As I do every Saturday morning, I walked up to Hampton Street to do my weekly shopping. I visit the supermarket, the greengrocer, the baker, sometimes I pop into the newsagents and browse the magazines I never buy, or I catch up with Cheeseboy for a coffee. Regardless of what I do, it’s all pretty standard.
This morning was no different, except a random thought came to me. I live in a very civilised part of the world, perhaps even privileged in some ways. There’s always been a strong sense of a Hampton village, and the local community is friendly and warm, the sort of place strangers nod to you or wish you a good morning passing by in the street. I felt that close about me again as I crossed the railway line heading towards a cafe by it, and I recalled how in my bleak days I would sometimes make the trip to Hampton just to walk through these streets and feel a part of this community.
I yearned then for one of the many things I didn’t have – a sense of belonging. I’d lived in Hampton before and had strong roots in the suburb, but then by circumstance, it had been denied to me. It came to represent something warm and embracing to me, something I had to get back to, to prove a point, and to be part of the community and belong.
I made it back, and I’m grateful for that, but this morning I remembered those fleeting visits when I felt like an intruder, though I knew it so well. Thank God I had made it, I thought, but the memory brought back to the sense of those dark and despairing times.
It seems an apt recollection at this time as I feel poised on the cusp of something more. I have made changes this year, well documented, and the changes have been beneficial to me. I feel lighter, freer, more open. I am happier than I’ve been for years. It’s far from an end, but what I expected to be a steady change now appears to be a change executed in stages – and I have come to the next stage.
Something happened at work yesterday which crystallises in my mind what this change is. It was quite innocuous really. I’ve been working hard and pushing on a project for a while now and seeking a go-live date to work towards. I emailed the ops manager yesterday advising him of our status and recommending a go-live date Monday week if feasible. He gave his agreement. I then advised my manager of this, at which she went red-faced, exclaimed loudly and stormed off. Later she returned to apologise.
I believe she was upset that her manager had consented to something she believed was her decision was to make.
I thought about this as I headed home. I didn’t feel right. I’d been the unwitting instrument of her displeasure, but I didn’t feel entirely innocent. I should have been more aware of her feelings, and I wondered if in fact I was and did this anyway to sting her – my complaints about her are well known. I couldn’t answer that question – if there was intent then it was sub-conscious, but still, I should have been more aware. As I am always saying, two wrongs don’t make a right – and no matter my discontent with her I shouldn’t let that play a part in my actions.
On Thursday I had posted something on Facebook which summed up the philosophy I have adopted since the start of this year:
No point in trying to be something you’re not. No value in trying to impress others. No reason to act anything other than truly. It may be enough, it may not be, but it’s real. Reason enough.
After what happened yesterday I posted this last night:
Tonight’s learning is that though I mean no ill there are times I should stop to consider how others might feel about things which seem to be clear to me. That’s a fault of mine. I go confidently forward forgetting others are not so sure or strong, or see it differently to how I do. It’s a lesson in humility and perspective. Even if I am right
I post these to Facebook because it’s easy to keep these things personal and close, but by publishing them I expose myself – it’s a part of the process.
This has been a reminder that there’s still a fair way to go and I have to keep at it, but I feel at the same time that I’ve reached another level. I have opened myself up. Next is to become truly humble. I’ll need help with that.
PS – I’ve just posted this to Facebook, related to that event a few weeks back, and very apropos:
A little while ago I went out of my way to help with something. I was glad to do it and it was the right thing to do, and the outcome very satisfying. Then afterwards in the glow of a successful event, I was ignored, receiving neither thanks or acknowledgement or even a good night. I was surprised at how much it affected me, thick-skinned as I am. I felt hurt.
Over time it faded and I realise for all of us the reason we do or don’t do things are subject to a complex range of reasons. I have no control over what others choose to do, and I shouldn’t expect – and certainly not seek – something that must be given freely. Ultimately I do what I do for my own reasons, and they should be sufficient in themselves. This is what I have control over, myself, and what I do is what I believe in, without regard to fear or favour.