…if it’s the last thing I ever do. Yes a familiar line from an old song which I think if I can remember was by a group called ‘The Animals’ with a front man called Eric Burden. It was recorded in the mid-sixties. Now I am showing my age which for those who wish to know is 72. As I write this it is Wednesday morning on the fourth of July. Now there’s a familiar date. Greetings to all my American friends, which by that I mean all of you living there. Okay I am two weeks late but the date doesn’t matter. By the way I greet all people the same no matter from where they hail. I am stuck at home though stuck isn’t probably the right word to use, perhaps left at home might be more apt. E has gone to stay with her mom for a few hours whilst her brother, who lives with his mom, has somewhere he needs to go. I am not really sure why he still lives at home with his mom for he is I think 60 years old. Life has dealt him a few bad cards over the years and I guess things just fell into place and kept him living there. E doesn’t speak much about him and I haven’t even seen him for well over twenty years. That’s what happens when families don’t stick together and support each other. There are reasons of course, many are too self-centred and have bigoted feelings. I don’t know why people are like that, after all we are all in the same boat. All you need is love. Now where have I heard that one before? I am not sure many folk know what real love is. If you’ve an ear I can tell you but I don’t wish to preach, not in this post anyway. I see folk going about their daily business and often wonder what it is they think about, what their focus on life is. One day they will, we all will, leave this place and everything in it and in fact it will be the last thing we ever do won’t it? Once more it is a beautifully sunny day, probably going to be too hot again for me if I’m honest. I am maybe thinking I should get out of this place, that is my house and go for a walk somewhere but do you know, I am not sure I will feel better for it. It is late in the morning as I finish this post. I haven’t eaten breakfast because I wasn’t hungry when I got up but I am feeling a little hungry now. After I have eaten I will be ‘reviewing the situation’, (yes, from Oliver Twist, the musical). Have a really nice day my readers.
If today is anything to go by it looks as if we are in for yet still more hot weather. Yesterday was hot enough and today has followed suit. It is the last week of the month, even the last Monday and I am glad I am not still working as an electrician. It always seemed the way that during the hot weather I was stuck inside a house or inside somewhere on a building site but in the cooler and colder months I was asked to do outside work. I looked forward to the days when I could decide to work in conditions I preferred and better still not have to work at all! I used to dream about such days. As a youngster I dreamt about growing up and especially how I could become a girl. I didn’t wish for anything else.As I grew up I realised life had other ideas and there were things I had to do before any of my wishes and desires could come about. My future didn’t quite turn out as I had originally intended but you can read about that in my pages section of this blog. In the winter time I used to yearn for warm weather but not so much these days. Much as I like the warm weather it can be too much for me to cope with sometimes. I prefer it to be cool though not freezing cold! You might therefore assume I am at present wishing for cool weather and to a point you would be correct. I am however enjoying the fact that I can walk about in a swimming costume and a slip-on skirt. Life doesn’t always turn out the way we wish does it? Now I am retired I have a more controlled future and can pretty much have things the way I want. These are the days I dreamt would never arrive until they did. I used to imagine what life would be like for me at different stages of it. I was born in 1945 which is of course the last century. Not everyone will be able to claim to have lived in two different centuries! At ten years of age I thought about what I would be like twenty years later and then when those days arrived I thought about 2005 and my sixtieth birthday. It was too far ahead to worry about so I carried on and gave it no more thought. When I did reach that age I realised that it had crept up on me and suddenly there seemed to be nothing to look forward to, nothing to dream about, in this world at least. These are the days though that I once could only dream about.
Tiredness, weariness, fatigue, boredom, routine, lethargy, disinterest are among the things which affect me at some point and if it isn’t the one it’s the other. If something holds my interest I am happy enough but I find now that there is less I find interesting with each passing day. If I’ve a project to do I am happy but only if things go well and to plan. Even so, I get bored with projects too believe it or not and I have days where I simply cannot be bothered or I’ve had enough for a while. I get days where I just cannot make the effort to do anything. Monday (21) was such a day. I knew before I got out of bed that I didn’t want to be doing anything though there were things to be doing if I chose. I was tired and weary the moment I awoke and I wanted to go back to sleep but couldn’t. Once I wake up I find it extremely difficult to go back to sleep and after a short time I have to climb out from beneath the sheets. I was looking forward to a blank canvas with nothing to do or rather no intentions of doing anything. I enjoyed breakfast and watching tv whilst eating it. I switched on the computer to check my mail and switched it off again. I went into the garden to water the plants again which I find relaxing because I don’t need to do much but stand and direct the hose!
