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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My Sunday Photo 11/9/16

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Great Scott, Jallie! My Sunday Photo 2/8/15

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click to enlarge

It was ‘back to the future’ yesterday, when there was a vintage car show and fair here. Of course the car I was most interested in was the only one there that wasn’t actually a real car. Isn’t it great? You can’t see it here but it had all the flashing lights working as well! Jake and Ellie haven’t seen the films so I had to explain it all to them, which prompted a discussion (from Jake) about the possibility of time-travel.

There were also many other amazing cars here: Mustang, Jaguar, Rolls Royce and my other favourite a 100-year-old mint condition Model T Ford.

There were also bouncy castles and other fun things for kids – including free lollipops! – and in truth I didn’t actually manage to spend all that much time with the cars. But we all had a great time.

Now, all we need is 1.21 Gigawatts of power. Anyone got any going spare?

OneDad3Girls

 

You gotta fight (and work) for your right….to Paaaaaaarty! My Sunday Photo 26/7/15

 

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PS: Just in case anyone doesn’t get the reference…

My Sunday Photo: Horsing Around!

 

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It may not be immediately obvious from this photo, but this is from Jake & Ellie’s first horse-riding session!

We have been taking them to dance (ballet & tap), gym & music classes. They went over the age limit for Monkey Music, they seemed a bit bored with the gym classes as they didn’t seem challenging enough, & although Ellie enjoyed the dancing Jake seemed less keen.

So when they turned 5 we decided that they were old enough to decide what they wanted to do, rather than what we thought they should do.

Jake chose Tae-Kwon-Do! I’m not sure how we found out about it, but there’s a great session at our local YMCA, & they’re both loving it. (There’s a funny story about that: ask me later…)

Ellie was mad to do horse-riding. So we did.

It was great! Sadly my ‘phone’s battery ran out just before they got on their horses, so I couldn’t get any more photos.

It took a long time to get going, which is OK as you’re dealing with animals & you have to get the health & safety right. Then they all lined up in the field on their magnificent ponies, our 2 first-timers especially looking very pleased with themselves.

We thought they’d just plod around the field, but they took to the streets! They all rode around country lanes for nearly an hour, & even broke into a trot!

Jake & Ellie both loved it; they were so happy when they came back!

We’re definitely planning to it again; the main problem of course is that it’s not cheap. Great fun though 🙂

My Sunday Photo: Extreme Photo-bombing!

 

The Gift of Giving

These days I usually spend most of Saturday looking after the twins on my own, allowing the Mummy to catch up on jobs.

I’d got into a habit of buying a toy or gift each to commemorate ‘Daddy Day’. I soon realised it set a dangerous precedent!

It very quickly went from being a nice little treat to something they came to expect. Aside from the house piling up with toys it also was in danger of becoming an expensive habit!

I managed to gradually cut down so that it became an occasional thing & that – I thought – was that.

Then in the car last Saturday (why is it always in the car?)…

Sitting in the back of the car sometimes seems to give them the opportunity to have a little think, Jake especially. Ellie is probably more likely to give us a song! That’s if they’re not arguing, of course.

On this occasion Jake had been thinking back.

“Daddy?”

“Yes Jake?” I replied cautiously.

“Do you remember when you used to buy us presents every ‘Daddy Day’?”

“Yes Jake”

“You don’t do that now. Why have you stopped doing that?”

“Well it costs a lot of money to buy you each toys every week, & I’m not sure I can afford it”

“Oh Daddy: I can give you my money & you can buy toys every week for us again!”

“Oh, you mean your birthday money?”

They each received about £40 cash on their birthdays from their friends, on top of toys & other gifts. I’m pretty sure they have more money than me at the moment!

“No, that’s for me to buy toys with.  I mean the money that I found today. OK Daddy?”

He’s holding up a 10p coin I think he found on the back seat of the car…

Well, as they say, it’s the thought that counts!

 

For more Magic Moments just click the pic: