Editorial: For everything there is a season
The other Saturday was a good night. I celebrated my 50th birthday with friends and family in the hall of the Ivy House in Nunhead, London’s only cooperatively owned pub. My band played, a friend DJed, various other friends got up on the stage and performed. There were friends there I hadn’t seen for more than ten years, and others I didn’t know six months ago.
The highlight for me was when my two sons, 17 and 15 (numbers are so much more convenient than names, don’t you think), played some songs they had written themselves. As someone who loves music and writing and performing, you can imagine how I felt to see my boys step up. And then, when 15 performed a song about me which he had secretly written for the occasion, well, you know.
It wasn’t even my birthday. That had been back in August, but I learnt early in life that the summer holidays are not the best time for a party. Once, at primary school, I invited five boys and five girls to my party, and all the girls came and none of the boys. You don’t make that mistake twice.
I always, as you’ll have noticed, try to steer my editorials to some insightful moral lesson which you may or may not be grateful for, but I find myself struggling on this one. This occasion was just a lot of fun. It was thrilling, it was a joy, it was self-indulgent, it was one of the best nights of my life. Where’s the moral in that? Parties are great?
I suppose you can’t always be learning lessons about life, sometimes you just want to boogie. There is a time to a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to learn, and a time to play the guitar solo on ‘Go Your Own Way’.
Though that works both ways. If your life is one long celebration, do you ever learn anything about yourself? Do you ever grow or develop? I’ve had some much unhappier anniversaries, and looking back I really don’t think I would change anything because I came to understand my life so much better.
I believe the novelist Proust said something similar, though I base this entirely on the movie Little Miss Sunshine, where a scholar tells his nephew to value his miserable teens, because Proust came to realise ‘all those years he suffered, those were the best years of his life, because they made him who he was. All those years he was happy? You know, total waste. Didn’t learn a thing.’
I couldn’t bear to be always learning important lessons, but I wouldn’t want to spend my life being distracted by the fun. For everything there is season. There you go, edifying moral successfully delivered after all. Hit it.
This article was published in the October 2018 edition of Reform