Make a point of visiting us weekly!        Tell a friend about us. Silver Surfer Articles Return to “Silver Surfers”  CONTENTS PAGE Page EIGHTY SIX

Perhaps it is an aging thing, but I seem to have become more and more aware just how good our lives have been. Immediately I sense an outcry, “You don’t know the things we’ve been through!” I agree. Almost certainly many if not all of us in this age group have been through hard times, losses of loved ones, or times of financial hardship, illnesses, needs for operations,  family upsets or who knows what the anguish was, but beyond that – and I do want to look beyond that – we have had the remarkable privilege of having lived through times of incredible change, changes that have meant we have been provided for, or had experiences, way beyond anything someone living a hundred and fifty years ago, say, could ever have dreamed of.   

As regular readers of these pages will know, each article tends to have something that provoked it into being. My starting point this time comes out of the Nostalgia Group that meets fortnightly in the lounge of Hawkwell Baptist Church.  The object of the group is twofold: to build friendships and to strengthen the memory. The way it has gone, over recent months, I suspect we ought to add a third goal: to see how much we can laugh in an hour and a half. The memory-building side uses a whole variety of techniques, one of which is to get people in pairs to think back over their lives either to a particular point or experience, or generally think back to earlier years and see what comes out.

The question that provoked me into thinking down this path was, “What is the most memorable ‘vehicle’ (in the widest sense) you’ve been on?” Of course the answers that flowed included such things as cruise ships, the Concorde, an elephant, plus lots and lots more. So, OK, before I go any further, how about you joining in this game. What would your answer be? One answer that surprised me, with the shear number of people who had done it, was the Monte Sledges of Madeira, that run for about 10 minutes down about 2km of steep streets down through Funchal. They are made of wicker and wood and usually take two passengers and are guided by two runners who run alongside it, or on it, at points whisking it round corners and across street junctions at high speed down to the bottom. Brilliant!  

But that wasn’t what got me going; no, it was my train of thoughts (sorry!) about the many means of transport that I have been on. If I list some of them, it is simply to provoke your memory and so I invite you to join in this extended exercise: how many different means of transport have you been on in your life?  I started with aircraft. I haven’t been on a helicopter, or on Concorde or done hang-gliding (although various members of this over sixty-fives group have done these three.) But looking back I flew on the Viscount, and the Vanguard and the Trident, some of the earlier airliners, various of the Boeing 7’s, including the Jumbo, smaller prop-jobs flying into short on-the-side-of-a-hill strips on Borneo, yes, a flying lesson on a small trainer and a day with a glider (possibly the most memorable of the flights (I try to forget the 13-hour flights of the past to the Far East). On water, yes, a couple of cruise ships, cross channel ferries, smaller ferries, including the occasional river ferry pulled by one man along a cable, various holiday cruisers on the Thames, the Broads and the Fens, various sailing dinghies and canoes, not to mention paragliding off the back of a speedboat. Possibly the most memorable was an old clinker-built sailing dinghy I took out on a Boxing Day as a late teenager, on a gravel pit in a force-I-don’t-know-what gale that eventually cast me on a bank. Awesome!

Now I am sure many of you could match these experiences and add many more, but the point of the exercise is to remember these times and marvel that they actually happened. Remember my starting point: a hundred and fifty years ago I am sure I would never have had a single one of these. Fifty years ago hardly anyone took holidays as we know them today. The other amazing thing, looking back, is that neither I nor my family were particularly well off, and yet somehow or other I have still done these things.

But let your memory click into gear and it is amazing what comes up. I recollect that as a teenager I yomped and abseiled down quarry faces with the Royal Marine Commandos. I’ve canoe-camped on rivers and gone down white waters. I flew in among the skyscrapers of Hong Kong before the new airport arrived. I’ve trekked through the jungle of Borneo and stayed in a long-house and eaten wild boar with the locals. Yes, I know, you may have much greater exploits but I’m just dredging the memory to see what was there and these are some of the many things that rise to the surface – and I marvel. I feel humbled in old age to think back and realise what a privileged life I’ve had compared to that of my ancestors. Oh yes, there was the time when, as students, two of us managed to sneak in and watch the Trooping of the Colour close up on the Queen’s birthday. Probably not possible today. But then people do go to have tea at Buckingham Palace garden parties today! Then there was staying overnight ‘on safari’ in Kent, to wake up and watch the wild animals twenty feet away. So OK, you’ve been on safari in Africa – you prove my point! As does the cousin who is planning to go to the Antartica for a short trip!

There is so much that we take for granted here in the UK.  I’ve written elsewhere on this site about having had a new knee, having had a boring and painless operation for a torn retina, and two equally boring cataract operations that have meant that I don’t need to wear glasses, (having worn them previously since I was eleven) when I swim, sail, or garden.  (Don’t start me on gardening – you can find the counterpart articles to this on the ‘Growing Stuff’ pages, entitled, “Appreciating Change”) And all this by wonderful people in the NHS and it cost me nothing. Let’s face it, if we lived a hundred and fifty years ago, most of us would never have reached the age we are!

I realise I have only just scratched the surface of this awareness and appreciation exercise, and have just touched on planes, boats and – oh, I missed trains! But yes, a few unusual experiences, and the benefits of a health service. It’s a good age to be alive – despite all the negatives the daily news would seek to impose on us. In fact it is not merely good to be alive in this age, it is amazing!  Your life experiences and mine, have been amazing. Let’s look back and be very positive and very thankful! Right, let’s see if I can find some notable quotes to finish with.

(PS. If you really want to enter into this pondering the amazing goodness of our experiences, add to your travel modes, the places you’ve been to, in this country and abroad. Think about the restaurants, cafes, bistros, tavernas and the like you’ve been in and the different foods you’ve experienced. Add to that the other ‘different’ experiences you’ve had, the high wire walking, the submarine, the mountains climbed, the rivers navigated. The life for a twenty-first century adventurer is endless! Be grateful!)      

“The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.” 

― Eleanor Roosevelt

“Be thankful for everything that happens in your life; it’s all an experience.” 

― Roy T. Bennett

“Some things cannot be taught; they must be experienced. You never learn the most valuable lessons in life until you go through your own journey.” 

― Roy T. Bennett

I live to enjoy life by the littlest things, feeling the grass between my toes, breathing fresh air, watching the wind sway the trees, enjoying the company of loved ones, a deep conversation, getting lost in a good book, going for a walk in nature, watching my kids grow up. Just the feeling itself of being alive, the absolute amazing fact that we are here right now, breathing, thinking, doing.” 

― Marigold Wellington

“Life gives us experiences for personal development. Appreciate the lessons and be a learner.” 

― Lailah Gifty Akita, 

“Endeavour to appreciate life while you experience it, for some will never experience life again, because they are six feet inside the grave.” 

― Auliq Ice

"Whenever I count my blessings, I find myself becoming more grateful because the good things of life outweigh the not so pleasant things that are happening in my life." 

- James Jason,

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