Monday, September 26, 2011

Uncomfortable navel gazing

Despite being crazy busy at work and gearing up for school holidays, I've spent the last week in a great deal of contemplation.  Just thinking about how our every action impacts on the actions of those we've interacted with.  And just how far reaching those impacts can be.  Whether it's the choice of detergent we buy, where we shop, what we say when we are grumpy, how we deal with difficult colleagues, what we fail to acknowledge and appreciate in another person because we are in a hurry, what we say to our children when we've lost patience with their tantrum...although it is easy to show them how much you love them when they are being adorable!

Waking before the crack of dawn to be on a flight to Sydney for work and getting back late at night means lots of waiting-around-at-airport time.  I do this trip frequently and I usually use that down time to squeeze in yes more work...but lately I've been spending it navel gazing.  On my last work trip, I was sitting in the sunshine (why does it always seem to be warm and sunny in Sydney!!) having a coffee, about to head into a meeting - and I felt someone staring at me.  I looked up and it was someone I used to sort-of date a long looooooong time ago, I met him right about the same time I first met Mr Bok.  We exchanged pleasantries but it was a bit odd, I still feel terrible for hurting his feelings all those years ago and meeting him out of the blue again - I don't think he's forgotten it either.  Then later in the week I bumped into my first 'real' boyfriend when I was a teenager many moons ago - he broke my heart! and never fails to apologise for it when we run into each other so obviously how he behaved (appallingly!!) when he was a young one still bothers him.  I've long forgotten it.

It's a very uncomfortable feeling to know you've hurt another person.  I think that sometimes it's easier to forgive another person than to forgive yourself.  Sometimes.

Now usually the quiet thinking I do isn't all that quiet, it's railing against the unfairness of humanity, trying to make a difference to lessen the hot feeling inside I get when I think about it, being a UN volunteer means I do it because I feel strongly about the disadvantaged, the marginalised, the majority of the world who live their reality without basic human rights, those that just don't have the same opportunities that we do here in Australia.  Then there is Hazel's post which I had to stop reading because all of the points that make her cross make me cross too!

But the quiet thinking I do when I look back on all of the things I've said or done that I've regretted...I wonder about the people who say they live with absolutely no regret.

I've come across many articles discussing the Amnesia Drug Metyrapone lately, simplistically put, it can delete or block bad memories.  This must be fantastic for people who have lived through severe trauma and just can't move on with life or entertain any happiness because of it.  I've thought about how great it could be.  I wonder how many people would use it for things they had done that they regret?  Or if they would choose to used it to block out bad memories caused by someone else.  But having experienced many different sides of life, ultimately for me, I'm thankful that I have lived through so much and the bad memories that I used to polish all the time have taught me a lot about how to live my life today, how to be stronger and how to better treat others.

I think you are a pretty lucky human if you've lived a few decades and haven't experienced heartbreak or regret.  Or perhaps it's the other way around?

Hypatia (or Teapot as I've taken to calling her - not 
quite as noble but seems to suit her more!) tries 
to take slurps of my tea whenever she can. I was having a 
rare quiet moment on the lawn with my cuppa.  
When I looked up, Amelia and Florence were on my shoulders
and Teapot was drinking my tea.


  1. I would rather dread spending time in a city if I would keep running into Exs. When you think about it a memory pill that destroys bad memories, we have to be reminded how we grow and become who we are. It is through those adversities that we grow as a person and to remember those bad experiences give us our consciences. Your last sentences say it all. Hypatia is just so adorable. She looks as though she easily could become a tea drinker. Would her eggs then have caffeine in them? Have a good week.

  2. I agree with Ann. Going through tough or bad times makes us want to do better. Good post!! Enjoyed my visit tonight.

  3. Great post. I love "the bad memories i used to polish all the time" phrase. It's something I'm pretty good at - bashing myself up. But still, I wouldn't want to forget what has made me me...

  4. There are some events in the past that I wouldn't mine a little dose of an amnesia drug, but all of life's experiences (good and bad) have made me who I am today. Well written post--Thanks!

  5. Gawd! Ghosts of boyfriends past around every corner, what a nightmare!

    It's nice to look back on a good deed you've done and feel contented by your part in it. It makes you want to live more positively in the future. When you look back on your mistakes or regrets you then attempt to avoid ever making them again. So, in a way, mistakes always have the potential to become something positive in your life - you just have to let them, and it starts with not beating yourself up about it!

  6. What a great post - thank you for sharing your thoughts. When I start thinking down lines like this (things I regret, things I don't fully forgive myself for), I usually have to stop as it's too painful. I don't have a trauma history, and I think that is just part of being human. Hard, but part of life!

  7. I do believe that it's easier to forgive another than yourself. And easier to forgive than to accept forgiveness. But sometimes the best education is learning from our own mistakes - we never seem willing to learn from the mistakes of others.

  8. Such a thought provoking post Mrs Bok. Not sure what I make of the amnesia drug, I agree with the mistakes and bad memories making us who we are etc, but wiping out a few doesn't seem like such a bad idea sometimes. And for me I sometimes find myself making the same mistake over and over - especially when it comes to dealing with two year old's tantrums, I really wish I could learn the lesson to just step back and take a breath instead of reacting the way I do sometimes.

  9. Well missus, I don't know whether I'd take that amnesia drug or just stick to the booze lol.

    If we're all made from the sum total of our experiences, good and bad, then surely we'd just be erasing parts of ourselves if we took this stuff...

  10. what a deep blog post......there are many things i regret but feel the bad times help who you become.....not bitter and twisted but hopefully more caring and thoughtful.
    bet your girls don't regret anything!

  11. I think we all do a bit of navel gazing at times. It is at times like that when I realize how much good has come out of things I thought were so bad at the time. I love teapot - what a great name :)


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