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Category Archives: Daily Life and Doings

The time of the unexpected

Sometime ago, a number of years in fact, a friend mentioned that certain events happening to her were totally unexpected. Some were trivial, others much bigger but all seemed to come completely out of the blue. She described one unexpected happening when one windy morning she was waiting at a bus stop, a sudden gust of wind blew grit into her eye, turning her back to the wind, away from the bus top, she rubbed her eye to try to remove it, when she turned around again she saw to her amazement a car burst into flames, the driver leaping out, fortunately unhurt. Wow! she thought that was unexpected!

Unexpected certainly and perhaps a rather extreme example. I remember that day we talked about things common to us both. We both said that time and again as soon as we thought, this will happen, or that will be ok, or more confidently nothing can go wrong now, some fateful being looked upon us saying ‘Don’t be so complacent you silly mortals, nothing is guaranteed prepare for the unexpected.’

We agreed that in future we would definitely watch out when we were sure everything would go to plan and prepare for the fact it might not. My friend said, ‘This must be the time of the unexpected we are going through, I wonder how long it will last?’ I know for a fact it hasn’t yet ended, so watch out for plans to go wrong, hopes to be dashed and uncertainty prevailing. Watch out too for the unexpected kindness, the glorious sunset seen from the office window when the day has been a nasty one, the exam that was passed despite expected failure and all the myriad of things unexpected that make life just that little bit better.

Perhaps we should expect nothing, and then whatever happens will be either a good or a bad surprise but of course in the society we live in that isn’t possible. We have to plan, even our journey to work is part of a plan, we have to plan our family life, what food we put on the table, how will we pay our bills but part of us must always be open to the unplanned, even sadly disasters, both personal and on a larger scale. How we deal with the unexpected is part of our humanity.

Of course it’s so easy to be glib about things when they don’t happen to us, and easy to dismiss from our minds the nasty unexpected things that happen to others. We might think, I’m glad that wasn’t me but we can’t begin to put ourselves in another person’s shoes. Lots of platitudes coming from my mind to my fingers here and being typed out!

But there are times when the unexpected, the terrible unexpected can make things better. I know someone; I like to think of her as a friend because she is – although she started by being a neighbour, a fabulous one I have to say – but she had a terrible trauma, one which left her depressed, unable to venture out on her own, liable to panic attacks, and struggling to deal with the aftermath of a serious incident. She had, prior to that, been searching for a change of direction but as with most of us it seemed impossible, there seemed no choice except to continue along the road she was on. Along came the unexpected, the totally overwhelming, terrifying unexpected and she was knocked back, all thought of change of direction subsumed in just getting through each day.

She was offered a chance, some help to find her way back. She found that in taking that chance it didn’t lead to where she had been before, but to somewhere better. Metaphorically speaking she in turn held out her hand to help others. Literally speaking she got stuck in doing things with people who needed help even more than she did. She did it all as a volunteer at the start, then she was identified as being someone who had a vocation, someone whose career path should be in that direction. The trauma she had been through had meant she’d lost her job, was unemployed with all the problems that brings, but if it hadn’t been for the trauma – the unexpected – her true talent would never have been known and she would have continued along the path of a job with not a great deal of satisfaction.

She is a remarkable woman, she always was, but outside of her immediate family and friends no one else knew; now the people she works with and helps know her well and appreciate her but without the unexpected that happened to her, their lives would not be as enriched as they are now and neither would hers.

Is it fate? Is it part of our individual lives’ pattern, or do we have free will to decide what path we take, and by doing so to avoid the unexpected. Who knows? Philosophers may have many faceted arguments and even more questions, religious leaders may point to God. But the unexpected happens; perhaps that is part of a greater plan but how we react to it, deal with it, is down to our own free will.

Jessica, the character in Trio describes her belief about fateful patterns. In part of the story she says something along the lines of; ‘If you have a letter to post and it must be posted, you can choose what letter box to post it from and when to post it but if it’s important it must be done.’

I think much of our life’s choices are like that, there are certain things that happen, that cross our path that can’t be avoided but how we deal with them is definitely up to us.


