Thursday, 23 May 2013


“Old age and the passage of time teach all things.” - Sophocles

I was taking a walk early this morning before going to work and in the quiet hours of morning twilight, I was thinking about things. The first was a consideration of my advancing age and the rapidity with which time seems to be passing. The two are related, I think, and there have been numerous explanations put forward regarding the fact that time seems to pass slowly for the young, and quickly for the old… Relativity and accrual of past experiences, crowding of the memory banks, commitments and tasks to be done in a limited period of time may all have something to do with it. I was considering that nearly half of 2013 is already over and it seems only a “short time” ago that it was New Year’s Eve.

The second series of thoughts centred on what I have done in my life and what I still have to do. Achievements, goals attained, travel, relationships, things done, all seemed to pale into insignificance when I consider what I still have undone, so many things I want to try, so many new experiences to enjoy, books to read, music to hear, so much to write, so much to see. And meanwhile time keeps on passing, inexorably, moving ever forward.

I then thought of my retirement and when I should actually stop working (well, “stop working” – probably never), or should I say “quit my regular job”. Retirement will be an exciting time for me, as I will be catching up on so many things that I shelved during my life because I had no time to do them (or do them properly). Taking stock of what I have done in my working career filled me with some regret because I feel as though I did not do as much as I wanted to, nor achieved as much as I was capable of. There is still much in me to give, much more I can contribute in my ordinary working life. However, the passage of time intrudes and the ever-nearer possibility of my demise enters the equation.

The question of balance came into my head. So many of us work hard and long for most of our lives and if one is conscientious about one’s job, it absorbs much of one’s life. Certainly my days are full to the brim of activity and by the time I get home in the evening all I want to do is sit down, relax, eat something, amuse myself for a while, and then sleep a few hours (fortunately, about 5 hours sleep is enough). Then another day dawns and away I go again… Regular work can consume one’s existence, especially if it intrudes into one’s personal time in the evenings or at the weekends. This has happened with amazing regularity to me.

Balancing one’s working life with one’s family and personal time is tough. Especially tough when one’s job is a career, and a demanding one at that. It is not infrequently that “the job” takes over and one’s personal life suffers. The older I get the more I seem to be realising this and the more I seem to miss not doing more of the things that I need (or rather “want”) to do when I have shuffled off this mortal coil. And more thoughts followed till I got to work and then I pushed this version mid-life crisis into the shelf right next to many previous versions!


  1. Love the last line.

    It is a shame we are not allowed the option of "job sharing". There are so many times in life when it would be convenient to have only half or 2/3rds of a job. In the '70's that was argued for couples with young kids.

    But as we grow older it seems like a wise idea too. Instead so many valuable and knowledgeable employees are shelved into retirement and to make ends meet take jobs at Burger King.

    I watched my dad work toward his retirement and then die within months having never done all those things planned for that time. I stopped taking work so seriously very shortly afterwards with the death of my mother.

    Do not shelve this concept for too long or you will miss out entirely.

  2. Very eloquently written, as always, Nick. It's certainly a quandry for those, such as you, who are so dedicated to all they do. Only you can decide when the time is right for you to move on to the next phase of your life. Don't leave it too long. Life's too short and too full of interesting things to do and achieve.