I bumped into a lovely friend a few days ago who I hadn’t seen for a while. Her children and my children grew up together; from infants to teens and secondary school. She moved out of the neighbouring village and not too far away, but far enough to make our encounters infrequent. I have always been fond of her laissez-faire approach to life, her delicious, infectious smile, and residual wit, even when juggling a large family. She seems not to be fazed by much. Humour is never far behind her sparkly eyes. And I would say that she is a land-on-her-feet kind of lady- not necessarily anything to do with luck and good fortune but something else. Don’t ask me how that works.
Her approach to things is always from a different Angle. If most of us tug away at that locked door, getting more and more angry, frustrated and possibly embarrassed, then she would be the one to come along and slide it open, literally and metaphorically and without smugness or an ego in sight.
She doesn’t sweat the small stuff. But she doesn’t sweat the big stuff either.
She and her family survived a fire in the family home weeks ago. Observing the Gregorian calendar would tell us that the fire was indeed, some weeks ago. Observing the Calendar of Hits and Knocks, that date was merely yesterday.
When we met, we had a big hug for each other. She knows that we (my lot) have had a damn good helping of Hits and Knocks.
Her standpoint on her personal traumatic event didn’t really surprise me.
With a genuine air of lightness, acceptance and sublime stoicism, she told me how the fire (possibly an electrical fault), accelerated super quickly; that nothing prepares you for quite how fast, how they had two minutes to get out and then, from 7 until 1am, they watched four fire engines tackle the fire. They watched their entire house burn, right down to the ground. I should add, there were no neighbouring houses.
She managed to retrieve family photographs. That, and the parrot, she definitely risked some life-saving minutes to retrieve. These were second on her list of treasures. So, the family got out with just the clothes on their back. She said the insurers were being bastards. My eyes watered at the thousands of pounds worth of contents lost.
Talking to her, say six months or a year ago, and talking to her now, after, what amazes me is how little she’s changed. I’m convinced she has a mantra underpinned to her life, a personal theme tune as consistent as a flat-lining note delivering the affirmative; unchanging, unswerving, persistent, saying, “All will be well”.
‘We all got out alive. The rest is just “stuff”, she told me, “And to be honest, I needed to de-clutter”.
Her large blue intelligent and humorous eyes tell me she is still embracing life, as ever, unconditionally, supremely conscious of its contract; life is and always will be full of challenges involving setbacks and achievements. My friend looks adversity and good fortune straight in the eyes, with equal measure and from where I’m standing, takes some very relaxing deep breaths and then journeys through them, riding each experience tenaciously and riding as if it may be the last and the coolest ride ever. And there is a tangible feeling that she is wealthier from each, (rich eyes indeed), before moving on.
Bitterness is not an option.
Yep, she has definitely worked out what to chuck out.