I confess that there have been times this week when I’ve felt weighed down by the suffering of others. I mean why does there have to be cancer and dying and disappointment and so many terrible things in the world? I have felt quite fine and healthy and have nothing to complain about, but in some ways that made me feel almost worse. I have also felt that because I’m so fine (and quite noble) the least that I can do is listen to some of these stories of suffering – I’m meaning in addition to the listening that I take on in my work. Sometimes it really just seems too much and the pain stays with me. And then sometimes I’ve thought that it would be very nice if someone just listened to me for a change. I want to delete the last sentence because it’s so petulant and childish, but in the interests of honesty, I leave it in! I have also been very irritated this week by people promising to do things which they don’t. So, in short, I’ve been down and tetchy.

But this morning, I wandered out to my back courtyard and decided that I should empty out the compost that my worms had produced. One thing led to another and I was soon happily employed with earth and pots and composting. To reward myself for my labours (and the hard week that I had endured) I went to the nursery and bought a bright pink trough.


I can’t tell you how this cheap bit of colour has lifted my spirits. And I take great comfort from the fact that it takes very little to create cheerfulness. A pop of colour, a touch of kindness, a smile, a vase of flowers – lots of things like that can take us to a different place for a while. I suppose that when faced by suffering we imagine that there is nothing we can do to make a difference, and indeed we are powerless to change anything. But we can create little islands of cheerfulness in the sea of suffering. And that makes all the difference!

3 Replies to “Cheerfulness on a shoestring”

  1. you can be grumpy Daph. If all it takes to make you feel better is playing in worm poo and a plastic pot, you’re a lucky girl.

  2. I drove past a young woman riding her bicyle yesterday morning. She had a basket on the back with two bright roses in it, and her blond hair was flying. I felt the same cheerfulness you describe!

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