We don’t realise how fast we’re going until we hit something

A few weeks ago I walked into a solid glass door. It was thick and it hurt. I was left with a mild concussion.

At the time of the incident I had been working some long hours and no doubt in need of rest. As painful as the bang was, maybe there was something for me to learn, maybe even a warning. Could the glass have been like a mirror? If it was, I had been moving too quickly to see and assess the reflection.

Sharing the news with a friend he made the point that I had been pushing my self a bit too hard and I really needed to have a better balance between work and rest. Advice I’m comfortable giving out, but not often good at taking in.

He said we don’t realise how fast we’re going until we hit something. The force of the impact and the damage done usually indicates the speed at which were moving. That applies equally to travelling in a motor vehicle as to journeying through life.

Surely it’s better to stop voluntarily rather than crash into something.

Growing older and it’s cool

Earlier this month I celebrated a birthday. Feels good to be around. When I was a teenager, the numbers associated with my age today seemed massive. It was like science fiction thinking so far ahead.

Well there’s a lot of science these days and with the internet it is indeed difficult separating fact from fiction, but that’s for another day.

Last week a friend sent me an email about an 87-year-old woman who went back to college to study for the degree she’d always dreamed of getting. You may have come across the email yourself.

When she finally graduated she gave a speech in which she told her fellow graduates that to stay young, happy and successful, you have to laugh and find humour every day. And you’ve got to have a dream.

The elderly woman said there’s a huge difference between growing older and growing up. She said anybody can grow older, that doesn’t take any talent or ability. The idea is to grow up by always finding opportunity in change.

So I had to think. I’m growing older… yes… but am I growing up? Well, I’m working on it.

Speed does not always get the job done

Image035“I just don’t have the time.” When did you last say that to yourself? Last week, yesterday, earlier this morning?

Because we feel time is tight, life becomes a rush as we try to do many things at the same time. Even when we want something to change for the better – perhaps a relationship, our work or our community – we often rush into it with our eyes and minds closed, biting off more than we can chew. Instead of managing the change we are overwhelmed by it. The result? Lots of words and superficial actions, but no improvement.

We don’t know what tomorrow holds. But if today we explore more efficient methods of doing whatever we do; begin learning improved ways of coping; then at least we will be preparing ourselves for whatever comes our way.

Being prepared helps you cope with change, allowing you to respond to unforeseen events with minimum panic and with the determination to succeed.

The world is changing fast, but speed is not always what’s required, often we need to create the time and space to exercise wisdom. And these days wisdom needs the exercise in order to regain health and strength.

Patience can be a powerful act

stand at sunsetIn this fast-paced world, who has the time to wait? There are some people who, if you tell them to be patient, respond as if you had insulted them. But patience is a valuable quality to develop.

A patient mind calmly awaits the unfolding of circumstances, and in that patience, acquires the knowledge and insight to handle situations more effectively. Then, rather than a knee jerk reaction, we act from a position of thought and vision, often leading to better outcomes.

On the other hand, impatience can be like trying to eat unripe fruit. It may satisfy your hunger for a few minutes, but then comes the upset stomach and… well, you know the rest.

Patience reminds us that the world does not revolve around us and our desires; we are part of something larger that has its own timing and flow. If we are patient, we observe the movement of life around us and get a better sense of the right moment to act.

Patience is not about doing nothing, but rather allowing time and space to get yourself together, so that when you do something, it really is something.

Let the tools do what they are made to do

sawMany years ago I was doing some construction work in Barbados with an elderly carpenter from Trinidad by the name of Sumai.

I was using a handsaw to cut some wood, but just could not get a straight cut, no matter how hard I tried and no matter how much muscle I put behind the saw. Sumai, who was a small man, took the saw out of my hand and, with what appeared to be no effort at all, cut the wood in a straight line faster than I could say “mahogany”.

