Stories of Life, Part 4


The desk and chair that I sit at today are both second hand. I have had them for so long that I can no longer quite remember which marks on them are the ones I have made and which ones have been there since before my time. I think that every mark we leave behind tells a story, every change we make to the world around us creates memories which can be triggered when we see the mark.

I heard someone once talk about how they loved all the marks on kitchen tables (the ones which were used by everyone for everything and so had lines scored by pens through paper, little scratches in the varnish and a series of ridges from the time someone forgot to put a mat down underneath the hot pot) because they told a a story, something of the family’s history. I know that I’ve left marks of my own behind, they were mostly unintentional, but whenever I think of them I feel a half smile on my face at some of the choices I have made.

At times marks can annoy us, a bent page in your book, the chocolate fingerprints on your scarf. But as  time goes on, I think it wears out the frustation of these moments and you remember with nostalgia the reason why your garage had a hole in the front (brakes on bicycles are useful only when they are used, but I still kept riding down my driveway). As much as I love perfection, it can be too hard at times to keep up. To some extent, imperfection is natural and once the first mark is there the object becomes more personal and unique than it was before.

The world around us is full of marks to which probably only one person would know the whole story. I find it fascinating walking down memory lane and prompted by reminders of the marks I have left behind. Marks are a sign of life and each one has a story, however short it is which could be told.

This is the fourth in a series of posts called Stories of Life. Check out number one here, two here or three by clicking here.

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The News and People


In a world where information is at our fingertips and the information which we can find is constantly filtered so that it is relevant to us, there occurs a paradox. There is so much we could potentially learn but we can’t always find it.

I think that it is an incredible privelege to be able to access what the media reports on various issues, especially when the media is free to report on issues they way they see them and are not forced to present a certain view on the issue. But all the work which goes in to creating these reports whether in print or digital, visual or written media serves very little purpose if it does not challenge what people think and makes them do something to make the world a better place. Of course there are always so many conflicting ideas out there that it can be quite hard to figure out what to do with all that you hear. In fact if we everyone listened to both sides of arguments and then did what both sides said, the world wouldn’t change. But when people receive priveleges they shouldn’t just let them sit in a corner gathering dust, they should do something with them. There is a role which journalists must play in providing information, whether it agrees with popular opinion or not, but once it has left them, the responsibility falls to its audience to do something with it.

I will be the first to admit that once I have made up my mind on an issue, I look for news which I agree with. There is a part of me which wants to learn new ways of thinking but there is another part of me which at the same time which is content with the way I view the world because I’m happy with it. I just have to be conscious of this and take the time to look at different opinions because I’m not always right and neither is my society.

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Time Passes


I’m slightly paranoid of writing the same sort of ideas within blog posts so when there’s something I want to write, I often have to go back and check that I’m not unintentionally plagiarising my own work. I did a quick check today and realised that I’ve written so much on the topic of time. Perhaps it’s something I think about a lot or perhaps it’s just a fairly common word to use. But today I’m extremely conscious that time goes past. I think that there are times when we are especially conscious of time going by and times where we seem to blink and then realise we’ve missed out on so much.

Time passes even when we move on and I think that it’s easy to forget this. We return to places we once loved only to realise that there is a little bit of the place we loved but it has changed and it’s no longer quite the same place we once knew. We seem to have this snapshot in our minds once we’ve left and when we return, we expect it to be the same as we remember it. But it rarely is. Time has passed for you and it has passed for other people and places as well.

Even when we stay time passes. There are times which I love, which I want to slow down and savour but still time passes at a constant rate. We ourselves change as do the people and places we interact with, but as we see these changes happen before our very eyes it doesn’t seem quite as bad. Time passes and it changes the world whether we realise it or not.

Time will pass until the day time ends and no matter how hard I want it to slow down there’s nothing I can do to stop it. I’m working on accepting that things change in my absence or even whilst I’m there. Time passing is rarely a bad thing, it just creates a different experience and that’s usually a good thing. Time is something beyond our control and if we controlled it I wonder whether we would regret it?

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Anzac Day


Photo by ThoughtStudent

Tomorrow is Anzac Day and over the past year I’ve learnt so much more about World War One and what happened as well as the stories of some of the individuals who served, so days like this have become meaningful to me in new ways. I’ve begun to realise that history is more than facts, it’s about people, and that has been changing the way in which I think about history. So this isn’t like my normal ‘Monthly Musings’ posts, it’s not so much facts based but more me attempting to communicate my thoughts about what tomorrow means to me.

For me one thing which has stuck with me across this year is the huge cost of the war and its personal nature. Hearing of the 54, 000 names on the Menin Gate (a memorial for allied soldiers killed around the Ypres Salient who have no known grave) and seeing Tyne Cot cemetery with more than 10, 000 graves spread out as far as the eye could see, have made me realise the huge the cost of the war was in terms of the lives lost. It is believed that by the end of World War I everyone knew at least one person who had died. The more I’ve heard stories, the more I realised that this war was about real people and this continual learning just continued to reinforce to me the horrific consequences of war.

