Although I am a Brit living in Australia, news has spread that it has been Thanksgiving for some of you guys. This has been met with open arms and made me feel better about giving in to beer and chicken wings at a bar after a hectic day at work.
Turkey would have been more appropriate I guess.
This national holiday had me thinking. Holidays like Thanksgiving are a great opportunities to take a moment out of our hectic lives to think of how fortunate we are, but like New Years Resolutions these moments can be very short lived. I think the secret to my personal growth and a good dose of mental health is to reflect as often as possible. When I was a goalkeeper playing for my local football team every Sunday, what I learned is that I had to keep looking around whenever I had the chance. If I didn’t, my location on the pitch could change quite a bit. If I only kept my eyes on the ball, I would slowly end up drifting away from the goal and before I knew it, the goal could be completely exposed. By glancing over my shoulders every now and then I would realise and had the chance to get back into position before it was too late. I still use this technique in life.
Whenever I feel like life is drifting away from me, I look around. I look at those that may consider my issues small, people that may see my issues as opportunities they never had. An example of this occurred Thursday. I was at work and I met a lovely couple, I am guessing in their 60’s. The lady asked how long I had been in Australia for, I told her since September. She looked at her husband and analysed my answer.
‘S..E..P..T… Oh September, that is a month!’ She looked at her husband for clarification.
He then turned to me and told me that his wife had suffered a stroke and that she has had to learn to do pretty much everything again. Learn to walk, learn to speak, learn to live with sight in only one eye. I cannot imagine how stressful this event must have been for both of them, in particular for her as this wasn’t a one time incident. The effects are still present today. He tried to see the funny side of it, joking that for the first two weeks she was perfect to live with as she lost her speech. It was hard for me to say anything worthwhile after being told this there and then, I just tried to be as compassionate and understanding as possible. I said it fascinates me that the brain like a muscle, takes work for it to improved again but it seems like it is certainly possible. I also said the sun is shining and that they were going to have a great day which I am sure they did.
This is the kind of story I am referring to. One that puts my small headache or boring day at work into perspective. As the days go by and my memory fades of this interaction, no doubt will I begin to slowly forget just how lucky I am and many of us are. I am hoping that by blogging I will keep a permanent reminder to reflect on, so I can see where those goalposts are in relation to where I am and remember that I am currently in a good place even if I doubt it. If a football result is the worst thing about my day, that is just the tip of a very beautiful iceberg.