I am only going to report on two moments from this week that really stand out as opportunities I could have missed…
- Saying ‘Yes’
I remember watching the Jim Carrey film, Yes Man a few years back. It was rather memorable for me, not because it was a particularly impressive production (just another set up in which Mr Carrey can do his well known over the top comedic thing) but because I like the idea. It was a fascinating notion – what would life be like if one said yes… to everything? It is a simple yet complex idea that it can be just a matter of choice to be leading a different life: a more connected life; a life full of special moments; a life with more risks and therefore greater success, but then, perhaps, crushing failures. On Tuesday, I made a last minute plan to go to my friend’s house with the kids after a toddler group, for lunch. We had a lovely time and the older two were playing as well as they do when they’re three (and both feisty characters!) Then my friend suggested we took a stroll down the beach… I paused and reflected on my achey legs, mild headache, and general tiredness. Also the fact that it was blowing a gale outside was rather off-putting. I also didn’t have my pushchair or a wrap. It was rather tempting to say no but a voice in my head told me not to wuss out. Besides, the children could do with letting off some steam! We put the two three-years-olds in my friend’s double pushchair and my toddler went on my back. I was pushing the double and feeling the weight of my 19 month old, battling against the wind and thinking, ‘why did I say yes?’
Well, when we got onto the beach I saw why:
Some moments are worth the effort, even the pain, required to reach them…
The waves were magnificent. The photo does not do justice to their size. We kept hold of little hands and ran away, getting caught out by the speed of the water chasing us up the beach from one particularly large wave. It is always a special something to witness; the awe-inspiring, crashing waves.
Was this why there was a sizeable crowd assembled along the beach, as far as the eye could see?
Seemed rather out of the ordinary but we simply shrugged and continued our frolicking. Then they caught my eye, three planes in the sky, flying low in formation along the coast heading east. Lightbulb moment realising all these people don’t just enjoy big waves like we do. We saw another set of four planes go past before we decided to call it a day due to a whinging toddler and hurty ears (mine).
My son is really into planes and so it felt pretty stellar timing to have turned up randomly to find an airshow! I had no doubt I’d made a good decision, even without the planes. After I got home I opened my BBC news app and a particular headline jumped out at me…
‘Battle of Britain: Historic Flypast for 75th Anniversary’
Turns out… this airshow was a pretty big deal. A national, historic, significant event. I looked up the flight paths and one clearly marked out a red line along the coast past Worthing. “The flypast was the biggest grouping of World War Two aircraft since the war itself.” (BBC news article) Reflecting back, it is quite a powerful carpe diem moment. I nearly missed a special event, commemorating the actions of men who stepped into these planes and never enjoyed another moment themselves.
Sometimes saying yes doesn’t result in such an experience… but what we learn from the should-have-said-no’s can be pretty potent too. Sometimes it’s right to say no and that can result in special moments also.
2. Being friendly
This isn’t really my forté. I went to a new-ish cafe in town yesterday that I have got into the habit of going to each week for my coffee that I take into work. It is a special cafe that offers clean, healthy, low-sugar food and they do happen to do the best coffee I’ve had for a while. After only a couple of visits the owner looked at me like he recognised me and asked how I was. Yesterday, I decided to say more than ‘fine thanks, you?’ and asked about business and we had a conversation. Generally, I can be a bit in my own world. I can find conversing with people I don’t know draining, sometimes scary and I can literally draw a blank. Shyness has been a struggle for me since I was a child and I always remember Dad sharing with me how he often felt shy in social situations. It really surprised me! He was a leader in various ways for most of his working life, he was the life and soul of a gathering, a real ‘people person’. He told me about a study he once read that looked at popularity and what gained a popular person that status within their social sphere. They observed this person and how at parties they would ask the most questions and show the most interest in others. I’m not seeking popularity but it struck me how much it means to people when someone shows an interest. Dad encouraged me to think of questions before I go into a situation. Writing it makes it sound rather lame, but I’m sure some of you may relate. I would find myself in a situation, drawing a blank, and wonder ‘why can’t I think of a question, I know nothing about this person, how can I not have anything to enquire of them?’ Over the years with some practise, many many coffees with my superbly talented-at-conversing Mother, and also, some accepting of who I am, I have improved. I thought of my Dad as I walked away from the cafe and thought about how proud he’d be. People are important and I want to further perfect the art of conversation with people I don’t really know, whilst still allowing for my need to be quiet.
If I am going to write stories I need to hear some!
That’s all folks.