So there I was in pink cardigan and full Brazilian, with Mario Testino clicking away, saying, ‘hold your chin up, darling, you’re not eighteen.’ Then I woke up and it was Good Friday. I’ve been reading magazines again. I shouldn’t do it, as they are full of youth and ambition; things that do not vibrate well in my life. On Good Friday I can do with uplifting, not depressing thoughts. It’s not a good idea to dwell on losses. Better, I find, to count the gains. It is still a couple of days to a bar of chocolate.Why do I set myself these challenges, I wonder; it’s not as if I’m religious.
Life has taught me many things; to be grateful, to be optimistic, to count my blessings, use my strengths and never to forget to commit random and secret acts of kindness. I am lucky that money has never been my god. The Joneses never seemed to be to have an appealing lifestyle. No, I follow the wisdom of the Sage of Omaha, Warren Buffet. He says that a good life is about the simple but profound.
I had a mentor once called Dan. He was a tall, beautiful man with the look of a monk. Gay as a goose. He lived a life of profound and thoughtful asceticism and spend his days creating an exquisite garden. He lived on tins of pilchards and pears (not together) and every Friday walked five miles into town to buy a cake from the WI market. This was his treat for the week and he eeked it out until the following Friday. When I visited he always offered me a slice. I don’t think I would have been so generous with my only treat.
When he died his estate was quite bulky, as he had been on a large pension and spent little. His nephews fought over it until what was left also went to lawyers. The last time I drove past his garden, it was a mass of nettles and brambles and there was no evidence at all of his neat and measured life. The home-hewn bootscraper had gone, the yews has grown carbuncles of leaves and the paint was peeling off the fascia boards that he had so lovingly carved. I think Dan would have enjoyed the irony of it all. I can hear him saying, ‘I’m just living out my days’. His life was simple all right and his acceptance of its inevitablity was profound. He reminded me of Teilhard de Chardin or Father Bede Griffiths. One Good Friday years ago, he came to help me shift a statue I have in my garden of a naked male torso. Then, a stone man was the only sort I wanted in my life. Dan said it looked like David Beckham, which kind of clipped its charm. It’s still there looking over its shoulder in a fey sort of way. Maybe it’s simply looking for Dan.