Grow where you're planted. Sunday December 22, 2013
So reads the ubiquitous fridge magnet I've grown to hate. When I first came across this wee quote I liked it, I was younger and full of high expectations that life would take me in many directions, preferably away from my home town. It was cute and easy to like then.
Now? In all honesty oftentimes, I'd very much like to be re-potted.
Late one evening last year I was about to turn off the TV and wend my way to bed when I heard a narrator say that this week's Secret Millionaire was from my hometown. Needless to say, I stayed up another hour. The opening line of the Channel 4 programme went something like this: "Bootle is one of the most deprived areas in the whole of the UK." Yikes! The conclusion was, as always, very moving. (Although, given that gun and knife crime were mentioned in every other sentence, it did cross my mind if it would be prudent to start wearing a bullet/stab proof vest whenever I leave my home. 'Could I buy a pretty, floral flak jacket?' I wondered.)
Yes, circumstances have meant trying to put into practice those vexing words: Grow where you're planted. But what can help us do so?
I've always loved the advice to see our home town through the eyes of a tourist. Seek out local tours, interesting events and exhibitions. (Your local library or council's website maybe a good starting point.) Find the independent shops and cafes. Get to know the names of your local shop keepers, neighbours, postman or street cleaner. I find my mood soars if on the way to the bus stop I can shout a cheery "Hello" to someone whose name I know.
If you live in a place where languages are manifold, learn basic greetings and watch the eyes of folk light up as you greet them in their mother tongue. (Dzień dobry is "Good day" in Polish and pronounced "Djane DOH-brayh"; "Hello" in Mandarin Chinese is "nǐ hǎo", pronounced roughly as "nee how")
Keeping things as fresh and as new as possible may help us blossom, even if planted in unfavourable conditions.
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