I could tell as soon as I walked through the door something was missing; that glimmer of recognition wasn’t there. She doesn’t understand who I am like she used to.
The world sees the British as depressed and pessimistic. We moan and complain and who can blame us with this weather? – but I’ve thought about it a lot today and in my opinion we’re quite optimistic in one way: future. Everyone seems to be planning for the future – I want this job and this car and this lifestyle and this many children and then that better car and a country house in Devon that I visit for long weekends away with my adoring family and then that even better car and my children will get all A’s in their exams and play violin and will never need a shop-bought cake for their birthday because in this fantasy world I can bake.
I see this as similar to a squirrel storing nuts for the winter. He scampers around for months on end with no immediate reward and sensibly stashing his findings for later. By the time the first snow falls he’s happy as Larry in Lapland with his little nut store going on. I suppose it’s like the novelty of having a mini-fridge in your room in how convenient the nut store is in the winter. Like, it’s right there. People with a mini-fridge in their room will know what I’m saying. So in the end all his efforts were worth it for another year. I’m using the squirrel as a metaphor for us, the people. The nuts can be anything from money to success to experiences and the store for the winter is our future. We’re all scampering around too in order to get where we ideally want to be later. Most people do a degree to qualify for a certain job. We work in trashy bars that close at 4am and pay cash-in-hand in order to gain experience for a better job afterwards. We don’t eat the glorious cheeseburger in order to maintain a ‘beach-bod’ for our holiday abroad. We don’t stay up past midnight because we have to get up early tomorrow. Everything we do has a positive or negative consequence and the choices we make are heavily influenced by those.
In the grand scheme of things isn’t this way of thinking extremely optimistic? I mean, we’re assuming we’re even going to be here tomorrow. Life is a precious thing that can be taken away in the blink of an eye. How often do we consider not getting to that point we all imagine – that place we call “settled down”? I have a friend who I think I’ve mentioned in a blog post before that hates his degree. He is constantly miserable and under pressure and wakes up each morning dreading lectures or assignments or exams on things he’s simply not interested in. Since the first year I’ve said “quit, do what makes you happy”. People tell me it’s not as simple as that but having left university twice myself much to the disdain of my family I can assure you it is. My friend’s response to quitting was that he needed to get a decent final mark in order to obtain a decent job in which he can make decent money to provide for the future. To “make a life” for himself.
I find it really interesting how we can allow ourselves to suffer for something we only have a chance of obtaining. People wake up dreading what’s to come that day for such a long time, whether it be their university course or job position not motivating or inspiring them, in hope to be rewarded for it later. I very much believe in living in the moment but find it difficult to do consistently just like everyone else. As I said before everything has a consequence and sometimes it’s more complicated than just overlooking that.
In the same way, the important people in our life are always included in our future plans. Obviously we understand that people don’t live forever, but until a letter from the doctors comes through the door or something, death isn’t really even an option. And that’s not a BAD thing; we can’t live our lives in fear of the worst case scenario. We couldn’t get on with the day if “he might die” or “she might die” is running through our heads, (although if it did I bet we’d all be a lot nicer to each other). That squirrel wouldn’t collect his nuts for the winter if he was afraid to go out and get eaten by a fox. I didn’t visit her for a long time because the thought she could get poorly and leave us hadn’t crossed my mind. It’s not that I didn’t want to or couldn’t be bothered. There was no sense of urgency.
She was diagnosed with cancer today. And we think she has Parkinson’s.
To anyone that is reading this that has put off seeing a loved one, please try and find the time to catch up – even if it’s just a phone call. Tomorrow they might not be the same person anymore. Life IS precious and in the grand scheme of things so fleeting. If there are things you want to say or making up to do with family or friends do it today, do it now. Put aside any principle or pride and remember how easily and unfairly they can be taken from you. Is it really worth holding the grudge in the end?
I hugely regret not visiting her in the time her mind deteriorated. I will never come through the door and see her face filled with memories shared and love and understanding like before. I didn’t know, I hadn’t planned for this. Do you see what I’ve been saying? Homosapians have developed far beyond a bloody squirrel. Stop doing or not doing things now in assumption for the future. Don’t suffer now in order to be happy later. “Later” is just as vague as asking the length of a piece of string. We have beautiful minds and the capability to think and feel and remember and we should use them right now in a way that satisfies us before the same opportunities aren’t there anymore. This sad story of my Grandmother is just one example of dangerously leaving things to be better in the future. The world doesn’t always work like that. We’ve all got something we’ve been putting off doing. Now is as good a time as any and it takes something like I’ve experienced today to realise that. Don’t wait to understand it yourself, just trust me: do it now or regret it later.