Taking responsibility means saying thank you as well as saying sorry. Both acknowledge another and yourself. Both are important and can be easy or hard to say. But they must be said, others want to hear them.
An author on the weekend talked about refining their story by dog-walking and other literary devices. Jasper Fforde plays around with literary devices too – to drive the plot but also as part of the plot. In his stories you can buy a device! Using literary devices laterally – I love it!
It is nice to be the first to do something – be novel, unique, a leader. But there is comfort in knowing that millions had done in the past what you are doing now, and there will be millions more. That means something too.
The other day someone marked some recent achievements by saying: “This is great! You are finally going somewhere in the world! This is really a step up!”. I thanked them for their compliment and kinds words, but I was surprised to find I was a bit miffed by the concepts and it has taken me a while to work out why.
Firstly: going places. You see, I am going places but always have been. Perhaps not very far, or very fast, or to anywhere particularly special but I’m always learning and exploring with little achievements along the way. I may not be taking the most direct route or the most prestigious path, but I’ve always been running along with more than enough to do, with the feeling that life is full.
Secondly: a step up. I’d never thought there might be steps to go up. There will always be people who have done more and better, but also others who have done less and worse at various things. But a step up suggests I’ve been sub-par or perhaps held back, and I haven’t. Not due to anyone or anything other than myself, at least. I’ve got better and improved at a lot of things – just like everyone else. There are more things that I want too. But there are opportunities and working to earn things is part of it, and not a step below. I’m not rich but I’m certainly not poor, I’m generally pretty happy and healthy, I work hard and have been lucky, I have a wonderful family, M and friends. How could I step up from that?
So thank you for your comments, friend, they really made me think. I’m always going places and I can’t see the steps, but now I appreciate it all the more.
I recently caught up with some dear friends, at the same time introducing them to M. I was a bit worried as my friends have a different view of relationships and marriage to me – I didn’t want to offend anyone, or be offended. I felt very ashamed when my friend took both of M’s hands in hers and welcomed him to the family that has previously welcomed me so warmly. She told him he must be an amazing person, she was so pleased to meet him and wished him every happiness. It was a lovely moment and good lesson not to underestimate my friends like that in future!
The actor offered the photographers what he hoped was a winning smile, while one of the more competitive photographers offered his colleague a mean smile. Back at the office the journalist offered a smile that she hoped would reinforce to the editor the optimism she felt for her story about the actor. But the next day, shaking his head, the editor offered an apologetic smile as small consolation for a rejected article. On the way home the editor walked out of her way to go past the flower stall where the florist freely offered a smile to all who passed him. His next customer offered a smile but it failed to reach her eyes. She ordered flowers for a friend to say sorry. When the flowers arrived, the friend offered a smile of forgiveness that no-one saw.
Two wise men told me to find the thing that blows your hair back. What a description! To look for the thought that races past you and leaves you breathless. To search for the question that fascinates you like a breath of fresh air. The activity that makes you feel like you are flying across the sky, forcing stray curls from your face ensuring a clear view. That dries the sweat and allows you to see what you’ve done. That makes you feel like you are standing up of the back of the ute driving across the paddock, under a sky full of stars. That you’re permanently by the sea, looking out on a great expanse of possibilities. You’ve gotta find what blows your hair back.