Surfing in Sumatra as a bit of light relief Ralph....?
Sorry, don't mean to belittle the Indonesian crisis - someone along the street here has lost 50 relatives, I know someone else who broke his leg to escape being trapped - but if I didn't laugh, I'd surely have to cry.... sometimes the world is enough to make the angels weep.
Just before Xmas I was talking with a very nice lady across the street whom I have been getting to know recently. ( A rare occurrence in a life that moves more slowly than most glaciers.) She mentioned that she was looking for a cheap last-minute flight holiday over the festive break, said she really fancied going back to Thailand, had had great times relaxing on the beach....did I fancy it ?
Did I fancy it ??!! I live in the greyest corner of a damp grey country, surrounded by granite and brick, suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder, and never go on foreign holidays to sunny places. I would have loved to go...if I'd had the money.
So I said I was broke, couldn't go, and a little later she said she had made plans to meet friends here on Boxing Day. We agreed she would phone me to arrange an outing just after Xmas.
No phone calls, on my home number or at my folks...no reply to e-mails...no replies to phone messages left....I didn't have her mobile phone number or that of her friends to check whether she had changed her plans because of a bargain offer...I didn't know it was possible to worry on Prozac. I was spending a lot of time by the window looking across the street. (When she comes home the lights go on in her apartment, we can see each other wave hullo.)
At long last the lights went on, and she was home from her parents house. She'd been having a very relaxed time and just never phoned because she knew she'd catch up with me when she got home.
As I said, sometimes the world is enough to make the angels weep. Sometimes though it's enough to make them smile, if not cheer.... I for one have been counting my blessings, as I wonder what the cheapest way is to get to Indonesia next year to help rebuild.
Of course misery is an absolute, not comparative. It can't be averaged out by past good luck, or future successes, or your neighbours happiness. The situation in any hospital where some find loved ones alive and some will not is cruel evidence of that.
As you might know Ralph, I hold that the most important thing any of us will ever do is be an example: and I've surely been seeing some fine examples of people who have little or nothing to give, except of themselves, and have been giving all that could be expected of them, and more. It has been a humbling experience. I have been reminded that it is people who know what bad times are, that are sometimes the one-eyed kings in an all-too-blind world. Not rich people, not happy people, not the people you see in adverts...not the people who don't struggle to survive.
(The short answer to your question Ralph is; I was away over Xmas, stayed home panicking for a few days, then went emergency cat-sitting for a friend for a week. I suppose you could call it a "short paws for reflection"....)
Haven't had time to read all the posts yet, but I'm hoping the surf's not up too much here on this forum....how are you keeping ?
A FUNK ??!! Not a Fiendishly Unrealistic Neurotic Kryptanalysis, Ralph ? (That's a mental sinkhole, in other words. Stay in it long enough, you're FUNK....! )
All family problems cause angst. It's the nature of the beast; if you care, it hurts you.
If you can't do anything because it's someone else's responsibility, it hurts you.
If you are not omniscient until afterwards, it hurts you.
If you don't have the money or resources to do the right thing at the right time, it hurts you. But only if you care.
(I once wanted to go take a mentally disturbed person for a cup of coffee, but only had 9 pence in my pocket, so I couldn't even offer. The next time I saw him, he was trying to throw himself off a bridge... To this day, I wish I had done more, but can't think what.)
I read a story a few months ago, supposedly an Indian legend. Well if it's not, it should've been...
One day there was a fire in the forest. All the animals were fleeing towards the river as the air filled with smoke and flying sparks and undergrowth burned all around the giant redwoods. Coming in the opposite direction however was a tiny hummingbird; a bird not much bigger than a bee, that needs to sip nectar constantly to keep itself alive. In its beak was a tiny drop of water.
"What are you doing with that drop of water, little bird ?" asked a passing bear in astonishment.
"What I can," replied the hummingbird. "I'm doing what I can."
Now I happen to know that some Indian tribes were as environmentally-friendly and left-brain thinking as...well you can think of someone I'm sure. (I'd say the Easter Island Polynesians.) So it's maybe just a story. But I think the reason this story keeps coming back to me is that it demonstrates a very real, utterly basic truth. To quote an old Quaker saying, often used in Amnesty International circles, "It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness."
