What I Do
You've met me. You won't remember quite what I look like, just that I was the one who helped at the right time. Pick me out of a line up? I doubt you could, because at those moments of crisis all we can see is our own predicaments and the fact we're probably screwed... until voila, along comes what you later refer to as a guardian angel, who saved the day. But you won't quite remember my face.
You're quite close to the truth with that one. Angels. Perhaps that's the best way to describe us, although angels would probably do what we do for free, because they're, like, angelic, and not simply out to save themselves, as we are. Anyway angels as you know them don't exist. But we do. In a way.
We're selfish, but we spend our time saving, helping. A selfish saviour. It sounds like an oxymoron but I'll try to explain.
That time you stood at the checkout and realised you'd forgotten your purse (back before apple pay and all that stuff gave us slightly fewer opportunities) and a kind old man stepped out from the queue and said he'd pay, and no, he didn't want anything back? That was us.
That time your kid nearly stepped out in front of a bus, or fell out of your car door when you'd forgotten to put the child lock on and there was miraculously a never-before-seen gap in the traffic that day? That might've been me.
That time you stayed a second longer - somewhere - because somebody stopped you and asked you a question? One of us.
What about when the train you were about to get on crashed/the plane caught fire on the runway/the bus went into a jack-knifed lorry - and you weren't there, even though you should have been? And you say, There but for the grace of God go I, as the camera pans over bodies under sheets. Not a common occurrence, but yes, that was me, or my colleagues.
Are you getting the picture? You don't have control, not ultimately. It's not God, or at least not any God you'd recognise. Even we don't know who's in charge, just that somebody is, because we were given a choice. And we feel a whisper - a 'this is the moment' and in we step.
Still with me? Have you ever searched for meaning? Wondered what it was all for/about? Of course you have. It's in human nature to wonder. We want answers, and if we can't find them, we make them up. You might say this is what I'm doing now, because of course lying is part of what I do. But this bit, at least, is true. I want you to believe me. I hope - I need - you to believe me and feel just a little tiny bit brighter about life at the moment. Be lifted back out of the grey of the past few difficult years with their ongoing weirdness.
What I/we do on a average day might look like this. Kiss my husband/wife/lover goodbye. Go to work/the shops/school pick up. Do the thing I am meant to be doing, come home. And if I'm lucky, I find a Job. And if I find a Job, I do the Job, and I come home again and I might cook your tea of eat the tea you've cooked or make love or put a wash on. I tend to avoid TV except if I need to train, because what a waste it is. What a waste of life. And I/we know exactly HOW precious it is.
How about now - are you still reading? Intrigued? Wondering about all those times somebody nameless and faceless helped you? Remembering how you wanted to thank them or pay them back and you end up doing it on social media because I didn't give you a number and you can't remember me? And now you might be thinking is: but hang on, why are you telling us this? Surely whatever you're on about (because I doubt you've quite got it yet) is some kind of a secret?
I feel like some of you need a boost. Sometimes I feel I've lived even longer than I have (you won't believe me if I tell you but let's just say I've seen several more prime ministers rise and fall than you ever will, and the first one I experienced was never photographed - yes, that long ago) and life at the moment is feeling tougher than it has, even though, even though for most of us it's the easiest we've ever had it. Trust me, life is easy, even if you think it's not. You're not spending the winter worrying you'll have enough food (although this year, perhaps), worrying about how many more of your children are going to die, worrying about being made houseless because your husband has died and you cannot own property because you were born without a penis. You're not having to farm and store just to eat. There are options, even to the poorest of you. Been there, done that, to use one of these horrible modern expressions. No. I'm telling you about what I do because I think you need a boost; a reminder; a wee stroke. You need to know some of the unexplainable stuff is actually unexplainable (to you.) It WAS a bit of magic that you survived/didn't get on that plane/were helped buy a week's worth of shopping/etc etc.
And actually, I don't even know if I can explain it myself, and I'm part of it.
If you're reading on, congratulations. It means your curiosity is still alive, and with curiosity comes the possibility of Everything in Each and Every moment. You're beyond the mundane. Life hasn't killed you yet (forgive the pun.) You're the type of ones they ask. They. Yeah, even I don't really know who they are, and I've been doing this a while. They.
