Archives for category: Life

On the left of the city street stands a modest house behind a chain mesh fence.
It could do with a little attention. There is no garden to speak of and the grass peeps through the rough ground in small clumps.

A shirtless boy of nine or ten tears around the yard kicking a pink balloon. Perhaps he is preparing to be a great footballer? He is completely engrossed and quite oblivious to the boy on the other side of the street.

On the right side of the street a large, double storied building dominates its surroundings. A grove of tall, leafy trees populates a well maintained English garden.

A boy of nine or ten heads out of the driveway dressed in substantial and colourful protective cycling gear. His father rides alongside him, equally attired. The boy looks up at his Dad with pride. He is unaware of the boy on the other side of the street…

Contrast!

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On the way home, after a short respite from the pre-Easter rush, I found myself driving behind a truck piled high with hundreds of small plastic crates. It took some time for me to realize that each crate was stuffed full of white chickens. They were hardly moving, not that they had much space to manoeuvre! I was suddenly ambushed by tears welling in my eyes.

I assumed that they were on the way to the slaughter-house. Good God, I thought, what a terrible life! Now you may say “what a softie, people are being treated appallingly every day and this chap is upset by the sight of chickens in crates!” You would be quite right, life is full of horrific cruelty being carelessly metered out every hour.

You see that’s actually what got me going! I thought here I am speeding home after a lovely little break and the world is spinning out of control while I think! Having left my childhood faith behind a long time ago, I wondered if there is really any hope for the world? Is there a little light flickering somewhere or is it all just a macabre play closing in on the last act?

Did we simply evolve from an amoeba or a cloud of gas in the great nothingness out there? And if so, are we rapidly nearing the end of our viable span? We do not seem to learn anything from past experience. Governments and rulers still play fast and lose with their citizens lives. Religious fanatics still behead innocent men, women and children. I mean what the f…!

I eventually overtook the truck and began focusing on the road ahead. The road ahead…to where? Is this complex life that has evolved over a few thousand years all there is? Hello!! Is there something out there, some reason for all of this joy, excitement, pain and suffering? Science is amazing, it has revealed so much about the universe but as far as I know it has not produced a reason to live. It produces cold logic but nothing really heart warming. No glimmer of hope, no encouraging word, no straw to cling to. No…I’m just saying…

I wonder if you, like me, draw up a chair at a pavement café and sit aloof and watch the world go by?

A frail old man, in his nineties they say, reads a book on his electronic reader. His has very thin, wispy hair, gray stubble on gray skin and wears an old fisherman’s waistcoat. I make the mistake of paying for his coffee once too often, he makes enquiries and I stop the practice. I want to remain unknown.

A young mother looks frantically for a vacant table, a baby on her hip and a toddler in a pushchair. She collapses onto a chair and immediately the baby starts crying. The toddler shouts at the waitress and I avert my gaze. I am never in the mood for noise, particularly the very harsh noise made by little children.

A businessman rushes along, grabs a chair, whips out his laptop and hammers away at the keyboard. Intense concentration marks his face and his Americano rapidly gets cold. Then he begins to nod and smile. I try to guess what’s going on, maybe a humourous email or a picture of his young daughter being dropped at school for the fist time.

An obese middle-aged couple squeeze behind an end table and I wonder how on earth passers-by will cope with this considerable obstacle! As can be expected, they order huge plates of food and quaff copious amounts of beer. I am sorely tempted to slip over and suggest that they really don’t need to frequent places like this…and besides they are blocking my view of a vision in red, freshly alighted from a taxi and heading my way!

These everyday scenes, generally thought of as too ordinary for comment, compose the very fabric of human life.

He’s a stubborn old chap, well a time will come when stubborn doesn’t work anymore
She’s a control freak, controlling ways will have to stop at some point
There are many different ways of dealing with life, most work for a time but none work for ever
We have to give up the old ways and embrace the new
If we don’t, others will take over and we will have no say at all
So stop being an old fart, a young speed freak, a workaholic or whatever
And wise up to better ways of living and enjoy life to the full
Better by far to start adapting to change sooner than later
It will be less of a shock!

