Saturday, 31 July 2010
It is amazing how we affect the lives of others, often without ever knowing it. When I left school at the age of 15 I started work as a butcher and slaughter man. I might have still been that had I not come into contact with some people I have talked about here.
For a time I travelled home from this work on the bus. I can remember that day as clearly as if it was yesterday. I was sitting upstairs in the front seat. I had just been given a book on arithmetic, from whom I cannot remember or from where. A lady sat down beside me and passed the time of day. She asked about the book and why I had it. I remember thinking about it before answering.
I told her I had left school with no certificates or examination passes and I thought I might try and at least pass one. She said to me that if I could pass one then I would be able to pass four. She then went on to tell me that if I could do that I would be able to get entrance to college. Then for no apparent reason she said to me. “You are far too bright to be doing the job you are doing. There is a great world out there and all you need is four exam passes to start exploring it. Go on you know you can do it.”
I did, but that as you know is a long story.
I never got to thank that lady, or to let her know what a change her words had made on my thinking.
Daily we meet people and daily we have the opportunity to affect the lives of others. It is amazing what a word of encouragement can do and how destructive can be the power of a negative word.
I hope each day I can be like the lady on the bus.
This blog is linked to my other. Grandad
Friday, 30 July 2010
As you read this story remember the last time you used each colour and the finished painting. I do this often and what a start to my day.
Once upon a time the colours of the world started to quarrel. All claimed that they were the best. The most important. The most useful. The favourite.
"Clearly I am the most important. I am the sign of life and of hope. I was chosen for grass, trees and leaves. Without me, all animals would die. Look over the countryside and you will see that I am in the majority. I come in many shades"
"You only think about the earth, but consider the sky and the sea. It is the water that is the basis of life and drawn up by the clouds from the deep sea. The sky gives space and peace and serenity. Without my peace, you would all be nothing."
"You are all so serious. I bring laughter, gaiety, and warmth into the world. The sun is yellow, the moon is yellow, and the stars are yellow. Every time you look at a sunflower, the whole world starts to smile. Without me there would be no fun."
Orange started next to blow her trumpet:
"I am the colour of health and strength. I may be scarce, but I am precious for I serve the needs of human life. I carry the most important vitamins. Think of carrots, pumpkins, oranges, mangoes, and papayas. I don't hang around all the time, but when I fill the sky at sunrise or sunset, my beauty is so striking that no one gives another thought to any of you."
Red could stand it no longer he shouted out:
"I am the ruler of all of you. I am blood - life's blood! I am the colour of danger and of bravery. I am willing to fight for a cause. I bring fire into the blood. Without me, the earth would be as empty as the moon. I am the colour of passion and of love, the red rose, the poinsettia and the poppy."
Purple rose up to his full height:
He was very tall and spoke with great pomp: "I am the colour of royalty and power. Kings, chiefs, and bishops have always chosen me for I am the sign of authority and wisdom. People do not question me! They listen and obey."
Finally Indigo spoke, much more quietly than all the others, but with just as much determination: "Think of me. I am the colour of silence. You hardly notice me, but without me you all become superficial. I represent thought and reflection, twilight and deep water. You need me for balance and contrast, for prayer and inner peace."
And so the colours went on boasting, each convinced of his or her own superiority. Their quarrelling became louder and louder. Suddenly there was a startling flash of bright lightening thunder rolled and boomed. Rain started to pour down relentlessly. The colours crouched down in fear, drawing close to one another for comfort.
In the midst of the clamour, rain began to speak:
"You foolish colours, fighting amongst yourselves, each trying to dominate the rest. Don't you know that you were each made for a special purpose, unique and different? Join hands with one another and come to me."
Doing as they were told, the colours united and joined hands.
The rain continued:
"From now on, when it rains, each of you will stretch across the sky in a great bow of colour as a reminder that you can all live in peace. The Rainbow is a sign of hope for tomorrow." And so, whenever a good rain washes the world, and a Rainbow appears in the sky, let us remember to appreciate each other.
Its long I am sorry but I hope it got your day off longing to go and squeeze some of those colours from the comfort of their tubes.
This blog is linked to my other where I will discuss the artwork Provence Lavender
Thursday, 29 July 2010
Having left the coastal path I had to cut through the children’s play area. Just a few swings, a level area for cycling and a grass area for playing and running. The park was almost empty and yet it was a beautiful afternoon. The bench at the top of the park looks down and out over the river forth with its famous bridge. There was one man sitting on it so before heading up into the woods to the top path I joined him to enjoy a moment.
