Friday, October 26, 2012

A bird in hand....

One of my dad's favourite pieces of advice to me whenever I had to make a serious decision on something was that a bird in hand is worth two in the bush.  Coming from a banker and father I still feel it is good advice (even though I didn't always agree with him at the time).  I've found that it's generally better to be a bit shorthanded now than to risk too much and then to find you have nothing.

I remembered this quote because I was talking to a friend the other day who had had enough of her husband playing the "little boy" and selfishly thinking only of himself and not of her feelings.  She told me that it has been the story of her 20 year marriage and that enough is enough.  She was going to take the matter up once and for all and sort it. Better to be alone than to be badly accompanied is her philosophy at the moment. 

My reaction to that was that if you had to ask my wife about me she would probably say the same thing.  We men somehow don't always seem to grow up... before it's too late and we'll have dropped a mill stone on our toes.  But the thing is, too, that we have now been happily married for 37 years and though the bliss of the honeymoon is well and truly over, and in the past year our two kids were happily married too,  we still move on.  Together.  Now, in my early days of retirement, I find that I have a chance to start afresh, to take my marriage and work on its flaws and fix them.  Even if it may need surgery at some point.  

Most probably it will be solved by the swallowing, not pills but..... my pride.  I am learning to ignore what irritates me in what she does and am trying to be a good partner to her (I can her her muttering "finally" if she'll read this!!).   It doesn't mean I have to become a floor cloth she can wipe her feet it, it simply means that I have to start seeing things the way I did the first time we met.  And do the things I did in those long ago days.  That was what sparked it all off in us.  That's what will keep us together.

Talking of fatherly advice, I am reminded that Jesus' own advice is pretty much the same on this.  Die to yourself for others.  It doesn't have to be a painful death.  It means more "yes" than "no" I suppose, keeping well in mind, though, that saying "yes" to something or someone would also mean saying "no" to someone or something else.

So to go back to my friend's dilemma..... saying no to her marriage because she's had enough of his chauvinistic approach, might be saying yes to a life that could be worse, no one to share with, no one to thrash in her mind because he's "a fool", no one to come to her aid if she falls and hurts herself or has an accident. 

Better the bird in hand, I guess, than two in the bush.  Robert Browing said it nicely, "Grow old with me, the best is yet to come."


I am no marriage expert, but I was wondering if the reasoning I expounded above will hold water if there are serious marital problems in a relationship, such as infidelity or infertility? 

In the latter case, I would say: yes, definitely.  In the former case, I would say: could be, because infidelity wasn't always there in the relationship and, once upon a time, love brought the two together.  They need to look at themselves and ask:  Have we worked enough at the relationship (even to always looking good for the partner as the years pass)? Have we died to ourselves at all or expected the other to submit to us?  Are we ready to forgiven and be forgiven for taking advantage of our partner?

And, you know what, this trend of thought will take us right back where it all started.... better a bird in hand (with all the known problems) than two in the bush!  (Or to use biblical terms: better the devil you know than the one you don't!) 

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Preparing to say goodbye...?

Just expressing some reality truths about life - the only definitely and undenaible thing in our lives is that one day we have to go. Death may be such a depressing thing to think about yet it is unavoidable.

I have just returned from the hospital visiting one of my old friends.  Mid-sixties, like me. In the week since I last saw him he has regressed tremendously. Last week it was the usual fun or light conversation between us. "Just here for some tests but should be home by the weekend."   

This is the weekend now and he seems worse than ever.  Could barely speak to me.  We communicated though.  I suggested he ate something but he didn't want.  Managed to persuade him to have some soup.  The morphine is slowing him down but it is at least killing the pain.  The breathing is noisily empty and resounding.  He is dying I said to myself. But then, we all are.  Aren't we?

So my mind stopped playing tricks on me. Why do we fear Death?  Is it perhaps because we are never really prepared for it?  Or perhaps because we are very attached to our life?  Let's face it, we are probably all attached to this life and don't really want to lose it because to some extent we don't really know what awaits us on the other side.  Oh, I am presuming you believe there is something on the other side, right?

So why do we fret?  Are we tied to our possessions and worry who'll get them after we're gone?  Or perhaps what will happen to all the lovely collections we cared for?  Or the investments we made to live a happy future?   How would all this effect your thoughts on your own death?

I asked myself: How do you imagine your own death to be?  And I drew a blank. I hoped it would come fast, without too much pain for me or for my family.  That they would not suffer because of my sudden loeaving.  I would - in typical fashion - exspect that all my "to do" lists would somehow be up-to-date and that  everything unfinished could be finalised quickly and easily by my children. It's a trait I inherited from my parents but especially from father.  He was organised even to after his demise.

Would I leave through an accident?  At home in my room.  Or in a hospital bed as my friend now was. Time would tell.  This blog might even still be doing the rounds when my candle gets snuffed. Yet I feel I do not really fear the passing on.  My bags are ready though, to be honest, I am in no hurry to leave, as the jovial and influential Pope John XXIII had said in the early Sixties.  I trust in my Maker and know that He knows more than I when it is time for me to go.   And I hope it will be Home.  Because what is death?  It is like a ship that leaves the harbour and sails to the horizon, getting smaller and smaller in our sight.  But as she disappears from our sight on the horizon, others are seeing her coming and are saying "Here she comes!"

The Last Word?

Make yourself at home here, come back and read some of the older cappuccino posts too, relax, reflect.... and comment if you wish....there's a comment button at the end of each post!
I hope to see you again in a few days time. Enjoy.