There is no broken chain

It was bitterly and unseasonally cold in Melbourne this morning – in fact the coldest October day in 15 years or something like that, and I had promised my sister that I’d meet her and go over and close Mum’s bank account.   Mum lived at the back of my sisters place and it still feels funny going over there and not going down to her flat to share a cuppa with her.  As it turned out the bank was shut because of “mechanical problems” so I’ll have to go back in the next couple of weeks to finish the job.

Driving over I got to thinking about Mum again and how in the last few days of her life, how lucky we were to be able to spend them with her.  I held her hand while she slept and we talked about how things were, how we loved each other and were thankful for our shared lives.  We spoke of how proud she was of all of her grand children.   We didn’t talk of regret because there weren’t any.  I realised how important it is to enjoy the moment.  You can’t dwell on things.   And I realised that Mum lives on.

Gentically in us three kids, in her 11 granchildren and the first of her great-grandchildren.   Molecularly in the atoms that made her whose existent goes right back to the begining of time and which now return to recycle yet again.

I think I said in her eulogy that it felt like the chain had broken.  And I’ve come to realise that it hasn’t.  We’ve just moved one more link along it and for most of us our vision of that chain stretches only two or three links in each direction over our lifetimes, but collectively goes on forever.   Our legacy is the chain the links from our distant ancestors to those yet to come.    And that is a mind boggling concept and so every now and then we should learn to take that breath, smell the roses, live in the moment, not fear for what may come nor worry about what has gone before.

With the past, I have nothing to do; nor with the future.  I live now.  ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Yesterday is history.  Tomorrow is a mystery.  And today?  Today is a gift.  That’s why we call it the present.  ~Babatunde Olatunji

…what has gone before.

I know that a death in the family causes one to confront their own mortality.  Whilst I feel young the use of the word  “one” in the previous sentence might point to something different.  Looking through my eyes out into the world I don’t relly feel any different to how I did 30 years ago.  Sure a lot of water has gone under the bridge.  I became a father with all the responsibilities that entailed.  I got married and divorced.  I shifted house a few times, changed career 6 times, and all the while my body aged and I didn’t even notice.

Sometimes though, in the past few weeks, I’ve looked in the mirror and seen an older bloke looking back at me.  The skin isn’t as elastic as it was, the sock lines on my ankles at night seem to take a long time to disappear.  I need glasses to read.  My hair is thinning and turning white.  So the trappings of age are appearing way too quickly.

In preparing the slide show for Mum’s funeral I found photos of her and Dad with my oldest son Luke, their first grandchild, who is 26 as I write this.  And I don’t see old people in those photos.  In fact when Luke was born in 1984 Dad was only three years older than I am now and yet he has already been gone six very quick years.  And sometimes that face I see in the mirror is my Dad looking back at me, and when I look down at my hands which are starting to show the wrinkles of age, I stare at my father’s hands.

I don’t want this to sound melancholy because I know that it is way better than the alternative.  But sometimes, when I start to think about it overmuch, it scares me that there is now less time ahead of me than what has gone before.

Great Expectations

I would rather read a book about Dickens than one he wrote himself.  Maybe that is a natural aversion to classics because of the reading we were forced to do in school, maybe it’s laziness or simply a matter of taste. Maybe it is that as a classic myself now, I no longer need to pretend to be the intellectual I sometimes thought I was when younger.

Although it is true I once had great expectations, I am now older and wiser and have learnt that expectations are often too weighty to be bothered carrying forever. Birthdays do this to us. Make us ponder the wotifs, the forks in the road taken or missed.  Often I wonder what would have happened had I just let the wind fill my sails and drifted not caring where I went.   There would have been good and bad in that, but maybe, just maybe, the expectations of others may not have been so warmly embraced by me.   And as I sit here thinking again, it seems to me that it was not my own great expectations that shaped who I am but the ones I soaked up from others in my life.

And I guess with that riddle still to be answered my whole midlife journey continues.

Maybe the best years of our life are in the here and now.

I was a lucky person to have four grandparents until I was nearly 17 years old, not too many kids can say that. My sons were five and four years old and my oldest daughter only six weeks when their mother’s father died suddenly aged only 56. My youngest daughter knew only three of hers.

If I could instantaneously travel 51 light years from earth and gaze at those light captured memories of me to a place where I could catch up with my birth. And if I then began to travel back through those light shows and gaze as my life passed me by I wonder if those first 16 odd years of my life would pass by more quickly than they seem to have done in my memories. Because it is an odd quirk that time accelerates as we age, a year as a five year old or 20% of a lifetime then is equivalent in percentage terms to 20 years as a 50 year old. No wonder Christmas and birthdays come around so quickly these days.

