Butting against a vision

Butting against a vision


Butting against a vision

We think ‘the good old days’ are in the past, but today we’re living the ‘good old days’ of the future! BUT how many BUTTS are getting in the way of enjoying them…..and how can we prevent them knocking us over?

About 20 years ago I indulged in that enjoyable exercise of projecting forwards to ‘the ideal week’.  It’s a useful coaching model in imagining how an ideal future week compares with the present, and what steps need to be taken to arrive at ‘the vision’

20 years ago the week I imagined seemed to be an impossible dream…  BUT it has happened! 

What a surprise, or a tribute to the positive power of forward planning and visualisation. 

So how does that feel? Twenty years ago I would have ‘torn an arm off for it’, feeling euphoric and joyful to enjoy such a week, compared to the corporate life of ‘golden handcuffs’ I was then leading. 

BUT…BUT…  Like an unwelcome ram, the butts leap from the undergrowth to put some bruises into unfettered joy.

Where have the Butts come from? And how do they manage to cloud the vision?

On Saturday, I sang Haydn’s Creation in an uplifting triumphant choir concert (first after 2 years of Covid restriction); at the interval, mingling with the audience, I was reunited with a dear friend and very supportive coach who had recovered from prostate cancer; we had a great catch up conversation…. BUT it included reflecting on the recent untimely death of a close mutual friend with brain cancer

Sunday brought a warm autumn day with golden yellow leaves at a National Trust house; our party of ten included the son and daughter in law of our two very good friends who we shared great times with between 1970 and 2011. With the grandchildren our friends never met, we walked, escaped the rain over lunch and coffee, caught up with all the news and connections…. BUT our dear friends Colin and Lyn were not there having died within three years of each other ten and thirteen years before (in fact three years apart to the day, hour and minute!).

On Monday, I was looking out articles written in the past, suddenly relevant for my elder son’s job search, and for a long-established friend working on his transition beyond current roles; it was so gratifying to feel my articles already ‘in the library’ were of value…… BUT then the phone rang with news of my wife’s cousin’s husband needing an urgent bowel cancer operation, another major health problem in the extended family coming soon after the death of my sister in law.

Tuesday had time for continuing exchanges with local friends on novels, poetry, music and projects spanning past, present and future; space and breadth that seemed so desirable twenty years ago. Lucky now to have the time and enough brain (just about) to share the thoughts.

On Wednesday, I was coaching medical staff at a local hospice, as part of my ‘giving something back’ for the awesome service and wonderful compassion hospices provide…  BUT I am doing it because I have witnessed that wonderful service being given to two immediate family members and three friends in the intervening 20 years

Golf on Thursday on one of the last warm days of the autumn; it matters not that the golf was of poor quality, and that its physical and psychological challenge still leave a lot of room for growth; as a means of enjoying fresh air and company, and focusing the mind for 4 hours on something as silly as a white ball going into a small hole, it’s a privilege which I didn’t have 20 years ago…  BUT never a golf match goes by without remembering members of the group now sadly not chasing the ball (a group of twelve now reduced to eight) ; and of course us survivors share the ‘organ recital’ of bodily complaints and wonder who’ll be next!!

Privileged, blessed, lucky are the words that come out from this week’s diary, and are words which 20 years ago would have seemed so appropriate; to be still here in reasonable health looking back on all the great things have happened in the last two decades.  We are indeed living ‘the good old days’ today, days that we will look back on enviously 10 years from now, BUT…..!

Where on earth do those BUTS come from and where do they keep themselves hidden?  They didn’t show their horns in the ideal week I planned 20 years ago; that ideal week had no sadness, shadows and worries, just the vision of something that was ‘too good to be true!’.   And those BUTS will probably be hidden again looking back in 10 years’ time, remembering these good times and regretting how much we have moved on (and why we didn’t ‘enjoy it more while it lasted’).

So why is it so hard to enjoy the present, relish the positives, and put a hood over the Butts?

It’s a story of expectation without perspective, of blessings undervalued, of the continual balance between celebrating good fortune and respecting life’s reality.  Philosophers and psychologists have filled libraries with their views on pain and gain, suffering and catharsis, serendipity and predestination, spontaneity and planning, and control and faith.  Somewhere in there lies the secret of acknowledging the BUTs and learning to live with them, knowing how vital they are for a fulfilled, worthwhile life. We live life to the full not despite them… but because of them.

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