On the road

My friend and I recently attempted another road trip. We enjoy ourselves – much of the time – but the driving aspect is always stressful. He drives, I navigate. And we’re talking paper maps – no Satnav. Sometimes it works and a lot of the time it doesn’t, as I’m directionally challenged and he won’t get involved in figuring out how to get somewhere. So we often get lost and sometimes turn up late for things – another source of stress. I also have to plan everything and he just goes along with it without any input into what we do on these trips. Fine, but when there’s a problem, he tends to overreact.

So such things cause me to be annoyed with him, but I’ve started to realize that when problems arise, reacting negatively doesn’t remotely help the situation. It’s hard, but with some newly acquired self-restraint, I’m learning that instead of lashing out, to take a step back and try to approach the situation calmly. Not always easy, especially in the spur of the moment, but what helps me is to look at the situation from an entirely different perspective. Many people behave negatively or overreact because they are suffering in some way internally. We all have our own particular anxieties and issues that lead us to act in outward negative ways – myself included. Wouldn’t I want someone to show compassion to me in these moments, not anger or irritation?

So this is what I (try to) do now is to modify my own reaction – to act instead with compassion and to focus on finding a solution to the problem. This decision to let go and approach the situation calmly has brought me so much peace, and more profoundly, into a whole other realm of humility – the realization of how vulnerable we all are and our sense of connectivity and responsibility to one another as members of humanity. I’ll write more about humility another time, but please don’t get annoyed with me for leading you on and not saying more about it now. 😊

Lemon meringue pie

I’m not actually a big fan of lemon meringue pie, but would be the first to say that when life throws you lemons, sure, you can make lemonade, but sometimes you can go one step further and make a fully formed lemon meringue pie.

I had such an experience the other night when I was getting ready to go to a play I had been planning to see for months, a one-off outdoor performance at 7.30pm in a country town seventeen miles away from where I was staying with my friend. This friend, who was driving, had packed up the deck chairs on his way to work, in a town thirteen miles in the opposite direction.

He assured me he would be back in time to go to the play and he would have been, had it not been for an accident that occurred just as he was returning home, and which blocked traffic for miles in every direction. He was stuck in town and would not make it in time.

What was I to do? I had been looking forward to this play for the whole summer, and there would be no opportunity to see it again. I sprung into action calling taxi companies – there being no public transit out these parts – but none were available until later in the evening.

I finally had the idea of knocking on the door of my friend’s neighbour, who I had only met once, but seemed like a nice girl and more to the point, was younger than me, so more likely to have an Uber app (my relationship with technology being of the dinosaur variety). Luckily, she was home and was more than willing to help. Although it was nearly 7pm by this point, she miraculously found a driver willing to come. While we were waiting, we chatted away easily, and made a really nice connection.

The driver then whisked me away along the windy Cotswold roads, where I catapulted onto the play about five minutes after it had started. My friend actually arrived five minutes after me, in tatters, but soon calmed down enough to enjoy the play, which was wonderful and worth the monumental effort in getting there. And, as I brought over a thank you gesture to the neighbour the next day, I was glad we had connected this way and I appreciated how kindness truly exists everywhere – something we all need more of these days – along with a sturdy helping of pie – of whatever flavour. 😊

A chirp in the dark

I had another bad night recently, where I was too hot and kept waking up, and when I did sleep, I was ridden with anxiety dreams. By the time I woke up for the last time at 6.30am, I felt tired, achy and completely uninterested in moving a muscle.  

But then out my window I heard the unmistakable whizzy sounds of a flock of goldfinches. These are particularly lively and colourful birds, and this morning’s visitors were mostly juvenile birds, whose faces hadn’t yet formed the distinctive red hue. They were whirring about the garden, flapping energetically between the big trees, especially favouring the buddleia tree just outside my window with its plentiful seeds. There were a couple of very young, hapless looking birds, flitting their heads about with uncertainty. Soon enough, one of the parents swooped in with tasty treats to feed them until they were satiated.

All of this succeeded in instantly lifting my mood, and even amidst my aches and fatigue, reminded me that there are always possibilities, always the potential for new energy and life. A bad night doesn’t need to carry on into a bad new day. When you are open to the infinite flow of the universe, there are always opportunities for healing and for things to take an unexpected turn for the better, if we are able to let them in.

The flow of stars

I was sitting in the back garden the other night at 3am, as it was too warm and I couldn’t sleep. When I looked up, I saw an enormous sky full of stars – a rare sight – and the air was crisp and cool. During the time I sat in the garden, the sky clouded over, erasing the stars in their wake. I felt immediately disappointed but then it gave me pause to reflect. Perhaps my appreciation of the stars, as much as it was for their beauty and luminosity, could also have been for their transient and fleeting nature.

Maybe this is the best way to value the special things in our lives, by being present when they enter into our orbit and appreciating them for the time they are there, knowing, but accepting that they too will pass. This is what can enable us to properly appreciate them. Possibly if we had such things all time, we would cease to be aware of their value and at best, take them for granted and at worst begin to tire of or even resent them. Even silence, a precious commodity in today’s world can take on an oppressive form if we had too much of it, too much of the time.

We must remember that we are like a river, forever flowing through the various ebbs and streams of our lives and it is impossible to stop and stagnate – we can either flow forwards or backwards. It is through our flowing that we encounter our special moments along the way. Often times these people or experiences flow along with us, or we are caught up with their own particular eddies, but always there is the flow. Like the stars, the true gift of all encounters and experiences is how and when they touch our lives and our precious, sweet memory of them when they float away.