Too old for this?

When we told my parents that we were going to buy a campervan and spent a year traveling the UK my Dad said to me ‘But really, Nicola, you are too old for this. You should have done this in your twenties…’

In many ways he was right. I don’t deny that a part of what sent us off on crazy adventures was probably a repressed urge to be crazy that I bottled up in my twenties when instead I was paying a mortgage, working full time in stressful jobs, pretending to be a grown up.

But then if we’d done this then we either would not have had the kids, or would have delayed having them, or not had sufficient crazy in us to be the parents we are to them. And taking an 8 year old and a 10 year old off on the WWOOFing adventure was the perfect age for them. They remember it so well, will always remember it, it formed such a big part of who they are. And moving here with them aged 9 and 11 was also perfect – they had enough mainland memories of urban life, access to museums, art galleries, 24 hour supermarkets, zoos, cinemas, group activities, scouts and guides, family and friends, camping trips, sitting in traffic jams on motorways – to sustain them through the lean times of island life not offering those things. To allow them to compare and contrast, to see where this life is lacking but also where it makes up for the deficits.

We were talking the other day about life expectancies. About how at 40 I am hopefully not even half way through my life, about how I still have so many more ideas, dreams, hopes, ambitions. But of course the truth is that at 40 there are things which are probably outside my reach now. A day of hard physical work takes a toll and there is no hot bubble bath to soak tired muscles at the end of a long day here in our current life.

There is a line in the fabulous poem by Mary Schmich, the Baz Luhrmann version of which I listen to at least once a week, which says:

Enjoy your body, 
use it every way you can…don’t be afraid of it, or what other people 
think of it, it’s the greatest instrument you’ll ever own

I could drink less wine, eat less food, find numerous ways to fit into a smaller size of jeans. But this week my body has done amazing things – slaughtered and butchered pigs to feed my family, offered cuddles, kneaded bread, chopped firewood, walked up and down that croft hill carrying things to and fro.

For now, and it may only be fleeting, and there are often times when I sigh to myself and my Dad’s words of wisdom ring in my ears, I am using my body to do precisely what it is able and it’s just the age to manage it.

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