Unbelievable. I made it. I remember a time when the prospect of hitting forty was so far off. And now sixty. Without living through a war. Seeing a lot of the world. Good times and troubling ones. Dodging a dangerous virus even. So far anyway.
On my watch many things happened. On the face of it I am grateful for many, family, prosperity, for example. I am bewildered by some others, the seeming decline of good politics, and outright puzzled by fake news and gone crazy political correctness, to name but a few.
Am I taking stock of my life? Am I looking back? Sure I do. It matters. Taking stock, however, doesn’t mean to linger in the past, or to dwell on it endlessly, or get stuck and mull over and over old hurts and angers. It’s about honouring what was and not to avoid the present or the future. If anything, it’s to draw strength from remembering the good and closing the lesser good to obtain strength and perspective to face what is yet to come however much remains of my time. Many memories are hidden within, deeply buried over time, yet ready to be taken up once more, thus setting in motion a flow of energy which can be put to good use in setting out the future.
When you’re young you make plans, if not consciously then unconsciously. When you are a little older you look back and see what happened to all that. You’re amazed over the things you did achieve, in some cases beyond what you could ever have imagined, in other departments you recognise, grief even, that some things you thought you were born for didn’t quite materialise, through lack of opportunities, by deliberate changes of course or by outright failure. Yet again, whilst joy and regret sit side by side, you cannot but notice that there’s a treasure of experiences here, a hoard of lessons learnt. Remembering all of that, going through it all one more time, equips you with a certain strength and resolve to live out what’s next in a much better way. And there’s a lot left I have yet to do, still hunger for, have yet to say to those who matter to me.
So, no glorification here of the past, no dwelling on old wounds and mistakes, but a chance to let go of old griefs, leaving be ancient grudges and by that I really mean leaving be this time. No more holding on to the past, getting stuck yet again in it, but allowing it to say everything that it can say in retrospect – for we can’t wish for a better past – but allow the past to instruct us and encourage us for the future, in terms of outlooks, new plans, conduct and hope.
There’s a treasure here, not just for us, but for those around us too, our loved ones especially. Everyone with a bit of mileage can use that treasure, even those who struggled, maybe those in particular. A reformed addict, for example, or recovering alcoholic can truly tell you how it is, was, spell out warnings, talk about the telling signs, consequences. Many such warnings will probably fall on deaf ears initially but seeds are sown many of which, in their own time, may well grow into insight and positive change. So even the failings carry important messages which can, and should be, passed on.
Or the necessary crisis which occur, particularly during the great transitions in life, when what one once held true and dear all of a sudden no longer holds and new territory awaits with all its hidden treasures and trappings. These crisis too carry messages, insights and acquired wisdom which can be passed on or reflected upon anew to help prepare for the time ahead.
The lived life is like an old tree. Its weathered and hardened stem carries a large crown teaming with life, life we support, provide a home for, a world to live in and prosper. What a waste it would be not to recognise this, not to revisit it, and move ahead with confidence gained through past successes or insights from failure or suffering.
And as I said, time too, to bury old hatchets at last. Rekindle relationships too maybe and finish what had been started in so many departments but left to languish unfinished since long ago.
I have been asked what I would say to my readers now that I have reached this milestone. I reply without hesitation: Create good memories for they make your life and one day affirm back to you that you have lived it well despite setbacks.
And I would also say, that for my mistakes I am truly sorry and ask for forgiveness. And for all the good I received I am truly grateful.
This milestone matters to me more than others. I didn’t know what to expect but now I can feel it. I cannot as yet articulate it in any other way or detail. But the look angle has changed. No doubt about it. On this, the writing was on the wall even if I couldn’t read it yet.
A new journey begins. One I am looking forward to. I shall let you know how I get on.
I would like to close today with the lyrics of a song I wrote in 2016. In a sense, all else I can say today in contained in it.
Been on this path so long
It’s hard to going back
think of the
Where it all began
What is time and memory
But a jaded faded song
Just the melody
It lingers on
I can’t say back then I was ready
To leave it all behind
Yet in the morning hit the road
Drove to England nice and steady
Through the night alright
Since then the world many times turned upside down
Over all the years
I never thought of giving up hope
In the end
There was always another way
And at times I didn’t think at all
About the wonders of this life
As they happened
Couldn’t find a word to say
Can’t say I was ever ready
To comprehend this life of mine
Yet every morning hit the road
Did what fathers do for life
And brought the bounty home
And all the while the world kept turning upside down
In the twists and turns of life
Sometimes you fall and rise again
There are victories
At other times you might feel blue
there’s no shame in bad times being a broken man
Nothing ever is in vain
You pick up the pieces
And start anew
When it hit me I wasn’t ready
To turn the other way
In a sense I hit the road anew
Rebuilt the castles
Planted seeds, not just a few
But there were bitter tears
As the world kept turning upside down
And all the while the time is passing
And the children find their way
In the mirror I sometimes don’t recognise my face
Ageing eyes that burn from deep
Within that fire of love
Is there joy or sadness
Near the end of the race?
Even now I fear I ain’t ready
To leave it all behind
Yet wanna hit the road again today
Do what men are born to do
To love and care, be kind
While all the while the world keeps turning upside down
Take care and good luck