Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Time Goes By; What To Do With It.

How many times do you hear people say 'Doesn't time fly'. We look in the mirror, what do we see. We look at our relations, parents, grandparents, great grandparents, and, in the blink of an eye, we have become our own ancestors, so to speak. If that's not scary, I don't know what is.
Three photos
1 Not my granddad, my great granddad! Taken probably over a 100 years ago at least.
2 Grumpy as a child. Over 65 years ago. Not bad looking for a 'war baby' although I say it myself!
3 Grumpy as of now. No comment!
Time is going, going, gone. And one way to prove it to yourself is, keep a diary; in itself a very mixed blessing! I kept one once, once only, in great detail and, twenty five years on, it makes for very sober, nay sombre reading. It poses so many questions. (This diary, written for the whole of 1985 was in fact a journal that looked back also to life before that year. Thus much of the content refers to life before and up to the age of forty six. Self indulgent, maybe but certainly food for thought.)
How many of us, you, dear reader included, for example, lead/led the life we choose/chose. How many of us do the jobs we do/did by choice. How many remember how we felt, what we felt twenty five or more years ago. Were you bored, excited, exhilarated years ago. Were you hopeful then; are you hopeless now. Have you changed; has life changed; has life changed you. So many questions, are there just as many answers. You tell me, please.
Diary September 1985.
'School life is often exasperating, almost always hard but seldom boring. Which is more than can be said for the life of an office clerk. I spent four years as a clerk employed by the British Celanese at Spondon, a textile and plastics factory owned by Courtaulds. One of eight thousand employees, I felt unimportant and uninvolved in the firms affairs.
Consequently my years in their service were frustrating and unenjoyable, punctuated by bouts of periodic 'daftness' designed to disguise the boredom of the place and the futility of the occupation. I held four posts in four years, which suggested one year was sufferable, two not so. The jobs themselves were mundane. Bought-ledger clerk, paying thousands of pounds out each month on a salary of less than ten pounds a week. Cost clerking, adding up lines of meaningless figures concerning tricel, dicel and other uninteresting products. Stores clerk, issuing chits enabling less bored employees to go about their equally uninspiring tasks. Four years of frustration, remembered chiefly for moments that broke the monotony. 'Games' of musical chairs, where we ran round the large office, changing chairs to imaginary music, to the chagrin of the older, staid, harder working clerks. Adding, forever adding meaningless figures provided on multicoloured sheets from all parts of the factory. Figures I never understood and on more than one occasion made up. Their unimportance could be gauged from the fact that nobody noticed or complained.
Talk of books, of sport, of the weather daily rituals to relieve the monotony. It all sounds so uninspired, repetitive and so it was. Sometimes I got in trouble, for instance, like the time I swore at the old gent who used to go to sleep, beer induced, on our shared desk in the stores most afternoons. And the day I caused a huge lorry to be loaded with the wrong yarn because I read 'dicel' for 'tricel'. Four years of frustration. How many people are similarly frustrated in their daily tasks; but for fourteen years, or even forty four?'
And suddenly you are nearer the end of life than the beginning. (I did consider calling this post 'In the Blink of an Eye.')
Not meant to be maudlin but so be it. Just four pieces on time that caught my eye.
'The bad news is, time flies. The good news is, you're the pilot.' Michael Althsuler
What a load of American, motivational speaker crap! A somewhat limited pilot with no real power or influence you dummy!
'Time only seems to matter when it's running out.' Peter Strup
A bit obvious, a bit better but still suspect. And who the heck's Peter Strup?
'I wasted time, and now doth time waste me.' William Shakespeare. Richard 11 Act five.
It takes the Master to spell it out.
And finally, to show I do appreciate at least some of the wisdom of our American cousins.
'Lost time is never found again.' Benjamin Franklin


Valerie said...

I was lucky. I had enjoyable jobs, the sort that when you look back you feel a certain satisfaction ... even joy. The beauty of getting older is that we no longer have to 'keep pace'. We can go at our own speed.

the fly in the web said...

I liked what I did and was sorry to have to give it up for reasons outside my control...but I know that I was lucky to feel like that.
Looking back over the last twenty five just feels like no time at all.

I'd love to have seen the musical chairs!

Moannie said...

Dear Grumpy old Ken.

You do manage to the head of my nail time and time again.
Very early on in my life I made a huge discovery: Regret is a wasted emotion...the moving finger having writ moves on, and all your piety nor wit shall lure it back to cancel half a line, nor all your tears wash out a word of it.

