Thoughts and such like.....
I was going to write a piece about how we avoid the topic of death, but it seems life took over. I was clearing up papers and documents over the weekend when I came across a container of letters, some of which I have kept for over 40 years! A few were from my Mother, thin, light air-mail paper, probably the fourth of six papers separated by carbon paper - my mother would type her letters to us all (my five siblings and I), and hand write our names at the top, and her signature at the end. Each of us got a paragraph, and we used to joke that whom ever received the last copy was obviously not in her good books! A couple of letters from my father, handwritten rarities, short but filled with his humour. And then, letters from people some of whom I don't even remember. Sitting with them, there were fleeting memories, the young man from the US whose family rented out our house in Wales after his mother died of cancer, and who in his late teens came to visit. Friends from school, old boyfriends and room mates who'd gotten married and moved away a lifetime ago.
Reading through them caused me to reflect on all the people that come into our lives and then leave. Their interactions with us have shaped the person we are today. I still stay in touch with some friends from long ago via facebook or by e-mail, and visit when I can, however there are others that have long gone from my life, and I wonder - where are they now?
My letters, should I keep them or throw them away? They show parts of the young girl/women of many years ago, someone, I wonder if people I know now would recognize. I emigrated to Canada in my 20's, computers were just emerging in business, but certainly not at home; that would take almost another decade. Letters were a cheaper alternative to telephones, which were only used in an emergency, and receiving a letter from 'home', had a transformational effect, bringing joy into the day. What was I thinking when I put them into that box. The letters tell a story of a women who had many dreams, but obviously had also been able to support others, little notes from a niece "Mummy told me to write Thank you!" with a picture of the overalls sent. They tell a story of love, and someone who was missed. Did I recognize that then? I'm not sure, and if I had would I have done things differently? Auden states 'We must love another or die', and these letters show a young women well loved - which is a lovely feeling!
Further reflection had me thinking about decisions I had made, to emigrate, to work, to get married, have kids - interesting to look back - should I have made other decisions? Maybe, but as I said earlier those people and those decisions make me who I am today, and I actually quite like that person! Do I regret decisions made, or not made - how could I? I have two wonderful kids, a life many would envy, a cache of friends, family I love, and try and see as often as possible given we are all over the World, and a career I enjoy, regrets are not part of my life. What I can do now, I hope with my experience and learning is make better, and more informed decisions.
As a coach I work with people looking at how they might improve in life or business - they are looking at the present and into the future, yes they can learn from their experience, good and bad, but if they/we continue to look back we will never move forward.
With technology today we have lost the transformation effect of letter writing - the wonderful anticipation of receiving news from home; maybe I'm getting old, but frankly electronic correspondence just doesn't give the same little jolt of joy as would a letter. So I'll stop now, and maybe jot a handwritten note to someone I love!
Maeve O'Byrne's Blog