Thursday, 26 July 2012

Words , Words and More Words.




Paintings on Display

I am sure everybody is familiar with the well used quotation, “ Empty barrels make the most sound.” It was a great favourite of my father who was indeed a man of few words. When he did speak it was almost without exception worth listening to what he had to say. I was always sure that deep within lay an intellectual ability that had never fully been able to flourish and find vent.

He was one of a family of eleven not counting his parents, which would have been thirteen. For such a family school was something that had to be done until you were old enough to get out and find a job. He therefore began working in the coal mines at a very early age. He later got out of that and became a painter. Sadly, it was not the kind of painter most reading this will be, he worked painting ships and decorating ship cabins for navel warships.

Nevertheless he had a wonderful knowledge of nature, which he passed on to me on our Sunday walks. He also seemed to have a built in understanding of people. I frequently heard him say to me, “Remember the empty barrels make the most sound.”  Or he would gently say to, ‘Unless you are going to make somebody happy keep your thoughts and wisdom to yourself.”

I am speaking of this today because yesterday my old friend Archie said to, “I like the way you only ever manage to find good things to say about some people who it is very difficult to find much good to say about.”   I felt myself thinking I had maybe just learned that lesson of my fathers.

There is a true tale.

The disciples of Lao-Tzu were one day sitting together absorbed in discussing the dictum of their master:

“Those who know do not say; Those who do say do not know.”

When Lao-Tzu joined them, they asked for clarification of his words.

 He replied, saying, “Which of you knows the fragrance of the lotus?” Without exception they all knew. La-Tzu then said to them, “put it into words.”
All of them were silent.
There are just some things that cannot be spoken, but more importantly there are some things that should just never be said.”
 This blog is linked to my other and with very good reason. A New Adventure





Monday, 23 July 2012

You Can Sometimes Try To Hard.


A Scottish Landscape

We Scots have a long history blighted by what we call our Presbyterian streak.  It is the wonderful ability of being able to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory and always putting ourselves down. We are never good enough. As a nation we feel unable to stand on our own two feet and for some reason feel sure that without the help of the rest of the UK we would flounder. This is  spite of our long and wonderful history of invention and making strides forward possible for humanity possible in so many ways.

On the level of personal human beings we have a tendency to act the same way. I can remember the many times when I was proud of some achievement for it to be pointed out to me that I could have done even better.  As a parent I once or twice found myself almost falling into the same trap with my children, fortunately not so often that it has effected them.

I am very aware of these traits in my own makeup. I never felt that I was  a great preacher, and was always aware of the few pews in the church that were empty rather than the 900 that were filled. I never felt I was as good a teacher as I might have been in spite of the exam results of my students saying otherwise. I have never painted a picture that I am happy with in spite of so many sales.

There is a wonderful tale Lao Tzu and some of his followers. One they travelling together along a road through what used to be a large forest. The woodcutters had cut down all the trees except for one large tree which they were all sitting under having lunch.

Lao Tzu asked his disciples to go and enquire if this last tree was also to be cut down, and if not why not. When they asked the cutters they were told that it would not be because it was totally useless. They were told it was no use for furniture because it branches were not straight enough. It was no use for firewood because it contained to many knots and twists and so would cause more smoke than heat.  That is why it has been left standing.

When the disciples returned and reported back to Lao Tzu he smiled and said, “Be like this tree. If you are useful you will be cut down and become somebody’s furniture. If you are beautiful you will be sold as a commodity.  But if like this tree your are useless you can be what you are and look at all those who are enjoying sitting under its shade.”

It is better to be as good as you can be rather than have to be continually telling yourself how useless you are.

This blog is linked to my other where I discuss the artwork used here. A Scottish Landscape




Friday, 20 July 2012

Posititve Thinking The Name of The Game


Poppies in France

I watched an interesting programme on the television about people who have serious arthritis, a debilitating illness.  Years of running up and down mountains has meant that I am one of those very unlucky people who suffer daily the pain that comes with. I cannot complain of course, I chose to run up mountains and incur broken bones and such. No matter how much advice I was given I continued and still do.

This programme was about an experiment that had been carried out. Two groups of people had be selected both very similar in structure and severity of illness. One group continued with medication alone, while the other group was given a gym membership and a schedule of exercise. The exercise was not strenuous but regular. After a six month period the initial testing was carried out again. It was no surprise for me to learn that those who had been on the exercise regime were now using less medication and suffering less pain than those who had just carried on with medication and pain relief.

I tell you this because yesterday in the course of the day I met three people who commented on my stupid practice of running every day, their words not mine. Each of them went on to tell me that because of the pain they had they could not do it.

