So I haven’t written in a while. Those who know me personally will understand why. If I’m lucky enough yet to have accrued any non family readers (I can but hope), the many complicated occurences in my life recently have diverted my eye from the ball, work-wise.
Putting that into context, in the last 6 months Sketch and I have experienced the following:
- Al and little PJ beaten up by local thug-life
- Sketch and I violently assaulted by parents of thug-life
- Our brand new car tyres slashed
- An attempt to set said car on fire
- Threats of violence whilst holding a sobbing PJ in my arms
- Intimidation tactics designed to scare us out of our home
- A breeze block through our window
- A notable absence of Police protection/justice
- A midnight flit to a place of refuge
- A new school for PJ
- Al living in a different place to the rest us for 5 nights a week
- Attempting to handle some complex behaviours from my traumatised little boy
- Descent into the deepest depression of my life
- Lady Sketch hitting the bottle pretty hard
- And finally, a nasty car accident (not our fault) that I have no idea how we all managed to walk away from.
But before you hit the back button, this post will not be depressing, despite the catalogue of catastrophe listed above.
Yet another year has nearly passed, and people sympathetically intone that it wasn’t ‘my year,’ (including me, to myself on more than one occasion). But there came a point last week when I had a re-think. Because if I’ve just experienced another 351 days that nobody expected me to have, then exactly whose year was it if not mine?
When we were pebbles deep in our community project Who Gives A Rock (if you haven’t seen it yet, do check it out as it’s guaranteed to raise a smile, especially at Christmas), I had a particular fondness for painting rainbows. These remain the most popular of all our designs and were accompanied by a positive message, which involved us thinking up many different phrases to express the concept of hope. And I feel that now is an especially good time to revisit that strategy.
So I present to you, (friends, family and the people my Dad has persuaded to read my ramblings), Hope: A Field Practitioner’s Guide.
Let Your Hopes Not Your Hurts Shape Your Future
I’m fairly sure that ‘The Sketches’ are not alone in experiencing those runs of bad luck where you are left wondering what the f*ck is headed your way next. I had an interesting discussion with The Mister about luck the other day, which is actually what inspired me to write this post.
Wenna – 12 Dec 2017 at 10:24 – Via Facebook
Sketch and I discussing the concept of luck this morn. I say how lucky we were the crash wasn’t fatal (as reinforced by docs & solicitor) and he says if we were that lucky it wouldn’t have happened in the first place. Neither would the cancer etc…
The uncharacteristically grumpy bugger then goes on to say he thinks some ppl are born unlucky. I dispute this wholeheartedly: ‘I won a brand new Sony Discman in a competition back in 1992, what you chatting about?!’ ‘Hmph’, he says, ‘That’s your good luck quotient used up right there. And I bet you didn’t have any CDs to play on it!!’
Au contraire… how else does he think I know the cheesy old tunes on SingStar so well? I played my Precious Moments CD (free with Dad’s Sunday paper) back to back on that bad boy for a year!! #OurTimeWillCome #MakeYourOwnLuck
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See, that’s the thing about luck – it is so very subjective. Most people would consider luck to have left the building right about the time that a rock comes flying through the window (thug-life could even be arsed to paint it first!!) but the ensuing chain of events has left one little boy feeling incredibly lucky to have been relocated to somewhere pretty fricking special (no location spoilers please, just in case said thug-life can read and has found its way to my blog).
Feeling unlucky to have your entire family crammed into a 2 bedroom house with scant possessions, few work prospects and no idea what the future holds? Speak to the refugees who’ve been relocated from a camp in Lebanon and cannot believe their luck at having a safe place to sleep and fresh running water.
Obviously there are a shit ton of examples I could spout about, but the point is, you really do make your own luck in life, and hope is an essential ingredient in this elusive recipe.
Keep Hope In Your Heart (And Your Toolkit)
Rock Bottom. There’s not much to recommend it really is there?
