Wednesday, 5 July 2017

How to Stop A River of Tears

In my 20s I was hopeful, in my 30s accommodating, in my 40s philosophical, in my 50s too wise for my own good but never too old to change. There is an old joke about what has three legs at dusk. Answer: an old man requiring a stick to walk with. In the process of aging it is not just the physical body that needs a crutch. We are now getting used to waking up to bad news- terrorist attacks, mosque attacks, deadly fires. Rather than becoming inured to bad things the opposite is happening: bad news makes us less reliant on the metaphorical crutch, somehow more resilient and yes, more emotional- suddenly we realise that we had better make the most of life on our terms as there is a very real possibility it could be curtains sooner rather than later.

When my father died I realised I was living half a life and needed to change it. The sight of my father lying in a coffin was a seminal moment. Whatever crutch I was relying on was suddenly whipped away and I felt myself instantly determined to change the way things were. The same must surely apply to the terrible news that greets us almost daily. The first question we must ask ourselves is what can we do? The answer is painfully simple. I'll explain why.

As I walked the hounds this morning, I reflected as I always do particularly on my mother with whom I had a most awful relationship. It suddenly dawned on me that my late mother's unkindness and the fact that she never said anything good about anyone was because she couldn't stop herself. In other words, when we do bad things and say bad things, we have to keep doing them. Bad engenders bad. Just like the evil we are faced with in the world today. As simplistic as it may sound, the solution starts with us.

Just for one moment, perhaps less than thirty seconds of your time is all it will take to change the world. Here's what you can do in thirty seconds: reflect on the last unkind/bad thing you said or did. Next, resolve to change your behaviour and do and say only good things from now on. I am certainly guilty of the opposite on occasion- just this morning I was cursing the truck driver who swerved ahead of me in the fast lane in order to overtake another truck. I think I used every expletive in the dictionary. But my behaviour was more about my state of mind and the anxiety which sometimes overwhelms me. In that respect I am like everyone else but my expletive-laden rant didn't actually change the situation.

How we cope in adversity takes courage. Courage to recognise our weaknesses and to realise we need to change the way things are, including the way we react. We can alter our behaviour but we can't stop bad things from happening. Doing good and saying good is the boomerang which will come back to greatly enrich your life.

Photo copyright SvD.

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