Friday, 31 August 2012

Chasing Happiness

Isle of Iona

I found myself involved in a very heavy conversation two days ago, and I am still mulling over the parts of that conversation today. The conversation took place between two people I know well, a stranger, from Ireland, and myself.

It started like most conversations, light hearted and of little consequence but quickly it turned to the more serious matters of life.  We broke all the rules, never discuss politics or religion with people you do not know.

The topics covered included both but I suppose what caught my thought the most was the question I am so often asked, where can you find happiness. The Irishman asked me that question after an interesting question about faith and belief.

I now realise I gave very much my standard answer to the question and he seemed happy with the answer. The trouble is, it nagged at me for ages later, and is still there nagging away.

Most people who know me tell me they see me as one who is content and happy. The truth is that I have been far from happy for over a month and more. What people have been getting is not what is in the tin.

So I have been looking again at what I think happiness is and where it is to be found. Here are my most up to date musings.

Happiness is Tolerance. If you become a member of the perfectionist club, be ready to live a life of disappointment often offended and lonely.

Happiness is not the absence of pain. There is no such thing as a pain free life. In fact emotional pain is a useful life tool that alerts you to a mismatch between values and your environment.

Happiness is an association. If you want to be happy associate with happy people.

Happiness is not in fact a pursuit.   Forget about chasing happiness and you will indeed become happy.

Happiness is a state of mind. Regardless of your goals in life or where you are going, you can choose to travel your life’s journey happy or unhappy.

Others can invite you to feel miserable you do not need to accept the invitation.

This blog is linked to my other.  Isle of Iona

Friday, 24 August 2012

Why Do I Care?


I seem to be the kind of person whom life likes to kick. Let me explain. I care very deeply for the friends I make and would do whatever I can to help them, or even just make a the moment of life better for them.

The danger of being a person like this is that others sadly abuse what you are. I gave a friend a bag of my new harvested potatoes, thinking I was giving fresh new produce. I think there were enough to do for a few weeks at least.

Yesterday, the person I had given them to pointed out that I had given her one that was bruised and damaged.

The story of my life really. I try and try to make people happy but continually fail.

So I was giving some very serious thought to what a real friend was. What is it we mean when we say I am your friend, or even more when you say I love you.

It is day by day an important question when we live in a world of fast moments and transitory relationships. Life moves faster and faster and relationships are reduced to a few texts, not even spelled with any care or thought.

So here are my thoughts.

A real friend :

(A)ccepts you as you are

(B)elieves in "you"

(C)alls you just to say "HI"

(D)oesn't give up on you

(E)nvisions the whole of you (even the unfinished parts)

(F)orgives your mistakes

(G)ives unconditionally

(H)elps you

(I)nvites you over

(J)ust  want to "be" with you

(K)eeps you close at heart

(L)oves you just as you are

(M)akes a difference in your life

(N)ever Judges
(O)ffers support
without a thought of why.
(P)icks you up
 when you do not deserve to be picked up.
(Q)uiets your fears
and understands why you have those fears.
(R)aises your spirits
and encourages you do do even more.
(S)ays nice things about you even when you do not deserve nice things to be said about you.

(T)ells you the truth when you need to hear it
even though it might hurt
(U)nderstands you
when nobody else seems to.
(V)alues you
just because you are whom you are.
(W)alks beside you when everybody else has left.

(X)-plains thing you don't understand in words you do.

(Y)ells when you won't listen and tells you to shut up.
(Z)aps you back to reality.

But above all never blocks you out of their life.

Even when they deserve to be just that. 

This blog is linked to my other.Millport

Monday, 13 August 2012

Sadness and Joy.

Along The Firebreak

I find it strange that more and more I recall the things my father said to me as I walked with him. Strange in the sense that I remember it so clearly now and yet I might not have remembered those words a few months ago or even during the majority of my youth. Somebody said it was an age thing, but I sure do not want to believe that. I think it may just be that I have been running a route I have not travelled in years, but walked regularly with my father.

This morning there was a light rain, the kind that makes the hedges and bushes smell fresh. The sounds of birds as they get back to a life of some normality as young fledglings begin to really leave the nest and venture forth. My father frequently said to me, ”Stop chattering and just listen and let nature give you some answers.”

