The other day I walked out of the front door and pulled it shut behind me. The moment I heard the clunk of the door my brain thought it was a good time to remind me that I had left the keys in the kitchen.
The next hour was interesting. A locksmith was called to sort out the unlocking of the door. The same locksmith was called several other things for the next 24 hours. I was not expecting a bill of such magnitude. Anyone who charges £99 per hour to drill three holes is clearly overestimating the value of their service. Add to that the emergency call out fee and the cost of a new lock and you can appreciate that I was not impressed with the bill. It was definitely not what I was expecting. I also have a pretty good idea why the locksmith was not the cheerful and friendly man I was expecting to see get out of the van. For some reason he seemed to avoid making eye contact or entering into any form of friendly conversation. I can only think he must have felt slightly ashamed of himself.
The second unexpected event happened when I bought a record. Now they are back in fashion I can freely admit to owning a record player. Although technically I am now down to my last four as I recently passed one on! For some reason despite the adverts I was not tempted to buy the same Pink Floyd album I didn’t buy when I was a teenager. How many people are really going to do that? Next thing is we will sell our mountain bikes and go out and get ourselves new Choppers? Are they going to start making the Ford Cortina again?
So I had bought a second hand Christmas Carol LP (Long Play – big one) from a charity shop for a pound! The first track was without any vocals. This was strange as the man’s name was written all across the front of the record sleeve. That was fine – maybe the singer would join us for the next track. But he didn’t. At the end of the first side I wondered if I had misunderstood and that the man on the front cover was actually playing an instrument instead. A closer look at the record itself showed that I would never hear the singer I thought I was going to listen to. The record was in the wrong sleeve! Instead of Christmas Carols I had the Pipes, Drums and Military Band of the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards!
Often we expect one thing and we are surprised when we get something different. I expected a reasonable bill for a new lock, instead I was astounded at the cheek of the man. I expected to hear someone singing Christmas Carols and instead I got bagpipes and a full military band playing Amazing Grace and Beethoven’s 9th Symphony!
Arguing with reality
I think as I get older (yes I can still do that) I realise that we expect much more than we used to. My son expects technology to work as soon as he presses the button or rather ‘touches the screen’! The concept of ‘waiting for the tv to warm up’ before you can watch it is met with the same look you get when we say we used to scrape the frost off the inside of the bedroom window! Sometimes you have to ‘leave the computer’ to catch up with what you have told it to do. All these things reveal that somehow we expect it to be different. The world does not go as fast as we would like. This can be a source of great stress for some of us. We expect one thing and it doesn’t happen, it isn’t working or it isn’t what we expected. We get stressed when the world, technology, traffic, people, family and friends – nothing works they way that we expect it to, the way we think it should work, the way we want it to work. Children and adults don’t behave as we expect them to. People fall out, we fail exams, friends let us down, and batteries don’t last as long we think they should.
It isn’t that the world is faulty. It’s our thinking that trips us up. We think it should be different and it isn’t. Often we don’t accept the world as it is – instead we argue with it. We still think that our idea and our expectations of what should happen are correct and the world and the people in it aren’t doing what they should be doing!
Katie Byron in her book Loving What Is says several times that ‘when we choose to argue with reality we suffer – but only 100% of the time’. We will always feel stressed when we disagree with what is actually happening. So please feel free to be surprised, amazed or irritated – just don’t waste your energy arguing with it and getting seriously stressed. Acknowledge it, accept that it’s happening and then decide what you want to do about it. It isn’t easy when you are in the situation and my reaction to the nice locksmith did keep me annoyed for several hours!
Accepting the world as it is with all its faults isn’t the same as agreeing with it or condoning people’s behaviour and choices. Acknowledge what is happening and then you are free to go about changing it and making it a better place.
I have taken precautions to make sure that I never have to call a locksmith out ever again. I will try and remember to ask the price before I get any work done and I enthusiastically encourage people to avoid using his business! I enjoy listening to my new (second hand) record of the bagpipes and drums not playing Christmas Carols! I enjoy it more with my headphones on and the volume wound up high. I think it’s better than the record I thought I had bought! Track 4 is an awesome piece that makes me get up and dance around the room. I think it’s probably a combination of bad dad dancing blended with Mr Bean! Nothing too energetic but it definitely has a good rhythm and my record player loves playing it as well (see post script below).
Spike gatecrashes the party
Finally there was chance for Spike (pictured in his Christmas jumper) to make an unexpected visit in order to gate crash a school party. For that I admit to being responsible! Hopefully our visit wasn’t as unappreciated as that of the Christmas Locksmith! The looks of surprise said that sometimes things turn out better than our expectations – ‘tis the season to be jolly and wear Christmas jumpers that sometimes light up.
Happy Christmas and very best wishes for 2017 – may it be better than you expect it to be!
PS – Post Script
Highly unlikely that anyone is interested if I tell you that I have been playing my new record on an HMV Model 2046 made by Thorn (circa 1970). It comes complete with an appalling level of rumble from the genuine BSR direct drive turntable. It sounds like a really bad hum normally unless the track has a serious level of bass. In this case it will automatically play the awesome bass so loud you can’t hear the hum no more and you can just feel the music man!!! And its ALL ANALOGUE and even boasts an analogue non-remote human interface coupling to set the volume which means you have to get out your seat and turn the volume knob! With a record player you will also need at least a 2 metre headphone extension lead if you wish to carry on dancing without annoying the neighbours! It also means you can play snowballing with the Wii Fit whilst listening to something unexpected!
Keywords / Glossary / Translation:
Pink Floyd – pop group from the 1970s
Raleigh Chopper – Classic British bike from the 70’s
Ford Cortina – old car from the 70’s.
HMV – His Masters Voice – named because of the dog!
I promise not to make the next blog so technical!