Life is not a rehearsal

Steering in a lockI once met this character, we were both narrowboating alone. It was about eight in the morning and looking like drizzle. He had a denim waistcoat and long grey hair. He was bringing his boat down the lock. Mine was waiting on the bollards below the lock waiting to come up. He knew this before he saw my boat because of the windlass in my hand.

“Early start for me” he said.

I smiled and said,

“Where you headed today?”

“Oh I just carry on going until I get fed up. That’s just the way I am me. That’s what I’m like.”

He crossed the lock gate, windlass in hand and headed up to close the other gate.

“Life is not a rehearsal you know,” he called across the lock, grinning.

We worked the lock and he went on his way. Passing like ships in the flight.

“On your own?” he asked.

“No, it’s me and my husband and two kids.” I said. “My husband’s at work, the kids are at nursery, it’s easier to move the boat without them sometimes!”

He smiled, understanding.

“You can just get on with it.”

I love those moments when suddenly everything seems simple. Just carry on going until you get fed up. I love the way you can discover morsels of wisdom from a conversation with a stranger. Have you ever heard a cliché, like “Life is not a rehearsal,” but suddenly you hear it for the very first time? It was just an unexpected reminder to live in the moment. And for that moment, and for the next few locks, I did. I enjoyed the drizzle and the rain, the winding of paddles and the trees and the grass. I noticed the ripples on the water and a heron on a branch.

Just carry on going until you get fed up: my thought for the day.


When you’re sad, do this

Music equals happinessSadness, anxiety, loneliness and grief are the kind of stuff that movies are made of. Many years ago I used to have a friend, that as I lurched from tragedy to tragedy would console me with words in a soft Irish accent; “Honey don’t cry; it’s only a movie.”

She was mad of course and the last time I saw her she was hell-bent on a self-destructive cycle of violent alcoholism. But ever since then I liked the idea that my life could be a movie.


Pretend your life is a movie. Direct it. Star in it. If the film is sad then wallow in it. But wallow in an enigmatic, charismatic way: For one scene. (Then cut to the next scene and make sure that one is different.)

Find one small prop that your main character would need. The red lipstick of a vampire, the long raincoat of a spy, a treasured hand-written note, or the cigarette of an action hero.  A charity shop may help to keep your movie budget down if you require a costume change.

Next, get a cool soundtrack. Try typing a movie title into an app or music website like and then do the dishes to the soft mournful sounds of your own incidental music. Or wash the car to angry guitar music. A crescendo of classical music will suit many of life’s tragedies. You are a bunch of universe-atoms experiencing what it feels like to feel that chosen emotion right here, right now.

It’s all about you baby. What genre is your movie? What is it called? Are you ready to reassess where you’re at right now?