I’ve been thinking this week about the concept of ‘respect’. It’s a word that we bandy around often, usually with the addition of wine and a few tuneless renditions of “R-E-S-P-E-C-T” slurred in for good measure.
However, what does it really mean to you? And do you have it for yourself?
Much of this depends upon your definition of it. The dictionary version is ‘a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements, or, due regard for the feelings of others’. I can think of many colleagues, relations, and friends for whom I certainly have the deepest respect. People who inspire me, who work hard for the things in life that truly matter to them, and others who have overcome seemingly insurmountable hardships to get to where they are.
On the other hand, I can think of people for whom I have little to zero respect. I’ve been trying to figure out why this is, and generally it links to their own lack of respect for themselves and others. When you hear about atrocities on the news each and every day, carried out by those who have no respect for human life, then it is impossible to hold any glimmer of respect for them*.
It seems that not everyone in life has true standards to live by, achieving little, and living simply off the backs of others. And, in any day and age, is that really respectable?
I’ve done things in the past that I’ve felt ashamed of, as have most of us, and I’m sure I will again. That’s human fallible nature. But I certainly try to be true to myself and true to those around me. Sometimes this can only get you into trouble. You can try to explain your own opinion in an adult manner, only to have it thrown back at you, twisted around, and accompanied by a shedload of insult. Sadly this is the ground of the unforgivable, for insult and vitriol cannot be taken back, and resorting to them rather suggests that your own position is so shaky that all you could do was deflect attention from yourself by acting out and being cruel.
Once upon a time, when I saw people leading lives and living relationships or friendships that I knew were founded in falsehood, I used to be open-mouthed at their ability to kid themselves. However, nowadays, and I suppose with more maturity, I am inclined to feel a sheer and complete relief that this need never be me, as I’d rather be alone than be false to myself.
And, I suppose, this is exactly what we mean by respecting ourselves: living a life that is true, openly admiring others who do likewise, and striving, though not always succeeding, to achieve. But at least we try.
The Day I Milked a Cashew Nut
Last week I purchased the Deliciously Ella cookbook. Ella is a sugar and everything else-free (just not her ingredients) cook, who glows from the inside out.
She is also printing her own currency, because raw cacao powder and medjool dates don’t come cheap.
Because of Ella, and her glow, I found myself on my day off, milking cashew nuts. My friend, Anne, did enquire as to whether this was even a legal process, but I felt quite a sense of achievement for managing to milk something without teats.
I’ve no idea of whether or not The News will print that last sentence, but I’m laughing to myself anyway at the thought of it in hopeful (perhaps naïve) expectation that they do.
(Fair play to them – I’ve just looked online and can confirm that The Portsmouth News does indeed contain the teat line today.)
Class of ’95
I saw the school that I went to as a child on Facebook last week, with photographs of the Upper 6th students on their Leavers’ Day.
The nostalgia of this, through the spectacles of time with the rose tint (come on, you know you have them, they’re tucked away in your subconscious for a rainy day), filled me with both a sense of happiness yet, also, melancholy.
Those young faces, full of expectation and dreams, were not so different to the class of 1995. But that was 21 years ago, and time goes by so fast.
The future is such a frightening concept because it’s unknown, yet the past is so safe, because we have already tucked it away inside ourselves.
Thank you for reading. First published in The Portsmouth News, Saturday 21st May 2016
*I include this line so as to avoid the possibility of misinterpretation!! The News do not give me enough word count to include a disclaimer each week that just because someone may read my column and recognise traits of themselves in there, I could, in fact – and usually am – be writing very generally about humanity and my entire worldview, and not people that I know! Sadly I can’t asterisk every sentence, so it is best born in mind throughout. This writing malarkey is a sensitive and fine balancing act…