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Posted by on November 14, 2011 in Daily Life and Doings

 

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Doubts

I have just received a book a friend wrote about Advent, which the Christian Church heralds as the weeks leading up to Christ’s birth, It made me reflect on a number of things not least my own faith, muddled life and my doubts.

I once had a powerful belief in God. Perhaps not strictly in the Christian sense of the teachings in both the Old and New Testaments but nonetheless a profound feeling of a powerful deity to whom I would pray, usually to ask for something and occasionally to say thank you. But then I began to doubt, not just because of the science, people like Richard Dawkins giving a quite different perspective on the subject of God; no I began to doubt because I could not longer ‘feel’ the presence of a spiritual, powerful being.

But since receiving this little book and reading one or two chapters I started to think about, and more importantly to begin to ‘feel’ that which I had lost. I thought how incomprehensible it is to believe in, to try to explain, to reason that there is a God. Then I thought too how equally incomprehensible it is to truly understand the marvels of this planet we inhabit, the life forms that have existed and continue to evolve, our ability to take control of our environment and manipulate it to suit what we want it to give us.

I thought too how incomprehensible it is that we feel the emotions we do, the love, the hate, the anger, the compassion…. But then I thought too how incomprehensible it is that our world, this tiny speck in a vast universe, is what it is to us. And then came the even greater and overwhelming thought of the incomprehensibility of the fact of the Universe itself, and the science that is constantly finding out more and more of its glories but not entirely understanding what it is that has been discovered.

Suddenly I felt better; I realized I had been too busy trying to rationalize God – and on one level it didn’t even really matter if there actually was a God at all and of course, using the scientific argument it is totally irrational to believe that there is a God. Primitive people believed in one, perhaps created one (or in some cases many Gods) to explain the inexplicable but no I began to understand what was important for me, was to stop the thought process and to return to the person I had been – one who simply felt. To sit quietly and to say a simple prayer, or even send loving thoughts to a friend or to a loved one and to continue in that solitary ‘thinking state’ but not to actually use logic or reasoning, simply to let my mind wander. During those moments of thoughts about nothing very much, just in the early morning quiet of my kitchen I felt a warmth which seemed to enter my soul, a lightness in my heart, a tiny whisper of comfort.

Was it God? Was it just the effects of a good night’s sleep and not having to respond yet to the day’s demands? It really doesn’t matter; it was a perfect moment which came about through reading something in a book. That reading had triggered off process and a stillness in my being.

I think it was God, just letting me know I wasn’t alone, and if my doubts return that too won’t matter because it did happen, it was real, the experience of a very precious moment, at the start of my day, and all because of reading some words in a book.

To find out more about the book that inspired this post click here

 
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Posted by on November 4, 2011 in Daily Life and Doings

 

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Connections and Coincidences

Just lately I seem to be thinking about things that have connections. Coincidences, some would say but I think instead there truly are links which connect us, our lives with others or with certain places or events. As an example two new friends I have made during the course of last year both have family connections to the town of Stowmarket. Ok so nothing too odd about that but suddenly I found myself involved with related connections to places in Suffolk. Cousins not seen for years have connections to Suffolk, other cousins live in and have lived in the area for many years but now I discover they too live near to both my friends’ relatives. 

It’s a small thing but it illustrates the way things are almost woven into our lives. To talk of the tapestry of live is an over worked cliché but as with many other clichés is true. – Well how did they become overworked clichés in the first place doh!   Anyway the fact is many people when they look into things in depth often find connections to others they knew nothing about. 

Most of us know the expression about things happening in threes that is something I find happens to me time and time again. Most of us also know how a run of bad luck comes in clusters – pity the good luck never seems to! But it has got me thinking about the connections we have in our lives; all of us in some way. 

Maybe we should try to be more ‘connected’ with others. Not interfering or being nosey, or even being what is seen as ‘do gooders’ Just interested in what friends are doing in a real way. Even thinking about things, opening our minds to a point of view we may have rejected or not even thought about; mustn’t that make us more interesting to others? Could it make us more content with ourselves; happier even? 

