Do you remember the time when the most important thing in your life was in deciding what games to play with your siblings and friends or what you fancied doing just by yourself? Then later perhaps how you would go about swatting for the next examination? As we grow older our priorities change in-line with what we have to do rather than what we wish to do. As adults there are many more priorities we have to contend with and in which order we deal with problems and situations becomes important. As children if something fails to keep us interested we simply move on to something else. Adults don’t always have that choice, some things require immediate action and failing to act can bring dire consequences sometimes. Other people rely upon our actions too at times and inaction on our part can prove dangerous or costly in some circumstances. We are often under pressure to respond or to accommodate to the needs of others. Even when we think the problems in life have by in large shrunk or have become non-existent we are often faced with unexpected event to deal with. When in full-time work I was faced with all sorts of problems to do with my job and prioritising was simply an automatic thing. Now that I have retired those problems are in the past, or are they? Not really, they are just different and I still find myself prioritising in sorting them out. There is one unique difference though, I get to choose how I prioritise or even if I want to deal with a problem. Well, that’s the theory but I find I cannot often leave the responsibility to someone else unless I really need to. That means I continue to accept the responsibility, the problems and how to deal with them, which all leads me to providing the solution too. I fix things…..if I can. There are few things around the house which I won’t try to fix when they go wrong but in which order do I do them? They sometimes number quite a few!
I was in bed by ten-thirty after which I remembered nothing until I awoke for a little trip along the landing at five in the morning. It was new year’s eve but not that I’d noticed, I was too tired. On waking I should have done some exercising but my limbs were aching. Whilst I had been collecting stones from the beach the day before I noticed my posterior thigh muscles were beginning to ache. It had to be the elliptical cross trainer, well not the machine but my lack of experience on it! It isn’t as though I have been doing much on it but even the small amount of time I have spent was enough to cause my injury. Latterly I had been spending only a couple of minutes on the machine and even then with the supply switched off, in other words using it at its absolute and lowest settings. It is more the movement the legs go through rather than the resistance level though I suspect. Until I can get used to it I will have to ensure my time on it is kept to a minimum. Anyway the long and short of it was that I decided to once again take a short break from my regime. My day, new year’s day was therefore spent relaxing and doing nothing for once, oh sorry, except for taking out the trash! I don’t make resolutions for the year as you may remember which means I am not setting myself goals which I probably would find difficult to maintain anyway. If I do set myself a goal it can be anytime throughout the year and it usually involves a project of one sort or another. Those things I do keep. See last year’s posts! I do have one or two things I would like to do but whether they will come to fruition remains to be seen. In the meantime one of my aims is to get used to that damned cross trainer!
The more I look at my life the more I am convinced things happened as they were meant to. Apart from the fact I believe my life to have already been ‘planned’ in the eyes of God I really do believe I made the right choices leading up to the present. We often don’t think about the consequences of the decisions we make during our lives and how they will affect us in later life. It is true however that we make decisions based upon our preferences and our desires hoping that the outcome will benefit us to that end. We work hard with an aim in mind, a new car, a house, a holiday and everything else we wish to have. E and I live in a large house which according to the number of rooms qualifies it as potentially having seven bedrooms. On the first floor there are four bedrooms but on the floor above there are a further three rooms which although at the moment are not being used as bedrooms could nevertheless be so. Two of them are presently filled with our sons furniture and the third was converted to a craft workshop for E who uses it daily. The ground floor has three lounges though the largest is also filled at this time with our eldest son’s furniture. Furthermore there are rooms in the cellar (basement) which are all in use. I mention these things not to impress but only to show that E and myself have basically inherited the place that was first used to accommodate many of our family members. They all moved on leaving us alone with the house. It wasn’t gifted to us, no, we have legitimately owned it from the start though we only purchased it to accommodate more than just ourselves. We could have purchased a much smaller property instead. At the time and throughout the following years the house became more and more our home. We have spent time and money to make it the way it is for our own enjoyment and despite many folk suggesting that we could sell it and downsize we have resisted. In some ways living here isn’t beneficial, it costs a lot more for the privilege but because it is our home we are not concerned about the cost.
