Monday, October 08, 2007

On the right page

Sometimes in the country, you have to order things. Shopkeepers write down your order in an exercise book and when you go in, they greet you by your name and ruffle through the pages. I went to a borders town this weekend to pick up a pair of boots. They had not arrived but it did not matter. Whenever I go to this particular town, good things happen: I stumble across a cafe that doubles up as a church; there is a food market with great olives; the cookware shop gives me a whistle for my Aga kettle (I managed to lose mine) and they had not even sold me the kettle. This weekend, Elvis strutted his leathery stuff in the market square; occasionally, cocking a leg up on a wooden bench to kiss a granny. Elvis is alive and well and appearing this coming Saturday in aid of a village hall restoration fund (tickets available from the local newsagent.)

Once Elvis had "left the building" that is to say strode off through the doors of the tourist information office, we went back to the Christian cafe. A couple of weeks ago, I had to buy eight copies of a book for my book group from a bookshop. I had already bought eight copies of a book for my book group on Amazon but I must have clicked the "Post them when you like, I'm really not that bothered option" because they did not arrive in time. So there I was looking for eight copies of anything that was not a map of Great Britain and noticed that they had a whole section of "Tragic Life Stories." I thought: "Cor Blimey - who reads this?" I can understand why you would write it. Therapy. A reality check for the happy people - you might have had a happy childhood, mine sucked big time and nobody cared. I can understand why you might read one, but are there people out there who work their way through the whole "misery genre"? And do publishers sit round their shiny tables with their Starbucks coffees saying: "You're going to love this. Let's call the book 'Ugly'." Nope. Done that. "OK: `Damaged'." Nope got that too. " 'Abandoned'? 'Unloved'? 'Betrayed'?" They also tend to have the word 'true' on the cover. "Unloved. The True Story of a Stolen Childhood." "Abandoned. The True Story of a Little Girl who Doesn't Belong." "Damaged. The Heartbreaking True Story of a Forgotten Child." "Ugly. The True Story of a Loveless Childhood."

As a natural depressive, I am not brave enough to read such books. In any event, they were not selling them on Saturday. Christan cafes in small border towns sell books called "Lift your Spirits". It had a picture of a flying dog on the front with the words: "Even if you're living a dog's life, you'll find something here to lift your spirits!" You can stand it on your desk and flick the pages over to the right day. For instance, May 15 "Is the glass half empty, half full, or twice as large as it needs to be? ( I am still thinking about that one.) Then underneath a reference to Psalm 23:5 The Message "You revive my drooping head: my cup brims with blessing."

One company looks like they are cornering the inspirational market with their 365 Day Brighteners. They have titles such as "Sunbeams Through My Window" and "Whispered Words of Encouragement."My personal favorite has to be "Words to Warm a Mother's Heart". There is a thought for every day in case you do not have any of your own.

Today then: "It isn't the great big pleasures that count the most; it's making a great deal out of the little ones." (Jean Webster in For a Woman's Heart).
Then again:"When one door closes, another one opens, but we so often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door, that we do not see the ones which open for us." (Alexander Graham Bell in Words to Warm a Mother's Heart).
And of course: "Every path He guides us on is fragrant with His loving kindness and His truth." (Psalm 25:10 The Living Bible via The Beauty of Friendship)

I bought six of these books and next time, I go shopping, I am trying this: "It doesn't take monumental feats to make the world a better place. It can be as simple as letting someone go ahead of you in a grocery line" (Barbara Johnson). Or this one: "Treat people as if they were what they ought to be, and you help them become what they are capable of becoming" (Goethe) - this one might change my parenting strategy. And I love this one by Augustine "Where your pleasure is, there is your treasure: where your treasure, there your heart: where your heart, there your happiness." And Elvis is not dead. Life does not get better.


@themill said...

Personally, I find religion deeply depressing.
Life will get better - if you allow it to.

Swearing Mother said...

That was a great post WITN, I felt that you are enjoying life now?

Hope so.

I always read you, but don't comment so much these days. Your blog is still the mothership for me! said...

What about this little gem. "The surest plan to make a man, is think him so" Profound or what? I love it and I often have to remember it through clenched teeth when old grumpy is driving me to distraction.

DogLover said...

Old Grumpy doesn't deserve you, Retired&Crazy.

He deserves better.


Unknown said...

"I long to accomplish a great and noble task; but it is my chief duty to accomplish small tasks as if they were great and noble."
~Helen Keller

Poetry, anyone?

Courage is the price that Life exacts for granting peace.
The soul that knows it not, knows no release
From little things;

Knows not the livid loneliness of fear,
Nor mountain heights where joy can hear
The sound of wings.

How can Life grant us boon of living, compensate
For dull gray ugliness and pregnant hate
Unless we dare

The soul's dominion? Each time we make a choice, we pay
With courage to behold the restless day,
And count it fair.

~Amelia Earhart

Anonymous said...

I know the flying doggy made you think of me!!

Hang on Ms WITN you are doing satire here!!!!

sunshine said...

Wife -- You slide from irony to satire to tender self-revelation with such ease that I am called to re-read your posts several times, in order to put myself where you are coming from. What a genius of a writing style!

Re: Goethe quote -- applicable to parenting -- "and if they don't quite quickly become who they ought to be, swat their rosy little behinds"!

Iota said...

But you could do one of those misery genre ones. "Moved North".

Iota said...

If you don't write it, in due course one of your children might.

advocate said...

Elvis certainly gets around. He's doing a show at our local village hall soon and in November he's at the Golf Club. Long live the king!

Loved the post. Keep up the good work.

Penny Pincher said...

I think that all thinking is depressive - if we had less intelligence we wouldn't think and then we'd be happier - maybe?
We could shop, buy high heeled shoes, the latest smart, posh 'must have' handbags, sunbathe, primp, preen and party etc. - life would pass by - but we'd be thoughtlessly busy and maybe happier?
Our doubt our children would be though ... I bet then they'd grow up as the thinkers, looking for the meaning in life ...

Rob Clack said...

Actually, the glass is always full, it's just part-full of liquid and part-full of air.

I'm with @TM on religion. Throw away that crutch.

Daniel said...

Dear Mrs. Wife-in-the-North

"Some people say the glass is half empty; some people say the glass has room to add plenty of vodka."

Abraham Lincoln, who was prone to depression, wondered why are we happy when a baby is born, when we all know of the unending tragedy of every human life, and that it all ends in agedness and decay (paraphrasing, of course). And so, he believed in some motivating influence that uplifts our spirits, on a sunny day, for example, against all odds. (I read it somewhere, but can't cite the reference, off hand).

Also, your reference to Augustine reminds me of a quote from the Book of Matthew that says "...lay not up treaures on earth where rust and moth eat away, but lay up treasures in Heaven..." I don't remember it exactly, or the citation. (I am not usually a Bible quoter). Maybe Augustine was paraphrasing this sentiment.

Big Chip Dale said...

My mother aphorisms were always the best. She taught me 'do unto others before they do unto you' and 'never take a gun to a knife fight'. Both so very profound. There are others but I've forgot many of them. I do know one involved Terry Wogan and a well greased finger.

Isobel said...

A saying of my mother's if she was feeling a tad disenchanted with events - When one door closes another one slams in your face.

Sandra Montgomery said...

I coined the saying:

When God closes a door he always lets you out first so you can go shopping.