Choices and Kindness

Photo by ThoughtStudent

When given the choice between being right or being kind, choose kind. – Dr. Wayne W. Dyer
If you’ve missed it, recently a new movie came out, it’s called Wonder, and it is based on the 2012 novel of the same name by R. J. Palacio. And before I see the movie I wanted to reread the book. Once again the book got me thinking about the world I live in.

One of the key themes in the book is kindness, and from the trailers, I think that the movie is trying to portray that everyone has a choice to choose to be kind.

And it got me thinking about the way I live my life. Perhaps kindness is not something that comes naturally to us as humans, it is something that we have to teach ourselves to do. That to be kind requires a conscious decision, a choice and that we have to make every single day.  It seems a little bit in contrast to the idea that humans are generally pretty good.

But that is what not reality shows us, is it? Ask anyone who has ever been kind and they will say that it was a choice. Some choices of kindness are more deliberate than others, but no matter how big or how small the choice is, it is a choice none the less.

It might start off by being a choice, but eventually kindness can become, to some ectent, a habit, a reflex, something that you do without thinking because that is just what you do. I don’t think anyone argues that kindness is always easy, just that it is always good to do.

Have you ever had to choose kindness? It’s not always easy, but in the long run, I think it is worth it whether the choice is big or small.

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On Being a Writer

Signing

It is perhaps one of the hardest names which you can call yourself because it is not something you can back up. You can’t get it from a degree (although some degrees can make you better). It can be hard to prove unless you have a book in your hands with your name on it (although I’ve heard that some people still have their doubts). So how on earth can one call themselves a writer?

Over the past year I’ve been on a bit of a writing journey. This blog sort of lapsed in the process, but it is really what began my journey as a writer.

As far back as I can remember, I have wanted to become an author. It has always been something that I’ll do ‘one day’, but that day never really came. I never actually sat down and wrote anything beyond a first page.

Three and a half years ago I began to toy with the idea of creating a blog and two and a half years ago I began it. I blogged quite consistently for about two years but still there was something in me that refrained from admitting, outloud at least, that I was a writer. Sure being a writer was something that I always wanted to be, but when there is no tangible deadline, no editor breathing down your neck, it can be hard to see yourself as an actual writer.

But over the past year, with the exception of my blog, I’ve made some progress in writing. I completed a collection of short stories to a standard that I was pretty happy with. And I completed my first NaNoWriMo (although my story was neither linear or coherent). But am I quite ready to call myself a writer yet? I don’t think so. I might never have the confidence to call myself that, but writing is still something that I love and I don’t think I need a title to confirm that for me.

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Giving Thanks For . . . People

People and Sunset

Well it’s been a year, and now we have the opportunity to remember all that we have to be thankful for. I am often tempted to complain, but because I knew that Thanksgiving was approaching, I have been asking myself ‘what am I thankful for?’. So like last year, rather than creating a list of things that I am thankful for, I am focusing just on one thing, but this year it is people.

I think each year of our lives has something to teach us and for me, this year has been all about people. I have been learning about the ways in which I relate to them and as a part of this process I have begun to learn how thankful I am for them.

I think my natural instinct is to forget that there are other people who exist with me in this world. But over the past year, as I’ve been encouraged and helped by so many people, I’ve realised that I cannot ignore their existence. Instead I have begun to recognise that I have so many reasons to be thankful that other people exist.

I can’t narrow it down to just one person that I am thankful for, or for one reason why I am thankful for them. But if I had to, it would probably be because they took time out of their lives to do something for me, even if it was just to say hello.

So this Thanksgiving, I’ll not only be thinking about the things I am thankful for, I’ll be thinking about the people I’m thankful for as well. Who are you thankful for? And have you actually told them that you’re thankful for them? Maybe today you could do just that, because those words are always nice to hear.

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The Beginning of the Reformation

Tomorrow marks 500 years since the date many people consider to be the start of the Protestant Reformation. Although these events are disputed by some, I find it interesting to consider how one small act can shape history.

On the 31st October 1517 Martin Luther’s 95 Theses were nailed to the door of a Wittenberg church. Martin Luther, the son of a miner and former law student was part of the reformation in Germany.

Luther’s journey from law student to monk came about one evening as he traveled home from university. In the midst of a thunderstorm he called out “Saint Anne if you save me I will become a monk.” He survived and became a monk.

