Change is inevitable. An anonymous person said:
“If nothing ever changed, there’d be no butterflies.”
Come to think of it, the true test of the extent to which you care about someone is your ability to be happy for their happiness. For the other end of the spectrum is too easy, it is basic human instinct, empathy and compassion with the wronged or hurt. It is only natural to be sad for someone else’s sadness, to share their grief or mood, to sympathise. You find yourself rising to a better version of you because circumstances are dire and you come to the rescue of friends, acquaintances or foes.
Yet to really know if someone is of significance to you, do you find it in you to be happy simply because good things have happened to them? Does your heart soar because they received and shared good news, because they’ve accomplished something, won something? Does your mood get better? Do you laugh from the heart? Is your smile and congratulations sincere? Are you genuinely happy for them and proud of them? Then you do care my friend, for we are far more self-centred a species to normally give a damn about the happiness of the other, anything above neutral is not usually worthy of attention, nor does it usually elicit joy.
I’m this kind of girl:
– that no matter how hot it is, I am the one who has to have a cover of some kind on while I am sleeping.
– that will hear a song or an album and will download it and then will listen to it over and over again until I know every note.
– that if one lane is closing and all the drivers have had advance warning and yet others do not file to the open lane in a reasonable and timely manner but insist on racing ahead and then trying to shove in at last minute, I am the one who is a complete bitch and won’t let them in.
Sometimes a small thing happens that makes you wonder about how you handle things and just how deep the handling of them goes. It may not be something as large as suffering from a disease or losing a loved one. It can be miniscule, unexpected, and jarring to a level that you hadn’t suspected you could be jarred.
Saturday the cats were in a bit of a ruckus at the window. I looked outside and saw there was something outside that had me hooked.
I opened the door, feeling the chill of the September dusk setting in. I stepped out onto the grass to see, in all directions, heaps of feathers flying around. I knew at once what happened – a cat had pulled down a bird and had killed it. It wasn’t the first time, it wouldn’t be the last.
I walked to the largest pile of feathers and there it was – a magpie. One wing bent at an angle that a wing most certainly shouldn’t be bent. Over half of its body was plucked clean of feathers, and blood was seeping out onto the remaining feathers. A quick look told me immediately that the bird was still alive and in a state of sheer panic and terror. I didn’t need a second look to know that there was no chance that it was going to survive.
And I was torn. I couldn’t bring it in because to be brutally honest, all I can think of are parasites, mites, and disease that live on wild birds. I couldn’t leave it out here, terrified, in shock, dying. It had already been suffering via a brutal way to die. Ignoring it seemed to be the heart of cruelty.
I got an old towel to try to wrap the bird in, to try to make it more comfortable. As I came near with it, the bird jumped around in a panic, its broken wing moving uselessly in an angle that it shouldn’t have done. Anytime I got even a little near its breathing went fast, its fight-or-flight serving it well.
I decided the grass was the most comfortable place for it. I went back inside. Making the bird more frightened would serve no real purpose; it had maybe been through enough. Leaving it alone to its own devices would be the most calming solution there could be.
The cats and I kept watch over the bird, dying in the grass. We watched as it used its beak – the only working part of its body – to drag itself towards a bush nearby. I couldn’t stop watching it move itself towards the nearby bushes. It seared itself into my memory as the most grotesque and beautiful thing I had ever seen.
I watched the bird make it into the bush. It died, tucked into itself under the protection of a bush, surrounded by frost covered wheat stalks.
I can’t help but feel I missed a something. There was something more I should have done, even if just for a mangy magpie. I can’t stop feeling that there was something I should have learned from in it all, and didn’t.
There are a lot of things you’ve been learning about life.
This is what you do, you’re a ball of tape that rolls and bounces and picks it all up as you go, and from time to time you check the adhesive to see what’s on you, how it all adds up. Recent stock-taking would have you happy as you see what’s settled on the surface. Love. Security. Hope. Your crazy desire to try every new recipe. Amazing stuff really.
But sometimes the floor falls out from under you and you are not prepared enough to handle some of what comes your way.
It’s just the way it is. But, you keep going because that’s what you always do and that’s the only choice that you have.
Once upon a time the colors of the world started to quarrel.
All claimed that they were the best; the most important, the most useful, the favourite.
"Clearly I am the most important. I am the sign of life and of hope. I was chosen for grass, trees and leaves. Without me, all animals would die. Look over the countryside and you will see that I am in the majority.”
"You only think about the earth, but consider the sky and the sea. It is the water that is the basis of life and drawn up by the clouds from the deep sea. The sky gives space and peace and serenity. Without my peace, you would all be nothing.”
"You are all so serious. I bring laughter, gaiety, and warmth into the world. The sun is yellow, the moon is yellow, the stars are yellow. Every time you look at a sunflower, the whole world starts to smile. Without me there would be no fun.”
ORANGE started next to blow her trumpet:
"I am the color of health and strength. I may be scarce, but I am precious for I serve the needs of human life. I carry the most important vitamins. Think of carrots, pumpkins, oranges, mangoes, and papayas. I don’t hang around all the time, but when I fill the sky at sunrise or sunset, my beauty is so striking that no one gives another thought to any of you.”
RED could stand it no longer, he shouted out:
"I am the ruler of all of you. I am blood – life’s blood! I bring fire into the blood. I am willing to fight for a cause. I am the color of danger and of bravery. Without me, the earth would be as empty as the moon. I am the color of passion and of love, the red rose, the poinsettia and the poppy.”