His daughter was running up and down the hill and tumbling with another lad. The father shouted to tell her it was time to go. “Can I have another few minutes?” she asked. “Well just five,” said the father. Five minutes later the same thing. Another five minutes. BY this time I was chatting away to the father he was so proud of her. Again it was agreed a last five minutes. I commented to him on his wonderful patience.
It was then he told me about his son. he had been killed on the road a short distance from where we were by a speeding driver. He said he had not given his son enough of his time and how he wished he could just have another five minutes with him. The same thing was not going to happen again. he was going to give his daughter all the five minutes he could.
“Anyway, I will tell you a secret,” he said. I have made allowances for the extra five minute slots up to four times he laughed.
I left them and took the high road through the woods. I have run this route often and walked it also. I has never looked as good before as it did yesterday. If I see that father again, I will thank him for the five minute slots he gave me also.
I wonder who I could give five minutes to this day. I know for sure no matter what happens, good or bad, I will find a slot to give somebody a smile.
Oh and I came home and did the sketch attached to this blog, first steps in painting again the lavender fields for my wife.
I will share it on the other blog: Lavender Fields Sketch
Wednesday, 28 July 2010
The young lady dying of cancer who likened herself to the leaf on the autumn tree clinging on to life for as long as she could, so wanting to celebrate her son going to school for the first time. She managed it and what a day it was. I was so privileged to share part of it with her. I wrote a poem for her and her husband asked if he could have it to give to his son.
Strength in adversity, thinking of others in the face of difficulty. Amazing people. Reminds me of the two men together in the side ward of the hospital.
They were both seriously ill. One man was allowed to sit up in his bed for an hour each afternoon to help drain the fluid from his lungs. His bed was next to the room’s only window. The other man had to spend all his time flat on his back. The men talked for hours on end. They spoke of their wives and families, their homes, their jobs, where they had been on vacation.
Every afternoon when the man in the bed by the window could sit up, he would pass the time by describing to his roommate all the things he could see outside the window.
The man in the other bed began to live for those one hour periods where his world would be broadened and enlivened by all the activity and color of the world outside.
The window overlooked a park with a lovely lake. Ducks and swans played on the water while children sailed their model boats. Young lovers walked arm in arm amidst flowers of every color and a fine view of the city skyline could be seen in the distance.
As the man by the window described all this in exquisite detail, the man on the other side of the room would close his eyes and imagine the picturesque scene.
One warm afternoon the man by the window described a parade passing by.
Although the other man couldn’t hear the band – he could see it. In his mind’s eye as the gentleman by the window portrayed it with descriptive words.
Days and weeks passed.
One morning, the day nurse arrived to bring water for them to wash and shave only to find the lifeless body of the man by the window, who had died peacefully in his sleep. She was saddened and called the hospital attendants to take the body away.
As soon as it seemed appropriate, the other man asked if he could be moved next to the window. The nurse was happy to make the switch, and after making sure he was comfortable, she left him alone.
Slowly, painfully, he propped himself up on one elbow to take his first look at the real world outside.
He strained to slowly turn to look out the window beside the bed.
It faced a blank wall. The man asked the nurse what could have compelled his deceased roommate who had described such wonderful things outside this window
The nurse responded that the man was blind and could not even see the wall.
She said, “Perhaps he just wanted to encourage you.”
Is this not what we artists try to do all the time to portray to others the world we see and sometimes the world as we would like it to be.
This is the way of Tao.The Crashing Waves
Tuesday, 27 July 2010
The story is about a father and his daughter. He was sitting reading a book while his daughter was busy on the other side of the room. He happened to notice she was using a sheet of gold paper that had been bought for wrapping Christmas presents. He gave the girl a ticking of for wasting what was a sheet of expensive paper.
The next morning, Christmas day, the daughter handed her father a present of a box wrapped in golden paper. “This is a special present just for you daddy,” she said. He was ashamed that he had made comments the day before. he opened the present to find an empty box.
“Do you not know when you give somebody a present you are supposed to put something in it,” he said. “Oh I did said the little girl. I blew lots of little kisses into that box just for you, because I love you so much.” The father, ashamed for the second time sat with the tears running down his cheeks.
The box was kept for years. Every time he felt down he got the box out and opened it and took out one of the kisses and remembered how blessed he was.
I have one of those boxes. It is filled with the memories of all the wonderful things that have been said to me and done for me. When I ham down I close my eyes and take it off the shelf and open it and remember one of those precious moments.
It is a wonderful box because it gets fuller and fuller as the years go on. It is a magic box a bit like a compost bin, no matter how much I put in it there always seems room for more.
