That moment : Part two

17 Jan

This post is a “kind of” answer to That moment.

If we don’t know what might happen to us, if we are frightened by the “what ifs”, if we are constantly looking over our shoulder for that speeding car, what then? It’s pretty bleak isn’t it?   There will be those of us that think about these things, and those of us that will run a hundred miles an hour to get away from it. I’m pretty sure the latter will have groaned, clicked close and returned to the singing puppy by now.

“If you spend your whole life waiting for the storm, you’ll never enjoy the sunshine. – Morris West”.

For me, this is the only real answer. I’ve spoken before about being rather than doing, or being rather than thinking in this instance. The age-old anecdote “Why worry about it, it may never happen” but put in a rather less irritating way, and not by a smart-arse builder. I remember taking out a book from the library once on “Finding happiness” by the Dalai Lama (yes I probably had too much time on my hands, new mother and all that) and naiively expecting some kind of 5-step guide to eternal optimism. At the time I was pretty disappointed that all he seemed to have up his sleeve was an appreciation for pretty flowers.

However, in hindsight Mr Lama was quite right of course. If we allow our imaginations to run wild, to consider all the things that might happen to us, to twist and turn around a maze that has no middle, what is the point in that? Where would all that energy get us in the end?  All we can do is enjoy the here and now, for soon the now becomes the then and the here becomes the over there, and the soon becomes the….hmmm, well you get what I mean anyway.

And if it does happen, if the worst thing you could possibly think of comes along and sits on your lap, will you fall apart? Choke? Vomit?  Someone once said to me after I’d been depressing them to death about my fear of my own mortality  “So what if you die, what would be so bad about that?” It was a very strange kind of question – and surprisingly difficult to answer. I stuttered about trying to formulate a response “Umm, well it’s the unknown, the not knowing where I’d be”. “But you’re dead”. “Ummm, it’s the thought of not being here anymore, and I can’t get my head around that”. But you wouldn’t have to get your head around it, you’d be dead”.  And so on.

“It all happens for a reason. If it’s been put on you, then that means you can carry it” (Tony Gaskins)

I love this idea, I find it really reassuring. It re-establishes some kind of order, gives me back some control. There is a purpose behind events, you are “chosen” because that is your journey. Nothing is random, unpredictable, devastating like the speeding car. Your challenge is taking you by the hand and asking you to lead it, because you are the one with all the answers.  Somewhere within you you have all the power, the resilence, the foresight.

I suppose that’s a pretty humungous dose of spirituality right there, in fact I’m starting to sound a bit like sodding Billy Graham, really scary for an atheist who usually prejudices against religious types (my friend Simone will have a field day).  But you see, the thing is I’ve seen first hand the strength of the human soul. There is something there so great, so wonderful, so determined – that “that moment” could never ultimately have the upper hand. We will always survive, always win, always learn, always pick ourselves up and move on.

That is not the same as forgetting. It is not the same as no longer feeling the pain. But it is living, moving on, and I’ve seen enough of it in the past few weeks to know that in my heart, if the speeding car comes, I will be ready.

33 Responses to “That moment : Part two”

  1. Tara January 17, 2011 at 11:04 am #

    Just love the sentiment in the post. Truly wonderful. I suffered terribly with the ‘what ifs’ when my first child was born. Agony agony. The thought of him ever suffering was like physical pain. And then if anything happened to me, would anyone be able to give my children what I was going to give them, what I had worked so hard to achieve with them?
    But like you say, I learned to let go and to live and become a ‘we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it’ type of person.

    • marketingtomilk January 17, 2011 at 6:13 pm #

      If you go down that mental path you really will find yourself down a dark hole with no obvious way out. My mind craves answers, resolutions, a “plan” – to make me feel safe, so these what ifs are particularly difficult, because you can’t plan for them. Well you don’t want to plan for them.
      Glad you enjoyed the post.


  2. rachel frowd January 17, 2011 at 11:20 am #

    I’m a firm believer that happiness in life exists in the small things. For me, it is about noticing the beauty in those small things- the way the light glints off a dewy leaf, the look of my daughters as they sleep in bed, the first rush of a wonderful song, a glass of red whilst snuggled up on the sofa with a new book.
    When i think about the big things too much, that’s when I start to wonder ‘is this it?”. I don’t love my job (I think few of us are lucky enough to achieve that), my house is a constant source of stress, I’m skint 99% of the time. Need I go on? If I were to believe that it was any of these things which would truly be the answer to my happiness, then I’d be in trouble. Yet I have realised that it is rarely these big things which make us truly content, and if I look to them for this, I am always left feeling disappointed and empty. So, I will carry on smiling at the beautiful cloud formations in the sky, carry on laughing at my daughter’s glitter in my weetabix, and hope that I never stop noticing the wondrous little things which make this life so incredible.

