Taken For Granted

In this blog I wanted to talk about “taking things for granted”. Recently I have gone through a few experiences that have made me really think just how much we take for granted. Some of these things are very personal, but I wanted to share them here with you so you can hopefully understand where this all came from and in some way I hope this gets you to thinking about things in your life that perhaps wouldn’t normally get a second thought.

So where do I begin? Well I have had a shoulder issue for some time, but in that typical fashion I just kept putting off seeing a Dr and when it was bad I just took some pain killers until it felt a bit better and got on with things. I know, not the best thing to do, but hey, that’s what we do right? Well in December I was doing some canoe training with some of the team and I really pulled my shoulder and it hurt like hell. Some good came from this as we did some canoe training on how you would continue paddling as a group with an injured member of the party. Anyhow, when I got home I decided to do the sensible thing. Go to the Dr’s? Nope, go to the gym and train it gently. “Honestly”. And yep, it got worse. To the point I was not able to lift my arm above waist high. NOT GOOD, NOT GOOD AT ALL.  Well, I had “taken for granted” it would heal. I ended up going to the hospital and having an ultrasound scan. I had torn my rotator cuff quite badly. The result of this was awaiting an operation and as I am self-employed no work and no income. Bugger!

I was taking for granted I would be able to work but when I found I was unable to it caused a few problems, not just for me having no income but for Woodland Ways too, in losing one of their full time instructors. Courses and staff had to be moved about. Personally I have now looked into a health cover that should cover me financially if I am unable to work.

Whilst off work with my shoulder issue I thought I would do a few jobs around the house. Have you ever tried doing things one handed when you have lost the use of your dominant hand? It’s pretty hard and very frustrating I can tell you, even some of the simple jobs you take for granted like opening a bottle, picking up a brew or even wiping your bum became left handed tasks. Even sleeping was an issue as when I rolled onto my right side the pain would wake me up. This resulted in me sleeping on my back most of the time. This resulted in me snoring more than normal. This resulted in my wife not sleeping well. This resulted in us both being tired and a bit short with each other, with me being in pain and not the happiest of bunny, this was not good for our relationship. I am blessed to have such an amazing, caring, understanding wife, but it was causing stress we didn’t need. All these things from something I just took for granted. What would you do if you lost the use of your dominant hand / arm?

The other VERY personal thing I wanted to share is the passing of my father Alan Nairn. Pop’s as we called him had been ill for some time, but after Christmas he went downhill very quickly. We knew he was going to pass; it was just a matter of how much longer we would have him with us. Kara & I visited (they live in the Lakes and we’re in Blackburn) as often as we could. The last time I went up to see him he had been in bed all week and unable to care for himself. I spent some time with him alone talking about what was to happen when he passed. Pop’s had everything written down and planned out. It was all taken care of. He had taken nothing for granted. Before I left him that time I went in and said “I’ve come to say goodbye as I have to go and you won’t be here when I return will you?” He replied “No, I don’t think I will.” We had a few minutes and then I left. Two days later mom rang to say he had gone. I am so glad I took that time to say goodbye and that I didn’t take for granted he would be there next time I visited. Never take for granted you will get to see someone again. Tell them you love them and what they mean to you every time you part.

Ian with his father Alan Nairn “Pop’s”

Moving on to more light hearted matters, Kara and I went for a walk to a local reservoir and I know that there is a really good patch of cat tail there that I can harvest seed heads from for ember extenders, so I packed a few foraging bags to fill. I just took for granted they would be there. When we got to them, they were there, hundreds of them all perfect and ready to harvest. Problem is with the amount of rain we have had they were standing in about 3 feet of water and I couldn’t get to them. First time this has happened as normally they are readily accessible. I had taken for granted I would be able to access them.  Another harvesting example was whilst shopping. I saw a grip trainer kit in a charity shop for just £3.99. That’s a bargain I thought. I will come back and get that when we have finished doing all the “important” shopping we need to do. I just took for granted it would still be there later. You guessed it, on return it had sold.

So when nature offers up a gift to you, accept that gift at the time of offering, be it fruit in a tree, seed heads or an item in a shop and thank her for making the gift available to you. Mother Nature is offering you the chance to take advantage of this opportunity, don’t take for granted it will be there next time.

I was once taught that if you find yourself in a survival situation, NEVER EVER pass up an opportunity when offered. Collect fire wood when you are able and the weather is good as you never know when the weather will turn making firewood wet and collection more difficult. Or maybe you get injured and are not able to go collect more wood. Wouldn’t you wish you had collected more when you were able to? Don’t take it for granted.

In everyday life how much do we take for granted? Push the light switch and the lights come on. What happens when they don’t? Turn the oven on to cook food, be it gas or electric. What happens when the oven doesn’t work? How would you cook food? Turn the tap on and fill the kettle for a brew. What happens when no water comes from your tap and the kettle won’t work? You go to flush the toilet but it won’t work, how do you deal with human waste if these services stop working? What plans do you have in place to deal with these situations? Don’t take for granted your services will work.

I am not saying you need to become a full on prepper, but you should have an understanding of what you need to do in these circumstances.

What bushcraft skills do you have? How often do you practice these skills? Are you aware of “Skills Fade”? Its fine learning a skill but lack of use of that skill and it will fade. Practice, practice, practice to make these skills second nature so that should you need them you don’t even need think they just come naturally. Don’t take your skills for granted. Just like the edge of a knife, they can dull so keep them sharp and keen by frequent honing.

I think we all had a bit of an experience of taking travel for granted a while back and then COVID 19 hit and we were all restricted be that domestic or international travel. I think we all suffered there. I personally missed out on trips to Canada, Sweden and Mauritius during this time. Now that things are returning to some sort of normal, I want to take every opportunity I can to travel more. I will no longer take for granted those trips to far off places. I want to make the most of every experience and soak up as much as I possibly can. Who knows when something like that may happen again?

So, I hope you have found this little slice of my life interesting and I truly hope it in some way helps you to improve your outlook on things. But I won’t take that for granted. 😉

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