Well, you hopefully now know me a bit better from my taste in books and music. The book post caused me to go back and reread one of the works in the pile – this one in fact, My Natural History by Simon Barnes. Barnes is one of my idols. He makes his living writing about the two things I love most in life, outside my family: natural history and sport. When I read his works I genuinely have a sense of “if only”. If only I had had the talent, determination, courage to follow a less conventional path in life. If only I had realized earlier what was important to me deep down. There is an old game of choosing your perfect list of dinner guests. Barnes would be on mine. I would also invite Alfred Russel Wallace. The man who was almost Darwin. With Barnes I would get all my sporting heroes and a fellow amateur naturalist, a man who, like me, confesses to being a bad birdwatcher. Of course, it would not be perfect. He might talk about horses and I about photography and our conversational sailing boats would float past one another and we would have to tack back to waters in which we could both moor safely. I might put Ansel Adams on the list. I do not as a rule have a leaning toward landscape photography but Adams was also an early conservationist and a figure of contemporary rebellion if I read his autobiography correctly. I think he may fit well into my small gathering.
Do I, I wonder, have to go boy-girl, boy-girl? Can I invite Catherine the Great? I wonder how she would get on with Jane Goodall. And where should I seat Hedda Morrison? Is my maternal grandmother free? She left us in 1970 and there is so much I was too young to ask her. I think I would have to invite Groucho Marx and Tommy Cooper to lighten things up a little.
Anyway, I digress.
The question that goes through my mind today is the minor matter of what to do with the rest of my allotted time. Just over twelve months ago I made what was either a brave or foolish decision. I retired from a job that was no longer giving me the satisfaction it once had. I felt my wellbeing was at stake. Everybody warned me the question I needed to answer was “and so what next?”. I have spent a full 6 months not worrying about that. Engaging in photography, reading, writing this blog, spending time at home and trying to find a sleep pattern that suits me after thirty plus years of 6am to 11pm days that forced me into a rhythm that self-evidently wasn’t what my body wanted. But now I feel a sense of urgency. The clock is ticking. And it is fast. The clock is fast. I sense it. I gave up the fire-blanket of financial security and traded wealth for health (I hope). I search for the purpose that will take me out of the sense of drift that has started to lap against the tideline of my mind. This is my Woodstock moment –
Well then can I walk beside you
I have come to lose the smog
And I feel like I’m a cog in something turning
And maybe it’s the time of year
Yes and maybe it’s the time of man
And I don’t know who I am
But life is for learning
We are stardust, we are golden
We are 2 billion year old carbon
And we got to get ourselves back to the garden
© Joni Mitchel
I don’t have a photo that matches this musing but I will add one that I took last year. I posted it on Flickr and it received……….. not a flicker. But it is one I like very much. And that is what matters.