Life is…

…not supposed to be one ongoing sentence. It has commas, and fullstops.

Courtesy of facebook, I’ve been reminded that this was on my mind 8 years ago today.

When I read it, I confess to being a bit like, “Oh really?”. I tried to see if I could remember what may have prompted such a thought. I couldn’t.

Timeline wise, I was just a few months away from making my move overseas. However, at the time of this status, I still didn’t know if it was going to happen as planned. There’d been some hiccups in the process, things that were still not lined up, things that needed confirming etc. I was in limbo. So maybe that was it…

Or maybe, it had been a really busy time. And I was expressing the need to stop and take a breath…

We are taught in school, that we shouldn’t use overly long sentences. Even with the use of commas. Having literally just checked with my teacher friend why this is, she shared the following.

A long sentence can be hard for your reader to engage with. If the grammar, clauses, etc. aren’t right, the reader could get bored; the meaning of the sentence can change, or be misunderstood. (Btw, pls don’t start watching my -Janice’s- grammar too closely!)

When teaching about ‘text type’, the criteria is that a child can use a range of varying sentence structures. Short and long. It is about impact. So of the two sentences, “He said, “Stop it.”” and “Stop it!“, the second would get more marks. It conveys more impact. – Courtesy of Ms Heels

Now before you think I’ve digressed into a teaching session, let me try to link this back to the opening quote.

Just imagine for a moment, being in a conversation with that person who doesn’t seem to use fullstops. Nor ‘come up for air‘. We’ve all been in one of those conversations. We may even have been the author of such conversations! Ones where the other person(s) ‘can’t get a word in edgeways‘.

Can you imagine if life was like that? An ongoing monologue, lacking in punctuation, with little opportunity for you to interject.

Or, that life was so encompassing, that you were just going and going and going… With no time to come up for air. Even though we know that oxygen is vital for life.

Maybe, 8 years ago today, I was alluding to this…

Or maybe it was just random, nonsensical musing! 🙂

Either way, it’s given me pause for thought. And prompted another blog post.

Maybe it will do the same for you…

I Will Fly

Give me time, and I will fly,

Maybe not according to your timetable,

Maybe not according to your rules,

But I will fly

Give me room, and I will expand,

Beyond your wildest dreams…

…that is if you had any for me,

Give me space, and I will move,

Beyond the boundaries of your mind,

And beyond the boundaries of mine,

Give me time, and I will, I must, fly.

© 2006 Unique Expression/J Whyne (- from the Archives)

Inspired by an Enviison project that I supported in 2006. I had the privilege of working with an excellent group of young women at Burntwood School in London. The words of this poem came after I attended their final project. – A Recycled Fashion Show

Connections

“Do you snore?”

This is a question the character Meredith Grey (Grey’s Anatomy) asks her estranged father Thatcher. His answer to her previous question -if there was another side to the story- didn’t seem to satisfy either of them. Then she asks, “Do you snore?”. Thatcher’s delay in answering nearly ends the conversation, but then he says that he does, and that she gets that from him. They’ve shared a meaningful moment. They both felt it.

When I watched that scene the other day, I was once again struck by how strong the desire for connection is. Also, the deep power there is in meaningful connection.

Meredith had finally forced herself to give her father something approaching the benefit of the doubt. And she appears so desirous of some point of contact, that if all they had in common was a snore, she’d take it.

My faith, life experience, and worldview, causes me to believe that we are created for relationship. That we are interdependent connected beings.

Currently we hear a lot about, “living your truth“, “be/do you“, “If it’s good or works for you...”, and the such like. To a certain extent, I can support the ‘spirit’ of these views. I do however think that the fervour with which they are espoused, undervalues the validity of the old adage,

“No man is an island”*. – John Donne

In addition, potentially puts us at risk of not having to even consider thinking of anyone but ourselves. As we have permission to just “live our truth”. – Think this topic is really a separate post…

No doubt, some of the connections in our lives are not productive or life-giving. However, I still believe that we are people who are intrinsically wired to be connected to and with others. To enjoy our commonalities, be intrigued -and challenged- by our differences, and spurred on by the things we get to share and experience together. The good and the bad. Those that last for a moment, a season, or a lifetime.

