Life: A reminder today, for me, of the important things

It’s been a tough few months and though I’ve been working on some lovely projects for clients, things have been quite stressful: a court case coming up for a back injury caused by a car accident in 2006 where they need more evidence and financial bumf than I thought humanly possible; no real sign of the credit crunch abating to render me free to carry on doing up more of my own properties for sale or rent; still living in a house which is in dire need of renovation; having to defer the second year of my BA through lack of time (and energy!), ….. sometimes life just grinds you down, doesn’t it?

Little things can seem all consuming, massive all of a sudden, and small obstacles are suddenly unsurmountable. Then you have a total meltdown! At least that’s how I ‘deal’ with stuff – contain it, suck it up, bury it, ignore it, then POW, it all spews out in a demonic, volcanic eruption for about 20 minutes, sometimes longer, then I have a little sleep, then I start again. It’d be funny if I was watching it and in fact, sometimes I do laugh at myself mid-explosion, in a mildly hysterical kind of way, whilst Mr Moregeous looks with a mixture of terror and concern.

Others deal with life and escape in different ways and we all have our own coping strategies, but it’s been quite frightening just recently how many people’s coping strategies aren’t working. This morning I was taken aback and truly saddened to read that one of the BBC’s brightest property presenters has been found dead, and whether he took his own life or diced with death in a sex game as the internet is suggesting, his wasn’t a ‘natural death’, even sadder as he was only 32. Whatever happened, a life which still had so much to offer has been cut short, and if it did happen because of something as fleeting as a sexual thrill, his passing is even more tragic. I’ve followed his career with interest, partly because his life has mirrored mine but in a ‘bigger’ and ‘better’ way, but also because he just came across as a very capable, likeable and pleasant bloke. He’d completed a fabulous self-build property which I dream of doing and having done a few tests for BBC daytime, I admired his successful tv career fronting property shows. So in a way, because his life seemed so perfect, it’s a real shock when something happens to shatter that perfection.

You imagine, don’t you, that the people who have achieved what you strive to achieve may somehow be happier, more satisfied and more content than you, when in fact that often isn’t that case. So many people aren’t happy right now, in fact are deeply unhappy and just aren’t coping with the currently huge pressures of life, but we’re all so busy focusing on keeping our own heads above water and surviving these difficult times that sometimes we don’t notice the warning signs, even if they are being screamed out at 100 decibels. Tough times make us all selfish because we are forced to be self-focused, but those who need friendship, support and help can slip by unnoticed. And sometimes that person might be me or you. I’m not for one minute suggesting that the presenter’s friends and family neglected him or that it’s a fact any of the above applied to him, but his very sad death just sparked off these thoughts, and seemed connected.

I had a tenant take an overdose in one of my flats just over a year ago and it still plays on my mind, whether I could have done anything at all to prevent it. People tell me it wasn’t my responsibility to look after him or even out for him, but isn’t it all of our responsibility to look after those around us? Without going into detail, similar events have occurred close to me just recently, shocking friends and family. High profile clear suicides like Lee McQueen and Lucy Gordon shake the world because to us they seem to ‘have it all’, yet clearly something very fundamental to happiness was missing or damaged. We are so intent on observing and critiquing celebs and others, and living out our lives through crappy soaps and cheap reality shows that we’ve forgotten it’s the people immediately around us who matter and who need us, not the fools in Heat magazine.

What is going on with the world? Have we stopped being focused on the things which really make us content – family, good friendships, simple pleasures like a delicious meal, laughter, a walk in the countryside – and become too focused on the things which promise us happiness – success, money, sex, fame, possessions – but ultimately can leave us feeling lonely and empty?

With all this sadness around, I think there’s a lesson to be learned. I’m determined to take more time out to catch up and stay connected with those I love, and less time trying to have it all and chase the unachievable. More time for a chin wag with friends (instead of a fast and all too easy text or email), more time for a catch up coffee (although I don’t drink it, you know what I mean), more time for noticing those around me instead of noticing who’s boffing who in celeb-land, more time on what’s really important. And if the good things happen by the by, that’ll be just fine.

4 thoughts on “Life: A reminder today, for me, of the important things

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  1. A thoughtful, considered post – I enjoyed reading your thoughts.

    I just found out an old acquaintance took his life just last week. He was 69 and a multi-millionaire who also ‘had it all’ – so everyone thought. His wife found him hung in their living room and had to cut him down. I mean, how awful? We’re all still in shock.

    Having come so close to slipping over the edge in my late twenties, I recognise this isn’t a cut-and-dried issue. It was only at the eleventh hour I realised how close I was to making an early exit. And the thing is, no-one around me knew, because even I was completely unconscious to my innermost motivations. Ultimately, something within me wanted to die – my old, outmoded life – so something new could be born. But that took many, many years of hard work before it finally came to conscious awareness.

    I’ve grown to realise, it takes very little to offer another a genuinely kind word, a bed for the night, a non-judgemental, patient, empathic ear for an hour. We all want to be seen. Because we all have something to offer. And I don’t mean ‘seen’ in the sense of being famous – but to be acknowledged, accepted and welcomed for who we are, warts and all.

    Watching the Secret Millionaire last night, also reinforced for me, the importance of being available to others. Even a shared smile can change a life…

  2. Thank you Thea, for your very honest and personal observations.
    I’m sorry to hear about your past friend. It must be so terrible for the family, I can’t even imagine. My father found our tenant, and he is still shaken by it all this time later.
    It doesn’t take much time does it, to reach out, but in our hectic lives, it’s easy to be selfish and keep that time to ourselves. I think this financial crisis has made that all the worse.

    We should start a ‘sharing time’ club – if only I could work out how to multiply hours to make 48 in a day….

  3. It would do well for us all to appreciate what we’ve got, especially the little things we take so much for granted. I live in Chorley and the town was preparing to bury Warrent Officer Dave Markland today. He lost his life in Afganhistan ….. for what!? 36 years old with a wife and 2 small children. It’s totally heart wrenching. Every day I try and be thankful. I go and walk the dogs in the park and get so much enjoyment from seeing them running around. I appreciate the simple things in life. I’d like to go back in time, when there were no celebrities, bad language, road rage, mobile phones, etc etc but life is, what it is. I do what I
    can in my own little way. I remain positive 🙂

    1. You are so right, Alison about the little things in life. My main problem is stopping rushing around for long enough to notice them, but I’m determined to do it. Life is too short, even when it runs it full course, though sadly it doesn’t always do that x

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