Category Archives: Life

Music and Words: 2013 – Ten Things, numbers 5, 6 and 7

Continuing reflections on what I learned from 2013….

5. Wisdom’s a gift, but you’d trade it for youth

…is one of numerous lapidary phrases that spring from the best song on my favourite record of the year: Modern Vampires of the City, by Vampire Weekend.

Vampire Weekend - StepUntil now, I haven’t really got Vampire Weekend. I could tell they were talented. But they sounded just a bit too cluttered to me, a little too pleased with their own eclecticism and proficiency. But on this, their third album, they sound like they have clicked into the zone, relaxed a bit.

The song, Step, also demonstrates yet again that iron law of pop – that if you get the drums and the voice (including the words) right, you’ve pretty much cracked it.

Discovering a new favourite band also leads me on to my next lesson. It’s good to…

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Mary Poppins would make a good childcare minister – Ten Things about 2013, number 4

The fourth of my ten things learned in 2013.

I watched the film Mary Poppins again over Christmas. Apart from being moved – yet again – to blub at the sad bits, I was struck by what a great minister Mary would make.

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More Laughter, the Hoping Machine, and 5.7 Million Steps: ten things about 2013 (parts 1-3)

After a very busy period, I have recently had a few days to reflect on the past year. New year is traditionally a time to look forward, but it’s also worth taking stock of the recent past and lessons learned.

So here, in instalments and with no apologies for randomness or triviality, are my ten things from 2013. First, items one to three.

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Dodging the moose

MOTORIST MISSES MOOSE BUT BASHES BROWN BEAR

A Norwegian driver who swerved to avoid a moose hit a bear instead. The motorist spotted the moose near Hanestad village in Rendalen, north of Oslo, at about midnight on Wednesday, and tried to go around the animal, not realising a bear was nearby.

I have this newspaper cutting pinned on the wall in front of me. It’s been there for some time (it is from the Guardian of 17th August 2012). It intrigues me, and recently it has been on my mind a lot.

The story goes on:

“The driver had lost a bit of speed as he tried to avoid the moose before hitting the bear,” said Svein-Erik Bjorke of the local wildlife authority. “We are tracking the bear and we have found traces of blood.”

The motorist escaped uninjured, although his car sustained some damage. The fate of the bear is unknown. It was obviously able to slip away into the woods, but those traces of blood don’t sound good.

The state of the moose is unrecorded. Presumably rather smug.

Why does this story stick in my mind? I think it’s because of what is currently going on in my life. After more than two decades I am about to leave a job I love and enjoy. I don’t have to leave, and it is tempting to stay. But I know it is time to strike out in a new direction.

Naturally I feel a mixture of emotion. I wonder if I am doing the right thing. But the tired old metaphor about frying pans and fires doesn’t truly apply, because things aren’t that bad right now, and they may not be worse after I leave. I don’t know exactly what I will do in the future, I just know it will be different. Maybe better, but I can’t guarantee that right now.

So why leave? Sometimes in life you just have to take a swerve, whatever the consequences. You need to change direction. It almost doesn’t matter whether the new direction works or not. You can’t carry on with the old one.

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Think of that Norwegian driver. He’s tooling along when he sees the moose in his headlights. He has the time and the presence of mind to steer around it, but bugger me there’s a bear in the way as well. But what could he do? If he had known the bear was there, would he have done anything different? Of course he wouldn’t.

Most of us would probably prefer to collide with a moose than a bear.  But it isn’t a choice you can realistically make. You can’t deliberately drive into a moose, whatever the alternative. You have to swerve to miss it and damn the consequences.

Even if you fear a bear may lurk behind it. Even if you know a bear is there. You have to avoid that moose.

So that’s why ‘dodging the moose’ feels an apt metaphor for what I am doing with my life. I am at a point in the road where I have to steer away from the moose that is my former career. It’s something I simply have to do.

Obviously I hope there is an open road beyond it. But even if there isn’t, I’m dodging that moose.

Let’s hope there are no bears.

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