Y is for Yearning

April 29, 2014 at 1:03 pm | Posted in Experiences, Family History, Mental Health, Philosophy, Ways of Living | 10 Comments
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A2Z-BADGE-000 [2014]



I yearn for mountains

Yearning: noun: an intense or overpowering longing, desire, or need; craving (Collins English Dictionary)


I think we all, at times, yearn for something – a person, a place, a possession, a better life, more of something, to change the world. What we yearn for might be, or seem to be completely unrealistic, unattainable, or it may be something that just might be possible, given the right circumstances.


I have a dream


It is what we do with that yearning, I believe, that demonstrates to a large extent who and what we are.

One person has a desire for something and sets out to get it. He works towards it with all of his energy until he creates the right circumstances for the achievement of his desire.

My father was a man like this. Throughout his life, he strove to overcome the things that held him back from what he wanted. He yearned for a life free from the restrictions of the English social class system, for a land where there was freedom and opportunity. He tried for seven years before his application to emigrate to Australia was approved. He didn’t give up his dream, but did whatever he could to create the circumstances for it to happen.


Yearning -progress


Another person might think he yearns for something, but doesn’t put in a great deal of effort to attain it. He waits until things come together to make it happen, for something to “turn up”. That happens rarely of course, and one has to question the strength of a desire that is not worked towards. It to be appears to be more like “I’ll take it if it comes along, but I can’t be bothered to put in the effort myself”. It’s an airy wish, not a real desire.

Then there is the one whose yearnings for something or somewhere else is strong, but they can see no way for it to happen. He becomes discouraged, yet still dwells in that impossibility want, unable to see the possibilities in the life he could be leading in the present. He yearns for a past or a place where he believed he was once happy. That is nostalgia. It is unreality.




That was my mother, especially when things weren’t going well in life – financially, health-wise, or when undergoing some other difficulty. Her yearning was to go back to the place where she was born and grew up; where she’d met my father and where her first four children were also born. But financially it always seemed impossible.

In the mid-1970s, my father received an unexpected bequest from a deceased aunt. It wasn’t a lot, but it was enough to allow them to go back to Oswaldtwistle. They took a six-week holiday and travelled through Lancashire and Yorkshire as well. When the train from London arrived at Oswaldtwistle station and they got out, Mum looked around. She saw the dank, black-sooted stone buildings, the drizzle and the grey skies, and turned to Dad. “I want to go back home,” she said.


You can't go back


Returning after twenty years, she’d discovered it was not the place she remembered. Distance had sentimentalised the place and made it rosy. She only then realised how different and how much better was the clean, bright and sunny place they lived in Australia to this dreary and closed-in place she has focussed so much of her energy on. Her constant yearning had been completely misplaced.


There is no past we can bring back by longing for it. There is only an eternally new now that builds and creates itself out of the best as the past withdraws.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe


My life-long yearning to write was impossible until I simply began to write. Now I am doing what I always wanted to do.

Yearning has both positive and negative aspects to it. We are much better off if we work towards our dreams of a better future, whatever we see it to be. To yearn for something in the past, something that is impossible to have, will often taint the present and destroy the future.


make a new beginning


Have you ever felt a yearning for something, to be someone or something else? How have you responded to it?


© Linda Visman  29.04.2014  (698 words)



B is for Butcher and Bicycle

April 2, 2014 at 11:59 am | Posted in Family, Family History, History, Ways of Living, Writing and Life | 15 Comments
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A2Z-BADGE-000 [2014]

Dad left school in early 1935 at the age of thirteen and a half. He was on his way home from school when he saw a notice in the window of a butcher’s shop in his home town of Oswaldtwistle, Lancashire, England. The notice said “Boy Wanted”.


He went into the shop and the butcher said, “Yes, son. What can I do for you?”

“It’s not what I can do for you, sir. You have a sign that says ‘Boy Wanted’. I’m a boy and I want a job.”

The butcher was impressed with Dad’s attitude and said that, if he was available and if his parents agreed, he could start the next day. He never returned to school, and went to work for the butcher six days a week, taking orders and delivering them by heavy bicycle to the local farms and villages, over rough roads and hilly country, in sunshine, sleet and snow.

Butcher's shop 1920s

Dad handed all his earnings to his mother to go towards feeding the family, but he was allowed to keep sixpence a week.

A few months later, Dad decided he wanted his own bicycle. He approached the owner of the local bike shop and asked if he could purchase a fixed-wheel bike (their cheapest) for sixpence down and sixpence a week.1909_Royal_Enfield_bike

When the owner found that Dad had a regular job, he agreed to the terms Dad had stated. Dad paid his sixpence religiously every week. By the time he moved on to an apprenticeship as a moulder at age fourteen, he had fully paid for the bike.

During the warmer days of the northern England summer weekends, Dad rode that bike, then a better one he bought later, over many miles of countryside. He would take some bread and meat, or bacon and eggs, and camp overnight by a brook, sleeping on a tarpaulin and wrapped in a blanket.

He said that those weekends were wonderful for a teenage lad with a sense of adventure, and regretted that the freedom he had then has now been lost.

Young man with bike 1920s

The story of the butcher and of the bicycle shows how Dad exhibited initiative and determination from an early age. He kept both of those qualities all his life.


Do you think youngsters show enough initiative and determination these days? Do you think they have lost many of the opportunities that once existed for youngsters with such qualities?


© Linda Visman 02.04.14

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