It’s another one of those musing-type blogs, so look away now if you can’t be bothered. I won’t be offended. In fact, I’ll never know!
We had great friends here at the start of term. We lived next to them in Oxford and bonded over our shared love of tea, chocolate and cheese – oh, and the fact that both our households were engaged in the daily challenge of caring for and entertaining pre-school boys.
I distinctly remember sitting on their front doorstep in tears about leaving, while our removal lorry was loaded* when we moved to Bicester in 2014. We’re grateful that our friendship didn’t end, it just adapted to the (albeit small, at that time) distance between us.
This was their second visit to N.I. so we had to get more creative with the daytrips. We headed to the Silent Valley, a man-made reservoir in the stunning setting of the Mourne Mountains. I’d forgotten about the wonderful dry stone walling showcased in this area, really impressive craftsmanship. Take a look!
Its refreshing to be in the mountains, blow away the cobwebs**, and have time to chat about where we’re at with our lives and share thoughts and advice with one another. For us, physically moving away from friends and family involved having to actively address decisions about home, lifestyle, work, voluntary commitments and so on. It’s great to get a friend’s perspective on these things, and learn from one another.
I woke up the other night in the wee small hours and couldn’t get back to sleep. I was fixated on the dreadful thing I’d done, aged 14. What was it? Well, I’d gone to the cinema with a friend, my boyfriend, and his friend. As dad dropped us girls off he asked me to call him (from a phonebox, obviously!) later so he could come and pick us up.
Needless to say, when the film was over, the four of us decided to walk the mile or so home. Key point: I did not phone my dad***.
By the time we had meandered up the various streets to the house, my parents were beside themselves with worry. They had driven up and down to the cinema several times and not found us, and finally resorted to phoning my friend’s parents to let them know they were looking for us… #mortified.
So, in the wee small hours the other night, here’s how my mind whirred, “Imagine if one of the boys did that. I’d be in a total state: worried, cross, horrified that my child had led their friend astray, terrified about what might have happened to them… How awful that I put my parents through that, how did I not appreciate how worried they might have been, what was I thinking… Thank goodness for GPS trackers, which I shall have to purchase immediately and attach to both boys tomorrow… Oh my goodness, I will have to apologise to my parents…” and repeat, for what felt like hours!
Conveniently for me, mum and dad were here at the time. So next morning, after the boys were safely out of the way (at school), I tentatively brought it up:
“Erm, remember the time when I went to the cinema with Trudy and we walked home instead of ringing you to pick us up? I’d be beside myself if one of the boys did that, I can’t believe I did it. So I’m sorry about that.”
Me: “You know, the time we walked back up the lanes and you had to ring her parents and tell them you didn’t know where we were. I got in so much trouble, it was a full on ‘We’re disappointed in you’ talk! Well, I was feeling so bad about it last night that I was awake for hours. I mean, I think it was the worst thing I ever did!”
Parents: “Well. We have no recollection of that at all.”
And so it dawned on me that, after a quarter of a century, it might be time to let that one go. It doesn’t seem to have had any long term impact on my parents, let alone scarred them for the rest of their adult lives. Fresh perspective on that has been quite releasing****!
The whole ‘fresh perspective’ thing has been on my mind this week too during my post-school-drop-off-run home. It’s more hilly here than it is in Bicester and I frequently find my stamina is seriously challenged. So I’ve been running some of my regular circular routes in reverse. It has given me a completely new perspective on those routes, breaking the cycle of giving up at a certain point on a hill and causing me to notice animals, buildings and landmarks I haven’t seen when coming the other direction!
Those photos don’t quite do the point justice but the first is at the bottom of a long (for me!) hill I often tackle*****. The second is how it looks when running down it – straightforward! It’s the way with so many things in life. Approaching something from one angle can seem much more challenging than from another. Which is why seeking and sharing views or advice can add such richness to relationships, helping us to refine our approach or our position where necessary.
We visited the Argory whilst our old neighbours were here. In the ornamental garden, we saw so clearly how different people’s views are. Look:
These photos were taken at almost exactly the same time, but from slightly different places under the rotunda. One of us could only see cloud, whilst the other saw bright blue sky. We thought this was a super illustration of why it’s good to talk things over, to seek fresh perspective.
Standing where we do, we have a particular view of a situation. It can be a (welcome) revelation that even someone close to us sees things differently. Let’s be open to hearing a fresh perspective from friends or family, it could well bring unexpected encouragement!
Possibly the most * of any blog written to date:
* actually, our wifi had been disconnected, so I sat there to steal theirs.
** especially in giant spider season, which this most certainly and horrifyingly is.
*** note also, mobile phones did not exist so it’s not like I could have texted either.
**** except that now I’ve reminded them…
***** the photo is blurry because I definitely would not have made it up the hill if I’d stopped at the foot to take the photo, so I had to do it whilst still going!!