She was an old lady when I first met her but still digging, planting and harvesting blossoms for Seals florist shop in Sydney. As a young girl I helped her pick and package the flowers into long cardboard boxes ready for shipping. As I look back, I think maybe it was the beginning of my dream to one day become a florist.
I hadn’t thought about Granny Allen for decades and it was a recent catch up with a childhood friend that brought back those memories. There’s something wonderful about a friend who has lived a lifetime with you and has the long view of your life. It made me realise that it’s the relationships that have grown over the years and the things I've had to save or strive for over time that I value most.
Nothing we become is instant. It takes years to become an engineer and many more to qualify as a doctor. Parenting is a lifelong learning experience as is mastering art, ballet, self-control and patience.
We gain life experience, we gather wisdom; our development is a slow process and often imperceptible and yet somehow we are being tricked into the idea that life can be instant.
Google gives us instant answers; a mobile phone makes sure we are contactable 24/7. We no longer need to queue at the bank, we manage our finances online or from a hole in the wall. We have instant pay, don't queue any longer for train or bus tickets and can even have our shopping or takeaway delivered to our door.
We’ve lost so much of the joy of seasons, of looking forward to winter vegetables and autumn fruit. We’ve lost the healthy practice of only eating food that’s in season. The market has dictated that we don’t have to wait; we can have whatever we want, whenever we want it.
It helps us live faster and smarter, or so they say. But in the process, something precious is lost. We are being robbed of the opportunities to develop patience, resilience, perseverance and self control, the experiences that teach us to value and treasure things that are special, and above all, the joy of anticipation.
I'm convinced that nothing of real value is achieved in the instantaneous life and yet its tentacles have a vice-like grip on our way of life and the very fabric of society. I see its consequences daily in intolerance, impatience and an easy come, easy go attitude.
Eighty one year old, Bill Hatfield, has just become the oldest person to sail solo, non stop and unassisted around the world. It was his fourth attempt. Despite encountering weather and equipment difficulties requiring him to abort attempts in 2015, 16 and 17, he refused to give up on the dream he'd cherished since he was seven years old. That's a lot of dreaming, perseverance and resilience at an age when many people have settled for a quiet, relaxing retirement.
Some of the most precious things in my life have cost dearly; the investment of time, endurance, courage and a great deal of patience, something I had to learn the hard way because it certainly wasn't in my nature.
I'm so grateful that life is a process, a slow developing fruit. I can always look forward to who I am becoming, for like diamonds that take hundreds of millions or even billions of years to develop into one of the strongest materials on earth, its in the slow process of living that we become strong and rich in the things that truly matter.