It’s early days, we’re testing the waters and don’t know each other well but there are all kinds of possibilities around working together. “I’m difficult’” he admits across a cafe table. In the seconds that follow I do not fall about laughing, whoop with delight, or burst into tears, although it could have gone in any of those directions had I not clamped down rapidly. It’s funny, and wonderful, and a bit heartbreaking, to hear something like that and to respond, as much from habit as anything else, by hiding all the difficult bits. Because, you see, I am difficult, and I like the company of difficult people.
I don’t like mean people, or sadists, or divas especially, and all of those things could be classed as ‘difficult’ – although ‘pains’ would be closer for my money. The attention seeking, self important folk I can do without, alongside the destructive and the toxic. Genuinely difficult people are difficult for reasons, and those reasons often have everything to do with caring. The person who doesn’t care about much can be shrugged off, no matter how annoying they try to be. They have no stamina, because nothing much is motivating them. Their challenges are surface irritations that have no power to change your life or break your heart. People who care are a whole other order of difficult.
A person with passions, standards, obsessions, visions… they don’t turn into something tidy and biddable. With that kind of difficult person, you either take them as they are, or you walk away. Try to make them dull and straightforward and (in my experience) either they run away, suffer a lot, or break. These are not good outcomes.
I like the kind of difficult people who care about things. The ones who will sit up all night because they can’t stop now and it has to be done and the muse is with them. The ones who go a bit mad when things aren’t working, who wrestle despair and agonise over meaning and how best to do things. The difficult people who ask the questions that lead to more questions, and that offer no easy solutions. The ones who won’t sit down and won’t shut up because dammit, this stuff is important and people need to know.
That kind of difficult, I am always delighted to encounter.