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By Kate Minogue

It was while I was stuck in a traffic jam that I realized something strange had happened. I was sitting there admiring the tidy lines of cars, all one behind the other in the middle of each of the three lanes. An ambulance hurtled along the unobstructed hard shoulder, siren wailing and blue lights flashing. Meanwhile a couple of motorbikes had plenty of room to drive between the lines of cars. When the gap in front of me grew to ten metres or so, I caught up with the car in front, but there was no pressure as nobody was trying to change lanes or push in. A road news flash came through on the radio to announce that all lanes were now open but there was still a backlog of cars to clear. And there was I, on my way to the airport to catch a flight but nonetheless ENJOYING the calm and order of the situation. You will have guessed by now that I was not in Libya – but Libya has changed me!!!

Then I realized that a few days before I had been so excited to find Heinz beans in the Seraj supermarket that I texted my husband to pass on the good news. (He did not reply.) Oh dear oh dear. And when the rain started to fall recently, instead of complaining I simply began stuffing cloths under the kitchen door to avoid the paddling pool effect. All in the same day, the TV signal disappeared, the internet became so feeble as to be useless, the bathroom sprang a leak, and two handles fell off my kitchen drawers. I tried to blame it all on the rain but clearly I’ll have to think of a better excuse for the door handles. Anyway, instead of staying at home getting cross I went out.

Clearly I have become more accepting of things not working well and more impressed when they do go right. Is this a good or a bad thing? In terms of personal stress levels it must be a good thing, for example, when we had the heavy snow in Europe this winter all one could do really was to make the best of it and enjoy the magnificence of nature. However, one cannot simply abnegate all responsibility for trying to make one’s surroundings better, and so we shall continue to remind our landlord that he has to make improvements to our house, if not for our sake, at least for the sake of those who follow.

I can’t hope to change what is outside my house, but I shall continue to do what I think is right, and I hope to learn from the good things I see around me. So instead of copying the drivers around me, I shall drive in a careful and courteous manner, and I’ll try not to feel guilty if I take a moment to sit with a cup of coffee in the sun, enjoying the now.

The only problem is – what happened to the sun?!




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Sunday 6th February 2011