– C. JoyBell C.
Image source Piccsy
Conventional is a good fallback position isn’t it? Well, I’d sure like to think so sometimes. For me conventional is equated to familiarity, stability, assurance, normality and all those other wonderfully safe sounding words. There have been many times in my adult life that I’ve been tempted to convert to a more conventional lifestyle. After all isn’t everyone’s aim to be ‘normal?’
But, people are often ostracised for going against the ‘norm’, for being different, or not living conventional lifestyles. It’s not always easy doing things differently and not conforming to societal standards and sometimes the alternative seems far easier, even I’ll admit that. But, I think individualism is one of the most significant aspects of the human species. If it weren’t for individualism, we would never have had an Einstein or a Martin Luther King Jr, or a Andy Warhol or a Michael Jackson, or the Hippie Movement for that matter.
So maybe conventional lies in the unconventional. Perhaps crazy equates to normal and conformity is also radical. After all if we’re all trying so hard to be different all the time, who’s to say that they weren’t right when the said: ‘the more we change, the more we stay the same’?
Images from Piccsy.com
We all have those moments in life, moments when the world slows down for a few split seconds and you experience something completely life changing and it makes you look at the world from a new point of view, with such clarity that you never experienced before.
I’m sure that in a lifetime any one person could have a million moments just like that. Moments that make you pause and take stock of life. Moments that you treasure and carry with you for your entire life, regardless of how joyful or painful those moments are. They’re those defining moments in life that we keep wrapped up inside us all our lives because they changed us forever.
For me, those defining moments have been both bitter and sweet. They have taught me important life lessons, allowed me to grieve, shown me how cruel life can be, but also the absolute bewonderment of being alive. Falling in love, taking big risks, hurting a really close friend and being hurt in return, near death experiences, the death of a loved one, a letter from an old friend, a chance meeting with a stranger, the birth of a nephew, an unexpected gift, the realisation that you cannot control life no matter how hard you try, these are just a few of my defining moments.
Sometimes it’s the littlest things that define these moments, like a stranger greeting you on the train. I used to take the same train into work every morning for a year and every morning for a year, the same middle aged man would take the same train as me, each morning sitting only a few seats away from me. Every morning for a year I would politely greet him as we waited for the train and every morning he would ‘politely’ ignore me.
After about 6 months I’d just about given up and began to think that perhaps the man just didn’t like me (although he didn’t know me), as he would greet everyone else in the morning, except for me. So after about six months I just decided to stop. Stop greeting, stop expecting anything and just get on with it. It was so odd, because after six months of greeting him with no response and a week of not greeting him, it just felt weird.
A week later while, waiting for the train, I saw the man out of the corner of my eye, but just continued to stare blankly at the empty train tracks. When the train arrived, I got on and sat on my usual spot, the man got on shortly after me and while making his way to his ‘usual seat’ in the back of the train, he briefly paused, turned around and said good morning. For me, it was a lesson in patience and human nature. Patience because if you really want something badly enough, sometimes you have to be willing to wait for it and human nature because as I learnt from Randy Pausch, if you wait long enough, people will surprise and impress you.
Well, in the literal sense, I’d say that’s rather accurate. My best friend lives not too far away from me and often when she and her family go away for a few days they ask me to look in on their house and feed their animals. A few weeks ago was just such an occasion, my Bestie and her family had gone away for the weekend and I’d gone to check in on their ‘farm’ (backyard), which contains four geese and two rabbits.
I was trying to think of something inspirational or at least something bright and sun-shiny to blog about this week, but my bucket of inspiration seemed to be well and truly depleted and as much as I would’ve loved to write something really moving and inspiring right now, all I can do is tell it like it is.
So for the past couple of weeks I’ve been surrounded with the worst possible karma. I’d say I’m generally quite an optimistic person but for the past month or so I’ve been stuck in a bit of a rut that I just can’t seem to get out of and every time I manage to get the ball rolling again, something really crappy happens.
I guess the easiest thing for anyone to do after a tremendous amount of pressure, over a prolonged period of time, would just be to give up and sulk and I’ve gotta admit that this option has seamed very appealing for this past month or so. Okay, so there has been a bit of sulking and a few tears and some very good red wine.
But despite all this , I keep reminding myself not to drop ‘the ball’. Yes, life can be super shitty sometimes, but I still believe in the advice that I often dish out to my friends, which is that you’ve got to make it through the really shitty bits in order to truly appreciate the really brilliant bits.
So I hope that my optimism, although it’s been severely tested lately, will be of some encouragement to those of you who’ve been experiencing some bad karma lately. However, if that doesn’t work, I say turn on some Van Morrison and stuff your face with some fabulous Woolies cupcakes or try the list below 😉
Brick by broken brick, she tried to build a home again, to house her fragile heart.
