Thirty seconds.

We’ve all taken some injuries working our way through life because that’s unavoidable, and we all bear the scars from them, but injuries heal or at least scab over. The black dried blood drops off them and all you’ve got left are those white patches of skin which’ll never disappear. Each one has its own story.

Only others who’ve got them as well understand. What happened in the past can’t be undone or somehow obliterated from your memory and you’ll always carry it with you, but we have to make each day anew. Life goes on and doesn’t stop for poor little you.

Scars are nothing to be ashamed of if they’re scars you’d no choice over or ones of honour, a currently frowned upon word. Most of the deep scars aren’t on your body but inside you. Sometimes you’ve no choice but to take it, but for me the true definition of courage, and I hesitate to use that simple word which is also well out of fashion, is obviously not someone who feels no fear. It’s not even someone who rose to the occasion for the one blessed moment in their life.

It’s someone who right at the very bottom of the well of despair knows they can’t take it any more, they just can’t, but thinks they can at least hold on for the next thirty seconds or so before panicking. I can hold for thirty, I can, I can do that thing. That I can do.

They get to the end of that thirty and despite the fear, fright, shite, shakes, cowardice and all the rest of that shivering piece of meat called a body which constantly betrays you, decide they might just have it within them to do another thirty. And after that, there’s another thirty. Always, always, there’s always another thirty.

Some people open their eyes every morning and the counter in their heads immediately starts clicking down from thirty before they’ve even got out of bed. That is true courage, that is honour.

It’s about inches rather than yards or miles, and every inch is hard-earned. All you have to do is reach the next bloody inch. Hold on Kiddo, just hold on for another moment.

It’s all there, the terrible cruelty of people, the crippling illness, the unfairness, the poverty, the bad breaks, whatever and whatever and whatever, whatever the particular misfortune you’ve been hit with. You have to find a way to overcome such experiences, walk on, be better. Try and see the world with kinder eyes and not let the past and sometimes the present rot you out and dictate your future, because the future is the only thing left in your hands that you can truly shape.

Don’t ever feel you deserve some sort of break; you deserve exactly nothing. Your forebears all had their Garden of Gethsemane events, suffered and yet still got through, otherwise you wouldn’t exist.

However. All that is past. History. A done deal. Cemented. It’s only today, this very day and onwards you can change. After every sunrise, every time you get out of bed, every measured start of every day, every kick up heartbeat is an opportunity to shape tomorrow, not only for yourself but for all those around you that you love.

What’s also there, and never forget that’s what’s on the other side of thirty seconds, is the occasional kindness of people who gave you a chance. The generosity of complete strangers. Those fine people you were fortunate enough to have spent some time with. The ones you came to laugh with and love with a zest that’s beyond description and never realised it at the time. Such a sleep they sleep, all the men I loved. I have many things but I no longer have their company, and lordy do I miss it. Alone, orphaned and somehow lost in a world I never made though I, like them, tried to make it a better one.

The long Easter weekend is nearly upon us. Our kids and their partners and our baby grandson will all be staying with us. We’ll do lots of hugs and cuddles, prepare communal meals (which I’m useless at and’ll get me elbowed out of the kitchen), the newly hatched uncles will play with their first baby nephew, we’ll veg out watching a movie or two, argue about politics, rip apart some books and make the case why some rock group isn’t rubbish. There’s a roughty toughty fun element to it and I’m so looking forward to it.

I’ve seen what true horror looks like, and choose to walk towards the joy. Like horror, it does exist in the world. Make an effort. Make a move. Do something new for the first time with someone you meet every day. Next day, you never know. It’s only the ordinary people who take risks, cowards stay skulking safely in the bunker and live dull but ultimately terrified lives.

Every morning, grab that opportunity with both hands, lovingly, and never let go of it.


Related articles by Pointman:

Love is simply not an option.

The big green killing machine: They sit with God in paradise.


William Johnson; echoes of an unimportant life.

Click for a list of other articles.

