Expecting Surprises

Last Sunday, laden with two Carrefour ‘bags for life’, I announced to my son, that I had a surprise for him as I walked into the living room. He said that he had been expecting a surprise. My husband and I chuckled, were about to explain the paradox but indulged the innocence.

Christmas 2012 is probably the Christmas with which many others will be compared for Kwame. I don’t think that we went overboard but he was still overwhelmed and we delayed opening 2 presents to the 26th.

A friend of mine brought his gifts from relatives in the UK. So there was a mini repeat of Christmas morning as he ripped open, among many, a bag of books (always books from my primary School Teacher mother) and Ben 10 puzzles ( 3 years of puzzles from the Civil Engineer aunt).

Though Mummy had said she’d sent me something too, I wasn’t expecting to be so thrilled by the decadent velvet brocade throw that she’d made me. It complements my décor perfectly but that’s not a surprise as she knows that coral/terracotta is one of my favourite colours.

I knew my sister was sending me a handbag from divine Radley, where she works but when I opened it there was also one of the firm’s special edition 2012 red baubles. I took the tree down on 6 January but I’m excited at the prospect of a new decoration for this Christmas.

Later that evening, after we’d done 2 out of 3 puzzles and read 2 out of 5 new books, I was reflecting on expecting surprises. My initial reaction to my son’s statement was to point out the flaws in his thinking.

When I’m called pessimistic, I retort that I am pragmatic. Whichever one it is, I know that if I am expecting anything it is a nasty shock. Once again my perceived wisdom has been challenged by my child. He’s shown me that by living expectantly you don’t have to be surprised by a surprise, only by what the surprise brings.

After opening all his presents, he commented that his relatives must really love him and that he was very lucky. Hmm luck… I used to think that I was unlucky. However, I discovered that by changing my perspective, I started to see instances of good luck in my life. Now, I note these on my gratitude list and they seem to multiply.

Smilingly I settled down to sleep and made a decision to expect surprises. I’ve had at least 2 since then – one was a small cash windfall.

Like me, do you only expect nasty shocks? Should we start expecting surprises?

Of eagles and phoenixes

I was planning to continue the theme of late blooming and take inspiration from the life cycle of an eagle. You must have seen that presentation about the eagle being able to live up to 70 years but to do so it must make a difficult decision at 40, die or go through a painful 150 day process.

If it chooses the latter it will fly to its mountain-top nest where, without food or water, it will do some rather dreadful things to its beak, wings and talons.  After 5 months it will take its flight of rebirth.

At this stage I’m thinking I don’t have 5 minutes, never mind 5 months. However, according to the University of Minnesota’s Raptor Center which is part of its Veterinary Science School, instead of extending its life, any eagle that went without food for 5 months would be dead.

I understand why the eagle was chosen. The eagle is symbolic of strength and supremacy.  It forms part of the official insignia of countries as disparate as Austria, America, Ghana and Panama. Many of its attributes, we aspire to: tenacious grasp, near-perfect perception, no known predators, impressive reach measured by its incredible wingspan. Eagles are loners yet many species mate for life.

Though the details of the slide show are erroneous the message is universal:  our past can weigh us down; we can recreate our lives through shedding that which will prevent us from moving forward; and renewal often requires difficult and painful decisions. To say that this is challenging stuff is to understate.

This fabricated story of the eagle bears many similarities of mythological creatures that are reborn in perpetuity, the most well known being that of the phoenix.

Do you dare take the eagle/phoenix challenge?

Middle age and late blooming

In Psalm 90, the Bible suggests that the span of life is three score and ten and through Macbeth, Shakespeare popularised this idea of a 70 year life span.

If this is true then, I should be rushing out and dyeing my hair, buying a red sports car or exchanging my husband for a younger model – as I am middle aged – in fact being over 35 means I am in the second phase of life.  Instead of bemoaning loss of youth, it is a good time to reflect, reject and refocus. 

 I have had many blessings – a career where I effectively promoted myself every 18 -24 months, marriage to the love of my life and motherhood.   Nonetheless, I know that for a long time, I quelled my calling because I felt it was impractical and would leave me economically impoverished.  When, I reclaimed my desire to write, I was distraught over the time’ wasted’. After several years, I have reconciled myself to this choice and no longer look on the time before as lost but as research.

I used to wish I could just quit what I’m doing now and single-mindedly pursue my passion.  This is not possible at the moment and though again it took me time, now I’m okay with that idea.  I used to think in ‘either cake or fruit’ now I think ‘cake and fruit’.

As happens often, I felt that I was all alone in feeling this way but increasingly there are articles and books being published about this phase in life. Many talk of late blooming – this makes me smile as I picture soft autumnal rays stirring open flowers that shunned the stark summer sun.

Are you a late bloomer? Why do you think so?

Epiphanies and gifts

I used to think that there would be one moment when all will be revealed – when I would finally get it.

Now I know that life is a series of epiphanies, some large, others less so. Some have been so personal, so private, so profound, that only the effects are experienced by those closest to me. Others are like a metaphysical concert.

The sun lured me here, Caribbean Child who had endured too many winters – did not reckon on the desert sun parching and draining me- did not know that the breeze could add to the fire that threatened to consume me.

Away from all the familiars that brought me comfort, I had to find solace in a new thing. Rather it is an old love, buried and forgotten by the busyness of life. But here in the wilderness, my soul’s longing could no longer be silenced. So I began to write, again.

The joy of writing is a gift I continuously give myself.

Sharing with you, my writing, is my gift to you.