Make a point of visiting us weekly!        Tell a friend about us. Silver Surfer Articles Return to “Silver Surfers”  CONTENTS PAGE Page EIGHTYTWO

So here we are rushing towards the end of the year at a horrendous pace and these things have caused me to pause and wonder, is this a reflective process that everyone does or are we in the older age bracket prone to do it more often. So I asked this group of more elderly people and got a strangely limited response. It was clear that the more agile minds could come up with instant examples of good memories. One person, in answer to the question, “What good memories of the last year have you?” instantly replied, “None,” which could indicate that it was either a bad year or simply they had a very bad memory – or both!  So perhaps looking back on the past year can be risky, either revealing we have a shocking memory or that it was a bad year which we would rather not remember. If you are in the latter category, then I apologize for stirring unpleasant thoughts and perhaps you would prefer to stop reading here.

The truth is that as we approach the end of this year, we find ourselves yet again despairing over the terrible goings on in Parliament over Brexit, so when I asked this same group what they would hope for in the next year, various answered in differing ways, “The end of all the wrangling about Brexit.” (One might also add, ‘the constant wranglings in the White House’.) So try and wipe out these various upheavals of this past year and wonder was there anything good about the last twelve months? What sort of year was it? I suspect the answer will vary from person to person but may I encourage you to look back and reflect on as many good things as possible of this past year, big things and little things. It’s a healthy exercise.

Perhaps like many in our privileged society – privileged in that people a hundred years ago had a very limited life by comparison to ours today – holidays or times abroad (which may be one and the same thing) feature widely in those letters that accompany Christmas cards from distance friends and family at this time of the year. But, as I look back on the year, yes, those things do feature for which I am grateful, but I find it is the small things of life that have really impacted me in the past months.

The biggest smaller impact has been people. I wrote on an earlier page here how we encountered people at a funeral who we hadn’t seen for half a century, but that wasn’t the end of the ‘picking up on past people’ aspect of our lives as a couple this year. Again it has been one of those times when threads just seem to come together and we found ourselves face to face catching up with other people we haven’t seen for decades. Sharing experiences since we last met has been both interesting and challenging. What has happened to us, how have we changed, what are we now doing that we weren’t twenty years ago.  That clip from Facebook really kicked in: “Sometimes looking back helps us remember what matters most.”  We realised afresh that friendships rate highly in our lives and we are poorer when we are parted. If it wasn’t face to face here in the UK, it was face to face on Skype – what a boon that is when friends or family are thousands of miles away!  

A memory has come back of when I was travelling – probably twenty years ago, before Skype, before e-mails and before mobile phones and texting (yes, there was life then!), so when I left my wife back at home and flew to Hong Kong to do some teaching, it was a totally different experience from today when the communications links are still wide open. The memory that came back was of having a sleepless night in a flat in a tower block in Hong Kong and as I lay face-down in bed, desperately trying to get back to sleep, I had an amazing sense of looking down through thousands of miles of rock that constituted the earth that separated me and my wife, and I have never ever felt so far away from her as then. What a different world today where can face to face across the world to friends. Without a doubt, things like Facebook have made it a smaller world and so part of the joy of this past year has been watching the changes various of our friends have been announcing across the Internet from across the world. America, we love you.

But then there have been the little things. This is not sentimentality but the appreciation of the small things in life. The first few months of this past year were cold and many a morning only reached about three degrees, but then Spring kicked in and everything changed. It had also been wet and so this green and pleasant land appeared even more green. As Spring demonstrated life again, Summer came on and shocked us with heat. This meant a summer in the garden and it was here new friendships sprang up. I speak of a robin and a blackbird. I have watched wildlife in our garden more this year than ever before, and a blackbird and a robin decided to take me under their wings! Yes, I understand that they saw my activity as a prime source of food when I turned over the soil or whatever else it was that caused worms, grubs etc. to be revealed, but nevertheless……  

At different times these two birds followed the same pattern. They would come and watch me. I would step back and sit down and they would drop down and scuff around finding food where I had been working. They came to realise I was not the big threat they had once thought and so more than once I had to go into statue mode to make sure I didn’t step on them as they hopped round by my feet.   Now here’s something I had not realised before: their behaviour changes when they have nested and there are chicks in the nest. At that time they take on a protective stance so they keep watch on me but now keep their distance, no longer any of this under-foot stuff. Months later we are back to the nosey-parker behaviour. I am working on the compost heap and look up and there a foot or so from my face the robin is eagerly waiting. We talk together and when I move off, he moves in. It’s been a delightful friendship this year, which my wife has envied when I go back in with yet further tales of life among the wildlife. The two squirrels who frightened the life out of themselves when they frolicked over the fence and nearly landed on me, also added laughter to life in the greenery.

But one thing I learned from this group I referred to earlier, is that you really do need to stop and pause and make an effort to remember. Perhaps it is that we are so busy getting ready for Christmas that our minds are too full of buying presents, sending greetings cards, getting in food and drink, not to mention the numerous get-togethers that some of us get dragged into as the prevailing mood insists on a celebratory binge before the big day. I did wonder if waiting until after Christmas would be a better time to pause and reflect back, but I suspect that our minds will be too befuddled by what we have made of this season to be clear-headed enough to reflect back on the year by then.

So before it is too late, can I recommend this practice of putting everything else aside, sitting down and writing a list of the things that come to mind of which you can say, “Yes, that helped make it a good year.” And you’ve just heard my antidote for getting over a Brexit hangover. So, I hope it was a good year – or at least you can find some things for which to be grateful, and if there weren’t that many of them, then the New Resolution has got to be, “Looking for the good in the small things of life, whether in people or in the world around us.”  There used to be one of those quippy Latin things that ended “nil carborundum” which politely meant, “Don’t let the blighters grind you down!”  Let’s not let the goings on of politicians, whichever side of the pond, get us down. Let’s stir the little grey memory cells and rejoice in the good we’ve experienced in this two thousand and eighteenth year of our Lord. And as always a few light (or not so light, but hopefully meaningful) quips and quotes with thanks to those who provide these sorts of things on the Internet.

“He was still too young to know that the heart's memory eliminates the bad and magnifies the good, and that thanks to this artifice we manage to endure the burden of the past.”

― Gabriel García Márquez

“There are moments when I wish I could roll back the clock and take all the sadness away, but I have the feeling that if I did, the joy would be gone as well.” 

― Nicholas Sparks,

It's great to reminisce about good memories of my past. It was enjoyable when it was today. So learning to enjoy today has two benefits: it gives me happiness right now, and it becomes a good memory later.

- George Foreman

Memory is the treasure house of the mind wherein the monuments thereof are kept and preserved.

 - Thomas Fuller

Nothing is more responsible for the good old days than a bad memory.

- Franklin Pierce Adams

Return to top of page