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rock-in-water

After feeling cheerful and positive yesterday, back to reality. It is Monday morning and he is getting ready to leave again, his mind already elsewhere, a note of tension in his voice. To be fair, he is trying to make polite conversation in the kitchen – but it isn’t going well. Then he asks me a question which makes me cringe inside; it’s an apparently innocent question about the young friends I saw yesterday but I know there is no answer I can give which will not wind him up and set him ticking like the clock on a time bomb. If I don’t answer, he’ll be furious, so I do my best; I fail, the rant starts …

Eventually he notices that I have stopped trying to think of responses and so he turns the sharpness on me. How can we talk when I’m crashing around the kitchen? (I’m filling the dishwasher) How can he be expected to talk to me when I’ve been so rude this morning? His words bruise me like stones but I know better than to react or show my hurt.

Have I been rude? I’m no saint, but I’ve been trying so hard to stay calm and polite. I stop doing chores, turn around, make eye contact (which makes me realise how often I avoid that) and try- really try – to be soothing, gentle, positive. It’s just so demoralising knowing that his bitterness is crouching there, waiting for a tiny excuse to pounce, even an imagined excuse.

I think when we get to a certain point on our downward spiral we begin to see the world in such a dark way that no-one can make a situation happy for us. Insult lurks in every comment; the life experiences of the sweetest young people become a contemptible heap of errors. We lose perspective, humility, generosity and joy.

And so a dear, dear man, who was once a laughing, loving boy with a thrilling appetite for life becomes a bitter, angry, spiteful old man, hoarding his hurts like a miser’s gold. I say old, although he is the same age as me, because nothing seems to age a person like anger. Anger’s stern grey lines mark his face like time’s mapmaker, but none of the journeys have happy endings.

If you want to be happy and stay young, learn to let time wash away life’s scars; be a rock, steadfast in the river of your experiences, feeling life as a cool caress as it laps and tumbles against your gleaming skin.

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