And in that travel we could meet again those we cared about and maybe this time thank them for what they did for us. Maybe with the wisdom of age we would better recognize some of those seminal moments that lead our feet, and maybe our fate, in a particular direction. We couldn’t change it but maybe in the retelling we could understand a little better why we are who we are. Perhaps that understanding could see us change our direction again.

But I somehow think that the path of life is probably best taken when the direction ahead is shrouded in fog or maybe obscured just over the brow of the next hill, where the horizon is just a little beyond our sight and the knowledge of what lies beyond remains something we can anticipate with excitement and look forward to the passion which may come from around the next bend. And let it be with eager feet that we face whatever the future may bring and let tomorrow be the gift that constantly delights us.

Maybe the best years of our life are in the here and now.

I was a lucky person to have four grandparents until I was nearly 17 years old, not too many kids can say that. My sons were five and four years old and my oldest daughter only six weeks when their mother’s father died suddenly aged only 56. My youngest daughter knew only three of hers.

If I could instantaneously travel 51 light years from earth and gaze at those light captured memories of me to a place where I could catch up with my birth. And if I then began to travel back through those light shows and gaze as my life passed me by I wonder if those first 16 odd years of my life would pass by more quickly than they seem to have done in my memories. Because it is an odd quirk that time accelerates as we age, a year as a five year old or 20% of a lifetime then is equivalent in percentage terms to 20 years as a 50 year old. No wonder Christmas and birthdays come around so quickly these days.

And in that travel we could meet again those we cared about and maybe this time thank them for what they did for us. Maybe with the wisdom of age we would better recognize some of those seminal moments that lead our feet, and maybe our fate, in a particular direction. We couldn’t change it but maybe in the retelling we could understand a little better why we are who we are. Perhaps that understanding could see us change our direction again.

But I somehow think that the path of life is probably best taken when the direction ahead is shrouded in fog or maybe obscured just over the brow of the next hill, where the horizon is just a little beyond our sight and the knowledge of what lies beyond remains something we can anticipate with excitement and look forward to the passion which may come from around the next bend. And let it be with eager feet that we face whatever the future may bring and let tomorrow be the gift that constantly delights us.

The First Law of Emotion

My divorce came through a week or so ago and I have been asked how that makes me feel. Truth is the marriage was over a long time ago, it was just that neither of us recognized it at the time. But when I sit down and look back there were a lot of obvious signs and if I’d read them early enough who knows what may have happened. I think one way or the other things would have come to a head far earlier rather than having been allowed to drift, because by that point the damage was too deep for me to do anything about it. When I finally found the courage to leave, I did all that I could to protect my ex from any damage to the point where my own relationships with family and people who I called friends was damaged, again maybe to the point of no return.
But if people read this blog front to back I hope you will find that I sheet no blame on anyone other than myself. And let me state right now that I am in a relationship that gives me more than I had in a long time and my ex would no doubt say the same about the one she is now in.   And that maybe says more about how things were than anything else I could say.

So I have wondered if there is any point at all in raising what went wrong.   If this blog does have any value beyond the personal satisfaction I find in writing, I think it is that I have given a man’s viewpoint to midlife and to some of the issues that I faced, am still facing, through that period of my life. If a single person reads something and pauses to reflect on what I have said then maybe some of my struggles have served a greater purpose than just a personal learning experience.

I have written before about the need for communication because ultimately it’s lack is the cause of all relationship issues. That is no to say that it will solve every problem, but it will at least sort things out before they fester, because it is the festering that is dangerous to relationships. Loz’s first rule of relationships is to ”Talk”.

I think it is also difficult to maintain a relationship if there is a lack of friendship, and friendship must arise from shared experience and a genuine attempt to be interested in what the other person is doing.  Real friendship can lead to love, and the lack of it can just as surely kill love.   If your partner tells you often enough that the stuff you find interesting is either boring, or would be better done in the distant future when the kids are off your hands, or that they simply have no interest, it is very easy to begin to shut the doors of communication. When they tell other people the same things, and suggest that interests are obsessions, then it is easy for guilt to set in and for the interests to become something that is resented and eventually hidden, rather than something that is spoken openly about.   Loz’s second rule of relationships is therefore “Show Interest”. And the third is “Be Friends”.

