Belfast Telegraph

Nuala McKeever: Chewing on life’s gristle? Well, always look on the bright side

On Monday my home phone went. I don't mean it rang, I mean it went. Bust. Kaput. Stopped working. Went on strike. Gave up the ghost. Just said no. Died.

On Tuesday a hinge on the most-used cupboard door in the kitchen (no, not the booze cupboard) suddenly came un-hinged.

On Wednesday the kettle decided it had had enough and went off the boil permanently.

On Thursday a window in an empty bedroom cracked on the inside of the double glazing.

On Friday a lightbulb in the kitchen blew.

On Saturday the rollers on the shower door went for an early bath and on Sunday I woke up with a sore throat, a mouth ulcer and a sty in my eye.

Ok, so it's not an earthquake followed by a tsunami, but still.

These things are supposed to happen in a run of three. I've had over twice that many in one week. What's going on? I blame the cuts. No, seriously.

This is my theory and I'm sticking to it. Until someone persuades me of a better one.

The big Budget has been passed at Stormont.

The months leading up to it have seen the build up of a huge cloud of uncertainty over us all.

Such uncertainty creates tension. Tension has an energy all of its own.

It's necessary to hold things together, but too much of it and it starts to undo the very structures it's meant to support.

So many people are carrying on as normal but with a big bubble of concern swelling in their insides.

We feel unsafe, powerless, out of control of our future and therefore dismayed in the present.

All this negative energy is almost palpable and it has to go somewhere.

We haven't had huge public outpourings like they've experienced in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya. Our boil has yet to burst.

I'm no scientist but I do remember from science ‘O’ Level the idea that energy doesn't disappear.

It gets converted into a different form, but there's no overall loss.

Too much negative energy begets despair. And that's the killer.

So I propose something silly and ridiculous to convert the negative energy that's stopping and cracking and unhinging everything around us, into something positive.

It's not David Cameron's Big Society, it's our society. It's the taking control of what we can control, by individuals like you and me.

In fact, by you and me. Not waiting for axes to fall. Not being so paralysed by life being done to us.

Positive action! Parties! Laughter! Who says less money and higher bills have to signal the end of happiness?

Could it be that we are being challenged to create a balanced life, where we're freed from some of the pressures that material success brings?

How about street parties where we celebrate and express our gratitude for what we have?

Gratitude is a much more powerful place to operate from than fear.

I'm not saying times aren't tough. I'm saying I refuse to be a victim.

I'll decide when I'm happy. Not circumstances.

So I'm grateful this week for the windows in my house, for the old kettle I'd never thrown away, just in case, for the |discovery that a new phone won't be as dear as I'd thought, for the love of others, the |chance to speak and the fact that my house is standing, not swept away.

‘Take positive action! Have a party! Who says less cash and higher bills have to signal the end of happiness?’

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