It has been said by many that life is not perfect. Equally, I was told that whilst you can please some of the people all of the time and all of the people some of the time, you cannot please all of the people all of the time! So, what is life. Perhaps it is our perception of it. I have been told in the past that most times I tend to see something positive in almost all of life’s situations, with each ‘cloud’ having a silver lining to it. We can easily look back at something which has just happened and feel bad or sad as a result, but if we try, we can usually see a positive effect from it and that is the silver lining. There will, without doubt, be times when a relative or friend may have passed away and this is so very sad, but they are most likely to have either given life to or helped another, they may have taught and shared a skill which others can later benefit from, they may have been or given comfort to another person, often without realising it. Sadly though there are those in this world who give and then expect, even demand, something back in return. But I was taught at a very early age a prayer which I have tried my best to follow. Many reading this blog will have seen this before but I will share it here.
Helping one another does not need to be much, it may have simply needed another person’s presence that is required for someone to realise that they are not alone and this can be particularly true as we get older and see others passing away. I have realised this myself as I live in this Care Home. It may be though illness, it may simply be through old age, but at a time that we usually do not determine, our earthly existence comes to an end. There are times when we do have at least some control over such things though and it is that which we can sometimes forget. I know of a few folk who, had they taken better care of themselves, their human lives would, in all probability, have been longer. There are also times when we are offered some guidance on what life path to take, but not all of us listen! It is up to us, usually, what to do. As many of you know I am disabled, there are some things which I simply cannot physically do and have never been able to do. That has become more apparent as the years pass and I am thankful that I have been offered the skills to read, write and share many things, to help others in the work I have done in the past and I hope that I am able to continue doing this for many years to come! But when it is my time to return home, I will go with thanks, knowing that I have, I hope, done my best openly and honestly, the best that I can. I believe that we all have our part to play in this world, it is surely for us to learn and benefit as well as at least give others the opportunity to do the same. But we must remember that whilst our helping hand may be offered, it should not and must not be taken advantage of. Sadly we seem to see more and more who wish to work for their own personal gain with no thought or consideration for others and who simply do not help to provide the proper balance in life. As humans, we perceive life passing us by at a steady rate, yet there are times when we all say something like “Where did the time go?” I know that I, a great many years ago now, made the mistake of telling my parents that I was bored. They found something for me to do, a job which was simple but had little real value. I never fell for that one again, although sadly at times my willingness to do things hasn’t been ideal. I was taught, but in a good, friendly but firm way as to how things ought to be done. At school I, like so many before me, were shown the ‘right’ way of doing things, it did not matter if it was in behaviour, attitude or language. Most of us did as we were told, some did not and were punished appropriately. Then we went out into the ‘big wide world’, where we found new sets of rules. These were again in behaviour, attitude and language which differed from school as we were beginning to ‘grow up’. Not all did what was right and I think what came to me to be most obvious at this time was I can only describe as ‘consequences’. What good we do is recognised and honoured, likewise what bad things we do is also equally recognised and remembered. Not everyone will agree with me, but I do believe that there is a balance in Nature. It should surely be that whatever we do, it will be of value to ourselves as well as to others. I am not talking in purely financial terms but in ways that benefit another person’s character, behaviour and yes at times their appearance. I am reminded that we may see people with a limb which is in plaster, wearing a bandage or using a stick. That alerts us that they are dealing with perhaps an injury or disability. But if we see none of these things, we cannot tell what other difficulties they may be facing.
