I think my wife Jacqui and I can claim to have had a happy marriage, all 60 years of it! We’ve stuck together, through thick and thin, good times and bad, sickness and health, not because of any promises made during the wedding ceremony, but because we were in love when we got married and we are still in love to this day. We’ve had the odd ‘difference of opinion’ of course — show me a marriage that hasn’t and I’m pretty certain I can show you a marriage that has been either reasonably boring, or contains one partner who completely dominates the other. No, generally speaking we have enjoyed the journey together, a journey I’d be very happy to take again, except of course that I would then be 132 years old, which might be a bit restricting!
Although we’ve never been very rich, we have been prosperous enough to have been able to take part in a lot of little adventures, helped by the fact that we’ve always enjoyed new experiences and new opportunities. We’ve travelled over many parts of the world, while a lot of our friends in the ‘old country’ have never left there; they’ve never seen the wonderful outdoor art gallery called Paris, they haven’t experienced the pleasure of sailing through both the Panama Canal and the Suez Canal, they haven’t visited Pitcairn Island and traded with the locals, people who still have the name ‘Christian’ and that of several others of the Bounty mutiny, and they haven’t experienced the wonder of Egypt or the stunning magnificence of Outback Australia, all things we have been fortunate to enjoy.
Also, we have found that pretty well everywhere we have gone in the world, we have met wonderful, helpful people, people who may not be able to speak English and more than we could speak their tongue, but somehow the message always seemed to get across, somehow! This is especially true here in Australia, where there is no language barrier, and extra specially in South Gippsland where, like most country areas, the real people of Australia live. They are outgoing, cheerful, honest and trustworthy, which isn’t to degrade city dwellers, but somehow in the country there seems to be more time to give to others. Jacqui and I can’t pop out to the shops here in our little town (2,000 inhabitants), and expect to be back home in half an hour — we can practically guarantee that we shall meet at least half a dozen locals, who all want to stop for a yarn, to get the news and to spread the latest rumours! City people just don’t seem to have time for such luxuries.
I guess success or failure in this world tends to rest mainly on your own attitude to it. If you expect failure, you can be sure you’re going to get it, and the same applies, though possibly less certainly, to making a success of anything. And of course, to be successful, you don’t have to be rich either, just the fact of reaching your own targets can be much more important than cash. A man who builds 10 metres of good brick wall, with no previous experience or training, can be just as happy as an architect who, with the help of a hundred assistants, builds a whole factory or office block!
I’ve always found the best way to progress is gently and fairly slowly; don’t be too ambitious in picking targets. A blog written today and enjoyed by a few thousand readers of Starts at 60 can be much more satisfying than writing a novel and then being unsuccessful in trying to get it published. I’ve been writing blogs for five years now and for the time being I’m quite happy to let that be my high point, especially as I am 83 years old — I’m quite surprised at my age, that I can still write at all!