But after a little bit of channel flicking the other night, I’m feeling a bit bad about the ‘grumpy old’ thing. We happened to come across a BBC4 programme about the Japanese earthquake and tsunami with more footage of what happened than we’ve seen before. If somebody does have reason to feel grumpy, it would be the Japanese at this moment, I guess. Yet here’s the thing about ‘suffering’ – and you see it in all walks and ages of life – those who suffer are so often the brightest of us, the people who don’t take life for granted and who manage, somehow, to smile in the face of adversity. A month ago I wrote about those who care for others, often under the most trying of circumstances. If that’s you, well done! If others are too busy to notice your sacrificial servant-heartedness, tough on them! Well done, you!
But life can be trying can’t it. Like many, my wife and I have that bad habit of eating in front of the TV. The other night I realised I’d left something off my plate in the kitchen and so picked my plate up and went to weave my way through the furniture to get to the kitchen and tripped over something – no, I don’t know what it was. It was a heavy fall and it was made worse by the fact that I was trying not to spill the contents of my plate everywhere and so didn’t have both hands free to protect myself. The good news was that nothing was broken or even sprained, but one of my knees was in serious pain and after half an hour went completely stiff. A good opportunity to be grumpy! But here’s the good news: we live in an age of painkillers and so not only did I have a pain free night, I had one of the best night’s sleep for some time!
Am I sore this morning? Yes! Am I going to be grumpy about it? Not likely! I’m alive, and I haven’t broken anything. The sun is shining and spring is here, the branches are budding and the blossom is blooming, and the birds are building nests, so why spoil all that with a touch of the grumps! If I need any more help, I’ll turn to the laughter page on this site and have a quick chuckle. Alternatively, I might just wander outside and gaze on buds, blossom, birds, bees, butterflies (and anything else beginning with ‘b’) and remind myself how life is good. If I still need convincing, I’ll turn BBC24 news on and watch hardship elsewhere in the world. No, I think I’ll stick with the laughter page and the birds and the ‘b’s outside. Have a good week with plenty of smiles, despite the rubbish that life might dish up. Go for it: one, two, three...smile!
Quotes for pondering:
Affliction is the wholesome soil of virtue, where patience, honour, sweet humility, and calm fortitude, take root and strongly flourish.
When something an affliction happens to you, you either let it defeat you, or you defeat it.
(Jean Jacques Rousseau)
Strength is born in the deep silence of long-suffering hearts; not amid joy.
A person without a sense of humour is like a wagon without springs. It's jolted by every pebble on the road.
(Henry Ward Beecher)
A well-developed sense of humour is the pole that adds balance to your steps as you walk the tightrope of life.
(William Arthur Ward)
Nine months on I have a new knee and am hobbling around on crutches. It is painful but it gets slightly better each day. Considering that I am, in a small measure at least, a thinking person, I have pondered on these things and wonder and marvel at those of you who suffer disability with a regular smile. I have, and have had, friends permanently in wheelchairs and you do staggeringly well! Perhaps the rest of us should have a time in a wheelchair just to see what it is like!
Sometimes people talk about ‘the rich tapestry of life’ but sometimes, for some of us, parts of that tapestry don’t seem ‘rich’ and yet as I look on, I see that many in such positions of disability appear richer in human graces than most of the rest of us. The quotes above, about suffering bringing good in us, could appear trite, but without doubt they are true. What a shame many of us without disability, haven’t learned to have the grace that those with disability so often show. So, yes, let Spring shine in us, new good things emerging in us as we learn from the Winter periods of life.
13. Let Spring Shine (written shortly after the Japanese earthquake and tsunami)
OK, I’ve just been looking back at what I wrote recently and reflecting on things that have happened since then. I was burbling on about being a grumpy old man and the truth is that it’s too easy to sink into that way of thinking.
As I said then, some of us have been dealt some hard knocks by life and we’ve got every reason to feel grumpy. I wish I hadn’t said that; my knees have been playing up ever since and it is difficult not to hobble and feel grumpy about the limitations they put on me. If I have one big regret in life, it is that I never appreciated until recently the wonders of a fit and healthy body. Nobody told me back then, and even if they had I probably wouldn’t have understood it. It’s only when you suffer constant pain do you appreciate the years before when you didn’t have it.