The Secret of A Long Life By Sedgemoor Longridge

“Sedgy” as he was known to his friends, most of them having died of course, him being ninety one, was holding forth to his son on his invigorating approach to “Living.”

“Well, the first fifteen or sixteen years, as you know, are not really your’s to control, and all kinds of crap normally happens to the best of us. We take the next five to ten years getting over our childhood and then, wham, we can set out on the voyage of life: that’s what I did anyway. My motto has always been  “Enjoy excess in moderation” and I’ve lived by that motto all my life. I messed up your life in an attempt to sort out my own messes which I’m sad to say is normal: that is human history. “What did that teach you though. What made you so absorbed by living” asked his intrigued son,

“Well, I never drank more than a half bottle of wine a day and smoked nothing but tobacco and even that in limited quantities. I was faithful to my wife of the day most of the time, but not obsessively. That kiss in the theatre with the boy or girl you work with while you are supposedly “working late” will warm the cockles of your heart long after the hours of dour dutiful living are meant to do so.

Enjoy your marriages as I did, but don’t have too many of them. I could have enjoyed more, but four was all I could afford with the escalating price of alimony. Travel as much as you can, and eat the cuisine of every continent: they all have something to tell you. Reserve your kindness for strangers: that will fill your life with wonder. Friends might love you  but they always colour your life with doubt. If they view you with kindness it is because you are experiencing more chaos than them, and that is a balm to those who know you but not to yourself.  Of course, friends view you with  sympathy or kindness always, but are too informed by your failings none the less.

“Wow” I said, that’s not your every day advice. Didn’t that record cause you any pain.”

“Of course it did” the old man replied, “But pain is  one of life’s certainties, and trying to avoid it a sure way of missing half its pleasures. I am old now, and largely bedridden but I have smoked, drank and messed around as if the world was ending in the next ten minutes for the entirety of my life and , by God, I’m glad I did.  Old now, and barely breathing would I be faithful to  your mother if I had to ? Of course I would not.  But timid good manners dictated that thought had not occurred  to me.

I am a pleasure seeker. Profundity is the road to boring: prophets come and prophets go but pleasure is a constancy, and in seeking it I’ve had some “moments”, and that is all I I’ve gained from life. Those brief interludes when I and others, freed from our responsibilities, drained the cup of rich experience and damned the need for common sense are what I take with me to the grave. Be as boring as you like but if that’s how you choose to live, don’t look to me to save you.

Please yourself, and ride towards the horizon. You will find Paradise is not built close to Complacency or Fear.


About Peter Wells aka Countingducks

Trying to remember what my future is
This entry was posted in character, creative writing, faith, Fiction, Life, Love, old age, Peter Wells, Relationships, Romance, values, writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

21 Responses to The Secret of A Long Life By Sedgemoor Longridge

  1. eric keys says:

    Words to live by, for sure.


  2. mikesteeden says:

    Inadequate I know yet ‘Bravo’ – another thoroughly enjoyable read and Lord knows there are bloody few of those!


  3. Marian Green says:

    There is so much wisdom in this. Especially the part about the pain. Thanks for sharing.


  4. I once met a man that taught me how to be spontaneous. I remember an afternoon when we purchased pineapple sherbert in a local grocery store and shared the small container as we drove around a very large lake. It’s not just stopping to smell the roses – it’s noticing them in the first place.


  5. Mixed feelings on this one. I would love to see it written from a woman’s point of view, whether she were the narrator or an ex wife.


  6. Clearly a passionate point of view, but I guess that everything stems from your view of yourself as part of the universe and how centred around yourself you wish your life to be. I am neither advocating nor disparaging life lived ‘on the edge’, or indeed a life lived within rigid confines and boundaries. I think that what is necessary is an acceptance that all viewpoints and lifestyles are valid and, in many ways, vital to developing society as a whole, whatever that might be.
    I can admire your lead character’s determination and resolve – interesting, though, when he admits ‘ I messed up your life in an attempt to sort out my own messes’. A certain detachment from others here in order to self-satisfy.
    Enough of my ranting! This is a very thought-provoking piece, Peter, which I enjoyed immensely. Thanks.


  7. cotswoldsgirl says:

    Funnily enough my woman’s perspective is very close to this. Much of the chaos I trail around is derived from a fear of living a life half-lived. Some of it is based on my (untied) circumstances; the rest on a rejection of excess common sense, and a nose for the sublime ridiculous.

    A lovely spot of writing – thank you muchly Peter.


  8. atempleton says:

    ‘I suspect we all need to live this way, wild and free, and above it all.’ ‘Please yourself, and ride towards the horizon.’ Advice from two blogs that I will take to heart today.


  9. Your stories are full of insights and wisdom. Thank you for sharing! 🙂


  10. I like the name of the protagonist.


  11. **I was faithful to my wife of the day most of the time, but not obsessively.**

    I love that sentence!! xx


  12. smithbianca says:

    Reminds me of the Picture of Dorian Gray. Absolutely love that book. Passages like these really make you think about life and what it’s about for people.


  13. I missed this! Only just found it and so glad I did! Excellent! I found the bit about your character having messed up his son’s life trying to sort out his own mess very interesting – a hint of regret maybe?


    • I don’t know if you know the poem by Phillip Larkin on parenthood, It involves a swearword so I cannot quote it literally, but, roughly the first line is

      “The mess you up, your Mum and Dad
      They don’t mean to but they do”

      I tried to do a little better with my three girls but we will have to await their comments later


      • Yes! I do know the poem by Philop Larkin! Thanks for reminding me of it.

        Well my three children have all turned into well balanced caring people so far and my youngest daughter who bore the brunt of my alcoholism in her earlier years says all those awful times when I messed her up have helped to bring her to who she is today, a confident young woman whose insight into alcoholism and recovery is serving her very well with many clients as her job as a social worker. She has seen it from the inside so her empathy is as real as it can get. x


  14. araneus1 says:

    Wow! That was Perter at his best.


  15. lynseywhite says:

    Prophets come and prophets go, but pleasure is a constancy! I’m going to think of that line all day long.


  16. Lady E says:

    Dear Peter,
    You seem to be in a very jolly, cheeky mood these days (or is that always ?)…
    Anyway, reading your little stories is a nice distraction from the daily grind.
    Have a good week ! x


  17. Julie Buhite says:

    I kind of finished this one with jaw dropped a bit. It gave me troubled, mixed feelings. Reminded me of people who cause damage throughout their lives but die professing happiness and no regrets. I find it confusing and disconcerting. You always surprise me, Peter. You have this way of conjuring up emotions of different flavors and intensities in each story. All your stores connect with your style, yet each one stands alone.


  18. Definitely a moral to live up too.


  19. r e douville says:

    I love how you find unique angles within which to explore the life of one. Well done.


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