Thoughts of Peace, Freedom and Gratitude

Days such as today (commemorations, anniversaries, etc.) always remind me of the same important thing. One day is designated as a memorial day, during which we should dedicate our thoughts and attention towards significant people and events. However, thoughts of peace, freedom and gratitude aren’t to be restricted to just one day per year.

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Please understand this: there is no criticism here of any kind against those who outwardly show that they mark Remembrance Day with poppies, badges, wristbands or otherwise. There is nothing towards anyone, on the basis that they ‘don’t do enough the rest of the time in order to justify these few days of recognition at this time of year…’.

I won’t try to make you believe that I reserve time every single day specifically in order to remember and thank the soldiers who fought and died to preserve their world and ours. This is rather about encompassing these unnamed martyrs of freedom and peace, to whom we owe our way of life, in the overall circle of gratitude I send out for anything and everything for which I am grateful.

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What if we made it our objective, starting with this day, Remembrance Sunday – 15th November 2020, to remember, not once per year but at least once per day, whom our freedom is (in large part) thanks to. At least, to recognise the simple fact that freedom, as well as peace, are ours. In doing so, I daresay we will never again risk taking for granted even the smallest measure of freedom and peace which we enjoy every single day… Freedom can manifest itself in any number of ways, which aren’t for us to qualify as ‘big’ or ‘small’.

Our ‘everyday’ freedom, the kind which allows us to realise everyday endeavours, every day, may seem anything but extraordinary. However, we’d certainly notice if one day it were gone. Imagine a situation in which our right to go out as we choose – or to stay out as late as we choose – were taken away…? Let’s try to imagine that for just a moment…??!! Thoughts of peace, freedom and gratitude may seem a tall order when we are forced to compromise on what we consider as our basic ‘rights’.

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This morning, I woke up in a warm bed, in a peaceful apartment; we had toast for breakfast, of which there was plenty, and thought of the day ahead, which we’d fill with whatever we would decide. Later, I sat looking through the window at the sky and view outside, breathing and taking in that quiet, placid moment.

I then began thinking of the gift which is this peace, bestowed upon us by those for whom today is appointed a day of memorial.

It was justly this moment at which it occurred to me that I don’t attribute this gift to those who gave their lives for it, as they did for so many people, nearly as often as I ought to.

This one manifestation of the freedom I enjoy in my everyday life illustrates the main point I wish to make: even something by all accounts ‘ordinary’ warrants our gratitude for having the freedom to do it. That we don’t necessarily take the time daily to dedicate our thoughts to the brave soldiers, resistance fighters, medics, activists, civilians… All those who sacrificed and fought in order that we can live a life so peaceful they are absent from our very thoughts for so much of the year is perhaps even somewhat cruel irony…?

May we never know the fear they knew, face the danger they faced or be confronted, as they were, with the uncertainty of whether we will live to see another day of quiet peace, let alone return home to share it with our families.

May we live in such a way that, so as not to take for granted all they gave up in order to preserve the existence of their world, thereby paving the way for ours, they might feel as though all that they gave was worth the sacrifice.

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All year round we mark special occasions, and commemorate past ones with anniversaries, celebrating or remembering loved ones and the significant events which tie us together. Whatever the occasion, or nature of the significance, let’s reserve a place for remembering their importance not just on the ‘one day of the year that counts’, but every day of the year.

Keeping everything and everyone which matters to us constantly at the forefront of our minds is not what it takes to show them their importance to us. Thank goodness – where would be the space for all the insignificant, everyday things which clamour for the same attention?!! It isn’t even necessarily about telling them, either – no less giving them something – in order to remind them how important they are. Everyday recognition, in any form – however ‘big’ or ‘small’, but especially ‘small’ – of who and what makes our life extraordinary, is the first way of expressing our gratitude for them…

This can just as well be an internal (‘SMALL’!) as an external word of thanks, a tiny yet perceptible – and equally if not more powerful – acknowledgment of our gratitude for their presence or existence. The constant presence of these sentiments is what renders days such as anniversaries so genuinely special.