If there is any validity to my thoughts, it follows that we need to ensure we make space, and time for connection. Aiming to be fully present in the moments of our lives, and the interactions, relationships, and so on that it affords us.

For more than just my thoughts, check out the 80-year Harvard Study of Adult Development (aka Harvard Happiness Study). It claims that the key to a happy life is our relationships.

Three key findings cited by the research are:

  1. Social connections are really good for us, and that loneliness kills.
  2. It’s not about the quantity of friends that you have, but the quality of your close relationships that matter.
  3. Good relationships don’t just protect our bodies, they protect our brains.

The study utilised questionnaires, interviews, observations in the participants homes, medical examinations and more. It is actually an ongoing piece of research.

Watch a Ted Talk by the current director of the study, Robert Waldinger or click the links below for more info:

Waiting…

I heard someone say recently that ‘we’, people nowadays,

“…don’t like preparation, process or training.”

Although I don’t agree with the all encompassing ‘we’, I think his point has premise.

With the blessings and advantages of our more modern age, we can get used to things being ‘instant’. The concept of having to wait for more than a minute for something can be unpalatable to unthinkable.

Related to this -and I think where the person quoted was coming from- the need to work hard for things, push on through the obstacles, ‘be put through our paces’, etc. can, for some, also be undesirable.

As I mulled over what the speaker had said, I felt prompted to try to think of some related Ps. Here’s what I came up with/added:

*Preparation, Process, Persecution/Perseverance, Performance*

In my notes I wrote, “What do I want to relate this to?” Now here I am aiming to relate it to the topic of ‘Waiting’.

I think inherent in all those words is the tangible notion of ‘time needed’.

Preparation, implies something intentional has to take place before you can even start whatever endeavour you have in mind.

Even the quickest packet to mouth microwave meal will have preparation instructions. Which at a minimum will be to ‘remove the plastic’. As ‘instant’ a meal as it may be, at least a few secs of preparation time will still be needed.

You then wait for whatever it is to warm up. Either by standing by the microwave watching it go round and waiting for the ‘ding’ or ‘beep’. Or maybe you grab yourself a drink, wash a dish, answer a message… Finally, dinner is served. You partake, and hopefully enjoy.

Process, implies there is a systematic -though not necessarily linear- collection of measures, actions, decisions, experiences etc. that will have to happen. This, in order for the desired end result to be seen, achieved, enjoyed.

It’s worth noting, that there’s a high probability of at least some of these processes needing to be repeated. Maybe over and over again…

As for Persecution/Perseverance & Performance, I’ll leave you to draw your own conclusions about what they may imply.

Life, in generally, is not like a microwave meal. You’re possibly thinking, “Well of course it isn’t!”, and ‘what an obvious point’. And you’d be right. However, as hinted at earlier, I think our times have potentially created an ‘on demand’ culture.

Whether consciously or unconsciously, or by virtue of socialisation and progress, ‘we’ may well have come to extend that culture and expectation of ‘on demand’ to the more multi-dimensional complexities of this thing called life.

We want it all, we want it now. No waiting allowed.

Real, engaged with, meaningful life, will invariably include periods of ‘Waiting’. Periods of seemingly nothing happening or going round in circles, periods of struggle and so on.

Learning to live within the tension of this can be a lifelong process. Recognising that there can be purpose in it, and that we can choose to be active and not passive during it, is also something that can be learnt. The very definition of the word waiting implies some of this.

Having had a look online, this combination of ‘P’s, or the 4 P version, ‘Preparation, Process, Perseverance, Performance‘ doesn’t appear to have been used yet.

Maybe it is sonething I should mull over more. Maybe it is something I should trademark… Maybe it is something you could mull over more… But “hands off’ the trademark! 🙂

Mourn with Those who Mourn (Weep with Those who Weep)…

I wrote the following approximately 4 years ago. It was a response to a friend’s loss. One that didn’t actually get shared with them until quite a while later.

Recently, I have felt prompted to share it with a few others, as they have experienced, and are still going through, the loss of a loved one. And for whatever reason, it has crossed my mind to post it here. Maybe it will connect with someone else…

Untitled

Can anything feel right, now that this day has come?

It is right to feel sorrow, for a day such as this has come.

It is right to feel pain, for the one who you love has gone.

It is right to shed tears. As they fall may they be a balm to your aching heart.

It is right to have questions like, “Why?” Knowing no answer can really satisfy.

It is right to feel sad, it is right to feel angry, it is right, it is right, it is right…

It is right to remember the times that were before sorrow, pain and tears.

For in those times live memories of happiness, laughter, love…

And those are the memories that will help you to go on.

It is right to remember that you do not walk this journey of grief alone.

This is not a journey to walk alone.

Let others be your traveling companions as you journey through.

For in sharing the burdens you lighten the load.

It is right to remember the healing will take time.

How much time, no-one can really know.

It is right, that you take the time you need.

And in such time as is right, may it be right with you again.

©J Whyne – Unique Expression

It is actually an untitled piece, but I used words found in the Bible (Romans 12:15) for the purposes of this post. They seemed like a fitting temporary title.

Interestingly, the block of verses that it is apart of (vv9-21), was given the subtitle, Marks of a True Christian. This made me curious to see what other renderings it might have been given. The bahasa Indonesia one stood out, Nasihat hidup dalam Kasih. Advice to live in love.

May we all be intentional about living in love.

Wonder

This morning I got to gasp out loud in wonder at the beauty of a new day.

My ears awoke to the sounds of the birds tweeting, cockerels crowing, and some faint voices going about their morning routines.

In my still not quite fully awake state, I pulled the curtains back slightly, and on seeing that it was still dark outside, wondered if I was awake in time to see the sunrise.

I scrabbled around for my phone to check the time, think I resisted checking any whatsapps and the such like but cannot be sure, saw that sunrise tomorrow is due at 5.59am, meaning I should have time to catch it today. Confirmed the whole East/West thing (not that I really know my East from my West without a gadget), rolled back over in bed and considered just staying there, but eventually got up and headed outside.

As I sat on my friend’s balcony, looking out at the hazy skyline, I could see the ends of pink tinged streaks to the right. I deduce that meant the sun would probably rise out of sight of me, but that I would still sit, pause, and enjoy the moment.

As I stretched out and just took in the view, these words from a song came to mind, “May we never lose our wonder…”

And as I sat there, mindful of the wonder of creation, musing on a few things, uttering thanks for a few things, asking for help for a few things… I momentarily looked away, and on looking back up gasped out loud.

As there in its orange-yellow brilliance was the sun peeking out from behind one of those previously pink tinged streaks.

I was truly caught in wonder and joyful delight. Like that of a child on discovering something new, or on getting something you wanted but thought you couldn’t have.

I continued to just sit there and watch its rise. Resisting the split second urge to get my phone from the sofa to capture the moment. I wanted to just be in, and live the moment. That was the thing to be captured by.

In a world where so many things are happening so fast. From the very mundane to the very concerning. It can be so easy to lose our ‘wonder’. To keep waking up each morning and miss the ‘moments’ that might be right in front of us. To not stop, and take even 5 mins to appreciate (possibly amidst much that is difficult) what there is to be thankful for.

It’s possible, that if we could do this more often, we could enter the day ahead in a better place. Better able to navigate what it might bring. Better able to show a little grace to that person or persons who are colouring your day in the worst way. Better able to just be.

I am grateful that this morning I took that time. And very grateful for my ‘gasp out loud moment’. It has started my day in a beautiful way. It has also motivated me to finally write a new post!

I hope that you get to enjoy, or get back some of your ‘wonder’ today.