bunt sign

Saturday, June 9, 2001

I've never had anybody do it for me out of pity before.

Filing, is what I'm talking about here. I've never had anyone offer to do my filing, even after months of my complaining about how I hate filing so much that I keep putting it off and it keeps piling up and now I can't find anything when I need it (but I keep tripping over it when I don't).

I didn't ask, but Mom came by this afternoon and spent a couple of hours wading through the loose papers on top of the filing cabinet. I felt so guilty that I forced myself to work the whole time she was here. I got more done than I ever hope to on a Saturday again. So it's a double bonus, really. Filing done (and I didn't have to do it), and about half of the things on my Monday to-do list out of the way, too.

After she left I plopped down on the porch with my book and spent most of the rest of the day finishing it. The hot weather is over, and I had to change out of my shorts, and later put on a flannel shirt, just so I could stay outside as the sunlight retreated. I came in and finished the last thirty pages or so on the couch.

When I first mentioned this book, Winter Solstice by Rosamunde Pilcher, I think I said it dealt with connections and how people come together in different ways to form families. And that's true, but as I read on it also got me thinking about how people sometimes come into our lives at exactly the moment we need them.

That's probably an overstatement of the truth, which is that if we make the best of the situations we're in and the people we meet, we're giving ourselves a better shot at succeeding. At every new job I've had, I've learned something about myself, as well as something about how the world works. It's as much because of the wonderful people I've come across as because I've allowed them to share with me whatever they had to offer.

The book I just finished reminded me that if I allow it, people will help me through bad times and make good times better. Every person I've met through this journal, without exception, has enriched my life. It was one of the most serendipitous decisions I've ever made, putting a personal journal online. Whenever I've needed a kind word or a friendly boot in the rear, someone has come through for me.

There's more, too, but I'm almost afraid to say it. It's that . . .

Things happen for a reason.

I can't believe I've written those words. It's something that's been pounded into my head since I was a child, but I'm not sure I believe them even now, at least not fully. The sentiment is too close to putting one's fate in the hands of an unfathomable power whose intentions belie the perceived neutrality of the universe.

Sometimes things happen in a manner that seems reasonable.

Perhaps that's better. Sometimes, the way things happen, and what comes about as a result, can be so fortuitous that it causes even a nonbeliever to be grateful.

In the end, though (and the novel makes this point as well), it's up to each of us to decide what course to take and how to live, and then to act on that decision. The people we care about must be taken into account, and often we must help them make their own decisions and plot their own courses.

This novel could be read as a series of fortunate coincidences, leading to an inevitable happy ending. People do come into each other's lives, but nothing good happens without a caring heart and an affirmative effort. And the more people you have around you to help and be helped by, the better the chance that what storms may arise will be weathered.

wispy clouds

Winter Solstice is set mostly in Scotland, around Christmastime (as the title indicates). It's full of endearing characters, but they do a lot of eating (sausage rolls, shortbread biscuits, mince pies, and so on).

It reminded me that I'm still, in spite of recent health setbacks, trying to work off last December's food binge. I'm getting there, I think, but it's a daily struggle. Twelve pounds in two months. Another nine to go, if that's not too ambitious.

More importantly, I can't put the weight on again, next Christmas, or next month when I go on vacation, or at the next moment of weakness and temptation. It's something I need to keep in mind. Mindfulness is half the battle, I think.

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My lips will sing something jubilant,
Sweet and clear and strong,
If you will take me along with you.