When I learned teaching skills, I found that as well as sharing my knowledge and skills with others, I too was learning as we all learn different things in different ways. So no matter if it is in work or in play, we are born, we grow, we are taught many things and we have the capability to learn and to adjust, to adapt and to change according to this lovely world around us. I have said this a few times now. Some folk I’ve known worked in factories and industrial places, whilst others worked as I have done in offices. Some have worked where they designed new things, perhaps even making lots of money in the process. All of us though, as human beings live, sleep, breathe, eat and drink. All of us have supremely clever systems within us that control our bodies but to a large extent we have overall control of ‘us’, in how we act, how we react, how we behave. Good or bad, right or wrong, most of us know the ‘correct’ paths to follow. They will not be exactly the same for everyone, but it is, to my mind at least, sensible to ‘do the right thing’. Even though there have been times when I’ve not always done so. But that is so often how we learn! I think this world is amazing, but as I heard someone say, “Life is what you make of it, if it doesn’t fit you make alterations”. Naturally there are many things which we cannot change, but many that we can adapt to. Something in this life which may never change but that I personally find really disappointing is how some people are so untruthful in their ways, their words and I suppose also in their thoughts. I was taught at a very early age to always be truthful and doing so has served me well. I have said in the past that it is sometimes hard enough to remember what has actually happened, never mind telling what is not true! I read that a good way to deal with someone who is lying to you is to get them to expand and embellish the tale they are telling as eventually they will slip up and make mistakes. In that way it becomes obvious. However, there are those who do consistently tell lies, they make up stories to achieve their aims. At one time a great many years ago, before writing, knowledge was of course shared verbally. When I was at school a teacher demonstrated to us one day just how the spoken word can be misunderstood and this was done by the teacher whispering a sentence to a pupil. That pupil was then told to turn to the pupil next to them and whisper the same sentence. Then that pupil did the same, quietly whispering the same sentence. This was done and after going round about twenty or more pupils, the first and last pupils then told the class what each had heard. The first pupil had been told by the teacher “Send reinforcements, we’re going to advance”, whilst the last pupil said they had been told “Send three and fourpence, we’re going to a dance”. This was, incidentally, in the days of pounds, shillings and pence as the decimalisation of our UK currency hadn’t occurred back then! But it just goes to show how even when we are trying to get things right, mistakes can occur. It is all part of learning. We do have access to more than just written books as the Internet is used so much nowadays, but checking up through tried and trusted sources is a good thing to do. I am also an advocate of the old saying, “If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.” and if something or someone is genuine, in the majority of cases it does no harm to check. The old ‘gut instinct’ I believe is still within us all, even if we don’t always just follow it!
As time passes I hear others talk about how ‘life in the old days’ was. I guess I see this more as I am where I am now. But life is constantly moving forward, so for each generation the ‘old days’ are not the same for every one of us. A little while ago I saw the question raised as to what exactly are the ‘old days’ and it got me thinking, because of course time itself is passing by at a steady rate for us here on Earth, and is what I would describe as inexorable in that it keeps on keeping on. I’m happy that it is! Except each generation has its own time frame, so we cannot put a fixed definition on when the ‘old days’ were. Because for me, they were the sixties and seventies, but to others they are not. I really enjoy watching some of the quiz shows that are on television and many contestants are now saying “Well, that was before I was born…” and I seriously wonder what they were learning at school! Having said that, nowadays I make extensive use of the Internet whereas many years ago I would have consulted various books. How ever did we manage before the days of personal computers and mobile phones! I am at present residing in a Care Home, it is the best place for me after my heart problem and Covid-19. Our lives carry on, new generations are created, with new ideas too. But the more we can work together, then life as a whole can and will improve, for more and more of us and for this Earth. One thing I do remember though is that care should be taken when dealing with others. I may see or hear things that disturb or upset me but if I say nothing, few people know. Thoughts cannot generally be read or shared, although there are those who know me well and they realise when I am not pleased with something or someone! I watched the tv celebrations the other day of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee and understandably the Queen did not attend one of them. But very many of her family did and many tv cameras watched as they were presented to the various members of the cathedral. At one point I saw one person give what seemed to me to be a very disparaging glance to one of the royals, it was only for an instant but to me it was there and it proves how facial expressions can be so telling, even if we don’t mean to show our feelings! But life goes on, it is real and I think we should enjoy it as best we can. An essential point to this is something I learned from Srinivas Arka, which is whilst words may be misinterpreted or misunderstood, whether by accident or design, a smile is universal greeting from a warm heart. Also, we should always be learning from the past, living in the present and looking to the future with a smile.
This week… a memory.
For me train journeys can be fun, but also a little frustrating when problems occur and I have tried to do my best at remaining calm about events over which I have absolutely no control because that is a waste of time, effort and energy. Perhaps one of the most difficult ones for me was travelling to work one particular day from Chesterfield station via Derby to Birmingham New Street, which I did regularly for several years. The train had just pulled out of Tamworth station, only to stop and we were told that the goods train just ahead of us had broken down. For some reason we could not reverse back to Tamworth and take a different route, but had to simply wait until the track ahead was cleared enough for our train to proceed safely. We sat and waited for what seemed like ages until the goods service was moved and the track cleared, except even then we were rerouted around the north of Birmingham and entered New Street station on a different line! It meant that I was very late getting to work, it was also before the days of mobile phones so I couldn’t phone my boss to let him know! However, others had had similar delays so it wasn’t just me. My boss realised I hadn’t simply overslept, though some of my colleagues did tease me a little!