Yesterday was my lucky day. I was able to procure a large quantity of these boxes and if you would like one just let me know.
This blog is linked to my other: The Wee Burn
Monday, 26 July 2010
This happened yesterday on a day when few people commented on this blog. Maybe I should listen to that friend who keeps telling me to stop looking at the number of comments. Never mind the quantity feel the quality.
Forgive me for dwelling just a little bit more. Yes it was difficult being told I might never speak again especially when my job depended on my voice and I had no other talents. But it is a case of the carrots the eggs or the coffee beans. Let me explain.
A young woman went to her mother and told her about her life and how things were so hard for her. She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up. She was tired of fighting and struggling. It seemed as one problem was solved, a new one arose.
Her mother took her to the kitchen. She filled three pots with water and placed each on a high fire. Soon the pots came to boil. In the first she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs, and in the last she placed ground coffee beans. She let them sit and boil, without saying a word.
In about twenty minutes she turned off the burners. First she fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. Then she pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. Lastly she ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl.
Turning to her daughter, she asked, "Tell me, what you see?"
"Carrots, eggs, and coffee," she replied. Her mother brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they were soft. The mother then asked the daughter to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard boiled egg. Finally, the mother asked the daughter to sip the coffee. The daughter smiled as she tasted its rich aroma. The daughter then asked, "What does it mean, mother?"
Her mother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity ... boiling water. Each reacted differently. The carrot went in strong, hard, and unrelenting. However, after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak. The egg had been fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior, but after sitting through the boiling water, its inside became hardened.
The ground coffee beans were unique, however. After they were in the boiling water, they had changed the water.
"Which are you?" she asked her daughter. "When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond?
Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean?"
Think of this: Which am I? Am I the carrot that seems strong, but with pain and adversity do I wilt and become soft and lose my strength? Am I the egg that starts with a malleable heart, but changes with the heat? Did I have a fluid spirit, but after a death, a breakup, a financial hardship or some other trial, have I become hardened and stiff? Does my shell look the same, but on the inside am I bitter and tough with a stiff spirit and hardened heart?
Or am I like the coffee bean? The bean actually changes the hot water, the very circumstance that brings the pain. When the water gets hot, it releases the fragrance and flavour. If you are like the bean, when things are at their worst, you get better and change the situation around you. When the hour is the darkest and trials are their greatest, do you elevate yourself to another level? How do you handle adversity?
Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean?
Oh dear hope that is not too heavy.
This blog is linked to my other. The Dam
Sunday, 25 July 2010
I discovered a strange thing. The moments that had most changed my life were those moments that given a choice I might have avoided. An example, the time I was forced not to speak for six months. Six months when the silence brought isolation, almost. Being on the edge of most conversations, a listener, rather than an active participant. To then be told this might have to be the way it would be for the rest of my life, and all that meant.
Now in reflection I have discovered this was a turning point, but also a very deep and meaningful moment. It was a mule moment. Let me explain by sharing with you the story of the farmer and his mule.
One day the mule fell into the farmer’s well. The farmer heard the mule making a terrible noise in its fear and desperation. After carefully assessing the situation, he sympathized with the mule, but decided that neither the mule nor the well was worth the trouble of saving. Instead, he called his neighbours together, told them what had happened, and enlisted them to help haul dirt to bury the old mule in the well and put him out of his misery.
Initially the old mule was hysterical! But as the farmer and his neighbors continued shoveling and the dirt hit his back, a thought struck him. It suddenly dawned on him that every time a shovel load of dirt landed on his back, He would shake it off and step up!
This he did, blow after blow. “Shake it off and step up…shake it off and step up…shake it off and step up!” He repeated to encourage himself. No matter how painful the blows, or how distressing the situation seemed, the old mule fought panic and just kept right on and on shaking it off and stepping up!
It wasn’t long before the old mule, battered and exhausted, stepped triumphantly over the wall of that well!
What seemed like it would bury him actually helped him . . . all because of the manner in which he handled his adversity.
This is the way of Tao!
Face our problems and respond to them positively, and refuse to give in to panic, bitterness, or self-pity. Find that inner being. From that six months I realize I had my first taste of art, and much more.
This blog is linked to my other; The Coastal Path
Saturday, 24 July 2010
It is also the time of year when little competitions take place. Archie, my dear old friend counts every potatoe he digs up. he makes little graphs of the number per plant, the weight produced by each plant, the number per row. He is so serious and yet it is all in good fun. He also gets delight in giving little bags of produce to friends.
