Just lately EBL has been feeling her age. Obviously I am extremely venerable and wise, just like Bede who lived and died not that far from here. Bede achieved rather a lot of important things during his life, and is a hero of mine in many ways. He wrote the definitive History of the English People, checking his facts as far as he could through references to manuscripts from across the known world. He also invented the modern calendar, for it was he who came up with the idea of numbering years form the birth of Jesus, rather than the Roman model of “in the 3rd year of Emperor Whosit, when Jeremy and Tristan were consuls” kind of thing. He was extraordinary, and what gives me the literal shivers is that I can go and visit his tomb, where his remains are laid, to give my respects. They have been at Durham Cathedral since 1022 (Bede dies in 735 and was originally laid to rest in Jarrow).
Personal heroes can ask you difficult questions about yourself, and today I have been feeling my years but not my worth. Now before we get all sentimental about how we are all precious gifts etc etc, let me stop you right there. I have no illusions that I have achieved some successes of which I am proud, for example four shining Offspringses who are lighting up the world. Hopefully I have been a meaningful and positive force in Sigoth’s life, and I have contributed both at work and as a volunteer, where at least I hope I have done no lasting harm and am sure I have sometimes done some good. In other words I have lived a life, and it has been fairly ordinary and not too bad.
When I was sixteen I had infinity before me, and now infinity seems smaller.
I was reading a book about Buddhism the other day and there was rather a fierce concentration on the message that we should be clear that we may die today. I have no problem with this; it makes sense to me that it is better to live as if today was my last day, not to let the sun set on an argument, and so on.
Knowing I will die is not depressing, but it was an idea far from my youthful mind. Young folks are immortal of course, which is why they so often die in car crashes. Nevertheless I had before me a life to live and things to achieve, although what those were was never a clear idea in my mind. I thought only that I was capable of achieving things of great importance. If not World Peace, then at least a good step towards it.
Now I find it less likely I will manage it. Time has slipped by. Every day I tell myself I would have written more but there was not time. Nor was there time to finish my knitting, practise my music, read up on my Eald Englisc, phone friends to see how they are, meditate, practise calligraphy, go for a good walk, take photos, bake a cake, do yoga or whatever I fancied having a bash at. There is never enough time to do everything.
Of course, I do seem to find time to watch television with Sigoth, which I also consider important because we enjoy the deconstruction afterwards and it is a relaxing thing we can do together. We seem to need more time to relax as we get older too. We also find time to write the quiz and to play the occasional board game. Sometimes I do write something, and sometimes I post a blog post. Sometimes I call a friend. Sometimes I do achieve these small goals. All is not lost!
But I do not feel consistent about these pursuits, nor confident that I will improve. So I have decided not to worry about it any more. Last year I made a list of personal goals I wanted to achieve in order to balance my work and life more equitably. I have managed more than I expected. I have now adjusted my goals a little and hope to carry on in 2014. That will have to be enough.
Bede was outstanding. I am unexceptional. I have done what I have done, and whether I could have done more is too late to worry about. I shall simply carry on as best I can and my main goal will be to accept what I do is what I do.
Once I have improved my equilibrium a little further following my recent operation, I shall be in a position to impose a little seldf-discipline. It is something I am capable of doing so it is entirely possible that one day I will finish the novel, will learn to write beautiful calligraphy and with luck, achieve World Peace.
In the meantime, I am practising being kinder to myself.
I know many of us are more demanding of ourselves than of other people. If you are one of the many, how do you manage to keep sense of perspective?
Meanwhile, my dears, as always –