Waiting

Today was a day off for me. I had a whole load of things I was going to do on this free-from-work day. But as they say, “The best laid plans…” Why did my plans go awry? Well let’s work that out shall we?

First I was up ridiculously late last night – that actually translates to the wee hours of the morning – then as a consequence, I overslept. Oversleeping then made me late for my appointment with my previous landlady and her final inspection. *sidenote – it went really well* Of course, I then had to wait for my landlady to make the aforementioned final inspection appointment because she was running late.

These two events had the cumulative affect of making everything else I had planned for the day get further and further behind schedule. As the day began to draw to a close, I started to get just a little stressed. All because everything – apart from the oversleeping part  – revolved around WAITING!!!


This all came to a head when, returning from my second trip to the nearest post office, I got caught in a traffic jam. I mean really? A traffic jam?? The vitriol was building up like a lava burst from a dormant volcano.

 

My inner dialogue went something like this: “WHAT?? I repeat, what ARE we doing here?” “First I drive ALL the way to the post office, JUST to find I have to go home and come back! Then, when I get home I have to make lunch! Then I have to come back to the post officeRIGHT DURING RUSH HOUR!!!!!!”

To top it all off, they were working on the road.

Then just as I was about to explode like a mini-Krakatoa, I started to chuckle. Not hysterically – although it was close –  ”Well that’s what you get for oversleeping!” Explosion averted, I started pondering about the amount of times we wind up waiting for things. Don’t worry, I had plenty of time, this was a good sized traffic jam.

We wait, it seems, for just about everything. We wait in queues (lines for folks of American extraction) in supermarkets, we wait in the doctors office, in the dentist office, in the bank, at the petrol station, at the post office, at traffic lights and round-a-bouts (traffic circles, again for the American folks), we wait to be served in restaurants and wait to get our food in the same restaurants. We wait for holidays, days off, for the boiler to be mended. Well I could go on, but I think we’d both get bored and a little frustrated thinking about all that waiting.

I guess the thing I was pondering about in that traffic jam ( I’ll bet you thought I’d gone off that subject) was this. How much of that time spent waiting is actually our own fault?

My critical mass point today was the second return trip from the post office. I could have avoided the traffic jam and even have avoided the second trip, if, I had done at least one of two things. If I had not decided in my infinite wisdom to stay up “till the cows come home” and if I had actually paid attention to the website that told me what to bring to the post office to begin with. Whoo, that was a long sentence, wasn’t it?

I know that I’m not alone in getting angry at having to wait. I think that as a human animal we all have this tendency to begrudge our time being “wasted” by having to wait for something. But I’ll bet we could all live with these wasted moments, if we just thought about how we got there to begin with.

I know my waiting today was largely a result of my own actions. Remembering this helped me to calm down and even have a chuckle at my own expense. This was much preferable to having a nuclear meltdown. The next time you’re caught waiting try looking at why. You might find out that you were the cause after all. This may not help, but, at least you’ll know who to pin the blame onto.

Dreams And Time

We all have dreams. I don’t mean of the “I dreamt last night I that I could fly” type dream. I mean dreams of what we want in this life. Our aspirations, our hopes and our preferred destinies. Some people dream of fame, stardom, or success. Others dream of keeping warm in the winter, having a full belly, being free from fear.
Often our dreams change.  They have to.  Life has a way of changing us and the way we see things. Situations  often cause this. Getting married, having children, just plain old paying the bills can change the focus of our dreams. Where once we dreamed of success or fame, we find that dream has shifted to our children.
 Another situation that can cause our dreams to change is time, or the sudden awareness of it. We get older. It’s a fact. As we get older, life throws up more obstacles to thwart and challenge our dreams. Work, marriage, divorce, children, and health are just some of the things that can cause us to change or even lose sight of our dreams.
Sometimes we even turn our backs on the dream that we’ve had for years. This is not done lightly. It usually involves a lot of soul searching and re-evaluation. It is never an easy decision and it is usually pretty painful. The end result is sadness and a realisation that perhaps the dream was never attainable or unrealistic. This happens to most people and it’s a damn shame, but it is part of life.
Time is the biggest obstacle to dreams we want to pursue. Time is fleeting, elusive and an illusion. I know what you’re thinking. How, you ask, is time an illusion? It’s simple if you think about it. When you were a child, time seemed to be an infinite thing. Remember school holidays? Summer break from school lasted practically forever. Now, if you are a parent, you’ll have noticed school summer “hols” are over almost before they begin. And although time is a constant, our perception of it changes with age. Time appears to go faster.  See? Time is an illusion.