I went indoors to make a cup of coffee and returned outside to sit drinking it in the bright warm morning sunshine. My thoughts were all over the place and I couldn’t sit there long. I decided to get my guitar and sit on the bench in the front garden playing it for a while and then it was lunch time, early because I’d eaten an early breakfast but it was by then twelve-thirty. After lunch I sat on the sofa and had a cat nap. E had gone to rest on the patio and I went for a walk down to the beach. I sat on top of the dunes looking out to sea and along the beach. Very few people were there during what was after all a working day for most so those I saw were either elderly and obviously retired or women taking their dogs for a walk. As I sat my thoughts turned to the days when I often used to run through the dunes or sat there just contemplating life. I was doing just that on Monday afternoon too, contemplating life. I remembered times when I would call my friend or she would call me on my mobile phone as I sat on the dunes enjoying an afternoon free from work. She never calls me now though I have tried contacting her. She moved to the south coast a few years ago. After an hour or so I walked back home asking myself what is the point of it all? I often thing about the futility of life, that is the things we get involved with during our lives and ponder why it is we do them. We acquire wealth, a house, a family, a job, we take holidays and at the time enjoy it all. I reflect on King Solomon‘s struggle with the same issues and what conclusions he drew from it all. ‘Meaningless, everything is meaningless’ he said and all we can do is to fear (revere) God and enjoy our work and our lives as best we can. So what’s up with me I ask myself?
My plans were almost thwarted on Saturday. It was another warm and sunny day as we enjoyed the slightly unseasonal weather for April with temperatures around six, seven and eight degrees above normal. Although I wanted to spend more time outdoors I knew I had to do at least some more work in the cellar. This little project is certainly taking quite some time to complete. I was up and about around eight o’clock and after breakfast the first thing I did was to water the rear garden as we hadn’t any rain for days. It was especially important that I did it if only for the sake of the newly bedded plants I had put in the day before though all the garden plants needed it too. On returning indoors I continued with the painting and was doing fine until after an hour or so I thought I heard E calling out to me so went to investigate. She was two floors up and kind of stuck on the landing unable to move with muscular pain in her back, something she says happens occasionally. I did my best to assist but there was little I could do but to see that she made it downstairs safely. From that point onward and throughout the day I had to do the fetching and carrying for her and prepare her meals as she often eats different things to me. Once I knew she was settled I returned to my painting but my phone rang soon after I had resumed. It was our next-door neighbour who asked if I could check out a couple of garden lights she had recently purchased but hadn’t worked. I told her I would call as soon as I could and went there around thirty minutes later after completing what I was painting. The lights are solar units which charge during the day and when night falls they illuminate. There are switches on them but no indication of their function, they could either be for preventing the units from charging or from illuminating. I asked for the instruction sheet but she told me she had thrown it out with the garbage! I suggested she return them as faulty. When I returned home I removed my overalls for I knew it wasn’t worth keeping them on, my services to E would be taking preference and my project would have to wait a couple of days. At least E was able to join me out on the patio to relax for a couple of hours in the afternoon.
Today, Monday (8), I managed to do a little exercising on the treadmill after many days of abstinence due to muscular pain in my legs. All mentioned previously. Anyway after breakfast I took the plunge and tentatively stepped on the machine. A slow walk to begin then gradually increasing the speed to see how it went. A mile and a half later and I stopped. I was so happy to begin my exercising once again not only for the benefits but for the enjoyment too. After a lifetime of always being on the go having to rest from it is difficult for me even for short periods. I could have simply taken a walk outdoors but had I found it a problem I might have been too distant from home to make it back comfortably. Why take the risk?
Today I managed to take a few photographs of E who is notorious for not wanting her picture taken. I have never understood why that is for she takes a lovely picture. She wanted to submit an up-to-date picture of herself to the issuing authority for her vehicle parking permit. It enables her to park her vehicle, anywhere that is legal to do so, for free because of her health condition. The story was that she couldn’t transfer the picture she took of herself on her tablet and transfer it to her computer. I was sure she was mistaken but I offered to do it using mine and in the process of course I could save them to my own files. I actually have few pictures of her and it is the same for her. We neither of us have taken many pictures over the years, even of places we’ve visited. What really is the point? The best memories are those in our heads, we don’t need pictures to stir them up. You will notice that my gallery holds very few pictures.
Today I saw the progress of the sun against the garden walls and watched the squirrels prancing about on the still frozen lawn where the sun couldn’t reach. I can feel the approach of Spring in my mind but the picture through the window tells a different story just at the moment. It is cold but not extremely cold but it is bright and sunny, just as it is in my heart. I hope yours is too.
