The Pursuit

Here is a thing about ageing. I’ve noticed that feelings of excitement in the anticipation of events come less often and are less intense than when younger. This, I suppose is only to be expected, since when we are young we experience far more for the first time and all emotions are more intense. Teenagers, for instance have a tendency to overdo delight; hence the ‘Oh my God’s’ and flinging themselves at each other when passing exams or the Kevin-like sulks at being requested to join their family at the table for a meal or do some homework.

Excited anticipation tends, also to be destroyed by a long wait, or by a promise that doesn’t deliver. Think of the child who waits for an absentee parent to come and take them out.

We [that is Husband and myself] have been waiting an unaccountable length of time for a house move. The thrill of finding a property we liked has ebbed away like the flame in a dwindling candle with every passing week and been replaced by niggling anxiety or increasing weariness. I regret this to the point of resentment. To feel excited anticipation at my age is a rare gift which has been withdrawn.

Happiness is a fickle phenomenon. It alights at unexpected times or fails to materialise when it is due. You can prepare a surprise party, plan a holiday, go for a special meal, buy a long-awaited book or finally arrive at retirement only to find yourself mired in a slough of disappointment. Disappointments and anti-climaxes can be compounded by other people if in your anticipatory impatience you’ve indulged in sharing, like the time as a thirteen-year-old I arrived home early from having been ‘stood up’ outside the cinema only to witness my mother relating my misfortune to visitors. I’ve begun to wonder if ‘friends’ are taking delight in our responses to their enquiries as to whether we’ve moved. It seems crucial to take an impassive stance rather than reacting, whatever, although my fears of conspiracy theory may only be due to wait-weariness.

Sometimes though, a spontaneous moment provides joy-or at least a sensation of comfort and pleasure. A walk around my garden as it bursts into life-even if it is soon to belong to others-is a guaranteed spirit raiser. Coffee and a gossip with a friend, an evening of excellent music, a few hours in the enchanting company of a toddler are all happiness-making.

At a change of level, for those living in the hell that is Fallujah, happiness or excitement is probably brought on by getting something to eat, a few hours of silence or some clean water; for anyone coping with a debilitating disease a period without discomfort. It pays to remember that happiness and misery are relative, like everything else!

 

The Birth, the Nation and the Aftermath

By the time you read this it will all be over. It has been growing for almost a year-starting very small and developing during the days, weeks and months.

In the beginning nobody could predict what the outcome would be-who specifically it would be. The nation is divided. Some are actively involved and interested, keen to know the outcome; others harbouring a fervent wish for it all to be over, although I suppose none more so than the protagonists.

The journalists have massed in the usual fever of enthusiasm, camping out on doorsteps, interviewing the public, attempting to summon something-anything-that can conceivably be imagined as ‘news’ and succeeding-as always-in producing only conjecture.

STOP PRESS: Baby Princess Charlotte Elizabeth Diana has arrived.

Elsewhere in the news, the UK has held a general election. Elections are a gift for the press. Not only is there a protracted build-up, providing infinite opportunities for fevered speculation but an aftermath in which results can be examined, discussed, regretted or celebrated to the point of mortality.

You can analyse and dissect as much as you like, bringing it all down to this or that policy- immigration, housing, health or education, but to me it is much simpler. I think of political philosophy as a circle. At one end of the diameter are those who are self-seeking and wish to line the nests of themselves and others at the expense of someone-anyone-worse off themselves. Perhaps this is an ingrained, natural human characteristic, linked to a survival instinct. Who knows? At the opposite end of the diameter are those who seek to suppress their innate desire to stuff everyone else by wanting equality of wealth, health and happiness for all alike.

Around the circle lie the various ‘shades’ of these two beliefs. Everyone has a place around the circle, maybe nearer to the self-seekers, maybe next to the equality lovers.

Strangely, it appears that both extremes can lead to dictatorships. This is demonstrated repeatedly in history all over the world; and dictatorships do not usually lend themselves to majority happiness.

As one meagre vote among an entire nation’s, it seems hopeless to expect to make a difference, but that one vote is the one and only little speck of decision we have as individuals so we must apply it, hopeless or not. Here where I live there will never be a change and yet I exercise my right to vote, placing my pencil cross each time against a no-hoper who best represents my views.

It is now all over bar the inquest, the result a dismal endorsement for the self-seekers. Some will be happy, many depressed. We brace ourselves for another five years and hope for better-next time.

The Best Things in Life…are not too expensive…

                An eighty four year old woman in the USA has won 278.2 million [after tax] in the state lottery. I suppose her remaining years will now be more comfortable than she would have previously expected them to be. On the other hand, what can she possibly do with that amount of money, besides passing it on to her family, or leaving it to a cats’ home? I gather she was somewhat reclusive, from the remarks of her [now] former neighbours, which will be a help to her now that she is probably going to have to spend the rest of her days in relative seclusion, if she is to avoid scroungers, sob stories and con artists.

                But will it make her happy? It is easy to take the much clichéd, moral high ground here; ‘Money Can’t Buy Me Love’ etc, but stories of the lives of lottery winners are not all tales of heart-warming, happy-ever-after strolls into the sunset.

“Robertson has four sons, two from his first marriage and two from another relationship, while Laidlaw has three children. But his win has led to rows with the elder sons about how the money should be shared. Now, Robertson declares, “they are not getting a penny”.”

“Gardiner was greeted with hundreds of letters begging for money and for his hand in marriage.”

“He bought a cul-de-sac of houses for his friends. He also tried to help people out by offering work but these people began to take advantage and take liberties.”

“Keith checked himself in to the Priory rehabilitation clinic in Birmingham as his alcohol use began to get out of hand. It was at the rehabilitation clinic where Keith became acquainted with James Prince. Between August 2006 and July 2008, Prince persuaded Keith to invest his final £700,000 in a number of fake business ventures that were never real. Keith lost all of his money.”

            Poverty, of course is a miserable state of affairs. But a modest improvement in circumstances can do wonders to lift the spirits-especially when combined with a sense of achievement. One feature amongst the woeful tales of lottery winners was how many of them still shopped in ‘pound shops’ or resumed their daily toil after experiencing the boredom of inactivity. For sheer, unadulterated euphoria there is little to compare to the joy of acquiring a bargain, or to make a small profit from selling on an auction site, or to win a small sum in a story competition. All of these successes require some effort-hence the pleasure quotient.

                Children, I read, are to have money management shoehorned into their curriculum in the near future, possibly at primary-even infant- level. This in itself won’t be a bad thing, if time allows and it relates to mathematics, but one alarming idea I heard during a radio discussion was that 5 year olds would be taught that having money equates to happiness.

                I get regular ‘likes’ from bloggers who want to teach me how to make money from blogging, and I’m sure they mean well, but the greatest pleasure to be had from writing it is to see how many people have shown an interest in it-and which parts of the world they inhabit.

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