It’s a universal custom. One that needs no explanation. It transcends language. Whatever the location. Whatever the quality of establishment. We simply know what to do.
And yet, there is always a card explaining.
Hang them up and use them again. On the floor and they will be replaced.
The card not only informs us of the required positioning for laundering, but helpfully reminds us of our green credentials by complying. We have done our bit for the planet, we are energy efficient and we can feel good.
You probably knew that though, before I said it. Up to reuse, down to be replaced.
What if emotions were like this too?
When we’ve done with an emotion, we could hang it up to be used again. Emotions tidied away on the rail. Folded neatly and shelved for the next time they are demanded. Hung with care on the hook. Drying, ready to be doused in human interaction once more, as needed.
If we didn’t want them again, or needed replacements, we could discard them on the floor, willy-nilly. Cast them asunder as we go about our business. Drop them where we stand. Pile them up, like a well formed trip hazard. Toss them recklessly, in heaps of soggy emotions of various size and shape.
Oh hang on. We already do.
For the last few days I have been working south of the river in London, returning north of the Thames to catch a train home. The journey is typically about 35 minutes on a bus.
On the return journey in the evening, twice I have been inspired to get off the bus and walk, because the bus has been stationary for some time; gridlocked. I have walked the bus route passing buses. Buses going to my destination. Four yesterday. Walking trumps bus.
My train has been delayed travelling home on one day. Over an hour’s delay. So much so, that I possibly could have ridden a bike home faster.
Now I am on a train and, whilst I have a seat, hundreds are standing. Standing still, to travel tens of miles towards their homes. Standing and yet moving at maybe 90mph.
It seems in our ‘modern’, ‘advanced’ world that much is turning upside down. I wonder what else will do so over the next decade? Not just travel… but what we do, who we care for, what we pay attention to, who we communicate with and how, what we appreciate, what society is, what community is, what rewards us, where we find joy, where we find peace…
Maybe a new set of top trump cards is called for?
The bucket list idea has been around for a few years now, popularised by the film of that name from 2007.
Essentially the notion of a list of the life experiences to have, or life achievements to attain, before you die. Before you ‘kick the bucket’. For example, ‘making this trip ticks one thing off my bucket list’.
You can even download suggested bucket lists – with places you should visit and experiences you should have whilst you still can. Someone else’s idea of what you should do, to live a rich and fulfilled life. Interesting concept.
Often these lists contain far flung places to visit or high octane adrenaline fueled experiences. Many cost a lot of money or take a lot of time. Visit Machu Pichu. Skydive. Swim with dolphins. Run a marathon.
What if we lived for the moment instead? What if we identified the day to day things that bring pleasure, happiness, joy to our lives and just do more of them?
Drink tea with a biscuit to dunk. Sit in the garden. Have a bath. Walk in the woods. Bake brownies. Buy those orange shoes we covet. Listen to a thunderstorm. Hold hands. Laugh.
Too few people notice the little things they enjoy and then set out to do more of them.
It strikes me the bucket list idea has a hole in it. If we’re focused on our death and on large scale, time costly, expensive big events, then life is leaking out of the hole every day.
This being human is a guest house. Every morning is a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness, some momentary awareness comes as an unexpected visitor…
Welcome and entertain them all. Treat each guest honorably.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice, meet them at the door laughing, and invite them in. Be grateful for whoever comes, because each has been sent as a guide from beyond.
Each thought, each feeling that arrives in your awareness, greet it, thank it for its wisdom, its desire to speak to you. Each is a messenger. Each a mentor.
Do not turn them away or shun them. Do not hasten to compost them. Be curious about their story. Enquire of their intent; how they seek to serve you. Each has a purpose, each a meaning. We’re usually just too busy to notice. Too dismissive of this errant thought, this unwelcome sensation in the body, this repeating voice.
They seek to help us grow.
Crying is how your body speaks when your mouth can’t explain the pain you feel
Sometimes when we cry, we seek to hide it. Like it is something to be embarrassed about, or even ashamed of. Yet crying is natural. It is a way in which we speak our truth when words cannot suffice. The soul speaking.
There is no greater feeling than crying with laughter. A joy often experienced with others. With friends and loved ones. An uplifting, energising joy. Feeding the soul.
When we remember someone, let us recall them through tears of joy, caught in the moment. Memories of happiness. Memories that fed the soul. For there they live on, forever.
God bless you Des.
Always with us…
on the hunt for dinosaur bones.
I need to shop for food today. Saturday isn’t a normal shopping day for us – too many people in the aisles. The aimless people.
Anyhow, it occurred to me, what if I could shop for emotions? What would be on my list? What do I want more of and what do I have enough of in the cupboard?
Do I want more joy? More caring? More trust? More serenity? Do I need a little more sadness? A big pot of empathy? Do I need to refill my anger? Maybe I would like to take some lonely back to the shop?
Am I baking a relationship cake and need some extra courage? Some more selfishness, a little daring, some strong, rather than medium, fun? A big box of compassion perhaps, a soupcon of adventurousness and a large tin of hurt? Plus a garnish of warmth?
Maybe I’m about to change role and I need to stock up on thrilled, thoughtful and excited, buy a refill pack of embarrassed, but also purchase some ashamed and not good enough seasoning?
Or maybe I’m being forced to change role and need some hope, a little vindictiveness and a splash of inadequate, to go with the large supply I have at home of feeling used?
What would be on your emotions shopping list?
What if Brussels sprouts were square?
What if turkey meat was blue?
What if parsnips tasted of coconut?
Believable things? Maybe, maybe not. But you can imagine them.
What if next Christmas you were more aware of what you do and why?
What if next Christmas you knew your purpose in life, why you are here?
What if next Christmas you understood more about your unconscious beliefs and motivations; what made some things possible and some things hard for you?
What if knowing these things gave you more choice, more freedom, more joy?
image by t1na (deviantart.com)
I’m not a list person typically. I do like a food shopping list, but seldom make lists for other reasons.
Many of us make lists. I’m sure some of you had a Christmas present list. A list of gifts to buy friends. You may even now be preparing your New Years resolution list? Many of you may make ‘to do’ lists for work, or get given lists of jobs to do, at work or at home. Maybe you make a list of things to pack when you’re a few days away from a holiday? Maybe you list goals or achievements?
So… when did you last write a list of what makes you happy?
Perhaps a list we would all benefit from writing? A list we should perhaps refer to regularly?
In my childhood I vaguely recall a film called ‘The land that time forgot’. Something about dinosaurs still thriving on a long lost island that a submarine, full of people, stumbles upon. The tale largely about their struggle to survive. I doubt it was a classic.
In our own lifetime though, we too forget such strange lands from our distant past. The land where play is everything. Where time has no meaning. Where larger inhabitants set the rules and look after us. Care free. A land where train rides are a wild adventure, long before we come to terms with commuting. A land where owning wellies with heels that light up, having chocolate cake, or getting stickers, is both thrilling and fulfilling. A land where magic prospers and wonder thrives.
For many, a happy time. Exploration and discovery, learning, fun, play, all at the heart of our daily existence. Our aspirations are simple.
Then we become adults. We struggle in this strange new land, working hard to earn money to buy possessions, or to save for a holiday to get us through. We sleep little. We struggle with worry and anxiety. Relationships are hard. Friendships move on line, with electronic photos and status updates a proxy for being together, as we were when we were six. Real living a film story, with plot and dramatic twist and turn. We drink too much to cope. Work too hard to play.
Childhood fun and freedom. A world of play, experimentation, learning.
The land that adults forgot?