The Happiness of Forgiveness

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Image – Rembrandt – The return of the prodigal son

When your conscience is clear, life appears to be more relaxing, colours appear brighter, friends seem friendlier, and family is easier to live with. It’s just the process of managing the difficult parts of life that makes our conscience prickly, our friendships hard to negotiate and our family glower at us.

Conscience is a strange concept really, are we the only creatures with one? It can be defined as ” a built-in sense of what’s right and what’s wrong”. As humans we have memories for reliving situations when we were unfair, or angry and even more when other people were like that with us – we often respond thinking that others remember those situations as clearly as we do.

Some of us have a concept of a being outside of us, who knows everything we have done. Then we have this need to appease that being as well as our own conscience.

When we ask others what we have done to create tension in our relationships, we feel upset at the answers even though we may know deep inside that they are right. Often we know the answers already, we didn’t listen to them, we were too abrupt, we pushed past when we should have waited, we forgot to do, to say, to prepare something. We lead busy lives and we forget others do as well.

It always helps to forgive. And this is a prickly word for some of us, and for all of us at various times. When we were little it is a really hard word, because we are developing our sense of self, and we are upset when others seem to violate that. When we are older and we have gone through complex relationship issues or have had a divorce, or a death of a loved one, or when we are going through a traumatic set of circumstances which others create, it is a very hard word to think about.

In the Jewish calender this is the month of Elul, and it is a month known for introspection about the personal behaviour, thoughts and attitudes towards others and forgiveness of others. As I have been learning about this, I have had to think about my behaviour and ask forgiveness, as well as forgive others.

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Happiness of getting around

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This was the second small car to come into my life, after the failure of my first marriage and the destruction of my first brand new car ( a Mazda 121) in a very nasty accident, in which the car was totally destroyed after being rear ended by a much bigger company car, while I was attempting to turn, off a highway,  into my workplace.

This was not a very auspicious start for a life with my little blue car. Previously it had belonged to a blended family of seven little adults and the two parents. They knew me, and they had been tempting me with it for a few months. Obviously it was way too small for their demands and they desperately needed to sell it. I already had a car for my two children and myself, and had purchased it from the showroom floor, and it suited my needs perfectly. I had spent 13 years driving a Land Rover around in a very hot climate, with no air conditioning, with animals, and children in the back. Anything which was smaller and I could turn around in one go, plus sit in 20 degree comfort without sweat trickling down my front, and could listen to the radio or any CD I wanted too was absolute heaven.

So when a Blue nurse decided to end my trip to work by not concentrating and piling her company Ford Station wagon into the back of my little Mazda, I was slightly unhappy and almost terrified of driving again. Some very good friends comforted me and I was soon back on the road in a rented tub of a thing that stopped working round the corner from my house, and they had to bring me another one that actually worked.

Eventually a wise go between, organised my friends to on sell the car to me, we negotiated a very agreeable price. I soon got my Insurance payout and then I purchased the Electric Blue Festiva.

My husband has had the same type of situation recently  with a truck that he had fallen in love with. It didn’t have the same type of long history as my Mazda but it was a car he had almost started to play with. It was a white, diesel BT50 ute which he had already taken on a 4 wheel drive with a group of like minded friends and he had kept up with them and was really starting to enjoy his dream car.We had only had it a year after replacing a vehicle which we had ran a business with, this vehicle (a Kia truck) was a work beast and not a car we “enjoyed” it was one that was practical and useful.

So when we got the Mazda BT50, it was mostly used to drive him to drive to and from work, however one drive home he had a micro sleep and almost lost his life and definitely lost his beautiful dream car.

It rolled twice, very near to a dam. He was between vehicles so others watched the whole agonized process, and he had others race down and turn off the engine, one very nice girlfriend of another sat by him, to make sure he was ok. He had crawled out through shattered glass to sit by the truck and sit dazed, amazed that he had all his limbs, and no scratches even from the very terrifying ordeal others had watched him go through.

Hours later I picked him up at the Hospital Emergency Ward, in our first big marital purchase, a lovely British Racing Green Camry, that we had fallen in love with when we pooled our resources and bought a few years before. It was now our one and only vehicle and we fell in love with it all over again, it was safe, reliable and survived side wipe of a rear ender and a few other disasters like a big nasty hailstorm and a minor flood. The key being “survive”.