Anzac Day is a chance to stop and think about the war and be reminded by someone else what happened. It is a reminder once again of the vastness of war, continuing to the present day, and covers a much wider area than the little part I focus on. I think it is always worth remembering that the cost of war is ongoing. Many men and women serve their countries both at home and abroad, which is not something I hear about every day, so Anzac Day reminds me that I owe a debt to the present, as well as the past, for the safety in which I live.

So tomorrow will be a day for me that is marked by sadness and thankfulness because I know what has happened. If you’re not really sure what Anzac Day is all about, it’s worth looking around to find out some more. Or if you know what it’s about, perhaps try going a little deeper into one of the events which you know about.

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Stories of Life, Part 3


Technically this post should have been written for last week but I completely forgot about when I’ve been doing this series of posts so it’s being published this week instead.

Trees tell the story of life in a few different ways. It’s not always obvious that they do this, but the more I thought about it the more I realised that trees do tell stories of life.

The first way they tell stories is through their rings. The number of rings can be used to tell us how old a tree is and their thickness something of climate at the time when they grew. At times several different trees and their rings have been lined up to establish a chronology which spans hundreds of years.

Growing up professions of love were marked through writing on a tree (at least according to the books I read and the movies I watched). The initials of two people surrounded by a heart were inscribed to mark what at the time was considered to be a momentous occasion. This habit appears to be dying out a little (which is probably a good thing for the health of trees) so I haven’t seen very many but still the symbolism of this act remains imprinted in my mind. The story of life shared by writing on a tree, which will last for many years to come is something which makes me wonder what has happened to the people involved.*

When I first started thinking  about this post I remembered a disc of wood which I saw last year. It was cut from a Belgian tree which lived for more than 200 years. The plaque beside it had information about some key events which occurred whilst the tree grew. The tree itself had no visible markings of these events however during the First World War shrapnel had scarred the tree causing the wood which grew around it to appear blueish. This tree had unintentionally kept a record of mankind’s activities by simply continuing to grow.

The stories of life, or rather the past, which we can learn from trees are quite fascinating.  They are not always easy to find but stories can be found if you search closely enough.

* Perhaps this fits in more with last month’s post on words but I’ve chosen to place it here. Click here for the original one or the fourth one.

I’ve finished this post having written all that could be expected to be read in a single sitting and I realise that there is so much more I could write. If you think there’s something I’ve missed, feel free to tell me about it.

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Favourite Times


I don’t know what you are doing around this time of year. Perhaps for some of you it’s a religious or public holiday or maybe nothing happens. This time of year is probably one of my favourite times of year (actually I say that about practically every occasion but that is because I enjoy so many different things for so many different reasons). Why do I like it so much? I guess it’s the same reason why I like any event that I do.

The first reason is because the event means something to me on several different levels. I think that unless something is meaningful to you, you won’t be able to find enjoyment in what you’re doing. I guess for me it comes back to the idea that I don’t like investing my time into things without purpose and the fact that I get enjoyment out of doing things. So when I use my time it’s usually because the event means something to me, so it gets me excited.

We are all products of our pasts, they have helped shape us into who we are today. That is not saying we are defined by them, but what has happened will shape how we relate today. For me this time has not been scarred by my experiences. Instead it has been a time filled with pleasant memories and wonderful activities with family and friends. The memories I have help explain why I like this time so much.

Even as an introvert I recognise that people play a huge part in how much I like an event. Some of my favourite things have happened when there are people around me who I love. This links in with the other two reasons, the people around me mean something to me and so I create pleasant memories which in turn cements my feelings of happiness with the time.

I’ve mainly talked about the big things but I do love the small moments too. Whatever you end up doing over the next few days I hope that there is something in there, whether it is big or small, which you enjoy.

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Patience and Pointless Things


Photo by ThoughtStudent

I don’t know if it’s because my life is crazy and busy at the moment but I’m discovering that I have limits on how long I can listen to and (attempt to be involved in) conversations about things which I am not interested in and if I’m blatantly honest, things I consider pointless.

There’s something about the way my brain works which means I enjoy and often need stimulation and challenges so I try to use my time for activities which do that. I’ll admit that there are times when I need the conversations which I so often call pointless and I don’t mind the occasional one. I just can’t stand when the entire focus of the conversation seems irrelevant. Of course I can’t really judge. Irrelevance is in the ear of the listener. I’m sure that exactly the same feelings I have described here are what people think of most of the conversations I want to have.

So what do I do so that I’m not antisocial, can socialise with my friends and I actually enjoy the conversations I’m part of? One thing I’ve noticed is that at times deliberately choosing conversations that make me think are necessary to be able to enjoy time with my friends talking about things which I don’t engage with. Another thing that works for me is writing. I’ve come to accept my introvertedness and am content with time spent by myself, so at times having a written conversation with myself helps. But the thing which is most helpful is patience. I need to remember that the conversation won’t last forever and that in the scheme of my life this conversation won’t really take up that much time.

So to any friends who are reading this, I love having conversations with you. But there are times when I have to stop because my brain needs a change. I’ll be back again but just let me stop so I can come back ready to have fun once again.

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