Wednesday 12th October
Now that does seem a dismal subject doesn’t it? But I do not mean it to be. We should not regard the end of life as a failure at all, except in the obvious sense – of it being the result of a failure to continue living. I once met an Indian gentleman, and gentleman was exactly the word to describe him. He was helping us out part-time in one of the hotel accounts offices I was working in. He taught me more about life in the few short conversations I had with him than all the self-help manuals ever written. Mr. Meehra his name was, I never discovered his first name, and it was so long ago he must be long dead by now. Basically he was saying that you have to live your life like an epic poem, riding the highs and lows, experiencing the gut wrenching pain of disappointment and exhilarating in the happiness you find; it is only by enjoying the extremes to the full that you can appreciate anything at all. And he had a few words to say about those two imposters, success and failure, how they were both illusory and incredibly transient. So, we should enjoy what we might term as success, for example, when people congratulate me on the publication of the book, but realise that this success will not last, usually only until they turn around to speak to someone else I suspect. We should also not be downhearted by what others consider as failure, as this too is only momentary, and should rather be judged by one’s own sense of accomplishment or satisfaction rather than the approval, or lack of it, of others.
There comes a time in all our lives when we look back and try to asses things, weigh our achievements in the balance, so to speak. Often this coincides with retirement, as so many of us consider our working lives to be the area of most success or failure, but I retired many years ago, but feel as if I never have, as now I have my second (or first all along really) career as a writer to sustain me. And though I hardly dare ask my publishers how the book is selling (if at all), I know that I should not be seduced or down-heartened by this really silly measure of success. The success was completing the task I had set myself; to write, what I consider to be, a reasonably good story, to try to get to the heart of the thoughts and feelings of my heroine, who co-incidentally shares the same name as me. If I had failed, and not written what I considered as good, you and no-one else would be reading either the book or this blog now. It is always flattering when people say they have enjoyed it, but that was never the point of writing it.
And now, whatever happens to the book, however high it flies, or low it sinks, I will not consider it a failure. For me my life, far from over I hope, is now at last, becoming a success. Strange, when I had what so many envied, a nice home, a house abroad, a good income, that for so long I had thought of myself as a bit of a failure.