Whenever I have a difficult week I always try to think of how tough it is for people all over the world – in different countries – and I try to imagine what it would be like to be them. I’m not fleeing civil war in Africa or drought or famine. I’m not a forest dweller in Borneo being displaced by logging companies. I’m not a schoolkid in Iraq wondering why the unrest just doesn’t stop. I’m not a homeless person on the streets of L.A. , jaded and weary.
I am me. And my experiences are my own. But don’t you think that stressful times, hard times make you appreciate the connectedness of the human condition a little more? Don’t you think the tough moments can harden us but also soften us at the same time? They harden us to people who appear selfish, inconsiderate, but soften us to those in need. I don’t believe I would feel the empathy I feel for others if I had not had my share of knocks. How can you walk in someone else’s shoes if you’ve never had a hole in your socks? It’s just not possible.
This week my friend who attempted suicide a few weeks ago decided to liquidate his business. His brother has decided to takeover the business with the help of the administrator and pay off all the creditors. Then he will close the business down. I think it is a good thing. Trading out of business debt is not for the faint-hearted and can take years. It grinds you down. And I think my friend’s heart is faint now. He is not the same person he was. He is more vulnerable than I ever expected to see him – like a little chick pushed out of the nest too soon.
Depression, anxiety, fear, stress – those things can turn you into a ghost. If you can avoid turning into a version of yourself that is hazy beneath the lamplight then you must. No matter what anyone says. I will miss him but I know in my heart he is doing the right thing.
It’s a minefield out there. The turnover in my husband’s shop has dropped by half. He had to fire his longest serving staff member this week. It got really ugly with the staff member throwing a chair at him and then physically attacking him. I understand that no one likes to get fired, but I was shocked. It wasn’t personal, it was a matter of economics. The staff member was given the option of working part-time until things picked up, but he refused. I couldn’t believe he got so violent. He and my husband worked together for 8 years. And my husband kept him employed during many tough periods where he really couldn’t afford him. You think you know people, but often, you don’t.
A little baby pigeon I was teaching to fly and had been looking after for two weeks died last night. I walked away for ten minutes and he was being pinned to the ground by a magpie. I think one of his wings was broken because he couldn’t fly afterwards. It was really upsetting because he was the cutest little guy. I had named him Munchkin. I splinted his wing but I suspect he may have had internal injuries. Magpies can be extremely vicious. I know it is the law of the jungle but it is so brutal that sometimes I can’t stand it. No less brutal than what humans do to one another, I suppose.
I saw this street art on the side of a shop and thought I would dedicate it to Munchkin. I hope he is flying high wherever he is.
What is it with the people in my street hating birds? My neighbour who lives about six houses down has had her beautiful bottlebrush tree poisoned. It was a magnificent thing. At twilight the rainbow lorikeets used to sit in it and chat for about half an hour before heading for their nests. She said it was the highlight of her day. Apparently, some of her neighbours had complained about the noise as if she was responsible for making the birds sit in the tree. And now the tree is poisoned. Why would someone do that? It’s evil, if you ask me.
It’s been quite a week. I am determined next week will be better. It’s a misty night and the clouds are rolling as if on a conveyor belt but the moon, that glorious, silver-white fullest of moons shines down like a beneficent grandparent – wise and wild – a sort of silent communion.
And I become aware, acutely, of the cycles that encircle us, round and round. The ebb and flow, the ups and down. The moon snaps to a sliver and then is full again. On and on it goes. And no matter where the day takes us, no matter how weary we grow, the moon at its full girth reminds us that we always have tomorrow. A second chance. And that is more than enough.
I so get the ebb and flow and ups and downs. Had my share of the downs lately and finally things are on the upswing again. Not before time.
Hopefully things will be on the upswing this week for you. That the flow is positive and bright.
I hope things improve for you next week. You’re right, it is all cyclical and eventually comes around. But many aren’t strong enough to withstand it and it inevitably leaves a swath of carnage behind.
I was a little surprised to see you use the word “fire” with regard to your husband’s worker being let go for economic reasons. In the States, being “fired” is usually done for cause (poor performance, etc.) and it carries a negative connotation. In times like these, many people have lost their jobs, but it’s called being “laid off,” and everyone understands it was because of the economy and through no fault of one’s own.
I was also surprised that your husband’s employee felt that 100% of nothing was better than 50% of something. My son and most of his coworkers took a pay cut of 30% (for the same hours of work) to keep their jobs and help their company survive this recession. Other people have made other concessions like going part-time just to keep working. It seems like a better approach than throwing chairs, doesn’t it?
Let’s hope the cycle is on the upswing and that better times are here soon. In the meantime, hold on to your attitude, Selma, and keep inspiring people. You are one of the strong ones. I can tell.
