These past couple of weeks I’ve been working through some stuff. I discovered that a friend had died last year; then I discovered that he’d committed suicide; then my husband’s brother’s best friend died last weekend (had a heart condition and didn’t wake up); was talking to a friend at work and she was telling me about 2 friends of hers, brothers of 17 and 19 that were in hospital after a car accident (they’d hit a tree) so I thought speed was involved and wondered if alcohol and/or drugs had also had an impact – well speed was certainly a factor it turned out. She told me this on Tuesday morning – both brothers in critical condition with the elder brother (the driver) not expected to live. That night he died – she came to work the next day and was a mess. She’s only 19 herself and I guess this is the first friend of her age who’s died. She went home and cried for several days. On Thursday evening I caught up with an old friend, we’d been drinking buddies from way back, and he shared with me about how tough this year has been for him. He lives on his own in a neighbourhood where I also lived alone (before I met my husband) and we are pretty honest with each other. He was telling me about how depressed he’s been this year, about a boss who bullied him, about drinking most nights, not looking after himself, not taking his drugs, not doing any housework…
And I’ve been thinking – Graham died and I didn’t know. Phil is depressed and I DO know. I could help – or at least provide a helping hand. And if that means he has less reason or inclination to commit suicide, then it’s worth the effort.
For the past 4 – 5 months my house has not been really clean. I started the gardening business and was too tired to clean after I’d gardened (or – I didn’t care enough to do housework when I got home after gardening) – so my husband did the washing and tidied the kitchen most days. I haven’t done much in the way of housework for months.
Mid June my doctor said said he thought I might have had a TIA (mini-stroke) and initiated some tests at our local hospital and advised me I wasn’t to drive for the next 30 days. Thus postponing may gardening (that I drove to) and imposing a 4 week rest period. All in all not a bad thing as I had already decided I had been working too hard. I took a break from gardening – which was good for my body. Being a girl who likes to achieve things, I started making cot quilts instead (which I do during the winter sometimes) and managed to make about 6 cot quilts that I am planning to give away to needy families (through Women’s Refuge or church groups or similar – as long as they are not sold, and end up with families in need).
Now here I am, feeling like I really should return to gardening – and thinking about the deaths of people I know, thinking about suicide and my own encounters in the past – and not wanting anyone I know to have to experience the same despair and horrible desperation that I’ve felt in the past…
This morning I started cleaning my home – just a few rooms – the bathroom, toilet and my bedroom – a mini-spring clean. It was a start. It was an effort that I hadn’t made for a long time but it was enough. A step in the right direction.
And I’ve been thinking about my friend Phil’s house – about offering to help him make things clean and tidy again. I know what it’s like to live on your own, to feel depressed, to feel like you don’t really matter in many people’s lives, to use alcohol as a way of numbing the pain… and I want to help him because it’s a little something that I can do for someone that’s not me. It’s a way to provide support and encouragement to someone else, a way of giving to another, of supporting another, of being their for someone else.
And (as I stated earlier) if this means Phil has less inclination to end his life, or has more motivation to … do anything (cook, clean, garden – anything) then maybe that’s worth it.
I want to believe I had an opportunity and I took it – for all the right reasons – regardless of the outcome. I tried. I cared. I did something….
Then maybe that’s enough.
I’m not responsible for Phil’s decisions, his choices, his outlook – but if I can be a friend in the best way I know how, then maybe that’s enough.
And if it’s not enough, then I will know that I tried. I did something. I tried to make his life just that little bit easier when he was depressed and not motivated because I’ve known that depression and lack of motivation.
I want to know that I tried. If nothing else, I tried. I tried to be the friend that he needed me to be; the friend that listened and didn’t judge; the friend that was there and tried to make life just a little easier. The friend that cared enough to do something… because if nothing else, she cared.
These words speak to me of love and parting, of tender affection and memories. It might relate to romantic love but it could also describe a dear friendship, and implies a closeness, a gentleness; a relationship that the author will always remember with fondness.
I have been clearing out a spare room and going through old paperwork and small treasures from my past, and I came across this poem on the back of a card given to me by a good friend almost thirty years ago.
With the benefit of age and wisdom (I hope), time, perspective and hindsight – I think it’s fair to say that I appreciate the sentiment in this poem so much more now than I did then. I have an appreciation of the gentle tone the author has used, the tenderness of the affection expressed, and the softness or weightlessness of the language – like a description of the touch of a feather, or the texture of silk. I appreciate the sense I have of an impending separation without the need to specify the facts; the reference to how someone might be perceived from an earlier chapter of one’s life.
Looking back, it was a beautiful verse to be given, and I feel honoured to have been held in such regard.
And today the words are still beautiful and I just wanted to share them with you. I guess it’s always good to take a few moments every now and then to appreciate those who have come and gone from our lives, and to appreciate and be grateful for those who remain.
I’m really proud of this photo. I got down and lay on the grass a few days ago in order to take it. Wasn’t sure, but just hoped that it would work – and it did! And I even got the insect climbing up the stem. I love the clarity, the definition.
I showed this to my husband and he said “So you took a photo of a weed!” – I said “Yes, I did, but it’s a beautiful photo” to which he said “It’s still a weed!”
More often than not, his attempt is to wind me up, to get me to respond – but what he forgets is that he’s also been teaching me (inadvertently perhaps) that I should never care about what anyone else says. He’s been teaching me quite well (in my humble opinion) and I’ve noticed over the past few weeks that more and more often I choose to ignore what he says (especially when he’s trying to wind me up) and I stick to whatever my gut feel is. And while he wouldn’t admit it, I think that deep down inside he’s actually proud of the progress I’m making in not caring about what other people think – even if that other person is him!!
