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Silver Surfer Articles
49. Lessons in Life
There are times, as someone once said, when I sits and thinks and times when I just sits. Well it was actually one of the former times recently when I found myself pondering on life or, more particularly, my life, what had gone on in it and what I had learnt in it. When you get older you find yourself looking back (as well as wondering how much looking forward you’ve still got!) and it was on one of these occasions that I became aware of various things, so having this space I thought I would share them with you under the title of ‘Lessons in Life’.
You may have other things, maybe far more profound things than these few that I thought about, but here are my offerings of some of the things I find before me here, at this point in my aging life.

1. Be Thankful


When I look back, I think one of my greatest regrets is that I took my health – and life in general – for granted. In my latter years my body isn’t working as effectively as it used to and I have come to realise how good it used to be when on a Saturday morning I could get up, go out into the garden to work from 9am to 9pm with only a short break for lunch. I can still do it – but I need breaks quite frequently, lots of them!

Perhaps it was health that made me start looking at life a little more carefully, and I think a number of these pages reflect this. I’m thankful that I live in this period of history. Yes, there are things wrong but there are also a lot of good things. I’ve been the recipient of amazing modern surgery and I am incredibly grateful to those men and women who work our hospitals. But it’s technology generally. The other day I found myself reading a blog of my daughter who is doing some volunteer work in Maldova,  and then a WhatApp message from one of our daughters-in-law, who is filling in time with two of our grandchildren in New York while she waits for our son to finish his business there. It is suddenly a smaller world and it is technology that has done it. It may be a dodgy world at times, but there is still much to be thankful for.


2. Be honest about your mistakes


I look back at various episodes in my life and cringe. Those were times when I got it wrong. Sometimes I got it completely wrong; at other times I just didn’t cope well with other people and my responses were less than perfect.  But here’s the thing: unless I can be honest with myself I’ll probably go on repeating those mistakes and do it again, and I’ve also  noticed that those times were painful!  Wisdom suggests I’d do better to avoid causing myself and others pain.  

I’ve also learned that pride is too expensive; it justifies my failures and keeps people at arms’ length. Part of this particular package is also learning to say sorry. Two of the hardest words in the language – “I’m sorry” – but without them hostility, feuds, upsets and so on keep on.

I think another spin-off of this one is learning that you can’t always get your own way, or trying to get it has a cost which is not worth paying.

A final thing in this one: guilt is a horrible thing that can stunt the rest of life. If the object of our having got it wrong was another person who was injured (mentally, emotionally or physically) by us, survival instincts say keep quiet, keep your head down and see out the rest of your years in quiet. The only thing is, that they may be quiet but you will lack peace.  Sometimes guilt needs a lot of wisdom to be dealt with appropriately, and sometimes that wisdom comes from another person. I’ve found talking it out with a trustworthy person enables me to face an otherwise difficult course of action that is needed.  


3. Be prepared to change your thinking


Perhaps some of the above fits under this heading, but I have something else in mind here. I’ve lived through a period where first of all my parents brought me up to respect authority. I thought the police were great, and the Royal family were wonderful.  Since that time we’ve been through years when the failures of the police have been exposed again and again and again. Since that time the Royal Family have been through family upsets galore and divorces abounded.  Since that time, every national institution, from respected MP’s, and respected doctors down, have had scandals to numerous to list.

In this time I had realised my knowledge of history has been defective and so I have been remedying that. Reading of the two World Wars is not comfortable stuff.  The crass stupidity of mankind that led to the disaster called World War 1, and then the awfulness of the Second World War with its quadruple casualties that brought out the worst in every combatant leaves no room for human or even national pride – and still some human beings think violence will be the answer, that will bring their freedom.

It is at that point that you really have to take hold of your thinking to counter the tidal wave of cynicism that threatens to engulf you. Facing the foibles and failures of mankind can do that and it is at that point you have to say, I’m going to go looking for the good – and there is plenty of it around, but you may have to go looking for it!


4. Enjoy today


Perhaps this is the antidote to the negatives of life, of which there are plenty. As I’ve written in others of these articles, enjoy the big things (a visit to the Rockies of Canada), and the little things (a grandchild singing at a school concert.)  Enjoy people, look for the best in them, seek to bring it out of them, enjoy them. Yes, there are nasty people around, and some may be related to you, but there are plenty of others who aren’t, so enjoy them. Relationships go to make up a bit part of life. We may have been hurt by them in the past, but that shouldn’t stop us building new ones today.

Take up a new hobby, make the most of your health and your wealth while you can, become someone who is good to be around.

One final thing, never say it is too late. There are some who have given their lives to their career and so family have suffered. It’s not too late to rebuild as long as you still have breath.

I was talking to a man the other day who, in his job, encounters professionals – doctors, surgeons, accountants, architects and so on. He commented, “These are all people who are well off and have everything they could want, but so many of them are unhappy.” Wealth and affluence often don’t bring the happiness we long for. Many people in our age bracket are just filling in the days and tolerate life. How sad if that is so. The wisdom of the years says giving yourself for others, in some intangible inexplicable way, does bring a sense of satisfaction and a sense of fulfilment and meaning that is often otherwise missing.


Well, as I said, you may have your own list of things you’ve learnt along the way. If you feel you could share them, we’d always be glad to hear from you here on Rochford Life.


And on the lighter side:


The best things in life make you sweaty.

Edgar Allan Poe


You will never be happy if you continue to search for what happiness consists of. You will never live if you are looking for the meaning of life.

Albert Camus


Life is problems. Living is solving problems.

Author Raymond E. Feist 


Love is our true destiny. We do not find the meaning of life by ourselves alone – we find it with another.

Thomas Merton


To be what we are, and to become what we are capable of becoming, is the only end of life.  

Robert Louis Stevenson


You can hope for a miracle in your life, or you can realize that your life is the miracle.  

Robert Brault


There is more to life than increasing its speed.

Mahatma Gandhi


Life is a great big canvas, and you should throw all the paint on it you can.  

Danny Kaye


Life is a fairy tale. Live it with wonder and amazement.

Welwyn Wilton Katz


The sole meaning of life is to serve humanity.

Leo Tolstoy