I do quite a lot of things, some of them for the community, but this year I stopped.
It’s interesting how people notice differently. Some ask why things aren’t being done without stopping to think about the people who do them, while others are more perceptive.
The reason I had to stop, or pause, is that it’s been the most challenging year of my life. Even more challenging than the years I was chronically ill as a teenager with Crohn’s disease, which weren’t tremendously amusing. You think as you grow older that you’re experienced enough and equipped to cope with anything life throws at you.
Well, I learnt that isn’t true. Grief brews up an emotional maelstrom. The smallest task becomes the biggest burden. Even talking to people can take immense effort. For the first time in my life, this year I have woken on many a morning unable to see any future. I thank my god, in the Dave Allen sense, that now I do.
It’s thanks to Mrs Z, my family and a bonkers spaniel that I started to work through this.
However, I realised that I needed extra help. The two options were chemicals – dispensed by the medical profession – or addressing my head/heart. I chose the latter and, thanks to generous church help (I am not a churchgoer) and a professional counsellor, I am climbing back up.
But I realise there are even more people who continue to make a difference to me every day.
My thanks to those with whom I share a love of walking, especially with dogs; brilliant people in our local theatre community, who help me step outside the normal world, often so unbearable in its destructiveness; and my supportive business friends in COMBEbusiness, throughout the North Devon business community and in online communities across the world. And, of course, friends in the National Campaign for Courtesy.
Thanks too to all those people who I have got to know through life in various roles as well as those who, by chance, I have connected with online through a photo, blog, piece of music or other happy accident.
It’s remarkable when you start thinking about all the people with whom you communicate and what that means to you.
In our world of mindless automated ‘content’, human connection, sometimes just a few words of greeting as we pass in a muddy field or a comment on a photo, still carries most meaning and power.