He said that because I was a big fella, I probably figured I could use brute force to cut the wood. “Big mistake” he teased. “The saw is designed to do a particular job. Your role is simply to guide the saw along the line with a gentle rocking motion”. I tried it and was amazed. I realised that I had been fighting with the handsaw, preventing it from doing its job.

It was a valuable lesson and not just for woodwork, but all aspects of life. Instead of making use of situations and challenges, we often fight with ourselves and get in the way of our own progress. Sometimes we try so hard to stay on track that we cause a derailment.

Life provides many tools for building the pathways and bridges to all sorts of destinations; the challenge is in learning to use those tools as a craftsman would.

You have a right to become the person you were destined to become – even in a relationship.

bay and boatTo feel that someone is blocking your destiny is one of the worst of all feelings. There are enough obstacles in the world that prevent people from fulfilling themselves, without adding to them by demanding that a partner give up his or her plans for the sake of a relationship.  Such demands often backfire and weaken the emotional ties between the two partners.

Even if it seems threatening at first, helping a partner grow and find himself or herself makes a relationship stronger. In time the partners will seem less dependent and less possessive. They remain together because they want to be together. Although they have the freedom each day to stay or to leave, they choose to stay and grow together. It’s a choice they make every day, consciously or otherwise.

My wife once put it this way – The strongest relationship is the one between two people who see each other as midwives to the persons they wish to become.

Life is as Life is

Magnificent FrigatebirdBeen trying to put my feelings about the passing of my parents on this blog for a few weeks, but could not get it together. Wasn’t sure I should, but… here goes.

My Mum passed at end March 2008 after a long and painful battle with cancer. My Dad, who had Alzheimer’s for the past 8 years or so but was otherwise physically healthy, passed at the end of June 2010.

Mum’s death mashed me up for months. Got a flight while she was in the hospice, but just before leaving home in Trinidad to catch a plane to London, where my folks lived since 1958, I got the call from my brother that Mum passed.

I had been travelling to London to visit Dad regularly since Mum died. Was there in March / April of this year and had some real good time with him. Spoke to him on Father’s day and thanked him for all that he’s done for me. For providing me with a good example of what it means to be a gentleman, to respect every human being, to be independent, self-reliant, not to inconvenience people unnecessarily, to always look for ways to develop myself. For introducing me to spiritual pursuits and the fun that can be had from checking out what ancient and modern philosophers had to say about life. For encouraging me to pursue my creative/artistic dreams, especially in music, for respecting my choices and helping me to understand that everything has its consequences.

I’m working my way through Dad passing so soon after Mum. I’m getting there.
I’m 56 and after the funeral stuff was out of the way and the paperwork, sorting of clothes and stuff I returned to Trinidad and memories of my parents are with me for many hours a day. 90 percent real good stuff.

I really realise that I am still a child, or to be more precise my parents’ child. These were great folks, I was not always aware of it while growing up and even in my twenties I was not always ready to embrace just how special and wonderful my mum and dad were. Just how much they really, really loved me and my brother. Just how much they sacrificed, not only financially and stuff, but also how much they put their own views and opinions on pause and allowed us to make our own choices, to find out for ourselves and to find ourselves (of course that journey continues).

It’s at times overwhelming to think about how much a part of me they are and will always be. Scenes of my childhood play on my mind-screen with associated feelings re-stimulated, re-experienced, re-felt (if there was such a word I’d use it a lot right now).
A friend in a similar position recently discussed the aspect of relationships with our parents and of being adult orphans.

As we get older we start to parent our parents and for some of us it’s not long before our children begin to parent us. Yes it is indeed all part of life. We don’t choose how we arrive and don’t usually have a say in how we depart, but in between we do have choices and that’s where the wonders can happen.

Appreciation of the moments we have often helps us to focus on that which enables us to stand, open our eyes and focus on the light ahead. It may only be a tiny dot, but as we continue to walk it gets bigger. As it increases in size we can be motivated to keep moving forward, guided by the Light, embraced by the Light, sharing the Light.