|Attempting to determine the elasticity of time|
It's as if we are living in a time of signs. Days assume significance. Today, for instance, is the last day of Summer Time. Not summertime, which is long past, but the part of the year when clocks run an hour in front of regular UK time to give the illusion of an extra hour of daylight in the evenings. In a few hours time (02.00 tomorrow) clocks in the UK will have to be put back an hour to Greenwich Mean Time. Many of us will do nothing about it but simply sleep on and wake tomorrow with the pleasant knowledge that we can have an extra hour in bed and still get up on time.
The act of writing this blog post is another mini-landmark, as I notice that it's almost a year since my last post (October 30th, 2014). Perhaps the underlying motivation is the same: a subconscious realization that time is slipping by, prompted by the rapidly shortening days of Autumn.
Other recent events have also seemed particularly significant. Back in April a viral chest infection prompted me to put my health first and give up the day job. Despite being at a low ebb physically, ending the contract suddenly gave me the gift of time to spend as I wanted. Antibiotics apart, it was just the medicine I needed for my recovery. Combined with beautiful Spring weather and lengthening days, I was able to spend many happy hours working in my garden and re-evaluating my life.
It's fair to say that up to then, work had become something of a treadmill. Pleased and slightly proud to be working beyond the usual retirement age, I looked forward to still being in work at seventy. I also had a personal sense of achievement in working in a building I'd first entered as a student half a century earlier. Abandoning my engineering apprenticeship and regular salary in 1965 to become an art student is still the most profoundly life-changing event of my life. In spite of this, I was finding it hard to keep going week in and out. Getting ill was probably the reality check I really needed.
Since then, a pleasant summer has been and gone and I've now passed my seventieth birthday. Being a landmark birthday, people have inevitably asked me what my plans are for the future.
At the moment, I see my future in terms of the decade that stretches out before me. Having reached seventy, unlike so many good friends who never made it this far, I can maybe plan on having one last decade of a relatively active life. Beyond that the future is doubtlessly problematical.
The plan then is to use this opportunity to put into practice (or finish) many of the projects I have toyed with over the years. There is research to be completed, sketches to turn into paintings, half-built projects to be finished, etc., etc.; all-in-all a life's work to be completed and left tidy for when I'll be no longer around to do it. As an old hebridean crofter once said to me when I was young and complaining of feeling tired, there will be plenty of time to sleep when I'm dead.