Saturday, 17 December 2016

Lion or Lamb?



There she sat, a tiny lady snugged in a shawl with her silky, silver hair neatly permed, paper fine skin  creased at the corner of her eyes, a humbug sucking, Catherine Cookson reading, sweet as cherry pie great, great grandmother.   i had been visiting regularly for quite some time when i realised she never spoke of friends past or present.   assuming it was because  advanced age had stolen company away by attrition i was hesitant to say anything.... until Christmas came around. apart from immediate family there were no cards, no phone calls, no visits, no gifts, nothing from the families of old friends, her universe was empty.

Intrigued i began asking gentle questions about her life when younger and knowing she had lived in the same small village all her life dropped in the names of people i was meeting as a newcomer.   the mystery was solved in one enlightening conversation that went something like this;
"I met Wilhelmina for the first time today."

"Don't speak to me about that woman, don't ever mention her name in this house again.  she doesn't exist to me, if i pass her in the street i turn my face to the wall."

"I'm sorry i didn't know.  what happened ?".... looong pause

".......i don't remember."

"When did you fall out?"

"SIXTY YEARS AGO AND I HAVEN'T SPOKEN TO HER SINCE."

This conversation was repeated when i mentioned Gladys, Gertrude, George, Henrietta, Henry and on and on and on......

The irony was that Wilhelmina and Henrietta et al weren't concerned in the slightest as they were too busy enjoying life with friends, going for coffees, days out, chatting on street corners, being involved, being sociable, being happy.   that's the thing with grudge keeping, eventually it doesn't hurt the grudgee who moves on,  it hurts the grudger who can end up alone and embittered.   forgiveness benefits both as it bestows freedom to form new friendships and sometimes even reconciliation.

Of course, forgiveness has it's limits.   if a lion bites off your right hand the animal doesn't deserve to be euthanised as it's simply doing what lions do, but you aren't obliged to offer it your left hand for dessert, if you are sensible you will make sure your appendages are safely tucked out of sight until the lion is tamed.   as my mother, who was the epitome of grace, used to say  "i can overlook one much, i can forgive two much, but three much is too much."

I'm not saying all who decline company at this time of year are malcontents,  those of us who are gregarious of nature need to be accepting of our more introverted brethren and not exert pressure to conform to our idea of fun.  if  Christmas by the fire with a book or movie for company rocks your boat then that's a perfectly acceptable way to celebrate. solitude needn't equal isolation, aloneness isn't the same as loneliness, privacy isn't necessarily privation, some simply prefer a simpler, quieter existence. it's absolutely fine to to batten down the hatches and seek the safety of a celebration free season if that's what a soul needs and wants, but it's sad to be alone as a result of alienating the universe and it's inhabitants by our attitudes and intolerance.   


Sometimes all it takes to mend a rift, especially where both parties aren't even sure what sundered the relationship in the first place,  is a reason to make the initial approach and this supposed Season of Goodwill is the perfect excuse.   if there's somebody out there who you would like to try again with, send a card, make a "friend" request on Facebook, contrive to bump into each other near a coffee shop, take the risk.   BUT if that person is a lion and you are still missing your right arm think twice before extending the left in friendship.



3 comments:

  1. Love this cos as you know I live with this daily...my hubby has so many opinions about people he doesn't speak to anymore especially next door... drives me mad as they are lovely..you painted the exact picture...he's so bitter about it all and it shows in his daily life..sad isn't it.
    Oh and I loved the gnome knitting hearts ๐Ÿ’œ๐Ÿ’œ๐Ÿ’œ

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  2. you're right it's terribly sad and it can become a habit. i used to pander to the lions and became armless and legless. not any more. there are so many lovely people, like you, so i've decided to give them my all.

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