A little thought about doing the important things

I will write a longer blog post later this week but I wanted to share with you a passage from a novel I just read because it struck me as a powerful call to action: to ditch the false importance of ‘safe’ and step out into the dangerous ground of significance and experience.

The novel was The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes. the-sense-of-an-ending
On page 93 of this short book, his character Tony says:

There was a moment in my late twenties when I admitted that my adventurousness had long since petered out. I would never do those things adolescence had dreamt about. Instead, I mowed my lawn, I took holidays, I had my life.

     But time… how time first grounds us and then confounds us. We thought we were being mature when we were only being safe. We imagined we were being responsible but were only being cowardly. What we called realism turned out to be a way of avoiding things rather than facing them. Time… give us enough time and our best-supported decisions will seem wobbly, our certainties whimsical.

About Rob Chidley

Professional copywriter, trad-published author and improvisational gardener.
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4 Responses to A little thought about doing the important things

  1. SC Skillman says:

    I was amazed when I read this quote because it immediately reminded me of the point made by Jeff Goins in his blog post about why it is important to travel when young; http://goinswriter.com/travel-young/. The words ‘we thought we were being mature when we were only being safe’ were the ones that made the connection for me. It’s heartbreaking to think of the number of people who must throw away their lives, trying to be sensible.

    • Rob Chidley says:

      Yes – that was the line which struck me between the eyes too. The bit about age is, I hope, irrelevant to some degree as anyone at any time of life might break out of the anaesthesia of safe ‘living’ and do something important and life-changing.

  2. Fran says:

    I really enjoyed that book, too. It’s interesting – in some ways I live a very risk-free life, avoiding unnecessary responsibility or risk, and in other ways I take risks others wouldn’t, such as getting up on a stage and risking humiliation. On the other hand, I freak myself out with anxiety before any performance, so maybe I’d just be better to stay at home and watch the telly.

  3. 20angel13 says:

    So glad you reminded me of this wonderful book and those lines in particular. Lately I’ve been so tempted to forget writing for a few years. Work is so consuming and tiring that when I’m not working I just want to relax- live my life – but this has made me remember….realism can be a way of avoiding things rather than facing them….

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