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© Away With Words, 2020

Thoughts on how to experience each moment fully…

How to feel that we really are experiencing a moment fully, and taking it in for everything it is worth… It’s one thing to know without question or doubt that we feel happy or content in a given moment. Knowing that there is no limit as to how ecstatic we can feel in any moment, however ‘simple’ or ‘ordinary’, is something else entirely… This means never putting any constraints on our feelings of happiness or gratitude, at any time – ever!

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You are happy, at present, in this simple moment (which you already know is more than just a “simple” moment)… Imagine, now, how happy it would make you to know that this is already your second chance at this moment…? You’ve lived it before, in another time… And right now, having travelled through distant time and universes, you find yourself right here once again.

I’ll let that sensation sink in…

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Does it feel good to be back, having been gone so far from here and for so long? Do you miss the person you are with? When was the last time you saw them? Don’t be surprised by the need to look at them more closely, or listen to them more intently than perhaps you did the first time you lived this moment; you probably weren’t counting on this chance to live it again. Perhaps this experience has offered you a new perspective on what it means to experience each moment fully…?

But, now that you are here, you’re ever more grateful for this second chance, because you know just how lucky you are it’s yours!!

“There are no ordinary moments. There is always something going on.”

Peaceful Warrior

In twenty years’ time…

… you will desperately wish you still looked the way you do in that ‘awful’ photo just taken of you, or that you still had the ability to move, laugh, see and hear as freely and easily as you currently do. Your youth, vitality, independence, senses and mobility are gifts you’ll want to appreciate long before they’re either jeopardised or altogether lost.

Stop… Accord your attention to the details of where you are – your company and surroundings – which are only here, only now. Realise, in that very moment, that it’s the last chance you’ll have to experience that exact moment exactly as it is, here in the present.

Many centuries from now, when your life in this world has long ended, imagine what you wouldn’t give to live just one more “simple” or ‘ordinary’ moment in this present time…

Start NOW, by treating every single moment, “ordinary” or EXTRAORDINARY, as if it were already your second chance at it! This way, you will know you are able to experience each moment fully… When that chance is over, you will have no regrets for not having taken the chance to live it fully!!

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7 advantages of finding that someone can do what you want to do better than you can

… and how that will help you get better at what you want to get better at doing!!

1 Coming across a person or the result of a person’s work which merits your recognition is a sign that your idea to come up with the same thing was a good one: you’re just not the only one who had that idea! Take it as confirmation that what you will pursue is worthy of your efforts, and rest assured having deduced that others (namely, your audience) will also agree that it was a good idea – pick up your pen, and get to work!

2 Seeing another person carrying out a similar idea to yours can provide you with a free and easy ‘sneak-peek’ at what might have happened if you had gone ahead before you actually do so: their product being the draft, your product will be the final version! What would you change about what they have done? Crucially, how could you make sure your version will be even better than theirs? Take notes – and mentally thank them for the opportunity for this extra insight!!

3 You can choose to feel demotivated or encouraged by seeing someone, possibly someone close to you, achieve what you yourself would also have liked to achieve; you can choose. Know that by sharing in the joy of their success, and fuelling their ambitions as well as your own, you will only bring yourself closer to fulfilling your own endeavours! This is because choosing to ignore or shut out feelings of joy for them will only stop those feelings from coming back round to you, whereas by embracing the feelings of celebration associated with success, albeit for someone else, you are saying ‘Yes!!’ to those emotions, and opening yourself up to them. Don’t block out or deny yourself feelings you want to feel – just as importantly, it is helpful to remember to recognise when someone is fully deserving of their success (as you also will be when you have yours), and to offer the same boost you hope to enjoy when your time comes! « Si vous vous sentez vraiment bien à l’égard du succès, peu importe à qui il appartient, vous attirerez le succès à vous ! » (Byrne 2010 : 174).

