I’m Still Trying To Take It Easy

I was actually planning to post something else today, and had been working up the draft, but then Timehop reminded me of a piece I wrote two years ago. When I re-read it I decided to go with it again, as it says a lot about me. The other one will probably follow in a day or two – it can wait! As is my usual habit with these revisits, I’ll give you the original post and then return at the end to sign off.

From 22 October 2019:

still trying to ‘take it easy’

Three years ago today I began my series of #SaturdaySongs. This kind of ran out of steam, although I have revisited it on several occasions, and its spirit lives on in the #SongOfTheDay I post on the Facebook page for this blog – the link is in the right hand column if you want to take a look, and maybe even sign up. The first post was, as I said at the time, an easy choice to make: after all, I’d used it for the title of my blog! If you haven’t seen it you can find it here or from the #SaturdaySongs section of the main menu, at the top of this page.

The post tells the story of how the song came to life, in a collaboration between Jackson Browne and Glenn Frey. I won’t repeat myself here (for once!) but do take a look if you’re interested. I was prompted to revisit that post by one of those chance findings on YouTube: a live performance of the song on Spanish TV by Jackson Browne, Sharon Shannon and an uncredited mandolin player. I’ve tried, but haven’t found anything to identify her (help welcome!). This version is lovely, and really gets to the heart of the song:

It got me thinking, mostly about why I gave my blog this name. At the outset, if any of you remember, I chose the amazingly original and creative name of ‘Clive’s Blog,’ but when I retired in September 2013 I felt the need to rebrand, to reflect the way I wanted my life to be from then on. I had several possible choices but settled on this one, and I’m not thinking of changing it again anytime soon. I had always wanted to retire at 60 and achieved that aim, and had lots of plans as to how I would spend my time. This included increasing the number of music gigs I attended, theatre visits, museums and art galleries, and getting a season ticket for my ‘local’ Football League team – Leyton Orient. I live at the end of a London Underground line which enables me to be in central London within around 40 minutes, and Leyton is on the way in, so it was all going to be easy.

For the first two or three years I really did ‘Take It Easy’ and thoroughly enjoyed myself. Many gigs, museums and galleries were attended, and I managed a few theatre trips too. The highlight, though, was that first season of being a regular at the Os: it was the team’s best season for ages, culminating in a wonderful evening when we won our promotion play off semi final and then the final itself – at Wembley Stadium, no less. Sadly, we lost on penalties after being 2-0 up in both the match and the penalty shoot out. It’s the Orient way!

So what changed? My health let me down, that’s what. By that I mean physical, not mental, health – for a change. I have a condition which affects my mobility and travelling on public transport, especially up to London, is an absolute no-no at present, and has been for a few years. So much for being in charge of my life or, to use a phrase which has been prevalent here for a while now, ‘taking back control!’ My entertainment is now home-based, with reading, television and music to the fore. That wasn’t a change I had envisaged being forced to take, and it has taken a while for me to come to terms with it. I may never be ‘safe to travel’ again, and have had to accept that I might also not be able to attend live music, theatre or sporting events again. My ‘social life’ is now largely based around visits to the hospital and my doctor, and home visits by those who live close enough to me. I have the phone and online communication to keep me in touch, so I don’t feel cut off from the world, thankfully. But this experience has taught me that, whatever our intentions may be, we may need to make changes to our plans.

I probably sound as though I’m feeling sorry for myself, but I’m not. It would be easy for me to give in to ‘losing’ my ability to be more active and outgoing, and to sink back to the kind of depression I suffered eight years ago – which is why I began blogging, in case you missed that part! But I’m determined not to let that happen. I went for one of my regular blood tests yesterday, as part of the monitoring that I go through for my health – they want to check that I don’t develop diabetes. I guess that at some stage that may happen, and I’ve been reading up on it, as there are some horror stories about what it can mean for you. But I don’t have any of the symptoms, and would therefore be surprised if it was diagnosed. Even if it were, I would be hopeful that it would only mean a need to alter my diet and possibly take a few more pills every day, and that feels manageable.

So why should I feel sorry for myself? There are millions of people around the world who are far worse off than I, and I have much for which I should be – and am – grateful. There is, I think, a simple lesson for all of us in this: look for the positives in life, not the negatives. If you do, you will be far better placed to cope with the curve balls life can throw at you. I think I sound a little glib in saying that: after all, who am I to tell anyone else what to do? But I say it with feeling: it seems that modern life surrounds us with huge amounts of negativity every day – for example, politics appears to be based on it – and it can feel overwhelming. But if we can wade through all of that there are plenty of good things to be found, and perhaps the act of seeking them out can help us to appreciate them all the more.

I’m still trying to keep ‘Take It Easy’ as my mantra for life. Some days it feels more difficult than others, but I choose to look for the positives. I hope you do, too.

*******************************************************

Looking back at how I felt two years ago, I don’t think I’ve really changed all that much. The big difference for me is that medical advice has confirmed that the condition I have will be with me for life, and at best it is a question of managing it – complete recovery isn’t a viable option. This means that those last vestiges of hope that I entertained, that I might one day get back to live music or football, have now been extinguished. I was expecting this, but it doesn’t make it any easier to accept, particularly when I watch sports on tv and, now that crowds are allowed in again, I can hear and to an extent feel what I’m missing – the games can be fun to watch, but there really isn’t any substitute for being there and for being a part of the atmosphere. I mentioned in the original piece the evening when the Os won the play-off semi final, and I still get chills when I think back to that night – you can’t buy experiences like that! But, as I said then, I think I am by nature a positive person, and will continue to keep that in my memory bank as life moves on. Mind you, I’m now less than two years away from turning seventy, so ask me again in two years if I still feel that way!

Revisiting that post has also left me feeling a little guilty about the Facebook page I created for this blog, which I have neglected badly for some time. I really should get back to posting those #SongOfTheDay tunes – who knows, I might even attract some new followers if I do, but I suspect that the current 69 of them might be surprised at a reappearance! You may have noticed that I have recently revisited some of the posts I wrote for the #SaturdaySongs series that I also mentioned: maybe it is time to create a few more for that, soo. So many good intentions – where do they all go? It’s like they say about retirement: you have nothing to do all day and, if you don’t get it finished, you can always come back to it another day.

Until that other day, then…