We finally last week replaced his dream car with a Mitsubishi Pajero and it has been christened Kev ( a play on the number plate) and we rechristened our Camry Kim. We hope that this will be exactly the same history as that cute little Festiva, giving us many happy family hours enjoying four wheel drives, picnics and long trips. Very definitely our lives are very much fashioned by the cars that we drive.

The Happiness of writing

Karen Blixen was a story teller, and loved to write – I love her story Babette’s Feast which has all the ingredients of a good story. Simple storyline, very beautifully drawn characters, and clarity of expression. It looks so easy but it is so hard to get right when I try to write …   I think one of the clues is to stop worrying about grammar, historical accuracy, even location but just write what is in your heart about the characters.

I went to Karen’s house in Copenhagen recently, and found another clue, she has a peaceful, large garden which is a bird sanctuary, a very cosy house with plenty of space,  and a lovely sea view. Each different space would lend itself to dreamy contemplation of people and lives, maybe ones own life, maybe others stories.

The only way to write is in solitude which can be hard when you have work, and family and lots of activity in your life at various times.  Karen lived in Africa and Denmark, totally different environments. One harsh, tropical climate, wild animals, and a culture that was colonial at the time. Denmark has a wildness which is temperate on the coast, but is very domesticated and tame. Her stories are set in both climates and locations.

She loved to tell stories to her family, friends and children. There is a need to use your imagination and what better way than to excite children about life and adventure than in a story.

She was a voracious reader, and her library tells a story about her liberal mind and her appetite for any sort of story. It went right back to Roman times and it was obvious she enjoyed a wide range of books.

Hi everyone – welcome to my blog

How do you thank someone who gives you a gift from their heart, and is a total stranger?

I like to think that I am a generous person, I love my husband and children, (step and my own) and my elderly Mum. When I am with them I do pay for meals, and I give gifts. But I was very much challenged today, when I went to my daughter’s church to listen to a speaker that I always enjoy. He speaks on worship and always has a timely message.

I was given a coffee, by my daughter, and I admired a pendant necklace of the lady behind the counter of the coffee bar.

“It’s my tree of life and a favourite pendant of mine”

“oh, it’s a tree” I said, only admiring the design and colour.

This lady saw that I was a visitor to her church. We have a regular church we attend, so we are used to services and people talking to us. But as I was new and so was my husband we were observed by those who were interested in us. She saw how we enjoyed the singing and she gave the pendant to my daughter to give to me, feeling that I should have a cherished, favourite item of hers.

I really do like this “Tree of Life” – it has meaning in my heart that is broader than the reality of a few orange/pink beads fashioned into branches and fruit, with a lovely carved, wooden brown trunk. It signifies an abundant life, and generosity of spirit. The very values that brought this lovely gift from the unselfish, lovely spirit of the lady who decided to bless it to me.

It challenged me at my very core – because I don’t think I would have done this to someone else…..and I think I should be able to.  I have a heart for others but in many ways I have stifled this active generosity that even my little grandchild has more of in her little heart.

It has challenged me in my home in attitudes to my husband and family, and life in general. Not so much my workplace because I think that I am generous about helping others, but then why there – is it because I get materially paid for my efforts?   I can be generous at home with food, but with money and other things it is harder as we have budget constraints, and having been a “Single” mum, and an older sister, my ideas tend to the constraint, and less generous side of budgets.  I have shared my home in the past with many “orphan” children, exchange students from overseas, boarding children from visiting schools, Rotary exchange students all connected to my family. I have been generous with my time and hopefully they have felt needed and supported. Relations and family are welcome in my home, where I try to give an atmosphere of support and encouragement, and a place of rest and recuperation from the busy universe.

Is this enough? Is this why I am find it excruciatingly difficult to write a “novel” but really easy to pen a few words about a small gift?

Hello world!

I am practising writing in order to build confidence in self expression. I am writing a novel, and attending a course on writing, however it really helps to get immediate response from others as well. Feel free to share your thoughts and let me know what you think about my ideas! Looking forward to seeing your thoughts as well…