When time comes to listen?
By George Kingsnorth
For the past few weeks the news on all channels and different countries have indicated how uncertain life has become. We see war in Syria, with increasing hostilities between Russia and the United Stated. Members of the British government are encouraging people to demonstrate out side Russian embassies while others woulds like to shoot down Russian planes. Saudi Arabia is at war with Yemen and the USA have just taken out a radar system. The Hague has backed the Philippines claim over disputed waters, which China rejects, increasing tension in the South China Sea. Tension between India and Pakistan flared up once more, with threats of nuclear attacks, with the USA supporting India and China aiding Pakistan, leading to whispers of World War Three. Meanwhile, the Deutsche Bank has worrying debts that could destabilise Europe even before the UK's exit. While there are growing concerns between the two rival candidates for the up and coming Presidential elections. The £pound is dropping close to being worth just a US dollar or Euro, which means increased costs on imported goods, fuel going up and inflation. People are worried about their jobs and are uncertain of what the future may bring.
One good news item found the BBC in Northern Ireland challenging a young family to go without their mobiles, or even the Internet, to see how they would cope. While on Facebook there was a video show how children were so absorbed in the phone apps that they were unaware of their parents and sibling being substitute by others. Even on a personal level, I have spoken to friends who are going through enormous turmoils. Some are ill with cancer, other are finding themselves homeless, still more struggling to find work enough to pay the bills, and many saying they haven't got the time to think because of the mounting pressures at work where they seem to be just firefighting all the time with no time to reflect.
Go well dear friends in the midst of many blessings.
Earlier in the week I had had a restless night. Over and over my mind churned with thoughts of a hard drive failing. On getting up I ordered a new drive. When it arrived last Friday, I wondered what I should copy, which drives to backup and how much space I should leave so I could continue working? So, I did what I felt was right and copied across all the major projects so that I had a few backups. The main drive should be okay as I had that backed up on a separate drive.
Yesterday, I pressed the button to turn on my computer and the monitor went grey. After ten minutes of nothing happening, I began to wonder if the computer was dead. No Apple logo, no noise, nothing but a grey screen. Had the internal hard drive died? Had the motherboard died, which had happened about six years ago to another of my computers? What was I going to do? Had there been any data lost? If so what?
After a bit of jiggery-pockery, which meant opening the tower box, swapping two internal drives, pulling out a series of USB cables for up to a further 7 more drives, the computer booted up and there was my main drive. Thankfully, nothing was lost. I promptly transferred essential files to a range of other drives with the assumption that not all of them would die at once, especially the one I bought earlier in the week. One by one I added each of the other drives and waited to see what happened. They all appeared and all seemed fine. I rebooted.
The grey screen appeared once more and my face drained of blood. I switched of the computer and pulled all of the USB cables out. Rebooted and the system came on. One by one I added the external hard drives. All appeared. I double clicked on each and saw on my files, until I came to the main internal hard-drive ... backup. The backup drive had died. This was the drive that was preventing the system from booting up. The backup drive, not the main drive but the one used just in case the first one died, which was older.
With much of my life being taken over by computers or mobiles, a few years back I decided I needed to do something that didn't rely on electricity, didn't have a monitor but something that I could handle. A lot of folk had said that the violin was a hard instrument to play and I felt an interesting challenge coming on. I bought a cheap Chinese fiddle, changed the tuning pegs and tuning tail, bought a carbon fibre bow and began to scare away the local cats. After a year, I decided I was spending a good bit of time each week playing, so I bought a more expensive one, from a violin maker in Irthlingborough, where my cousins live in England.
Another year past. There were cats coming back into the garden and my wife was no longer putting cotton wool in her ears. I found a music teacher and progress really began. A month of two ago I started attending a session in Dundalk where around twenty fiddle players gathered weekly, muddled through and finally, last night managed to keep up with the others as they played one set after another. There were laughs and stories, people were recognising my name and I their's, and a real sense of achievement. Other players were noticing the effort I was putting in, the hour a day of practice that was slowly bring my skills up and confidence, to play with the group. It all reminded me of my youth playing an euphonium for the Wellingborough & District Youth Concert Band.
We often feel that we have passed it. We're too old to try something new or haven't got the time because of our exhausting daily lives that seem to drain us of all our energy. Yet, we don't have to accept this point of view, we don't have to listen to the voices of doom or even worry about the future, when we can become aware of where we are now. In this moment. If we can just stop and listen, be aware of what is going on around us. Someone is cleaning a bucket in the neighbours garden, traffic is passing the house, the sparrows are chirping away and yes, the hard drives are humming as my fingers tap away on the keyboard. Are we truly aware of where we are and what we can do?
It is time to change our way of thinking and stop accepting the things that distract us from what is really important. Very often, what is important is the people around us, who have their own stories to tell and what better place to hear them than from the person themselves, watching the enthusiasm in the way they convey their tale. Let's think about that and look at who we have the opportunity to talk to today, and how that can make such a difference in their lives because we have given them the time to listen.