PURPLE rose up to his full height, he was very tall and spoke with great pomp:
"I am the color of royalty and power. Kings, chiefs, and bishops have always chosen me, for I am the sign of authority and wisdom. People do not question me! They listen and obey.”
Finally INDIGO spoke, much more quietly than all the others, but with just as much determination:
"Think of me. I am the color of silence. You hardly notice me, but without me you all become superficial. I represent thought and reflection, twilight and deep water. You need me for balance and contrast and inner peace.”
So the colors went on boasting, each convinced of his or her own superiority. Their quarrelling became louder and louder. Suddenly there was a startling flash of bright lightening. Thunder rolled and boomed. Rain started to pour down relentlessly. The colors crouched down in fear, drawing close to one another for comfort.
In the midst of the clamour, rain began to speak:
"You foolish colors, fighting amongst yourselves, each trying to dominate the rest. Don’t you know that you were each made for a special purpose, unique and different? Join hands with one another and come to me."
Doing as they were told, the colors united and joined hands.
The rain continued:
"From now on, when it rains, each of you will stretch across the sky in a great bow of color as a reminder that you can all live in peace. The Rainbow is a sign of hope for tomorrow."
And so, whenever a good rain washes the world and a Rainbow appears in the sky, let us remember to appreciate one another.
The rain that we had over the last couple of weeks was a signal I’m afraid … it signalled the beginning of the end.
So we put our summer clothes into storage and dig out our scarfs, hats and mittens from the closets.
Someone gave me some advice. They said:
Remember, there is no such thing as bad weather only bad clothes.
I think I need more good winter clothes, like long johns, polar fleece and maybe a one-piece, down-filled snow suit.
But when I ask if you’re ready for winter, I don’t mean mentally. We’re never ready that way, are we?
Why do you do what you do? Is it to impress those around you? Your family? Your friends? Your lover?
Do you do it to make money? To live in a nice house? To buy things that can’t be scratched?
Or do you do it because you love it. Because it lets you finish each day with a smile on your face and a thought in your mind …
"Today I did the best I could do. Not because I had to. Because I wanted to."
Yesterday I went to the grocery store. It’s not like I needed a lot, I just needed to get out. Some days the walls are just as confining as my mind can be.
I drove home, the car stored with things we needed – condensation on the outside of the skin of carrots. Milk in a lightly sweating jug. Bread, still warm and moist, elevating the scent in the car.
As I drove it became more perfectly Autumn than the perfect Autumn moments you think about. A light rain fell. Outside the car fields swirled with evening mist. Trees dropping off their leaves.
I was inside of myself on this Autumn evening, condensating with the milk, steaming with the bread. And I had only one real thought running through my head, one idea I was wondering, and in that way where you debate something hypothetical it spread like a tangent across my mind.
What happens if the extraordinary becomes ordinary?
I picture an angel hurtling to the ground, smashing into the earth and shattering its wing. It fell, just like your expectations did. It was extraordinary and now it walks amongst us like a man, an average man, complete with average man fears and limitations. It can no longer soar. Neither can you.
What if it just turned out to be a smoke screen? If something you thought was so special and so good really isn’t? When does the reality set in? Do you feel stupid, upon realizing the height you held something up to really isn’t very high at all? Do you feel exposed, the cool Autumn air running lengths on the exposed skin of your thighs? Do you feel enervated, as all that energy you had in being so enamoured of something slides away into nothingness?
Does it hit you all at once? You stare out the window and realize that it’s really not extraordinary at all. It is what it is. It’s life. Trying to take something and give it superhuman status is a recipe for letting yourself down and, once let down, you can’t go back again. You swallowed the blue pill. You drank from the “Drink Me” bottle. The Tooth Fairy isn’t real, that’s just a tooth under your pillow. You can’t go back to the fallen vision, no matter how much you want to.
***These were all just thoughts, just things I wondered. It’s not based on anything in specific in my life, just something my mind held on to as I drove through the Autumn evening, the heater on, the radio off, the sound of the rain and the leaves and my thoughts the only company for miles.
I am working something out. Only, I don’t know what it is yet. But it’s something. I just don’t know what it is. I want to say: I’ve lost something. Only I haven’t. I’m sure I haven’t. Yet something is still telling me I’ve lost something.
I did a tally – my wallet is here. I have a packet of gum, a packet of Tylenol, and a granola bar, because handbags live only to serve. My phone is on the table (the battery needs to be charged). My iPod is plugged into my ears.Nothing’s missing. But something is missing. The lights are on, someone’s home. Yet I keep feeling like I’m missing something.
Maybe I lost my sheep and don’t know where to find them.
Maybe I’ve been blindsided.
Maybe I’m not missing an FN thing, just having one of those moments in time.
I know the schools of thought on this: Let them win and it gives them a taste of success and the incentive to keep playing. OR … Let them win and you undermine their self-determination and bolster their sense of entitlement.
I suppose I let all of my children win a lot when they were little. I’d keep the game close, or as close as possible, until the finish. I didn’t really think of it as "letting them win" so much as I assumed it was just putting handicaps on my advantage.
What I’ve shied away from are the celebrations of victory and the disappointed wailings of defeat. I always hated those particular points of competition. Win or lose, we’d just play another game.
So? Do you let them win?
Very Bad Days happen to everyone, I know. I’m the first to hold my hand up and say that my life, it’s a bit of a roller coaster. When the cart is at the top of the hill and the wind is in my hair, there is nothing that I cannot do, nothing that I cannot survive. And when the cart is headed for a trough in the coaster, my hair streaming behind me and my heart in my throat, all I can do is hang on and hope that the slope slows down and that I don’t careen off the tracks.