Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Postcard No. 3

Found a postcard at the bottom of my handbag.

Dear Wifey,
I walked through Greenwich Park on my way to the children's playground. The benches at the bottom of the green and tree-splattered hill outside the Queen's House, were full of promises on steel plaques.They dated from the "Year 2000 Year of the Promise" part of an ITV initiative to mark the millenium.

It made me wonder how many of them were kept.

Some focus on the family:
"We will always remember our family - past present and future." (The Mason Family). (I rather like the idea of remembering a future. When it happens, do you think, "Ah yes, I remember now - that is how it should be."?
"We will adopt a child and give it a loving home." (The Cesvette Family).

People are so brim full of good intentions and all the better for it:
"I will give time, comfort and support to anyone who is less fortunate"(Tracey Fuller).
"We will do a good deed every day and more if possible"(The Hare Family).

There are those with simple ambitions:
"I will practice my bass every day so I am good enough to play in church" (Janine-Jacquline St Leger)
"I will wash up the dishes" (Katie Lansdowne Gillespie)
"I will lose three stone" (Teresa Borg)
"We will make each other laugh every day" (The Murley Family)

Those with big ambitions:
"I will try to be a better person" (Suzanne Sutton)

And those with broken hearts
"I will love Lee and Louise as much as I loved their late mother Maria XXX"(Thomas Anthony Tobin)

Ah promises. The most fragile of things. I have promised any number of things in my time. As a child, I promised to be a good girl. As a seven-year-old I promised a judge to look after my stepfather after he had married my mother and legally adopted me. I promised various bosses that I would "give it my all" and "do what I can." (Occasionally I meant it.) As a journalist I promised to keep comments "off the record" which I did and as a bride I promised to "love and honour" which I do when I remember. 2000 was not a good year for me but I made a promise. My husband and I promised each other we would try to be happy and do what it took to get there, to that place called Happiness. should check the small print sometimes.


sunshine said...

Happiness is such a subjective thing. And it changes with each stage of life! I sometimes think we cause ourselves so much discontent when we do not continually reassess what "happiness" currently means to us!

What made me happy last year, may not suffice today. Or it may take less to make me happy the more difficulty I encounter in life.

I am sitting at my computer reading Wifey's blog, a good cup of Starbucks in one hand, my other arm gently resting on my puppy's warm back. I'm looking out a wall of windows at a garden that is not yet covered in white. My leg hurts a bit less than yesterday.

I am happy.

occasional northerner said...

I agree with Sunshine. It is I suspect a moving target. Better however to do something to try and hit it than not.

menopausaloldbag (MOB) said...

Promises are our IOU's of good intentions - things like 'I promise to take my HRT daily and not threaten you with grevious bodily harm just because you dared breath next to me'.

Or, 'I promise to take good care of myself because we met so late in love and life and I don't want to miss a second being with you' (Cue call from Hallmark offering me a one card deal!)

Whispering Walls said...

Avoid disappointment by making no promises

DogLover said...

Happiness? Isn't it our "inalienable right" to pursue happiness? Not to be happy, but to pursue happiness. The founding fathers of the US thought so.

I rather liked the definition Willy's girlfriend (can't remember her name) gave in The Caine Mutiny: "Happiness is not having a broken arm". It certainly is when you do have a broken arm!


Iota said...

But you promised each other only that you would "try to be happy", not that you would be happy. I think you managed to write in a bit of small print there.

@themill said...

The thing about happiness is that it sneaks up on you when you're not expecting it - it is in the sleepy moment of a child saying 'I love you', it is the breathtaking loveliness of an empty beach, it is finding your favourite cafe when you weren't expecting to. Enjoy the moments when they happen, because to find happiness you must also know the flipside.

James Higham said...

Ah, that's the sweetest thing I've heard in a long while.

Unknown said...

Perhaps the secret is to try for joy, not happiness...

Unknown said...

or contentment... said...

Money does it for me.

James Higham said...

As a child, I promised to be a good girl.

Yes - and aren't you still goody two shoes? :)

merry weather said...

I find lately the small print can be a bit blurred... It's the spirit that counts in the end I think, and the humour.

sunshine said...

Been thinking about small print in the last few days. Best to get it enlarged before the fact.

Anonymous said...

I start each day full of promise and end it crushed by events....

Sarah said...

I think sometimes parents make the mistake of training children to fear, or become intolerant of unhappiness, to suffer from it. Unhappiness suggest a wanting, a lack of something.
A wise person once said to me, ' what is it you'd rather be doing?'
And then said, 'so whatever it is, then get on and bloody well do it!'

I spent an hour, once, face down, on our lawn, completely unwilling, perhaps unable to move. I was in great emotional turmoil. The grass was very beautiful. I could smell it. I could see tiny creatures engaged in their activities. I remember the grass, but can't feel the pain anymore. Whether or not that helps, I don't know.

Penny Pincher said...

I'd vote for contentment and enough money to purchase the necessities of life ..
A little bit more than the 'Bare necessities ....'

I Beatrice said...

My 6-yr-old grand-daughter came out with what I thought a very useful expresssion the other day. We were on our way home from Gym (we go to gym in Tooting - please don't ask me why we go to Tooting for our Gym!).

Anyway "I like gym" she said "but it sometimes grumpens me up."

So there it is, I thought. You try for happiness, but life sometimes just grumpens you up.

Pig in the Kitchen said...

Will you send us a postcard when you get to Happiness? I'd like to know the way ;-)

Mean Mom said...

Happiness - rest assured you will find it in the menopause. For example, yesterday, at 3pm I was happy and content. At 3.05pm I was suicidal. At 3.15pm I was feeling a bit better. Oh what fun. Is there any beginning to it?

I tend to agree with @themill. Sometimes you only recognise those happy times in retrospect, generally after something awful has happened!

Daniel said...

Dear Mrs. Wife-in-the-North

Alot of your fans wonder why you live in the North, if you love London so much. I know (I think).

(We American-ites have almost the EXACT same dilemma.)

You want a fine, spacious home, with modern things, and a touch of style, but you have little kids that you are responsible for and love, and want to take care of, and there just ain't enough money to live in London the way you want to live.

So, you are doing a smart thing. If you all packed up and went back to London, and were crammed into a tiny little place, you'd be happy to be in London, HOWEVER, you wouldn't be happy with your home.

Happiness is an inner balance of tensions, and you can have it anywhere. When you get busy and live your life, and carry on with all the many little things that need to be done, sometimes, it just happens. I don't think there is any way that any human being can ever plan their own happiness; it just happens, somehow, mysteriously, if you are lucky.

If you love London so much that you long for it, then go visit more often, and move back later, when you have more money, and the kids are grown. Having something to look forward to can make a person happy, too.