Someone working for my friend continues to give them a hard time. I am ready to sack that person I’m so cross about the amount of stress my friend is enduring. My crossness only adding to my friend’s stress I suspect.
I’ve been trying to sort out my Wi-Fi with a large company. It has taken three complaints, nine phone calls, two other calls that cut me off, sent the wrong equipment twice, equipment promised and ordered has twice failed to materialise,. I do not shout down the phone because I never get to speak to the same person twice. Every person apologises and says they will sort it out. I ask does my file have ‘Do not listen to this woman’ written in black letters across it. Finally, someone with authority rings me. I’m sure you have your own stories of frustration
I hate the way these things make me feel inside. A form of Chinese water torture they wear me down until I want to throttle someone. Then the poor husband gets it in the neck and all he’s done is asked me how my day was!
Oh to be wise, and do things well. Writing this I was reminded of my friend Rosa on her ‘hen do’ determined we should all dress in white and be angels. A lovely aspiration. Can you believe it – there was a harp in Richmond Park where we went for our picnic!
“All is futility” says Ecclesiastes. And you know what, I agree with the writer of that book. If I step back from the things I do to make a life, and some are a little more compelling than trying to sort out my Wi-Fi, it is a futility because my full attention is better spent not on myself, but on God. The right questions are: Who are you God? What do you want to do that will make me more human? How will you help me find meaning and completion in my life? What are the important things?
Ecclesiastes is a great book to divest myself of illusion and the ignorant expectation I can live this life on my own. It dusts me down from unreality and doses me up with emptiness. A good place to ask God for help.
My workspace is at the top of our house. We have wide windows that allow uninterrupted sky, trees, birds and a view of the homes amongst which we nestle. As I write I look again at the semi-detached house opposite me. Weeks ago they began work on the roof. It looks like some new windows are to be inserted and the slates replaced. Shortly after they started, the rain came, so they stopped. They haven’t come back. The scaffolding remains; the ladders reach into the blue; the tarpaulins stretch across the broken roof; the piled bricks are next to the child’s swing. What has happened? The weather has changed, and we have basked glorious heat and sunshine for several weeks now.
Unfinished business. To begin with its messy. Gradually it becomes so much a part of the landscape of our lives we cease to see it. The children dance around the scaffold struts playing games of their own. We reason to ourselves, ‘we’ve never used a room in the roof so we don’t miss anything’. The pain of things begun and yet uncompleted dims. We accommodate, we allow, and disappointment and regret replaces hearts of hope and expectation.
When we made our film, Shaking Dreamland it was exciting. Actors saying lines I had written. Scene after scene completed. The wrap party a triumph. But we didn’t have a film. Unless we pushed through what was an even harder few months of time, effort, and creativity we would hold nothing in our hands. It needed editing; music and Foley added; without this we still had nothing. Once concluded an audience must found. It was a tortuous process but the end product was something to be proud of and I loved our premiere.
Whatever we start it takes discipline to finish. Becoming a starter/finisher is important otherwise things drift, negative feelings build and a voice in your head gets increasingly strident and destructive. This will then affect everything you do and perhaps makes you give up trying. Here are some thoughts on being a starter/finisher:
- Procrastination–don’t allow yourself to be deflected by the urgent, but always give the important consideration. An example is relationships. They mean so much to me, for them I will stop, allow myself to be interrupted and go with the flow. However I will then return to the task I set myself.
- Never happy with what you produce? Does the voice in your inner ear trip you up constantly? Does it tell the truth? Choose to listen to a truthful voice.
- When you start something decide what the goal is and make sure it is achievable. Be specific. I elect to write write a novel. My end product is a manuscript.
- Learn to discipline yourself. As a writer I am required to write words on a page.
- Don’t begin too much. One step at a time. Attending to the small tasks in life helps learn the habit of finishing. Do all the dishes; pay all the bills on time; do that swim regularly.
- Make short-term goals in a long-term process and celebrate hitting each one. We don’t celebrate enough. I am trying to learn.
- Allow yourself to recognise when you set up something you cannot do and make a decision. You can stop. You can change the goal.
- It is hard to finish something important to us because then we open ourselves up to criticism. Whenever I create I am nervous how it will be received. I always want to create something beautiful and perfect and it never is. I put my heart and soul into my creating and I can do no more. ‘I have done what I can’–to vaguely quote Arthur Ashe. I can live with that whatever comes my way.
We may leave business unfinished, but strangely I have discovered, it won’t leave us and without attention often turns into a stumbling block.
Trust one who has tried (Virgil)
To have good friends requires being a good friend. Being a good friend is built on trust. So what does being trustworthy mean? Trust is an elusive component in life, but essential. Building trust takes time, effort and commitment.
- Be there. You have to spend time with a person to gain trust. Someone who hangs in with another however tough things get. Ready with a word of kindness but also practical. Our actions speak so much louder than our words. We must allow our lives to get interrupted at the most inconvenient of times when the person on the phone, or at the door, needs our company.
- Learn to listen. When you are with someone do not allow electronic or any other interruption. At that moment they are the most important person in the world.
- Be honest but with kindness – say what you think. It is amazing how difficult we find it to tell the truth in all circumstances. We make a mistake and rather than owning up we lie. Don’t deceive people or tell lies to make ourselves something we are not. Most of us hate confrontation so rather than express what we are truly feeling, we say nothing. It is so difficult to build a relationship with someone who will not say what they feel. It makes both parties feel insecure.
- Do what you say you will do. If you make a promise keep it or if it becomes impossible say so and apologise. Learn to be efficient – some are better at this than others, but we can all learn to do better at what we put our hands to. Be punctual. Meet deadlines. Be reliable.
- Be loyal. Be someone your friend knows will never betray them. In any and all circumstances you have their back.
- Speak well at all times in all situations. Don’t jump in and say you can do something only to realise you cannot. If you are asked to help and you are unable to, say so. We are allowed to say no.
- No gossip. When people share themselves with us, they must know they will not be talked about when they leave the room. The confidences that have been aired will not be expressed to anyone else.
- Be empathetic. Learning to stand in another’s shoes and see what the world looks like from their viewpoint. It means we can stand with our friend, utter words that will soothe and heal because we understand.
- Choose close friends carefully. Go for quality not quantity. We can befriend many people, but not all people can or should be close friends.
- Learn to say sorry. Take responsibility for all we do including the bad things, the wrong things, and the mistakes. Never blame others.
- Avoid denial. When things happen that disrupt a relationship don’t push it under the carpet. Face what has happened, talk openly and find a way through. If we fail to confront difficulty eventually we will lose each other and the relationship.
- Stay consistent. Hold fast to the values of trustworthiness and don’t allow misunderstanding or unkindness to sway you.
Learning to be trustworthy is a journey. I have made so many mistakes in my life. Every single point I have written about I have at some time done the opposite. However, I have learnt. I continue to learn. I want to be a trustworthy person, an authentic faithful friend, and treat the relationships I have as the treasure I have discovered they are.