11 Responses to “Thirty seconds.”
  1. Pointman says:

    Everyone out there, after a tragic week, have a happy and peaceful Easter.



    • Graeme No.3 says:

      A happy and peaceful Easter for you and all your family. Don’t eat too much chocolate – the latest campaign in Oz ‘reveals’ (shock, horror!) that it contains sugar.


  2. Blackswan says:


    Thank you for the message of hope in the midst of life’s disasters – 30 seconds for that first tentative step in a journey of a thousand miles.

    Have a really happy Easter break with your family. Baby’s too young for chocolate so I guess you’ll have to eat his share from the Easter Bunny. Cheers!


  3. Retired Dave says:

    It is always worth the time to sit and think about those who have shaped your life for the good – and then to think how you can do that for others. I don’t think I have paid back enough but I have tried. Obviously it is a given with ones children, but I am talking about others.

    I often remember how lucky I was to have parents that were supportive and spoke such sense – many do not have that advantage. I certainly didn’t always appreciate how valuable it was at the time. I wish they were still here to tell them now.

    I feel that I am lucky to have had few demons in my life. I look back at my forebears who had it very tough and it isn’t pity I feel, it is respect.

    A Happy Easter to good people of all creeds in such a bad week.


  4. markstoval says:

    I really enjoyed that post. The Taoist in me heard some great ideas on living life. Laozi would be proud.

    A happy Easter to you and your.


  5. asybot says:

    The comp got the better of me the last week or so. One of the first things I did was to re bookmark your site and the first article was this one.
    Thanks, it made me think just a bit longer about the frustration of a FC’d comp.
    Thanks, and Happy Easter to you all and yours on this site ( well I guess anyone anywhere).


  6. Pointman says:

    Easter 1916.

    I have met them at close of day
    Coming with vivid faces
    From counter or desk among grey
    Eighteenth-century houses.
    I have passed with a nod of the head
    Or polite meaningless words,
    Or have lingered awhile and said
    Polite meaningless words,
    And thought before I had done
    Of a mocking tale or a gibe
    To please a companion
    Around the fire at the club,
    Being certain that they and I
    But lived where motley is worn:
    All changed, changed utterly:
    A terrible beauty is born.

    That woman’s days were spent
    In ignorant good-will,
    Her nights in argument
    Until her voice grew shrill.
    What voice more sweet than hers
    When, young and beautiful,
    She rode to harriers?
    This man had kept a school
    And rode our winged horse;
    This other his helper and friend
    Was coming into his force;
    He might have won fame in the end,
    So sensitive his nature seemed,
    So daring and sweet his thought.
    This other man I had dreamed
    A drunken, vainglorious lout.
    He had done most bitter wrong
    To some who are near my heart,
    Yet I number him in the song;
    He, too, has resigned his part
    In the casual comedy;
    He, too, has been changed in his turn,
    Transformed utterly:
    A terrible beauty is born.

    Hearts with one purpose alone
    Through summer and winter seem
    Enchanted to a stone
    To trouble the living stream.
    The horse that comes from the road.
    The rider, the birds that range
    From cloud to tumbling cloud,
    Minute by minute they change;
    A shadow of cloud on the stream
    Changes minute by minute;
    A horse-hoof slides on the brim,
    And a horse plashes within it;
    The long-legged moor-hens dive,
    And hens to moor-cocks call;
    Minute by minute they live:
    The stone’s in the midst of all.

    Too long a sacrifice
    Can make a stone of the heart.
    O when may it suffice?
    That is Heaven’s part, our part
    To murmur name upon name,
    As a mother names her child
    When sleep at last has come
    On limbs that had run wild.
    What is it but nightfall?
    No, no, not night but death;
    Was it needless death after all?
    For England may keep faith
    For all that is done and said.
    We know their dream; enough
    To know they dreamed and are dead;
    And what if excess of love
    Bewildered them till they died?
    I write it out in a verse –
    MacDonagh and MacBride
    And Connolly and Pearse
    Now and in time to be,
    Wherever green is worn,
    Are changed, changed utterly:
    A terrible beauty is born.

