This year has had many happy parts but also many sad parts too as friends and family have travelled to the Summerlands. Some themes have been strong in my life though and I have tried to help others to think about the way they live their lives. I have written about the wonders of nature and how I appreciate it. I have written about complacency and uncertainty recently too.
During this festive season gratitude has been foremost in my mind. I am so lucky to have a roof over my head, to have enough food and clothes and also to have a few good friends and family around me. I think about refugees from tsunamis and those feeling oppression in their country and I am thankful that I do not have those kinds of things to deal with.
I have also been thinking about how some people seem to want more and more material things and rush off to the sales to get as much as they can carry whether they need it or not. There is a big difference between wanting something and needing something and I always try to think if I need something before I buy it. Of course I do buy some things I don’t really need as we all do but I try not to do this often.
Over the last few days I have seen posts on social media about the amount of food and drink people have partaken of recently. Is this necessary? Does an excessive amount of food and drink do your health any good? Why not give the excess food to those in need.
Then there is the pollution debate. Plastics, air pollution, water pollution are all there up at the front. I try to do as much as I can about all of these. I try to only buy plastic that can be recycled or reused, I try to keep the air around me clean, I don’t have a car and I stopped flying to other countries many years ago. There is so much we need to think about in the world of today if we are going to make the world a better place for everybody. Next year gives us 365 days of challenges to do this. Think of something you can do each day to make the world a better place for at least one person. That is my plan.
It is that time of year when people think more about helping others than they do for the rest of the year. I have seen many recent examples of this on social media, people buying much needed items for the homeless and others doing secret Santas where gifts of food and other items are packed and given to those who need them but done secretly.
Random acts of kindness though are things that should happen every day. ‘Small everyday needs, small acts of kindness and love’ are important. These can be as simple as a smile for someone or helping someone to get something from a higher shelf in the supermarket. I have always been one of those people who hold doors open for those coming after me even though I struggle myself with some heavy doors. It is about helping others, giving up your seat on the bus or helping someone to get on the bus with their shopping trolley.
I have also noticed that saying ‘Good morning’ to people as you walk down the street means they respond in kind. For some who live alone that might be the only conversation they have that day so it is important to greet them. Telling your friend how nice they look is also a good act of kindness. It makes them feel better too. It is good to let people know that you care about them. I often send cards to friends who I have not seen for a while so they know I still think about them. There are thousands of ways to give random acts of kindness so please try this and try to do one act everyday. It makes a difference not only to that other person but to you yourself.
Some thoughts and questions today on complacency. What is it and are we complacent? I always understood complacency to mean that someone was satisfied with what they had and was not interested in making any changes. The dictionary gives various definitions of complacency but here is one of them. Complacency is ‘ a feeling of smug or unethical satisfaction with oneself or ones achievements’.
I often hear people say ‘I’m alright Jack, so what!’ Is this being complacent? I also know those who sit back and let the world go to pieces around them because they think it does not concern them. Is this also complacency? Are we ever in a position where we can sit back and say we are satisfied with what we have and what we are doing? I am satisfied with what I have but that does not stop me from trying to make the world around me a better place for others to live in.
I look at the problems in the world today, the air pollution, the sea pollution, the land pollution, the way we have desecrated the land and ill-used it and much more. Has this happened because we have been complacent and could not see the threat to our planet and our lives and the lives of our children and grandchildren? Did we just want more and more material goods without understanding the cost of these to the environment? Have we got used to cheap items which need replacing quite soon instead of the sturdy well made items that lasted for years and could be repaired? Have we become a throw-away society? And is this all because we have become complacent about how things are made and want more of them because they are cheap?
I could go on and on here but I think I have made my point. Being happy with what you have and not seeing the broader picture is not necessarily a good thing. I am happy with my current living situation and don’t need more gadgets or furniture or clothes but I am not just sitting here being smug about it, I am looking for ways to make manufacturing and the environment a better place to be. I am aware that time is running out for human life on our planet. What are you doing?
Acceptance can be looked at in many different ways. The simplest way maybe is the acceptance of compliments and small gifts which were unexpected. I always find it hard to accept compliments but that is just me!
Some things are difficult to accept. Such things might be a debilitating illness, a disability or even death of someone close. I know from personal experience how hard these things are to accept. But you have to accept so you can move forwards.
But there is also the acceptance of being part of a group. Acceptance in this case means being accepted by others. This can include work situations as well and sometimes that can be hard too. One of the problems with being accepted by and into a group can be just the fact that you are new to the group and those already in the group have formed close friendships. In these cases it can take a long time to feel that you are accepted by the others.
Another important part of acceptance is accepting others for who they are and not expecting to change them into something else. I am one of those people who try to stay true to myself and if someone doesn’t like what I do or say or how I dress, then I tell them it is their problem not mine. Acceptance of others is important in the world of today. You can’t change other people, you can only change yourself. You can however encourage others to change in good ways so they become better people but they have to do that themselves.
There is a lot more to acceptance than what I have written here. I would love to know how you feel about it.
Officially we are now in the winter season. I have noticed how the trees stand proud against the skyline with their bare branches. I see my hedge getting much thinner with large spaces so I can see through into the garden of my neighbour. The birds are still there but keep hopping out to feed on the conveniently placed feeder. I love the days when the sky is clear and the sun is shining. There is something special about the winter sky and the landscape around us.
But winter also has a special meaning for me It is the time when I take stock of what the year has brought me and look at how I have dealt with it. There has been a lot of sadness and grief this year and that has been hard to deal with but getting out occasionally amongst the trees has helped enormously. I have also looked at what I have achieved or not achieved as might be the case with some things. Are there lessons to be learned from this and can I do better next year. I find the winter months with the shorter days gives me more time to contemplate what has gone and what is to come in the future. I can do the stuff that I have put on one side while I have been enjoying the summer times. I can unpack the boxes still left to do since I moved earlier in the year. Maybe I will find the items I have spent hours looking for but still not found!
I also stock up on food just in case I cannot get out. I am old enough to remember the years of heavy snowfall when nothing stirred so make sure I will be OK if anything like a heavy snowfall arrives and stays with us. But most of all I am looking forward to the Winter Solstice, now in less than three weeks time, when the light returns and the hours of daylight start to lengthen. I have lots of new things I want to try next year so I shall start planning them now, making sure I will have everything I need to do these things.
So a time for contemplation, planning and enjoyment is what winter brings to me.