Sometimes a certain person crosses your path unexpectedly or a certain event occurs unannounced and you begin to wonder…this can be dangerous or simply unwise. Imputing experiences with all kinds of meaning can result in some strange “explanations”.

Some of us have become rather tired of religious people claiming relentlessly that God is behind everything that happens to them. They will go further and find divine reasons for almost everything that happens in their community or in the world for that matter.

We may rightly mutter to ourselves, surely they understand that there is such a thing as chance, or random effect, or serendipity, or a simple coming together of events. Much of the time events cannot and should not be connected. Stuff happens and often in a very arbitrary manner. Everything is not connected by someone up there pulling the strings.

Hopefully most people reading this blog will be nodding in agreement…until now! Sometimes, probably not often, things intersect in an uncanny way and it leaves some of us very puzzled. Once again, we are aware that we love to impute events with special meaning, so we need to tread carefully! We find meaning in a particular experience and our heart beats a little faster.

But obviously that does not imply that there is some other worldly significance! In fact, it matters not one jot if there is something weird behind the event. The important thing is that the event or experience is significant to us.
Having said all of the above, from time to time there is this very strange feeling that a particular incident is not random, or chance but has some special significance. Well, of course, this can simply be a figment of the imagination but it is quite nice to occasionally feel the rush that comes from experiencing a totally unforeseen event! Enjoy them when they come!

I touch the old man dying in his bed
I cry

I see the dog on the street long dead
I cry

I hear the squeal of a pig being slaughtered in the shed
I cry

I smell the burning of a village wreathed in red
I cry

I taste blood and think of the thorn stuck in his head
I cry

I count the street people standing in line waiting to be fed
I cry

You say I am morbid, seeing darkness instead of light
I say, I cannot enjoy the light until I have met the darkness

Joe: Another funeral! At our age it gets quite depressing…
Don: It does, and listening to all these silly tributes…
Joe: Sometimes the minister can’t even get the families names right!
Don: Darn embarrassing I say!
Joe: How many have you attended this year?
Don: I have lost count…maybe half a dozen?
Joe: Let’s hope this is the last one for a while…
Don: Absolutely!
Joe: By the way, what’s this dead chap’s name again?
Don: You mean you don’t know? Why It’s your funeral Joe…!!!

When the triangle is removed and the neatly arranged balls are scattered by the opening blow of the cue, well, it’s a bit like life! Everything is going smoothly, you have a sense of being in control and then all hell breaks loose when the pool cue of life breaks up the order with one mighty thrust.

Coloured balls roll rapidly across the table and settle in unforeseen and random positions. One little bugger may even roll straight into a handy pocket. The game has started and you are forced to deal with the chaos on the table.
You cannot ignore the balls, you have chosen to play the game…you have chosen life!

You take aim at a ball that hovers temptingly close to a pocket. It is the obvious way forward, first choose the life issue that appears to have the best chance of being resolved. Give it your full attention, ignore for the time being the other balls on the table.

When a crisis strikes it raises many issues not directly related to the crisis. Don’t try to connect the dots, that can be futile, even dangerous. Deal with one issue at a time, you cannot multitask in this game. Give it your full attention. Make space for the unknown, the unplanned…for random.

Approach each issue with an open mind, separate thoughts from feelings. Forget about expectations, assumptions and judgments. Try not to worry about the will of God. Trust yourself completely. Don’t take yourself too seriously.
Play the game well!

Woooop…wooo…silence…
Soothing, stirring, chilling
The Eagle Owl crouched on my roof
Utters his conspirational call to the dawn

I lie transported by the unearthly sound
No other calls dare to compete
He is king of all his eyes and ears detect
He is lord of the dawn

His watch is not yet over
Woooop…woo…silence…
The pure, soft velvet call to live another day
Allows me to sleep no more

O god of death why are you so reviled
Why do we see you as the one defiled
When you should be our one true friend
Your silent presence to all extends

You should be our unseen guide
Drawing us gently, from time to time, aside
Whispering words of wisdom in our ears
So that we may better enjoy the years