Sometimes the order of the years becomes muddled; at times the chronological sequence is fine, at others that sequence means forever missing opportunities.
Standing in the church hall drinking tea after a harvest festival service, an ear splitting shriek from a child served as a reminder of the passing of the years. “I’m glad children are born when you are young; they would be too much to cope with in later years”.
It had been a good evening; a time to look back on the day and feel it had been very good. Life seemed well ordered; everything in its proper place, logic and reason concurred with real experience.
The Friday night concert after the 10 o’clock news on Midlands 103 suddenly disturbed the psychological apple cart: Dido recorded live at the Brixton Academy in 2005. Turning down Shannon Street, there was a sudden moment of sadness at thinking that it would have been great to have been at that concert and that such an opportunity would never arise.
Of course, the notion of being at the concert was ridiculous, going along to a gathering where everyone else present was half one’s age. Such opportunities had arisen when a student in London thirty years ago and had not been taken. Once training for ordination began in Dublin, the trend was to behave as old as possible rather than as young as possible. A chunk of life seems to have just slipped away.
The concert going years became not the early 20s, but the mid-40s, and now, living in the country, the chances of going along to gigs because it seemed like a good idea at the time are forever gone. It is no longer a taxi ride home from a Dublin city centre venue.
Dido sang ‘Life for Rent’, about opportunities and chances and, listening, the times seemed out of joint. Life had been in the right order, but there was now the thought that a second chance would have been good; a chance to seize the moments that had been spurned the first time around.
Looking back at reading Tom Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, that sense of one’s life having drifted by::
Our names shouted in a certain dawn … a message … a summons… there must have been a moment, at the beginning, where we could have said-no. But somehow we missed it.
(He looks round and sees he is alone.)
(He gathers himself.)
Well, we’ll know better next time.
Guildenstern expresses a common sentiment – that we shall get it right next time round; that when the opportunity arises, I will go and watch concerts in the Brixton Academy; but, of course, I won’t. I won’t because the times are forever gone. Dido sings of the opportunities slipping by:
I’ve always thought
that I would love to live by the sea
To travel the world alone
and live my life more simply
I have no idea what’s happened to that dream
Cos there’s really nothing left here to stop me
Maybe those present on that night in 2005 will have learned well the lesson in her lyrics; sometimes, though, it’s too late to learn.