You might think that there’s not much left to learn by the time you reach your 60s. Think again. My last couple of years have probably been the most life-changing of all. I suppose that becoming a Nichirin Buddhist has affected that in many ways but this is not intended to be about the benefits of Buddhism. The Buddhism contributes to the self-awareness and thence to happiness and fulfilment and because of that, this post is about creativity and me.
As you know, I am a writer – well, I write, but I also teach children with special educational needs, and run a Bed and Breakfast business on Airbnb, so my writing time is limited.
Our bed and breakfast guests are diverse. Many are inspiring but some, we are pleased to wave goodbye to, and one or two become friends. More about the friends later.
It was our lodger (call him Roger – of course) who started it. He longs for an idyllic life, running a tea room by the sea and selling his paintings to tourists. He and I talk a lot about painting.
Before he started staying with us, I had suppressed my urge to paint, telling myself I didn’t have time for anything else in my life. With Roger’s presence in the house, I have changed my mind. All that talk of landscape and portrait. When I spotted and an advert in a local magazine for lessons with the inspirational teacher, Lorna Moore, I decided to sign up. What an amazing decision it turned out to be.
I’m not about to be the next Hockney, but I am improving all the time.
The way I have found the extra opportunity in my day, has been to stop watching television. I have also knocked some minor domestic things on the head. I no longer make our bed in the morning – nobody sees it anyway. I run the dishwasher more often and employed a lad to do some gardening for a while at the beginning of the summer. We also pay a dog walker (runner) once a week.
In December I read an article by Jon Westonberg encouraging readers to make a life plan – duh. How had it taken me this long to recognise the wisdom of his words. Make a list he suggested, and avoid anything that distracts you from it.
I think Jon may be a little younger than I because his list contains 100 items. I’m not saying I’m old but (call me negative …) I don’t believe I have enough years left for 100 things . Here follows my list. It is pinned on my kitchen wall – well, attached by a magnet to a paella pan as a matter of fact. I reckon I have 20 years if I’m lucky assuming I still have all my marbles, which is in the balance as this blog will testify:
- Write 4 novels
- Get an Art degree
- Read The Iliad and The Odyssey
- Volunteer at a homeless shelter
- Go to Australia
- Go to New Zealand
- Go to the Galapagos Islands
- Go on safari
- Find my inner Buddha
- Run 2 miles without getting out of breath
- Eat at Gordon Ramsay’s restaurant at the Savoy (This is a no-no as it has closed.)
- Lose 1 stone (chanting to change my eating and drinking karma for these three)
- Lose another stone
- Lose a third stone
- Get an article published in a magazine
- Get a story published in a magazine
- Run a writing course
- Sell my books in hard copy
- Visit all the houses I’ve ever lived in
- Illustrate my books
- Work with words
The list – thanks to Jon, and my positive mental attitude – thanks to Nichirin (and me), are the reason for my life-changing couple of years.
Note on my list points 18 – 20.:
20 is ticked for book 1
18 and 19 are in progress
I have regained control over Be Careful What You Wish For, re-edited the content and painted a new cover, inspired by Lorna Moore. This is now uploaded as an eBook (see picture, above, and the paperback version is at the printer’s. Exciting times.
I have decided to enrol on an art degree in 2020, when Mavis has finished her first year at university. Wait? How sensible of me – a sign I am weening myself off knee-jerk decisions. If I’m honest I’m a bit nervous about uni, but I’m gonna do it anyway.
Notes 12 – 14: I’ve lost lots of weight – and regained it. Hmm, keep chanting Lil.
I am living number eight, vicariously through Horace at the moment, who is honeymooning in South Africa.
A full course is planned for the autumn.
So, lookout world, here I come, limping but determined. Ooh, I nearly forgot the obligatory funny story, Well I thought this was funny anyway:
One of our guests (call him Boatman), who has become a friend, was at the breakfast table and I was telling him about Mavis’s wedding, and the fact that over the course of the weekend I had found 2 raffle tickets in the turn-up of my jeans. I had kept them for a while, mistakenly wondering if they were a sign of impending fortune.
‘The strangest thing I found in my turn-up was a fish,’ he said.
‘Yes. Years ago I was tottering home from the pub and I had to use some stepping stones to cross a stream. I missed my footing and stepped into the water. When I got home there was a Stickleback in my turn-up.’
I don’t know why, but I found this very funny. It’s so random, and the word Stickleback was perfectly placed in the story. I’m giggling as I write. Hope you giggle, too.
Nam Myoho Renge Kyo.