Work to Live–Weekend Fun #2

Windows in Bath

“How soft is the light
That shines through yonder window.”
”Just dig the garden!”

(Prompted by William Shakespeare – Romeo and Juliet)

Following the “success” of Weekend Fun #1, I have decided to create a new category for my blog. It’s called, “Work to Live.”

We can so easily forget that we do not live to work, but we work to live. Also, I am aware that because of various things happening in my life, at this time, I am becoming a little too serious.

So I have decided, mindfully, to lighten up. I hope no one minds. I will still be posting my take on mindful matters, but from now on I am also going to randomly post famous quotations and phrases with a poetic/haiku/senryu twist. I hope you see this as a mark of respect for the original author, rather than mockery. After all, Rachmaninov made a good living rhapsodying Paganini’s themes. (Something like that, anyway!)

If you would like to join in, please tag your post with “Work to Live” so that I can find it in my reader. I will visit each post and I will probably comment on most of them, too.

Who knows? If I can come up with enough material, maybe I will start a whole new blog on that theme.

Water Under The Bridge

Bradford on Avon Bridge 1

I wonder how much water has gone under this bridge at Bradford on Avon since it was first built. Originally a packhorse bridge, it was widened and strengthened during the 17th century and is now a Grade 1 listed building. (Wikipedia)

“Water under the bridge” is a common phrase for letting the past stay in the past; forgetting what has happened; moving on with life. It is a good analogy.

Water has always been associated with cleansing; and letting the past go has a cleansing effect on us. It is something that we should all cultivate. The reality is that the person who upset us may not even know that it happened.

Consider road rage. How often have you shouted, angrily, at a thoughtless driver. Yet he did not hear you. He may not even have seen you. Does that suggest someone wilfully nasty? Far from it. The person was just thoughtless. So why let someone like that control your life? Move on.

What about family members who say or do something unkind? Is that their normal way of life? If not, then think about what could have caused them to act that way. Is there some serious situation with which you can help them? Or is it time to give them some space to come to terms with their thoughts and feelings?

Throughout our lives we are going to come across situations that cause us stress and grief. But, for the most part, we are still here, still breathing, and still able to get on with life.

We cannot change the past. We can learn from it and change our future, but we cannot change what has happened. Let it pass.

So, what water do you need to allow to flow under your bridges? Let it go, and move on with your life. Stop allowing the past to control your future. Move on, and be happier for it.

Dear Social Security

Pen y Fan 7

Dear Social Security,

I need money.
Kids are starving; they need food.
I need money.
And my wife is in a mood.

I need money.
For my children need more clothes.
I need money.
I’m not sure where it goes.

I need money.
See, I have to pay the bills.
I need money.
’Cause my kids are getting chills.

I need money.
To prioritise my life.
I need money.
I can’t work with all this strife.

I need money.
Can’t you see I need a fix.
I need money.
So that I can get my kicks.

I need money.
Life has left me with no hope.
I need money.
So that I can get some dope.

I need money.
For I have to pay the shrink.
I need money.
’Cause I need another drink.

I need money.
Or they’re cutting off my phone.
I need money.
I’ll be left here, all alone.

I need money.
Got to get some cigarettes.
I need money.
So that I can feed my pets.

I need money.
Or the bookie, he will call.
I need money.
Now my back’s against the wall.

I need money.
Or I’m losing my TV.
I need money.
Cable’s all I ever see.

I need money.
So’s to get on with my life.
I need money.
So’s to pay my other wife.

I need money.
Did I mention I have kids?
I need money.
’Cause I’m really on the skids.

I need money.
I don’t know where it all goes.
I need money.
Can’t you see I’ve suffered blows.

I need money.
Or my future’s looking bleak.
I need money.
I’ll be up before the beak.*

I need money.
I can’t cope without my drugs.
I need money.
Or my kids will get no hugs.

I need money.
Once I’ve paid for all my vice.
I need money.
For to buy my kids some rice.

I need money.
Life is really so perverse.
I need money.
Want to put the first things first.

I need money.
Now my phone is out of date.
I need money.
So that I can soon upgrade.

I need money.
Can’t you see I have a fight?
I need money.
So my life can be put right.

I need money.
Life is really looking grim.
I need money.
Time I think to sink or swim.

I need money.
And if there is any left.
I need money.
I won’t leave my kids bereft.

