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 Post About Davina McCall

Davina McCall.

When she presented Big Brother I used to find her very annoying. All those OTT mannerisms & that wacky enthusiasm! It seemed very manufactured to me.

Having said that, past the 1st series or 2 I found BB itself very annoying: just full of Fake.

She seems to pop up on a lot of charity events these days; Red Nose Day, for instance, where she both presented on the day & reported from communities in Ghana who were in need of or who were benefitting from aid.

I saw her on the news yesterday, Continue reading

It’s the way that we tell ’em…

It started at our last meal out.

It was a child-friendly restaurant where they had activity sheets to keep the young ones occupied.

They nearly worked…

Along with the usual colouring-in the sheets had a few jokes, which we read out to them.

They laughed. A lot.

Did they understand them? I’m not sure. But they at least understood that they were meant to be funny.

Either way the result is that they’ve starting telling jokes of their own.

They’re hilarious.

Continue reading

Father, Son

Lately I’ve been listening to the music of Peter Gabriel.

No bad thing: the man’s been making incredible, innovative music for the best part of half a century.

Genius? I think so.

This is one of his newer songs and one I’d not heard until recently.

It’s a grower: the more I played it the more I loved it.

And now I really love it.

I find it, & the video (directed by Gabriel’s daughter), very moving.

If my son, & of course daughter, grow up to feel the same respect & love that this man does for his Dad then my life will have been worth living.

The Gallery: Drink (Pretty in Pink)

Have I got you singing now? I hope so!

That song is a big ‘ear-worm’ with me. Every time I hear the phrase: bang! There it  is, stuck in my head.

“But what the Furs has that got to do with drink? Isn’t that what this silly post is supposed to be about anyway? Get on with it, man!” I hear you cry. Or words to that effect. Probably.

Alright, since you asked so nicely, this:

1-DSC00681

This is the source of much of my drinking activity. During the day, at least, especially mornings. I pretty much chain-drink coffee ’til lunchtime, then often indulge in 1 or 2 more in the afternoon.

My old cafetière broke, OK? Our kitchen is very small, we don’t have a dishwasher, so accidents happen. I needed my caffeine fix, & this was the only one I could find in town. Also: it was cheap. Which probably explains why it already has a crack at the top.

It’s my story, & I’m sticking to it.

Now I’m off to drink my pink brew and put on my Borat pinny* & marigolds to do the washing up while singing very loudly & very badly to Adele.

I am MetroDad, hear me roar!

* It was a gift, honest

This post is for Tara’s terrific ‘Gallery’ on her ‘Sticky Fingers’ blog.

It’s also for Emma of ‘Crazy With Twins’ who is having a hard time right now as she’s in isolation & away from her family while having treatment for cancer, so is in need of some cheering up.

To read more & to join in just click the pics:

TheGallery

Shoulder to Shoulder to Day

A conversation with my children about dinner

A conversation, just now:

“Daddy, are we eating on the sofa or the table today?”

“The sofa”

“But we’ll make a mess”

“We’re eating in bowls, & you’ll be careful”

“No we won’t”

I give up…

Wot So Funee?

Click me

The kids are alright but I think we’re in trouble

This afternoon the Mummy suggested: “Why don’t you take them out for a S-C-O-O-T while I’m cooking dinner?”.

Ellie, in a quiet little voice: “Scooting?”

The Mummy & I look at each other, fear etched into every pore.

I try to whisper “How did she know that?! Maybe it was just a good guess?”

“Jake & Ellie, do you know what S-C-O-O-T-I-N-G is?”.

“Scooters”.

Both of them.

This could change the world as we know it.

What if we can no longer spell I-C-E C-R-E-A-M?! Or C-H-O-C-O-L-A-T-E?!

I’m really hoping it was just a good guess.

But we could be in very serious trouble here…

I did take them scooting. But it was a bit cold & wet so we didn’t get very far & went back inside after not too long.

“The kids are alright”: you see what I did there? The Who? Mods? Quadrophenia? Scooting around Brighton? No?

    This:

Creativity

Our usual potty routine here is that after Jake or Ellie have done a pee we give them a tissue so they can wipe their bits, which they then give back to us to put in the bin.

When they started using the potty we left a box of tissues nearby. Apparently however pulling  all the tissues out one by one & scattering them all over the room is tremendous fun. So we stopped doing that.

This afternoon it’s business as usual: Jake is carrying out his newly acquired skill with customary aplomb. He finished  & stood up, so as usual I went to get him a tissue & offered it to him.

I then heard: “No, I don’t need it: I’m doing this!”

Now that’s often a worrying thing to hear at the best of times.

Turning around with some trepidation…

I found him drying himself with a toy hairdryer.

Ellie followed suit soon after.

You have to admire their creativity at least!

Get ’em while they’re young!

We had a rather telling – I think – moment this morning.

English: gio compario

Photo credit: Wikipedia

We were watching Nick Jr. when that ‘Go Compare’ ad came on where Gio Compario (yes, I know his name; I am that sad)* is sitting at a bus-stop having a whinge to an old lady. Exactly how he escaped Stephen Hawking’s black hole isn’t made clear, but never mind…

Now he only sings a single, brief  “Go compare!” in that ad. I’ve checked.

Immediately after it finished Jake started happily singing – well, I think you know.

I’m really not sure whether I should be utterly horrified or very proud.

Actually I think I’m a little of both.

* He’s really opera singer Wynne Evans, from Carmarthen in Wales. He was in town performing recently, and I hear he’s rather good. 

Note: This is not a sponsored post. But if anyone wants to send me any money that’s fine…