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  • Andrew Lewis


The sweet shop was impressive. 'Look mum!', said the child, 'Can we go in? I want smarties.'

'Come on then, let's see what goodies they have', the mother replied.

'I'm sorry, we don't have smarties at the moment,' said the shopkeeper, 'We are expecting a delivery later today or tomorrow morning.'

'Never mind,' said he mother, 'I'm sure we can find something else to enjoy.'

'But I want smarties!' said the child. 'You know they are my favourite.'

There followed a great deal of sulking and frowning, and a refusal to consider other options. 'I don't want any other stupid sweets! I want smarties!' The child became increasingly unhappy, stubborn and unpleasant.

Disappointed with this behaviour the mother pressed on, buying a small selection of sweets and chocolates before leaving the shop. These were dismissed with scorn by the grumbling, ungrateful youngster. Nothing else was going to do. All options were reduced to one; smarties or unhappiness!

A typical scene from childhood? A learning curve for our dismayed youngster? Of course, it all passes. Children with wise guidance from parents and other grown ups, soon leave this type of behaviour behind...…..

Or do they? What do we see going on all around us in the world of grown ups?

Sulking over smarties has altered shape into:

I want THIS job, THIS promotion, THIS relationship, THIS new car, THIS house, THIS body image, THIS reputation, The list goes on. It is MY WAY or no way!

And the more we dig in our heels, the more we shut out the light, the opportunities, the delightful new discoveries. We become blind to the richness and diversity of life. If only we could trust more, allow for uncertainty, accommodate the unexpected, let go of the desire to be an all knowing, all controlling shaper of our own destiny.

This makes sense because the truth is that we have less control and less understanding than we think. There is always a bigger picture that's out of sight. And that's okay because it means that life has unimagined mystery and potential. We need to embrace this, not fear it.

In the sweet shop, not far from the vacant smarties shelf, were some new sweets that our child would have loved as much and maybe even more than smarties. They were not given a chance. The child would not get out of his/her own way.

'Thou think'st there are no more such shapes as he, having seen but him and Caliban.' (Shakespeare, The Tempest)

'A good traveller has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving.' (Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching)

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