Who knows but life is what it is, not a rehearsal for something improved upon. No here we are one bite is all we get – at least this time around there may of course be re-incarnation – so maybe we might fine a bit more fulfilment if we all thought  about how we fit in to our life’s pattern and how others’ do and how perhaps each one of us can learn just a tiny bit from someone else.

 
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Posted by on January 18, 2010 in Daily Life and Doings

 

Christmas Eve – the madness intensifies

My son produced my website and I know he is disappointed that I don’t ‘blog’ as much as I should. My excuse is I don’t have the time but the reality is I don’t use the time I do have in the way I should. To buck the trend of being overwhelmed with too much to do today of all days I decided to write something on my blog. But what? Thoughts spinning around in my head are all to do with, will we have enough of this or that to eat during Christmas, will the family like their presents, will I wake up tomorrow in time to put the enormous turkey in the oven so we have lunch before suppertime?

What irrelevant thoughts they really are in the grand order of things and yet millions of people are thinking in a similar fashion. Lemming like we carry on rushing headlong into this extraordinary event until finally the shops close and that is that until they re-open again in around 48 hours or in some case much sooner!

As for me, yes armed with my list later on, I too will be part of the general mêlée thronging the local supermarket. I too will probably forget something I thought was vital for tomorrow but, come the day, will realise that it wasn’t quite as necessary as was thought. Tomorrow’s vast gluttony will engulf us making way for our resolution in the New year to eat and drink less and next Christmas to not forget that forgotten item and so it goes on.

But we do seem to need Christmas, even though the Christian meaning is hardly noticed by many and even though vast numbers of people complain about it being ‘too commercialised.’ Whether it is or isn’t, it is a great event; children love it; families, despite the problems that so often occur, get together and friends, often not seen for years, re-connect with cards.

I love it; I love all the hassle, the rushing around, the parties, the glitzy tackiness, the sheer desperation of getting everything done in time and finally collapsing in an armchair with a glass of wine and thinking that, at last I do have ‘time.’ Precious time to just think quietly reflecting on the rush up to Christmas, events in the family, at work and in the wider world but revelling in the fact that for Christmas day at least all that will be required is to eat, drink, and be merry.

Merry Christmas

 
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Posted by on December 24, 2009 in Daily Life and Doings

 

Life’s Tapestry

Do you remember the Spirograph? My sister had one when she was a child. It is based on the epicyclic curve. It was a series of plastic shapes, which you pinned to paper. Then putting coloured pens into a circular holder and drawing on the paper enabled the making of lots of geometric shapes. I think our lives are like that; each notch represents a life and as each line crosses another, that is when our patterns merge i.e. the path of each life crosses with another. To fully understand it all, I think, must take many lives, many incarnations.

In Trio my character believes in patterns in peoples’ lives she also believes in fate. She tries to describe to her partner her belief saying, ‘Imagine you have a letter to post and you know it must be posted so you have no option but to post it. However you can choose which letterbox to post it from and when to post it.’ I think our lives are like that. We have to fulfil certain things but we can decide when. We get to a crossroad and choose. Sometimes we don’t know it but we really don’t have a choice but we think we do and take the left turn instead of the right but we will come back to that right turn eventually and have no option then but to take it.

When we are dead I think that is when we have a chance to overview our existence and see the effect it has had on others. I think we are parts of a whole entity like the blobs in a Lava lamp. I think we merge and separate and slowly our experiences – good and bad – improve life for the whole of humanity.

I don’t think we should only look for happiness we need all the experiences we can have. I think our concept of time impedes us in that. We see only a straight path behind or in front but I think it goes in all directions and part of it is entirely relative. For example, when you have a terrible day and one thing after another goes wrong – and that too is part of a pattern – the day seems endless. However, when you are doing something you really like or with someone, you want to be with time contracts. I think it does in reality in some way not just our perception. I think for that short period we inhabit just a part of the time space i.e. the forwards and backwards bit not the whole.

In Trio coincidence is thought of as being part of something else, part of a whole. This is the passage –‘She, who thought deep and strange thoughts – at least that is what others’ said of her – believed there was a kind of pattern in everything. Many times in her life she saw connections that others called coincidence. She thought there was some undiscovered universal ‘law’ that caused such events.  Just as if an object is thrown into the air and falls to the ground, a predictable occurrence ordered by the laws of physics, so too, she thought, many other things in life formed a jigsaw of events where coincidence was a demonstration of the workings of a greater whole.’

