The Backs of Things

I enjoy all train journeys, but when travelling on suburban trains I really like seeing the backs of things. The country side is always absorbing and sometimes beautiful, but the backs of buildings and hidden gardens are unknown and fascinating.

In contrast to the carefully presented fronts, the backs reveal their true design. Like the old brickwork, with its colours and cracks exposing their age and structure and the pieces that have been added. The bewilderingly individual gardens, some scruffy and neglected, some immaculate and cared for, some lovingly, judging by the carefully neat layouts and separated sections for this and that.

Old falling down sheds compare with clean, symmetrical greenhouses; cracked slabs and old broken toys with an occasional small, loved oasis of grass with a canopied swing seat in the southern corner.

Dirty back windows with sagging net curtains oppose conservatories with cane furniture and potted plants; abandoned bicycles and even cars clash with wall rimmed patios, barbeques and dining furniture for six or eight.

From the front things are not always what they seem, are they? In fact they are often quite different and it’s a good idea sometimes, perhaps always, to reserve judgement and opinion. We can wait – there’s no law against it and the only person poking us to get a move on is usually ourselves.

Take people for example. Don’t you find that given a little time you always find that there is much more to people than you thought at first? We are complex and unique, after all, so no great surprise there.

And situations. How often when we slow down, step back and walk around a situation, as it were, we find that from another angle things are very different? How often do we wish that we had allowed time for our impatience, anger, disappointment or frustration to subside before leaping to a conclusion, or even worse a totally wrong move or remark?

People and situations can be a nightmare, can’t they? People who aren’t like us and situations which we can’t control can really make life difficult. They can really get in the way when we want to get on with things our own way, or just be left alone.

The only solution is to practice a little patience. Take a breath and imagine the backs of people and situations. You know, the parts which you will never see unless you change your perspective and take another look. There is so much good and satisfaction that we miss, simply because we think we don’t have the time to look round the backs of things. Well, we do, so try it out. Wait and take a slow walk around.

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