I had a little bit of a crisis when I turned forty. It all seems seven or so years ago now (because it is) but in that final week before my age began with a 4 I remember staring at myself in the mirror of my teaching room at a certain school and asking myself where it was all going.
Even as a pupil rather than teacher I had decided that I would work until I was forty and then throttle back and do what I wanted to do, so I plunged deep into lecturing, teaching, writing and so on, did all the sensible things with a sensible car and waited for middle age to arrive.
Soon after, or perhaps on my fortieth birthday, spent quietly and calmly, I was given a copy of How To Be Idle by Tom Hodgkinson, and while it is going too far to say that it changed my life, it certainly gave me food for thought. Sometime that year I also bought for myself a Shakespeare fridge magnet that quoted from Macbeth: Let every man be master of his time.
Admittedly Macbeth goes on to say Till seven at night but the curtailed quotation is good enough for me, and upon my fridge it lives to this day, reminding me as I pilfer some late-night snack that I need to carve out the time for what I want to do.
This is pertinent today because I have committed myself to some work later in the year which, yes, brings in some financial reward, but also takes up a decent amount of time. Again I needed to make the decision about whether the money and knowledge that will come my way as a result will outweigh the effort and hours I put in.