When a relative stranger contacted me with a possible lead on some copywriting work, I was not only flattered by the effort she had made to send me the email, but that she actually remembered me several weeks after our first and only contact.
Having faced an insurmountable wall of unhelpful bureaucracy from a faceless person assuring me over the phone that they would do all they could to help my ailing father – aka the NHS; the email from my brief encounter restored my faith in human nature and my flatline state of mind was suddenly raised to a blip.
So it was a good start to the day and I approached the pending trip to the bank with my ailing elderly father, who suffered from dementia and was very frail, with a positive frame of mind.
A gentle stroll fraught with frustration
It was a very long and slow walk to the bank’s door and on the whole people were patient and gave us a wide berth, but then one woman and her dogs brought my moment of calm to an abrupt end.
Unable to wait for our geriatric meandering towards the building, she rushed past us yanking two very large hairy Golden Retrievers into the bank’s foyer.
When we eventually reached the counter, my father in his dementia enhanced innocent ‘children and animals’ dotage, made a passing comment to the two canines. They in their (soon to become apparent) uncontrollable passion to be petted, started lumbering, like two excitable grizzly bears, towards my feeble and infirm father.
I straight away stepped in between him and the salivating hounds to protect him from a flooring and as I did so, the woman who had previously barged in front of us, was dragged down to the ground by her volatile pets in something akin to a sumo wrestle. Like a gladiator’s servant trying to control the raging beasts of his master, she failed to restrain their urges, or command the remotest ‘leader of the pack’ respect from the her hairy mutts.
Manners maketh man & woman
I’m afraid I offered no help either verbal or physical as she struggled to retain not only her wards but also her dignity. My immediate thoughts were that no one should have dogs of that size and strength if they are unable to control them.
The staff behind the counter looked on asking if she was all right, to which she rather blandly and dismissively said,
“Oh I’m fine, I was just worried about the old man.”
Well of course that didn’t wash with me, it was said out of guilt and the reference to my father as ‘old man’ added more fuel to my fire that she clearly had no manners i.e. ‘elderly gentleman’ or even ‘elderly man’ would have been better than ‘old man’, that was said with such vitriol as to imply we really shouldn’t have been there making her dogs misbehave.
Anyway, the point of this story is that my moment of elation and happiness, the brief snapshot that morning when I felt I really was someone with value, was suddenly completely and violently eroded. Having had my ration of being someone worth knowing, I had become, along with my aged father, someone to be dismissed as unimportant and irrelevant and indeed, a nuisance.
My happy place had disappeared.
Emotional highs & lows
I pondered this state of mind alongside the fluctuations of our human emotions and wondered if life would be any easier without the rise and fall of our emotional electrocardiogram. Would our health and well being be better off without the highs and lows of this very human trait?
There is no doubt our blood pressure along with our heart beat increases when we are aroused by our passion; whether it is from a positive and pleasant experience or an upsetting anger filled moment. We have all been there at some time in our lives and whilst the happier episodes produce cheery little endorphins that buzz and bounce around our bodies making us feel good, it’s when something happens to sap us of the feel good factor, that whatever happiness we may have felt is destroyed leaving us feeling low and somewhat deflated.
So would we be better off without that oh so human condition: emotion?
Imagine being able to confront death and disaster head on without the discomfort of wanting to run away and bawl your eyes out, or not feel that rising passion to thump the person who caused the problem?
My conclusion? Next time I am confronted by an unpleasant or threatening invasion, in whatever guise that may be, I will say with authority and conviction,
“You should really learn to control your animals/behaviour/etc before allowing them out” and I’ll give them that look that my children fear most of all!
It may not make much difference to the recipient of my admonishment, but it will make me feel better and who knows, perhaps produce a few endorphins to give me a gentle buzz!