And finally, maybe selfishly, it is that we should always understand that there are two sides to every story, and that even shared experiences can lead to different memories.  Understand, therefore, that whilst it is sometimes easier to place the blame fully onto one person, or indeed, maybe for that person to fully assume blame, that perhaps there is an underlying history that means blame should be shared.  Maybe not equally, but shared nonetheless.  So whilst we can share the responsibility for the good times and accept that praise, equally we should also accept some of the blame for the bad times as well.  But never all.   Loz’s fourth rule is therefore “Share the blame” because it is an unfair burden to load it all on one person.

Do I regret my marriage?  No, we had a lot of good times together, and have four wonderful children to show for it.  Am I sad it’s over?    Of course, at times I am.    That doesn’t mean I am not far happier now than I was then.   It’s easy to look back now and see the things that lead to the end, but it is a waste thinking that things may have been done differently, because I could only change my own behaviour and that is no guarantee that the behaviour of others would have changed too.    I have learnt that actions and reactions are not necessarily equal, that the first law of motion does not apply to emotion.   And in learning what went wrong in the last few years I hope I have brought a better part of me into the current relationship.  I wish my ex-wife well and hope she finds all she is looking for wherever she travels from now on.

The First Law of Emotion

My divorce came through a week or so ago and I have been asked how that makes me feel. Truth is the marriage was over a long time ago, it was just that neither of us recognized it at the time. But when I sit down and look back there were a lot of obvious signs and if I’d read them early enough who knows what may have happened. I think one way or the other things would have come to a head far earlier rather than having been allowed to drift, because by that point the damage was too deep for me to do anything about it. When I finally found the courage to leave, I did all that I could to protect my ex from any damage to the point where my own relationships with family and people who I called friends was damaged, again maybe to the point of no return.
But if people read this blog front to back I hope you will find that I sheet no blame on anyone other than myself. And let me state right now that I am in a relationship that gives me more than I had in a long time and my ex would no doubt say the same about the one she is now in.   And that maybe says more about how things were than anything else I could say.

So I have wondered if there is any point at all in raising what went wrong.   If this blog does have any value beyond the personal satisfaction I find in writing, I think it is that I have given a man’s viewpoint to midlife and to some of the issues that I faced, am still facing, through that period of my life. If a single person reads something and pauses to reflect on what I have said then maybe some of my struggles have served a greater purpose than just a personal learning experience.

I have written before about the need for communication because ultimately it’s lack is the cause of all relationship issues. That is no to say that it will solve every problem, but it will at least sort things out before they fester, because it is the festering that is dangerous to relationships. Loz’s first rule of relationships is to ”Talk”.

I think it is also difficult to maintain a relationship if there is a lack of friendship, and friendship must arise from shared experience and a genuine attempt to be interested in what the other person is doing.  Real friendship can lead to love, and the lack of it can just as surely kill love.   If your partner tells you often enough that the stuff you find interesting is either boring, or would be better done in the distant future when the kids are off your hands, or that they simply have no interest, it is very easy to begin to shut the doors of communication. When they tell other people the same things, and suggest that interests are obsessions, then it is easy for guilt to set in and for the interests to become something that is resented and eventually hidden, rather than something that is spoken openly about.   Loz’s second rule of relationships is therefore “Show Interest”. And the third is “Be Friends”.

And finally, maybe selfishly, it is that we should always understand that there are two sides to every story, and that even shared experiences can lead to different memories.  Understand, therefore, that whilst it is sometimes easier to place the blame fully onto one person, or indeed, maybe for that person to fully assume blame, that perhaps there is an underlying history that means blame should be shared.  Maybe not equally, but shared nonetheless.  So whilst we can share the responsibility for the good times and accept that praise, equally we should also accept some of the blame for the bad times as well.  But never all.   Loz’s fourth rule is therefore “Share the blame” because it is an unfair burden to load it all on one person.

Do I regret my marriage?  No, we had a lot of good times together, and have four wonderful children to show for it.  Am I sad it’s over?    Of course, at times I am.    That doesn’t mean I am not far happier now than I was then.   It’s easy to look back now and see the things that lead to the end, but it is a waste thinking that things may have been done differently, because I could only change my own behaviour and that is no guarantee that the behaviour of others would have changed too.    I have learnt that actions and reactions are not necessarily equal, that the first law of motion does not apply to emotion.   And in learning what went wrong in the last few years I hope I have brought a better part of me into the current relationship.  I wish my ex-wife well and hope she finds all she is looking for wherever she travels from now on.

