Posted by: Corri van de Stege | July 14, 2013

Mortals, being mortal and other reflections

18 more days to go (till the plaster cast comes off – assuming that all is right).

Before breaking my leg I had drafted the following review, full of (serious) reflections on mortality etc and unaware that the next week I would break my leg.  Oh well, I did have a point I guess.  

Rather than wasting it or dumping it, I thought I would post it, if only to reflect on its serendipity:  I wanted more time to read etc.  which has been granted, only not quite in the way I imagined.  Moreover, I cannot really do much gardening with a plaster cast on my leg from toes to mid-thigh, can I?  Nevertheless, I am enjoying these courses that I had started downloading, as if in preparation!

June 2013:

“Being mortal and growing older is something I can no longer avoid being aware of and taking into account.    Whatever happens, my future life will be shorter than my past life and that makes one reflect on what you actually want to do with what is left, whether that time is very short or somewhat longer.  We don’t know of course, however, I am not aware that I suffer from any fatal illnesses, I may drink a bit too much wine once in a while, but then I eat lots of veg and fruit and am very active physically or at least I try by exercising regularly and if I get a chance.  That already sounds a bit like a cop-out, but I am trying and when I have the opportunity I will swim, cycle, do heavy gardening, etc.  That should count for something.

But we are mortal, and that is brought home to you when friends notify you of illnesses and very invasive desperate operations, making you aware how short life could be, how vulnerable each and everyone is even if you don’t live in a war stricken area, or suffer from malnutrition, or…. etc.   The fact is that life seems to become very short all of a sudden and then you don’t want to ignore that wake up call.

And so I have weighed up the pros and cons and have reduced my working week to five to four days.  And now I will have time to do some of the things I so enjoy doing: reflecting on reading, writing on what I read and maybe even picking up that novel that is itching somewhere in one of my drawers, or perhaps start another one altogether.  That one day a week should help me get over that depression that I have felt coming on lately, the sense that I would never have the time to do what I enjoy doing most.  I will also be able to enjoy my garden a bit more if this summer ever perseveres.

I have picked up books and articles and papers and even an iTunes University course, one of those free ones that you can download, get all the coursework for, the handouts and the listening materials, without participating in tutorials of course, and so I picked up the one on Classical Mythology by an Australian University I have never heard of, but which is brilliant.    I have always been a bit at a loss with my gods and heroes and demigods and monsters, not having had a classical education and it is something I’ve always wanted to know a bit more about, if only to place modern myths against the ancient myths, try to relate them.  This is good stuff, if you are looking to fill up your time, this is it!  La Trobe University advertises itself as the first Australian University to launch courses on Apple iTunes.  There are of course many such universities around now, and it is really brilliant that they are free, so that you can catch up with whatever you need to catch up with, without having to go through registration, tutorials and exams.  All a plus as far as I am concerned.   I’m a bit behind as the courses seems to come through quicker than I can deal with them but then you can download them as you go along.

Norman Rush MortalsNow to Mortals, by Norma Rush.  The title of the book is really what set me off on all of this, not so much the flexi working time as I had already contemplated that for a while, but the thoughts about mortality, and whilst reading the book, the realisation that it very much reads  like an epic at times.  I’ll explain.

The book is big, and by that I mean lengthy, over 700 pages, densely written, all from the pov of one narrator, Ray.  There is no authorial interference, we only are aware of the world and of what happens through Ray, we only know what he knows, we see the world as he sees it, interpret it as he does, know about his family and his colleagues and the world he lives and works in through him, experience only his pain, his reflections.

It is an amazing feat, sustaining the narrative in the way Norman Rush has managed to do.  Often you give up, when books are this long, there are always points when you think you’ve had enough, you get bored, especially when you have to read at the end of the day, before going to sleep, or over weekends in between the chores that have to be done as well.  



  1. Oh Corri, I have been contemplating how short life is and how we should make the most of it for a few years now 🙂 I guess it all comes down to being faced with big challenges… I am not sure it can all reduced to getting older.

  2. Definitely Ally – it’s the challenges and dealing with them. Ithink that’s one of the reasons I love these myths: plenty of challenges in them!

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