Dear All,

I trust this edition of our newsletter finds you all in a good version of a certain noun beginning with “h” that allows us to do all the things we need to do in our lives on a daily basis, which without it, we clearly and literally wouldn’t be able to stand on our own two feet and look after ourselves properly, we would no doubt be dependant on others to do the job for us, yes, if you haven’t already guessed, it’s good health and lots of it. I also hope that you are overflowing at the brim with another noun beginning with “h’ that has a strong tendency to regularly put a smile on our faces and generally help us to maintain relative harmony inside and away from the environments we regularly find ourselves working, playing and participating inside; a noun that allows us to be mindful of others and their situations, whether they are advantaged or disadavantaged, and if you haven’t already guessed it, this word is of course “happiness”. Now’s my cue to remind myself of a song by a British comedian, song writer, come all round entertainer called Ken Dodd, who in one of his songs sang:“ Happiness, happiness, the greatest gift that we possess, I praise the lord that I’ve been blessed with all of this thing called happiness”. I know I could have just said something really simple like “ I hope this email find you all full of health and happiness”, but then Ken Dodd would not have gotten a mention, and without mentioning Ken Dod I would not have been able to reminice about being a young kid with protruding teeth trying to do impersinations of Ken Dodd to impress my friends and a young female admirer I had at the time – it’s a very long story.

Good health of course is the single most important thing in life because without it we really can’t live properly in the real sense of living, but is happiness the greatest gift that we possess? I really don’t know if it’s the greatest gift, it’s very useful if we have lots of it, but do we need to be in excellent health to be the possessor of it? I believe it helps a lot if we are, but that depends on a person’s circumstances; I know a few people personally that are either disadvantaged through being physically handicapped or they have had to deal with a lot of adversity in their lives, and as a result they have fallen on hard times, but they they are amongst some of the happiest people I know. Such people will often say: “There are two choices: either you can continue to be negative, feel sorry for yourself and envy and resent others around you, or you can try to think positively about living with what you do have and try to make the best of it you can; that way happiness will surely find its way in through your acceptance and contentment of the situation you find yourself in.

Walking to work this morning I encountered a youngish chap who, judging by the way he was attired, was making his way to his place of work and by chance I happened to speak with him, albeit only very briefly. I was walking a distance behind him to begin with, but as he could not walk as well as I or the other people behind or in front of me I very quickly caught up to him. At the north entrance at Ohmori Sation the only way you can enter the station early in the morning is by walking down the steps, and I could see he was clearly struggling to get down them, at least that’s the way I percieved it, it was at that point that I spoke to him: I asked him if he needed help to which he replied, with a proud eyed sweat beaded, yet warm smiling face “No, thank you.” I realised afterwards that I should not have offered to help him because he wasn’t struggling, he was functioning normally according to his situation, like I am when I am walking down the street in order to get from A to B. Sure, to me and any other onlooker he’s dissabled, and if you happen to be a good natured individual, like I believe I am, there is a tendency to want to offer help to such people, but actually it was the way he was born, he learned to walk as we all do, he obviosly was not be able to walk as well as many of us can and it must have taken him longer to get where he is, but nonethelss he got there and in his own style he was finally able to stand up on his own two feet and walk. This recent experience inspired me to write my poem for this week, so until next week, I will bid you a fare-thee-well and I wish you continued happiness.


Foot tied and twisted

In the distance an uneven and contorted shape bobbing up and down like a butterfly caught my eye.
Curiousity and concern both lead me to quicken my walking pace.
The sound of shoe leather and rubber scraping the floor and heavy breathing gradually becoming more intense.
Plenty of people passing by this man whose business suited but lame body could only best
be described as a wrung out floor cloth left to dry in a very hot sun.
The toe of the shoe on his left foot almost worn through to a hole from dragging his best but worse foot forward every day.
The leather on the outside of his right shoe equally as scuffed and worn down by the unavoidable abrasion caused
by his weight and the surfaces beneath him.
Both shoe heels untouched by the ground and in the same condition as the day they were bought.

It was a warm dry morning in May and I noticed a trail of sweat drops on the floor.
I was walking behind the body of a man so foot tied and twisted undauntingly exerting and pushing
himself on to get to where he needed to be.
I was in awe of the endurance and determination of what I was witness to see.
At times I felt my arm being pulled by my heart over to him to lend him a helping hand.
I stayed behind him until he reached the steps leading down into the station.
No elevator or escalator available first thing in a morning, the only way down is to walk.
It was then that I approached the man I had carefully followed looking out for his welfare.

He stood there with his hands on the support rail, puffing, panting and with a forehead beaded with sweat,
and I asked him if he needed my help to get down the stairs and this is what he said:
“I don’t need your help thank you very much, but I’m touched by your concern.
A thought spared by someone about someone or something else, no matter
what the circumstances, is proof that such a person cares enough about wanting to share,
and sharing is what we all should be able to do.”
I listened and smiled with approval, and with a better understanding of his situation I politely said “Goodbye.”
Leaving behind the sound of leather and rubber abrasively being worn away by station stone
steps and heels that will never ever get worn down, I made my way to where I needed to be.

A poem by Stephen Austwick