LEAVING YOUR MARK ON THE WORLD
Dee Chadwick
19 Dec 2021
Not all of us will leave a wonderful piece of artwork; a piece of music appreciated by people all over the world; a book read and re-read over the years. Something as a permanent reminder that we actually existed. But, we can still leave our mark on our particular bit of the world, the people around us.

THE PICTURE

Of course, we really don’t want to feel responsible for spoiling the beaches, the countryside, our oceans. Or am I assuming that people feel the same way that I do about this? Yet how many people seem to think that ‘someone’ will pick up their rubbish – be it from a beach, the side of a path, a car park – seemingly anywhere is ok for abandoning drinks cans, take away boxes, picnic remnants – any old rubbish. Were they not taught as children to pick up everything they had brought with them, especially their rubbish? Add in the plastic bottles, fishing netting, flip flops, etc etc that the sea has thrown up onto the beach. Seemingly in an attempt to throw it back in the direction of humans who had led to it polluting the water and its inhabitants in the first place.

I love to walk bare foot along a beach then watch the tide wipe away my very transient footprints, so from that point of view, I totally agree with those words in the picture. Some of my most special moments have been spent doing just that, and the beach, the sea and the setting have left an indelible memory that has been oft re-visited. How I would like to think that many share this experience and care about the beaches and the rest of our planetary home. But it can be hard to make the link between the flotsam and jetsam washed up on a beach and the rubbish abandoned so many miles, even whole continents, away.

However, what a shame it would be if all other signs that we have spent time on this planet of ours were also wiped away as readily as those footprints. I guess that for most of us, memories will dwindle over the years. Yes, they may be re-ignited by photographs, remembered stories, but these will often not be widely shared. Our influence will be limited to fewer people as the years pass by. How sad that is. As we oldies pop our clogs, we take with us so many of those more personal stories.

OK, there will be those who have been written about over and over again as they made their mark – for good or evil. A mark that may be re-visited in history lessons over the years. But given time, I presume that even these people will be replaced by more recent models of behaviour, the oldies being consigned to the dusty back shelves of memories and libraries.

As for the majority of us, those who don’t make the pages of history books, the memory of actual events may fade, as will the specific words spoken. However, the memory of how the words spoken, those things done made us feel, they linger much longer. How we felt uplifted, supported, appreciated, valued as a person. It could just be a simple comment, a smile, an acknowledgement of a job well done that can make a huge difference to someone who may have been struggling. Especially when not all problems are obvious, especially to those who don’t want to see them.

Sadly there are also the negative words, especially those flung at you in anger or as lies. The hurt, the sadness, the feelings of being considered useless, uncared for, oh boy do they linger and influence how we feel about ourselves. They certainly leave a very negative mark which has often been specifically targeted. Feelings sadly not as easily erased as those footprints in the sand.

I have fond memories of listening to my parents tell stories of their younger days, even if they were repeated by my Dad as his memory went into decline. Sadly, I haven’t been able to share nearly enough time or tell enough family stories with my granddaughters, but I am in the process of making them each a box of memories – both photographic and written that I hope they may spend some time checking out. Stories which will otherwise be lost. OK, they are probably seen as totally inconsequential to many, but to me they are a part of my family, so a part of me – the girl I was, the woman I am now.

Time is such a gift – the greatest gift that we can give to any person, no matter what their age or circumstances. This is something about which I feel very strongly and really feel disappointed when in return I am made to feel like an add on. I guess that I am far from alone with such feelings, especially at this time of year.

So, I am giving myself a Christmas gift of time. My time. This will be my last post for now. I am taking a break over Christmas and the New Year in order to focus on writing those stories to be handed on. I had over the past year decided to draw a line under my blogging and podcasting when I reached the three hundred mark. This current piece is number two hundred and ninety-two. Not a neat finale in my eyes. So, I will round things off neatly in the New Year by re-posting a few of my favourite posts interspersed with some originals, though without the pressure of needing to produce a piece each week. I will then be able to sign off in a way that makes me content. Proud to have met my goal, having adapted the run up to this in order to be kind to myself.

TIME SEEMS TO HAVE DEVELOPED WINGS ON ITS HEELS

It sure has begun to fly, despite the many days spent in lockdown. Everything seems to demand speed – speed of internet connection, speed of getting from A to B. Speed and efficiency are very much in demand, whilst I feel that I am neither speedy nor efficient. And d’you know, that doesn’t bother me. I am now going to allow for more smelling of the roses time; more leisurely striding from A to B rather than being woman on a mission to cram as much as possible into days which I am convinced are getting shorter. I used to be ruled by clocks, time tables and a need to get things done and dusted. Sadly, this led to feelings of guilt if I did allow myself to wind down or – shock horror – even do a complete mental switch off for more than a few minutes. OK, these feelings of guilt may be dwindling, but how I would love for them to completely disappear! To lose any feelings of only doing things at a superficial level, but to allow myself to be completely submerged in being creative other than with words. I don’t need to be Mrs Efficient. All I now need to do, is believe my own words!! How I envy those who retire and seem able to hit the much deserved wind down button shortly afterwards. Become busy doing nothing – well, nothing apart from what they choose to do, what makes them content. The pace and pressures of life pre-teaching retirement took their toll. A toll that we don’t often recognise until we step away from the treadmill of busyness. Our bodies bear the scars, be they physical, mental, emotional. Scars that require healing provided by a more calm and soothing way of being. Time which is evaluated by its quality rather than the quantity of ‘doings’ that can be squashed into it.

SLOWING DOWN ISN’T ALWAYS EASY

Sadly, for many, the opportunity for slowing down is swept aside by a need to keep earning to make ends meet and pay the bills.

For others – maybe I am included in this – by keeping busy and keeping up a relatively busy pace of being, we don’t allow ourselves to think. To remember the plans that we had had for this period of life. Maybe plans that we had shared with a partner. Plans which took some severe swerves due to changes in such relationships, a decline in health, unforeseen changes in circumstances. We continue to push ourselves, but who is this actually for? Maybe we don’t want to appear lazy, maybe we don’t want to feel that we are getting older? Do we assume that this is how others see us? On the one hand, whilst I know that I still have so very much to offer, I wouldn’t say no to the offer of a helping hand every now and then. With said ‘now and then’ beginning to come more often. Oh boy, I never thought I would hear myself saying that! There is, in fact, so much to be gained by slowing down, giving yourself that gift of time. We can still learn; but it may be learning things that have been previously swept aside in our busyness, or things that we simply didn’t notice.

So, before it’s too late, I am giving myself that gift of time. I will still be here for people – and I hope that people will still be here for me too and I will get to my 300 blogs...  I still have a lot to give, but I am giving to myself as well as to others.

I hope that you have a Christmas that is how you would choose it to be. One that is filled with love, sharing of memories, food, time. If you are alone, allow yourself to do what you feel is the best thing for you to do in order to make you feel content. As for the New Year – once again, we look forward to times that remain uncertain for so many. We can only all ever do our best to make ourselves, those we know and this planet of ours happy. So, yes, leave those footprints, but also leave others with happy, cared for, loving feelings caused by the things that you say and do.

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