I could be wrong in my assumptions – and I’m sure he’ll let me know in due course (being the opinionated bloke that he is) but whatever he thinks, and regardless of what he says, I’m proud of this photo. I love a good silhouette and I think this meets my good silhouette criteria – so it works for me, and I’m sharing it with you.
And maybe its proof of the saying – about being at peace with yourself, and in so doing (in my case at least) I will ignore the drama (“it’s still a weed”) and go with my own opinion that is: for me – this is a great photo, and I’m proud of it!
I love this quote! There’s something about it I find infectious, joyful and exciting. I love how positive it is – positive about life and about the future. I also like how directive it is. I like the sense of constructive co-dependence from time to time; that some days I’ll require help and assistance along the way (and that’s perfectly fine), and at other times I’ll need to provide that support and assistance to others – a co-existent ‘swings and roundabouts’ if you will. I like that it implies I’ll have fun along the way. It’s an invitation to take the hand of someone else to take them along for the ride, or maybe someone will come along and take my hand and take me along on their ride. It’s an invitation to dream together, to share together, to encourage each other. I think it’s also a reminder to enjoy the ride.
I appreciate the uniqueness of seashells. I enjoy their variety: their different colours, shapes, sizes, patterns, diversity. And like us, they each have their own story to tell. And while we could guess at a seashell’s story – they will all be different in small, particular ways that we probably know little about. This is a good reminder – not just that we as people are all different, but that our stories, our histories, our life experiences all differ too – so it’s fair to expect that someone else (who is not me) may see life in an entirely different way to how I do.
I spent a number of months living in Uganda on several occasions. I had expected that the people I interacted with in rural Uganda would be different to me, their experiences and expectations etc, but what I wasn’t prepared for (the first time at least) was that it appeared that their thought processes were also totally different to mine. Looking back I’m not sure why I found this so surprising – but I did. What seemed logical and rational to me was often not to a rural Ugandan.
Similarly when I met my husband, after many years of living alone, I was surprised to find that this man that I shared so much in common with and whom I adored, and who seemed to adore me, had thought processes so foreign to mine in many ways. In hindsight I figure that’s men and women for you – Venus and Mars, from two different worlds and with different perspectives. What surprised me (again) was that I expected our thought processes to be similar when it became apparent that they weren’t. So here we are five years on and we are still learning about each other, still learning what works and doesn’t work for the other – still learning about our similarities and our differences. And that’s ok. I know him better, but I’m still learning. And I still adore him!
The reminder here is that while I expect others to have a different experience, knowledge and perspective from myself – I might also choose to limit my expectations about others – so that I can relax and enjoy their companionship and their diversity, our similarities and our differences, and they can enjoy the freedom to be fully themselves without having to explain, rationalize, or justify their perspective or behaviours.
Do I provide others with an environment where they feel free to totally be their own remarkable, distinct and unique selves?
How we act, what we say, how we behave, it all has an impact on our character and integrity – even if no-one is watching. Our behaviours enhance attributes already inherent in our character – whether good or bad (and regardless of whether we can identify them or not).
In addition to what characteristics we are developing, our actions have an impact on others that we might never be aware of. I can think of people whose actions and behaviours have had some influence in my life but they will never be aware of their impact. Some of these people I have never met – but I’ve seen them from afar, heard them speak or read their words, or seen their artwork, or been impacted by their behaviours towards my friends or family. And I believe the same is true of us. There are people whose lives we may touch (for better or worse) that we might never be aware of – not just the people we meet and interact with, but those who might be on the periphery of our lives. A bus driver, the person who pours your coffee, a cleaner, a neighbour, the guy you buy your newspaper from… The person for whom my smile or my kind words might have an extraordinary impact – of which I’ll never be aware.
So my reminder for today is this: regardless of the situation, when no-one is watching, and when the world is watching – act as if what you do makes a difference. Because it does.
Whose world can I have a positive impact on today?
To me, this quote is like a sword of truth cutting right to the heart of relationships. If relationships matter and we want them to prosper and flourish, then we need to be mindful of mercy and forgiveness. But more than that, if I want my relationships to thrive, I must take responsibility for showing mercy. I need to be willing to be the first to forgive. It’s one of those difficult times when actually, it’s all about me and I’d rather it wasn’t!
I’m not implying that I take sole responsibility for everything that occurs in all my relationships – simply that I need to be ready to accept responsibility for my part of those relationships. That if I want to be forgiven, I need to forgive. If I hope to be treated mercifully, then I must choose to be merciful. Whether you believe in God or karma or the universe or whatever – I figure a significant chunk of us (and feel free to correct me if I’m wrong in that assumption) probably believe that we need to exhibit the characteristics we we wish to attract to us. “What comes around goes around.” Yin and yang. The principle of what you give out you get back, or practicing what you preach.
It makes absolute sense to me – but some part of this leaves me with a sense of discomfort – and I think it’s the part about personal responsibility – about the wounded or aggrieved party being the one to show kindness. But that’s not fair! What happened to other people getting what they deserve? And that’s the point – it’s not about getting what we (or they or I) deserve. That’s the point of mercy.
One definition of mercy is ‘compassion or forgiveness shown towards someone whom it is within one’s power to punish or harm.’ And if a relationship matters, then forgiveness, mercy and compassion all have their own parts to play.
I guess for me it’s not until I get a different perspective that I remember what’s really important. And it’s not my own little wound (that’s probably more of a paper cut) – it’s the relationship that matters.
Regardless of whether I’m guilty of having hurt someone through my words or actions, or whether I’m making the choice to be merciful and forgive, life does seems to revolve around relationships and connections with others. If that’s the case, it’s worth taking a few moments to remember what’s required on my part to be a happy and healthy participant in my relationships.