"Life is Beautiful."
Like the phone call that tells you the meetings off because Joe has died.
Makes you think about yourself, doesnt it? That pain you never noticed before. That dizzy spell you got last week.
And maybe you think about a friend in hospital and you wonder whats going to get me someday!
So you resolve to change. You buy the latest diet book, the Nike runners and you rejoin the health and fitness club.
The first week goes well. You lose seven pounds, from your face! Then comes a rainy Monday and somehow the Pastas more comforting than fish.
No more desserts becomes just a little bit of apple tart, without cream, of course. The waiter brings you cream, itll not go to waste.
You vowed to leave the office at 5.30 but something comes up and youre still there at seven.
For that you deserve a couple of pints on the way home, followed by a chicken supper because by now your dinners in the dog and youre in the dog house.
On Tuesday youre travelling so theres no gym that day, and youd be mad to jog alone in a strange city at night.
The motivational tapes dont work. The Californian accent and the cheesy smile of the latest Guru whos going to awaken the giant within you sounds like another false promise from a false prophet.
So you lie awake thinking, listening to the sound of your own breathing, and you promise to make a fresh start next weekend!
Why do we keep on trying in the midst of failure and disappointment? Why dont we just say ... screw it, instead of trying again and again?
Life wasnt supposed to turn out this way, was it? Remember the dreams of the young man?
I remember a hot August night in 1965, sitting on the wall outside Pipers Merries in Crosshaven, telling Joanne about my great plans the book, the travel, the big job, the money. And she was so gone in the head with love night that, she believed me!
And when I walked her home and held her hand and kissed her tenderly, the vinegar from the chips tasted sweeter than wine!
Teenagers in love, Rock &Roll kids, Life was so, so beautiful then.
Those of you of a certain age may recognise the foregoing thoughts and feelings as the musings of the middle-aged man. Reflections on choices made and as a consequence the life you didnt live. Reconciling the dreams of the young man with what youve actually achieved, dealing with occasional depressive feelings and health worries. Those incessant voices in the head of doubt uncertainty and regret.
We cannot stop those feelings from welling up inside us now and again, but we can stop them from staying.
The past is part of what we are to-day of course, the good with the bad, and follows us around like a faithful old dog-nudging us for attention now and again. For some memories, the best thing about the past is...its over!
Why do we keep on trying in the midst of failure and disappointment? Why dont we just say screw it?
Maybe we should give up the myth that life can be simple. Maybe there is no giant to be awakened within us. Perhaps we are destined to live some of our lives in quiet desperation. Perhaps the quality of our lives is determined, not by the highs and lows, but by the way we handle the drudgery of our vocations.
Why dont we just quit!
We cant quit, we wont quit, because we have other voices in our heads, voices of reason that give us reassurance and confidence that life can be good again. Because we have other memories from the past golden happy nostalgic memories of achievements that made us proud and adventures that kept us young.
Because we have learnt to ignore the critic including the self-critic - who knows neither victory nor defeat.
Because we have parents, grand-parents, forgotten and unknown ancestors who have toiled and prayed that we might be given this chance to be happy and fulfilled.
Because now and again something happens that stops you suddenly in your tracks. Only this time its something happy and unexpected. Like the sun breaking through the clouds, like seeing again the power of love and the human spirit, like a prayer answered.
And in that moment we find a new way to be young as we rediscover that Life Is Beautiful.
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