Indeed, it takes a crisis to attract our attention. We keep eating pastries and ice cream until we are diagnosed with diabetes and then we are at last compelled to look at our eating habits. It takes a medical diagnosis to realise that we've been racing through life at an unsustainable pace. Our politicians have waited until the society is brutally divided by a plebiscite to begin paying attention to an ever widening gap between the fortunate and the less so. When the man at the steering wheel resigns, when the main political parties are in turmoil, when the confidence in the economy tanks and people take to the streets, the politicians get a wake up call.
Yet most of us just keep snoozing the alarm clock. Some make a vague attempt at writing down "to do" lists, only to bury them under a stack of papers. Some read books on wellness, feel the momentary urge to embark on clean eating and daily exercise regime, then lose that spark. Companies too are guilty of tackling only the most myopic of challenges to survive the current quarter, six months, or a year. And Western politicians are seemingly happy to do anything to avert the crisis at hand, only to cause a shipwreck some months down the line.
I noticed that when I meet old or ailing people, I never think "it'll happen to me." I even take pride in living "in a moment". When I speak to my grandmother, who is ninety, we only talk about this and that, I do not dare ask her about regrets or things she would have done differently. It's curious, isn't it, this narrow path we tread between feeling content today and thinking ahead. It doesn't help that we are told to do what makes us happy, to worry less and enjoy more, while at the same time the global ageing population, challenging healthcare and pensions provisions, present us with a much more sombre message. It should be a clue that it's hard to get a doctor appointment in the UK, because GPs are busy writing insulin prescriptions for the 60+ but who can resist trying out a new cake recipe in a brand new oven?
I can't pretend I have the answers. Like the outgoing Prime Minister, I am an "essay crisis" type of person. But today I might just call my grandmother and ask her for advice.
As always, comments welcome...