The gift of en­cour­age­ment

The Oban Times - - LETTERS - AN­GUS MACPHAIL an­gus­macphail@ya­

WHAT a truly great gift it is to re­ceive a mes­sage of en­cour­age­ment at the right time from the right per­son.

Af­ter re­turn­ing last week from a very en­joy­able Easter hol­i­day, I awoke on Thurs­day morn­ing with a se­vere case of post-hol­i­day hee­bie-jee­bies. This was the oc­ca­sional but nonethe­less recog­nis­able feel­ing of trep­i­da­tion, re­gret, doubt, fear and neg­a­tiv­ity that can creep up on one ev­ery now and then.

‘AAAAGGHHH! What was I do­ing tak­ing all that time off when there’s so much to be done? There is too much to do and not enough time now and it is all too dif­fi­cult any­way.’

This state can es­ca­late eas­ily to mo­men­tar­ily cov­er­ing the world and one’s place in it with a dark shade of gloom. How­ever, a well-timed and un­ex­pected email im­me­di­ately ban­ished these fu­tile feel­ings of black­ness back to their cage of en­ergy-sap­ping ir­ra­tional­ity where they be­long.

This was a sim­ple, short but beau­ti­fully writ­ten mes­sage from some­one I hold in very high re­gard, com­pli­ment­ing me on my Oban Times con­tri­bu­tion pub­lished that day and mak­ing pos­i­tive ref­er­ence to a few other par­tic­u­lar pieces.

As I’m sure most people do, I of­ten have con­sid­er­able pe­ri­ods of self- doubt regarding my out­put – in song-writ­ing and in my Oban Times ar­ti­cles. I very much en­joy the writ­ing process it­self but dur­ing the thank­fully tran­si­tory mo­ments when the dark dogs of doom and doubt are hov­er­ing, I of­ten think: ‘ What a load of cack and why would any­one be in­ter­ested in such drib­ble?’

Bar­ing parts of the soul to the wider world brings risks of re­jec­tion and ridicule to the fore and I sup­pose these are some of the things that, as hu­mans, we are most af­fected by

That was how I was feel­ing last Thurs­day and the email re­ceived in­stantly sent these dark dogs whim­per­ing away to a far off ken­nel where they should be and I was in­stantly re­filled with vigour.

In a wider con­text, it brought forth recog­ni­tion of the value of giv­ing en­cour­age­ment to oth­ers when it is rel­e­vant to do so. To the giver, it can seem in­signif­i­cant but to the re­ceiver it could have a huge in­flu­ence and in some cases be truly life- chang­ing.

Like most of the best things in life there is no down­side to pass­ing on a gen­uine com­pli­ment, there is never a bad time to do it and the vir­tu­ous cir­cle of good­ness it cre­ates is one that can spread ex­po­nen­tially.

Whether you are a joiner talking to an ap­pren­tice, a teacher to a pupil, a skip­per to a young crew mem­ber, a suc­cess­ful builder to a young plumber or an es­tab­lished writer email­ing a novice colum­nist, words of en­cour­age­ment are pow­er­ful and can have a life-long last­ing pos­i­tive ef­fect.

The bounty of en­cour­age­ment is in­deed a golden gift.

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