Yes, when you have this, you want that, and when it’s that… you want this! I think it’s called, the `human being in us.’ Are we never happy; content with `what is,’ whilst putting aside this constant yearning for the opposite, or what’s perceived as an improvement on the status quo? Writes Richard Cartwright.

As summer passes us by and autumn arrives, the word down town is, “yes please, let’s have some rain, it cleans the streets and I’m fed up with summer now anyway; going to the beach, wearing these flip flops or slip-ons and the sticky levanter! I want to dress up now… roll on winter!”

The thing is you see, come end of February and into March the sentiment is repeated but in reverse; fed up of the rain and cold and longing for the beach, so it’s…`roll on summer!’ This is an annual mantra that’s repeated year in, year out that brings that smile of recognition to my face as I overhear these words again and again from one year to the next, especially amongst women – and sometimes men – in our community. Well cooler climes will be moving in about now and understandably summer is a busy time with thousands of tourists in town, more traffic on our limited roads, a busier frontier and the heat to boot. But summer’s good for business and Gibraltar plc, right! In the UK for example, they generally don’t have very good summers (apart from last year) and head for the sun elsewhere with many moving away to Spain, France, Italy, Australia, or the so called idyllic paradise of the Caribbean Islands and other places, for more of a `quality lifestyle.’ There are some couples and families however who, after some time, start yearning for the life they ran away from which may have been described as a life of doom and gloom when they were there – rising in the dark, going to work, returning in the dark, having a meal, watching TV and going back to work, starting all over again the next morning when the dreaded alarm goes! I watched a programme recently about a family from Newcastle who had spent ten years in the wonderful city of Venice and wanted to go back home; in Italy, mum was a Head Teacher teaching English, Dad worked in computers and IT, the children spoke Italian fluently, they lived in a decent, comfortable flat with a small balcony. Dad claimed they had a good life and enjoyed the Continental lifestyle but the kids needed a garden and the parks around where they lived weren’t up to much! So they were seriously thinking about returning to the oft grey and rainy North East of England (bottom line though, it is home…`and home is where the heart is’ for most, I guess!) The point is however, and according to dad and the family, the move to Italy worked out perfectly, enjoying hot summers and longer evenings which for many, provides the be all and end all for a happy existence but, yes… but no, but yes, but no, but yes…`let’s go back to the UK!’ So, do we know what we want? We’re told `the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence,’ but then it seems it’s not so green after all over there…`look, it’s a lovely shade of green, so let’s go for it.’ And so it goes on and on and on, and for many of us, we simply don’t know not what we want, we’re never happy with what we have or with what currently exists.

We tend to assume stars of the stage, screen and song, captains of industry and others are much happier than we are because they’re rich and have it all and we perhaps envy them. Well, very many of them are not any happier than you or I and I know this to be true at first hand. By way of contrast I was once observing a group of farm and construction workers in a cafe having a lunch break as they chatted amongst themselves. Clearly they came from humble beginnings and for all the so called `shortfall’ in their upbringing, social standing, academic education and frugal way of life, I was struck by their manner – chatting away, enjoying their unsophisticated lunch, generally happy to be amongst likeminded fellow workers and more importantly, happy to be returning to work at the end of their lunch break, grateful they had a job to go to, albeit for probably not a great financial reward at the end of the week. They appeared to be happy, conveying a sort of contentment that set me thinking about the issues of wanting more, the colour of the other man’s grass and what the state of the weather is doing to me. All of the above is not to say you shouldn’t venture into the wider world and try and improve your lot – it’s `whatever rocks your boat and stimulates you.’ I simply mean to point out that happiness, the way I see it, is not to do with material possessions, you have to find it deep inside, whether or not you own the latest Range Rover or a £2000 suit and live in a mansion! Much of it is a sense of instant gratification which in no time at all quickly subsides. Have you not noticed when you sometimes go on a cruise or travel to an exotic place on holiday how those feelings of enthusiasm and expectation when planning the trip are not matched by how quickly, when you get back home to your daily routine and reality sets in once more, they slowly fade and you hardly, in two or three weeks, think about your trip at all?

Therefore it could be that what we often long for is not such a great experience when achieved, or maybe it is for some or for many, I don’t know. I just feel that sometimes the craving and desire for something at any given moment or time doesn’t tally with our innermost feelings when achieved and experienced. Just saying!

So in the meantime, let’s try and enjoy the much needed rain for the whole of winter and wait patiently for summer… no worries, it’ll come!  

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