These were the famous lines delivered to me by an Italian Australian farmer at the end of a period in which I had been working in the bush. He then laughed one of those husky farmer laughs that is part chest phlegm from tobacco smoking, heaving in his chair almost, one of those rustic big leather recliners you might find in the spartan furnishings of a farm house where everything is practical before it is aesthetically pleasing.
I am sure this phrase has been used many times before by many different walks of life all over the globe, but this was where I first heard the expression and it's impact has been long lasting. I can still see that farmer sitting in his chair, happy with his own joke. And it seems to be a joke he shares with the Gods.
The Greeks were the first to come up with the three fates. They were called the Moirai and included Clotho, Lachesis and Atropos. Clotho spun your life, Lachesis measured it, Atropos cut it off. The Romans, because they loved to copy the Greeks, and who can blame them .... - called them the Parcae.
Nona, Decima, Morta. In the painting below, which I found on that wonderful Google Arts And Culture which I think is one of the best things to come about on the internet since Wikipedia, the artisans of the court of Madame Pompadou plead with the fates to spare the life of their patron.
The painting serves to remind me that we are not guaranteed success, longevity, a following, an income, love, children, a vocation or even a passion. And even if we find it, nobody will be able to tell for how long we get to keep it. The Gods are a capricious and whimsical as the three parcae - spinning and measuring and cutting off your life at their whim.
A reminder this week was that I became ill. I had a hundred plans to put into place, a thousand chores that needed reminders, a new computer I wanted to spend time with, doodling here, writing notes, adding this file to this folder and on and on. And then I became very ill. Suddenly. And it got pretty violent as my body shook itself senseless to get rid of the fever. The nightmares swirled around in my head and I kept waking up feeling like I was being choked and couldn't breath. Over and over again.
In moments of chaos like that we forget the old adage 'this too shall pass' and instead are overcome with fear and dread. What if it goes on like this forever? What will happen to me and my business?
I had set up new suppliers that were now taking longer than expected to deliver, the fabrics were arriving in the wrong order, there wasn't enough time to get this to marry it with that. And in that chaos I could hear that old farmer laughing until his voice felt like it was winding up a croaky engine. Yes, you are right, God must be laughing, because I thought I had a plan.
We forget to remember that we are not here forever, that quite frankly, we barely have any control over how our bodies digest our food so how are we to think we know what will constitute the nature and course of our lives.
My advice to all of you out there who haven't been sick in a while is this : get sick for a day or two - see how you realign your goals from complex ones to very very simple ones. Prior to getting sick I had 436 mini plans to execute. After a day of being sick I had but one plan - get better.
I wish you all a pleasant weekend. I am back up and running now. But, we should never take it for granted that we'll all be here tomorrow. Maybe I won't. Maybe you won't. Only the parcae seem to know.