5.30 am: Awoke. I didn’t want to leave my 50s without taking a backward glance. The details of a decade evaporate on impact. Saying that, a good many of them, for half that period, have been preserved within the pages of this diary, and the Diary (July 16, 2014 – September 4, 2018). Whatever significance these writings have had for others, for me the discipline of maintaining a more-or-less daily account of my activities, thoughts, and the affairs of heart and spirit has been a means of keeping a grip on life. In my scheme of things, diaries and journals are secondary activities, dependent upon, and interpretive of, ‘the main event’. Although, there’ve been times when I’ve wondered whether my life was being lived in order to be written up.
It’s the general sweep of these last ten years, along with those times of acute emotional intensity, and encounters with some genuinely remarkable people, that’ve left the deepest impression on me. Sadly, I’ve lost too many good friends since 2009. We’ve been separated by death, difficulty, and distance. And some left the theatre long before the show was over. It’s a truism, but friends – particularly those who empathise, know you without judgement, accord with your own values and beliefs, and offer maturity, wisdom, trust, and support – are, along with family, life’s greatest treasures.
Creatively, this has been decade when I’ve re-engaged my enthusiasm for sound and music; they’re preoccupations that’d defined my late teens, up until the time when I first went to art school. It’s felt like a homecoming. There’s a prevailing theory that creativity declines when an artist reaches their 50s. I’ve not found this to be the case. Indeed, the very reverse has been true. Nor do I anticipate developing a diminishing potency in this regard during the years ahead.
Professionally, this has been the richest and most fruitful season in my academic career. I’ve certainly benefited from my teaching, and I hope some of the students have too. It’s pedagogical underpinning isn’t based upon a particular theory or school of thought. I’m not very interested in education as such; if I were, I’d have studied a degree in it. The approach is straightforward; anyone can do it. In essence, it’s about having a conversation that leads to realisation.
Spiritually and religiously, there’ve been long fallow periods, as well as times of testing, conspicuous failure, disappointment, heartache, confusion, and doubt. ‘The Way’ has got harder as I’ve got older. (No one prepared me for that.) I’ve been winnowed; the dross has come to the surface of the metal, and is being scraped away. I’m grateful. But there’ve been times of exaltation too: a sense of knowing and of being known. Such occasions are increasingly short-lived and hard won.
Health wise, I’ve endured three operations, suffered recurrent and lengthy bouts of ME, developed allergic responses to foods which were previously ‘safe’, and become tolerant of things that were formerly ‘unsafe’. My immune system has mutated, it would appear. Mercifully, my faculties remain intact (Although, I sense that there may be gainsayers out there.), the major organs are still functioning well, and I’ve no sign of anything sinister on the horizon. As ailments go, I’d choose mine over what some others have had to deal with, any day.
Soon I’ll be as old as my mother when she died and four years older than my father when he lost her. I now realise just how young they were, and must have felt. I’ll launch myself into my 60s recklessly, with abandon and anticipation, a hunger for change, a longing for betterment in all areas of my life, eager to try new things, hoping against hope, expecting losses and sadnesses, and knowing that my own days are numbered too (Psalm 90.12).