A simple wooden mug... Warning: Contains Emotional stuff...

As some readers will be aware I'm doing an Open University degree, the OU is the UK distance learning university so I can try and fit it in around the work, charity stuff, running and other stuff... You know like a social life! ;-)

Anyway, we're looking at "material culture", which is arty farty jargon for what objects tell us about how people lived, what they valued.  So at the tutorial today we were asked to think of an item that means a lot to us and describe it; it's use and so on.

Mine was a little wooden mug, a Kuksa, most of the time it sits in my box of important things. Currently it's sitting there on top of my (science) degree certificate with my MBE in its case balanced in it.  If that sounds haphazard, it is.  This is my box that only gets opened when it needs to, and the rest of time is my chamber of memories.

The mug was given to me north of the Arctic Circle in a town called Rovenami, at the first European conference of adults with congenital heart disease I ever went to.  There I met friends who despite time passed and miles apart are in someways the closest friends I have.

That little mug is there for hope and sorrow; it comes out when I need to remember the joy I felt in that conference, and when I need to remember why I carry on doing what I do.

Not for this this mug a dusty cupboard, but the highlights and lowlights of my life. So when there is good news; a marriage made, a baby born then it is there, in my hand a single malt sloshing in its birch embrace.

And when the world's sorrows multiple; when friends are hurting, and as happens too, too often when they die then it is there again, again with a single malt, watered with a salted tear or three.

In two weeks I'll be seeing some of those friends again, at this years conference in Copenhagen.  A lot won't be there, some because they've decided their time at the conferences is over, some because life has gotten busy and too many because they're not around anymore.

I'm often thought of as the cold one, whose more interested in politics than emotions.  That's not quite true, its just to do what I do best, to help in the way I can do most I sometimes I have to put what I'm feeling most away in a box.  Only to come out when needed...

The good news is not all of my OU tutorials result in me examining my own feelings like this, and I'm not sure it was the intention, but its is a salutary lesson in not assuming that the big showy things are the important things.




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