Living and Learning. (ii) (Continued from previous blog).

Allow me, if you will, to again share my thoughts and memories about good advice received, now long ago. To do so I will need yet again to return, to childhood days and growing up in a home, where much love; but also, at times, deep sadness and sorrow seemed to abound. In those days, serious illnesses afflicted three of my four lovely sisters, two of whom died in the first decade of my life. In fact, it was during the time of pre-schooldays, when I first remember my father sometimes talking about “Being guided by events” and “Letting life unfold”. Such phrases or sayings meant little or nothing to me. How could they? At the same time, I did, I think quite early on, become aware of my father’s genuine belief in and capacity to somehow derive comfort and strength from them. I did once ask him what they meant, but he just drew on his pipe, without answering my question, at least, not in words that I could understand.

Then came the appointed time to lift our sitting room 3yds x 4yds sitting room carpet for a “beating” (there being no hoovers in those days). Incidentally, laying about a carpet stretched over a clothesline, with a sort of cane “tennis racket”, often proved to be wonderful therapy for the release of all manner of pent-up feelings and inhibitions. Once relieved of its dust deposits, the said carpet was thereafter rolled up and returned to its place on the sitting room floor. There it was set down and carefully spread out again over its appointed square (if you see what I mean) wall-to-wall carpeting being very much a thing of the future in most homes at that time.

One day, well before I was ‘introduced’ to actual involvement in such a chore, the said carpet received its regular beating and was duly returned by my father, from the garden clothesline and thereafter lined up, now in a roll, on the floor in question. At this point, he called to me to sit down beside him, instructing me to “give it a shove”, which I did with much enthusiasm. To my great consternation – he promptly and abruptly responded with, “Now look what you’ve done!” Unbeknown to me, my father had ‘doctored’ things so that when I pushed the carpet out, it would not roll straight but rather, “skew whiff” (again, if you see what I mean). Returning it to a roll, he quietly instructed me to sit behind it and now roll it out gently, staying with it and behind it all the time, until it fitted the appointed square of unvarnished floorboards perfectly. “Now that’s what I mean” he said “about letting life unfold”. As the child that I was, it provided me with a ‘picture: something to work with and so I received my first lesson that day on the advisability of working with and wherever possible, keeping whatever was/is negotiable well within ones grasp – and in that sense, under control. ‘Homespun’ philosophy it may well have been; undoubtedly was. However, it made a telling point to the fertile mind of a child, at a crucial moment in time, for here lying plainly before me was at least part of the answer which I sought: stay with it as it unfolds and you will stand a much better chance of continuing to maintain such control, because (and I so well remember my father’s phrase) “Control is the key”. ©SB.

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