Monday, 30 November 2015
I knew I would regret starting a week-long series of posts on positivity. It’s just not like me to go searching for 'reasons to be cheerful’, (as in Ian Dury and the Blockheads’ song), or ‘Looking on the Bright Side of Life’ (Monty Python and the ‘Life of Brian’) or ‘Counting my Blessings’ as the hymn tells me to do.
Don’t get me wrong, the attitude of looking at life through positive spectacles is to be welcomed; perhaps one needn’t go as far as Pollyanna and play the Glad Game whatever happens. Finding a pair of crutches in the Christmas stocking would make me cross enough to hit the giver over the head with them. At the other end of the spectrum, Ambrose Bierce in the Devil’s Dictionary writing off ‘positive’ as ‘mistaken at the top of one’s voice' is just plain unkind towards people whose philosophy tends to embrace certainty, tiresome though these people can be.
There have been plenty of good things happening this week, which ended in the first Sunday in Advent and with it the first pheasant dinner of the season: a live screening of Shakespeare’s ‘The Winter’s Tale’ at a local theatre, a pleasant meal at a cosy pub, some clothes shopping, and the poetry evening and beauty treatment already mentioned in the previous posts. Actually, it’s been an exceptionally good week. It would be hard to see it in anything other than a positive light. But these are not the cosy things bloggers praise when they write about appreciating humble, small joys. Heart-warming stuff, good stuff. For my week I needed leisure and a reasonably well stocked wallet. Bragging about it in detail would be bad taste. Of course, at times I am a smug git, but I’ll try not to show my true colours here.
I am profoundly grateful that I live in a peaceful country, that I am not one of the desperate people fleeing torture, bombs, destruction, hunger, disease and the horrors of civil war. Not for me the undignified queueing up on Europe’s borders, begging to be admitted to shelter, food, work, and a life free from fear. Not for me the fate of being called a terrorist, a scrounger, a welfare tourist. Winter is coming and too few European nations seem to be aware that help is urgently needed to prevent chaos and save lives. Although in the UK we are spared pictures of the footsore and shivering crowds making their way across Europe from East to West - compassion fatigue sets in quite quickly here, the subject seems to have been swept out of sight recently - I have access to European TV channels and find myself utterly fascinated by and unable to look away from so much misery.
Being aware of my good fortune and counting my comfortable little blessings seems almost shameful in the face of suffering humanity. Therefore, rather than listing a week’s worth of pleasures, small or otherwise, I shall try to emulate those of you who find unexpected joy in the moment and, if I think about it in time, perhaps share it here.