A Design For Life

“I was not; I have been; I am not; I do not mind.”

The ‘Epicurean Epitaph’, a quote attributed to the ancient Greek philosopher Epicurus, often now used at humanist funerals.epicurus-3

I found myself thinking about this yesterday, prompted by a Facebook meme.

It doesn’t just apply to a way of looking at death. It can also be a way of looking at life.

The basis of Epicurus’ philosophy after all, his lifestyle and that of his friends and followers, was looking for the things that make us happy and then as much as possible having those things in our lives.

Not in Hedonism: self-indulgent and unrestrained behaviour – a common misunderstanding of his ideas – but more in a satisfaction with life: involving moderation, respect for others and friendship.

“I was not; I have been; I am not; I do not mind.”

This could just as much be about happiness as it is a way of coping with the concept of our mortality. We all have peaks and troughs in our lives. There are times when things seem to be going well, when we’re making progress, when we’ve achieved some of our goals and are looking to continue onwards.

There are other times when life seems bleak, when nothing seems to work, where everything is going wrong – even to the extent that we give up hope.

Basic needs like food & water, shelter, safety, health, relationships. Simply said – not so simply achieved! Certainly not all at once. Sometimes we seem to have them all; other times none of it!

“I was not; I have been; I am not; I do not mind.”

‘A while back’ – I’m shocked sometimes when I think about just how long ago it was! – I was living and working in and around London, working in Finance.  I was “doing OK”, not great, but “OK”.

I met a girl, we moved in together. She was also “doing OK”. We went to restaurants, pubs and gigs: together and with friends. We travelled a lot. We moved to Brighton, then to Sutton Coldfield. We got married, then had children. Twins: Jake and Ellie. Great kids! Having been made redundant earlier I became their full time stay-at-home Dad: for 3 years, until they started pre-school in preparation for school proper. By this time we were here in Wales.

Now, 5 years later, we’re separated. I live alone, in a small house: fine just for me but nothing like our old family home. The children who were my life I see now just 2 days a week: most of 1 day on the weekend and 1 evening after school.  And to be honest I’ve struggled to pick up with my career where I left off. The industry is very tech-driven and seems to have moved on, irrespective of all my experience. My age counts against me too I think; having to start again as it were a lot of the jobs I am qualified for I think are taken by young people.

We had a big house, and a good lifestyle: travel, good food, fun. Now I sometimes struggle even with the basics. Then I spent nearly all my time with my beloved Jake & Ellie; now I often feel like I hardly know them, like they’re growing up without me.

It’s very easy to look back and think things were perfect though isn’t it? I know they weren’t, even then.

Further back –  in New Zealand, for instance, before I found my feet career-wise here – I sometimes struggled, financially and socially. Even after I moved to the U.K. there were difficult times: I got caught up in the mortgage interest rate crisis of the ‘90s, and leaving the somewhat extreme religious group I got mixed up in was necessary, but still difficult, not least as it meant cutting myself off from all my ‘friends’ & having to start again socially.

“I was not; I have been; I am not; I do not mind.”

I had tough times before, some good times, and now difficult times again. Life has its ups and downs. It’s just a question of perspective isn’t it? I’m trying to be grateful for what I do have. Great children who love me, food & shelter, safety, reasonably good health, friendships.

That’s more than millions of people all over the world can say. In many ways I’m lucky, despite what the reality of my life seems to be a lot of the time.

“I had not; I did have; I do not have; I do not mind”

I’m trying very hard to improve the things I can, while learning to accept and make the most of life as it is.

Thank you Epicurus: those are indeed wise words.

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A Nice Surprise

I was walking past the doctor’s surgery in town this morning (trying to keep warm – thanks May!) when I saw something on the seat outside.

Being the nosey parker concerned citizen that I am I went in to have a look. It was a bouquet of flowers.

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That’s my sofa it’s on, by the way – not the public bench!

 

“Oh dear,” I thought “someone must have left this behind; they’re probably inside seeing a Doctor”

There was s note attached, so I read it thinking it might have the owner’s name on it. Instead I found this:

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I duly obliged: The Lonely Bouquet needed a home!

So now here it is brightening up my messy little house:

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A nice surprise! Although – as much as I admire their marketing methods – I probably won’t be going to the flower arranging classes that were advertised on the back 🙂

 

Minimalist Monday?

Well, I missed Silent Sunday

Again

“Our Place”, the Community Hub that I’ve been involved with & for which I am now Treasurer & a Director, had its Open Day on Friday, & it went really well. We had loads of people, live music, balloons, biscuits, raffles & a giant marrow (no joke – we did). The only complaints we had were that it was too crowded!

We are up & running & already have Relate & 2 other local community groups using the facilities.

I had Jake & Ellie with me & they had a great time running around, exploring, charming with cuteness & eating biscuits. I couldn’t manage them both in the crowd, even on their harnesses, so (fellow Director) Carole had Ellie while I tried to keep up with Jake.

We discovered an old guitar there, & he seems to be a natural! He was strumming & plucking as if born to it, & loved it. I was trying to play it with him when Kelly (another Director) passed by & snapped us on her iPhone.

I think it’s a great photo; Jake looks very grown-up, & for once I don’t look too much like a tramp. I’m pleased to see too that we both seem to be having the same mad hair day!

I’m sorry that this blog has been neglected of late.  One of the reasons for this is that – although I certainly didn’t plan it that way – my blog has become very centred around photos; my camera at first had the Curse of the Black Spot & has now broken completely. The last photo I posted was made using the limited snapping ability of my video camera.

I plan to rectify this though, & post once or twice a week, hopefully more. Jallie have grown & developed tremendously in the last month or so!

Hopefully I’ll ‘see’ you again soon.

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