Hello lock pickers,
It's a funny old game, life! The top three quotes about life on a whopping list of 150 are as follows:
1. “The purpose of our lives is to be happy.” — Dalai Lama
2. “Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.” — John Lennon
3. “Get busy living or get busy dying.” —
Which if we were to condense into one SuperQuote™ would read something like this....
"Get busy being happy when you're not making other plans"
Which is actually good advice, since what it's really saying is 'Life happens now'.
The Dalai Lama - he's got a present for you!
It's interesting just how many of the other 147 quotes in the list have this sense of 'the present' as their main theme. As our lives become increasingly structured, regulated, monitored, scheduled, processed, and analysed - we're more and more finding ourselves, or at least our sense of selves, projected into the future.
We're taught this from an early age. Once those few glorious years of childhood are over, it's all about learning for our exams. Learning to get good grades. Why? So we can get into university or get a good job. Why? So we can get a better job or a better university. Why? So we can earn more money. Why? So we can meet a better quality partner. Why? So we can have a family and give them a better quality of life than we had. Why? So they can do well at school and have opportunities. Why? So the sorry cycle of thinking about the future can start again.
Ah, those wonderful school-days, best days of your life! No. Not at all.
It takes quite the event to knock us out of this cycle, and wake us up to the present in which we actually inhabit. A death of a loved one, or a parent will often bring us crashing down to the present, and remind us - albeit temporarily - about what's actually important in life.
I remember living in South East England in 1987 when a completely out of character and devastating storm tore hundred year old trees up from the roots and sent garden sheds tumbling up the street. A local town called Sevenoaks was renamed Oneoaks, such was the destruction of the storm and the mess it left in its wake.
However, during the storm, I had a great time! Living in a terrace house, which was over one hundred years old, my father took the whole family downstairs, the fear being the chimney stack might fall through the roof, right on top of us!
This was the kind of catastrophe my dad was worried about. (although that is not my dad in the photo, that would be another type of catastrophe altogether)
Once downstairs, we huddled around an old transistor radio. There was no electricity, so no television, no light - we had candles burning - and mum used an old camping stove to make us tea. It was unusually comforting, cosy, and we felt like a family, fighting the storm as a unit. It was bliss.
This is an actual photo from the 1987 storm, huddled around the radio. My Dad, his two wives, me wondering who the other kid is.
As an adult, it comes as no surprise to me that these were good times. Having the endless burden of advertising and commodities temporarily lifted from our lives, it was as if we had been transported back to the present. With very little to distract us we bonded as a family like we hadn't in a long time. Huddled around that radio, wrapped in duvets, thick woolen socks hanging off our feet, my brother and I listened to dad telling us stories, while mum was doing whatever she could keep us warm, fed and watered. I remember being quite sad when it was all over and life returned to 'normal'.
But let's also be realistic. The storms that October caused terrible damage and at least 22 fatalities. Over 15 million trees were felled and many businesses never got back on their feet. Any disaster is exactly that, disastrous, but in such troubled times we do sometimes find the best of humanity rises to the top, and lessons can be learned. The clean-up over the next few days even brought the community together in ways I just hadn't seen before.
In this current pandemic, it would appear the world will never be the same again, and only time will tell exactly what changes and adaptations we'll need to make and how long for. And yet, as an online business owner I have been inundated with thank-you emails from both individuals and families who have found lock picking an ideal form of relief - and something that's bringing their family together.
While millions are out of work and the economy collapses, artists are working through the night to see who can produce the most trippy Covid-19 image.
It's been amazing to hear of families who are sitting round challenging each other to lock picking competitions. One man wrote that his daughter - at only ten years old and who's never showed an interest in this great art before, has used her time wisely. Not only is she now proficient at single pin picking' ("She's actually better than me now, which is slightly annoying" - the father said) but it also gave them something to focus on together, something they can learn together - while spending time together.
Artists impression of previous paragraph.
Other people - complete beginners - have let me know how much fun they've been having moving through their practice locks "I have always been interested in lock picking, every time I saw it on a film I thought 'Does that really work?'" said one man, who has now picked every lock he could get his hands on; and is now predictably hungry for more. We all know that one.
I emailed a new customer to wish him well on his journey and he replied "My kids and I are looking forward to getting this kit. I think lock picking is kind of like solving a puzzle and we are looking forward to tickling our brains in a different way" which couldn't be more accurate. Lock picking is a puzzle, with each lock providing new challenges, different problems, and different solutions.
So while I - like everyone else - is looking forward to this awful situation passing, it's good to know we've had a part, however small, in bringing a bit of the magic I felt during that storm in 1987 to people's lives today, during these trying times, because when families play together they stay together, and I never thought lock picking would be so wonderfully wholesome, something our culture is often sadly lacking.
Best wishes people - and stay safe.