You wouldn’t give Rock Bottom the full 5 stars on TripAdvisor, yet so many of us find ourselves checking in there on more than one occasion throughout our lifetimes. It’s a dark and lonely place, despite the constant stream of new arrivals, mainly because dwelling on our own misfortune to the exclusion of all others seems to be the order of the day.
But this is exactly when it really does pay to look around and assess the lay of the land, because it is hope that will be your SatNav out of there.
Back in January 2013 I fell rather spectacularly out of remission and was given a 10% chance of survival which is pretty sobering news by anyone’s standards. I then spent a truly depressing weekend contemplating the end of days and trying in vain to square it with myself. It was my wonderful Mum who changed my state of mind with one simple sentence.
‘If there’s a 10% chance you will survive, then why shouldn’t you be in that 10%?’
It was like being given permission to hope again. Why the f*ck shouldn’t I? The hope brought with it a swift change in attitude and a happy return to my usual M.O. with the glass in my hand remaining firmly half full. It was hope that fuelled the beacon when I needed it the most, and suffice to say, I’ve remained in that 10% for the last five years and counting…
John Lennon implored us to imagine a world without possessions, but not once did he speak of a world without hope. And it is a hard concept to grasp, especially when you consider that the fundamental, beating heart of our existence is firmly rooted in just that. Hope.
Hopeless is a word that gets bandied about with little thought for the deeper meaning contained within it, and has therefore developed a flippant context to it. My eldest is always losing things and will forget instructions within 3 seconds flat – ‘You are hopeless,’ we say, ruffling his hair affectionately. I’ve spent 38 years on this planet and can still barely add up. ‘God, I’m hopeless at maths,’ I grin, as I’m counting on my fingers in the supermarket aisle.
But the true meaning of hopeless? Being utterly without hope in any shape or form? Now we’re talking the end of days.
Absent hope, would babies be made? Would boundaries be pushed? Would limits be exceeded? Remove hope from the equation and would any of us really feel inclined to leave our own little patch that we call home?
Hope is a fundamental part of our existence. It drives us to continue, to progress and evolve, even in the face of the greatest adversity, even when others may think all hope has gone. Hope is the fixed point on the horizon, it fuels our aspirations and enables us to pick ourselves up and carry on. Hope is the air we breathe, the food we eat, the life we live.
Hope Springs A Turtle
Al must have been just five years old when he asked to be taken to Hope Springs. I was confused as to where this might be, but loved the idea of an undiscovered part of Cornwall, and was well up for making the trip, if only my little fella could communicate its whereabouts to me.
Al didn’t know how to get there. It was a place he’d heard talked about at nursery and all he really knew was that he wanted to go there and visit the turtle. He looked at me full of excitement as he described this place, and begged me to take him to Hope Springs. Hope Springs A Turtle.
And I’m not sure I can put it any more beautifully than that. I like to think we’ve established base camp close enough to Hope Springs to feel the benefit. Yes I’ve designed a range of carefully hand lettered products and only sold one tiny card (with a commission of 28p), but it is hope that keeps me putting chalk to board regardless. As told by thug-life, we haven’t got ‘a pot to piss in,’ but it’s hope that prevents us from giving in. It’s hope that drags my aching bones (car crashes HURT!!) from my pit each morning, hope for a better day, a brighter future, a happy life for my little family. And it was hope that pulled me from my darkest hour and kicked me up the arse to fight for what we have.
When all else fails, hope whispers ‘Give it one more try.’ So keep your ears open.
This post is dedicated to the memory of the Penlee Lifeboat in West Cornwall, and the eight-strong crew of volunteers who lost their lives in the ultimate act of selfless heroism.
36 years ago this evening, the Solomon Browne put to sea in horrific gale force conditions, in a determined attempt to rescue 8 people including a pregnant woman and her children, from stricken vessel The Union Star. Within an hour of the lifeboat launching, she went down with all hands lost, in what has been recorded as the worst maritime tragedy in Cornish history.
The famous christmas lights of Mousehole Harbour will be dimmed for an hour tonight, in remembrance of those brave souls who never came home.