Friday, July 2, 2010

On listening to Tony Judt speaking on the radio

I have just listened to a very moving radio interview with the writer and historian Tony Judt who suffers from such advanced motor neurone disease that he is now completely paralysed except for the ability to move his head and to speak. What was so uplifting to hear was the way he approaches his disability and his determination to continue his work with the pressure of his impending death to speed him on.

At a much less extreme level I can resonate with what he said, as should everybody, whatever their age, but it is only as I approach the final quarter of my life, and having a few years ago had a very mild stroke to remind me of my mortality, that I have been made so aware that time does indeed press and there is a need for speed in all that I still have to do. It is as though all the thoughts dammed up inside me and jostling for expression are finding a new focus because there is some compulsion to utter them stirring within me with increasing urgency.

This may have something to do with the closure of the school, and the slight hiatus when I took breath to recover and realign my life, and now the feeling of taking off in another direction as though I have much work to do before this hand, still slightly handicapped by the stroke and a daily reminder of time passing, finally refuses to do my bidding and my thoughts falter and fall silent.

When asked about how he viewed his death, Tony Judt said that he did not believe in an after-life, but felt that the point of his life lay in what he would leave behind him. On the small piece of wood which is the only thing my woodland burial plot (already chosen and paid for!) allows as a gravestone, it would be nice to feel that I, too, could write that, in some small measure, I had achieved what I wanted to do and been able to leave something of all that is within me behind.

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