I suppose dear reader you’ll be wondering what all this is leading to and what it has to do with the title of the post? In April I formally retired from my electrical business, initially as a trial to see if I wanted to make it permanent. You see, for all my working life I have never had a moment where I had nothing to do. My time was always filled with work of one sort or another and it was exactly how I liked it to be. I like work whether it is for gain or for personal pleasure, it doesn’t matter. What matters is that I have something to do in my life as and when I feel I want it but not all of the time, I do like recreational activities too, I am not a ‘workaholic’. I was talking with E a few days ago about living in such a large house and because of that could always find something to do. I told her I was glad we never sold the place to move into an apartment for instance or at least a smaller property because if we had I should probably be dead by now! I explained that being an active person as I am I would find life after retirement a struggle if there was nothing to do. The large house and gardens give me no opportunity to be bored! Thinking back to the years when we decided to purchase the house I don’t think I ever thought about how the maintenance of it and the development of it would be of such a benefit in my old age!
No not the movie…..life! Do you ever feel you are on a treadmill going nowhere? Yes you do things, you have a routine, you change your routine as often as you feel but nothing really changes does it? Recently retired and when working having purpose really meant nothing either, it simply meant I had something to occupy my time. I still have things to occupy my time, it is simply a different routine. We set goals in life or just live for the moment or maybe we do both but in the end everything we do eventually leads us to the next for we are never satisfied. It is like food for our souls, it is our thoughts which spurs us on, they are what keep us moving forward and ever seeking something that in fact we seldom find if we are truthful. Life can be very satisfying and rewarding but none of it really lasts. We aim to satisfy our physical needs first and foremost and neglect our spiritual needs though the two are inseparable, at least whilst we live. We are driven by what we think but we can change what we think. If we are comfortable with the changes we continue in them or we can make an attempt to do so but in the end if we are not happy we revert. No matter what we do in life, what choices we make along the way can we really say that we’ve been happy one hundred percent of the time? Our thoughts might tell us otherwise and in reality we know we are never fully happy, never fully satisfied with our lot. So our lives are a never-ending struggle with ourselves and our situations. Some resign themselves to never achieving their hopes and dreams and others think they’ve hit the jackpot when they think they have. It is all an illusion, a passing fancy and we have to make the most of it until we die. How often have you heard the expression ‘Life is for living’? Did it have an effect on your choices thereafter? We can but do nothing else but live out our lives as best we can and be happy and contented. In this world there is nothing else.
Everything is meaningless
1 The words of the Teacher, son of David, king of Jerusalem:
2 ‘Meaningless! Meaningless!’ says the Teacher. ‘Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.’
3 What do people gain from all their labours at which they toil under the sun? 4 Generations come and generations go, but the earth remains for ever. 5 The sun rises and the sun sets, and hurries back to where it rises. 6 The wind blows to the south and turns to the north; round and round it goes, ever returning on its course. 7 All streams flow into the sea, yet the sea is never full. To the place the streams come from, there they return again. 8 All things are wearisome, more than one can say. The eye never has enough of seeing, nor the ear its fill of hearing. 9 What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun. 10 Is there anything of which one can say, ‘Look! This is something new’? It was here already, long ago; it was here before our time. 11 No one remembers the former generations, and even those yet to come will not be remembered by those who follow them.