What difference does one drop make ? None - without company. Who ever does the right thing ? No-one - without an example.
I know what you mean about every bout of depression paring away at your soul. I too know this feeling well. But I can assure you, from a distance of time and a different emotional perspective, that feeling turns out to be only half the truth. And a half-truth, as we all know, is the only truth that can be a lie.
Look at the rocks in a river. Look at their beauty, the different shapes and textures and colours that make them distinctive. What makes the beauty you see in riverside stones is the process by which their weaknesses are whittled away, revealing what lies within, and the chemical and geological processes which alter their substance. Yes, the softer, gentler edges are worn away, leaving the harder bits to remain, distorted and precarious. Yes, the fresh pure colours become muted and hidden. (Sometimes; but sometimes the water brings out the magic in the stones, in a way that any child will never fail to wonder at.)
But it strikes me that when I build a drystane dyke, I don't want to find a pile of nicely rounded, unmarked, unblemished, happily anonymous stones waiting for me. This would be my nightmare ! Such stones are useless. They not only have no real character unless you spend much time and effort knocking them into shape, but they have little or no visible beauty, and they are virtually impossible to get to fit together with other stones. Much of the time they will crumble at the first blow, or stubbornly refuse to change in the slightest, becoming nothing more than a problem. Stones that have been worn down by time and circumstance (as we all are in the end), are any builders' first choice of materiel. You can see the stuff of which they are made. You know their strengths, and how mixed with other stones they will become a whole that is greater than the sum of the parts. It is their very imperfections that make them useful, and a thing of beauty, and memorable. So it is with human beings such as ourselves.
The lesson in today's sermon I suppose is, do what you can, and be proud of the fact that you even want to do anything. Don't feel guilty at not being good enough. Do what you can, and leave the rest to others - that's all you can be or are responsible for. And from what I've seen of folks like you and Pammi on this forum, you're doing a not bad job of supporting those who with time will pass on your example to others.
It's easier not to care, not to be hurt; but not to care, is to be carelessly destructive. Read the newspapers, they are full of such persons' stories...
I often think that it is with good reason that mental illness is called "insanity". You read medical text books, and the perennial question that bugs the experts is, what is the appropriate response to reality ? Look at the world, and you will see it is full of all sorts of everyday things that are obviously "crazy"; dysfunctional, inefficient, unsustainable, unreasonable....insane. Sometimes going against the flow of a world rushing in the wrong direction, however painful and wrong it may feel or make a person seem, is the only right thing to do. Sometimes that is what is "in sanity".
Egad, it's almost three a.m., I need to get some beauty sleep. ( O, how I need beauty sleep !!)
Here's a going away joke...
There once was a patient who went to see a psychiatrist. "My life is full of pain," he complained. "I wake up grinding my teeth. I've lost my appetite.What is wrong with me ?"
"Well," said the psychiatrist (a wise man), "Just to be sure, I think you should go to a dental practitioner to make sure that there isn't a physical cause for this."
So he referred the patient to a dentist, and then the patient came back to the psychiatrist.
"It's as I suspected," said the psychiatrist, handing over the dentist's report. "You are not properly full filled - it's probably the daily grind wearing you away..."
You guys do realise that I have feet of clay all the way up past my ears, don't you ? And that's going by my own "imperfections are what make you valuable" ethos....
Where did "snohare" come from ? Oh ,that's such a good story!! I make call centre operators in India laugh when I tell them it. (I'm in the phone book under S.N.O'Hare, would you believe - so they phone up asking for "Mr O'Hare" ! )
But sadly guys, I must just prime the pump at that and tell you the rest tomorrow - I've been up forever tonight with the Crohnies and I need to sleep.... zzzzzzz
You are an incrediable writer. I hope you put your talents to other good use as well. You are truely an inspiration...
Very good Ralph ! (I know just what you mean. I have a keyring which says "Of all the things I've lost....I miss my mind the most".... )
Solo, I was waiting with bated breath for episode 2....now it's disappeared HEY REF ! How did that happen ? I thought being locked was when you just couldn't add to a thread, not when it became inaccessible ?? Mmmh...I wonder if Peter ever sells his back-ups on CD as reference works for healthcare professionals/sufferers....