As I write this I had a moment of clarity, I have said similar things to so many people down the years and never ever asked why.

This all reminds me of the story of the old man taking his daily walk.     

With bent shoulders he set out each day to walk his few miles. On the days when it rained he carried his furled umbrella, seldom if ever bothering to unfurl it, preferring to feel the rain on his balding head.

He came to a place in the road where there were a number of rocky stairs which he climbed with determination and care. At the top of the steps there was a carved pot with a cut bamboo pole to direct clear spring water into the pot. Here he would pause and enjoy the sweet taste of the spring.

Then he would pause for a moment, bending his ear, like an attentive student. He would listen, with joy on his face to the confluence of sounds; the pitter-patter of the rain on the leaves, the gurgle of the flowing water. There in the sounds was a sense, a precise mix of melancholy and joy that make life exquisite to live. “There is sadness and beauty in all around. When you can fully understand that and hear nature sign to you, you will no longer be a boy but a man my friend.”

It is this we artists try to capture.

This blog is linked to my other. Along The Firebreak

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Chasing Meaningless Goals

Homeward Bound.
While out running and walking I so often feel at one with nature. Unlike my son and daughter I never take an mp3 player with me while running, not only because I like to be aware of the traffic and other possible dangers, I prefer to hear the sounds of birds and animals, and the moments of silence.

Recently my clash with nature has not always been a looked forward to experience. About half a mile from where I live, just before I leave the village behind and head out to the countryside, I have been having a frightening two or three hundred yards. Sitting on the rooftops there are two seagulls, almost as if sitting in wait. As I run past they give me a number of lowing flying attacks. Sometimes they Passover my head within inches of me, screaming as they do so. I mean them no harm, not that they know it, but it just all seems like a terrible waste of energy on their part.

I was considering this meaningless gesture when I saw a dog  feverishly chasing its tail, round and round. This reminded me of the dog that lived in one of the previous places I lived. It sat at the end of the drive into the house where its owner stayed. Every time a car or vehicle passed it chased it as fast as it could for a good hundred yards up the road.  I remember saying to the owner, “Do you think your dog will ever get fit enough to catch one of those cars? “

He smiled and replied, “That is not what bothers me. What really bothers me is what he would do if he ever did catch one.”

I smile when I remember that little dog running and barking in its endless and meaningless pursuit.

But these are not the only meaningless actions that can be seen day in and day out. We all at some time have pursued meaningless goals, and wasted precious time getting nowhere and doing nothing much.

The great sage once said, “To live a meaningful life, choose meaningful goals.! “

Now I hear the many people who on a regular basis ask me the question, “Why on earth do you get up at 6am and go running?’

Have a great day.

This blog is linked to my other. Homeward Bound.

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Finding Silence.

Summer in France.

I have had a week away running forest and mountain trails. There is something marvellous about running along narrow exciting trails. The possibility that you may not reach the top, the unexpected edge that you know needs to be given 100% concentration.

I ran just such a trail. The information board at the car park warned that the orange trail was strenuous and should only be tackled in the correct boots and clothes. So I set off in running shorts t shirt and running shoes, so I was taking heed of the warnings.

After half a mile the track took a sharp drop down the side of the hill weaving through the trees, the trail covered in the roots of the trees, exhilarating.  At the bottom the trail widened again and for the next few miles undulated its way through the forest. I began to wonder why it was marked as strenuous. Then it began to climb, and climb, all the time the path narrowing. Then I saw it turn upwards, straight upwards, a narrow rocky track with ever increasing drops.  Every step had to be taken with thought. I often liken such routes as similar to playing chess, it is always wise to be thinking five moves ahead to see where you are going to plant your foot in plenty of time.

Eventually the track broke through at the top offering stunning views over the tops of the high trees.  For a moment I could switch off and just take in the vista before me before heading down what turned out to be a marvellous fast two or so miles.

An easy going disciple of Lao-Tzu once complained that he had never experienced the real silence that the master frequently commented on.  Lao-Tzu looked at him and said, “Silence only comes to active people.”

I had often thought about that and never truly understood it. The other day, possibly for the first time in my life I sensed a silence that filled my head with nothing but peace.

I wish this peace to all, but it seems it does not come without activity and creative action.

This blog is linked to my other.Summer Evening France