Time and Tide..

It may have escaped your notice, but it has not escaped mine: my blog has been silent for months, many of them!  It’s not for want of things to say -and write- simply that I’ve  not made time to sit down and type them.  I could say it was because I started a new job, or because of challenges in my personal life, which are both true, but the simple reality is that I’ve not made the time available.  I’ve chosen to do other things with my time.  I admire those dedicated people who come up with regular musings, monthly, weekly, daily even for some people!  Hats off to you professional bloggers out there!

It’s all about prioritising.  I’ve not managed my time in such a way as to make time for writing my blog.  I have used the time allocated me to garden and walk, and go to the cinema; to take photos, and generally be outdoors as much as possible.  It’s not that my blog doesn’t matter to me, just that other things have been more important, other demands more pressing: family, work, health, all the priorities we juggle on a daily, sometimes hourly, basis.

I am learning not to be too hard on myself.  When I don’t get everything done that I want to, the important question is, ‘have I done what I need to?’  Isn’t that what matters?  When my ‘Superwoman’ status takes a nose-dive, I have to remember not to beat myself up about it, not to let guilt erode the knowledge that I’ve done my best. That email to my friend, the 2 hour phone call to my sister, the cup of tea with a team member, they were all more important than writing this!

But, here’s the thing: writing my blog is important to me.  Having a ‘voice’ out there that can connect me with others gives me an outlet I need, whatever the impact, or lack of, on others.  We all need to ‘make time’ for ourselves, that hackneyed phrase, bandied about, and all too frequently ignored in our frenetic western lifestyles.  For me, whatever else it is, writing is making time for myself.  For you baking a cake, reading a book, or going for a run might be the way you claw moments of respite from the frenzy of pressure on you to be doing something else.

Our time is limited.  We have elected to measure it in 24 hour periods, subdivided into hours and minutes; to organise it into allotted moments which we can use profitably.  Not all cultures and philosophies have such a regimented view.  It is, science tells us, a flowing continuum of time-space which inexorably moves us along.  View it how you will, we have no choice about that.  The choices we have are about what is important to us, and it is that which will ultimately govern our philosophy on life, and the way we chose to live it.  We can be ‘in the moment’ and live for that, and we can plan for a future that may, or may not, happen.  All that is certain is this day, this hour, this minute.  The consequences of our decisions will ripple through time, impacting people we don’t even know in ways we can’t imagine.  We can’t control the consequences any more than we can control time, for all the imaginings of HG Wells, or Mark Gatiss and Russell Davies.

So, I am writing now because I’ve used some minutes to do this, rather than something else, and I feel good about that.  The thing I could have done instead will get done at some point and no one will have died, or even been hurt because of that. We often give too much importance to what we do, as if the world will fall apart or stop if we take a moment to relax, a moment to connect with ourselves, and yet so much of what we do is inconsequential, not only in the great scheme of things, but in our own lives.

‘Time and tide waits for no man” – or woman- it carries us along.  We should give up fighting against it and relax into our own rhythms; rhythms that suit our temperament, our objectives and our lifestyles.  The pressure to conform rigidly to other people’s schedules can panic us into under-achievement and regret, and life is too short for that.  Life is long enough, however, for a few blog articles now and again, a walk on the beach, a game of Frisbee, or a good book, whatever it is you enjoy, whatever frees you to be more yourself, with more energy, and time, to engage with your fellow human beings and with LIFE.



Coming of AGE

This week my goddaughter is 18.  She was 17 last year, obviously, and passed her driving test, so it shouldn’t really have come as much of a shock that she’s 18 this year, but it has!  I remember her metamorphosis : an idea, a bump, a baby.  Her mum, one of my oldest and bestest friends, phoned me from the hospital soon after she was born, and I can still recall with clarity her helpless, endearing cries.  I saw her shortly afterwards, and can see in my minds’ eye, the nick on her tiny face where they cut her from the womb, less easily than imagined. 

I don’t know what happened.  She grew up, and I missed it I guess!  Absorbed in my own changes and happenings, good and bad, a tiny girl has grown into a young woman. 

The thing is, my own ‘coming of age’ (celebrated at both 18 and 21 – we hadn’t quite focussed on which to celebrate when I was that age!) only seems like yesterday. I don’t feel any older than I did then, inside at least.  My body may give the game away, but my mind refuses to accept that decades, not weeks, have passed since then.  I suppose ageing is like that.  It creeps up on us, until one day we look in the mirror and realise we are officially ‘old’.  I am not willing to concede the fact just yet, however!  My father is 81 this year.  He has always been a fit and active man, a semi-professional sportsman when he was younger; he’s never really stopped believing that he isn’t still agile and youthful.  He attempts things that you wouldn’t sensibly expect an octogenarian to attempt.  Thankfully he is still fit, has great reflexes, and is relatively healthy, but after heart surgery and a knee replacement, crawling about on roof tops isn’t necessarily the best form of staying active!  Walking down a gorge last year, a little too close to the edge, I remember him saying that it would be OK if he fell, as he’d just grab onto the sides and haul himself back up!  The thing is, he really believes that his reactions and strength are good enough for him to be able to do that.  He still believes he is young and invincible.  My response is ambivalent – I don’t know whether to applaud or chastise.  I admire the fact that he stubbornly refuses to adhere to the ‘rules’ of ageing: he stays up late and sleeps in of a morning, his appetite is as voracious as ever, and his diary is as full as, or perhaps even fuller, than mine.  I wonder if he feels like his 21st birthday was a few years ago, rather than over half a century away?

The point is not that we age, or that time appears to speed up as we do so, but that we ‘seize the day’ and make the most of the opportunities that come our way.  At 18 you have an entire life spanning out before you: you can do anything, go anywhere, chose who you want to be and what you want to do.  You don’t know, however, if your life will be short or long; whether you will be looking back at 50, or 80, and wondering where the time has gone and what you did with it, or whether your life will be cut short at 30 or 40, or even younger.  I wish I could explain to my goddaughter how fast her life will travel, how soon she will be married with children of her own – if that’s the route she chooses.  Of course, she wouldn’t pay me any heed.  I’m ‘old’ like her mum, to be at best, politely ignored, and at worse, rebelled against and reviled.  I wouldn’t have listened to me at her age either.  I knew best, my parents knew nothing relevant.  You can never put a wise head on young shoulders because it’s life’s experiences that, for the most part, makes us wise and sensible, although hopefully never too wise, or too sensible to ‘act our age’!

The most I can do is wish my goddaughter all the best for the journey ahead.  I won’t ask that she has no pain in her life, but that she always has good friends and family to support her when times are hard.  My life thus far has not been without tribulation, and at 18 I could not have envisaged the twists and turns my life would take, but I’ve survived the rough and the smooth, as most of us do, carried through by the joys and beauty and happiness we experience, and the safety net of good friends and family.  She has had a supportive and loving family, and that will count for a lot. 

Happy 18th birthday Katie!