It was Thursday (18th) and it had been quite some days since I had last taken a walk of any distance outdoors. The reason for that had been the problem with my upper leg muscles combined with some very bad weather in the latter days. For a couple of days I had also been suffering with a mild cold too and pretty much didn’t feel like doing anything. I reluctantly left alone any exercising on the gym equipment for almost a week during this time but now I suddenly felt better and was eager to get out in the fresh air. Over the last couple of days I have been working out a little on the equipment though but now I wanted to take a walk. Thursday started off bright and sunny for the most part though there were some wintry showers of rain and hailstones. The wind had died down considerably too. None of that was going to stop me from getting outside for a while. There had been some very high tides in the previous days and the foreshore had noticeably changed, more sand and more piled-up seaweed lined the sea wall. If left it would compact and the existing grass would grow through it. I have no doubt that is what will happen. Slowly Nature is taking back control. Eventually I can see more dunes appearing for already some of the existing grass which stretches out to sea has formed into small mounds in places. I have seen this happening in other places only a quarter-mile south. I often think about what the coast will look like in say fifty or a hundred years from now. During my time living here in Southport, now approaching thirty years, I have seen a lot of changes along the seafront. I walked along the front for about a mile before turning back homeward though by that time I had covered two miles. I chose a more sheltered route on my return but still got caught in a shower of hail. My aching muscles have eased now and suddenly I feel much better. Nevertheless I shall be taking things a little easy for a while so I don’t do myself a mischief.
No not the movie…..life! Do you ever feel you are on a treadmill going nowhere? Yes you do things, you have a routine, you change your routine as often as you feel but nothing really changes does it? Recently retired and when working having purpose really meant nothing either, it simply meant I had something to occupy my time. I still have things to occupy my time, it is simply a different routine. We set goals in life or just live for the moment or maybe we do both but in the end everything we do eventually leads us to the next for we are never satisfied. It is like food for our souls, it is our thoughts which spurs us on, they are what keep us moving forward and ever seeking something that in fact we seldom find if we are truthful. Life can be very satisfying and rewarding but none of it really lasts. We aim to satisfy our physical needs first and foremost and neglect our spiritual needs though the two are inseparable, at least whilst we live. We are driven by what we think but we can change what we think. If we are comfortable with the changes we continue in them or we can make an attempt to do so but in the end if we are not happy we revert. No matter what we do in life, what choices we make along the way can we really say that we’ve been happy one hundred percent of the time? Our thoughts might tell us otherwise and in reality we know we are never fully happy, never fully satisfied with our lot. So our lives are a never-ending struggle with ourselves and our situations. Some resign themselves to never achieving their hopes and dreams and others think they’ve hit the jackpot when they think they have. It is all an illusion, a passing fancy and we have to make the most of it until we die. How often have you heard the expression ‘Life is for living’? Did it have an effect on your choices thereafter? We can but do nothing else but live out our lives as best we can and be happy and contented. In this world there is nothing else.
Everything is meaningless
1 The words of the Teacher, son of David, king of Jerusalem:
2 ‘Meaningless! Meaningless!’ says the Teacher. ‘Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.’
3 What do people gain from all their labours at which they toil under the sun? 4 Generations come and generations go, but the earth remains for ever. 5 The sun rises and the sun sets, and hurries back to where it rises. 6 The wind blows to the south and turns to the north; round and round it goes, ever returning on its course. 7 All streams flow into the sea, yet the sea is never full. To the place the streams come from, there they return again. 8 All things are wearisome, more than one can say. The eye never has enough of seeing, nor the ear its fill of hearing. 9 What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun. 10 Is there anything of which one can say, ‘Look! This is something new’? It was here already, long ago; it was here before our time. 11 No one remembers the former generations, and even those yet to come will not be remembered by those who follow them.
