My podcaster mate over there in Worcester, Massachusetts Steve Runner often asserts that Life is short but it should be long enough and he urges his listeners to Live life to the top. Easy to say but how many of us can say that we really make the most of our short time here? We are, most of us, stuck on a treadmill of education, career, family. Often it is only later in life that, if we are not by then stuck in a comfortable rut, do we strike out to seek the life we really wanted all along.
My Mum is 81. Dad died the best part of 30 years ago now. Instead of moping around she has since been travelling non-stop. If it’s not rambling around the Midlands with her walking group it’s travelling the length and breadth of the country by coach to see different places. Most years she’ll jet off to foreign parts – she’s been to Las Vegas several times. She has, in her latter years, lived life to the top.
I had a little dash at living my own dream there recently though it eventually fizzled out – for the present.
But the following story reaffirms that maybe everyone has the opportunity to, and deserves, a crack at the life of their choosing rather than following a path that is determined for them. A year ago my colleague M’s young daughter J was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. Their world was turned upside down and their priorities changed overnight. Life became a nightmare of tests, treatment, more tests. M’s career as a legal secretary was put on hold. Fortunately J received the best attention and treatment in both Jersey and Southampton. Eventually M and her husband opted to take J to France to undergo more specialised, targeted treatment for the disease (M is French). After long months the famous day arrived when the all-clear was given. J returned to school in Jersey. Great happiness and rejoicing all round? No – strangely all M and her husband felt was emptiness and a sudden lack of purpose. Maybe the realisation that something fundamental had changed.
Then one morning recently M arrived at work and announced ‘I am going to make jam!’ What? The mischievous M that we had known was back. She told us that she is going to buy a share in an established jam-making concern in Brittany; she will spend time learning the trade, the nuts and bolts of the business before taking up the reins and seeking to improve and modernise the business, expand its customer base etc. J will go to school nearby, and near to her grandparents. Dad will commute to and from Jersey to work. Suddenly M has her dream. No one deserves it more. Henceforth she will be known as Mademoiselle Marmalade!