Remembrance Day

Remembrance Day was created to remember what happened in the past, but that doesn’t mean it has no relevance today. The past is inextricably linked with the present.

For me, the history of World War I reached out its hands and grabbed me about ten years ago. I was fascinated and awed by the fact that people were prepared to serve their country even if it meant dying.

I’d grown up hearing stories of Gallipoli, but I don’t really remember hearing anything about the Western Front until about five years ago. But in that time I have learnt so much.

The Western Front was fought over for about two and a half years, with one six-week period at Pozieres causing as many deaths as had occurred at Gallipoli in six months. But these statistics and numbers are meaningless until you see the graves. It is impossible to fathom what 60,000 Australian graves would look like. Behind me is a photo showing part of a cemetery that had about 5,000 graves. Each grave represented a real person who had died, someone with family and friends whose lives were dramatically changed by the Great War.

Throughout World War I thousands of men and hundreds of women sacrificed their lives for freedom. A freedom we now reap the benefits of. We owe them a debt we could never repay. But remembering those who served is the way we try to.

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The Speed of Life


I’ve been walking more than I usually do and it has given me the chance to see things that are impossible to notice when you are travelling at fifty kilometers per hour. I think that it is good some days to be able to stop and slow down, taking the chance to see the world from a different point of view. I feel as though the older I get the faster life seems to pass. And the faster life passes, the easier it becomes to miss things. But when I slow down, even when it’s not for very long, I get a chance to see a few more things before they pass me by.
The other morning I saw rain drops on a pine tree. A perfectly framed image only the human eye is truly capable of capturing. I’ve been noticing the brilliant colours of flowers and the occasional animal. Every day I am struck by something new that I have never noticed before.

But it’s not often I take the time to do this. Most of my life is spent travelling quickly between two destinations. It does serve a purpose, and I’m glad I live in a world where it takes hours not days to visit my family and friends, but convenience always comes at a cost. I can get to more places and see a few big things but in the meantime I’ve lost seeing so many little things.

My life will always be a mixture of being slow and being fast, that is just the nature of the world. Speed allows you to capture the width of life but if you want to capture its depth, take a moment and slow down.

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Life in Surprising Places

As I was driving the other day I noticed some trees which had been chopped down whilst the stumps had been left behind in the ground. But growing out of these stumps were smaller trees. And it just struck me how incredible life can be. Even when you’d think everything should be dead and nothing could possibly grow but it does.

Maybe I could draw connections between this scene and life. Write about the times when everything seems dead yet something still manages to grow, the show goes on despite the problems. But that is not where I wanted to do with this post. I just wanted to marvel at how at times unsurprising things happen. How life just keeps on going even when nobody is paying attention.

I think the tree stood out to me because it was new and unexpected. And I love it when that happens. To be surprised by life is one of the most beautiful things in the world and most of the time it’s not something big. It is the littlest things which stand out and make you go ‘wow’. And I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of seeing this miracle of life.

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New Year’s Resolutions

Lists and Goals

It’s probably past the time when most people have set their resolutions for the year but I know that I haven’t fully fleshed mine out. I think last year was the first year that I tried to create any kind of resolutions to welcome in the New Year, a year where I would be better than the year before. But I wrote those resolutions down on a piece of paper and, like all important pieces of paper, it then proceeded to become lost. I suppose I will find it again one day, but for now it still remains missing. I haven’t been organised enough to create a resolution nor do I particularly want to. But so many people do, so I guess that there is something that attracts us to them.

Deep down, we all want to be better than we currently are. Whether that is to exercise more, to procrastinate less or to have a tidier house. Or if we don’t want to be better, we want to have done more than before, have ticked new things off bucket lists, tried new foods and been on new adventures. And there’s not necessarily anything wrong with trying to achieve those goals. Some are more measurable than others and success will look different for everyone, but I think the idea of resolutions persists because it resonates with a desire for change that exists within each of us.

But I think forming resolutions can be distracting at times. We can become so focused on trying to achieve goals that we don’t see how far we have come in the process. Or we can spend time trying to figure out what our goals are that could have been put to better use by doing rather than planning. (I’m all in favour of planning by the way, I just know that sometimes I get more caught up in planning things than in actually doing them.)

So if I were to have any new resolutions for the year ahead, it would be to stop wasting time. In our society it is incredibly easy to waste time and wasted time can never be reclaimed. I want to spend my time doing what I love and helping others. I don’t think it will be easy, but I do think that it is something that I won’t regret doing. And that I think is what would motivate me to keep it.

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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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