‘Freedom is not merely a right, but a skill to be acquired, the skill to view the world through different lenses, through lenses other than one’s own, the skill to imagine what no-one has imagined before, to find beauty or meaning or inspiration.
Each life is a fable about freedom.’
I was raised, like many, in a slightly unconventional way that luckily resulted in oodles of old school wisdom and advice being imparted, consistently, from a very young age. Of course, it wasn’t taken on board until after much rebellion and trial and error, yet that, at present is by the by. This upbringing involved a very sweet, open minded and kind Granny adopting the role of mother and father. After spending decades avoiding all of her gracious guidance, advice and support I finally caved in and decided to embrace it. It felt immensely liberating and calming to do so. After attending lots of classes that encourage participants to give thanks or dedicate a practice to somebody, she comes to mind each and every time, for different reasons depending on the occasion.
It turns out years spent wishing for stable parenting was actually replaced with one of the greatest gifts in nurturing a person could receive.When younger, at times, I guess I was embarrassed of her ways. Her house was covered in old-fashioned decor, there were catholic crosses and paintings of Jesus and saints everywhere, which were ever-so-slightly… creepy. Despite this, and being spoilt rotten with what resembled a small farm in the house and back garden, filled with guinea pigs, hamsters, rabbits, a cat and a dog (I even managed to encourage her to build what looked like a bird aviary for the rabbits, to raise their living standards!), this miraculous woman managed to teach me some of the greatest life lessons, whilst humouring and embracing all of my crazy schools of thought whilst I, in turn, learnt to embrace some of hers.
When we think of ‘old school’ we tend to envisage over-sized sweaters, A tribe called Quest and The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. Envisaging 80’s fashionista’s and American TV along with our mothers permed hair certainly encompasses some of it, but take it back a few years further and you’ll find a wealth of values that do nothing other than enhance our peace of mind. Older beliefs resided around moderation and consideration, taking time to breath and make well-thought out decisions, respecting hierarchies and older generations, and giving as much time as we can to those we love.
Gran taught me that spirituality, of any kind, is essential for deep-rooted happiness. That honouring our bodies through healthy and respectful choices, is essential for a good, long-lasting life. She explained that peer pressure is simply a slight social nuisance with harmless intent, that maintaining a strong centre point amid the waves of faddy distractions will keep one on course and true to themselves. That chivalry can remain alive if we expect it to, and women can be treated with oodles of respect whilst men are capable of making every effort should they choose and wish to do so. She taught me that a small level of poverty cleverly masks true wealth, as one is less distracted by their accomplishments and busy spending money and can, instead, focus on simplicity, replacing material wealth with natural sources of wealth and beauty.
She taught me to love unconditionally and see others through their trials and mistakes, to forgive wholeheartedly in order to heal oneself and others through compassion. She helped me to see past each of our downfalls and to find the best in each and every one of people’s quirks. She taught me to walk, endlessly, alone if I wish and at all hours to discover sunsets and hidden places of beauty. She taught me to mend rather than dispose and to listen to great music that came before beats and synths.
Yet, most importantly, this lady taught me how to love. After all that I experienced growing up amidst angst and longing for convention, despite parents teaching the opposite hence ending up predominantly in her care, this lady is living proof that older ways of living and inherent faith can see us through all. So it turns out that old school rules, do in fact, rule.
If in doubt…