Yours faithfully,

Professional Benefit Claimant

* Beak – Old English slang for judge.

(WARNING: This is not a political statement. It is a statement of reality. Argue all you want for fiscal regeneration, quantitative easing, re-starting the economy, banning long-term benefit claims. But keep those arguments off my blog. I don’t approve of them and they will be deleted.)

My point, here, is that people don’t have their priorities right. Take a look at the mountain in the photo. That may not be the highest mountain in the world, but being safe on any mountain requires prioritising. In the same way, all of us have personal situations that may loom, mountain-like, in front of us. But some people simply look at the mountain and give up in favour of personal comfort.

How many people do you know who have the latest technology – 42 inch plasma TV’s, or bigger, a new cell phone, every six months, the most up to date digital equipment? Yet their children are neglected.

How many people do you know who cannot afford to buy food for their children because they spent all their money on alcohol, drugs, or cigarettes?

How many people do you know who pamper their pets while their children have holes in their shoes, if they have shoes?

How many people do you know who would rather give their money to the bookie, or the casino, or the barman, rather than buy clothes for their children, or put a roof over their heads?

And how many of them could work if they tried, but they have conditioned themselves to think that it is impossible? Believe me, these people could get a job filling out forms. They do it so well for themselves, why can’t they get paid to help other people to do it?

Don’t get me wrong, there are many genuine people out there who simply cannot get work, no matter how hard they look; or people who are too ill to work. You can pick them out very easily. They are the ones who are calm when discussing their circumstances with Social Security. They are the ones who keep looking for opportunities to do something, even if it is “only” voluntary work. They are the ones who put their children first.

I see so many people blogging about their long-term, often serious illnesses and, although they genuinely cannot work, they do a lot of good by sharing their experiences with others. Some of them have even tried selling their experiences, making a living out of a seemingly impossible situation.

They do not spend their Social Security cheque on cigarettes, alcohol, drugs, gambling, or any other vice. They spend their money on their children, often at great cost to themselves. These are people who will go without to make sure that their children have food, clothing, and a safe place to live.

A Lesson For Us All

Yet there is a lesson for all of us, in this. We all need to get our priorities right. It doesn’t matter whether we have no work, suffer chronic ill health, or have the highest paid job in the world. I only chose the above scenario for this poem as an illustration of the need to prioritize. I could, equally, have chosen the super-rich, some of whom also neglect their children.

How many people do you know who spend all their waking time at work, “to give the children what they want,” but who are never at home to give the children what they really need – their time and attention? How many people live in mansions, but are never there to enjoy them? How many people do you know who will farm their children out to boarding schools because they cannot be bothered to raise them at home?

Harsh? Possibly. And it is not the story for everyone. But for many this is the reality.

We all need to prioritize. Life is full of choices. And the addicts referred to in the poem, and the neglectful parents referred to in the prose, have made bad choices. Yes. Choices. They choose to be addicted to bad habits just as surely as non-addicts choose good habits. These bad habits make people prefer to neglect their children in favour of themselves. Then they beg for more resources to feed their habits while their children hide under the bed for fear of another beating.

Yes, we all need to prioritize. We all need to think about what is most important in our lives; and what should be most important. And before the do-gooders take exception to the word, “should,” let me say that its inclusion is deliberate. There are things that we should do. There are things that we need to do. We have a responsibility to ourselves and to others to get it right.

What Does It Take To Get It Right?

In simple words, mindfulness; or, if you prefer, cognitive behaviour, awareness, or any of the other buzz words used by professionals to describe prioritising. We need to be aware of the needs of the moment. That means being present in this moment. It means being aware of the consequences. It means thinking about how our actions, or non-actions, will affect, not only ourselves, but also those around us, both now and in the future.

Whilst remaining “in the moment,” we need to figure out how the succeeding moments will be affected. We need to be responsible for our actions. We need to consider the outcome before we act.

What does it take to get it right? It takes skill. It takes good judgement. It takes commitment. It takes good choices.

If we do all of this, then, maybe, we have a chance.

High Force, Teesdale

High Force, Teesdale

Waterfall power,

Pours over igneous rock,

Washing it away.

High Force waterfall at Middleton-in-Teesdale is 21.5 mtrs (71 ft) high. (Wikipedia)

We visited at the height of a hot summer in 2010, but the force of the water was incredible, even during such a dry season.

