A dear and valued friend of mine sends me one of those email chain letters.   There’s nothing malicious or fraudulent about it.   It doesn’t threaten or ask for money.   It asks you to read a paragraph of prose – clichés to be sure but moderately uplifting and nothing to take offence over – and then send it off to a dozen women of significance in your life, including the sender, and wait to see what happens on the 4th day.

I sigh.   I am very fond of my friend, a woman of taste and judgement, and I don’t want to hurt her feelings.   So I enumerate the dozen most significant women in my life.   They’re far flung – Tokyo, Toronto, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Oxford and here in the South.

And then I’m overtaken by a burst of irritation.    I don’t want this.   I don’t need to read a paragraph of psycho-babble.   I don’t want anything to happen on the 4th day (not that anything will.)   I don’t want new recipes, money, prayers, friends.   None of those.   Nothing.   And what’s more, neither do my dozen friends.

I wonder briefly about the motivation of the people who initiate these emails.   So far as I can figure, there is no profit motive in sending things like this email chain out into the atmosphere.   (Unless the object is to get more traffic on the site.)  Can it really just be people who haven’t enough to do in their lives, filing up the unforgiving minute with risky ventures ‘to see what happens’.    (I used to do things to see what happened, but not any more.    Generally I found in these situations, far more happened than you bargained for.   Plenty of things happen that you can’t prevent and have to deal with, without you starting up a few more.)

And then I turn my thoughts back to my valued friend.    She’s a sensible woman, not given to superstitions or other time-wasting nonsense.   I think, why is she doing this?   Then I wonder, why I would do it?   Because I don’t want to hurt my friend’s feelings.    And why is she doing it?   For exactly the same reason.   So we’re all doing things that we don’t want to do in order not to offend the feelings of the person who sent it to us, and no doubt she likewise, stretching back into infinity.   So I dump the draft email.

Ladies, let’s not do it.    You can send me anything you want me to see – just for me to read;  for my information;  to make me laugh;  to give me an option;  for my opinion.    I’ll be glad to receive these.     If it’s not confidential and I think others might find it amusing, I’ll post it on.    But don’t send me any chain emails.   I won’t be doing them.   I know you don’t really want to either.

Let’s cast off these chains.


Recently I’ve been feeling rather low and my optimistic  disposition seems to have temporarily abandoned me.    It’s probably sick of my endless whinging  and snivelling, and I’m missing it and trying to entice it back.   As ever, we do not appreciate our blessings  in life sufficiently.

I’m not by any means a starry eyed optimist.   I’m suspicious, sceptical, critical.   I’m strong willed, determined and self  reliant and once I’ve made up my mind very difficult to shift from my position.    If I, having carefully  considered my options, had made a stand, ten thousand people telling me I was wrong  would not alter my opinion.   I am aware  there are dangers in this attitude.   But  with it goes a firm belief that life is beautiful and wonderful, a willingness  to take a chance and trust in bountiful fortune.    I believe that if you face your  difficulties with the best courage you can muster;  if you are generous and giving ; if you  attempt to walk the path of virtue;  in  short if you do your very best, then spirit and strength and courage will flow  to you and all will be well (though not necessarily what you might have wished for).

And I see that though I sat down to write despondently,  in fact I still believe this.    It comes  back to love.   Love conquers all and if  only you can hold on to that it will shine a light to lead you out of the  darkest of places.     Why will love  conquer all?    Because it’s love.    Hatred, envy, selfishness, greed – these  may be powerful for a time, but in the end they are proved to be the dirty,  despicable little things they are.    How could  love not prevail?

So here’s a few of my blessings.

A good man and true walks through life beside me and has  always done his utmost to protect me (and makes me laugh.)   He is the darling of my heart.

Two lovely talented young women are my tender and beloved daughters  (and they like clothes).

A thoughtful, insightful and handsome young man is my  favourite son (and can fix my computer and cheer me up.)

My parents were gifted and skilled and loved me.

My grandchildren are a delight to me.

The spouses of my children are kind and loving and make  them happy.    May they live forever in such glad harmony.

I rejoice in my kinsmen, the near and the far of them,  those known of old and those met only recently, my own and my husband’s.    They enrich our lives and share our genes.

My intimate friends are intelligent, thoughtful and loyal  companions, who know me very well and amazingly still seem to like me (and  shopping.)

I have a varied and affectionate and fun body of friends  and I have always been extremely fortunate in the people round about me.

I have a thoughtful disposition and am happy within  myself.

I can cook and I like eating and I can eat whatever I  like and stay slim.

I have always found it easy to say whatever I want and never have to struggle to be heard.

I enjoy modest comfort and a sufficiency of material things.

In my day, some people accounted me beautiful.

I have always felt loved.

It is no wonder I have a cheerful disposition – clearly  it is a gift of fate and none of my doing.

Now of course no-one’s life is a list of unmitigated  joys.   All of the above are true, but  some of them come with difficulties.   I  have just chosen to concentrate on the positives.    But it is good to remind yourself  occasionally just how many of these you hold, and how undeserving of such benefits  you are.   I see that in the things that  really matter, I am rich beyond dreams of avarice.

Nor do I believe that my blessings are in any way  extraordinary.   Yours, I am quite sure,  are equally wonderful and miraculous.    Count them and you will see.

And as you read this, count yourself, dear reader, a  blessing of mine.