I 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.