She’d built it many times before, but each time the walls would crumble under the pressure of broken promises and empty lies, leaving behind nothing but broken bricks in it’s wake.
At first her walls had been strong and sturdy, weatherproofed to conquer any storm and virtually impenetrable.
But, over time, the cracks began to show.
Damp would make it’s way up her walls in the dead of night and leaks would appear out of the blue.
Before long her foundations were shaky and her walls began to crumble under the weight of her heavy heart.
So she’d start again, promising herself that this time she’d be stronger, this time her walls would be tall and strong and no man would be able to break them down.
After all, she thought, I deserve more than damp walls, forced abortions and playing second fiddle to another man’s wife.
But again, the walls began to crumble and the leaks began to spring.
She thought she’d been stronger this time, thought she’d been wise, but somehow everything had changed so suddenly.
She’d been so happy at first, but now all she was left with was heartache, tears and a few broken bones.
It took every ounce of strength she had to build those walls again.
She worked tirelessly, brick by broken brick. Each one a reminder of every broken bone, every scar, every forced abortion, every heartache and every careless tear.
She worked until her fingers bled and her heart ached.
Until finally, she had rebuilt what was broken and her heart began to heal again.
This time, this time she promised, would be different.
In September 2007, Professor Randy Pausch gave a lecture on ‘Achieving your childhood dreams’. He was one of many Academics who had been invited to give a ‘Last Lecture’, the aim of which was to teach the most important life lessons they had learnt if they had only one lecture left to give. In Randy’s case it was significant that he was giving his ‘Last Lecture’ at the time, since he had been diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer earlier that year and had only been given three to six months to live, so in essence, it really was his Last Lecture.
I watched a recording of his lecture today and deduced three things from it:
#2. He’s a pretty ordinary guy
#3. He lived!
His lecture focused on three aspects: his childhood dreams; figuring out the dreams of others and some lessons learnt. Throughout his lecture he referred to something called a ‘head fake’, which is something you learn indirectly by experiences and observations, etc. One thing I observed while watching his lecture was that most of what he learnt he learnt through his interaction with people. People such as his mentors, his bosses, his friends, family and colleagues. So what did he learn?
-From his Mentor (Andy Van Dam): ‘Sell something worthwhile, like education.’
Andy told him that he was a good salesman and that people would use him for his salesman skills, so if he was going to sell something, why not may it something that actually means something?
-From his Bosses: ‘Respect authority while questioning it’
Randy says that there’s always a reason why your superiors are ‘superior’ to you, because they’ve worked hard to earn it. However, one must always question your authority while respecting it, because you cannot just accept without asking why.
-From his Friends and Family: ‘Loyalty is a two-way street,’ ‘Treat everyone like an influencer & make every influence count’ and ‘You get people to help you by being honest’
People respond to people who are honest. It’s not about how much you know or who you are, but how you treat others that matters.
-From his Colleagues: ‘If you wait long enough people will surprise and impress you, you just have to have patient’ (John Snoddy)
John taught Andy that every person has a good side, you just have to wait long enough to see it, it may take months and in some cases years, but the good will prevail.
At the end of his lecture he said that the head fake of his lecture was that: ‘it’s not about how to achieve your dreams, but how to lead your life’. His second head fake was that the lecture was not designed for the audience present, but for his children. It was his legacy to them and what he was leaving behind for them.
Randy was by no means a spectacular person, he was simply an ordinary individual but the way he lived his life made him remarkable and the legacy he left behind is something to be admired. Once he graduated, his Mom would introduce him to friends and acquaintances by saying: ‘this is my son, he’s a doctor, but not the kind who helps people.’ He may not have been able to save himself or others from life threatening diseases, but I believe he saved many by his words and more importantly his actions.
I miss your smell and how it always lingers on my clothes.
I miss you holding my hand when I walk into a room and making me feel ten feet tall.
I miss your silly jokes and how they always cheer me up.
I miss laying my head on your chest without a care in the world.
I miss your messy hair and how it never seems to stay in place no matter how hard you try and make it.
I miss your laugh and your childish sense of humour.
I miss your big bear hugs and how safe they make me feel.
I miss just hanging out with you and how you just being there makes the dreariest day seem like a ray of bloody sunshine.
I miss you and me.
I miss us together in the same place, at the same time, on the same continent, in the same city.
I miss just being near you.
And although I know this distance wont last forever, I still miss you all the time.
Sometimes I feel as if I could almost reach out and touch you, but you’re not quite near enough. Almost, but not quite.
Image source: Google Images