4 Very often, it is necessary for the same or similar products to be adapted or even redesigned in order to suit a wide audience; how else could we explain the existence of so many innumerable, thriving brands selling the same or similar products? It’s not because you witness someone else’s success with a product the same or similar to the one you wish to promote that you can’t also have the same or yet greater success with your product (be it more or less exactly the same or just similar); the audience they are catering to is almost certainly different to your ideal audience. There is a reason you stand out, so discover your niche, dare to embrace exactly what makes you unique and find the solution to exactly what you can offer your clients that absolutely no-one else could! “The thing to remember is this: someone else’s success does not hinder your chances of achieving what you want.” (Kempton 2018: 152).

5 Admiring a great person is, in itself, a great reflection on you. It isn’t synonymous with admitting you’re less adept than another person, nor is it accepting that you’ve given in to the competition – on the contrary: you can’t lead the way until you’ve been the way, which is why having admiration for someone else can give you the same gratification as having a great personal mentor or role model. For that matter, think of it as having a whole host of mentors, since there is no limit as to how many great examples you may choose to follow, and whose influence you would like to grace your work!! Consider it a product of your clever judgement, and pride yourself on the fact that theirs is the example you have chosen to follow. With a plethora of possible role models available, your personal choice in whom to lend your attention is what will help contribute to your eventual and inevitable triumph!

6 Did your ambition arise out of the inspiration you felt by witnessing someone achieve or dare something brilliant, by any chance…? A person in the figure of a teacher, an athlete or an artist, perhaps? The greatest leaders are those who never deem themselves as having reached the stage where they are no longer students: if, like them, you are constantly in a state of mind where you consider you always have something else to learn, or more progress to make, you are leaving the way open to limitless improvements over the course of your entire career! Your journey constitutes an endless stream of developments in the name of finding excellence: instead of seeing that as something negative, embrace it and realise it means you only ever keep getting better! (2018)

7 When you realise that your choice of reaction towards someone seemingly more skilled or talented than yourself isn’t restricted to an attitude of defeat, disappointment or inadequacy, you will find yourself opening up to all of the above principles. Whereas your instinct may otherwise have been to respond with feelings of inferiority, or to allow yourself to feel intimidated in the presence of this person (or these people), as soon as you learn to adopt this alternative mentality, and the fact that you are free to embrace this different outlook, you can willingly accept that there is only positivity to be found in their existence, their success and their impact on you. Be honest with yourself: there is no limit to your learning, nor will there ever be; there will always be new things for you to learn, and you will always be in a position where you can acquire and develop new skills! When you want to succeed, this is the greatest thing you can be grateful for!!

Le Secret ; Le Pouvoir {both by Rhonda Byrne; translated from the English by Jocelyne Roy}

Wabi Sabi {by Beth Kempton}

Ode to the Universe:

Reasons to be grateful for our life and our world…

My dear Universe,

Thank you for keeping every promise you make me;

Thank you for always knowing better than me, however little I care to realise it at the time, and for revealing the answers to me only when I am willing and ready to accept them;

I love you for keeping me in the minds of my loved ones when I am far, and me in theirs, that we may always be together in spirit;

Thank you for allowing me to see far enough into the future to begin to feel accomplishment for the goals I set myself in the present;

Thank you for not letting me forget too much of the past: enough to hold on to what is even more dear to me now than it was then, and to let go of what I needn’t keep once I’ve learned from it all that I can;

Thank you for remaining patient whilst we collectively work through our current state of progression, and for supporting us through our endeavours to better our overall existence, all the while trying to find ways to coexist;

Above all, thank you for filling life with unique, beautiful, memorable, inspiring, enlightening experiences, lifetime after lifetime, moment after moment, whether we believe, see it, feel it or not, continuously and unfailingly.

For all this and more, I thank you, dear Universe.