Monday April 10, 2006
16 days to M-day
Before he left, Graham and I sat down and wrote a list of the jobs I can and ought to do while he’s away. It’s not a long list and only one or two items are physically demanding so I’ve a good chance of getting them done, even at the rate of one a day.
Today I ticked off four of them. A good start though I must admit I could have done better.
I observe that, as I grow older, the thing I like to do most of all is as close to nothing as I can manage. Now and again throughout the day I’ll shake my head, wonder where that hour went, and heave myself out of my chair to get something done. Anything. Usually the task closest to hand.
When I was a young man motivation was not a problem. Like many people I heaved myself up from inauspicious beginnings and began the long, long task of achieving whatever I could with the material I found inside myself. Like most people, I suffered some setbacks. Mostly, though, I could look back on the day and count some element of it as another step forward, and upward. The journal writing habit is a part of that. Not necessarily mechanically to record successes and failures, but rather to enable and create a period at the end of every day for self-examination.
I could always rely on some motivating force to get things done, take another step on the climb, and if all else failed then anger would serve to drive me onward.
Well, I don’t do much in the way of anger anymore. Seem to have lost the urge to anger over the years, along with a diminished libido, and I can’t say I miss either of them. The one is destructive and the other is sticky and messy; combined, they reach down inside us to touch the most primitive part of our nature, a place I long since learned to avoid.
Some people seem to be able to sustain that long upward climb all the way through life and right on into old age, ending as little fizzing husks with too much hair and far too much energy. I find them irritating in the extreme, like busy house-flies, buzzing at the window. In the absence of anger I don’t swat them anymore; instead, as with house-flies, I’m inclined to open the casement and invite them to leave me in peace. If they refuse, then I swat.
So, there you are, having climbed to your peak and reached the time in life when you can or must rest after your labours. What then? A long, slow decline? Worse, a sudden one? Not necessarily. If you work at it you can turn that decline into a plateau, a place where the going is easy on the feet but which still has its delights and its challenges.
Enjoy the delights, and seek out the challenges. And eat an apple each and every day.