It’s almost the 100th anniversary of the birth of Roland Barthes and I’m seeing more and more articles about him here in France. Here’s one quote which struck me the other day –
Vitality in old age does not lie in proving that one can continue to carry on doing what one has always done but precisely in making a break – a rupture, a commencement, a vita nova.
More and more of us are living longer and longer. So how are you going to spend your extra years if you get them? Working at the same job for longer? For many that might be a necessity. For a few years anyway, but for another twenty or more?
It’s almost a year since I stopped clinical practice, sold my house and moved to France.
I was born and raised in Scotland and worked there as a doctor for just under forty years. There’s no doubt I feel deeply connected to all of that past. But I’d had a long term plan to live part of my life differently.
So here I am learning a second language and living in a different culture. That’s what I planned and I do think that broadens and deepens my experience of life. I also wanted to live in a different climate but I hadn’t foreseen just how much I’d enjoy being barefoot in a garden every day for weeks on end. Nor how great a pleasure it is to be able to eat most of your meals outside.
The house where I’m living is south facing and surrounded by vineyards as far as I can see. I think it’s that seamless connection between the garden and the open countryside which makes me feel closer to Nature than ever before. I used to look out from my flat in Scotland to the mountains in the distance. It was a beautiful view. But in hindsight it seems that Nature was at a distance there, and now I’m actually living in it.
Picking vegetables which grow in the garden, preparing and eating them is an unexpected delight. There’s a daily covered market nearby too selling local, fresh and seasonal produce. I’d forgotten the pleasure of eating according to the season, but there is something wonderful about eating the first strawberries and figs, then waiting till they come around again next year.
I’m reading more than I’ve ever done. I’ve got more time to think and reflect, and I’ve several writing projects on the go. I’m taking lots of photographs and I’ve begun to reconnect with my piano and my guitar. This feels like a creative time of life.
Who knows what this next year will bring? All I can say is I’m glad I took Roland Barthes’ advice – even though I didn’t know I was doing that at the time!