“I started out with nothing, and I still have most of it left.”
I wish I had originated this quote, from Seasick Steve; I feel that it applies very much to me, and was one of the things that led me to wonder how I managed to do all the things that I have done in my rich and varied life of incidents, accidents and adventures, with so few resources.
Someone on the radio said recently, as many others have done before, that life begins at fifty. No it doesn’t, it begins at birth (or sooner perhaps, depending on your position on Roe v Wade). If you get to your fiftieth birthday and feel that life is just beginning, it is either a very sad indictment of your last fifty years, or you have forgotten who you are. Have you done nothing in all that time?
When I lived in the west country I asked my elderly neighbour; “Have you lived in Devon all your life?” and he replied; “Not yet!" I feel similarly about this book, it will be incomplete unless I finish it on my deathbed, and even then, it will have merely scratched the surface of a life well spent, (in the main).
I’m sixty five, as of May 11th 2022, with the number going up way too quickly. In response to the person on the radio I thought I’d start by writing a simple list of all the things I’ve done that I can remember, and then, when I’ve finished, take each brief sentence or phrase, make it a heading and elaborate it with an anecdote, as if someone had asked me about it at a dinner party. That ought to be easy, as it’s what a lot of us like to do. Then, when I’ve finished I might write another list of all the things I still intend to do; (which I suspect I will never finish). This will be a summary of me, who I’ve been and who I am. It could be quite useful to anyone presiding over my next wedding should there be one; or funeral.
Life could end at any moment, not because I’m sick, or the target of a hired killer, as far as I know, but it just could. I, like you, just don’t know when it’ll be. It nearly happened once; in fact it might actually have done. That’s one of the things I’ve done: I collapsed in a hospital waiting-room in a seriously injured condition and saw that oft-described white beam of light and band of angels carrying me up towards it, only to wake up in an operating-theatre recovery room. I looked down briefly at myself being attended to, as if floating under a high ceiling. Maybe I croaked and was resuscitated just in time, or maybe I just passed out, I don’t know. It was almost thirty years ago but it reminded me of my mortality, and that one day I will snuff it. So any time is a good time to tally up and see what life has amounted to so far.
Reading it you may get an idea of who I am, and maybe, as I read it, I will too.