I usually write this much earlier in the day and with cleaner hands.
It’s ten minutes to eleven (pm) and I’ve just finished doing a few things to the front garden by the light of the street lamp and the picture window. Foyle ‘helped’, the rest of the family are asleep.
One of the things I did was replant the big ornamental pot. I put in a small fuchsia bush, two night-scented stocks and some thrift (there was a great sale today at a local nursery). I had to wrestle out an old dwarf conifer and some heather. They’re wrapped up in some plastic to be sorted out tomorrow.
You might think it’s a bit late for gardening. Well, I don’t have much time these days, and I felt like it needed doing. I wasn’t sleepy yet (I am now), so I thought I might as well go ahead and sort it out.
I got a few funny looks from the teenagers who usually have the streets to themselves at this time…but it’s good for them to be disturbed occasionally.
Lots of people want to start doing something new, but they think it’s too late. We get them all the time on the MA in Creative Writing…and it can really mess up their writing if they think they must be published before they turn 35, or 50 or 70. We tell them it’s utter nonsense. It’s much more important to do the best you can, when you can, than to do it rushed or not to do it at all.
A friend of mine was considering doing a law degree in her late 30s. ‘But there’s no point,’ she said, ‘I’ll be nearly 50 by the time I can practice!’ My husband asked her, ‘And how old will you be if you don’t do it?’
And that’s the thing to think about, isn’t it? I’d still have been awake until eleven if I’d sat on my bum and watched telly with a glass of wine. Instead, I’ve been sipping on a glass every time I pass the kitchen counter, as i’ve been in and out of the house and up and down the path.
Tomorrow, I’ll look at the old conifer and heather and think about if I can still use them somewhere. And that happens, too, in a life change…you might put something aside for awhile and then come back to it again. My husband worked hard to become a teacher, and then went back to the wine trade, where he’s very happy and successful. A few of our MA students every year decide that they don’t want to be writers after all. I think that’s a very good use of the tuition money and a year of their lives; they don’t have to think they’re in the wrong job anymore. They don’t have to wonder if they’re squandering their talent.
I suppose what I’m trying to say in this post is that life is short, and that we should go ahead and try things. We might get a few funny looks, now and again, but there’s really no substitute for exuberant experience. Ask yourself Andy’s question if you feel too old to follow your heart: How old will you feel if you don’t????