Do look back but with a smile

Do look back but with a smile

20110327 Motorbike luggage case 150x150 Do look back but with a smile

Today is the day of the British Census 2011 and also the start of British Summer Time (BST).  It marks the end of about five months of coming home from work in the dark and now the clocks have sprung an hour forward.  As a young child I always had trouble remembering which way the clocks went.  There is the mnemonic that says the clocks spring forward and fall back, where fall is used in the American sense.  The only trouble with that is that you can spring and fall in either direction so we’re none the wiser.  I also never knew when the clocks changed, as my young mind was not adept at spotting more complex patterns.  (For the record it happens on the last Sunday morning in March and October.)

So what does it all mean?

1) The clock tower on the Asda supermarket roof in Bedminster, Bristol is reading the correct time again for the first time since October.

2) My oven will now show the wrong time for the next eight months.

3) We lost an hour of our day – nay, our lives – but we usually get it back when the clocks “fall” forwards again – oh the confusion!  This year we may not get it back, as they (the powers that be) were considering keeping BST all year round.  To be fair though, this is mooted every so often and nothing has ever come of it. 

Time is a precious thing and it has the power to heal, to build and, as Albert Einstein said, to stop everything happening all at once.  Every one of us is on borrowed time – time that has been bestowed on us to do whatever we please, if you believe in free will.  Free will is a separate issue and warrants an article in its own right, but for the purposes of this article we will assume it exists and consider time from a human perspective.  There are things you don’t choose, which have an influence on your choices in life.  You don’t choose who your parents are, in what country or place you are born, what race or gender you are, what sexuality you are, how tall or good looking you are…  Clearly we are not born equal but we have equal worth and you can choose to use your time for good.

I was brought up to live life by the principles of doing unto others as you would have them do unto you, although this isn’t always straightforward.  In a selfish world you have to protect yourself, look after your own interest sometimes and not let people take advantage of you.  My mother is very giving and she will bend over backwards to do things to help people – even when it is not in her own interest and severely inconveniences her.  On the other end of the spectrum there are people who take advantage of others and seem to go out of their way to hurt others for their own personal gain or satisfaction.  Generally though, I believe there is goodness in everyone and the existence of things like ambulances and charities shows that people really do value others as equals.  Even tax dodgers and burglars love.

The thing is not to bear grudges.  Anger and resentment eat away at you and the person towards whom your feelings are directed is often oblivious to this fact.  Don’t give the other person the pleasure of your pain by not feeling the pain in the first place.  Easier said than done.  I never run to catch a bus.  A minority of bus drivers seem to derive pleasure from not letting you on.  But the majority are decent people.  I was on my way to a Mexican restaurant in Bristol recently and the driver asked for £2.80 for a single, which is extortionate for a 20-minute journey.  I only had £2.50 in change and a £10 note and exclaimed, “How much?!” in disbelief.  What followed resembled a Dutch auction and the driver promptly responded, “Just give me £2,” and then gave me a pound back in change, after deciding he would give me a £1 ticket.

A wise man once told me the best way to respond to an act of kindness is to pass it on to someone else.  Yesterday I was at the supermarket and bought a pack of cooked chicken for the parley pesto I made as part of my food association experiment to use up copious quantities of parsley.  I now have an excess of Parmesan cheese, pine nuts and garlic.  The lady in front of me was unloading her basket onto the conveyor belt and, spotting that I only had one item, let me go in front.  It was a totally unexpected act of kindness and it made her happy; her happiness was the pleasure of giving her time to me.  If I had given her (or the bus) driver a six-pack of Heineken to show my gratitude it would have undone everything.

And so from buses we tenuously make a link with transport and, somewhat arbitrarily, motorbikes.  The picture shows the luggage case on the back of a motorbike.  It is looking back at the road behind and it is smiling.  We have all heard the phrase “never look back”.  But I think the past is a good learning tool, though it is not necessarily a good indicator of what will happen in the future.  One thing it is good for is telling you where we came from and the things we learnt and experienced along the way.  On life’s journey look forward.  Forgive and forget insults, don’t bear grudges and remember the compliments you receive.  When you look back, do so with a smile.  The back of the motorbike says “demonstrator”.  Hard though this can be, let’s emulate it.

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