I have talked many times before about the strive for mindfulness or being present and focussed on the job in hand, the here and now, rather than allowing oneself to get carried away ruminating about what might be or what has been.  We cannot control what happens but we can control how we choose to respond; I know how this has stood me in good stead over the last 12 months or so with the challenges we have all faced but I believe it remains equally important as we move forward.

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In the summer of 1974 I was playing in the garden of our house in Njoro, Kenya when I saw my father driving home from work. I ran out from behind the large lavender bushes and pretended to shoot him with my stick gun – he didn’t see me until too late and knocked me over, breaking my leg high up on my femur and putting me in hospital for 2 months.

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In the summer of 1978 I was running round a school playground in a little town called Great Torrington in North Devon, laughing and joking not knowing that the school was about to close for good and I would move to a brand new Junior School and meet friends that remain with me to this day.

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In the Autumn of 2002 I gathered with my family (my wife and eldest daughter), my parents, sister, aunty, uncle and cousins and their families to celebrate my grandmother’s 90th birthday.

Three memories brought to life through three photographs that I happened to look at today and in searching for a topic for this blog felt compelled to share the memories and reflect on the Stoical philosophy that is rooted in differentiating what is in your control and what is not, responding accordingly.

“Were you to live three thousand years, or even a countless multiple of that, keep in mind that no one ever loses a life other than the one they are living, and no one ever lives a life other than the one they are losing. The longest and the shortest life, then, amount to the same, for the present moment lasts the same for all and is all anyone possesses. No one can lose either the past or the future, for how can someone be deprived of what’s not theirs?”
Marcus Aurelius

The wonderful thing about photographs is that they capture a moment – a split second that you can look back on, remembering nothing about before or afterwards – just experience the moment as it happened on camera.  I guess this is the trick for life as Marcus Aurelius writes above, to deal with the situation as it unfolds and not cast too far forward or too far backward.

I don’t remember much about breaking my leg – in fact I remember nothing – my main memory of that time comes from the word for word memorisation of the entire film the Jungle Book.  My only real entertainment for 2 months with both legs in traction in Nakuru War Memorial Hospital was a cassette tape of the Jungle Book.  But I have heard afterwards what a happy child I was, always smiling, adapting to the ‘new normal’ seamlessly in a way that children seem to do so well.  I don’t remember much about school either – it was a big event in the town – two primary schools being merged into one large modern Junior school – we just got on with it and never looked back.

Looking back at the family picture there are now people in that picture that are no longer with us – my father and grandmother; also people that were not born then and are now part of our families, my daughter Maisy, nephew Freddy and a plethora of second cousins. None of that was known at the time the shutter clicked and we just enjoyed the moment without giving thought to how the future would unfold.

It seems like a pertinent thought to reflect on as we emerge blinking into the freedom that the vaccination programme and progress against Boris’s route map affords us.  So much is written (including by me) about what it will take to succeed in the ‘new normal’, what is important, what we should focus on and the conversations we should have.  But actually – there is a lot to be said about just enjoying today because it is today, appreciating what needs to be worked through now and reflecting that what will be tomorrow……. will be.


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