    • marketingtomilk January 17, 2011 at 6:13 pm #

      And that’s Daddy in you right there. I so love that.


  3. tim January 17, 2011 at 11:59 am #


  4. keatsbabe January 17, 2011 at 1:29 pm #

    Love it. Been low recently without knowing why exactly. Thank you for reminding me that the herre and now is pretty much all we have and we should bloody make the most of it. I may not hold on to the thought for too long but knowing your blog and sensing someone who has the same fears I guess you probably understand that need for a pretty regular reminder…

    • marketingtomilk January 17, 2011 at 6:14 pm #

      Just read a blog that described January as often giving way to a “soul migraine”. You’re not sure what it is for a while but it is consuming. It will lift my lovely. x

  5. mumra January 17, 2011 at 1:55 pm #

    So flattered to have been a inspiration for this post.

    I have said before that i often think my brother dying when i was a teenager has blessed my life and you have to truly believe it has. There is no going back, no changing things you can only go forward and live with the past.

    I will never have that ‘worst day’ i’ve had it and now i just get on with the living.

    Thanks for getting it.


    • marketingtomilk January 17, 2011 at 6:15 pm #

      Not just for the post Missy, but in life. Anyone that has had “that moment” and fought on is inspirational to me.


  6. jfb57 January 17, 2011 at 3:17 pm #

    This is a great post H (turing into a bit of series!) I’m really enjoying your writing. It is so important to ‘feel’ today. I have always believed that you are given strength to deal with things.

    • marketingtomilk January 17, 2011 at 6:16 pm #

      Thanks J. I think we’re really quite miraculous.

  7. beingmekirrily January 17, 2011 at 7:23 pm #

    This is one of those posts I wish I’d gotten around to writing instead of procrastinating or being too fearful of the fallout. Bloody brilliant stuff, H. I could have written it myself (though not nearly half as well or on point). That bit about atheism though: forgive me if I’ve read this incorrectly, but you seem to be lumping spirituality in with the “god stuff”…… Don’t forget, one can be a highly spiritual being and not belong to any religion. Spirituality and whether you believe in (a) God are two different things 🙂

    • marketingtomilk January 17, 2011 at 7:35 pm #

      For sure, and i think i am discovering that. My reference to atheism is tongue and cheek btw, made in reference to the post it points to. I am many things, but fixed in my views is not one of them!


      • beingmekirrily January 17, 2011 at 10:24 pm #

        AH! Right you are. Missed the subtlety. It was about 4.30am here when I read your post 🙂

  8. Lucy January 17, 2011 at 8:59 pm #

    Sweet goddesses above, since my last comment on your part one of this post, another death. I do not fear that moment for myself at all. Ever. I suspect I would quite embrace it, when the time comes, if it were not for the grief, and the children it it leaves rudderless and motherless behind.


    • marketingtomilk January 17, 2011 at 11:55 pm #

      Why so Ms Lucy?

      • Lucy January 19, 2011 at 8:38 am #

        Nothing morbid – just no fear. When my time comes, as it surely will, I am a bit fascinated as to what actually happens. No fear of it. Just curiosity.

        As to when death comes to others and whether I can cope – when that moment hits, I know I can carry it. I wish I didn’t know that, but I do.


  9. Knackered Mother January 17, 2011 at 9:42 pm #

    Really enjoyed reading this, so spiritual for an atheist! My brother died almost 9 years ago to the day, killed by two boys trying to steal his car. He was 26. Can’t remember much of the next few years but slowly life has come back into focus. I intend to live it whilst I am here. He did, and he had a fucking riot. KM x

    • marketingtomilk January 17, 2011 at 11:46 pm #

      Amen, KM. So bloody tragic, just 26, I am sorry. You are clearly taking the positives and running with them, brave lady. x

  10. Jemma January 17, 2011 at 10:02 pm #

    Hi M2M. It’s been a while since my last (and first!) comment on your blog – I blame sleep deprivation – sorry.

    I had to comment on this one though because you’ve made me stop to think. I nearly commented on your last blog post as I’ve had one of those ‘moments’ and it has affected the way I think ever since. My boyfriend was killed in a car accident when we were at university. I was waiting for him to pick me up from work. Many’s the time since then that I’ve freaked out when I can’t get hold of someone, especially if they were driving to meet me. It was horrific and if I could change what happened, I would… but it has made me appreciate everything so much more. Not straight away of course, it was years before I could feel like this. But now every minute with my son is special and I’m convinced I have so much more patience with him, and get so much more enjoyment from him, than I would have if I hadn’t experienced the ‘moment’.