Funny how sometimes our plans change but the changes are not always bad. I was determined to go for a walk on Wednesday so I arose early to do it. Yes, nothing got in the way though they could have. Before I set off I went next door to return a gift my neighbour had given me, though I had told her not to, for doing a small job for her the previous day. It might appear to some that by doing that I was wrong and should have accepted the gift graciously but as with everything there was a reason. First of all I have done many small jobs for her but always refuse the offer of payment or a thank-you gift and she has understood that I do things because it is right to do so and wrong to do it expecting a reward. My reward is in Heaven. Each time though she makes an offer. Secondly most of the things I do for her really don’t take much time and I am happy to do them. Anyway the gifts she offered I would never buy and use in any case. Finally I think she got the message that I do things for her because that’s what neighbours should be doing for each other. I went for my walk and returned home around eleven-thirty. E made me a drink of coffee and I asked her if she would like to dine out for a change. She never refuses if there is nothing she has already planned. I explained that I also wanted to take the opportunity to wear my new full-length summer dress for the first time as the afternoon promised to be warm and sunny. Any ideas of beginning the construction of the new wooden gate were subsequently consigned to the shelf for another day! We drove to a nice restaurant some twelve miles away, one we have visited before and is it was two o’clock by the time we arrived there we were easily seated. We chatted with the waitress during our meal, a pleasant young woman who made the experience that much better. Finally it was time to return home but at the last minute we made a detour and went to our local pub for a drink which we enjoyed in the seating area outside. We didn’t stay long for E wished to be at home sitting on the patio with a coffee. So I made the coffee and we sat outside for an hour before returning indoors for the evening. What I had originally planned for the day I was glad I changed my mind by not doing. There was always tomorrow available to do them.
When I was younger it never occurred to me that I would find a partner and raise children sometime in my life, in fact I resisted the idea so much I didn’t get married until I was almost twenty-nine years old. Anyone who has read my story (above) will know why. For whatever reason my life’s desires were held in abeyance and I ended up going down a different path. The result was marriage and children, the very things I didn’t think would happen to me. I can say with hindsight that I should have taken the other route rather than the one I did. However, I did eventually fulfill my desire to follow that route. Of course it goes without saying that I love my children and have done everything possible for them to be happy. They are now both adults with their own lives to lead. I have two sons, one, the elder, is married with a daughter and the other remains single. The younger son sometimes visits E and I and stops over. Last week he stopped over for the whole week! Now as much as I love him I am happy when he returns to his own home. The elder son, though living only three miles away we hardly see. The younger son lives forty miles or more distant. I don’t think I could bear living with them for too long now they are grown. They have their own idiosyncrasies and (bad?) habits which conflict with mine and they would become an irritation. Funny how when they were growing I wanted to spend more time with them! Ah but they were different then and so was I. Would I have chosen to have children had I really thought about it all those years ago? I guess not but I have a feeling my life turned out the way it was supposed to do. I cannot say that my life would have been better had I made different decisions when young but then who could? It could have turned out a lot worse!
I’m smiling in response to life. Isn’t it just the way that things which are supposed to happen often don’t and conversely things which ought not to have happened do? I have been enjoying my ‘freedom’ from work, that is my electrical work, since I pulled my advert from the local newspaper. Work is work however and I haven’t been idle though the work I have been doing is just different. I haven’t as yet fully committed myself to full retirement and to that end I am biding my time on making a decision. I have done a couple of electrical jobs however but they have been infrequent. I suppose it is better that way as I can ease myself into a different way of life rather than simply switching off entirely from what has been my routine for many years. Today, Friday (16th) as I write this, was supposed to be a warm and pleasant day though not sunny. It turned out completely different in that it was cool and breezy! Well they can’t get it right every time I suppose. It did get warmer later in the day but too late for any ideas of relaxing in the garden. Yesterday, though windy was sunny and I took the opportunity to get the lawn mowed once more. My but it grows quickly at this time of year! E had gone to the hospital with her mom as her mom had an appointment and on her return home immediately saw the lawn had been cut though she had jokingly accused me of sitting around doing nothing. I told her I had taken it to within an inch of its life by cutting it so short. I had set it to the minimum height and have to admit it was hard-going. In fact, where I would only normally empty out the box of cuttings two or perhaps three times this time I had to empty it out about ten times! Hopefully it wouldn’t need cutting again for two weeks. So a day in the garden for both of us on Friday just didn’t happen. The weekend weather was set to change and be hotter and sunnier. I could take advantage of that but E could not as she would be spending her time away from home though not to relax in the sunshine and I too would be spending at least some of the time working. Isn’t it just the way?
