I’ve been banging on recently about valuing the ordinary. The original impetus for this kind of thinking was that, in retirement, we simply don’t have the money to do any of the exotic things – travel, buying guitars, frequent eating out, that type of stuff, so we needed to take pleasure in the cheap side of life. So far all so good but of course I can’t leave it there I have to over-think the whole thing, My over-thinking goes a bit like this – maybe there really is something in this philosophy. I don’t want to get all evangelical about it but it might be something along the lines of now in retirement a person really does have time to notice the little things. When a person or two persons are working, life tends to rush by and the minutiae of our existence gets missed. I know that sounds a bit soppy or, even worse, just another retired person trying to elevate his or her status by talking about how wonderful the simple things of life are. You know the type of thing – the smell of newly mown grass, the sight of autumn leaves, the laughter of children, well, the first two anyway. And by the end of this blog you will understand the significance of the photo above right.
So I thought I’d give this philosophy a bit of a run out, more blog time and see where it took us. If at the end of this blog you feel like sticking your finger down your throat and saying this man is an idiot, he doesn’t believe any of this claptrap, he is merely a man trying to compensate for an absence of important things by substituting the trivial and furthermore he’s trying to convince us that he really means it, well so be it. I have to admit, at this point, I’m far from convinced myself. Of course I could go straight to Google quotes or some such place and find supporting evidence from great minds about how the simple things are what really matter but, in this case, I feel that might be a bit of a cheat. I need to stand alone on this one and see if I can convince myself and you that it’s ‘all true’ as one my lecturer’s used to write on the bottom of my essays.
I know I’ve been fooling around with this line of thought for a while but what actually prompted me to sit down and write this particular blog was a walk yesterday with the pups – who are almost doggies by now , but that’s another topic. So off we went on our walk and, as is often the case, we walked through the churchyard near our house. I’ve always been really fond of churchyards, the damper, the mossier, the more over-grown the better. Strangely, when we lived in New Zealand one of the things I missed about the UK was moss on stone walls. No, I’m not sure either. Anyway, our churchyard is middling in this sense, but as we walked or flew hell-for-leather in the case of the pups, I noticed this pathway among the graves. I offer as evidence, exhibit A, a photograph I took on my phone (how did we manage before? Oh yes, we had to remember to take our cameras, what a faff). So, the path. This path, cut with a strimmer through long grass, is one of my favourite ‘sights’. Actually, paths through the woods have always been a favourite no doubt a psychologist would make something of it but for me it’s one of those things I don’t care to over-analyse. Whatever the reason it’s an attitude that’s been with me a long time. Maybe it’s a British thing, but more probably it’s universal.
Exhibit A : The path through the churchyard
Incidentally, to digress again, it was Mrs Summerhouse who pointed out, when I showed her exhibit A (above) that it looked like one of my early Rupert paintings (see below). (Albert Bestall, the illustrator was a bit of a hero to me then, still is). I offer exhibit B as evidence of the longevity of the ‘path through the woods’ concept. I painted the picture below at art college nearly 50 years ago. I know that Rupert is missing from this image, you will have to take my word for it that I took the image from one of my Rupert books which I still have incidentally, and ENLARGED it – see what I did there. At the time I thought it was just too twee to put Rupert in the image after all it was the path that I wanted to celebrate not Rupert. Rupert really doesn’t need any recognition from me whereas I believe paths do.
Anyway I digress – probably, I’m not sure if I do because I don’t have any clear idea what this blog is about to determine what is or is not a digression. But I’m digressing from my digression – I think. The point is that it was the leisurely retirement walk with the pups that allowed me the ‘space’ to recognise / stop and admire / take a photo / write this blog. During my working life maybe I would have vaguely taken pleasure but then quickly passed on to other more important things, like earning living.
Exhibit B :Rupert Bear Path in the Woods
I must just finish this blog with a slight digression – yes, another f—ing digression. You know paths through the woods can lead to all kinds of simple, but interesting, experiences, I mean how often do you come across a sight like this one? After the churchyard on this walk you get into the woods, some of the oldest woods in England I think I read somewhere, I believe oak trees. This is all in the middle of Headingley by the way. Anyway I found this desk, quite new, just sitting there, as it did for several days. It’s gone now but I have the evidence. I suppose this is more in the extra-ordinary category than the ordinary but, when all is said and done, it’s just a simple desk in a woodland setting. If I hadn’t kept my eyes open and my mind receptive I might have missed this, but no, that’s not very likely in fact and anyway this blog was meant to be about the simple, ordinary side of life which a desk is but perhaps not in a woodland setting.
So I’m done. Have I convinced you not only that I am a man at ease with celebrating the simple things of life but have I also convinced you dear reader that retirement really is a time for you to stand back and admire life’s simple pleasures? No, I thought not. Confusing business this retirement life.