By Jo Scrimshaw, Oct 17 2015 05:00PM
We decided to take a trip to Gibraltar, to visit the barracks, that were home to my husband Dan whilst he was a young man, serving in the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers. He left Gibraltar, (know as Gib, to the ex pat community) in 1970. 45 years is a long time in anyone's life. We all make changes as the years go past, but the landscape of Gibraltar has been profoundly reshaped with so much new housing and support services. Gibraltar has a new runway and large sections of land, reclaimed from the sea. We set out on the first day to find South Barracks. Frustration soon set in, when we couldn't actually get to anywhere that looked familiar to him. Old memories of a balcony overlooking the port, wobbled in his head as we found assorted buildings that "might be" South Barracks. A local man directed us up yet another steep road, reminding Dan of route marches up hills that felt so much easier back then. We were on the verge of giving up for the day, when the turn of a corner revealed our goal. There it was ! It is a school now but the verandah and door were still there, surprisingly familiar. Memories flooded back, for time has no meaning when the past opens a door with so much to view. With the building as a centrepiece to the past, local roads, gateways and steps reshaped the mental landscape, fading out all the new buildings that had felt so dominant when we first arrived. He was, for a few moments, back in 1970. The parade ground is now a car park and the port that used to house the Navy and the stores, has been let out to local businesses as workshops and industrial units. But the South Barracks building still exists, claiming its place in history, along with the Barbary apes, the tunnels, caves, military signs and Governors Residence (complete with uniformed military guards)..
Dan isn't disappointed. Now that he has found his focus, he can see the changes as good things. He is keen to come back again and explore parts of the island that are new or were inaccessible when he was last here. Finding that one building allowed him to move on. His past memories had found acknowledgment.
I am reminded of my own search for the statue of a stone Boar. Claremont Woods and Lakes were a regular destination for picnics during my childhood. My first task was always to run into the woods and search out the magical stone boar. The second task was to find the lake and walk through the overgrown grotto that shrouded a crescent shape at its northern shore. I always loved the C.S.Lewis stories of the children through the wardrobe. That stone Boar was my very own Mr Tumnus, and the lake undoubtedly housed fairies and elves. 35 years later I agreed to meet a friend there. The gardens had been restored to their former glories. The landscaped steps and the genteel picnic areas, were ready for new generations of children. The stone Boar stood proudly in an open area and the path round the lake was neatly manicured. My expectation was a refurbished garden, that still had a boar to find and fairies hiding in the undergrowth. However, after the initial surprise, I recognised that this new layout was the only one that new visitors knew about. They will make their own stories and dream their own dreams and they will expect their vision of places to stay the same.
Expectations are natural. Dan had expectations that he would find more of his old Gibraltar, and I had expectations that my childhood memories would stay the same. Expectations are our hope for the future, but they are also our fears. Despite the fact that it's only October, the shops are filling up with Christmas items. I know that there are lots of people who look forward to the seasonal festivities with the same expectations that they had as children. A time for families to come together, lights to twinkle, parties, presents to open and a large jovial man with promises of bounty. But there are, I'm sure, an equal number who expect Christmas to be stressful; filled only with excess and being obliged to spend the day with people they don't see all year. Maybe they don't have anyone to spend it with, or the money to make the day anything special.
Expectations are an anticipation of a future that is created in our heads. A myriad of electrical impulses based on life experiences and random information gathered, scrambled and presented in our minds as a concrete picture. But life will change our every expectation into reality at some stage. I don't know about you, but the reality never matches the way I think it will be.
Worrying about an event in the future is compulsive viewing. It beats anything that the tv companies can come up with. It consumes our thoughts, robs us of sleep and changes the way we act.
Anticipating an exciting event can put a spring in our steps and a positive outlook. It seems that Doctors look for positive events to help patients deal with acute depression. Having something to look forward to is a significant tool for those who feel overwhelmed with life.
Either way, we need to find balance. Finding the middle ground, where life is calmer and restful, is en essential part of dealing with expectations. The current movement in Mindfulness and Meditation, offer us real tools to accept change and maintain that balance.
Expectations are a part of life. Change happens all the time. If we deal with them well, we become stronger in every way.
Sometimes we just need some acknowledgement that we exist in the world, shaped by our past and open to our futures. Dan had his balcony and I still had a boar and a lake. The future is on its way, forming itself out of the mist of our actions, thoughts and feelings. But right here, right now, I am thoroughly enjoying sitting in a historic square, with seagulls squawking their way back to the port and the sounds of the world waking up for another day. Works for me ...x
#expectations #gibraltarsouthbarracks #RRF1970 #Claremontwoods #mindfulness #balance #managingchange