps the first test subject, #1. My parents just feigned interest in my microcosmically aligned life. The Arts degree had been decided on some time ago and seeing me struggle through my first Leaving Cert, they secretly began to holster hopes on the test subject, #2. He was the Malcolm, the inevitable successor. He in turn nestled himself back with pen and paper and made a list of Do's and Don'ts, watching and learning from me as I drank my first bottle of vodka at fourteen or got caught with drugs and porn aged fifteen, then stealing, then a string of corrosive relationships and holiday misdemeanors. #2 stuck to his list and #2 won in the long-run, while I had fun, my jollies and all, but only seemingly for the short term. The fun must end at some stage and then; where's my reality? (There is something fundamentally wrong with a mother coming home and finding her 25yo son air-guitaring). Now I am in the midst of that very real situation of feeling stuck. I am uncertain as to what to do. My fears paralyse me. Time passes yet again. I am runner-up for sure. I bought my dad a pack of smokes for a Father's Day gift; my brother bought a 5-disc DVD boxed set of Jack Nicholson films.
My brother's short sighs of tiredness, after a long night working in a Dublin soup kitchen for the homeless, even began to heave with, I imagined, the arrogant weight of genius. I thought maybe murder or exile would end the hidden race for supremacy. It was not to be. I am a thoughtful coward at best. Maybe then he might undo his own trajectory by his own careless hand. Suicide. Drugs. Disease. No, that was not his style. Undoubtedly, it was rather my own.
So now I know nothing will slow this academic star down. It rockets elegantly and brightly overhead for all to see. Nothing can puncture his somber path to success. The world is his and it is calling. Positions of fine employment lie in many quarters awaiting him. It is up to me to take on my own path, somewhere, to get back on track. I never should have strayed. Always stick to the path.