Dee Chadwick
12 Dec 2021
That is the question. I guess it’s a question that could have you wondering what on earth I am talking about. Simple - it’s down to my love of quirky words that simply draw me in and get my blogging juices flowing.


The definition of coddiwomple as given in The Adventure Diary is ‘to travel in a purposeful manor (presumably this was meant to be manner!) towards a vague destination.’ I wonder what kind of people this could apply to. Maybe those striding out on a walk with no finite finishing point in mind – all is fine so long as they end up vaguely where they need to be. What of those who take a gap year – be they younger or older folk – nomads who set out with the stated aim of ‘seeing Asia’, ‘doing Aus’, ‘Checking out the Incas’. Whatever. They probably have ideas of what they want to see and do en route, though have no idea of just where this will lead them. OK, they may have a two year hence return ticket home, but there will be many destinations en route to this final one. Much coddiwompling to be done.

I guess many of us coddiwomple through our days, through our lives. We are purposeful in what we are doing. If we are producing a piece of art or craftwork, or re-organising our garden we focus on this, enjoying the process, being surprised or sometimes disappointed with what we are actually doing. However, unless we are a professional in the field with a set picture in our mind, or are working to a carefully drawn up plan, we may not actually know what we are aiming for. Is it a case of less is more, or are you someone who goes for more being the only option? Hard to know when we have reached that finishing point. It could be simply when, on stepping back and considering the whole that we feel satisfied. Paint brushes; needles, card dies, scissors etc etc; spade, fork and trowel are set aside. We are content with the finished product.  Our ‘destination’ is no longer vague; we are there. Time to appreciate the end result of our coddiwompling.

Then, we may not be working to a self-formulated business plan or agenda, rather we are merely working at the bidding of someone else. We could look upon our time as being spent coddiwompling as we know what our tasks are and may effectively and efficiently get on with them. However, at our pay grade, we may not have much of an idea of what our toils are actually leading to. We may merely be a small – yet vital – cog in a rather large wheel. Yes, we will hopefully know when our particular task is finished and for this we could well be grateful. Yet, maybe our job satisfaction would be improved if we knew just how this fitted in with the overall plan – this being that ultimate destination. Presumably this depends on the character of each individual involved in each particular wheel and the company ethos.


Many of us struggle with FOMO (fear of missing out) in the busy lives that we lead. We fear that in our busyness we miss out on things, especially if we dip our toes into social media. We are faced with events attended – always seemingly joyously happy ones; meals eaten – always seemingly delicious ones; holidays just beginning – never in a good old bed and breakfast on a rainy day in Britain! In fact, I struggle to understand such posts announcing that they are at the airport en route to a lovely destination. I am afraid that I wouldn’t trust privacy settings enough for this – it always makes me feel that it is an open invite for burglars! Or am I just being my usual over-cautious self?? Does FOMO make us want to stray from our purposeful keeping to our path – throw up our hands, say ‘sod it’ and allow ourselves to be diverted?

I admit that I more often feel JOMO (as in joy of missing out). I find that I am more and more frequently grateful to have missed out on something, especially in these uncertain times of ours! Or am I getting to be a grumpy old woman, happy to remain safe at home?! Able to appreciate and feel content, grateful for said home and my own company – as well as that of the furry being curled up and purring next to me.


For some of us, we may coddiwomple through our days with great purpose. We may set those targets, goals and have aims towards which we set off with great intention. Do these become our destination rather than our ‘final destination’ in life. As we all know that there are few certainties in life apart from our final demise, our death. Something about which so many of us give but a very fleeting consideration as our birthdays add up, unless ill health affects us or those close to us. I don’t know about others, but until recently, the death of someone known to me hasn’t reminded me of my own mortality. Could it be self-protection at a time of upset, of mourning? I am not sure why this is so.