I bet your Husband was really surprised when the person he employed for so long let fly, that is just unbelievable, a very odd reaction indeed. If it had of been me, I would of taken the part-time work, a lot better than nothing in my book, although depending on his circumstances he may get more money from the dole, such as it is these days in OZ.
I’m sorry to hear about the little bird, but it was obviously this little guy’s time, and there is not much you can do about that, but I love the drawing you chose.
This post reminds me that no one is alone in this recession. There is a lot of finger-pointing going on, but the fingers don’t point back far enough in time. This has been coming for years… (sigh) Sorry…
Seeing others in similar situations does lend an air of camaraderie (poor word choice, but the only one that floats to the top of a single cup of coffee) among those in similar situations. It is easier to reach out to those in need. Even if you’re in need yourself, you share what you can because you know how it feels.
I’m so sorry for your loss of Munchkin. Jungle rules aren’t pleasant, and to be honest with you, I’m thankful that despite our hard times, we’ve not resorted to living by jungle rules.
As for the former employee, I would have taken the option of working fewer hours and still having a job. In the fall, I’ll be taking a pay cut, and a cut in benefits in order to keep my position at the school. I don’t have enough skills to go out and get something better, at least not without a ton of expensive training, and then there’s no guarantee that I’ll find anything. No, I’ll keep my job, and the bruises and piddly paychecks.
Someday, things will be better. Who knows, maybe tomorrow is “someday.” 🙂
how sad to hear about the pigeon. I find it’s very hard to look away from tragedy but many people survived them.
how surprising people can be at times of crisis and distress. to throw a chair & attack someone like that – I could understand that frustration but I wouldn’t attack anyone. I’ll probably say a few choice words and curse a little.
hope your day is going well.
Glad to hear things are on the upswing for you. YAY. It’s the economy that worries me the most. The Australian media are all :’Oh, the Aussie economy is the strongest in the world, growing all the time, blah blah blah.’ So why are so many people out of work and losing their homes? It worries me that the government pretends nothing is happening because that attitude makes it very hard to fix things. I wish the politicians would just be honest with us 😉
You’re right. I probably should have used ‘let go’ instead of fire. I guess I’m still angry about the way he reacted. I wanted to ‘fire’ him with a rocket launcher. Hahaha. And you’re right – part time work is better than nothing but he was all : ‘How dare you do this to me after everything I’ve done for you. I’m going to ruin you.’ It was really ugly.
I like to think I am one of the strong ones but you know how it is – some times you just feel like shouting out to the sky :’Give me a break, Mr. Universe.’ I hope he’s listening 😀
‘And I think my friend’s heart is faint now. He is not the same person he was. He is more vulnerable than I ever expected to see him – like a little chick pushed out of the nest too soon.’ a perfect description of the aftermath of a breakdown – the most important thing is that he is alive – at least in Australia no-one starves or dies of thirst (unless they get lost in the desert) – our poorest people are still in a much better position than millions overseas who have no social security or access to free medical services and the miriad other things Australians take for granted). Great post Selma – onwards and upwards (ps. magpies are bastards some times 😉 )
I couldn’t believe it. I guess you can never tell how people are going to react. It was quite upsetting.
I am sad about the little bird. He was a dear wee thing. It’s a hard world to survive in. I did what I could.
It has been coming for years and the fingers certainly don’t point back far enough. I know exactly what you’re saying. I’m sorry to hear about the pay cut. I know how hard things have been for you. You’re right though, staying where you are is the best option. I hope that things pick up eventually and your hours increase. Hang in there, hon. I’m thinking of you.
It was sad about the pigeon. He was just a baby. That’s life in the wild, though – it’s brutal.
I was really surprised about the chair throwing. Totally unnnecessary.
I hope you’re having a good day too. ♥
I have often thought when I hear Aussies whinge, that as a part of every child’s education, he/she should forego Schoolie’s Week (dumb idea anyway) and spend a week of two in Africa or Asia. (Not Bali).
They have no idea how those people live and on how little they live. They might also notice that despite the poverty there is joy! It’s about expectations I guess.
You mentioned LA too. I was there in midwinter 2000 and saw old women going through garbage cans and dragging out half eaten hamburgers!
What can one think when we know the directors of Lehman Bros gave themselves multi million dollar bonuses AFTER the GFC they basically brought on! Seems a little unbalanced, n’est pa?
Good one Selma. XX
Man it looks like things are getting tough in Australia. I am sorry that your husband had to go through that. No one should have to have a chair thrown at him despite being caring enough. Perhaps the staff worker had several problems at home but that doesn’t mean he can do that.
I’ve wondered what it would be like if I were to struggle financially once again. Not that I am rich or anything but I am doing ok. I do not know how I would handle it. Gracefully I hope.
I am really sorry to hear what happened to your husband. I guess there is no way of knowing how people will react when they really think their life is on the line. But horrible nonetheless.
