Thursday, 26 April 2012

Somebody's Watching Me

I was minding my own business on the bus on the way into work one morning when I noticed a guy walking up the street. He was somewhere in his mid- to late-forties, decked in a sharp suit, shiny shoes and briefcase to match. He was sauntering along, clearly in a world of his own. What really grabbed my attention was something I don't think I've seen in a very, very long time. He was casually picking his nose and, in blunt terms, was sticking his findings right into his mouth. Three or four times. Maybe he didn't have time for toast. Who knows. Either way, he seemed oblivious of his surroundings and forgot that such behaviour wasn't part of the normal construct of lawyer or accountant types.

I couldn't help but stare at him because it just didn't seem to fit - his age, his perceived social standing, his environment, the time of day. None of it. My guess is he would probably be horrified at the thought of doing such a thing, never mind being caught doing it. But we all have certain habits that we'd rather never saw the light of day. Maybe not so incongruent but they're still there. Some things are just long time learned. 

Silly perhaps, but seeing this man in action made me feel ever so slightly more connected. For all my securities, faults and just plain weird moments, so too does the next man, CEO or politician. It reminded me that we are all made of the same stuff. So stop putting people on pedestals. And always remember to wash your hands.

Thursday, 19 April 2012

The Time of Your Life

So I'm just over a week into my twice-yearly detox - no meat, alcohol, dairy, sugar, caffeine and the like, plus a good dose of cardio. It tends to go on for anywhere between 10 days to 3 weeks, depending on my mood (though is likely to be closer to the latter this time around). Even though it can get a tad frustrating at times, I've done it so many times now, and my diet has ultimately moved on such a long way from my chocolate-bar-for-dessert lifestyle, that it's less of a challenge nowadays.

I try to add something new each time I do it - one detox I went to a Buddhist meditation session, another occasion I tried out colonic irrigation - simply to make it feel less like more of the same. This time around I've taken on a more holistic approach, trying to spring clean a number of areas of my life and get a bit more focus. I've detoxed the use Facebook, for example - the home of many a wasted hour. I've set myself the task to be in contact with at least two people I haven't been in touch with for over 6 months - one down, at least one to go so far. I've challenged myself to get my financial house in order by reviewing and redefining my financial plan. I've targeted finding something in my life to declutter and something to 'add value' every few days. I've challenged myself to choose a charity and decide on how to contribute. More daily meditation, implement time management areas, reconnect with family members, review my life areas, and so on it goes. Oh, and one aim was to write at least three blog pieces over three weeks - so two down one to go...

I may well have overstretched myself in terms of the list but that was part of the idea - to have some worthwhile areas to shoot for, to show some discipline and integrity and to make sure I'm on a path to address them. It's about looking at and focusing on what's important in life. The application isn't perfect but the intent is there. Time, like food, can be full of junk if you don't take a little bit of care.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Father Figure

I'm not one to get emotional at weddings. Sometimes I think I'm just not wired that way. Maybe the fact that I've been to quite a few ceremonies or receptions (32 at the last count), I've allowed myself to get a bit detached from the underlying emotions of the occasions. But saying all that, I've just returned from a wonderful bash held on the outskirts of Adelaide, South Australia, which touched me more than most occasions.

The location helped - the backdrop to the outdoor setting was a huge McClaren Vale vineyard. The skyline was clear for as far as the eye could see and the sheer peaceful serenity of where we were was a little overwhelming for the polluted, sky-scraping city dweller within me. It also helped, I guess, that a lot of people came away with a few extra air miles by attending the event. The bride was originally from those parts, though no longer lives in Australia, while the groom's family are all based in Northern Ireland. There was plenty of travelling by a large slice of us, and the bride and groom were clearly touched by this. But what really made the event very special for me was the fact that the bride's father has been seriously ill for some time and wasn't sure whether he would be around to see the special day. That day, he arrived just ahead of the bride. A nephew pushed him and his wheelchair onto the field and up the aisle to a huge round of applause from the other guests. He stopped about five metres away from where the groom stood waiting for his wife-to-be. 

Moments later the wedding march kicked in and the bride was walking down the aisle towards the groom.  But she wasn't going to do the whole journey solo. As she approached her father, she stopped. With the aid of nearby relatives, he struggled to his feet and slowly and gradually walked his daughter down those final five meters of the aisle. The walk may have been briefer than normal but this was a lifetime in the making - it felt like in those few steps he managed to fulfil a dream he'd had since the first day he held his baby daughter. 

It's way up there in terms of the most powerful gestures I've seen at a wedding and, needless to say, it was an emotional moment for everyone there to witness it. It's one wedding memory that will stick in my mind more than many from the other 31.