I met dear Omar at eighteen years of age...about the time that I had my first original thought, in that I mean not something quoted from another, and it stuck with me. Which is why I have enjoyed pretty much each of the 16 jobs I had before nursing. I had dreamed of marrying a fair [headed] man and having four boys with red hair and freckles...didn't happen. I can do a lot of things badly and nothing much well, except mothering.
But the years have marched on and and I have to be a lot nearer to my demise by now. I hope I face it with a smile and just a 'tinge' of regret. Well I'm allowed a look back then aren't I?

Moannie said...

Of course I meant to 'hit' the head of my nail. Senior moment there.

Anonymous said...

Introspective thoughts that have passed through my mind, more than I can count. Thank you for sharing. Seems the less satisfying life is, the more you question the purpose of being here.....

JeannetteLS said...

Dear Grumpy old Ken, I look back twenty-five years and I shudder at my life then, in a body cast, in a sterile marriage, raising the kids (HIGH point in this time) taking care of my dying dad, wishing my life away, not living it. Now? I can barely walk, but since my divorce in 1992, I think I am happier the older I get. I am finally doing PRECISELY what I love--it took my being incapacitated for me to allow myself to do this. I made my living writing about brilliant Stanford professors' work and learned cool stuff. And now I paint, am working on a book and have more CLOSE friends than most people ever have. And some days I blink and it's the next week, and some days every blink seems to take a minute. And I never met a motivational speaker I didn't want to throttle. Thanks for the entry.

Eddie Bluelights said...

Here's another: "Time waits for n-one!"
If only we could be transported back to our 30s knowing what we know and with a sizeable nest egg LOL. Oh on second thoughts we would have to go through it all again! Maybe not.

lucy joy said...

I'm 34 and I've had around ten jobs. I've been bored to near tears in all of them, most of the time.

There have been brief phases in
certain jobs where the camaraderie and sense of purpose has been immense, but this always came to an abrupt halt.

I struggle to find a complete sense of 'rightness' in anything I do. if I were a teacher, nurse, social worker or any other such profession I would be worried all the time about what I'n NOT doing instead of focussing on what I'm doing well.

I've enjoyed being a housewife and mother more than anything. I think now is the time I will look back on most fondly, despite being broke.

I sometimes get a glimpse of what I could have been if I had the confidence I have now before having kids.

I'd be horrible.

Doofus said...

I really enjoyed that post, Ken.

I don't believe in fatalism, that everything happens for some predetermined reason and therefore I think the majority of people can choose the paths of their lives (Although not all of us, due to 'walls in the head' created by all sorts of factors, money being one of them).

And thanks for the quotes by Shakespeare and Franklin, great stuff.

Anonymous said...

I almost feel guilty about saying this, but I'm a younger than you and have been pining for lost years myself, recently. If one of the aims of your piece was to snap the likes of me out of it, then consider it a success :)

PS - My father also worked for Courtaulds. They were c***s. Me, I've had good jobs and bad, but if you know what you like and what you want to do then I guess nothing is wasted. It's reaching that stage which takes time!

CWMartin said...

Ken, I'll go along with your assessment of all four quotes- especially the Bard's. And how it goes by. Having just posted about one of my bucket list milestones, I'd have to say the plane is a glider- and the airelons have come off.

Sueann said...

I had several rotten jobs!! Glad I don't anymore. Love my job now...I work for boss ever!!

whitepinapple said...

Thanks for the post. Really interesting and got me thinking. I'm 27 and still in the "beginning" phases of "career." However I find that the mundane kills the brain. And my job can be quite mundane.

A few years ago I was very motivated to work hard and show the company that I "had what it takes," whatever that means. My reward: I was given a higher position and then relegated back to my original one.

Since then I feel like the fog is clearing a bit and I see that working for a company is mostly crowd-control...and I'm part of the crowd being herded along.

Lately I find myself wondering if struggles in the workplace is an American problem, a generational shift, or a universal constant. But the conclusion I always come to is that success (aka hapiness) seems to come when one can do the work of their choice. What do you think? I'm still young and have a lot more wisdom to gain.

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Grumpy Old Ken said...

Thanks everyone. It does suggest we all have similar problems in life and then whoops its gone!!

justin said...

Here's a variation of what you've said, Ken .... "Tempus fugit" ... it's about the only Latin phrase I've remembered, after learning it at school (many, many years ago).
It's interesting that people were thinking the same thoughts 2,000 years ago.