The worst of it is, I barely remember Episode 1. (I have that problem with Star Trek too, it's not just you ! )
I like the idea of skype, nice Xmas prezzie, but I think I need a duplex sound card....and if you guys ever get me talking to you in person I'll be spending a fortune on throat lozenges....and you'll have to buy ear defenders. I'm kind of notorious for not shutting up. (All over Scotland.)
I know, hard to believe, isn't it ?!
Ralph, tell your wife I'm working on the problem - at about the same speed as a glacier, and with equally cold feet ! (Shona - stop lurking.) (We really need a panicking chicken emoticon here BTW.)
Funnily enough Ralph, the show you mentioned has just hit our screens too, even on terrestrial ("council") TV. This is rare, normally we are at least a year behind you guys. (The photons move slower in Scotland, this is why so much of our sunshine is liquid.) Haven't seen it myself, I've been asleep....and sleeping....and snoozing....and dozing....sawing logs with my tonsils.....I'm sure you get the idea of my life mid-January. I really do need to contact Jeannie about those full spectrum lights, but I lost her address, and I have to compose non-HW e-mails offline then log-on to Hotmail to send...rarely happens, too many steps in the process. (But thank you for mentioning it Jeannie.)
As regards your problems Ralph...the bad news is...
Personally, I've always been frustrated by my own progress up (?) the learning curve. I always seemed to start way down below the basic level of competence that "ordinary" folk around me begin with - a real problem in a new job, I'm sure you'll appreciate - then when I did finally begin to learn, I'd shoot way up ahead of everyone else in terms of knowing all about everything about little-known aspects, start really getting good at the hands-on skills...then after a couple of weeks holiday/doing something different, I'd slide way back down again. I've been in at least three professions where I almost became an expert...and fell just short. Given a "real" memory, where I could remember the names, numbers, dates, code numbers, rather than just recognise/ recollect the connections between them, I'd have been a genius.
Instead <sigh> I'm the "semi" half of "semi-organised".
But the good news here is, this is actually really, really useful. (Imagine cheering,-punching-fist-in-air emoticon.) Nowadays I can recognise all sorts of situations that other people can't, because they've never had to dig so far down into the basics to start learning.
I think people are born with one of two types of learning strategies.
One is a built-in manual; follow it and you won't go wrong. But... if a situation isn't covered by the manual, or if a page is missing (e.g. Autism), then you're stuffed.
The other strategy is much more labour-intensive. Writing the manual yourself. No "common-sense"; work everything out from scratch. This means you are more inclined to learn what the world really is, rather than what everyone tends to say it is; but much more slowly, and with more setbacks. And like with mass production assembly lines versus old-fashioned techniques, if you were to compare one strategy with another, to begin with the "obvious" route is much quicker...more profitable....works "perfectly well"....then is suddenly left miles behind choking on the tortoise's dust.
Of course I'm lucky. I live in a country where there is a benefits system that allows me to spend all my time unemployed (unemployable, from an economic point of view), "relaxing" at home, pondering these deep meaningful topics until I can get them straight in my head. (ish ) I have seen the effect that the stress of everyday life has upon my friends, particularly that of high-pressure working environments. All the qualities that you guys seem to like about me - they just don't get the chance to develop in a competitive, dog-eat-dog atmosphere. You can't untie the knots in a rope, if it is being pulled at both ends; you need time when the pressure is off, to readjust.
I've had every possible opportunity open to me, short of large sums of money and a good education - I've been blessed with good parents, supportive siblings, a helpful social infrastructure, a healthy ethical code, good libraries, wonderful friends....and still I've struggled to be even "average". The secret is, skillswise, everyone is like a half-completed crossword puzzle - and maybe most people do get 9 across, while you and I do not, but then again maybe we are the only people who get 22 down....The world may not value those who can't get the easy answers, but it can't enter for the prize unless there are those who can give the hard answers. (Or to put it a different way,we're not all on a ladder, we're doing a jigsaw puzzle.)
(This is my roundabout way of saying Yes, Terri, no-one else carries a sofa up a tenement staircase like I do ! )