I was reading about someone recently who had their diary planned out well into next year and even the year after. Blocks of time were set aside for trips, work events and family get-togethers. Many appointments were made, lunches and dinners scheduled and even visits to art gallery’s penciled in. They impressed upon the reader that they led an extremely busy lifestyle and it was the only way they could ensure their life ran smoothly. I was impressed; many times I have left things to the last minute and had to squeeze in appointments or last minute holidays with lots of phoning round and a bit of grovelling. Most times, though, I tend to get by. I know I’m probably not as busy as the person in the article, but it did set me thinking about plans, and I wonder how much life does actually go to plan.
I remember a little girl of about six or seven attending her art lesson at school. She loved art and painting and being creative. She had looked forward to her lesson for a full week; she had planned the picture she wanted to paint in her mind, and went excitedly in to the art room. She loved the smell of the paint and the rather chaotic aspect of the airy room with its old, paint splattered benches and the canvases stacked against the wall.This was a place where, for a while, she could get a bit messy and nobody minded. She put on her apron and collected together some paintbrushes and paint and placed them on the table in front of her. She laid down some paper and sketched an outline of the scene she wanted to paint. Lost in her own world she spent her time lovingly drawing the picture. Her teacher looked over her shoulder from time to time and made encouraging noises. She mixed her paints and carefully started painting. Her picture began to come alive and she was sure this was going to her best work yet. She looked at the pretty rural scene, its sunny blue sky and birds and butterflies, and was happy. The other classmates looked at her work with admiring glances. She couldn’t wait to pin her work on the wall. She pushed back her chair quickly, ready to take her picture to the teacher. In her haste her elbow knocked over her pot of dirty paint water, and, rooted to the spot, she watched as the water seeped across the paper in front of her. All the colours ran into one another, mixing together and fanning out in all directions until the picture beneath was indistinguishable. There was silence in the class. Tears welled up in the little girls eyes and dropped on to the picture. But the little girl’s teacher smiled. ‘You had painted a very pretty picture,’ she said, ‘but I think this one will be a lot more special. Look how the colours are flowing into one another and creating something beautiful to look at. There are shapes and swirls which will help the viewer to use their imagination when they look at it. It would grace any wall. So don’t be sad.’ As the painting dried it did indeed look beautiful and the little girl dried her tears. The teacher framed the picture and pinned it on the wall in the art room as an example of abstract art. At the end of term the little girl was awarded the art prize for her year.
The above is just one small example of how an unexpected occurrence can change our path or our viewpoint. At a young age, a lesson that teaches us to view a potential disaster with equanimity is a good thing, but so many times life throws us a curve ball and we flounder. – ‘But I had planned to do this or that,’ we say; ‘I don’t want to downsize because my finances dictate it!’or ‘I haven’t got time to be ill!’ How do we cope when life changes unexpectedly? It’s not easy. As the quote by Allen Saunders goes – ‘Life is what happens to us while we are making other plans.’
It may be hard at times to adjust, and of course some life changes are much harder to cope with than others. I ask myself now if I would go back to the house I loved and left six years ago. It was traumatic at the time for various reasons, but now I have a different life; I live in different surroundings and have downsized considerably. I enjoy the environment I now live in and enjoy spending time with new people I have met. It’s not what I would have chosen, but it’s good. With the love of good friends and family, we can cope with change.
For those coping with illness it is harder still. For those facing illness or surgery, life can alter unimaginably. I think then, especially, it’s clinging on to the the small things that can help. Trying to keep to a routine so that life still seems relatively normal seems to help.Often I read of someone who has faced illness and has come through the other side, and they are grateful. Grateful in some way for having been ill so that they could take stock and look at life in a different way. That, to me, is bravery.
Blessings to you.
‘The life of every man is a diary in which he means to write one story, and writes another; and his humblest hour is when he compares the volume as it is with what he vowed to make it.’
J.M.Barrie The Little Minister