CLUES TO A HAPPIER LIFE

The dinner party couldn’t have been lovelier, the company pleasant, the food exceptional and the host and hostess busy making sure everyone was feeling at ease. In typical European fashion, we didn’t sit down at the long table until almost 9 o’clock and, by the time we moved to the sitting room for coffee and tea, it was already 11 and midnight rolled around quickly while deep in conversation. I don’t remember the last time my head hit the pillow at one am. I don’t even remember the days when it was par for the course to stay up until 3 and show up at the office before 9 as if nothing had happened. Then go out and do it all over again.

Today it’s Sunday and I am a wreck. Not even the long to do list can get me to roll out of bed/couch or chair, the three pieces of furniture that are supporting this body that is more and more becoming a stranger. The physical tiredness, the long week, the long month all conjure a somber mood despite a  day that is screaming for everybody to go outside and have fun. Spring in the canyon has bloomed and, in a few short months, I will have forgotten the deep shades of green that are surrounding me now. I should take advantage instead of giving in to my crankiness. I decide to invest $30 in a phone call to South Africa, to my best friend whom I was visiting this time last year. I always stare in shock whenever the phone bill arrives but I have since decided that a chat with her is much cheaper than therapy and guaranteed to cheer me up. She will not allow me to wallow, wallowing not being one of my best traits.

Amongst other things, we talk about the business of our changing lives. I have been thinking about old age recently but it’s my present middle age I should be more concerned about. Most of the people I love are trying to reinvent themselves or grappling with how to make their lives more meaningful because the fundamental question on our mind is “is this what is it all about? what has my life amounted to so far?”. In most cases, we don’t like the answer. What brings me down is how much there is I still want to do/see/experience and I am finding it hard to reconcile it with the fact that most of it won’t happen. The time might have come to pare down our desires and sort through our emotional belongings to see what needs to stay and what can be discarded. This body that has a hard time functioning on little sleep will not see me trekking the Himalayas (I don’t think) but it still has legs to see me trotting around India or Scotland or Easter Island or any other place on my list. It’s time to focus on what makes us whole and extraordinary and meaningful to ourselves and to those around us. No other person is going to do it for us and lord knows time is running out.

While talking to Sue, Precious Ramotswe and The Number 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency came up – I can’t wait for the second series to reappear on HBO. The tv adaptation of Alexander McCall’s wonderful books made the pages come alive and at a difficult time, of all places, I found inspiration in a fictional woman who lives in Botswana and runs a precarious Detective Agency – she was a reminder that what counts is surrounding oneself with good people and helping others. And all the little clues that lead us to finding the former and succeeding in the latter.


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