I have just written a comment on an article posted by AOL regarding snowfall at Christmas. Our weather forecasters seemingly cannot say with certainty if we in the UK will get a white Christmas. My comments centred on the fact that I thought it utter nonsense that people yearn for such things forgetting as many do what Christmas is supposed to be all about, the birth of our Saviour and not the fact that we might or might not get snow!
I was at work on Saturday afternoon. I had no work in the morning but had arranged to work in another town for someone in the afternoon because they had no free time during the week. I didn’t mind, after all it is Christmas as they say. Anyway the work was to replace a few light fittings with sparkling new ones. The lady for whom I was doing the work began chatting with me. Usually it is off-putting when people won’t just let me get on with the work but on this occasion I didn’t mind. I was taken a little by surprise because her questions all centred upon me, my family, friends, about my faith and about Christmas. I am not forthright in opening up to people regarding my family and friends my faith and beliefs unless they ask of course but if they do I don’t hold back. She began by asking what I was doing over Christmas. When I replied ‘nothing different from usual’ she was intrigued and wanted to know more so I explained, telling her that I don’t think Christmas is celebrated for the right reasons these days and it has become a secular and commercial machine having nothing to do with Christ. I also told her that my family have all but distanced themselves and my friends all live afar, not that I can claim having many friends as I don’t which means I couldn’t celebrate the holiday with them as they do even it was my wish to do so. My social life is just about zero too but that’s another story. She became very concerned and it prompted more questions which I answered as honestly as I could. She couldn’t believe I don’t celebrate Christmas as I once did, in fact I don’t celebrate it at all. The look of concern upon her face was evident. She asked if I was a Christian, a question I usually end up asking of those I talk with rather than it being asked of myself. Asking what church I went to and discovering I don’t prompted her to ask why. The answer I gave made her feel sad for me and she said she thought it was sad that I wasn’t in a fellowship and no longer felt the urge to be in one. I was more concerned about her feeling a sadness for me instead of just accepting the way I feel about things as being my own choice. I have to admit I haven’t felt such a concern for me for many years, not even from those closest to me, my own family. I am more concerned that people should believe in God and Jesus Christ rather than be concerned for me and never mind whether it will snow or not.
Every day we make decisions even if we think we don’t. As we grow up we may try to do our own thing and ignore the advice or the direction of others when often that advice is necessary. If we live in a society, and we all do, there are basic rules which everyone must adhere to else pay the penalty if we ignore them. It is all about keeping things under control for if we all did what we wanted that wasn’t in keeping with the society in which we live that society wouldn’t be stable. This is why there is a necessity to have a police force to keep the peace and maintain order and why we have prisons to house those who think their ways are best. In life therefore we make choices whether to conform or to rebel but we know the consequences for each route we take. Most of us just want a simple life and to be able to live in peace and pursue our happiness. Some however think that the world owes them a living and will take what they want without working for it. At a more mundane level people make decisions without realizing it, routine habits become automatic. In my own life I am happy to say that I am in a position to do anything I wish with my time but only if I make the time available. For instance if I decide to continue to work and not retire instead I have to make myself available in case I am called upon and that limits my choices. It means I cannot commit to other interests or pursuits. This is why I have to spend my free time doing household projects. It isn’t that I don’t like doing these things but my choices to do anything else have to remain on the shelf. It is all down to the choices I make in my life, the routes I take or don’t take as the case may be. The danger is that I can be forced into a situation in the future where I cannot make the choices I might want to because it will be too late to change direction. Of course it all depends upon what we want out of life which decides the routes we take. It is of no use regretting our decisions later in life. We need to be aware of possible outcomes and be prepared to meet them face on. Take the routes you wish in life but be prepared to alter course now and then.