M&A Moods and Age

M&A Moods and Age

The days get shorter as you get older. That is why the old think they still have so much to do. If you’re having a great life, it is true, you do – and you can rejoice at your good fortune. If you’re in pain, the days get longer again and the protracted nights push even that time into second place. The small hours of the morning may be intellectually insignificant; they are imaginatively rapacious. Of the things that happen to you as you age, mood swings top the bill. From praying for time to be extended, you plunge into the deep end of having had enough. Our innate optimism or pessimism only partly dictate how we move on.

Moods change with breathtaking frequency in our hysterically speedy environment. President Zelenskyy is a model of keeping up positive appearances but even he has moments of glancing at the sky for an answer. Listening to a lively presentation about Artificial Intelligence by a senior Microsoft executive, I was impressed by his go-forth confidence. And even more impressed at the end when he said he didn’t know where it was going to take us all. A mood of search is always best when accompanied by another mood of humble uncertainty.

Can we master our moods to make them obey the demands of a fulfilled life?

Some people fear they can’t. The future may have posed an enigma for most of their lives. If they have a faith it will buoy them to the end. Not everyone does, moreover faith can wax and wane. When I was young, a good priest I knew, a guide to many, daily prayed “Help Thou my unbelief”. I have always been grateful to Fr. John O’Connor for such an admission. People of no faith have a pragmatic view that unproven is as yet unrevealed. Mostly they don’t deny the possibilities, they simply don’t know. A boss and mentor of mine approached his death saying ‘I don’t know what I believe’. He spoke for many people, I think.

Memory fades – usually the short-term ‘where did I put the keys’ memory goes first. At signs of its decline I have a suggestion that will make your moods more buoyant. Think of the truly wonderful things that have happened on your journey. They aren’t just grand events and times when you succeeded. They are words that struck a chord, looks that sent a message, songs you’ll never forget, tastes of a dish from Michelin, times of contentment – those rare but beautiful moments when you said ‘God’s in his heaven, all’s right with the world’. If you think you have not had any such moments, think again. They are the real jewels in the crown.

Our failures were lessons. Bitter ones at times, quickly recoverable at others. To allow our mind to cherish what we learnt and forgive what we failed is a fair reward for efforts we made for others and kindnesses we tried to show. They lead to an optimistic if obscure view of what may be next. I have been fortunate to have amassed thousands of memorable moments. I think most people have, if they will look for them.  Here are two examples of the most beautiful things I have experienced.

One is right up to date – Chloe Chua, aged 16, playing the Bruch Violin Concerto at the Singapore Symphony Orchestra concert recently. To avoid the sentimentality so easily attached to this piece and yet still to combine tenderness with the clarity of its precision is a treasure touching the divine. 

Another is long-established – the definition of sunset. No persuasion was needed to convince a young Singapore Management University student many years ago that the setting sun was more than a collection of statistics. His reaction to my definition was swift and smiling. “Ah,”he said, “That’s the bit they didn’t teach me.” 

How had I described the sunset?

‘A promise of tomorrow’.

Good morning

John Bittleston


Any golden moments you’d like to share with other readers of the Daily Paradox?

Please send them to mentors@terrificmentors.com 

My father wrote a book of definitions. I’m writing a book of life-enhancing memories.

Yours would make it complete.

06 March 2023