Or making the most of every day…..
Yesterday someone’s mum was buried. Well probably a lot of mothers were buried today but this one was different. This mother was only 42 and leaves behind two beautiful children and a husband. I only met her a few times but she was best buds with my old school friend.
They met in 1992 and shared the same sardonic wit and sideways look at life. Life is so unfair. She was so full of life and now it’s game over. Over at 42. So much left undone. So much that she will never do. A life only half lived.
At my lowest point last year I had some recurring thoughts that I had to keep brushing away. You might imagine that as someone blowing all the little fluffy bits off a dandelion but it was more like having to gag a ventriloquist’s dummy, force it into a suitcase, lock it, wrap it in duct tape and then hide under the stairs. No matter what I was doing I could hear him shouting, trying to get out.
These thoughts were so potent that I could barely verbalise them. I cried them to my husband once but I was in such a state I’m not sure he could hear me through the sobs.
Perhaps seeing these thoughts written down in the cold light of day will be cathartic and will neutralise them, remove the venom, the poison, take away the power to reduce me to a quivering wreck.
I seemed to be really obsessed with my own mortality, not that I felt imminently about to die but I felt that I could see this finite amount of time stretching in front of me, a little bit more disappearing every day.
There are only so many times I will see people again in my life.
My parents went to visit some relatives last week. My uncle has just turned 80 and I wonder how many more of these family reunions will be possible. None of my grandparents made it to 90 and some died in their 70s. But it’s not just the older generation I’m thinking of. Some friends that I absolutely adore, I rarely see. And even in this age of constant communication we don’t interact as much as we should.
My best friend from university days came to see us a few years ago and we spent an amazing week just remembering why we were friends in the first place. No mundane smalltalk, straight into the deep and meaningful, the hilarious reminiscences and the in jokes that link us forever. But that was 5 years ago. If I only see this friend every five years, how many more times will we sit up till the wee hours, chatting and laughing like the teenagers we were when we first met. Maybe ten more times. If we’re lucky. Maybe five.
And it’s not just people. What things have I already done for the last time? (Dance on a table/roller skate/stay up all night) And what will I never get around to doing at all? (Never bought those thigh high leather boots but I think on reflection that was a good idea).
Who the hell is going to deal with all my stuff?
I have a lot of stuff. I am a hoarder, I keep too much and find it hard to let go. But when I’m no longer here, who is going to sift through my crap, organise my old photos and finally make a lovely scrapbook of my kids lovely little birthday cards and drawings. And if all the school notes, love letters and random bits of memorabilia are just going to be tossed in the bin then why am I keeping them?
And that’s the stuff that I meant to keep, the objects that do mean something to me – so what about the boxes of broken necklaces, the old magazines I’ve half read but really, really need to save, the keys for places I no longer live in, the things I bought but never got round to returning. I dread someone looking at my vast amounts of rubbish and thinking “she must have thought this was important so we better keep it”. It’s a pretty crappy legacy to leave. I’ve written about my hoarding in another post.
In my darkest hours, all I could think was what a half baked person I have turned out to be. Full of plans but never getting round to actioning them. I have a beginner’s guitar book and a digital tuner. I was going to learn to play guitar while I was pregnant. My son is nearly 3. I bought a skipping rope to keep fit. It’s to replace the last skipping rope I bought about 15 years ago. That one went in the bin, unnoticed. This one is gathering dust at the side of my desk.
I am the princess of ideas but the queen of procrastination.
I’m reading a book at present by Andrew Nicoll called ‘If you’re reading this I’m already dead’. The former king of Albania, Otto, thinks to himself,
“We get a little bit of something and we hang on to it, hoard it, save it up for our old age and then, suddenly, we are old and we can’t enjoy it, and then we’re dead and some other bugger gets the lot…A bottle of champagne on the cellar shelf is a dead thing. It’s wasted unless it’s in the glass and getting itself drunk by a pretty woman. That’s what it’s for. That’s what life is for. We forget that other learn it too late”.
Maybe I need to crack open the champagne because tomorrow we might be dead. So perhaps it’s time to start living in the present, focusing on the here and now and making sure we squeeze every ounce of life out of every single day.
I read a great book called ‘The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun’ by Gretchen Rubin. I was inspired by it but never really made the effort to implement some of the brilliant ideas she writes about. So starting now I’m going to try out some new every day resolutions (because New Year’s resolutions are, like, so last year).
Another excellent read is ‘The Humans’ by Matt Haig written as an alien trying to understand the human condition.
“Your life will have 25,000 days in it. Try to remember some of them”.
I’m going to try to make the days count, get more out of every moment and not squander this precious gift I’ve been given. Maybe there’s time for a few cartwheels before bedtime?
“Yesterday’s the past, tomorrow’s the future, but Friday is a gift. That’s why it’s called the present”
Today’s earworm: ‘independent Women’ – Destiny’s Child
Last night’s different dinner score: 1 (can’t fail with spag bol!)