It is hard to believe that such a powerful force of water could come from what appeared to be a small stream. The stream of water developed from this:

High Force 13

to this:

High Force 5

simply because of the drop and the narrowness of the cleft in the rock.

The result is a spectacular waterfall, which, although not the highest fall in England, is worthy of the name.

High Force 4

The walk down to the viewpoint, and up to the top of the falls, is not suitable for everyone. But the sheer power of the water pouring over the rocks produces enough of a roar to know that there is a waterfall in the area.

Yet the real beauty of the area is that, despite the intense activity of the water, there is a feeling of peace and the opportunity to savour the moment of simply being there. It is a retreat from the hustle and bustle of daily life; an opportunity for mindful contemplation. Listen to the sounds of the water, the wildlife, the wind in the trees, your heartbeat, even.

Water has always been associated with cleansing. Getting a sense of the power of the water, washing over and washing away the rocks, adds to the healing nature of the walk.

You leave, not only with a sense of accomplishment, but also with a sense of peace.


Peregrine 2

Soaring high above.

Diving from the sunny sky.

Unsuspecting prey.

It isn’t a very good photo of this captive peregrine falcon. The bird was far too quick for me. Even the auto focus struggled to keep up. But these majestic creatures deserve our respect.

The photo gives me a sense of freedom and the ideal minimalist lifestyle.

You Are Not Alone

Royal Crescent 1

When we are struggling to cope with the things that life throws at us, it’s easy to think that the whole universe is conspiring against us. We know it’s not true. It simply feels that way.

I spoke with a woman, recently, who raised this very issue, but from a more balanced point of view. She rightly pointed out that she feels that despite trying to do good to others, bad things keep happening in her life. But then she explained that when she sees what some people have to endure she realises that she’s not so badly off,  after all.

It’s a lesson we should all learn. I’m not suggesting the concept that some people have: That there is always someone worse off than us. If that was true then who is in a worse position than the person in the worst position? It’s a specious argument that only wastes time in pointless reverie. It leads to no real gain. It’s a nonsensical debate. I’m sorry if you believe in such a form of meditation but I’ll cover that in another article.

Yet we do need to be realistic. Our problems are real. They do exist. And they do cause anxiety. But we need to be careful not to see the whole of our lives in one day’s worries. Yes, we have problems, and yes, they may be long term. But consider this: If you made an appointment with a doctor, a bank manager, a counselor, or any sort of adviser, how many other people would be visiting the same consultant within hours, or even minutes of your appointment? Why? Because we are not alone.

Ok. Let’s accept that our problems are real and they cause anxiety. But look around you. All those people also have problems. Maybe they are not the same as yours. But to those people they are just as worrying. Whether it’s chronic illness or chronic finances, it’s just as worrying.

What makes the difference between coping and not coping is our viewpoint. We could turn inward and think that we are alone. Or we could look around us and appreciate that everyone else is suffering in some way, too.

Read Widely

British Library

When it comes to peace of mind the advantages of reading can be very underrated. Reading slows down the pace of life. It creates an oasis in the desert of our existence. It gives us the time to sit quietly and breathe, activities known to calm shattered nerves.

But, to be effective in developing inner peace, our reading must not be hurried. Take time over it. Savour the words and phrases. We need to imagine ourselves in the scene. Even if our reading material is academic we can still drift into the picture by imagining that we are explaining the material to someone else.

Continue reading “Read Widely”


I’m doing this
For my family.
I just need some . . .

I’m doing this
For my wife.
I just need some . . .

I’m doing this
For my children.
I just need some . . .

I’m doing this
For my health.
I just need some . . .

I’m doing this
For my liver;
And my kidneys;
And my heart;
And my brain;
And I just need some . . .

I just need some . . .

Take these.
Not what I need.
I just need some . . .

Listen to me.
I just need some . . .

I . . .
. . . Need . . .
. . . . . . Some . . .

Re . . .
. . . hab . . .
. . . . . . il . . .
. . . . . . . . . it . . .
. . . . . . . . . . . . a . . .
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . tion.

They say
It takes . . .
. . . twenty . . .
. . . . . . eight . . .
. . . . . . . . . days . . .
To detox;
And to break a habit;
And to form new habits.

Take these.
Not what I need.
I just need some . . .

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . HELP!