Sometimes a bad day is a bad day. There’s absolutely no avoiding one when it really hits and occasionally it might seem like the fates are intent on conspiring to make you feel miserable.
At other times however there’s more going on – and people often fail to see the truth.
They can make and then perpetuate their own misery – becoming trapped by it as the years roll by.
Yesterday was a nice day.
By that I mean it was hot, oppressive and full of thunderstorms or rain but heat doesn’t bother me any more and I like rain.
I love the sound it makes when it’s really heavy.
I started the day getting burned though – and quickly realised that going out in a teeshirt without any sun cream was a bad idea.
It seemed cloudy enough – but clearly cloud is only half of the picture and today my forearms are still itching.
It didn’t matter at the time though because I was wearing red.
For those who are newer readers I’ve always had an uneasy relationship with this colour and avoided it in case it singled me out for bullying. This used to be a common occurrence (link) but one day it seemed to stop (link) and since then I’ve adopted red as my favourite colour (link).
It’s not so much because of what I look like wearing it – but more about how it makes me feel.
I feel strong when I dress in red because of its symbolism.
Strength was definitely needed at the start of the day too – because I was walking around the Warwick food festival.
Although I could probably eat a lot of the things there and work them off I’d already had my ‘Saturday off plan’ (which is becoming something of a regular thing).
This post weigh in day of weekly culinary relaxation only works if I’m willing to then draw a line shortly afterwards.
If I carry on eating then I doubt it will stop in time for next weekend’s weigh in.
As lovely as all the food looked I don’t think a massive frying pan full of sausages is for Davey any more…
So I kept walking.
My objective (as always) was to build the miles and keep going until the scales (at least in my mind) were balanced – and around 8 miles later I sat down for a rest.
I was in a good mood. I’d done lots of exercise and I’d smashed my daily goals.
Fortuitously this happened just before the heavens opened – and as I sat in the window of a friendly hostelry drinking a coffee whilst watching the rather Biblical deluge outside I started listening to the couple next to me – who were also looking at the same scene.
The lady and her partner were separated from me only by carpet – but in attitude they couldn’t have been more different.
The woman looked angry.
Her whole body seemed to be coiled and ready to strike the first person to enter her personal space.
The skin on her knuckles was whiter than the rest of her hands and both were being clenched and unclenched.
‘She doesn’t deserve that job. I make her life possible by working for her. She’s a waste of space.’
The man nodded and sipped his wine. He looked tired and drawn and although generally slender had a large beer belly.
‘I hate her.’ Said the lady, also drinking wine, slim and in possession of a rotund middle.
A waitress came over to tidy the table that they were on and the lady whispered something to her – most of which I missed.
‘…and don’t think I’m being funny with you – it’s not your fault. It’s your manager’s.’ She looked behind the waitress, motioning at an unseen space behind her where no-one stood.
‘No-where to be seen. Makes me sick…’ she finished as her words once more returned to audible levels.
The waitress nervously smiled, said sorry for whatever the problem was and shuffled away.
‘It’s the same everywhere.’ The lady hissed to her partner, after the waitress had retreated. He remained silent and continued to look out of the window at the downpour – which by this time had turned the street into a shallow river.
‘They exist because of us.’ Said the lady under her breath. ‘They wouldn’t have a job without us.’ She concluded – by this time almost growling.
The man stoically looked out of the window – and I turned up my playlist.
I was buying some summery tracks on iTunes and making a happy collection of tracks to walk home with while I waited for the rain to subside.
I had an umbrella but I like to walk without one and feel my arms swing back and forth.
I had my feet on the low windowsill in front of me and was flexing my toes in my trainers to the beat of my music.
People were rushing by outside in soaking wet tee-shirts and many were laughing at how ridiculously drenched they were. Above the volume of my headphones I could still hear peals of thunder as flashes of lightning briefly illuminated the suddenly dark street in front of me.
The heat was ebbing out of the afternoon with each raindrop though and the air was slowly beginning to cool.
I looked across the carpet to my right again – and could see the pursed lips of the woman silently moving as she talked to her companion.
I could no longer hear the words but her body language spoke volumes.
Whatever private hell she’d constructed in her mind was still in full flow. Her obvious feeling that someone else in life had what she deserved was busy consuming her.
The man sat in silence and I wondered how many times he’d heard this speech or a variation of it.
He looked like he knew that the quickest way to bring it to a conclusion was not to react, and instead just to let it flow over him whilst waiting for a change in the wind.
I’ve seen that face before – in my childhood home as my father, my brother and myself waited for the storms surrounding my mother to subside and for blue skies to re-appear.
They rarely did though. The skies mostly remained cloudy and we were always separated by this.
Just carpet and perspective.
That was all that stood between us.
A stretch of worn rug, trodden on by thousand of feet and aged with time – but combined with her outlook on life it might as well have been an ocean for the gulf it presented.
I was pulled back to the present as I re-focused on the scene in front of me, watching this bitterly unhappy woman looking through the same window with a totally different way of viewing the world.
She was bitter and her eyes showed that this emotion was no stranger to her life. The lines on her face bore little evidence of smiles and she seemed to be drinking her wine with anger – to fuel and enable her mood rather than to relax it.
All of a sudden there it was.
The end to the rain.
This event passed her by as she continued in her angry rant – and I doubt she saw the first shafts of sunlight hit the pavement in front of her.
She was still there and still angrily hissing through her teeth when I left half an hour later – and her husband/partner/friend still hadn’t said a word.
She’d not once asked him for his opinion – or sought through him another way of looking at the situation.
The only monologue she could hear was her own and she’d made at least two people unhappy in the process – as well as herself.
I marvelled at the energy it must have taken to remain that angry.
As I walked away and the physical gap widened between us I felt the cool breeze that had replaced the humid heat.
Everything looked fresh, and damp trees slowly dripped themselves dry onto the pavements below their shade.
The world felt renewed somehow – even though it was just the same but a little damper.
I walked home thinking about the gulf between myself and this woman – and how some find the gift of perspective whereas others never do.
I’ve no idea what causes people like my mother or her to remain rigidly unmoving and bitter throughout their lives – or what makes them so inflexible or incapable of change.
I’m glad that it’s not how I feel about the world though.
I’m glad I’m not angry and that I don’t feel continual resentment about what other people have and the things I don’t.
The truth is I have enough – and that’s all anyone needs. I am healthy and I am alive – and EVERYTHING else is a matter of perspective.
The past doesn’t matter – and neither does the future. I can influence it but I can’t control it and to think otherwise is folly.
It’s also better to live with an absence of want. If someone earns more than me then I wish them all the best and hope that it brings them happiness.
Money and possessions have never done this for me though.
I feel happy with a red tee-shirt that cost me £2 in a charity shop not because it’s a material possession – but because of the mental and physical change it represents.
It makes me feel happy because I worked hard to wear it and I chose to not just sit there and feel bitter that I couldn’t.
I got up and made my life better because I didn’t want to be like my mother – sitting at the opposite end of that carpet and separated from her by nothing.