I’m very nearly seventy years of age. I intend to live a healthy and fully active life until I’m at least ninety and review the situation then. That means I have twenty good summers left. Now please bear with me, dear reader, for this is not a morbid concept but quite the opposite. It’s a joyous, liberating, invigorating notion. Let me explain.
As kids, our carefree school-free summers pass without thought and stretch out into infinity. As we enter adulthood, they are hijacked by careers*, kids*, mortgages*, impecuniousness *, stress*, divorce*, redundancy*, caring for aging parents* (*delete as applicable, personally I have a full house). Without us realising, the years slip by until we count them in decades. We let them go without appreciating that they are a tightly rationed resource once spent, never to be regained.
But as I reach my three score years and ten, I can now more accurately estimate how many I might have left. Twenty is still a good number but I must not waste a single one more of them. Hence my new perspective. From now on I’ll be making the most of every year left to me to do those many things I’ve been putting off for too long and to explore new ideas and experiences. It’s not a bucket list as such, I have no menu to work through. I’ve just found a new appreciation of the fragility of time. Most obviously this looks like our recent moving onto a canal boat to see the four seasons as close to nature as possible. Plans for summers to come are in the making, I might yet get to sit in Gene Krantz’s chair in Mission Control, Houston…
For the reality is stark. None of us – no matter where we are on our journey through The Seven Ages of Man – have any idea just how many summers are still for us to be enjoyed. The past 18 months have shone a cold, harsh light on our individual and collective mortalities. The grand auditor is always breathing over our shoulders – realising this focuses the mind. Time is the only resource we are born with, it’s the only thing we have to use and barter with to survive on this earth, and when it runs out our time is (literally) up.
I wish I’d been more aware of this a long time ago, but that ship has long passed. For now, I’ll just concentrate on the future and make sure Jo and I squeeze every drop out of our next twenty summers. And autumns, winters and springs. No matter where you are on the continuum of life, I commend this approach to you.
My warmest regards as ever to you all
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Thank you for reading my blogs. I’m getting quite old now, and hopefully I’m a little wiser than I once was. I have enjoyed a fascinating career full of fascinating people, and made many great friendships. I’ve made huge errors in my lifetime, and enjoyed great success too – it’s been the ultimate game of snakes and ladders - up and down, round and round. It is my privilege to share some of my stories with you, and describe some of the lessons I’ve learned in the hope that it may both save you from falling into the same holes, and help you in your careers and lives. Good luck and good fortune.