I've never actively given anything up...but every now and then I realise that I've not done something for a long time. Such a long time, perhaps, that I can't really say I do it any more, whatever 'it' is. This week, I've had a couple of days off work for Eid al-Adha. Now, extra days off in Doha can be quite long. Especially for one allergic to shopping malls and five star hotels. So, between sessions on the computer and sessions on the guitar, I found myself reminiscing over some of these things I never actively gave up but which just drifted out of my life, somehow. For example:
I don't run marathons any moreIn fact, I don't compete in any road races. I used to. For about ten years, between the ages of 35 and 45, I pounded the pavements regularly, training and competing. I'd do about ten events a year, mostly half-marathons and triathlons, with the occasional marathon thrown in for good measure. I wasn't good, of course. My personal goal was always to finish in the top third of the field. If I ever made the top quarter, I felt I'd won the race!
My last competitive run was the Snowdonia Marathon, a pretty tough one with several serious climbs. And then, I didn't do any more. No particular reason. I continued to tell people that road racing was one of my hobbies, until I realised it wasn't. I still run from time to time, but for the most part, I've replaced that aspect of my life with walking. I reckon it's better for 59 year-old knees. And certainly in the extreme climate of Qatar, walking is exercise enough, and more than most of the locals attempt. OK, what else don't I do?
I don't play sax any moreexcept possibly to blast out Auld Lang Syne on Hogmanay. And this mainly comes down to dentition. Unless you're Jimi Hendrix, you don't need your teeth to play guitar, but you do to play sax. In particular, you need your four lower incisors, the very four that I lost through a gum disease, about ten years ago. Their replacements are cosmetic more than functional, and not up to the job of supporting the lower lip through extended passages in the upper register. So, the sax had to go the way of the road racing.
In fact, it's no great loss. I really only took up sax when a folk-rock band I was part of morphed into something much heavier and my flute wasn't really hacking it. I'm still well able to play flute, and as mentioned above, my guitars are my constant travelling companions, so my music is alive and well, if saxless.
And I've stopped growing hair!Rather like the saxophone, this one wasn't from choice. It wasn't even that short hair is more sensible in hot countries. It's just that there's less of it growing up there than there used to be. Pity. I'm of the generation that reinvented long hair in the sixties and seventies. It was more than a fashion statement. It had a lot to do with peace and harmony, just as the skinhead look was all about aggression and militancy.
In the forty odd years since Woodstock, I've never really wavered from the idea that we can and should work for a fairer and more peaceful world. All that has changed is that I can no longer grow the 'uniform'.
Then there's poetryUntil five years ago, I was quite well established in the poetry scene, regularly reading in my home town and in London, contributing and moderating a number of on-line forums, and with a fair published portfolio under my belt.
The day the music died was when our son was killed in a motorcycle accident. When such tragedies happen, we recover as best we can. Family, friends, poetry, music and work combined to bring me through the worst times. Poetry itself remained important, but the poetry scene I dropped like a hot potato. I had to. People meant well, but I was being watched. Almost everyone was expecting a tragic magnum opus from me.
Well, tough. I'm not Alfred Lord Tennyson (who wrote In Memoriam for his deceased brother). My 'art', such as it was, was inadequate to express such depth of feeling. I wrote a prose obituary and abandoned poetry for a couple of years. I found, though, that I was happy writing prose, and HubPages proved a perfect vehicle for (much of) what I wanted to say.
Well, I'm back to writing poetry again, but rather like the road racing, I have no interest in re-entering the world of competitions and submissions for publication. I have nothing to prove.