    William Butler Yeats.


    • asybot says:

      Pointman, thanks for that Yeats poem, I am truly glad that people like you and Yeats can put words on paper. Personally I have never been able to do that. letters to family and friends I could have photo copied 40 years ago and they would still look the same, “hi, how are you? I am fine , the weather is nice and the baby cried all night and so on.
      So on this Easter Monday, I thank you and also thanks to all the people that can put not only words but feelings on paper but my biggest gratitude is to you all sharing them with all of us.


  7. wyoskeptic says:

    Oh, I do know that thirty second journey quite well. I’ve looked into the abyss with the thought ringing in my head that today — now– might be a good time to end it all. To date, I have always managed to convince myself that “Yes, that is a possible answer, but it is not yet bad enough for it to be the only answer.” And, thirty seconds at a time, backed away from the edge of that abyss.

    These days, it is not as tough as it used to be. I now find I can not immediately remember the last time I went through that process. Perhaps I may even find it to be a thing of the past. But if not, I know I have made it through before, I can do so again.

    In a book I borrowed from the library, many, many years ago, I found this card used for a bookmark. It is just about the same exact size as a credit card and all it contains is a poem entitled Our Lives and at the bottom it says, Courtesy of Thomas L. Saxon.

    Can you say today in parting
    With the day that is slipping fast
    That you’ve helped a single person
    Of the many you have passed

    Did you waste the day, or lose it
    Was it well or poorly spent
    Did you leave a trail of kindness
    Or a scar of discontent?

    As you close your eyes in slumber
    Do you think God would say
    You have made the world much better
    For the life you have lived today?

    This card is now battered and faded and all but worn out from all the years in the wallet. In that respect, a lot like the one who carries it.

    I can’t say I have lived up to the ideal expressed in this card every day, but there have been times when it stayed my anger in response to some foolish action on someone else’s part, times it kept me from saying something hateful, though the words begged to be set free. There were times when I felt too tired or was in need to be somewhere else and didn’t have the time to help, but did anyway after thinking about what that card said. There were nights I did sleep better knowing that perhaps I had not done a lot in making the world better –perhaps all that I had done would never even be noticed — but I knew I had done a little bit. And some days, that little bit is all it takes to make a difference for someone. Even if that someone is only yourself.


    • Pointman says:

      I once sat in the waiting area of a premier children’s hospital with my wife and our youngest child. He had scoliosis and it hadn’t got better since he was a toddler, despite wearing a brace for nearly a decade in the hope it’d straighten out his spine. It’s a progressively degenerative ailment. Like all parents in this information rich internet age, I’d read up extensively on his condition and had a fair idea of what the consultant was going to say; he’d need two operations or the strain on his respiration and heart could lead to a premature death.

      It would be two operations on his spine, involving screwing a metal framework to it. They’d have to fillet my son and there was a small but real risk of him being left paraplegic or quadriplegic if something went catastrophically wrong – the nightmare you don’t talk about because it’d only happened after you’d signed the parental permission slip.

      For some reason and unusually, we had to wait a long time. The children with their parents started to pile up in the waiting room. We sat there for an hour and a half and saw little children with horrendous and ugly problems playing happily with their parents and each other. Beyond totally admiring them and their parents, I think we all unconsciously thought how bloody lucky we were.



      • wyoskeptic says:

        From my experience, it is far, far more easy to be the one afflicted with the infirmity or condition than being the one who must watch and wait to see if whatever is to be done is successful. I can think of nothing more cruel that to witness someone young so suffer. It has always been and will always be “Let the young ones be fine. If anyone needs be suffer, let it be me. I am accustomed to dealing with the pain and discomfort and being so much closer to the end of things and they being at the start, just let it be me instead.”

        Of course it never works that way. But if there were any justice, it would.


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