…one man's contribution to the Weeeeerly Wild World
I love to better my life in various ways, such as keeping fit with cycling or going out for a jog, using my car as little as possible, eating healthily, reducing how much clutter I have, recycling and considering my purchases carefully with the environment in mind, keeping myself busy with productive past-times, all the way down to just thinking positively with loving and caring thoughts.
I’m not perfect at any of these things – there is always room for improvement, there are always good days and some not so good days (the waxing and waning helps to maintain perspective), and there are always different ways of thinking that others reveal to me that I can take on board.
A circle of friends and family that influence in a positive way with regards to these things is a must. To have a friend, partner, or family member, notice (maybe before we do) that we’re straying off our path, or can see where we can do better, and gently guide us back with helpful words of encouragement is a wonderful thing – sometimes perhaps they don’t chose the best words or approach, but you have to appreciate their intent. Sometimes the people around us aren’t of the best sort for us, and it can be good to notice this and step away into our own space, at least for a while until we get ourselves on track. I also think that if we want to make any changes in the world then we have to start small, beginning with a small circle first, with our closest family and good friends, even fellow bloggers that share similar aspirations and mindset, and then gradually expanding that circle, with their help, to encompass others. This positive influence can, and will, permeate throughout all of society, I have no doubt, but one can’t do it alone.
Inflicting our views on others is not a positive approach – telling people how to live does not work – children learn through positive encouragement and as adults we are really no different. I think leading by example is one aspect, but it has to be done delicately and with decorum – I’m pretty self-conscious about giving off an air of arrogance, and perhaps I don’t always avoid this, but I like to give people little nudges when I see fit – when I feel they’re in a receptive frame of mind.
I love seeing and reading about the efforts of others. I am often surprised by the efforts of a lone individual, or maybe a small group that has formed – sometimes I live so much in my own little bubble that when I do encounter someone with a similar mindset to mine I am taken aback – when a client starts automatically peeling off the paper label from the plastic bag their product was supplied in, so that they can be individually recycled, I am almost shocked at first. I smile when I am arranging an appointment and they inform me they may be delayed because their friend has encouraged them to go out walking together (something new to them). I smile when I’m interrupted in my efforts to explain to someone that their empty printer ink cartridges can be recycled, because they already know.
What I have difficulty with is when my close family or friends seem to thwart my own efforts by routinely driving ridiculously short journeys just for some sort of convenience, or they buy something that is more plastic packaging than actual product, or they live in a way that seems damaging to either themselves and/or the environment – sometimes they know it, but they don’t see that efforts on their part WILL make a different, or the efforts are something they will start “soon”. (Don’t put of until tomorrow what you can do today). Often people live in a ‘pipe dream’ – that is, an unrealistic hope or fantasy, but it’s only unrealistic for as long as they fail to set things into motion. Perhaps we’re all guilty of this in some way or other. Most people already know the benefits of say, eating healthily and getting regular exercise, or recycling – they perhaps just need a little nudge to get them on the path of incorporating that into their daily lives and altering their routines.
Yesterday my brother phoned me up. He was bored on his day off from work and he wanted to come round to my house to drink my tea and natter. I had already planned a list of jobs to do which involved cycling for an hour or so – delivering letters to client by hand, before doing some shopping, but I agreed to his meeting and said I would contact him later – although I had a little plan in mind.
You see, my brother lives little over a mile away from my house, but he wont do other than drive that short distance (which is even more ridiculous because his car is almost kaput) – it is a short distance because he has a perfectly capable body and I have jogged the route. He drives everywhere and does little in his spare time other than sit on his backside – he ‘knows’ he needs to change this, but makes no actual effort. So here is what I did.
On my way back from the shops, with my bike laden with groceries, instead of returning home and phoning him from there to say I was back, I cycled round to his house… I knocked on his door, and asked if he was playing out.
Somehow I knew this approach, which would take us back to our childhood, would remind him of the vigour with which we would cycle round to friend’s houses, call for them, and then play out for hours on our bikes (riding through areas we shouldn’t). I didn’t talk about any of this, I just did it – his girlfriend has a bike he could use so there was no excuse.
Well, the tires needed pumping up and it did take him ten minutes to put his shoes on, but he didn’t point-blank refuse, so my plan worked. I even pumped the tires up for him while he was tying his laces.
We set off in good spirit, even though his bike was a little more reluctant than him – but I knew it would be a problem since the chain was a nice rust coloured and it had only cost £10. But it worked.
I encouraged him by saying how easy he had it, since I had already cycled to the shops and my bike was loaded up with groceries – I also now had a heavy drill in my rucksack that I had collected from his house (my back regrets that a little today). I also told him that I would have to cycle off to donate blood later too so really he knew he had little to complain about. My brother have a good relationship and I doubt he would take any of these words as belittling, but one has to tread carefully with others – “effort” is an individual thing – we had both cycled that journey, but realistically he had put in more effort than me.
I kept my pace low for the ‘short’ journey, so as not to dishearten him by speeding off into the distance. The gears on his bike kept skipping about but he made it up each of the hills, for which there are a few of, so I was impressed with him.
When we arrived at my house he was exhausted and I smiled at him. He said his legs were shaking and I told him “It’s a nice feeling isn’t it!” He wasn’t so sure, but how he looked as he staggered into my house was sort of how I look after I go out for a short jog and sprint the last 100 yards – I stagger into my house just the same – I really think it’s a wonderful feeling and I wanted him to enjoy it – I told him he should appreciate it because I only now get that feeling from cycling when I’ve done something silly like overtaken a car and pushed myself so I arrive at my destination wheezing, like he was. His body and brain were telling him, “That was bad”, but I counteracted it with, “Actually, that’s your body saying it wants more – do the same each day you’ll feel great – it will get easier and you’ll go further.” I made him a cup of tea and fed him a scone.
Aside from this encouragement to him, he made me appreciate my own health and fitness. My brother is of slim build like myself, but my fitness has never been as low as his – I let my fitness slip for a few years when I started driving, but I have hardly been off a bike throughout my life, but pottering along slowly ahead of him in a low gear I rarely touch, and arriving at my house calmly while his was pacing around all jittery with pale face, put things into perspective for me.
Whether my brother will go out again soon on the bike on his own accord I am uncertain – maybe after I left him to cycle home on his own while I cycled off in the other direction to donate blood, he returned home thinking “I’m not doing that again.” But I refuse to let him drive that short distance to my house – I’ll keep cycling round to his to fetch him if I have to – in the playful and light-hearted manner that works well with him.
Here are the headings again, which I went through and added to each paragraph as an afterthought: