Island Blog – What You See

Or, rather, what you choose to see. I know that two people can go on the same holiday together, be around each other for two weeks and return home with entirely different stories. One saw the late arrival of a dinner out. The other saw the over-stretched waiters doing their best. One remembered every rain drop, the other saw the flowers beginning to petal up. One slept for the whole plane journey, uncomfortably, whilst the other didn’t sleep at all (but wanted to) but made friends with a fractious child and his overwrought mother. It has aye been thus with folk.

This morning, I lifted down a candle mess. Two wee scented candles, tampon sized, had melted into a pancake. No… isn’t a pancake……look….there’s a face, two eyes and are those ears? And is the creature smiling? What a cheeky look on its face………I took a photo and sent it to my African son, who would have been well into his morning at my 0600. He came back immediately in response to my question – Who is This?

Shaun the sheep, he said, no question. And there began a ping pong of nonsense on WhatsApp, covering in seconds what it takes days to travel in real time. I remember we played these daft games for 3 months when we were together. Straight back to his childhood and my second. All my kids learned the nonsense attitude to life. It wouldn’t have mattered that this so called friend at school had turned like the worm and was making life difficult. In the time it took to draw breath, this child became a creature and this creature made us all laugh out loud. The voice, the quirks, the things we all observed about this child, or this teacher, or this whoever, were reconstructed in fun. I recommended that, every time that person in worm disguise made unkind comment or ridiculed, my child might bring into his or her mind the caricature, and to respond not at all. It was always enough. I employ this mental manoeuvre myself, even now. It isn’t unkind, but a sort of peaceful warrior attitude, one that makes a choice not to feed the beast. And it’s all about what you see.

We can find dragons in clouds and monsters in forests. A dropped egg becomes a country, a broken bowl a landscape. Look, there’s Winnie the Pooh, or is it Piglet? Winnie the Piglet, perhaps. Whatever life throws, we can always catch it. It might not look great, at first but just wait till we get the hands of our imaginations working. You’ll see……once one of us begins the game.

I recall a long delayed flight once, in an overheated airport, somewhere in Greece. We couldn’t leave as we had all gone through security. There were all of four seats already inhabited by four bottoms, not one of which was budging. We settled for the floor. It was easy for us, a young family, but not so easy for the hot oldies with disabled this and that to contend with. Everyone was tired and mostly everyone was either screaming for Mummy or muttering murder for the airline. One of my boys pulled out a soft toy and brought it to life. Another followed suit, then another and before long there was a full production in play. At first, nobody heard anything above the screaming and the muttering, but, gradually, eyes turned towards these children and smiles appeared on weary faces. Even the screamers shut up, intrigued by the floor show. Then out came the juggling balls. By the time the flight was called, everyone felt quite relaxed.

For one, the flight was delayed too long, it was overly hot, there were no seats and the drinks machine was out of order. For another, life changed.

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