    What made me stop and think in this post is your appreciation of the idea that ‘It all happens for a reason. If it’s been put on you, then that means you can carry it’. I hate, hate, hate this idea. The first sentence strikes me as a cop out and the second just makes me angry. Your interpretation of it is somewhat different from mine though. I like your idea that it gives you control but I’ve always taken it more like an instruction to just get on with it, almost with the implication that you are in some way to blame for what’s happened. Besides, it’s clearly not true – some people are dealt things that they cannot deal with and end up collapsing under them and that is not their fault. I feel I’ve come through my ‘moment’, and taken all I can from it to make me stronger, not because I have any innate ability to deal with things but because I had fantastic support from so many other people. I was lucky.

    I hope you don’t mind me disagreeing with you. I rarely participate in discussions like this because I hate the thought of taking away any comfort people get from their beliefs. Given that the last post of yours that I commented on was the one bemoaning that fact that people don’t engage in debate though, I’m sure you won’t mind some disagreement! I’m sorry I didn’t reply to you quicker- I did read your reply (you said I was ‘brilliant’ and that made me happy for at least a whole day!) Oh and also, no, I’m not on twitter – and I must never, never join – I have enough trouble finding time to work a part time job, look after my boy and almost keep up with other peoples’ blogs (although sadly not my own) – twitter would ruin me!

    • marketingtomilk January 17, 2011 at 11:42 pm #

      Well Jemma, you knew well I would welcome your thoughts with open arms. I believe the things i believe because they bring me comfort, and in a way i need to believe them. But i haven’t lived it – i haven’t had the “moment” i describe, lived through the event i fear. But i like to believe that we are strong enough to carry it. Strangely, you are the second person i’ve spoken to in a couple of days that has lost their boyfriend at university in similar circumstances. So very sad.

  11. Lady-like Pervert January 18, 2011 at 2:35 am #

    It’s posts like these that make you rise above.

    I won’t read a blogger that doesn’t linger in my mouth when I am done their post… and you, my friend, do just that.

    I love how you’re a critical thinker. 🙂

  12. Vegemitevix January 18, 2011 at 3:45 pm #

    Great post Henri. I read it the other day and bookmarked it to come back when I had something philosophical and meaningful to add. That time hasn’t come, except to say thanks for articulating what I’ve been thinking myself after my trip Down Under. I find travel helps me to gain perspective, and there’s something so very spiritual about being in places of tremendous natural beauty. I’ve done the whole religious gig (as I think you know) and I’ve come out the other side to believe there isn’t a decent answer to the ‘why do things happen to good people’. They just do. One thing’s for certain if you’re too scared to get out of bed because of the speeding car, you can be sure you’ll miss the sun on the dew drenched buds of Spring. Devour life as if you’re at a banquet that’s running out of food. Devour, and chew, and suck the marrow out of life, even if you have to break a bone or two. Vix xx

    • Sarah January 19, 2011 at 10:19 am #

      Love your comment about devouring life Vix. x

  13. Simone January 19, 2011 at 12:59 am #

    Here I am Henri! I’m here to have a field day!?!?!
    Hahahaha. No not really.
    So honoured to be mentioned in your post! LOL.
    I really don’t have much to add to waht’s already been said; I haven’t had to face that “moment” myself, and until I do I won’t really know what’s “in me”. I think difficulties reveal what’s inside us. And they also give us the chance to stretch’n’grow. Which sounds kinda glib and easy, but it’s just an observation I’ve made.
    I think the most beautiful & inspirational people I’ve ever seen are those who have weathered life’s storms and come through with a sweetness or strength in their spirit, not bitterness.
    I’m thinking of people like Nelson Mandela (as a famous example) and others I know personally who have suffered and come through it with flying colours. Ahh look I could’t help myself. I had a field day after all?!

  14. marketingtomilk January 19, 2011 at 7:47 am #

    I agree with you Simone, i am always humbled by people who have been through tough times and come through with that “sweetness” you describe. I think it can focus the mind on what’s really important, force people to grow and blossom. However, i think we have to be very careful of not referring to it it as some kind of test of character – of winners and losers. What of those that wither? All reactions are human, and equally so brave. As always our choice of language is very important.

    And i agree – anything me or you could say sounds glib. it’s very difficult.


