Daily prompt: I think it’s called the wisdom of age…

Daily Prompt
No Time to Waste
Fill in the blank: “Life is too short to _____.” Now, write a post telling us how you’ve come to that conclusion.

I am not a churchgoer. I decided a long time ago that after five years (at boarding school) of dutifully confessing every morning (and three times on Sundays) that despite my best efforts, I had done all those things of which the Good Lord strongly disapproved, I didn’t need to roll up every week to have god’s [sic] representative tell me that unless I toed the line, I’d be toast. The final straw came when They decided that the Anglican Book of Common Prayer was too difficult for us plebs, and should be thrown out in favour of language pedestrian enough to avoid any possibility of misunderstanding – or inspiration. (They obviously knew nothing whatsoever about the power of language itself – or alternatively, feared it might whip us up into a frenzy they couldn’t control.)

So I abandoned the Church to the Jensen Brothers (who had already banned the lighting of candles and removed the altar from Sydney’s major Anglican Cathedral) and sallied forth unsanctified – but still failed to fall into the life of hedonistic debauchery promised to those who abjure hair shirts. You can’t win, can you!

Which is all a very long-winded way of saying that despite apparently choosing the fast track to hell, I still have a fairly good repertoire of biblical quotes, and this is my pick in answer to today’s prompt:

Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest. (Ecclesiastes)

Because that’s the point, folks: whether we like it or not, whether we admit it or not, one day, we’re all going to die, so best we stop faffing around with all those ‘shoulds’ that have probably circumscribed our lives so far, and get on with the good stuff. You can be fairly sure that after a lifetime of doing ‘the right thing’, you won’t suddenly become an axe murderer – I’m still waiting for the time when I can be incorrigibly rude to those who annoy me and not care – but life is indeed too short to play nicely with those who bore you, smile and nod through small talk when you’d rather be reading a book, or stick to fresh apples when you’d really like a big fat bowl of ice-cream.

There’s a school of thought that says nothing we do is truly altruistic, and I tend to subscribe to this. However reluctant we may be to scrub the kitchen floor – look after Aunt Nelly – go to a boring party, there’s something in it for us, or we wouldn’t be doing it. Whether it’s a feeling of virtue, the freedom from guilt, a need to network/please someone else/tot up brownie points… we don’t do things we hate unless

When I was young, I did them all. Those things mattered, then. Now they don’t. I’ll knock myself out for those I love because I love them, and genuinely want to. I’m not a curmudgeonly old witch to the people I meet, because it’s not particularly me. But life is far too short to waste it setting myself up like a coconut at a coconut shy, to be knocked off my perch for apparently scandalous infringements of the current social mores.

Or, indeed, to waste it worry about all those sins I may or may not have committed…


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8 Responses to Daily prompt: I think it’s called the wisdom of age…

  1. Martha Kennedy says:

    Amen (or whatever) to all of this. 🙂

  2. Wonderfully said, Helen. I agree completely about altruistic motivations; there is always something in it for us and that’s a very good thing.

    • Yes, it is. It keeps the world turning, the house liveable and the people you love cared for. And to those who consider themselves purely as unwilling martyrs to others’ needs – come on, it’s the whole idea of martydom that keeps you going!

  3. Aunt Beulah says:

    “…life is indeed too short to play nicely with those who bore you, smile and nod through small talk when you’d rather be reading a book, or stick to fresh apples when you’d really like a big fat bowl of ice-cream.” I remember my delight when I had gained enough years to get a sense of the liberation you describe so wonderfully in this passage. Life got in better when I began to act accordingly — most of the time.

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