An Alphabet Of My Life: J


There are times in my life when I have been jealous, I admit that.

After my first marriage broke down, I was jealous of the fact that my wife got to remain in the nice house in Wimbledon, that eventually netted her a small fortune when she sold it decades later.

I have sometimes been jealous about younger girlfriends. That was based on my own insecurities about age difference, and believing that they would be attracted to younger men if they went anywhere without me. I suppose that can be considered natural, but it affected at least two relationships, teaching me that jealousy can be destructive and pointless.

On the plus side, I have never been jealous about rich people, or possessions. If someone had a better car than me, or a lot more money, I often thought that they had much more to lose, and would ultimately be less happy than I was.

I was jealous of talent.

Unable to play an instrument, or publish a best-selling book, I felt jealousy when confronted with the likes of David Bowie, or Charles Dickens. What did they have, that I lacked? It took me a long time to discover that I lacked perseverance, determination, and not least talent in those fields.

Luckily, I was never once jealous of privilege, the scourge of British society. They could keep their stately homes, those aristocratic benefits, their private education, their silver spoons and inheritances. It never seemed to make them better people, and certainly did not make them nicer or happier people.

I grew older, and became less and less jealous in time.

Wives had to have their free time with friends, so why be jealous of that? If I trusted them, respected them, married them, then that should be enough to make me happy about what they did when I was not around.

Undeniably, everyone is jealous about something, at some time in their lives. If they deny that, I am sorry to say that they are lying.

But live long enough, and you will be content to discover that jealousy is simply wasted energy.

Then you can relax.

The small things

As I sit in Beetley, it is towards the end of May, but it is raining hard and has been since I woke up. It also feels quite chilly, the first time it has been so for some while. Hardly the stuff that memories are made of, but it has cast me into a reflective mood, nonetheless.

I have recently been sent lots of e-mails from various companies. New cars, electronic goodies, better and faster computers, and sophisticated mobile phones; all have featured in these sales promotions. There are curved televisions with screens of unimaginable size, gadgets to make life easier, and cameras that do all but actually go out and take the photos for you. No doubt that will come soon.
All this bounty and luxury made me think about what we value, what is important, and what truly enriches our lives and existence. My list is not definitive. It is personal, and may mean little to others. Search inside yourselves, and you will discover your own.

A photo of my mother, in an old frame. It is taken in 1939, when she was fifteen years old. She has all her life ahead of her, and she smiles into the camera, anticipating the years to come. Little did she know then, that the next six years of her life would be consumed by a world war. There can be no value put on this picture from the past. To me, it is priceless.

Warm sand under your feet, walking across a beach. A sunny day, perhaps fifty years ago, possibly last month. The feeling is the same.

Climbing into a freshly-made bed. Clean sheets, and the prospect of a refreshing sleep before you.

Shaving with a new blade. Effortless, leaving you feeling smooth-skinned, and relaxed.

Lying on your back in long grass. Looking up at the sky, watching the cloud formations, sensing the ground on your back, feeling like a small part of eternity.

The companionship of a pet. No need to speak, no communication necessary. Just being together is enough for both of you.

The feeling that you know you are in love. Hard to define, even harder to explain, you just know. And it feels very good.

Sitting in a small boat, moving across water. You let your hand drift just under the surface, and feel the water passing across your skin.

Picking up a new book. Starting the first page, you immediately realise that it is going to be an incredible read, and you almost cannot wait for the next chapter.

Leaving a cinema after watching a great film. You stand outside the building, and are suddenly aware that you have seen something quite wonderful.

Standing before a work of art, its meaning and power becomes apparent to you. You get the message implied. You understand the artist’s intention.

Colours in nature. A seemingly unlimited palette, never ceasing to amaze.

A family gathering. Generations together without discord, understanding what it means to be human.

Laughing about nothing with good friends. You are the only ones who get the joke.

The sea crashing ashore on a stormy day. Feeling insignificant in its presence.

What’s on your list, I wonder?