So many of us just meander our way through life – the focus being on paying the bills, having a roof over our heads, food in our stomachs, and a warm bed to sleep in at the end of each day. Coddiwompling  has been based on career, work, family ‘standing’. These things define us. Anything but us as a person. I recall a phone conversation with my (very long-time) ex husband. Something that happened VERY rarely. In this conversation, he told me that he was surprised at how much he was worth – he thought it would have been more than the stated monetary value he gave – and obviously felt wronged in his valuation. He asked what I was worth. I told him that I was worth having brought up 2 teenagers unaided; having helped many children, especially those with problems; having helped many in distress, struggling with making their way through life... he cut me off to tell me that he didn’t mean that – he meant what was I actually worth. Just before I put the phone down, I assured him that that was exactly what I had been telling him.


What if we could live life again, maybe to increase our ‘value’ either in monetary terms or in our worth as a human being. Just turn that clock back. Would you choose to turn it back to when you were a chosen, much younger age at that given previous time? Or would you maintain your current calendar position as you wind back? I feel that I would prefer the former, but would I take with me any semblance of memory of roads well or ill chosen that would guide the choices of younger me? I am convinced that I would make many of the same decisions and choices again, though there are those that stand out as not having been good ones that I hope I would change. I am not totally convinced that I would like to live my younger days in our current times. Or maybe that is because I am comparing with my actual younger days in which money was short, but love was plentiful and life was led, more simply, at a slower pace.

I quote a poem by Nadine Stair. At the age of 85, when asked ‘How would you have lived your life differently if you had a chance?’ The following was her response -

If I had my life to live over again   

If I had my life to live over again,
I’d dare to make more mistakes next time.
I’d relax.
I’d limber up.
I’d be sillier than I’ve been this trip.
I would take fewer things seriously.
I would take more chances,
I would eat more ice cream and less beans.

I would, perhaps, have more actual troubles but fewer imaginary ones.
you see, I’m one of those people who was sensible and sane,
hour after hour,
day after day.

Oh, I’ve had my moments.
If I had to do it over again,
I’d have more of them.
In fact, I’d try to have nothing else- just moments,
one after another, instead of living so many years ahead of each day.

I’ve been one of those persons who never goes anywhere without a thermometer, a hot-water bottle, a raincoat, and a parachute.
If I could do it again, I would travel lighter than I have.

If I had to live my life over,
I would start barefoot earlier in the spring
and stay that way later in the fall.
I would go to more dances,
I would ride more merry-go-rounds,
I would pick more daisies.

I have this on my wall to serve as a reminder that it’s so often the little things that have given me pleasure. Little things that form the cameos of my memories when I am in a reflective mood. How places and people have made me feel – for good and sadly also for bad. Though the former far outweigh the latter. I have enjoyed moments of being in the here and now, especially once I had retired from my very demanding teaching role.  Roses have been smelt. Coffee too, and appreciatively sipped for good measure.

Maybe I have been too careful as I wound my way through life, but that was an essential part of me. Or was that an excuse that I used? 

You cannot change the past, though you can change how you think about it, how it was a part of your path through your life and how you have lived it. What you learnt from the positives and the negatives or maybe what you can still learn from them, maybe many years later. Don’t forget learning is best when it is lifelong – and that includes learning about yourself whether you coddiwompled or merely ambled aimlessly along your way to destination vague or finite. Remember those moments that were precious to you – the hellos and good-byes; things large and things small that could easily have been passed by. Think about things that have been important to you and why this was so. Think of how you were there for others and how that must have made them feel. To me and for me, this has been inextricably woven into the fabric of my life. A vital part of my purpose.

So – do you feel that you are a meanderer through life, simply going with the flow that takes you inexorably along. Maybe you coddiwomple with great purpose – yet to some vague destination. Then again, maybe you feel that you have a route map planned for as far ahead as you can see – to a fixed point in your future. Maybe you use a combination for different aspects of your life, or at different times of your life. Whatever is your chosen way, step carefully with consideration of others and their paths, especially those for whom said path may be a lonely or difficult one.

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