As a child I used to be excited at the prospect of a holiday or vacation just as any other child would be.
As I grew into my teens and became a rebel to society, again as many teens seem to do, my attitude to vacations changed. Now I know most teenagers like vacations, though not necessarily with their parents but in my case I began to lose interest. In fact I had lost all interest in many things by my mid-teens and in many ways became anti-social. I had switched myself off from those things going on all around me, I just wasn’t interested. It wasn’t until I reached my mid-twenties that things changed and I became more conformist. My first vacation for many years was when I got married and it was also the first vacation I had taken abroad. We went to Majorca and for many years following spent many a good time holidaying abroad in one country or another.
Now I have come full circle and once again vacationing holds no interest for me. The last holiday E and I took, apart from having a long weekend in Vienna a few years back had been in fact two two-week breaks firstly in New York and then Montreal a few weeks later back in 2009. I am not saying a vacation is totally out of the question for if E wanted to go somewhere I would gladly join her. By the time you get to my age the novelty has worn off somewhat and because life for me is now one long holiday there seems little point in travelling anywhere for a break. When people ask why I am not interested in holidays and suggest I take some I let them know that I don’t think as they do. Some people seem offended as if my decisions in life had anything to do with them! At this very moment (Jan 14 th) I think a break to some hot sunny beach would be nice but what would be the point when I’d only have to come back to reality? Besides I am enjoying life just where I am.
I’ve never been a person who was interested in flitting about all over the place every day as some might like to do. I was however always interested in going places, that is going somewhere for a long stay or even a short stay for a purpose. I mean by this that I enjoyed travelling to a holiday destination or somewhere for a day out. I still like those things but seldom go anywhere these days. Travelling can be tedious and tiring but if I can relax at my destination it is worth putting up with. Now I am retired there are very few places to go each day. Those trips I do make are usually for shopping. Other outings I take are simply for the exercise, I enjoy going for walks. I have neighbours who can’t seem to be able to remain at home and I wonder why they have a house to live in because they spend more time out of it that in it! To be fair my neighbours do have small children so they will be driving them to their various activities, not least of all school. Aside from that they seem to be taking short trips constantly throughout the day which don’t include their children. I am not suggesting their children are abandoned, each parent in turn stays at home whilst the other flits about in their respective cars throughout the day. They have electrically controlled gates which only ever seem to be closed at night because during the day they would constantly be opening and closing. They lead a very different life from that of E and I. It is all about our modern western society and the needs we have self-imposed upon ourselves to conform to it. Life is hectic for us all as we grow through our adult lives but as the years pass things do begin to slow down and we find there is neither that same urgency nor necessity to be flitting about all over the place every day.
When we look back over the years we can so easily forget what we once did and sometimes wonder where the years went! Living for the moment we forget the passage of time. Did we really do those things? Did we spend all that time doing this and that? Would we have done it differently knowing then what we know now? Probably not I surmise. It is nice to not have to do the many things we once had to any longer. It is nice to have a slower pace of life and not have to worry about the things we perhaps used to worry about. No more comings and goings, well far fewer of them anyway.
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!
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.
As long as it didn’t rain on Saturday (23) I intended to spend some more time in the garden again. It would be the last day in the year for doing any work for me but alas it didn’t happen. I had gotten up early and went for a long walk down the coastal road to Ainsdale. I chose that route as it was still dark at the time I went, 7.30. I wanted to take the route through the sand dunes but that could have proved very difficult in the dark. However, by the time I decided to return home it was light so I walked back through the dunes. When on the beach the sky was clear toward the south but northward it was dark and heavy. To the south I could see the mountains of North Wales, easily seen when the skies are clear. The oil rig westward out to sea was still fully lit against the dark sky. This time the tide had receded before I arrived but it had left an enormous amount of seaweed behind! I walked northward again along the beach to the point in the dunes where I would turn into them and off the beach. I was back home before 10.00 and had breakfast whilst E was busy doing something associated with her crafting hobby. As I mentioned I wanted to do a little gardening but events got in the way during the rest of the morning. After lunch I just didn’t feel like doing anything. It has been quite a busy twelve months with all the projects that I have been involved with both inside and outside the house. It helped not having to do electrical work for others, at least for the last nine months anyway. My time became my own and I could concentrate on my little domestic projects, and there were many! Just the way I like it, better for my health and well-being to have things to do to wile away the time. When I look back on the year I am amazed just how much was done, all of them written about in my posts, and there was still plenty of time to relax too. Saturday afternoon being one of them. There was always Sunday for a potter around the garden!