Blink of an eye revisited

It’s only around 9 weeks to Christmas and the year has flown, admittedly a lot has happened – new house, lost job, new job, new dog, overseas holiday.   But the rush of years continues apace.  

Somewhere I read of the major measurements of stress and when I look back over the past four years they’re pretty much all there – death of a parent, collapse of a marriage, shift of house, sacking from a job.   I look at that and wonder sometimes how I’ve still ended up relatively sane.   And I look in the mirror and see an older man, greyer, more wrinkled and more tired at times.   But for all that I feel that I have changed for the better in many ways.   I am a better communicator, although in saying that I’ve lost people along the way who I do care about.  I understand the neceesity of change because it does lead to growth.   So whilst there have been times of incredible sadness, there has also been great happiness.  For someone who did lock himself away for so long these changes are ones I intend to continue to embrace.

Over the past six months I’ve let the blogging slip.  Firstly because of the negative comments and secondly because I’d simply lost time.   I also worried about having it exposed when I was looking for work.  It was bad enough that there were articles out there telling the story of my sacking and former employers out there spreading false stories about the nature of my departure. 

And I let the anger take hold.  I was angry with lots of people and I’ve come to realise that I cannot change what any of them say or do.  Whatever is said about me to other people by other people is their problem and not something I can control.   I’ve lost a lot of friends through no desire of mine and that’s also made me angry.    I suppose that is something I simply have to accept given that it is also again out of my control.   So there are some days when the anger ages me, when I feel the weight and rush of years far more than others.   And days when reflection is worthwhile and I suppose others when it is nothing more than a burden to bear until the next good day dawns.

So in the spirit of a midlife moment and at the risk of boring people with an old post may I point you to this one  – In the Blink of an Eye

And here is a song for the moment as well.

Blink of an eye revisited

It’s only around 9 weeks to Christmas and the year has flown, admittedly a lot has happened – new house, lost job, new job, new dog, overseas holiday.   But the rush of years continues apace.  

Somewhere I read of the major measurements of stress and when I look back over the past four years they’re pretty much all there – death of a parent, collapse of a marriage, shift of house, sacking from a job.   I look at that and wonder sometimes how I’ve still ended up relatively sane.   And I look in the mirror and see an older man, greyer, more wrinkled and more tired at times.   But for all that I feel that I have changed for the better in many ways.   I am a better communicator, although in saying that I’ve lost people along the way who I do care about.  I understand the neceesity of change because it does lead to growth.   So whilst there have been times of incredible sadness, there has also been great happiness.  For someone who did lock himself away for so long these changes are ones I intend to continue to embrace.

Over the past six months I’ve let the blogging slip.  Firstly because of the negative comments and secondly because I’d simply lost time.   I also worried about having it exposed when I was looking for work.  It was bad enough that there were articles out there telling the story of my sacking and former employers out there spreading false stories about the nature of my departure. 

And I let the anger take hold.  I was angry with lots of people and I’ve come to realise that I cannot change what any of them say or do.  Whatever is said about me to other people by other people is their problem and not something I can control.   I’ve lost a lot of friends through no desire of mine and that’s also made me angry.    I suppose that is something I simply have to accept given that it is also again out of my control.   So there are some days when the anger ages me, when I feel the weight and rush of years far more than others.   And days when reflection is worthwhile and I suppose others when it is nothing more than a burden to bear until the next good day dawns.

So in the spirit of a midlife moment and at the risk of boring people with an old post may I point you to this one  – In the Blink of an Eye

And here is a song for the moment as well.

The River

“When you put your hand in a flowing stream, you touch the last that has gone before and the first of what is still to come.”
Leonardo Da Vinci
So in a flowing river can time stand still?  Such is the mystery of midlife and the self centred perspective of that experience.  If we travel faster than the current can we catch up to our past and if we anchor for a while will our future pass us by?   How important is it to just go with the flow?  And why must we be at the mercy of life’s current?
And yet there is comfort to be found in a river.   Close your eyes and imagine drifting off, sleeping to the sound of the water song, rocking gently and feeling embraced by small comforts.  Is it true that the river knows where it goes even if we don’t?  Do we truly follow in the paths of those who have gone before as Leonardo says, or is each experience unique, does one small eddy, or drop of new rain, make such a difference that no two of our selves would experience the same thing, much as shadows are a reflection of our true selves slightly distorted.

So we touch the river and in touching it we change and alter it’s course even as it changes ours.   The journeys end remains a mystery and would we have it any other way?

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Photo – Erawan Falls, Thailand

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