Deutsch: Jack Nicholson bei der deutschen Film...

My daughter and I watched the brilliant film, The Bucket List the other day. For those of you who are not aware of this wonderful film, I’ll give you the Readers Digest version of the plot. Two very different men – Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson– are given a prognosis of impending death. Morgan Freeman’s character is making a “bucket list,” in other words, things to do before you “kick-the-bucket.”  The two men  then start trying to full-fill the list.  I thought of the film again today after talking about a colleague, that I have known and liked for years, who shuffled off his mortal coil suddenly and unexpectedly. He was not much older than I am.  I wondered if he had a “bucket list” and if he felt he had accomplished everything he wanted. If he had achieved any of his dreams…Did he even have any dreams.

Deutsch: Morgan Freeman bei der deutschen Film...

My dreams over the years have been folded, stapled, and mutilated. They have been usurped by marriage – twice, divorce – twice, children – twice, various job changes, and various life experiences. These are all things that, if given a choice…I WOULDN’T CHANGE FOR THE WORLD.
I  believe that even though time can be a real stinker, I can still have my dreams and pursue them. I may have to change them a bit, but, they’ll continue to live in me despite time and various other influences in my world that have tried to destroy them.
Time may cheat us from realising our dreams, but time can never kill our dreams. Only we can do that.

Bits

I realised today that the loft boards I bought for my old flat’s attic have been left inadvertently for the new tenant. I’m not bothered.  The thirty odd pounds I spent to floor a small part of my attic was money well spent in my opinion. The investment cost of the boards more than paid for itself, just in letting me store my possessions that little bit closer to where I was living. Hopefully the new tenant can make good use of them.
I’ve moved around a lot in my life. I have always rented my abode, except for one short time period where my second wife and I bought our first home. We were very proud of that house, that although it was small, was ours.  As our daughter grew, she was a baby when we bought the house, it suddenly became even smaller. That combined with a school catchment glitch necessitated selling our home and re-entering the “rental chain.”
When we left that house all our possessions came with us. Probably the only time in my rental life that I haven’t left some of my “bits” behind. Looking back at my life of renting, I realise that I’ve left literally thousands of pounds worth of bits behind. Whether it’s been odd tools that I didn’t need any longer or just loft boards, I always felt fine with leaving them for future tenants to use or discard as they wished.  Many places I rented had little things left behind by previous tenants. Some of the abandoned things were quite macabre.
My first wife and I were desperate for a bigger place in Southern California. The manager of the apartment complex next to us came knocking on our door late one night. He knew we were looking for a bigger place. He told us a vacancy had just come up. When I enquired about the timing -the middle of the night- he explained that the previous tenant had committed suicide. After the police had finished their investigations and the next-of-kin had collected his belongings, the place was ours if we wanted it. We moved in soon after and I found a brand new razor in the bathroom. I called his family and they said do what ever I wanted to with it.  I kept it and used it for years, money was incredibly tight in those days. My “dead man’s razor” my first wife called it.
I know it probably seems like I’ve wandered from the subject a bit. Worry not, I am right on track. You’ll see.
The bits we leave behind us, whether on purpose or inadvertently, are parts of us. I don’t just mean the odd hammer or bits of lumber we voluntarily leave behind. I talking about the bits of us left behind that leave an impression.  Somewhat like the over-used “carbon footprint” adverts, we leave footprints when we leave a place. It’s much nicer to leave a footprint that says, “You know he was a really nice chap.” or “I didn’t realise  how helpful that fella was.”
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not begging for folks to remember me well after I’ve gone or even to remember me at all. But given a choice, I would prefer that the bits I leave behind are good ones. Bits that leave a good taste in the recipients mouth, versus a bad one.

