Life is for those who show up

How can you experience life unless you participate in all the avenues available. What’s the use in holding a piece of chocolate and never tasting it? What’s the use of receiving a gift and never unwrapping it? I always think, “What a shame!”

This question plagued me whenever I went to a party or a new event where there was a room full of new faces. Why would I not want to go home knowing more about at least one person in that room? Why then do some people go to parties and events and never interact with anyone new? I have not yet found the answer. People love talking and they love talking about themselves when you ask them the right questions. I could learn about the big wide world by opening a book or in these modern times opening Google or better still You Tube but how very passive. Interacting with another human pair of eyes is so much more engaging and you the listener dictate how interesting that conversation is going to get by asking the right questions and displaying the right kind of interest on your face. Don’t blame the speaker for being boring because this interaction is a 50-50 love affair. You have to do your part so if you find the speaker boring, what must the speaker be thinking of you?

Have you noticed different situations where two people are so engaged and animated in their conversational circle. There is a twinkle in their eyes, smiles on their faces and the body language is locked into each other. Then when they’ve had enough of each other you try to emulate the same with one of the espied and you just don’t seem to get the same connection. Why? Why is it at that moment, between the two of you there is zilch. Nothing but an awkward shuffle and mumble. Then perhaps an hour later you meet up with the same person and this time you click. You find some common ground. Your eyes twinkle and you leave with a smile on your lips. Amazing! But that experience,.. that joy doesn’t happen if you stand in the corner and don’t put the chocolate in your mouth, and unwrap the gift.

Life happens to those who show up.







The Shortcut

Wagging his finger at me and looking me straight in the eye, my father said, “My girl, there are no shortcuts in life”. That was more than 40 years ago yet I still remember his words as clearly as if he had spoken them yesterday.

It all started at the age of seven. I was brought up in a home where routine was king of the castle. Ringggg, the alarm clock goes off at 6.30am. Mum gets out of bed and does what mums need to do in the morning. Who knows what mums do first thing in the morning. Then she opens the door to our bedroom and switches on the light at 6:45am. Can you imagine a more cruel way to deal with your kids first thing in the morning? I snuggle even tighter into the bedsheets and block my ears because I couldn’t bear to hear those dreaded words “time for school, up, up, up”. Could you imagine doing that nowadays? You’d have to answer to social services and the courts for child abuse and for failing to uphold their human rights. Anyway, like zombies we file one by one into the bathroom to do what kids do in the bathroom like run the tap, stick one finger under the running water and quickly dab each eye and wet your toothbrush and immediately place it back in the toothbrush holder. Breakfast was always cereal, toast and tea. For all that I care it could have been black pudding, cardboard and wine and I would have munched away because that’s what a 7 year old  who is sleep walking does at 7 in the morning. In other words … who cares?? Of course this is followed by get dressed, school, lunch, afternoon rest, homework, play, bath, telly and finally bed at 8pm. After 7 years I figured that I was an expert at routine and it was time for change. Time to deviate. Time to think out of the box when mum announced that she would be going back to work and that she trusted us, meaning me and my brother Joe who was 2 years younger than me to make her proud and continue with The Routine.

The big day arrived. 6:45, 7 o’clock, school, home, lunch, rest, homework, play… then bath time – my way. Enter the bathroom. Close the door. Put on my pyjamas then quietly sit in front of the telly waiting for 5 0’clock cartoons to begin. We hear the car pull into the driveway. My parents are home from work. The first question asked “Did you bath?” At 7, I thought the fact that I’d got my pyjamas on would be an obvious clue to my mother that I had had a bath, but I guess she needed reassuring as she had not witnessed the event. “Yes, I bathed.”
“Let me see your feet”. Oh no. No one alerted me  to the fact that dusty grubby feet would would be the watch dogs. I had to jump into the bath and take a bath, missing my favourite cartoons.

Day 2 started routinely, until bath time. I scrubbed my feet and put on my pyjamas all ready for Scooby Doo. Mum walks through the door.
“Did you bath?”
“Yes, I bathed.”
“Then why isn’t the bath wet?”

Day 3 arrived. I couldn’t wait to get The Routine over with to try my new bath plan. Feet scrubbed, run the taps for a minute to wet the bath tub. Sit in front of the telly and wait for the 5 0’clock cartoons.
“Did you bath?”
“Yes, I bathed.”
“Then why isn’t your face cloth wet?”
Missing 3 days of Scooby Doo was now getting to be a serious matter. My planning skills needed all night planning. In fact I was so excited, I got out of bed before my mother’s hand reached for the 6:45am light switch.

This time, I decided to stop playing a 10 minutes earlier so that I would have enough time to carry out the perfect crime against routine. I had my check list worked out like routine in my head. Enter the bathroom, scrub feet, wet the bath, wet the face cloth, put on my pyjamas. Perfect. Sit and wait for Scooby Doo.
“Did you bath?”
“Yes, I bathed.”
“Then why is your bath towel dry?”

So I say to you, wagging my finger and looking you in the eye, if a job is worth doing, do it well. There are no shortcuts in life.