I seem to have received a surprising amount of Christmas cards from neighbours, even as a newbie to this random little cul-de-sac. All the more surprising in that with the deep, dark, murk of winter it doesn't seem like I've actually seen any of them to exchange street-side banter with, since forever-and-an-age ago. Are they just being neighbourly, or because they now know I'm a cop (word soon got around it seems) are they just trying to stay on my perceived 'good' side?
Anyway, I got a particularly nice surprise in the post the other morning. I opened an envelope to find this gorgeous hand-made card.
And I quote...
"Dear Ingmar,It was about a year ago, that I bought some travel books from Waterstone's, including "The Worst Journey In The World" which you had recommended. These were presents and you gave me some very helpful guidance.
As a grateful customer I would like to thank you with this card, drawn on a cruise, as I thought it would be of interest. Earlier this year I learnt that you have moved on, but Steve [my old manager] kindly gave me your name and said he would forward this onto you.
I hope you are enjoying your new employment.
With best wishes for Christmas & 2007."
[illustration was labelled "settlement near Sisimuit, west coast of Greenland"
Now, for me it really is the smallest things. The little gestures. Someone taking time and effort out from their daily routine to simply be... Kind. Things like that can not only can lift a whole day, they've already added to general upward-trajectory of feeling and self-belief. Something I think I've been sorely lacking of late.
See this has come around the time of an easing of pressure somewhat, to do with work and the trials hitherto. A break. A chance to mentally regroup and prepare for the real fun and games in the new year.
On Monday I had my 'final exam' of the theory-learning stage. Now this was something that I'd been literally loosing sleep over for weeks. Following a massive wake-up call about halfway through the course (a pretty shocking test-mark), I had my own very private long dark night of the soul. Spent many a night awake; questioning my choices, my abilities, my raison d'etre. Hard work, revision and grit saw it through. I think. Or maybe a fucking great stroke of luck (excuse my French). I passed to my complete and utter relief. Astonishingly, I sail through with a half-decent mark and some colleagues who hitherto had exhibited little outward signs of crisis... Failed. Quite spectacularly. A real surprise that. Perhaps it was perversely, a good outcome afterall then in that I didn't become complacent along the way?
We break for Christmas in a few days. But, the trials are by no means over at all. Come January 8th I head out onto the streets with a tutor constable. Real people. Real lives. Real situations.
A chance for another deep breath now, before I dive into things once more.