Dear, lovely, patient, understanding and more-attractive-than-average reader – yet again I find myself having to apologise to you for a long period of radio silence. It’s not you, it’s me. Honestly.
Actually, it’s not even me. It’s Edinburgh. The Fringe Festival is an annual suspension of reality for everyone who comes here. Symptoms include averaging three hours of sleep per night, walking several miles every day (I worked out that I’d walked 23 miles in 3 days at one point), teaching your liver to man up and deal with four times its usual alcohol intake, and watching your bank balance dwindle faster than Nick Clegg’s credibility.
Excuses aside, I promise that during my time here I have come up with lots of ideas for topics to chat to you about. Today I’d like to start with Cool Runnings, a classic nineties film about a Jamaican bobsled team at the Olympics. That might not sound too profound to begin with, so let me explain: during the film, one of the bobledders, Sanka, is trying to assert his superiority over the others to their coach, and the conversation goes like this:
Sanka Coffie: I’m the driver.
Irv: You’re not. You’re the brakeman.
Sanka Coffie: You don’t understand, I am Sanka Coffie, I am the best pushcart driver in all of Jamaica! I must drive! Do you dig where I’m coming from?
Irv: Yeah, I dig where you’re coming from.
Sanka Coffie: Good.
Irv: Now dig where I’m coming from. I’m coming from two gold medals. I’m coming from nine world records in both the two- and four-man events. I’m coming from ten years of intense competition with the best athletes in the world.
Sanka Coffie: That’s a hell of a place to be coming from!
My point is that it’s important to think about where people are coming from before we make assumptions or judgements, even (and sometimes especially) when it comes to our nearest and dearest. I started thinking about this the other night when I got into a bit of a bicker with one of my best friends, because we weren’t thinking about where the other person was coming from in terms of experience. I’ve not had many long-term relationships, because I don’t like dating and I think romance is a bit weird. My friend is a serial monogamist who hasn’t been single for more than a couple of months since he was a teenager. Neither of us are better or worse people because of these things, but it means that our experiences of love, relationships etc. are very different, so we feel differently about them.
When we fail to think about where our loved ones have been in life, we make it more difficult for ourselves to talk about the things that matter to us. If we care about who someone is, what they like and how they feel about stuff, we have to also care about what has led them to have those feelings. It’s all very well to think that your friend is a bit silly for fearing spiders, but before you judge them, maybe check that they didn’t have a bad experience in childhood or something.
Also, make sure you watch Cool Runnings as soon as possible. It’s an absolutely cracking film.
No blog tomorrow because I’ll be in transit, but have a marvellous day and I’ll see you on Wednesday.