It was my birthday last week and, in one way of looking at it, too many years have gone by, without enough achieved, and it’s all downhill from here. A few books written – but not enough, and not successful enough – and too much time spent in ‘the whole corroding business of administration’, as Peter Abelard calls it in Helen Waddell’s still unsurpassed retelling of the story of Heloise and Abelard. Nothing turns out quite as expected; indeed, expectation may be best avoided altogether.
And yet, and yet – I still believe that all that really matters is fully to appreciate the world and the life I have been given to live in it. Worldly success is ultimately neither here nor there. Enough – but not too much – money would be useful, since financial anxiety is possibly even more corrosive than earning one’s living from administration. And to create is a good thing, particularly if what one creates adds something to the sum of human joy or understanding. But appreciating what is already around us may be even better than, or at least as good as, creating something new. To taste, hear, see – really see – absorb, experience, and love. To say ‘yes’ to life, whatever it brings, to stay as fully as possible in the present moment, and to be grateful – immensely grateful – for all the blessings of this life.