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.
Sheila Kaye-Smith (one of my mother’s favourite novelists).
[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.
Paul Bowles (one of my favourite novelists).
I wish I could do with ease as my heading invokes – 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 do take heart. Yes, I keep forgetting names (and I read that this is where the dereliction begins), but I can think and feel as passionately as ever. And 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 within us all 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 continues to excite and move me in equal measure, both in the listening and in the playing; and I celebrate daily that I have much loved family both immediately about me and only a digital phoneme or a pixel away whose years cover the spectrum from a nudge above the decade right up to a shoreline whose edges I can remember well. Sufficient unto the day…