Thursday, March 19, 2009

Fitting a Quart into a Pint Pot

I had a lovely letter from a cousin today. He is in his seventies and lives in the Midlands. He and his lovely wife, who has sadly now passed away, were some of the first people I visited when I came over to England with my parents in 1985, and later on my own. I look forward to his letters, not only because his beautiful handwriting makes them almost works of art but also because he writes the sort of letters you can sit down and read over a cup of tea - proper old fashioned chatty letters with lots of lovely details in them. He also has a charming turn of phrase, and when commenting in the letter I received today on how busy I always seem to be and how much I do said that I was clearly “still managing to fit a quart into a pint pot”. I thought that was lovely and took it as a real compliment.

You see, I feel very strongly that life does not come to you, you have to go out and get it. Not only that, but you have to make the very most of everything you go out and get. My conviction that this was true was further reinforced when I watched my poor Dad miss out on fulfilling so many of his dreams - all the things he was going to do “someday” - because his and my Mother’s health did not hold up. I resolved that from now on, “someday” was today. I always try to experience as much as I can and fulfill as many of my dreams as I possibly can now in order to avoid putting too much off for “someday”.

I also think it is very important to be happy now - not to insist that you will be happy “when”. I don‘t like to hear people say, “I’ll be happy when the mortgage is paid / I get a new job / the kids settle down / I’ve been to the Bahamas, etc.” You need to enjoy every moment, and not put off your happiness until “when” anything. Constantly wanting more can drive you absolutely nuts, and there is a huge amount to be said for counting your blessings and being happy in this moment, even if everything is far from perfect.

I cried for Natasha Richardson and her family this morning. When something so sad happens to someone in the public eye, it reminds me how tragedies happen to people all the time, we just do not hear about it. I don’t mean to suggest for one minute that Natasha put things off till someday or waited to be happy “when” - I’m sure nothing could be further from the truth - only that her death has reinforced my resolve not to do either of those things. I’m always banging on about “Carpe Diem” (seize the day) but there really is something to be said for it.

I am not a fan of fridge magnets, but I do have two of them prominently displayed on my fridge. One says, “Every day is a gift, that’s why we call it the present” and the other, “Remember that happiness is a means of travel not a destination.” Both of these are worth remembering every day.

As for me, as long as I’m able, I’ll keep fitting that quart into a pint pot and being grateful that I can.

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