By the time you reach 70, the New Year isn’t just an occasion for looking back over the last year but over your whole life. The Christmas card intake is reconciled with the Christmas Address Labels file, notified mortalities too easily deleted and unexplained absences placed under investigation. My mind has thus turned quickly from Christmas to Easter. When Jesus was up there on the cross, did he say “It is finished” as John had it, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me” as Matthew and Mark report, or “Into thy hands, I commend my spirit”, Luke’s version? How did he view his life in that literally excruciating pain? As success, failure or journey to the next place on the itinerary?
To promote my book I’ve joined Facebook. Gawking at the timelines of friends from long ago, I can see lots of smiling faces with happy family lives. I can also read some grumpy words from less satisfied souls. Nearly all the evidence in both camps is of careers petering out rather than as outright wins or losses. But there’s enough there to suggest that success in the private sphere matters more than the public.
And have I made the most of myself? I married late at last to gain a happy home and family as a smiler. I occasionally grump that I didn’t quite make the highest echelon in anything. I was a good footballer who couldn’t turn pro. I just missed an Oxford first and went into business rather than nuclear research. I peaked as CFO of a major company very young, but then career flat-lined. In later life I’ve written a novel which was appreciated by those I would have expected to like it but with little traction elsewhere.
Jesus could well have said all that the apostles have quoted.The words show mood shifts but aren’t contradictory. My novel argues that what you become in life is with you from birth. For me, Jesus was wholly man throughout his life, and from his death wholly God at the start. He looked down from the failure of the cross to glimpse the success of his life.
I should have achieved more. There was too much indecision, too much procrastination. But I do have a great family, and have had some wonderful friends, human, canine and feline, from a long and fortunate life. I did eventually finish the novel that was in me, even if it didn’t grab most. I thank God for it all.
As his Bobship wrote: “My love she speaks softly. She knows there’s no success like failure. And that failure’s no success at all.”