I try to do that too – think how lucky I am compared to others in the hope it will give me a sense of perspective, snap me out of a slump. And it never works. I don’t think I can think my way into other people’s shoes when I am down or worried – I’m much better at doing it when I feel positive and energetic.
I have missed coming here. I have missed you. And there is no need. I will make the time to visit more often.
Big hugs, Selma xx
You are so right about the safety net with regard to support services we have here. My sister lives in the US and it’s bleak there if you lose your job. Homelessness is often one paycheck away. I often wonder how we got to this stage where there is such extreme wealth and such awful poverty within a so-called first world economy. It doesn’t seem right. And yes, those magpies…bullies. I’m angry with them right now. Grrrrr.
That is a great idea about Schoolies Week. But definitely not Bali – ahem – we won’t touch that one. My son came with me the last time I volunteered with the homeless shelter in the Cross and he was really upset at the number of kids his age who’d been kicked out of home. It really floored him that their parents had rejected them. And I agree with him – it is a very sad thing to see. I think it would change his life for good if he went to parts of Africa and Asia. It certainly changed mine. We don’t know how lucky we are in Australia. You are right about the joy. I was staggered by that. That is grace, right there.
I can’t touch Lehmann Bros. today. I had a major anti-corporation/bank rant yesterday that went on for about 2 hours with a friend of mine. We were so irate we almost needed a valium by the end of it. Today I am full of the Zen. I am a lotus flower floating down a tranquil river……. Hahaha.
No one likes to lose their job – that goes without saying – but there is no need to throw things. Some things have come to light about that former employee since he’s been gone and let’s just say he was rather unbalanced and leave it at that. You just never really know some people and that’s the truth.
You would handle having less money but I hope you don’t have to. It is a tough road and can go on for ages. I will admit I am worn out by it – I should have done what big business does and just dump my business debt on society. But it wouldn’t sit well with me, you know? Sometimes all you can do is the right thing.
RELUCS. YOU’RE BACKKKKKKK!!! Fantabulous. So great to see you.
I know what you mean about finding it difficult to be in other’s shoes when feeling down. I also find it easier when my mood is up but I have trained myself to do it when I’m down too. It does help me. But I don’t care about that right now coz YOU’RE BAAACCCKKK. Best news I’ve heard for ages. I’ve really missed you ♥
“Whenever I have a difficult week I always try to think of how tough it is for people all over the world – in different countries – and I try to imagine what it would be like to be them”
I’ve been thinking of the same things of late, Selma. A colleague, whom I consider a friend, is originally from Somalia. He is one of the most genuinely happy and positive people I’ve ever met. He and his family were separated during the civil war. He is the eldest son. Over the years, he has found a brother in England, one in Canada, and another in Switzerland. But he hasn’t seen his mother or his youngest brother and sister since he was 28 years old.
He is 51 now (married with two Australian-born teenaged sons). About three weeks ago, he got a phone call from the Red Cross. His mother and siblings have been found in a refugee camp on the border of Kenya and Sudan. He has taken four weeks off work and is flying to Kenya this Sunday to meet up with them.
‘I’m so happy and excited to be seeing my mum and brother and sister again. I cried when I heard their voices over the phone” he said to me. I can only imagine what that would be like. I teared up when he told me.
What an incredibly moving story. The situation in Somalia is so bleak at the moment. Famine, drought, all those refugees on the road. How do the people bear it, David? I just don’t know. What would we do if it happened to us? Would we be able to cope?
To hear that your friend is able to be reunited with his mother and siblings after more than 20 years made me cry. I also can’t imagine what that would be like. All can say is thank God he was able to find them again. Thank God. And thank YOU for sharing such a remarkable story!
Well I’m catching up on your posts walking backwards. Having just read your newest posts, I can see your world is indeed taking a swing toward flowing.
It’s true, the ebbing and flowing of life, and it gives me a lot of comfort in the dark periods if I just remember that. Thanks for helping me remember it now.
It really does ebb and flow. Sometimes I can’t see it. The darkness can be pretty dark. But I think if you hold on it does get lighter. If I can offer you some comfort I am thrilled. I know what the dark days are like. You have made me really good by saying that!!
This post is beautiful in it’s openness and emotional sensitivity Selma. What a week. I hope you have a great weekend full of simple pleasures. And much to your mean neighbours’ digust – I look forward to hearing of the birds finding a new home in your street and continuing their singing.
Ah I did a typo! I hate that. 😉 Seriously, I think this post is great and sometimes I worry that my genuine appreciation for the thoughts shared don’t come across in a comment. Some real sadness in here, but I do love your subtitle and your like of the word “hopeful”.
Oh, that would be wonderful if the birds could find another tree to sit in. I don’t understand some people, I really don’t. What’s wrong with birds sitting in a tree? And singing?
I thank you so much for your genuine sincerity. It means a lot to me. You are a lovely person!!