Saturday, 29 October 2011

A Train of Thought with the Right Destination

'BACH'S VIOLIN CONCERTO' From Visual Counterpoint

I never know what little incident will trigger a memory from my childhood. Since we all tend to remember the good things this is nearly always a pleasant event.
This morning I was surprised to see a dog or some other animal had dug a hole in my favourite place to sit and rest on the canal bank. I took some dried grass and filled the depression and this provided an even more comfortable seat. The smell of the crushed grass reminded me of the beginning of my childhood summer holidays camping, when I packed a palliasse with straw for a mattress.
The memories then came thick and fast.
I remembered one summer when it rained virtually all the time for 6 weeks. The campsite was like a swamp; the wooden tent pegs were floating out of the ground.
My sister and I were left to entertain each other.
My idea of entertainment was donning Wellingtons and mackintosh and following the farmer around as he performed his daily chores. This held no allure for my sister.
She spent hours making a complete pack of 52 playing cards from the cardboard dividers inside the packets of Weetabix that were demolished every morning by the King’s School boys for breakfast. I in my turn thought this was a total waste of time.
Now my thoughts are entirely different.
My sister is very clever academically and I have always been proud of her success as an Oxford University scholar and teacher. She is left-handed and suffers the gaucheness that often accompanies this. She is not good at tasks that require dexterity.
That summer she sat for hours painstakingly copying the intricate designs. She could have spent the time reading or doing anything she found easy but even as a teenager she chose to struggle with a difficult task.
I now know that I have another reason to be very proud of my sister. She showed me that working hard at something that you are not naturally good gives a greater sense of achievement when you succeed. I have no idea whether I learned this lesson subconsciously when I was only about ten years old and if this encouraged me to work hard enough at the academic studies in which I was so poor in order to achieve my aim to be able to treat sick and injured animals.
The apparently unlucky sabotage of my favourite seat in fact set a train of thought travelling down the track that led to me understanding and appreciating my sister better than before. This cannot be anything but a lucky event.

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