At this time of year I was always busy working but this year all that has changed. Since my retirement back in April I have not done any electrical work to speak of, just a couple of very minor jobs and some of them were at home anyway. From around September until the week preceding Christmas I was kept busy doing electrical work with little time for myself. I was used to the pressure but then again I worked better under pressure, still do. However over the last few weeks I have had very little work to do, certainly no contract work and what I have been doing at home wasn’t that taxing. Don’t misunderstand me here, I am glad the pressure has been lifted from my shoulders and that now I can please myself what I do and when I do it. It is simply that it feels a little strange having all this freedom. I have been occupying myself outside of any domestic jobs I do by taking walks and exercising more on what equipment we have accumulated over the last few years. I am currently getting to grips with the new elliptical trainer we purchased a week or so back. Having not used one before it certainly felt strange when making the first attempt! I am more used to the treadmill, that is my muscles are more used to it.
With the elliptical trainer however those muscles are exercised in a different way and other muscles not exercised much when running or even walking have to adjust too. I wake up in the mornings with a kind of joy in my heart knowing I haven’t any reason to rush into the day so in a way that too feels strange, though I am getting used to it. To be honest I rarely lie in bed for long once I am awake and half the time I have something in mind I want to do anyway. I never thought of it before but having one’s remaining years free to one’s self is often not appreciated until the time it arrives. I’ll try to make the most of them.
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.
My van will be ten years on the road come Spring, March to be precise and during that period so far it has covered a mere thirty thousand and a couple of hundred miles only. Not a lot of mileage and considering the engine is run on diesel, a mere drop in the ocean. That means little wear and tear and of course little expenditure too. Nevertheless despite the low mileage the engine has been started many, many times which of course has been a strain on the battery. The original battery, as I write this on Monday, is still under the bonnet but I made the decision to have it replaced and by Tuesday a new one will have been installed. I had the old one checked beforehand of course and a replacement was just about required. Although I could have managed with the old battery for a while longer I thought it prudent to have it replaced just in case it failed at an inopportune time. Money well spent I think. On Wednesday this week (27th) another measurement will be taken in the garage to ensure our alterations will be adequate for the new door installation. There is no reason why it should not as we have followed the instructions regarding the installers requirements. The door will be installed on Thursday the following week and I am to pay the balance on the day. However, the fitters are to be paid separately preferably by cash. With that in mind and whilst I was out arranging for the battery replacement I withdrew the remainder of the cash which I couldn’t withdraw the first time in readiness. The fee will be £415 requiring two withdrawals from an ATM on separate days because of the present £300 limit here in the UK. All routine stuff as we all know. That expenditure will be money well spent too. I asked E if she would like to dine out for we hadn’t done that for a time but she had to spend the late morning and early afternoon out with her mom. On my return home she still hadn’t left the house but did so soon afterward. It was one-fifteen when she returned and we went out to lunch. We drove to a place located on the other side of the next town, somewhere we have visited many times. This time however service was slow even though there were few diners in there. Disappointed we left and went to another establishment not far down the road, another place we have visited many times before. This time the service was prompt. Well we thoroughly enjoyed the time spent there laughing and joking with the staff as well as ourselves. Time well spent cheering up other people and bolstering our own relationship too. We didn’t stay for coffee though as we might have done but drove homeward passing Dobbies (garden centre) on the way where we spent a little time drinking coffee. The coffee was free, that is each month I am entitled to two free drinks of coffee or tea because I have membership there. That was nice too and again our time had been well spent.
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.