“Except ye become as little children, except you can wake on your fiftieth birthday with the same forward-looking excitement and interest in life that you enjoyed when you were five, “ye cannot enter the kingdom of God.” One must not only die daily, but every day we must be born again.” Dorothy L. Sayers
Distance: 20 miles (Total: 362.7 miles) Steps 38,122 (Total: 678,408)
As my friends and family will be able to attest to, I am not a great one for birthdays’—celebrating mine or remembering others, but I was quite overwhelmed by the emails, e-cards, text messages and Facebook posts on this my 50th birthday, especially a message from my grandson, Matthew Junior in Texas (pic.) who seemed to be entering into the party spirit more than I was managing. One of the messages contained the quote from Dorothy L. Sayers, without doubt my favourite female author, who urged us to seek to capture a child-like joy and excitement for each and every new day.
Most of us approach birthdays and other anniversaries looking back. Yet, it seems to me, the older you get, the more you find yourself looking back with the inevitable mix of joy and sadness and the less time you spend looking forward. The worst thing about looking back, is that you can’t change it as Charlotte Church sings “Even God can’t change the past…” The best deal on offer is acceptance.
Looking forward, by contrast, is speculation: Each year on my birthday I tended to spend an hour or so reflecting on the past year and looking forward to the year ahead, concluding with some specific goals. I know it’s pathetic, but it keeps me off the streets. As I re-read a review, which I had written on my Blackberry whilst in Durham Cathedral last year, I realised that in virtually every particular of life that I had written about looking forward, life had turned out markedly differently.
Appropriately enough, the one I got correct was to ‘continue to campaign for the Olympic Truce’. Though of course, I did not quite get that I would be sitting in a Greek Orthodox Church in Lamia, 400 miles into a walk from Olympia to London, reviewing that goal – so the Oracle is safe in her job. Force of habit means that I continue to record a set of goals for the year ahead; experience of life teaches me that it is meaningless, except in that it is revealing of what is in our hearts and on our hearts.
There is an old Celtic proverb which states: the past is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift and that is why it is called the present. I accepted it. I was grateful for it. I unwrapped it expectantly and I walked on.