He is already dropping hints that he wants to keep his garden going next year but will need my help to turn it over. I in turn am teasing him and pretending not hear him.
There is a lovely story about an old man around about the age of Archie, 84. His son each year would turn over his plot and allow him to plant his potatoes and vegetables. The son had been foolish and ended up in jail. The old man wrote to him.
I do not think I will manage to dig the plot the year or get my potatoes planted. I wil just have to do the best I can with the weeds till your release. Please think carefully about this foolish act of yours and do not do the same again. Maybe I will just mange to dig a small part of the plot.
Two days later he received a letter back from his son.
Yes I have learned my lesson and it will never happen again I promise. One important thing though, please do not dig the plot that is where the loot from the crime is hidden.
The next day three van loads of police arrived at the plot. They unloaded from the vans with boots and spades and dug the whole plot finding nothing.
The father wrote to the son.
The police have been here all day turning over my plot what will I do?
The reply came.
Why don’t you just plant your potatoes and vegetables.
We do not have to be near a person to be able to help them or uplift them. Distance should be no barrier to the words of love and the kind action. If you have decided you would like to do something for another never let the space between you be a barrier.
Thanks again for the email it lifted my heart. I know you have read this with your morning coffee hope it warms your heart.
This is the way of the Tao. Noja Beach
Friday, 23 July 2010
Reminds me of this interesting tale. Sorry if it is slightly long.
A mouse, who lived on a farm, looked through the crack in the wall to see the farmer and his wife open a package. “What food might this contain?” the mouse wondered. He was devastated to discover it was a mousetrap.
He ran from the house in alarm squeaking, “There is a mousetrap in the house! There is a mousetrap in the house!”
The chicken clucked and scratched, raised her head and said “Mr. Mouse, I can tell this is a grave concern to you, but it is of no consequence to me. I cannot be bothered by it.”
The mouse turned to the pig and told him “There is a mousetrap in the house! There is a mousetrap in the house!” The pig sympathized, but said “I am so very sorry, Mr. Mouse, but there is nothing I can do about it but pray. Be assured you are in my prayers.”
The mouse turned to the cow and said “There is a mousetrap in the house! There is a mousetrap in the house!” The cow said “Wow, Mr. Mouse. I’m sorry for you, but it’s no skin off my nose.”
So, the mouse returned to the house, head down and dejected, to face the farmer’s mousetrap alone.
That very night a sound was heard throughout the house – like the sound of a mousetrap catching its prey. The farmer’s wife rushed to see what was caught. In the darkness, she did not see it was a venomous snake whose tail the trap had caught. The snake bit the farmer’s wife. The farmer rushed her to the hospital and she returned home with a fever.
Everyone knows you treat a fever with fresh chicken soup, so the farmer took his hatchet to the farmyard for the soup’s main ingredient. But his wife’s sickness continued, so friends and neighbors came to sit with her around the clock. To feed them, the farmer butchered the pig. The farmer’s wife did not get well; she died. So many! came for her funeral, the farmer had the cow slaughtered to provide enough meat for all of them.
The mouse looked upon it all from his crack in the wall with great sadness. So, the next time you hear someone is facing a problem and think it doesn’t concern you, remember: when one of us is threatened, we are all at risk. We are all involved in this journey called life.
We are all in this journey together. This is the way of Tao. Or as another said whatever you do to the least………
Please forgive if this sounds like preaching but I only put here what I am feeling .
This blog is linked to my other. The Gift
Thursday, 22 July 2010
I have a love of meeting people, sadly not all the people we meet leave us with a happy feeling. I met so many who uplifted me during my vacation but I met some who left me feeling ashamed to be from the same nation. Those people who see everybody from every country other than their own, as inferior to themselves. Sadly there are so many.
There is a story I would like to share with you.
It is the story of a blind girl who hated herself just because she’s blind. She also seemed to hate everyone, as if they were responsible for her blindness. There was one exception, her loving boyfriend. He’s always there for her. She always said that if she could only see the world, she would marry him.
One day, someone donated a pair of eyes to her. Now she could see everything, including her boyfriend. Her boyfriend asked her, “Now that you can see the world, will you marry me?” The girl was shocked when she saw that her boyfriend is blind also, and refused to marry him. Her boyfriend walked away in tears.
Later, after hearing she had met somebody new he wrote her a letter saying. “I loved you with all my heart and will continue to do so. Please take care of my eyes. May they continue to let you see the wonder of the world.”