I read a story of two oncologists, talking about a similar test. One complained bitterly, "You know, Bob, I just don't understand it. We used the same drugs, the same dosage, the same schedule and the same entry criteria. Yet I got a 22 percent response rate and you got a 74 percent. That's unheard of for metastatic cancer. How do you do it?"
His colleague replied, "We're both using Etoposide, Platinum, Oncovin and Hydroxyurea. You call yours EPOH.

 I tell my patients I'm giving them, Hydroxyurea, Oncovin Platinum and Hydroxyurea and I call it “HOPE.”

 As dismal as the statistics are, I emphasize that we have a chance."

I rejoice in the many friends I have met here in blogging who have such an attitude and persevere creating marvelous work, some under much pain.

It is all a matter of attitude and of course HOPE. I am off to take two painkillers and run my morning eight miles run. Have a great day.

This blog is linked to my other.Poppies in France

Thursday, 19 July 2012

The Inflatable Boy


A work in progress

How simple it is to say some thoughtless word or carry out some thoughtless action and without ever intending to  cause offence, or discourage another. I do though sometimes think this is because we live a, blame culture.  We are always ready to blame others for the way things are, never considering it may just be an accident or a thoughtless moment.

I say this because yesterday I spent half an hour in the company of a person who did nothing but complain about everything and everybody around him. How draining a half an hour that was. On the other hand I also spent some time with my dear old friend, Archie, who never ever has a bad word to say about anybody, such a contrast.

So let me start your day off with a little thought and a funny story.

There once lived a little inflatable boy in an inflatable house. He lived with his inflatable parents. Each day he attended the inflatable school run by an inflatable headmaster. He enjoyed attending school, so it was with some surprise that he was called to the inflatable head teachers room one morning.

He stood before the inflatable head and wondered what was wrong. The head said to him, “It has come to my notice that you might be breaking one of the school rules.”  “What?” asked the young inflatable boy.

“Is it the case that you have a pin in your pocket?” asked the inflatable head.

“I have,” said the inflatable boy.

“Well you have let me down, and the school and your parents.”

I will leave you to dwell on that and I hope it brings a little smile to your day.  An act of kindness or a word of encouragement can go a long way to inflating a persons feeling of good will and well being. But how easy it is to burst that bubble.

This blog is linked to my other where I will discuss any artwork used. A Work In Progress

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Make People Happy and be Happy Yourself.

In Reverence He Stands

A friend has asked me more than once to return to blogging so here I am giving it another try. I have been here reading blogs of friends but each time I have gone to make a comment I have dried up of thoughts. I has been the same with painting the last four or five weeks, every time I put a canvas on the easel I just cannot bring myself to put out some paint. I feel uninspired. At the same time I am running better than I have in years, running every single day and going further miles than I have in years, running routes I never thought I would run again.

Apart from that life goes on as normal. It is that time of the year when I am harvesting my plot. This gives me the opportunity to leave little bags of fresh salad and potatoes and cabbage on the doorsteps of those whom I think would enjoy the little extra fresh food. I get pleasure doing this secretly. I have always believed that acts of kindness are so much more joy than the present pastime of mocking people so many seem to have.

This reminds me of a tale I have not used here before.

There once lived on the African plains a rhino that was very easily angered. One day a giant turtle strayed into his territory unknowingly. On spotting the turtle the rhino ran over with the intention of getting rid of him. The turtle in fear did as all turtles do in such situations withdrew into his shell.

When the rhino demanded he leave, there was not a sign of any movement. This angered the rhino so much; he thought the turtle was fooling with him. He started banging on the shell with his marvelous horn in an effort to get the turtle to come out. With no success he tried harder and harder. The poor turtle was hurtled this way and that. From a distance it looked as if the rhino was practicing for an important football match.
Soon a load of monkeys gathered in the trees to watch the spectacle making it even more like a football game. The laughed and laughed at the antics of the rhino. The rhino was so angry he didn’t even notice that the monkeys were there. On and on it went until he had to stop for breath.
In the moment of silence he heard the monkey laughter. He became aware that they were making fun of him. Neither the rhino, or for that matter the turtle whom had emerged from his shell enjoyed the fact that they were being mocked by a gang of monkeys.
They looked at each other and the turtle nodded and retreated back into his shell. The rhino gathered himself, stepped back a few paces as if readying to take a penalty kick, and ran hard kicking the turtle straight at the monkeys. The turtle flew through the air and hit the monkeys like a row of skittles sending them flying.
Suddenly the place looked like an emergency ward for monkeys. They lay all over the place bruised and battered. Meanwhile the turtle and the rhino, smiling like old friends walked off the scene together.
The monkeys realized that there had to be better ways of amusing yourself than mocking and laughing at others.
I hope you have a lovely day and the smiles you see are the smiles of joy and not the sneers of fools.


This blog is connected to my other where I talk of the art used.In reverence he Stands