Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Carpe Diem

I was so tempted to call this post Carpe Jugulum . . . but it has nothing to do with Terry Pratchett, much as I like his books.  So moving swiftly on . . .

I have been pondering death.   I am not being morbid, I am not depressed and nothing awful has happened, but together with birth and taxation it makes an unavoidable triumvirate which seems to remain the one final taboo.  These days people appear to be more comfortable talking about defecation than death but neither can be avoided.

I am 55 and Management recently celebrated his mumble-zero birthday.  Neither of us is as fit and robustly healthy as we used to be and all around we see family, friends and acquaintances falling ill or passing away.  Whilst I would like to think/pretend that I am super-human and immortal, I am not.  The uncomfortable truth is that I now have fewer years ahead of me than lie behind.  Another uncomfortable truth is that none of us know how much longer we have as fit, active and healthy individuals.  My friend Ali died in December 2012, well before her 50th birthday.  In January 2014 we said goodbye to our friend Bert who went from "poorly" to "goodbye" in less than four months.  There are many others, some much closer to home.

(sunrise has nothing to do with the preceding or following paragraphs, I just like the picture)

Last year I had a horrible attack of gastritis.  Over a Bank Holiday weekend when there was no chance of a doctor's appointment I do not recommend asking Dr Google about "severe pain in upper back after eating".  In the dark sleepless hours when common-sense goes right out of the window and we all think the things we don't usually admit to, I asked myself "OK, if this is something really nasty, what do I want to do whilst I still can".

The answers came relatively easily and simply.  Here they are, my dreams laid bare.

1.  Stop procrastinating and climb all the Lake District fells and visit all the tarns
Granted, the horrendous flooding and damage last year could make access a mite tricky in places, but I have a long list to work through and the ground might have dried up by the time I get to some of the areas which are currently saturated.

2.  Use my wonderful fabric stash - stop saving material "for best" or for "that perfect project in the future"
It has taken a long while (decades ....) to realise why I have been saving much loved fabric and not daring to use it.  As a child I was in deep doo-doo's if I messed stuff up or wasted anything.  It takes a very, very long time to grow out of the dread of impending wrath and doom which might ensue if I screw up.

3.  Take the caravan to the all the places in England I want to visit but never have
A year ago I owned up to this
" ...occasionally I would love to run away, just with Daisy, for a couple of days of completely selfish peace and quiet. The campervan was meant to facilitate that need and then later enable trips to Scotland, and also to provide 'bring your own' dog-friendly accommodation so I could go and stay with friends ..." 

The interminable rain of October, November and December would have slowed down even the most dedicated caravanner, but it is sad that I've only had the van away once since buying her.

Continuing to give Daisy the very best life we possibly can goes without saying and the garden we have created here is a constant source of joy and will continue to develop, I cannot imagine not growing and nurturing plants, but but do you notice a few omissions?  There is no mention of the ironing basket or sparkling bathrooms?  Vacuuming the carpet or clearing my desk don't get a look in either.

(photo thanks to Jill)

This is not about having a "Bucket List", or as I read recently a f*ck-it list which is crude but mildly amusing, this is about a change in attitude.  I have spent my whole life governed by the work ethic of 'not being allowed to play until all the jobs are done'.  Now it is time to kick back a little (. . . or a lot).  It is time to ease up, smell the roses, relax. There is no chance of me turning into a stationery couch potato but I am definitely ready to take the edge off a little.

Management plans to retire in the next couple of years and thankfully, shares my feelings about doing things now, whilst we are able.  Having talked about this recently he now has given himself 'permission' to pop down to his workshop far more frequently, even if it is only just for an hour or so after work, to make progress on the motorbikes he is building.  He's already feeling the benefit.

*    *    *    *    *

I've been preparing this post for a few days, and was close to publishing on Monday when M. came into the study to tell me the morning's news - David Bowie had died. 
His music was the soundtrack to my teens, his ever-evolving persona an enigma that none of us could quite get our heads around, let alone solve. The passing of famous folk seldom causes much of a ripple in my little world, but this . . . well this just confirms I am right in my thinking.  
Reading some of the many euologies I came across an interview from 2007 during which Bowie supposedly said "as you get older you become the person you always should have been", and in 2002 he told the BBC "age doesn't bother me, it's the lack of years left that weighs far heavier".
Damn it, is there no end to the man's genius?


  1. My God, have you just popped into "my" mind!!! I'd never be game enough to write a post on what you just said, but when I turned 60, my thoughts were exactly along those lines and yes you realise how little time you have left even if you're fit and well. You posted this just as I was checking my blog and can't believe you were on line too. Have a good nights sleep(giggle) and take care.

    1. Sorry Susan. Well, you might not be 'game enough' to say what you think on your own blog, but you just confessed on mine {smile}. I have a hunch we are not the only ones either.

  2. You are correct that discussing death or even preparing for it is seen as strange, I suppose it all goes with how society perceives aging and being 'for ever youthful'. May be by denying it - you are avoiding it? I love your non-list - just up my street :) Enjoy them xx

    1. Hi Hawthorn, I know you have addressed the 'ever youthful' issue on your own blog and perhaps that is an element of it.

      I'm pleased you like my 'non-list', it has been very beneficial to me to write it down, makes it far more"real".

  3. I could have written that myself. Endless renovations...hobbies v jobs still to be done....recent purchase of a motor home for dog friendly travel. You two are the same age as we two. And I'm a quilter too! :-)
    I've spent an increasing amount of time lately thinking about the inevitable, so much so that we've cancelled 'phase two' of the house renovation - a large extension. The years are simply FLYING past now. I keep reminding myself - if not now, when?

    1. Lovely comment Wanda, thank you. I am most encouraged to find it is not just me who thinks like this.

      Thank you also for reminding me of "if not now, when" {smile}.

      When you get a moment, it would be good to hear from you via that 'contact form' up on the right :-}

  4. We both retired early as we wanted some quality us time. Having said that I wouldn't mind being 55 again.

    1. You both accomplish far more than most 50-somethings that I know, so goodness knows how much you'd achieve if you really could turn the clock back :-}

  5. I know exactly what you mean; in the last year we've lost Rik Mayall, my father, David Bowie and now today Alan Rickman....I really must get my finger out, stop prevaricating and get on with my life, before it disappears into my past.

    Ps if that picture is of your material stash I may turn permanently green from envy! :-)

    1. Hi Curvy, ah yes, dear Alan Rickman. I must have a firtle around and see if I still have a DVD of "Truly, Madly, Deeply". Wonder if it will still make me cry so much? And then there's Robin Hood, and of course Professor Snape.

      Sorry about the stash envy . . . if it is any consolation it took many years to achieve :-}


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