Paying Up

Wipe our Debt
Wipe our Debt (Photo credit: Images_of_Money)

I’m supposed to be paying bills at this particular moment. But as is obvious by this post, I’m not. I will do, I promise. I still have a few days left before they are due. So there’s no real rush.

Instead I am taking a break from the hustle and bustle of settling in. I’ve found homes for just about everything that was laying around on the floor. I’ve separated my post from the landlords post. I’ve pre-cooked tea and washed up the dishes. I’ve done a load of laundry and set it up to dry.  I’ve even made a list (in my head and God know how long that will stay there) of things I need to pick up from the store down the road. I even took Meg (my daughter) the other side of town to meet her mother.  No wonder I need a break, I’ve been busy!

But despite my busy day, the bills I’ve got to pay have never left my thoughts.  I am always afraid I will miss a payment and get a bad credit  rating. I know this comes from my up-bringing. My Dad used to always say, “You can have all the fun you want. But you have to remember that the important thing is paying up. You always have to pay the piper.”

The things my Dad told me are just as true today as they were when I was a youngster.  In this day and age of easy credit and banks gone mad, I think a lot of folks don’t believe that. But it is true, we all have to pay up.

Of course I’m not just talking about money here, I’m talking about life and our actions in it. Call it Karma, or just call it “owing the house,” it all means the same thing.  We build up a debt by our actions and reactions to people, things and events. Stop and think about it. Have you ever refused to give up your seat on the bus for some poor old soul who needed it more? Stolen a parking place from another driver who was clearly waiting for it? I could go on and on about the seemingly trivial things that we do to one another  that helps build up that debt.

Now let me make one thing perfectly clear, I am not talking about religion. I’m talking about evening the scales, balancing how we deal with one another. Because believe it not, ugly actions build up a debt just as much as charging on your credit card. And one way or another we all have to go through the process of paying up that debt. Refusing to do so will result in bankrupting whatever it is inside of us that makes us human.

I  think that if we were afraid of getting a bad rating in life instead of just from the credit companies, everyone would get along a lot better. Remember the piper and what he did when the villagers refused to pay up. I’m going to try to keep paying up my “debts” because I don’t want the “piper” mad at me!

And you shouldn’t want that either.

I got the little van??

Okay so I tried to rent a big van, but, they didn’t have any. I was a little annoyed. I figured that the big van would allow me to move everything from storage in one go. Little van equals many trips.

Bummer.

Then I go to the storage place and they don’t have a hand truck (trolley) for me to borrow….yet. So the big van wouldn’t have been a better choice at all. One trip equals no hand truck. No hand truck means no moving the washing machine. Since the washing machine is the heaviest thing in storage this would have been bad.

Now the important part of the above paragraph was the word yet. It turns out that someone else borrowed the hand truck and will have it back in a couple of hours.  Since I have the little van and have to make several trips, this has worked out perfectly. So my minor annoyance at the lack of a big van to hire was just that, minor.

It never ceases to amaze me how often I will get annoyed by little set-backs and obstacles that cause me to change my “perfect” game plan. When in reality most of these “annoyances” usually make my game plan better. I wonder if I will ever get that point of personal clarity where I will realise that my plans are only perfect if I remember to be flexible enough to “go with the flow”

I know I’m not alone is this reaction to set-backs and obstacles. Most people react the same way. My mother has always said that things happen for a reason. I think that to a huge degree this is true.

Example:

I had an audition for a Japanese training film in 1999. It was going to pay a brilliant wage, good residuals and 1st class accommodation for the duration of the shoot. They were going to be filming in the first week of October that year. What happened? The train I needed to take in order to make the audition in time broke down. I was devastated (it looked like I was a shoe-in for the part), my agent/manager was apoplectic. Fast forward to 14 September 1999 when I was in hospital for major lower back surgery. End result? There was no way at all that I would have been recovered enough to have taken the job. Yet when that train broke down, I was damn near suicidal.

We all need to step back and re-evaluate when we get annoyed about life’s setbacks and obstacles. I’m sure if we think about it long enough we’ll realise it works out more than all right in the end. Just think of the anger you won’t be wasting. Save it for something important, like when you’re doing your taxes.