Sunday, 23 October 2016

On Choice and the Hour Glass.

It seems to me that modern times fail to prepare us for the inevitability of ageing because one of the primary bywords of the age is ‘choice.’

We’re obsessed with choice these days, and we have so much of it. We no longer have to go to a cinema at the appointed time to watch whatever film they’ve got on offer. We no longer have to be sitting in front of the TV set at 9pm on a Wednesday night because that’s when a favourite programme is on and we’ll miss it if we’re not in position. We no longer have to go to our bedroom to listen to a favourite piece of music because that’s where the audio system is. We no longer have to wait until we get home to make a phone call because there isn’t a phone box nearby. Now we have DVDs and Netflix and mobile audio devices and mobile phones and YouTube…

We’ve grown used to having freedom of choice in so many ways, but ageing doesn’t give us a choice. The river of our life runs on uninterrupted and uninterruptable until the cataract is reached and we topple over into oblivion or whatever the next stage is. And modern times are gradually conditioning us away from accepting the inevitable.

I for one feel frustrated that I can’t be whatever age I want to be. It seems almost natural to me to be a teenager one day, experiencing the first flushes of all those things that become available at that age, and an 80-year-old the next experiencing whatever 80-year-olds experience. Why can’t that be? Why don’t I get a choice? It feels wrong.

Such frustration is not, however, a modern phenomenon. Shakespeare presumably alluded to it when he wrote:

Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death…

But if Macbeth could utter that sentiment in the early 17th century, how much worse is it for us today?

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Meanwhile, here's a picture of me at about the age I would choose to be most days. Do note the commendably minimalist approach and the presence of the Laughing Monk who is currently sitting behind me as I type. Stylish, isn't it?

And on the subject of tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow, tomorrow I have to receive a visitor who will pollute my hallowed space and delay my beer-buying trip. I have no choice in the matter, and back we go to the beginning.

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