Mum recently had her cholesterol checked. Before Christmas it was high: 6.8. She was worried that a new score wouldn’t reflect how hard she’d been trying. In the recheck the score had dropped to 5.1. Mum is the kind of person who thinks that going from 6 to only 5 must be a Bad Thing. A nurse wanted to talk with her urgently, so mum thought it meant a telling off. In fact, the nurse wanted to get in touch to ask how she managed to drop the numbers so quickly. Must be the new healthy eating regime chez ma famille. The numbers break down into low density lipoproteins (bad) and higher density lipoproteins (good). There is still work to do when you look at the detail, and as mum is over 55 and her own mum has had a heart attack, there are statistics to fight as well. But my nightmares that mum might succumb to early heart problems are over now. She is even out and about cycling, now it is milder weather. The race in their kitchen to cut out saturated fats must also have had a good impact on dad’s health, which is a mighty encouragement for us.
Now I just have to get around to teaching her maths… She does ask me to help her, and one day I will. A drop from 6.8 to 5.1 is a reduction of 25%, which is fantastic.
I am not at school today.
I would like to be – even after a long few weeks recently and emotional highs and lows, carrying on at work makes things go more smoothly and takes my mind off worries. But I have caught one of these TALOIA bugs [there’s a lot of it about]. I don’t yet know of other jobs where, if you have to take a day’s leave, you drag yourself out of bed to type two pages of instructions for the day you would have done, and feel guilty even then that you are not doing enough. After sleeping in, watching repeats on DVD and trying to keep your lunch down, you then have to consider seriously the merits of preparing the next day’s work in both typed-up-notes form and regular planner form, to be ready in either event. If you like taking the high moral ground, teaching is great. If you are a control freak, you can stay very happy. But watch out for the guilt. It is double-glazed and there’s a lot of it about.
I can hardly remember mum or dad ever taking days off sick; my generation and my profession are falling for presenteeism. I choose to be different: if I’m ill I’m ill. But I wish I was at work.
There is a dichotomy running through a lot of my thoughts. I studied theology and learned to hold different points of view at once while considering them. Now I think I cannot hold one particular line on anything very well. My doubts feel like great big holes held together with fishing nets. Take my birthday for example. This year it falls on a bank holiday, and this year I will be 30. Half of threescore. What exactly to do for it?
I met people in the summer who lost a house in the 2004 Tsunami in Sri Lanka. They had almost nothing, but were kind and welcoming to us. They have no resources to rebuild, but are expecting a baby. We cannot easily help them either, unless they can apply for money from charities. If I spend money having an exciting party or a trip abroad for my birthday, which I would like, I am incredibly aware of the differences in our situations. But does this mean I should not do something fun for my 30th? Or perhaps I should try and do something worthwhile.
The broken world I live in makes me very angry sometimes. Even when I think about Heaven and everything being right, I find myself questioning the idea of Heaven and whether I would act more humanely or more mercifully if I didn’t believe in it. If this was all there was, wouldn’t I fight harder against injustice and distress? Or is Heaven the final word?
In any case, taking a plane for a weekend trip to Europe is excessive in its carbon emissions and an utterly decadent action made possible by the commercialist hemisphere I happen to be a part of. Triple glazed guilt, no payments until the year 2020?
Forgive me. I am sounding off here, but I am also coming to the conclusion that I am a Spoilt Adult. Maybe I am rebelling. But I wondered yesterday how little I would be able to live on, and am not sure that I ought to enjoy all the indulgences I have. Food kills you. Travel kills the planet. Guilt kicks you in the stomach until you wonder which side of the shop window you are really on. Would I be happier with a simple lifestyle?
I am far too comfortable, which is discomforting to me.
On Thursday our school chaplain led a meditation for my form group in the chapel. Only one of the boys actually fell asleep, and the rest listened as she read a story about finding a potter’s workshop in a forest. We had to model how we saw ourselves in clay. I instantly thought of myself as a jug. Then Jesus came in and took the model and reshaped it. In my case it became a boat. What does this mean? My minister joked that I had been on the wacky baccy, because he doesn’t ‘do’ pictures. Although he was serious later and said he wasn’t sure what the pieces represented. Some people at church said they thought it meant going from a stationary action to a travelling thing. For myself I feel the words ‘pour out’ and ‘carry’ are key here, and that you never stop developing spiritually all through your life. Maybe I’m coming up to a new phase. I thought pouring myself out sacrificially was as far as I needed to get. But there is more. Maybe now I need to carry people somewhere. I don’t know what this means yet.