I am as sober as a judge as the saying goes for I don’t drink alcohol anymore and haven’t done for three years. Neither am I feeling bloated and stuffed silly with rich food from over-indulgence for I have resisted that temptation for a number of years too. As I mentioned in a recent post I no longer partake of such things. Each to their own I have to say for there is no persuading people from giving up what they enjoy, even if sometimes it is self-destructive too (see tomorrow’s post). Yesterday was different for me, in fact no different from today or any other day in my life for that matter. Each day is the same for me. I can work if I want to or rest if I want to, it makes no difference. I am happy being the way I am. Maybe my readers feel the same about themselves. Maybe my readers don’t give a toss and simply wish to enjoy themselves in whichever way they feel is right for them. Today I woke up without a hangover, a mouth so dry it felt like unused blotting paper or bruises I knew not how I received. Today is like any other day in my life. My health and well-being have improved since the days I gave up on those things which were slowly destroying me. I discovered God, I found Jesus, my life changed for I saw the truth that is in him. My heart goes out to those who are now in the same position I was before The Lord changed me. Life took on a new meaning and I discovered it wasn’t all about self-indulgence and high living, these things destroy. Today I am as sober as a judge in both my flesh and my spirit. I wanted to get out in the garden yesterday and do some work, pruning trees and such but it rained down so hard it was impossible and today’s forecast isn’t promising either. I guess I will just have to find something to do indoors instead.
When I used to work for a company it was expected of me to be available for that is what I was getting paid for. Actually until I became self-employed eighteen years ago I was an employee of two different employers. When I became self-employed I did some work under contract for another company on a daily basis together with private work for anyone who wanted the use of my services. To be self-employed is to be in complete control of everything one does and the responsibility that comes with it but unless working under contract one isn’t obliged to undertake any offers of work if one chooses not to. In certain circumstances the hours worked can exceed those expected for a normal day’s work and it is sometimes necessary to be flexible. However it isn’t expected that being self-employed means being at the beck and call of all those who contact us. For certain things I will make myself readily available, emergencies and loss of power for instance. When the caller describes their problem I may offer to help them sort things out for themselves over the phone if it is feasible or at the very least as a temporary measure help them to get around a problem. If that can’t be done I will usually offer to call in person as long as I am not otherwise employed somewhere else. Some people are ready to take advantage of my readiness to help but I won’t be sucked into that. I think some people don’t realise that I have a life outside of work or like have free time for myself as they will expect me to drop everything to look after their needs. Most people are sensible and will call me at a respectable hour though some will call my home number during the working day expecting me to be at home! Occasionally I am, as I was on Monday at lunchtime when someone called regarding a total loss of power, which I attended upon. Just as I was about to leave the house someone else called regarding the total loss of power in their garage where they keep a food freezer. I went there too. Some people will call me on my mobile phone during the working day and expect me to spend ages on the phone discussing things with them regarding their needs instead of calling me at home when I will most likely be free to chat. One of the most infuriating things is when people call me very late in the evening. Fortunately those occurences are very few but on Sunday evening just before eleven o’clock and as I was about to get into bed I received such a call. The caller I could tell was obviously foreign because of his limited command of the English language. In essence he was asking me to check, repair or replace an outside floodlight which according to him had been broken. I think he meant vandalised. I had the feeling he was expecting me to do it then! I told him that I wouldn’t be climbing up ladders to repair lights in the foul weather we have been experiencing then or at any time. I asked him why he was calling at such a late hour and he told me that the light had just stopped working and he needed it fixing! What a cheek! I hung up the phone and got into bed. Did I do the job? What do you think?
No I am not about to talk about electricity generation and supply but for those who don’t know, electricity is generated not as a single live and a neutral but as three live conductors or three phases.
A neutral which though not specifically generated, is derived. It gets complicated from here so this is where I shall stop. In case you are wondering what I am jabbering about they call the live conductors ‘phases’. Lately I have been visiting my local pub fairly regularly and dining there on occasion. Basically I go there for the company and not the alcohol because Shirley Anne has been an alcohol-free zone now for nine months. I have always gone to the pub for company and as I am at present devoid of company at home my visits have been more frequent but nevertheless I have periods where I don’t wish to go to the pub, usually because I cannot be bothered. I might go there for weeks then cease going for weeks depending on how I feel. Each time I revisit after a spell of not going there I am quizzed as to the reasons why. I am obviously missed, actually I know I am for so many people tell me. I suppose with me it is a case of boredom for I tend to get bored with things after a while, I go through phases of not wanting to do anything at all! My workload goes through phases too, presently I am in the mountains so to speak after a spell of walking in the valleys. I never really get bored with work, any work, it has always been that way for me. I am at my best when going something so it is very hard for me if I have nothing to do. That does not mean that I want to work all the time, I like a rest from it like anyone else or at least a change by doing something else. I guess my life is full of phases that I go through, some good, some not so good but I have to endure them all. If I were asked what specific things in life make me happy I would probably say everything as long as I am not bored doing them! I am easily pleased though, so it doesn’t take much to please me.
It is past the middle of May and still it is very cold. The warmer temperatures we have come to expect at this time of year have been somewhat lacking even though there have been warm sunny days. It appears that the ‘Jet Stream’, the high altitude wind pattern is favouring places like Moscow with the United Kingdom fairing less well as a result. Until the Jet Stream shifts in our favour I guess we can say goodbye to a warm Summer again this year. I watch the weather forecasts with interest but it is all bad news lately. I heard tell that the month of June won’t be much better either. Astronomically speaking Summer starts on or about the 21st day of June so there is still time left for an improvement I suppose. It may be that the later months of the season will prove me wrong. I do hope so. It can be rather depressing when all we get is poor weather when reasonably it should be better. We must however make the most of things for we have no control over matters. For many people summer is the two-week vacation they take each year in a foreign land though not everyone can afford such things. I have been fortunate in that respect having enjoyed many holidays in foreign places in the past. These days I am less bothered about travelling across the globe for the pleasure of enjoying the warm weather which is taken for granted in many countries. Quite often I have found that the living conditions in these beautiful places where the sun shines most of the year and the temperatures never fall below 20 degrees Celsius are very poor indeed. Having a warm or hot climate doesn’t guarantee perfect happiness unless you have plenty of money and money doesn’t even buy happiness! I am not giving up on Summer, things are not that bad really, it could be a lot worse, in fact it may well be a lot better! I am not sure just what I will be doing in the months ahead. Working? Most probably. Taking a vacation? Probably not but anything is possible. Enjoying myself? I will try my best. Summer will be great if I am still here to enjoy it won’t it?
On my way back home with E after the long weekend break we had taken in Brighton on the south coast and to meet with friends I sat in the train carriage admiring the scenery. Many of my travelling companions were surfing the Internet on their mobile phones and tablet computers or playing games on them. Some were trying to catch a few minutes of sleep but very few seemed to be looking out of the window at the passing scenery. I could have followed suit but I would rather watch the scenery. I left my tablet computer in my suitcase and only touched my phone when I wanted to check the time. Everywhere we went in Brighton we saw people on their phones and I estimated at least 60% were doing so. It seems to be an absolute necessity, an obsession for many to spend hour after hour locked into this electronic technological phenomena. I get the feeling that those using the technology often do not realise just how much time they actually spend ‘twiddling’ their thumbs on such devices. Whatever happened to simply admiring life all around us, the scenery, the people and places we find ourselves in either accidentally or purposely? I digress. I was looking out of the window and every so often would see a canal, a river or a pond. Nothing remarkable in that you might say but what made it a little more fascinating for me was the fact that many of these stretches of water seemed to be sloping just like the land in which they were seen. I saw fields on hillsides sloping down to the train tracks and the water on these fields appeared to be doing exactly the same! An optical illusion of course unless somebody has invented a way for water to slope like the ground. Time passed by rather quickly as I watched the ever-changing scene through the carriage window. There is always something to see, always something to catch the imagination, old buildings, green fields and hills, animals, motorways and highways, rivers, streams, canals, bridges and tunnels and monuments of all kinds. I never get bored watching the life all around me. There is a slippery slope to oblivion for those who let life slip by because of some electronic gadgetry. Theirs is a life of virtual reality but I prefer mine real!
