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Quiet Discontent

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					QUIET DISCONTENT?
You can run but you can’t hide - in the first of his regular columns, Alisdair Chisholm dares you to astound yourself.
Something happened when I was
ten years old that changed my life. I was set the classic essay ‘Most men lead lives of quiet discontent,' wrote Thoreau, discuss. Mostly, in those days, and indeed in some of these days, homework meant writing big in longhand filling a page or two as fast as possible so I could get on to more important, things like playing. This time, though, something happened, I became fascinated, it changed forever the way I think and the things I think about. I didn’t know and didn’t care who Thoreau was, yet his quote got me started. made my mind dance with ideas. I interviewed everyone I knew doctors and dentists, vicars and vagrants, the butcher, the baker, the candlestick-maker, and all the residents of Woodthorpe Drive. Most, to my ten year old optimistic surprise, looked sad in the eyes when I asked them their thoughts on 'leading lives of quiet discontent', sounded sad of voice in their replies, with the most used phrases including words such as 'choices' and 'lack of...' Some got quite angry, and seized the opportunity to give me a good finger-waggling, jolly good talking-to on the theme of responsibility Yet, a beloved few, and thankfully, these few included most of my nearest and dearest, had a different reaction. A light in their eyes at my questions, a smile, an interest, a different philosophy, more inclined to laughter and loudness, an energy in their answers countering Thoreau's dour thoughts. Thirty something pages of homework was the immediate result of all this, and I am sure the bemused teacher considered the possibility that I may be in need of psychiatric help when he received my epic work. However, thirty something pretty sane years later my conclusions remain pretty much the same. Most people probably do lead lives of quiet discontent, but they don’t have to if they don’t want to, they can choose a different way to be anytime. and cried my eyes out for all my mistakes, then I realised in a flash, that it was not too late, and in that moment I re-invented myself as a success. I stopped accepting what I was and chose who I wanted to be'. He found his true work found a little fame and a lot of fortune as the only honest timeshare salesman on the Costa del Sol, found the life he wanted all along. Ted is Dead now, as you know, but imagine his pride when ha bought his family their first ever house, a villa to die for with a pool. Actually the villa is something of a hazy memory, although there was a time I practically lived there, but the look on his face is happily with me forever. shining bright as a brand new day. Ted, bless him, was a special case, and there are people like him everywhere scaling the heights, plumbing the depths, and all places in between. They are the ones with a smile on their face, a light in their eyes, the ones who know what they want and are doing everything about it, sometimes stumbling, sometimes dancing but always traveling on to their chosen place, their El Dorado. Along the way touching those around them with their energy, sparking fires, leaving good thoughts. ‘Lives of quiet discontent', indeed, dismiss the very notion of it, be quiet if it is your way. but discontent, never. Whether you are nine or ninety, dear reader, astound yourself, choose happiness. I dare you...

I have spent a large part of my life thinking, talking, and writing about choices, of one sort or another. A funny game to be In, you might well think, and you'll be glad to know I’ve done lots of other stuff besides. Along the way I’ve seen people make amazing choices, and create amazing lives. I remember Dead Ted, a mentor through some pretty wild times, finally choose wealth over financial struggle, a choice that took him most of his life. It is kind of a long story, probably for another time, but Ted always scraped a living doing this, that and a bit of the other, nothing too dodgy, nothing too straight nothing too profitable. Selling wigs door to door takes a bold and optimistic soul, and in Ted one who was prepared to shave his head to wear the product, but it doesn’t pull in the big bucks. One way and another he made ends meet, just about, and then, in his fifties, he upped and offed to Spain, with his family, did a bit of a 'runner', truth be told. One day, walking in the sun along the beach, he told me he 'sat down in the warm sand

April, 2000

ACHIEVEMENT REPORT


				
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