the mystery of trust

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Recent media frenzy about well known people and their financial affairs seems to carry with it a cloak of significance way beyond a few thousand pounds of tax liability.  This isn’t really about David Cameron’s tax return or Gianni Infantino’s true knowledge, this is about a deeper, more intangible thing.  A thing which carries great weight, even though we can’t see it, hear it or touch it … trust.

Trust in our institutions has been declining.  The Edelman Trust Barometer evidences this. Trust in government, organisations, leaders has in some cases recovered recently after years of decline.  Buy, as the Dutch say…

Trust arrives on foot but leaves on horseback

Hard to win, easy to lose.

Yet in much of our lives we show huge trust. We happily buy on the internet from organisations we know little about, who often have no physical presence. Sometimes we make those choices based on ratings from other consumers, who we’ve never met, will never know, without awareness for their context… yet we trust their reviews. We book rooms on AirBNB. Rooms in people’s houses. Happy to stay with a complete stranger often on the basis of a few positive comments from previous guests. All on the face of it, significant leaps of faith and dripping in this thing called trust.

In some contexts it’s so important. We like to be trusted and to show trust. Sometimes trust is so easy to gain, yet often easy to lose, and hard to re-gain.

We seek it like an elixir.
We value and covet it like gold.
It unlocks so much, like a magic key.
And we can feel so incensed, so emotive, when we feel trust has been betrayed or lost.

Strange that something so hard to define, so intangible, is so real?

drawing life’s curtains

Have you ever noticed that dusk brings a particular behaviour for a short period?

During the day, we exist in our offices or our houses, with curtains wide open, blinds pulled up, shutters flung back. The light inside and outside in balance somehow, we seem open to the notion that people might look in, might see us. And that’s ok. There’s a form of equilibrium. Equality of visibility in this balanced light.

Then dusk arrives. We turn on lights inside our homes and offices. But we leave curtains and blinds wide open. The result is the light is stronger inside than outside and people can see in. See us more clearly. We are silhouetted in the artificial lights. More visible. More exposed. So people look, sometimes stare.

Then we draw the curtains, drop the blinds, turn the light off maybe. In essence we hide. Perhaps too exposed now, we retreat, away from prying eyes. And so it stays, until dawn, when we throw open the window ‘shields’ and allow natural light to flood in, safe in the knowledge that we can be seen again, but not clearly seen, not highlighted, not in the spotlight.

And so the pattern repeats.

Maybe it’s like that in life?

Happy to be seen when we blend in, when the light of others equates to our own light? Maybe though when we are in the spotlight, highlighted, more visible, we seek to hide? We set out to draw a veil over ourselves, to become more private, more introverted? We quite literally pull down the shutters.

Instead.
Shine your light.
Hold lightly the sight of others in the soft light.

 

where have you left traces of yourself?

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As you move through the world you will have touched people. Some you will know. Family. Friends. Colleagues. Loved ones.

These people will recall you. They will feel connected. Your life and theirs inextricably linked through a bond. Maybe the bond is tangible, physical. Maybe it is emotional. Maybe it is transparent, maybe it is just there in the system, felt in the ether.

Others you have touched, you may not even realise it to be so.

In the midst of your own hectic, muddled life, you may have inadvertently dropped little traces of you on your journey. Like a dusting of you, cascading in your wake. Equally you may have deliberately acted, not seeking gain, not cognisant perhaps of the lasting impact or significant consequences that result for that person, or those close to them. You may have done this through…

An impromptu smile
A comforting word
A timely glance
A small act of kindness
Listening when someone needed to be heard
Witnessing someone’s truth
A small but critical thank you
A heartfelt hug
A positive thought

With fairy-like footprints, we invisibly stand in people’s lives, often unaware of those we have touched.

But they remember. They know. They thank you.

 

taking for granted what we take for granted

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When I was a teenager, telephone boxes were how you communicated when outside the home. They were on every street corner. Red, glass and steel boxes that served as communication portals to friends, family, emergency services and, most importantly, they served to secure you a lift back home after a night out. Now of course they are almost non existent. Back then, I took them for granted. I couldn’t conceive of the telephone box being in my pocket.

All of us take things for granted.

Things that just are. Things we have known to be so, for so long, we simply don’t question them.

And the challenge  with noticing the things we take for granted is… well, we take them for granted.

In a sense they become invisible to us.

Looking back in time can provide clues as to things we once all took for granted. One hundred years ago, 25% of us would have been servants. Many would have taken that for granted. Telling the time required a pocket watch, subsequently a wrist watch. We carried the time with us. That was just how it was. Now, the time is everywhere in our digital world, and fewer kids wear watches. Fires were how we kept warm, now we have central heating, under floor heating.

Just 15 years ago, access to the Internet would only have been possible in certain locations with specific equipment. Now we take for granted we can access it anywhere anytime, on many devices. And when we can’t, we become frustrated. We almost take it for granted now. Soon we will.

Just living day to day, many of us take things for granted. Having a roof over our heads. Food to eat. Sleeping. Clothes. Cars. Roads. Water. Toilets. Power. The sun coming up. Language. Medicines. Microwaves. Refrigerators. Government. Peace.

Of course, taking some of these things for granted is fine, for the most part.

The question is, what do you currently take for granted that closes your mind to possibility?

What can you not see, because something you take for granted, just is? It’s there obstructing your ability to see things differently.

Don’t take for granted what you take for granted.

 

do you know the man in the bowler hat?

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I am the unnoticed, the unnoticeable man;
The man who sat on your right in the morning train
The man who looked through like a windowpane
The man who was the colour of the carriage, the colour of the mounting
morning pipe smoke.

I am the man too busy with a living to live
Too hurried and worried to see and smell and touch
The man who is patient too long and obeys too much
And wishes too softly and seldom.
I am the man they call the nation’s backbone,
Who am boneless – playable catgut, pliable clay
The Man they label Little, lest one day
I dare to grow.

I am the rails on which the moment passes,
The megaphone for many words and voices
I am the graph diagram,
Composite face.

I am the led, the easily-fed,
The tool, the not-quite-fool,
The would-be-safe-and-sound,
The uncomplaining, bound,
The dust fine-ground,
Stone-for-a-statue, wave worn pebble-round

A.S.J. Tessimond