Never is a frightening word. It has an awful ring of finality to it.
For instance, I will never be a professional artist. I will never be a musician (see M). I will never be a Jedi. I will never own a restaurant, a bar or even a pub.* I will never become a world-famous archer. I will never have a tattoo.
In one sense, that isn't a big deal. I mean, there must be an infinite number of things I will never do or be. But the point is that I have no desire to be an astronaut or a footballer or cross the Atlantic in a boat made of tin cans, whereas at one stage in my life I really quite fancied doing all the stuff listed above (especially being a Jedi). Never, in that context, represents all the dreams I ever had that have fallen by the wayside. And I can't help but feel that as I get older, the realm of never – the realm of closed doors and missed opportunities – will only get larger.
Yet there is a flip side to this. I have never watched Citizen Kane. I have never been to Australia. I have never raised a child. I have never seen the Northern Lights. I have never published a book. All these things belong in the category of possibility and potential. They are things that may (and hopefully will) happen in the future. And so as one set of nevers – the outlandish, the impractical and the ones I just didn't want that much – becomes fixed, another set is continuously turning into haves.
I have been up in a hot air balloon. I have ridden the Incredible Hulk coaster at Islands of Adventure. I have bought my own house. I have seen the Barcelona Fountains. I have watched the sun rise over the sea. And as I get older, though the list of things I'll never do will get longer and longer, so will the list of things I have done.
That's a pretty good place to be, even if I'll never be a Jedi.
* It was going to be called The Unexpected Duck. Don't ask me why.