Do or die

I accepted long ago that I will not read all the great books in the world before I die and I feel no guilt when I admit to not having read this or that other people discuss. However, I seem to have failed to transfer that rationality to other parts of my life. I want to see every good film, play, comedy show, TV series; I want to visit every country, every city; I want to eat at every great restaurant, ride every classic train line, stay in every top hotel. What I don’t particularly want to do would be a far shorter list. And I often feel a bizarre sense of guilt for not having done many of those things yet, as if I am somehow wasting my life by going to work, socialising, sleeping, spending time in my lovely house with Tim, walking or jogging in the park or any of those other things that constitute the greater portion of my life.

Which is crazy because I’m sure if I have any regrets as I get older it will be that I didn’t take enough time out for my friends or that I didn’t appreciate time alone with Tim while I could. I can’t imagine anyone on their deathbed regrets never having seen The Godfather or never having eaten at the Fat Duck in Bray. (Though I’m sure there’s quite a few who regret not having travelled more.)

So where does it come from, this odd need to cram in life experiences? Is it an awareness of how short life is? Or is it just a need to impress other people? So much of small talk is taken up with this stuff: “What are you doing tonight/this weekend?” “Where are you going on holiday this year?” “Have you seen this film/play/comedian/band?” and it feels a bit lame to say “I’m staying in tonight” “I’m using my leave to do stuff around the house” “No, I haven’t seen it/them” every time. It’s like an admission of failure. I would never tell a colleague that I plan to go home and read and yet that’s what I do more often than not.

And why not? I love reading. I love taking time over cooking and eating with Tim. I love hanging out with friends. I love walking around my adopted city, pausing to take photos or drink coffee. This is not a waste of time, this is enjoying life.

And yet still there’s the guilt.

2 thoughts on “Do or die

  1. Hev June 9, 2010 at 3:56 pm

    I know exactly what you mean!time’s precious- but depending on my mood that day I’ll either want to hide from the world,or see all of it at once!you’re not alone!maybe it’s something to do with media in that we are aware of so much more of the world?people used to ask the question “which country would you most like to visit” but most people I know these days wouldn’t be able to scale it down to just one!Maybe winning the lottery would be the way forward?With no money or job worries-we’d be free to read/eat/watch/listen/travel to our heart’s content!

  2. Nose in a book June 9, 2010 at 9:49 pm

    Hev Oh yes, daydreams of winning the lottery totally start with all the travelling I’d do. So many choices!

Leave a Reply

Name *
Email *
Website

Notify me of follow-up comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.