25 November 2013

Rainbows

Who's rainbow do you chase?

"If you can dream it, you can do it". - Walt Disney
"Never give up on accomplishing your dream. No matter what happens, have some
hope in your life and know that you can do anything you want to" 
"As long as you've got passion, faith and are willing to work
 hard, you can do anything you want in this life."

The motivational quotations above come from a vast heap of similar quotes that aim to reinforce the illusion that anything in life is possible if you just strive hard enough for it.  Personally, I don't believe it. Usually the quotes are spouted by successful people who through good fortune and useful connections - as much as hard work and self-belief - rose from the human soup in which the rest of us swim to walk in the light.

Try spinning this yarn to a NEET teenager hanging around on a deprived Sheffield council estate - "Not in Education, Employment, or Training". Try telling it to a Filipino child whose community has been devastated by Typhoon Haiyan or to a young person with Down's Syndrome. Or a Syrian refugee or a victim of AIDS or a seventeen year old single parent or a steelworker who has just lost his job. The idea is plain cruel - like a carrot dangled in front of a donkey.

Of course all of us - no matter what our circumstances - can achieve small dreams that will enhance and progress our lives. We can save up for holidays or volunteer at a charity shop. We can paint our doors a different colour or paint watercolour landscapes, teach our children to read, put food on the table. We can revise for exams and pass them and in coastal villages in the Philippines we can reconstruct our shacks. Yes these small dreams are achievable for everyone.  And that's all very healthy, very good. We can all improve our lives.

But very few of  us can become the new Richard Bransons or Sir John Gielguds, Dolly Partons or Mother Teresas. There's room for very few fashion leaders, rock stars, astronauts or prime ministers. And besides - as well as all those so-called high achievers that the celebrity-obsessed world seems to worship - we also need bus drivers, street cleaners, hotel maids, assembly line workers, nurses, men who will climb down into a city's sewers to maintain them. Unsung heroes. What kind of a world would it be if everybody reached the top and floated around there bathed in the sweet light of  "I made it" dreams fulfilled? Who would change the sheets or deliver the bread?

The illusion has become like a modern religion. The vast majority of people are made to feel that they exist in the shadows of what might have been if they had only striven harder - been more like Walt Disney or Henry Ford. But in life the reality is that you do your best, tick off small dreams and sometimes try simply just to live or live simply - putting aside all that tiresome striving, that chasing of rainbows. 

There are seven billion of us and it's like a vast pyramid. Nearly all of us form the the base and the middle sections. Very few can occupy the apex. There just isn't room.

20 comments:

  1. Wise words sir!
    Life is what happens to you while you're busy making plans, as someone from Lancashire once said.

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    1. Wiser than the person who clicks "publish" without checking whether he's logged in or his wife. So there you are, a happy chance meeting with my Catalan missus - - Silvia, meet Mr Pudding. Mr Pudding, this is Silvia :)

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    2. Buenos dias Senora Cutts! Now please spill the beans about Senor Brian. Does he snore? What is his sock drawer like? What are things about him that you really hate and the things you really love? How did you meet him? What do you REALLY think of Barnsley? All of this will be published exclusively in "The Barnsley Chronicle".

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    3. Hello there! It's the real me now. Nice to meet you!
      How should I know if he snores... I sleep like a top! And his sock drawer... well, not much better than mine. The thing is, we don't have time to mess with drawers. We'd rather spend all day messing with music, languages, kids and... (I'm missing something...) oh yes, our jobs!
      He used to be my English teacher and somebody told me that you never really finish learning a language so, I decided to keep him. He liked the idea, I think.
      Barnsley town is OK and I'm not a big shopping lover, so it suits me fine. It has improved with the years. What I really like is the walks around there. Elsecar, Wentworth, Hoyland, Worsbrough, etc. you name it, I've been there.
      That's all for now. I really like this article about small achievements.
      Bye, bye. Adéu (Catalan), Adiós (Spanish)

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  2. My, aren't we cheery this morning!

    What you say is true, of course. Yet if we have to choose between looking at the bright side and looking at the gloomy side, would you prefer that we all be gloomy?

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    1. Robert - I really don't think that what I said here was gloomy. Just realistic. More gloom is surely caused by the frustration of not being able to achieve those big dreams.

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  3. Very true YP - a lesson that can be hard to learn methinks.

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    1. Yes indeed. The truth is that we can't achieve anything but we should learn to value the small things we do achieve.

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  4. What concerns me is that there are fewer and fewer people in the middle and more and more shoved to the very bottom, and the very few on top (who seldom appear to be worthy of their high positions) seem to own everything. None of this is sustainable. WWMAS? (What would Marie Antoinette say?)

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    1. "I have enough diamonds" perhaps.

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  5. It must get very exhausting after a while clinging on to the top! And the fall back down can be pretty hurtful. I think I'll stay right here where I am!

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    1. Sounds like you are quite content with your lot Lee. That's a good place to be.

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  6. I agree wholeheartedly with your sentiments. The disappointment of unrealised hopes and dreams can make people very gloomy. But the gloom is a function of your thoughts, and can't exist without them.

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    1. Gloom or sunshine? Like me, I am sure you have met unfortunate, poor people with endearingly sunny dispositions and also wealthy "achievers" who are as miserable as sin.

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    2. Indeed. Actually, I have a new job YP. Archiving a treasure trove of fabulous artifacts for one of the latter type of people. He's dying of cancer.

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  8. I'll try that again !!!!

    Yes, you're right YP. There's a lot to be said for being content with your lot. That's not to say we shouldn't strive for what we want in life , just not beat ourselves up if sometimes something is beyound our reach. It all seems to be tied up with how much money you can lay your hands on doesn't it?

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    1. Yes Helen. Money surely oils the "We can do anything we want" religion. Most poor people would see the notion as being quite absurd.

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  9. What do you mean I can't have it ALL YP (throwing a tantrum at my desk)?
    Have you come across the SMART acronym for goal setting?
    Specific
    Measurable
    Attainable
    Realistic
    Timely

    Like Sir Robert, I thought you sounded down too ~ I would have much preferred a blog post on the beauty of Roman bridges :) grrr!

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  10. Yes I have heard that SMART stuff Carol, It was used during my time in education a lot. Why not use it to become the new Julia Gillard? Mind you a key word represented in the acronym is "REALISTIC".
    May I assure you I was not at all "down" when I wrote this post. It's something I have often thought of unpicking. Maybe the gloom is sometimes in the eye of the beholder.

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