For some unfathomable reason my mind turned to clichés this morning. A cliché is a cliché because it’s true, or so I’ve always believed. Sometimes people don’t know what to say, so they resort to the tried and true. So let’s examine some of them.
Time heals. Anyone who has suffered a loss and knows what it’s like when that inevitable friend or family member puts their hand on your shoulder and says, “Time heals”, knows about this one. You smile and murmur “thank you” and you turn away, so you don’t give in to the temptation to bop them in the face. Of course everyone would react to that by tut-tutting and saying, “they were only trying to help.”
But is it true? Does time heal? Well, in my humble opinion, the answer to that is partially. Of course the emotion doesn’t stay as raw and overwhelming as it is at first. Time blunts things and it does cause healing. But not completely. You wouldn’t want it to heal OVER because then it’d be like it never happened and that implies people are forgotten. I firmly believe that if you love someone you’ve lost, then they live on in you and you never completely lose them. What time enables you to do is live and function and then, eventually, to enjoy yourself again.
Money doesn’t buy happiness. This is what people say gleefully when rich people have some ‘unfortunate happening.’ The answer, of course, is that it buys you a better class of misery. And money can be a buffer to some stresses and some unhappiness. But you only need to see the number of drug and booze addicted rich and famous people to know that it certainly doesn’t guarantee you happiness. Is it something you can buy anyway? Is it not part of a journey? If you’re content with the direction in which your life is heading, if you’re lucky and work hard in the important areas of life, then you can be happy. You don’t have to buy it.
Stop and Smell the Roses. This is the one they throw at you when they think your life is out of balance. There’s no need to do what I have done, sell the house, move to the country, slow down to a pace of life that resembles a crawl at times…all it is telling you to do is open your senses up to the experiences of your life. Don’t go at such a pace that simple pleasures evade you. May seem a distant memory now, but I do know what it’s like to work 100+ hour weeks, to work 18 hours a day, six days a week for months at a time. After 14 days straight of 10 hour overnight shifts producing Wimbledon, I struggled to tell you the sex, let alone the names, of the players on court. I remember logging five-day cricket test matches and sleep would get the better of me and I’d miss whole sessions.
No, stopping and smelling the flowers can be much less dramatic. Schedule regular ‘date nights’ with someone you see all the time and don’t talk about finances or kids or jobs, talk about the things you talked about when you first met. Take up a new hobby, give yourself a challenge, physical or mental or creative. Or literally, stop and smell flowers. Take yourself off to a park or a garden and sit in the sunshine. Let your senses take in the sights, smells, sounds, tastes on the wind, the sensation of sitting on the grass. Just sit and enjoy and slowly all the things that are competing for your attention will drop away and you’ll realise that it’s a cliché because it’s true.
And on the way home indulge yourself, ‘shout’ yourself something special. Sometimes I stop in at the Gelato shop in Cambridge and have a lemon sorbet, because I love it. And every once in a while I have coconut gelato with hot Belgian chocolate sauce, because it makes my taste buds remind me that although I still miss the people I have lost, I no longer crave their voices and it shows me that $3 is all I need to buy a moment of pure joy and it makes me stop and smell the figurative roses in my garden. I am lucky. I am blessed.
Speaking of gardens, I have to tell you that last night, and the night before, we ate our own potatoes. Lovely new potatoes boiled with mint that grows beside them. They were exceptionally delicious. And soon we will have silverbeet as well. And rhubarb, then eventually broccoli and carrots. Someone should really make a TV show about us, it would be a comedy, it would be called The Good Life.