  15. Sarah January 19, 2011 at 10:31 am #

    Such a thought provoking and well written post and I’ve read all the great comments too. I don’t have anything to add really, just wanted to say I liked your post! And I try to live in the moment and I do live quite freely. I won’t let fear stop me from living life to the full. Sadly life is sometimes ripped from the young and the timing is never ‘right’. I just try to focus on a little message my Mum gave me, which I have on my kitchen windowsill, ‘Each day is a gift, that’s why it’s called the present’.

  16. franki January 20, 2011 at 11:31 pm #

    thought i’d throw my thoughts on the pile. i’ve had “moments” that while big enough in their time, i’m sure one day will prove to have been potholes leading up to a point where i find myself in mid air, coyote style, not yet realising how far i’m about to fall.

    i long ago internalised that whatever it is that kills me rather than making me stronger, i stand a reasonable chance of not seeing it coming. if i do, well, i’ll not deal with it any better by fretting right now. i’m agnostic rather than atheist, atheism seems almost as exhausting to me as belief & so the cop out of saying “blimey, i dunno” suits me and again, gives me less to fret about.

    about ten years ago i read a book called “Buddhism without beliefs” on a similar whim to yourself. some summer reading in my case. it’s a small hardback book, i’ve bought it twice having lost or loaned it out. it doesn’t ask me to believe that there’s a higher intelligence, it’s just passing on the thoughts of a chap who spent some quality thinking time & came up with some good advice. it totally clicked with me.

    so when the drop comes, when it’s someone else, not me, and all i can do is watch, i suspect i will hit auto pilot (it’s worked in the past) and look to what i can control and what i can’t. it’s not going to make me happier, but the what-ifs will be ignored until someone gives me a time machine i can use to do something useful with them.

  17. Iota January 21, 2011 at 5:21 pm #

    I’m new to your blog, and the embarrassing thing is that I want to write a rather smug comment. That’s not like me. Honest. So don’t get the wrong impression of me, and block me, will you?

    I’ve just read a blog post about someone finding a breast lump (which turned out to be nothing), and how scary that feels. The comments all said “oh, so scary”, and one comment said “it’s everyone’s worst fear”. Thing is, I found a breast lump a year and a half ago, which did turn out to be cancer. Had surgery and did chemo. And now, I find myself wanting to reply to comments like that saying “it’s everyone’s worst fear, but when it happens, you get through”. With you, I affirm that the human soul is strong, great, wonderful, determined (your words).

    But like Jemma, I’m not a fan of the “it all happens for a reason” philosophy. I see it more that any situation can be used for good. So having cancer is crap. Let’s not mince words or ideas. Does it happen for a reason? Must be a pretty warped strange reason if so. But can good things come out of having cancer? Yes.

    I loved the singing puppy.

    • marketingtomilk January 21, 2011 at 6:14 pm #

      you know, i think yo’re probably right. It would be very difficult to justify a lot of things that happen with a “reason” – but i definitely see a lot of positive that can come out of difficulty. I told you my views are subject to chane. That’s why i love the debate – my views are growing and improving through discussion….very happy you found my blog, i have enjoyed your thoughtful comments. x

  18. jmasher January 23, 2011 at 4:31 am #

    My first “moment” was when I lost my fiance – he had an asthma attack and died in front of me. Two years agoI lost my beloved Dad. There was a time when I would have given anything to see those people again for one more second – or to have the time together over again. But the nature of the “speeding car” is no going back, no one more second. All of the positive characteristics required to move on with life come to the fore – I like myself far more now than I ever did before. I have become the person I am because of the “speeding cars” – I really, really like myself now and love the new life I have created – would I go back. No way! It would mean I wouldn’t be me and I wouldn’t have the life I do now.

    I don’t love my job (ouside of home) don’t hate it either, I’m domestically challenged, and financially challenged. But the losses I experienced made me a better person emotionally and spiritually. I am still not blessed with patience, but I am far more understanding of others and have much more compassion for my fellow human beings. I am a better mother/wife/partner/daughter/sibling/friend for being more in touch with my emotions and therefore recognising emotional needs in others.

    Was I chosen? – don’t know about that. Was I challenged? – yes, mine has been a long and difficult journey. In my case you are right – “that moment” did not overpower me – I had/have the power and resilience – I have survived, won, learnt, and moved on without forgetting. Good things have come out of my speding cars. However, even though I have moved on the pain is not far from the surface,easily accessed – particularly when I see others in similar situations.

    There are few things that did not resonate for me in your blog. However, while those who experience that moment each deal with it in their own way – no-one is ever “ready” for the speeding car.


  1. Tweets that mention That moment : Part two « -- - January 17, 2011

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Tara Cain, Henrietta Pretty. Henrietta Pretty said: That moment : Part two: […]

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