Waking in the morning after a night filled with dreams, where I was years younger, I still feel tired. I know I’ve woken several times, once for at least an hour, and that’s normal these days, during which I made tea and toast and read chapters of a good book, before settling back down for another two hours.
It’s aching bits and pieces that lead to the waking, mostly shoulder and neck, so there’s a lot of turning side to side and folding pillows into comfy shapes. But this body has folded and carried and borne and raised children and cared and lifted parents and driven thousands of miles and sat at desks for hours, so it deserves a few aches.
The year is ageing too, trees mulberry against grey skies, fields sodden between wet walls, dark at four. But the years have led me to this window, this view and for this, and the coffee in my favourite cup, my heart smiles.
Strange, that as the body becomes less flexible, my mind becomes more so. The years have lain down experiences like layers of sand and as I dig through the layers and stir the memories, they shift and mingle, giving me new perspectives and reflections.
The greatest gift of my ageing, I feel, is an appreciation of time.
When I was young and cramming all of life into every day, with a body strong and an ego racing, each day was both short and a competition. How much could I achieve, how many tasks could I tick off my list, how many more clients could I gain? This was the normality of 20th century ambition. Better car, larger house, more holidays, nicer restaurants. How shallow it sounds. But it was the way of middle class grammar school educated young things, born of UK post war striving parents. Their version of a better world was security. Their rules were work hard, get a good job, get a mortgage, progress in your career, try to make a difference, never give up. The conditioning of the baby boomers.
Might as well have said, you will wear yourselves out, as the world changes its priorities and leaves your loyalty behind. And the world needed to change and more so today than ever.
But my loyalty and graft was not wasted. It was a lesson to my children. They sat with X boxes in front of MTV and dreamed of freedom. They watched my tutorials and chose to write their own, filled with exploration, openness and generosity. I watch them fly.
To the present then. To classical music and rooks rising over the copse and letting the emails wait for half an hour.
To hearing birdsong through the open window and saying thank you for another day. To starting the day slowly, with a coffee in my favourite cup.
To the memories of six of us in the kitchen, fighting for the cornflakes, falling over trainers, slinging sacks on backs and slamming doors, stacking pots in dishwashers, grabbing briefcases and car keys.
Layers upon layers of life and now some time to consider the lessons learned.
Time is finite and infinite. Time is both fast and slow. There are 60 minutes in every hour and hopefully another 25 or so years in this life of mine.
As I walk a little slower, I find I have the time to look at the life around me. As I sit on a boulder half way up a hill, I have time to drink in the view. As I soak in the bath, without interruption, I have the time to reflect on the day.
This having time to reflect is revelatory. It settles and centres me. It helps me make rounded decisions. It gives me the space to wonder rather than judge. It is something I fear many of our young are currently unaware of, this gift of consciousness that sets us apart from other animals. I hope in time, they will switch off their screens and lift their heads to look each other in the eye.
I always have had 24 hours in a day I know, but the preciousness of them was never so apparent as it is this Spring, as we emerge from lockdowns and losses.
As many of us once again combine work and home, I encourage you to take a little time, to stand back and watch the scene play out in front of you, to say nothing, just to let the seconds slide once in a while, while you silently thank the Universe or your God or whatever or whomever you believe in, for your safe passage through a year like no other. May this year bring an world wide end to the pandemic and a beginning to the realisation that love and time are our most precious commodities. May we value care above capital, people above profit and sharing above share value .