Fredrick the Wise, Elector of Saxony, appointed Luther as the professor of theology at a Wittenberg university where he began to read the Bible for the first time. From his readings, he realised that the teachings of the church contradicted the Bible and this was what his 95 Theses focused on. They were nailed to the door of a Wittenberg church on the 31st of October 1517, and that is marked by many as the start of the Protestant reformation (so called because they protested against the church at the time and sort to reform it).

Martin Luther was just one of many men and women who were involved in the reformation which shaped the world we know. Each of these people played a different role, some small and some large, but without them, the world would be a very different place.

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Stories of Life, Part 8

shoes-and-leaves
I’ve known for a while that there are songs which make me feel a certain way but I’ve recently noticed that there are songs which make me remember certain people. The music I listen to is a reminder of my life and the lives of others and I had never really I thought of it in this way. To me music is something that I listen to and I think about it in the context of me in the present, but there’s something more to it; something which tells stories of where I was and how I felt once upon a time.

Perhaps it’s not that music itself contains stories, although all songs are written to tell them, but that music becomes a catalyst for our remembrance of them. We associate the events of a particular day with the music we heard and so each time we hear that song again we’re reminded of those memories.

Unlike the other things I’ve written about, music is something which is not physically left behind, it is something intangible so you can never really know what you’ve left behind. You don’t know whether someone will laugh or cry whenever they hear a song. Even two people who react in the same way will do so for different reasons and at times it can seem impossible to pinpoint exactly why we’ve attached a story to a song. But nonetheless it is there and occasionally I stop and think ‘why?’.

So next time you listen to a song, stop for a moment. Where does it take you back to? Who were you with? There are so many stories which could come pouring back if only you would take the time to listen.


This is the eighth in series of posts exploring how humans leave things behind which can tell a little bit of who they are. If you enjoyed this one, why not check out some of the others.

Stories of Life, Part 1 – Objects

Stories of Life, Part 2 – Words

Stories of Life, Part 3 – Trees

Stories of Life, Part 4 – Marks

Stories of Life, Part 5 – People

Stories of Life, Part 6 – Photos

Stories of Life, Part 7 – Footprints

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The Moon

moon.jpg

Before telescopes came into common use, the moon was thought to be perfect, without blemish. But through closer examination with a telescope, it was discovered that the moon was not perfectly spherical rather it was covered with craters and mountains. Until they looked closely, it was impossible to see the imperfections. And it’s like that with life. From a distance perfection is seen and only when you get closer you can see the flaws.

I suppose in society, perfection is seen as the ultimate goal but we can never actually reach it. Instead when we try, we spend our entire lives chasing after something which at the end of the day is unattainable. But it seems to be attainable because at times perfection is all we are exposed to. We see pictures from a distance, filtered to make the subject more attractive. We only see what people are willing to see and it takes courage to share your flaws with the world. So we get stuck with only seeing perfection. Unless we look closer, have a bigger lens at times it can be hard to see more than perfection.

There is this idea in society, I think, that imperfections mark you, they define you, mean that you can never be complete. But is the moon any less beautiful because of its flaws? Do its craters impair its abilities to create tides? Just because our flaws are used to describe us, it does not mean that they must define us. Our imperfections exist and can be acknowledged but we are so much more than just them.

Whether you are aware of it or not, you are probably searching for perfection, comparing yourself to those who seem to have it all together. From a distance their lives seem perfect as the moon once did to mankind. But like on the moon, imperfections exist with people, you’ll never see the marks in perfection unless you look a little closer.

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Social Structure in Pompeii

Even though the social structure of Pompeii and Herculaneum was clearly defined,  social mobility was possible and many people took advantage of it. The lowest level of society were the slaves. They were mainly foreigners although some Romans sold themselves into slavery to pay off a debt. Both men and women could be slaves and as a slave were the property of their master who was free to do whatever he wanted with them. As such any children born to a slave woman were considered to be the property of the master.

The freedmen (liberatus) and freed women (liberta) were former slaves who had gained freedom either as a gift from their master through a process called manumission or by saving up money to buy their freedom. Once freed many slaves retained a client-patron relationship with their former master. Most worked in some kind of trade and some became extremely wealthy. Some freedmen became citizens however they could never have all the rights of a freeborn citizen.

The highest class of society were the freeborn however the men had greater power than the women. However some women such as Eumachia, Mamia and Julia Felix, were extremely wealthy and played a more active role in society. The freeborn were divided into the plebs humilus (the lowest freeborn), the plebs media (the rich) and the elite (landowning).

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