on life

The secret to a long life is to avoid dying. These things only become obvious later in life when you start to realise that the sands of your time seem to be slipping through the egg timer of life a little faster than they did when you were younger.

The Berkshire Belle and I both have birthdays coming up and whilst we don’t really do much to recognise such events these days they do tend to remind one of the end being closer; we are all dying one day at a time. I don’t mean to be maudlin here, just recognising a fact.

I don’t usually feel that I am nearing the end of my sixty eighth year of taking up space, but now and again bits of me do remind me that I am not eighteen any more. That, in turn, reminds me that over my years of working in business I replaced a lot of clapped out kit with newer and shinier stuff that worked better than its predecessor.

When I replaced anything I rarely gave any though to what would happen to it; I do not remember being sentimental about any of it and nature is like that with life. This is one of the things that I find abhorrent about modern life; the principle of not having losers. Nature is competitive. It rewards winners and casts aside losers. Yes it is hard, but that is the way of the world and to try and deny it is ridiculous.

For the time being I can still provide some useful function in life and contribute to society. I do not fear death. I know that it is coming (the Grim Reaper has had two or three tries already) and hope that it comes quietly when I am no longer any use. The one thing that I do fear is to become a drain on the community. If I can avoid that I will be very grateful.

Life is for living and I have not done too badly. I have certainly done things that I would now prefer not to have done, but everything that I did led me to the Berkshire Belle and, between our two birthdays, we celebrate thirty one years together this year. That is nearly half my life and I am very grateful that I walked a path that saw us come together.

Along the way I have done a few things that please or amuse me. Amongst these I have:

  • Driven a main line steam engine
  • Flown several aeroplanes
  • Sailed a landing craft
  • Driven a racing car
  • Worked my way from the shop floor to the board room (and back)
  • Had an armed escort to and from the office
  • Walked through the front door at 10 Downing Street
  • Worked in 9 countries across 4 continents
  • Advised departments in the governments of 6 countries
  • Had feature articles published by six magazines
  • Written three books (so far)
  • Lectured at an Oxford college

Very few of those things were on my mind as a boy and I doubt that anyone who knew me then expected me to have done much of that list. A good life so far and, hopefully, I can avoid dying for a few more productive and pleasurable years.

Stay safe and, at a suitable distance, have fun.

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