So there you have it, a friend once said perhaps there are invisible strings joining events together and perhaps they do come into it. We all use metaphors, to explain the inexplicable but all things are part of our existence, once we accept there is another, broader, almost intangible dimension to life we should wholeheartedly embrace it. We can’t expect happiness or health or wealth or any of the positives but we can learn to live to the full. We should learn that ALL our experiences have a value, even the bad ones and what we can’t explain or understand we should embrace.

 
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Posted by on October 8, 2009 in Daily Life and Doings

 

Ups and Downs

woodgreenWell life for me has been full of ups and downs lately – especially downs! I went to a launch of a bar in Soho a few weeks ago. I had forgotten what a buzz the area has and definitely decided I must make a point of visiting there more often.

All too often, wherever we live, we neglect the very places right on our doorsteps which attract visitors. Anyway I had a very enjoyable evening in very good company and eventually made my way home.  As I walked the short distance home from the tube station I caught my foot on a very slightly raised paving stone, tripped and fell in a rather spectacular fashion.

I suspect the spectactularity* of the fall may have been caused by the 2 or 3 glasses of wine drunk earlier that evening!  Wood Green High Road is probably not the best place to scatter one’s belongings especially handbag purse etc but I was so very lucky to have a young guy come rushing up to me,  help me up and retrieve all my belongings.  Concerned, he asked if I was ok and should he call an ambulance. I reassured him telling him I had just about a 5 minute walk to my home. What he could see but I couldn’t at that stage was how much blood was flowing from a wound near my eye. Indeed he at first thought my broken glasses had damaged the eye itself and as by then I could see nothing out of my right eye and also began to notice the blood on my hand where I had touched my face I took him up on his offer to call an ambulance.

He was told they were very busy and there would be a slight delay, in any event I called my son to tell him what had happened and where I was and before the ambulance arrived my son had joined us. I thanked my rescuer telling him I was very grateful for his help, he had been very kind but he need not stay any longer, he said that he wanted to and that he was fine waiting. Just as well, because the ambulance drove past even though he stood in the road waving his arm to try to attract their attention.

My son then called the ambulance service and explained that the ambulance driver had obviously missed the spot. In turn they called my rescuer’s mobile and again through his help the ambulance arrived.

In the event the blood made the cut look far worse than it was and I declined the paramedic’s offer to be taken to A&E to have it stitched.

The ambulance crew were, as I am sure they always are, very professional, kind and reassuring. They do a great job always but wasn’t it a remarkable sign of just how great ordinary people are. Here was someone young; I would guess he was 20 something, putting himself out to help an older woman. He was kind and just there for me. It shows critics of people in general and youth in particular things are not quite as bad as perhaps the media would have us believe.

I don’t know his name or anything about him but he was great and his actions not only helped me at the time but gave me a positive story to tell others.  So whoever you are thank you.

* Spectacularity is a word I believe I may have just invented!

 
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Posted by on August 29, 2009 in Daily Life and Doings

 

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The Meaning Of Life?

Something a friend said to me yesterday started me thinking about the meaning of life….don’t we all! 

Is there a meaning or is it completely random. Is the fact of our existence and that of everything else totally accidental and if that is so then surely meaningless. I can’t believe it is all one glorious accident, because if it is the accident is a pretty spectacular one! 

Here are two things to consider everything is random or it is not. But what about this idea, suppose it was a random accident but became logical by the very product of the accidental beginning. What if the very stuff of evolution, everything we do, every action of every kind, forms the structure which makes our existence meaningful? 

What if even the concept of an all powerful being – God – became a reality because we wished it so and that very being feeds on our worship. And what if one day we find we do know the meaning of life and everything else because we have finally made sense of the chaos around us.

Not sure about any of that, not sure if I would really like to have all the answers or even some of them but I am glad I have the ability to think.  

 
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Posted by on June 23, 2009 in Daily Life and Doings

 

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