Ok, i've started an additional blog, a companion to this one if you will. No i'm not going to end up with thousands of blogs, just these two... honest.
The blog is my gratitude stone. It will be a regular list, daily if possible, of things to be grateful for in my life as each 1440 minutes pass. The premise is explained a little better in the first post of the blog.
This post was meant to be the "where it began" post, although I'm not sure it will take that direction once I start writing. And i apologise for the length, having got to the end, its a little long...
My mum took a bit of a tumble in this last week. I haven't had the chance to speak to her at the time of starting this, but from what i can tell she has had a number of dizzy spells which have resulted in a fall where she has cut her head and hurt her back.
Thankfully she is ok, but still... It scared me a little.
Mostly because i am so far away, and had a sudden feeling of helplessness. With no real phone signal and not seeing the e mail, i did not find out for a little while. What if it had been a lot more serious?
The ever growing popular opinion that we live in a small world is not strictly true, ask most Americans to walk anywhere (no offense guys). To be honest, most of America has not been built to walk, outside of city centers it would appear sidewalks do not even exist. Anyway, I am getting off my point.
The world is far from being a small place, its a big place, a very big place, with huge areas still lacking decent communications. I am in San Francisco at the moment and have zero phone reception where i am staying. Not only that, although compared to years gone by, getting anywhere in the world is a lot quicker, its still far from quick... especially if you want to be anywhere due to something serious. A 24 hours trip to get home for serious reasons feels a lot longer than the 24 hours spent travelling for pleasure.
This has all raised a point inside me, that rather selfishly, i had decided not to dwell on too much previously. The sacrifices that need to be made to live a life i want to live. The balancing of seeing the world, experience this incredible and diverse planet we are lucky to live on but not neglect those close to me.
My family and I are close, not as close as some, but a lot closer than others. When I say not as close as some let me explain, I do not believe any family could love one another anymore than we do, but as my family will tell you, even when I live literally 5 minutes down the road, I am not the best at keeping up contact. Let if I am on the other side of the planet. I forget birthdays, do not pick up the phone, do not make that five minute walk for a quick cup of tea just to catch up and say hi. This rings true for all my relationships, as anyone who knows me will tell you. It is not a reflection on how i feel about the people in my life, it is a part of who I have become and something I plan on changing.
We have a finite existence on earth and we can not afford to dwindle a single second of that time. So i now chose to get out there, and make most of the time I have been given. The flip side of that is, I am continuously some distance from my family and close friends.
I have to find the balance of using that time wisely in all areas. No, i do not want to reach the end of the time i have been given and realise i have seen nothing with it, experienced nothing of the diverse planet around me. Equally i do not want to reach the end of that time and realised i have spent very little of it with the people who matter to me the most.
There is a big difference between being selfish and being selfish. To live your own life requires a certain amount of selfishness, but not letting those who care, that you are ok, or not giving them an hour for a cup of tea if you’re five minutes down the road is just plain selfish, in no sort of positive way. Not to mention the way I have treated other, extremely important people in my life at times… but that’s something for a different post.
I know my family and friends do not expect me to live next door to them, to be at their houses every day (they would get sick of me). I also know they want me to have and live the sort of life that will make me happy. I have seen the pain in my mothers eyes when i am at my absolute lowest, her feeling of helplessness when she can see how much trouble i am and literally falling apart in front of her. Equally i can see the worry in my Dad's eyes when he can see me struggling with my life, see that i am not living my life to it's full potential, not getting from it everything i want and need to make me happy.
To waste my life, to spend more time miserable than happy, would be an insult to both my parents and everything they have done for me, so that can not and will not happen.
I also do not want to waste time not appreciating and enjoying the relationships i have been blessed with. So i need to find some middle ground. I need to stay in touch more, I need to make sure that when i am in England, I do make the time to catch up with those people properly. Yes this is my life to lead, my life to enjoy, to find the things that make me feel complete, make me feel whole, make me feel happy and make me feel i am not wasting the 1440 minutes i am given everyday.
But there are people that love me and would like to spend some of their time with me, and for me to spend some of my time with them. Or at the very least know where i am and what is going on for me, those people deserve a lot more of the time i have, than i have been giving them. If i have time to write on this blog, I have time for an e mail, time for that call, and i certainly have enough time for a cup of tea while i am in England.
I am not saying i can change over night, god knows it took me 38 years to get to this point, but contacting those i love needs to become second nature, and not something i just happen to remember occasionally or when they message me to make sure i am still alive.
I love my family very much, something i do not tell them nearly enough. I am grateful to everyone of them as they have shaped and encouraged the person i am now happy to find my self becoming. I want to live a life and be a person they will all be proud of, not just because I am family, but because the things i am and the things i do are truly worthy of pride.
I love my friends, very much, and i am grateful for the chances they have repeatedly given me over the years. Especially when some of my actions as i descended in to the person i used to be, would give them every right to never speak to me again.
I am grateful to the people that stuck by me, family and friends, grateful to the people that knew i was in trouble and believed i would one day find a way through and supported, encouraged and helped me as I did, finally, start to find a way through.
Equally, I completely understand those who did not, could not stand by me any longer and so why they no longer do. Regardless of how much trouble I was in, I do not deserve their love, friendship or support. The way I treated them, the way I treated the things they gave to me, the support and love they showed me, is nothing short of disgusting. When your own problems, or your own actions as a person, are causing that amount of damage to those close to you, those people have to let go and move on, for their own lives to be as fulfilling as I want mine to be. That I do understand, regardless of how much I regret the loss. So I will always be beyond gratefull for the time, love and support they gave me, for as long as they could.
The comment "oh its only Neil, you know what he's like" is no longer good enough. If anyone has any cause to make a comment like that, it means you have done something, no matter how large or small, to upset or offend that person. No one close to me should ever have to think that and from now on, I intend to try my hardest to make sure they never do. No one who cares should ever have to think "I haven't heard from neil in a while, I hope he's ok" and so I intend to try my hardest to make sure they never do.
I guess my point is, just like my actions as a person, the things i am doing and where i am, should never cause the slightest worry to those who care about me. Certainly not due to something as small as a lack of contact.* If I am not climbing Everest or trekking through the Amazon, it should not take me a few days to find out my Mum has taken a fall and be able to make sure she is ok.
Seems like 1440 words wouldn’t be so difficult after all… not once I get going.
“Get not your friends (and family) by bare compliments, but by giving them sensible tokens of your love.” - Socrates
* i can not stop people worrying if i am engaging in an activity they see as possibly dangerous obviously ;)