A day for one of my scheduled walks but this day it was more to do with collecting more stones for the garden than the walk itself. Where I collect the stones is around two and a half miles from home so I have to carry them that far on my return. Naturally I collect them on the return journey rather than on the outward one! Although there was some light rain at times there wasn’t much of it. The wind was the major downside to the weather and down on the shore where it is totally open the wind was strong making it feel much colder than the six or seven degrees it was. Soon I was back home in the warmth and not needing to go anywhere for the rest of the day. I did spend some time in the garden though, not a lot but just enough to keep an eye on things and noting down anything that might want doing later. It appears there are a lot of dog owners where I live and I saw most of them down at the beach or in the streets I walked! Probably up to 90% of the people I saw had a dog in tow, some of them with two. Personally I love dogs but they do need a lot of attention and care and think of all those vet bills! We used to keep dogs at home years ago but I doubt we would ever have another and cats? Not very likely. E likes cats as I do though I prefer other people’s cats. We have enough wild animals visiting the garden each day to feel the need to have a pet. Saturday was the last day of the year for exercising too as on Sunday, New Year’s eve, I would be resting. The start of my new year would see me exercising on the gym equipment. No hang-overs, no waking up in the middle of the day not remembering what happened the night before……..just another day.
By the time I had gotten downstairs on Tuesday morning E was disappearing out of the front door. She had told me of her appointment with the CAB (Citizens Advice Bureau) regarding her business with the DSS (Department of Social Security) but I had forgotten. I grabbed a banana and put on my outdoor clothes to go for a walk. It wasn’t a particularly warm day, in fact it was quite cold in the wind though not as bad is it was a few days earlier. Not knowing which path to take I plodded on toward the seafront and made a snap decision once I was there. I turned left and took the paths through the dunes where I would be sheltered from the wind. I reached the spot where I could turn to my right and continue over the dunes to the beach. Once there I was exposed to the cold wind but it was pleasant and refreshing despite that. For the first time in a while I was on the beach when the tide was actually coming in. It was almost at high tide, almost reaching the dunes themselves and I was thrilled about that. One of my favourite things in life is to be on the beach at high tide and I am fortunate to be living on the coast to enjoy it. On the downside, living where I am isn’t the best place for I have to walk quite a way through the dunes to reach the beach else walk across a muddy path nearer to home to reach it directly. Anyway either way is alright and I am still happy. I was going to walk further along the beach to the small town where we used to live, Freshfield which is the north part of Formby but had I done so it would have doubled my walking distance. I wasn’t ready for a fourteen mile walk so I phoned E to see if she could collect me if I decided to walk it. Unfortunately she wasn’t able to so I simply returned home on foot from Ainsdale where I had ended up. Walking to Ainsdale and back is around a seven-mile walk. When I arrived home E had only just returned too but she had another appointment to keep immediately after lunch. This time she had to visit the hospital for therapy on her shoulder. So she went out again and I remained at home. Sometimes it’s like that at home, we pass like ships in the night hardly seeing each other.
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!
The day is a special one for me as it marks the anniversary of E’s birth. Though I may not observe such days generally speaking, I never forget what they mean in my life. I took the opportunity to take E out to lunch though not specifically to mark the day I thought she would appreciate it anyway. I treat her to lunch quite often during the year so lunches have no special significance other than to enjoy each other’s company in some convivial place other than home. It is nice to go out for lunches now and again. I asked her how it felt to be now the age she is (I’m not revealing that) and she replied just the same as it was yesterday! How true a statement was that! Marking an annual date as something special is rather ridiculous when you think about it. What is the point? It is just another day. We could mark each day equally as such, a special day and this we should be doing anyway. We none of us know how many days we have on this planet so we should be enjoying every one of them in whichever way we feel is right. In January next year, the 27 th to be precise, I will have known E for 45 years. I loved her the first time I saw her and that hasn’t changed even though many other things have since. It is all about love.
Life is all about love for without love we have nothing. It isn’t an option, it is a command we should obey. Didn’t Jesus say, ‘A new command I give you: love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.’ (John 13:34)? Without love there is friction, discontent, discord and a host of other things which bring us down. Love lifts us up, makes us feel good not only about life in general but in ourselves. With love in our hearts we are at peace with ourselves and with the world. I wish I could take everyone out to lunch but that is obviously impossible. I can however demonstrate love in everything I do and this is what we all should do. Every day then becomes special to us and hopefully to those we meet too. Yes I remember October 11, 14, November 21 and a host of other ‘special’ days in my life but in reality every day is special.
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.