It is such a joy to meet people who lift the inner being. We can find them in the most unexpected of places but only when we have removed the blinkers of prejudge. It takes more than eyes to see. Those who are artists know that we do not just paint with the eyes. My friend Andy often sees mopre than those with sight.
I do not know hwy I wrote this today because the people I meet here do not need to hear this. I just felt a deep urge to get this thought out of my head and shared with others.
This blog is linked to my other where I discuss the art work Lavender Fields
Wednesday, 21 July 2010
One day I watched an old lady very very slowly walk past. She was using two walking sticks and was moving with difficulty. It was three in the afternoon and she was still wearing her dressing gown and night clothes. She did this walk every day at around about this time, determined not to let frailty beat her. I was told she dressed for evening meal after this adventure.
Another day I watched an old man cycle up to the inn, nothing odd about that. He got off his cycle with difficulty laid it against the wall and unstrapped two crutches which he used to walk into the inn with. The innkeeper then came out and took the basket from his cycle and un loaded the vegetables the old man had gathered from his allotment.
Two amazing people showing a determination not to be defeated by age.
Now back to Andy. Eddie his dog was having an operation on a small cyst. Andy determined not to be kept at home ventured out. He tells how he was standing on the kerbstone of a busy road hoping somebody would offer to take him over. There was a tap on his back. Then a voice said, “I am blind would you help me over the road?”
Andy took his arm and the both crossed the road safely I think Andy sensed my amazement, he said, “What could I d? I took him across the road it was one of the biggest thrills of my life.
There are times when we think we cannot do something and so do not stretch or take a risk. Being forced to stretch and take a risk can often help us to reduce our dependencies (on others, or our own personal safety mechanisms), and to discover new excitement and capabilities. Also with the things we do, it pays to take risks to venture beyond the unknown.
What awaits? The biggest thrill of your life.
This is the way of the Tao.
This blog is linked to my other where I discuss the artwork used. The Jazzman
Tuesday, 20 July 2010
Now I am aware that there is nothing more boring that other peoples holiday tales but let me share this with you. Each day I ran first thing in the morning. I went the same route each day, unlike me I usually love to explore new routes. I went the same way for a reason. The run ended each day with the unexpected and a bit of excitement. Even at my age I love that.
I ran through a little village about a mile or so from the caravan park then headed into the nature park. There I ran a small track which eventually passed over a small wall path with water each side. Halfway along there was a small mill operated by the water. This part was tidal so gave me a hint at the possible ending of my run.
Having left the wildlife park I headed towards a village called Isla. A long uphill road led to the village dropping back down to the sea. Here was the fun part. Only when I arrived here did I know what the last part of the run would be. If the tide was fully in it meant a fairly long swim over to the beach by the caravan park. If it was coming in or going out it meant either a wade in strong currants, and that could be exciting. If it was fully out then just a small paddle and a further long run along the firm beach.
People thought I was mad, and they were probably correct about that. There was always the other alternative about turning and retracing my route backwards.
How like life and art is that? Some days life and painting can be a paddle other days it can be a hard wade making you feel like giving up. At other times there might be the difficult but possible swim against the tide. Maybe, just maybe sometimes we have to backtrack and do a rethink.
This is in fact the way of Tao. We have to take risks sometimes but we must always go with what our heart tells us is right.
I am going to add some new thoughts to the painting I put on my other blog connected to the thoughts I have here.
This blog is linked to my other. Motion and Emotion
Monday, 19 July 2010
I had a marvellous period of rest and exercise. Running most mornings finishing in the sea for a refreshing morning swim. I met many people whom I hope to continue to know and learn more about in the future. So often on vacation we meet people and promise to stay in touch and sadly we seldom do. I was fortunate to make friends with two families who I am determined to stay in touch with.
One of the families came to watch as I painted outside my caravan. They could speak no English and I no Spanish but still we managed. Spain, as you no doubt know, was playing in the world cup. The family gave me a gift of a Spanish flag to mark the occasion. The daughter of the family could speak a little English so we learned much about them, enough to know they were lovely people. Sadly she was only with them for a few days.
On the evening before our departure they gave us a gift of a bottle of wine to open on our wedding anniversary in a few weeks time. In return I gave them a pastel painting of a part of the beech they visited most days.
It is amazing how we can speak to people without being able to fully understand the language. Art has a marvellous way of crossing boundaries.
I am sorry this is not like my usual blogs but I feel it is appropriate to begin with this and get back into the flow of my usual later. I have some doubt if anybody is still looking at my blogs but I will be looking at yours over the next few days. I missed speaking to you all and look forward to renewing friendships.
This blog is linked to my other Motion and Emotion