I wish I could do that – seize the time and place no trust in tomorrow. Difficult, though, when that stubborn illusion of personal immortality that gets one through childhood and youth finally yields to a sense of timespan and fragility.
And yet, between the jumping-at-shadows bouts of vulnerability when a sudden awareness of the body’s incapacities against the vitality of the consciousness bring gloom, I can still take heart. Yes, I keep forgetting names (and I understand that this is where the mental dereliction begins), but I can think and feel as passionately as ever. Age appears not to have significantly diminished what my headmaster described in the 17-year-old me as ‘an overbalanced sense of justice’. And a powerful sense of a spiritual dimension remains firmly in place alongside a quiet certainty that there is no God. I take great pleasure in the company of my friends; I laugh a lot; I read constantly; I’m writing steadily again; music, in the playing and the listening, continues to excite and move me in equal measure; and I am aware each day that I have much loved family immediately about me or close enough to see and/or hear whose years cover the spectrum from the horizon right up to a shoreline not so very far away from where I stand.
I am old enough to see how little I have done in so much time, and how much I have to do in so little.
[We] get to think of life as an inexhaustible well. Yet everything happens only a certain number of times, and a very small number, really. How many more times will you remember a certain afternoon of your childhood, some afternoon that’s so deeply a part of your being that you can’t even conceive of your life without it? Perhaps four or five times more. perhaps not even that. How many more times will you watch the full moon rise? Perhaps twenty. And yet it all seems limitless.
“t’s being here now that’s important. There’s no past and there’s no future. Time is a very misleading thing. All there is ever, is the now. We can gain experience from the past, but we can’t relive it; and we can hope for the future, but we don’t know if there is one.
Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
There is only one day left, always starting over: It is given to us at dawn and taken away from us at dusk.
The word “now” is like a bomb through the window, and it ticks.
Arthur Miller ‘After the Fall’)
It is never too late to be what you might have been.
Your headmaster reminds me of someone I once worked with who said I had “a naive sense of honesty that would get me into all sorts of trouble” – an oddly disturbing statement, I’ve always thought since.
So he saw you as a kind of Candide figure in a wicked world! That comes across as preferable to “he’s a stroppy sod”!
That’s quite an insight, I think. It’s one of three books I had to read in French at school. I must say I enjoyed it. It made quite an impression on me. However. until you mentioned it it never occurred to me that I might have been (and might still be) “a kind of Candide,” I have a horrible feeling that the thought will keep me awake tonight…
And that George Eliot quote rocks.
I’m working on bringing it to fruition!
I hope not. I’d hate to be the instigator of another’s insomnia!
Don’t worry. I can now report that you weren’t, as it turned out.