Our recent 25th Wedding Anniversary party and my 50th Birthday seemed blogworthy enough milestones so here I am again.
We don’t throw many parties because we’re not fans of the traditional village hall format and the prospect of having our house trashed becomes ever-less tempting. I was explaining this to my friend Chris and we ended up talking about Packing Shed Island, which sits just above high tide off the coast of Mersea Island in the Blackwater River estuary, and we both agreed it would make a great alternative party venue so a few phone calls later the shed was booked for our anniversary party.
Booking the shed really was the easy part because everything from people to toilet rolls has to travel by boat to the island, and back again, which adds an extra dimension to even the simplest tasks with plenty of scope to FUBAR!
Parties need music so I spent a long time going through my iTunes collection picking must-have tracks from each decade and ended up with enough music to put on a music festival rather than a party!
I always enjoy browsing the pictures people traditionally put on the wall at parties but getting those mounted up and onto the island was never a practical proposition so I decided to put together a noughties style slide show using my Apple TV and an LCD projector. I generally hate scanning photos but it was therapeutic scanning pictures and amazing to see small snapshots spring to life on a much larger screen. The slideshow seemed popular so I’ve uploaded the lot to my .mac web gallery for anyone who missed it or wants copies of the photos you can grab them yourselves.
It’s great to get presents but there’s really nothing we need so we’d decided to organise a charity raffle and thanks to the generosity of our sponsors (especially IWantOneOfThose.com and Buyagift) and all our party guests we raised exactly £500 for our favourite charities.
From our perspective the party went really well. The island mentality led to us over-ordering food and we even had some alcohol left which is more a case of us getting old rather than over-ordering I think. Apologies to anyone I didn’t get around to chatting with, that’s always the problem with parties, but everyone had a smile on their face in the photos and they’re also available online here or on the Facebook event page.
So fifty is bloody old, especially when I grew up in the cold war and remember being told the world might end today at infant school, so I’ve been counting my blessings ever since. We can’t help growing old but we don’t have to grow up and figuring out what’s important is more important than learning stuff and milestones like anniversaries and birthdays make me maudlin and reflective – please feel free to skip my self-indulgence.
I’ve been practicing Taoist Tai-Chi for over four years now and although the gentle body changing exercises have undoubtedly improved my physical health it’s the taoist aspect which has been the key to becoming more comfortable with myself so here’s what I think I’ve learned so far:
* Don’t judge people too harshly. Most people are lovely, mostly harmless and often ineffectual but lovely nevertheless and the more people you meet and friends you make the more lovely experiences you will have in this life, it’s simple probability in action so just do it.
* Do something outside your comfort zone every day. Say YES when you’re screaming NOOOOOOOO on the inside and see what happens – it almost always turns out OK. I’m really uncomfortable at the thought of public speaking but it gets a little easier each time.
* Break your habits and embrace change. Challenge yourself, stop drinking tea or start drinking coffee – it really doesn’t matter, changing your behavior is the key because it challenges your self-image and ultimately how others perceive you. Be open to new ideas and experiences, life inexorably narrows our potential so don’t make it any easier.
* Be useful and be generous. From personal experience I know the law of karma works. Often being generous is useful too so it’s already karma payback, did you see the movie Pay It Forward?
Finally, and on a lighter note, I’m reminded of this essential tidbit for men of a certain age: If you have the opportunity to go to the toilet, take it – and if you’re lucky enough to get an erection use it!