For me it was a tap on the shoulder at my lowest ebb. Like a masonic handshake that you'd only recognise when it came. I never knew They existed, but the moment that tap came, on went a light and I knew that something out of the ordinary had just happened. I'd had a life of struggle - I won't bore you, but they were a tough 51 years and though I'd not had enough, my body had. In those days 51 was ancient, and I was sort of being looked after but also sort of left to just conveniently die and leave everyone else a bit more food. I was low. So low. I was having what might now be called an existential crisis: Just exactly WHAT was the point in any of it? Everyone I'd loved had died, my entire life had been hard work and I was physically broken and mentally angry. In short, I wanted more, and I knew I wasn't going to get it. I'd tried praying - pah. I'd tried everything else before praying - but I was going to die alone and wrung out and wretched and alone. What had been the point?
I spent days like that. I heard my daughter-in-law talking about the cheapest coffin and I thought, I'll go and get my own damn coffin, so I got up and began to inch my way to the coffin-makers. Damn them all.
I never saw a face, but I felt a tap, and all of a sudden, I understood that there was a point/some magic/a power higher than us. So I stopped and turned and was greeted by a large cloaked figure - nope, not Death, though it was him I was expecting. A bit monkish. A face in a dark hood that asked me if I wanted a bit more time. A bit more time? I asked. How much? That depends, said the face under the cloak. It depends how good you are.
Apparently, I'm quite good. I'm still here. And there are some who are not, who started after I did.
The interview - such as it was - took a few hours and required me to do a practical demonstration and a LOT of talking. They wanted to see inside my soul, or that's how it felt. The practical was a random act of kindness (as it would be called today. I forget what they called it back then.) It didn't have to be big, but in the event I saved a young child from choking by doing what today would be commonplace, but back then looked like some crazy witchcraft. Three things happened: The child lived, I was under suspicion, I suddenly felt better.
There were sage nods from the cloaked figure. And I saw a smile. Welcome, the figure said, and melted away. I had questions, probably the same ones you do now, but I had more pressing matters to attend to - the fact I had seemingly brought a child back from the dead - and that I was walking a little straighter, breathing a little easier. I left the house of my late son and I began walking, and on the way, I did some Jobs.
I won't get into trouble for telling you this. It's secret and will remain so - you've no idea who I am and you couldn't find me if you tried. The internet is one of my biggest playgrounds and unlike others my age, I've mastered it as a tool for Jobs. Even tiny things help: that free stuff you got by accident and were unable to return to amazon/ebay/wherever; a bigger bank account than you expected, and you realised a payment to an awful huge corporation hasn't gone though (a guilt free gift!); the right post on social media at the right time ; that long forgotten friend/lover who got back in touch... Let's just say they had a helping hand.
It's clear what you get out of it: Help, in whatever way.
It's clear what I/we get out of it: More life. More wonderful, joyous, difficult, magical, addictive LIFE.
I don't know how many of us there are.
I don't exactly know WHY, although I know it's to do with Love. It's to help us keep on keeping on. We help you, you help us, the whole thing keeps on going. Who started it all? Not a clue. And I promise you that's the truth.
But if you're interested I can tell you what They like - selfless people; those who understand but don't wallow in struggle; those who are always hungry for more; those who aren't ready to go, who want to do and be more. There are other qualities, too. You must like people, even the ones who are on the surface unlikeable. Those Jobs pay the best, because you're helping to convert to - or restore - a sense of humanity. If this sounds like you, open your eyes, Open yourself up to the possibility that there IS meaning, that there IS something bigger than you.
And wait for the tap on the shoulder.
So many times I waited to be paid. I had to tolerate the power ego of people who knew I needed the money and delayed me.
So, now, when I employ people I give them what they have earned without delay. It’s theirs and they should have it.
It’s what I do.
So many times I longed for my boss to give me a compliment when I had given work that was beyond the call of duty. I used to wonder why they didn’t and then I realised they would not give confidence in case you used it to ask for more money.
So, now, when I employ people I congratulate them on their skills and am thankful.
It’s what I do.
I used to feel shy about telling people I loved them, and then I realised they can be taken from us expectantly and then one can regret having not told them that they are amazing. So now I tell them whilst I have their attention.
It’s what I do.
Hour of Writes you do a great job. Thank you.
I soar and remember the music of youth