The last weekend was one of the UK’s national holiday weekends incorporating what we call a ‘bank holiday Monday’. There are two such Mondays in the month of May, one at the beginning and one at the end. One is called the ‘Spring Bank Holiday Monday’. I get mixed up as to which is which but that makes no difference, it is a national holiday. Many people will have travelled, whether near or far, in this country or elsewhere to make the most of the long weekend, sometimes including the preceding Friday. That is something I’ve never done, gone anywhere on a bank holiday because I know most roads will be packed with traffic and many places will be packed with too many people doing the same thing. As it happened this time, the weekend passed unnoticed. That is due to my present status in being semi-retired. I forget sometimes which day it is, not because I am forgetful of such things, though I am forgetful at times, no, it is because all the days seem alike. I may have many days free from work each week and it feels as though Fridays are Saturdays or that Mondays without work are Sundays. Does that makes sense? Before I became self-employed 16 years ago I worked for other companies and the weekend breaks and holidays off work were something to look forward to but now that I am self-employed that is no longer true because I can take a break at any time I wish. So for me a special weekend such as a bank holiday passes without much notice. Indeed, I have often worked over a bank holiday, treating them as any other. This is true for the other ‘special’ days off we as a nation take. To me they are just another day. Quite often these bank holidays have poor weather which puts the dampener on enjoying them as many wish to do but this past weekend the weather has been reasonably good, much to the relief of those undertaking outdoor activities! This coming weekend though E and I will be transporting ourselves to the south-east coast to pay a visit to Brighton and to see a friend and anyone else who might like to meet with us. Without realising it we elected to go this weekend when the FA Cup Final is being held in London but hopefully we will not be affected by possible traffic chaos as fans travel to the big city as we are travelling on Friday and returning on Monday. We are not treating this as a holiday as such but only as a short break from routine. E finds it difficult to get about so we would need a much longer break to get anywhere and enjoy more of any place we visit. That means we may not be visiting most of the places no doubt Brighton has to offer on such a short stay as we are taking there. Much of the enjoyment will be in the travelling to and from Brighton itself but I am sure we will enjoy more than that. I hope the weather is fine!
In a few weeks from today E and I shall be taking a couple of long journeys by train. Since my early childhood I have loved riding in a train even for relatively short journeys. In those long far off days many of the mainline routes used steam-driven engines to pull the carriages, now it is either diesel but more often electricity which is the prime mover. Whichever way is used the journey is the same though much of the romanticism will have been lost. The beauty of travelling by rail is the relief of stress it brings, not having to concentrate for hours sitting behind the wheel of a car in endless queues of traffic or being stopped at regular intervals by junctions and traffic controls. I can sit and read a book, play on a computer, use the phone without the need of a hands-free unit, eat a meal, chat with fellow travellers, admire the scenery, sit in comfort, have the convenience of toilet facilities and be seated in comfort whilst still being able to stand and walk about to stretch my legs. I cannot do most of those things whilst driving a car. I like driving, I always have but it can be tiring over long distances. I also like travelling by boat for all the same reasons and to a lesser extent I like air travel too but if I could choose rail travel for all my journeys on land I wouldn’t hesitate. The only down side to rail travel is it isn’t a door-to-door convenience but for long journeys that is a very small price to pay. The only snag E and I will have is that the journey will be broken several times as we board one train after another to reach our destination but I am still looking forward to the experience nonetheless especially as I haven’t been on a long train journey for so long.