It has been said many times over the centuries that Nature is only interested in the future of the species.
I read that as meaning that the sole purpose of our lives, and hence our individual legacies, is a continuation of the line. That’s quite satisfying for anyone who has brought up children in their own image, with appropriate standards and ethics – broadly as laid down in many a religious tract – love thy neighbour, do good, love, work hard etc.
It’s not unreasonable to say that I am nearer the end of my life than the beginning, so, as a retrospective, what do I feel it has it all been for.
As I start to write this, it’s my intention that it should be the last in this series – not so much because I have nothing left to say (I could go on and on about all sorts), but rather that it’s a convenient break point, whilst sitting in the middle of the great uncertainty that is 2020. This uncertainty may be the very reason why I should continue, but I’ll live with this divergence of thinking.
In one major stroke of good fortune and privilege, I was born in a ‘first-world’ country at a time when there have been no major wars or military service. Many people have talked about never dwelling on the past, because the past is the past, and you can do nothing about it except learn from it, however ‘ordinary’ it has been. We know that life is only like it is now because of what happened in history – yes, going all the way back to man #1. I enjoy retrospectives, whether Renaissance and Baroque music, black and white pics from my youth, or the development of our countryside. But too much looking back inclines me to wonder how on earth a supposedly increasingly intelligent and informed general public gives us the blonde twins, Trump and Johnson, to map out our futures. Hopefully, it has all been done for a reason, and we will learn by these gross errors of judgment, and the world can plot a more straightforward path in the times to come.
All we have is the present – yesterday is history, and tomorrow’s a mystery – so isn’t it just up to me to make the most of the moment? I hope that I do, in my way. There are no great schemes, just trying to stay healthy, mentally (Sudoku, jigsaws, challenging books, good conversation), and physically (walks, cycling, keeping myself supple), and to give time and spread a little happiness along the way. Importantly I think I know what I should be doing, and conversely, not doing. I don’t feel the need to have lots of outside friends, group memberships, clubs etc – I enjoy the company of a small circle, but most of all my family, whose challenges they all are willing to share to ease their burden (and increase mine). I’m pleased that they feel they can discuss things. I regard that the successes, attitudes and principles of my four children as a major success on the road of childhood and parenthood.
Yes, the future of the species…..
Most of all I am not alone, with Sue being a constant inspiration never more so than now. We bind well.
And, fortunately for my life in the present, the grandchildren are all delightful and non-judgemental. We have five currently, with two more due to appear by the end of this year. I’ll have to make do by seeing one via Skype only, until those who are about to emigrate to Malaysia return to base for a holiday at some point in 2021, or alternatively we can visit them without enduring a 14 day quarantine.
I seem to have what I want in the present, so what about the future?
Every year is a bonus from this point on, and I say this as longevity is not a strength of ‘my side’ the family. It’s up to me to contribute to those around me in the best way that I can, whilst understanding how they may want me to contribute, hopefully enjoy myself in the process, and feel that I have real purpose – not just another older person winding down the clock.
There are more books I want to read, than years I have left, so I’ll have to be selective. Fortunately, my bucket list of places/experiences to be visited, is not long. I’m not a global traveller, hate the whole airport bit, and not being in control of my immediate destiny. So if I get around those parts of the UK and France that I love, I’m a happy man. And if by chance I can’t, I have wonderful memories to fall back on, so I won’t get mardy (a lovely Yorkshire word).
I want to continue to be affected by what happens around me – the music, the words, the sights, the smells. I want to feel, I don’t want to suffer the frailties associated with old age, although they are inevitable, in whichever forms they come to affect me.
I want to see my children and grandchildren live and grow up in a world that comes to its senses, and realises that climate change is real, that not everyone needs a car and multiple social media accounts to be happy, that there is great joy in simplicity and living in harmony. I am not sure about the reality of these aspirations, but I instinctively know they are correct.
One day I won’t be here, but prior to that moment I shall know that my own legacy as borne out in my children, and their children and the love they bring, is the only real worthwhile legacy…..in other words, I’m only really interested in the future of the species.