Thursday, 13 June 2013

On not taking things for granted

I bang on about quite a lot of things. One of the things about which I bang is not taking anything for granted. I mostly remember this but sometimes I need reminding.

I spoke to a serviceman today who described to me, quite matter-of-factly and without being pressed, his condition after a severe training accident. So many terrible things happened to his body that I cannot describe them here. But what stayed with me was his pain. It is excruciating, and it never stops. He can control it a little with extreme medication, but the problem with even the strongest drugs is that the body gets used to them in the end, and the pain reasserts. The agony is so intense that he counts himself lucky to get four hours’ sleep a night. Days will go by when he is existing on no more than two hours of rest.

I go insane if I do not get my full eight hours, and I do not have pain all over my body. I think of the minor moans and complainings I make about idiot things. I think: every morning when I wake up I should hang out more flags over the simple fact that my nerve endings are quiet. The absence of something is quite hard to celebrate, but the absence of constant pain is something that goes right to the top of my gratitude list.

I do think of my luck quite a lot. I think of the great good fortune of living in this astonishing place, surrounded by venerable trees and ancient mountains. There are no riots in the streets. No secret police are bashing down the door. I may drive a car and vote in elections. The usual losses and griefs of a life lived this long may make my heart sore, from time to time, but do not crush or smash it. All my fingers work, so I may type my 1096 words of book as I did today and feel a sense of satisfaction.

There is something I often think of, when there are deaths, as there have been in the last week. I think: say the thing. Give the compliment, express the love, open the heart. Because all the best beloveds are only one bus away from extinction. But I also think: make the list. Write down, literally or figuratively, the things for which one should be grateful. I know it’s the mad old hippy in me, coming out and waving a tattered, tie-dyed flag, but still. I think it might be true. Smell the damn flowers, because who knows what may happen tomorrow.


Today’s pictures:

The white lilac and the apple blossom are out:

13 June 1 13-06-2013 11-20-26

13 June 2 13-06-2013 11-20-34

13 June 3 13-06-2013 11-22-56

13 June 5 13-06-2013 11-28-58

13 June 7 13-06-2013 11-29-11

Happy herd:

13 June 10 13-06-2013 09-36-07

13 June 11 13-06-2013 09-37-11

13 June 14 13-06-2013 09-37-35

The nobility of Mr Stanley the Dog:

13 June 14 13-06-2013 11-31-03

The hill:

13 June 20 13-06-2013 11-31-18


  1. This is so true. I thought about this when Iain Banks said that he had had the opportunity to know how much he was appreciated . it prompted him to write to authors he admires to let them know. often at funerals you hope that the person knew how much they were loved and admired. I think this and now need to act!

  2. This message never grows tired. It's ever-important, and one that we all needed to be reminded of on a regular basis. Gratitude. Always.

  3. I know God has blessed me all my life & continues to do so. For what reason, I don't know. So many deserving people are cursed with trouble.

  4. Well said, thank you. I heard this week of the untimely death of a good and lovely man I had only known for a few years. It has shaken me more than I would have thought possible and my way of looking at things has shifted yet again. I'm away to smell the flowers.


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