It was Canadian singer-songwriter Alanis Morissette who famously sang in her 1996 hit Ironic that ‘life has a funny way of sneaking up on you’ and ‘has a funny way of helping you out’.
They are lyrics that have stuck with me over the years (don’t you find some songs and lyrics do?) and resonated with me when life inevitably throws its best and worst at you when you least expect it.
And ironically (no pun intended) they have done just that again in the last day or so, starting from what was an unfortunate situation.
The ‘grievance’ (for a better word) was from a non-professional capacity and was on behalf of someone else (Ok, I should have probably kept me nose out but it was a family member who in light of recent events was very frustrated and fed up, and with good reason)
Admittedly I probably overstepped the mark as a bit of frustration and anger was triggered off by an off-the-cuff comment slightly oblivious to the situation in hand, and sadly where I am concerned the proverbial red mist descended. In essence the situation could have been handled better – by me firstly and the other party, but at the time in the context of things it seemed the right thing to do to get matters off my chest.
Within an hour or so, I contacted to apologise, which was accepted in short, as was my request to speak and make up with said individual face-to-face the next time we meet (to possibly air my grievance – of which I believe to be well-qualified for – but in a slightly better fashion).
Anyway, having slept and woken to a new day, the whole futility of said situation was brought into wider perspective by three relatively innocuous meetings in a very short space of time.
Well, life has a funny way of sneaking up on you
And life has a funny way of helping you out
Helping you out.
Songwriters: Glen Ballard / Alanis Nadine Morissette
Ironic lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group, The Bicycle Music Company
Here’s how things transpired.
I swim most lunchtimes and have done for a number of years now, workload and appointments permitting. Inevitably you get to see and know many people and faces, and today was no exception; apart from something a little surprising and quite heartening.
The first was on my way there. I normally walk from home/office which takes 15 minutes or go by bike which takes 10, with my normal route passing the local hospital grounds. For a few months now I have seen a suited gentleman – possibly a doctor or consultant - leave the buildings and walk the surrounding roads essentially on a lunchtime walk. Inevitably we normally bump into each other and exchange the time of day, and today followed the same pattern, but for something different. Instead of the now-usual daily greeting exchange, he struck up a short conversation, albeit short and brief - and on the typically British things of weather and nearby roadworks – but we chatted. Totally unexpected, totally out of the blue, but nonetheless quite heartwarming. It was almost as if the proverbial ice had been broken or the barriers were down and a friendship of sorts was struck.
So that started things and raised my spirits.
Next, at my usual swim venue, there was the cheery elderly gentlemen who without fail will always say hello, as did one of my neighbours who can always be relied upon to have a broad smile on his face and have a chat whenever you see him. However it was another middle aged gentleman – an occasional swimmer in comparison to myself – who provided the day’s second uplifting moment.
We pass pleasantries of the day on most occasions when we get chance but today there was something different. I was just about to start my quota of lengths and he had just finished. However, [again] instead of not only saying hello, he also introduced himself, extended the hand of friendship, and apologised for not having done so before; the reason being he said as his eyesight regularly fails him and he doesn’t necessarily see people so clearly all the time. It was quite a sweet moment I thought, quite uplifting and brought a smile to both our faces which won’t be the last time I’m sure.
So he departs shortly after and I swim.
Within 30 minutes of completing my swim and exiting my proverbial lunchtime retreat, I bump into a friend that I used to play football and cricket and have known for years; in fact we even went travelling to New Zealand together back in 1997. We had a catch-up over this and that, before he told me about a recent incident he was involved with which shocked me - he was attacked in the street whilst on a day out. The unprovoked attack saw my friend fall, bump and crack his head on the pavement, from which he blacked out for some time before medical assistance arrived; the upshot being he has been diagnosed with a small bleed on the brain. My friend is still recovering and off work, and is still suffering with occasional headaches and a loss of sense of taste and smell. In essence he was lucky; it could have been far worse.
And it brought a few things into perspective a little more; particularly after last night.
Firstly, life is too short to worry about minor disagreements. There are fair greater things in life to focus on that can bring joy and wellbeing to not only ourselves but many around us; even people we don’t necessarily know or have not or may not meet.
Secondly, it is the small things in life that can make a difference to someone
So while those three chance and fairly innocuous instances I have explained might not seem much – but did for me at the time and also I hope for the other party - you are perhaps asking yourself what has this got to do with copywriting and writing in general.
Well, a couple of things came to mind straight away.
- In the same way that at times you have to step away from a situation in life to see the bigger picture, the same applies with copywriting. Leaving a piece of sales copy or editorial and then going back to it a day or two later (perhaps even longer) gives a clearer fresher perspective and outlook. The situation may not require wholesale changes, it might not require any changes at all, but taking time away from it does provide the opportunity to take stock and look at things again with fresh eyes and mind.
2. It is the minor details that matter.
A simple hello or short conversation or offer of friendship can make someone’s day and put a smile on anyone's face. With copywriting, connecting with your reader or viewer can make such a difference in so many ways; from making them feel wanted, raising a smile, encouraging them to try something new and different, or potentially visiting, seeing and experiencing something new. I get particular joy and satisfaction knowing that my writing – whether it is for a brochure, a website or an editorial - and somebody reading it and taking action from it could result in having a profound effect on someone’s life and short and long term well-being; and it has.
3. [with apologies to Alanis] life has a funny way of bringing a bit of perspective to our everyday lives, and particularly when you least expect it to.
I hope you can perhaps relate to some of the aspects I have conveyed here. You may have had similar instances yourself
I would love to hear your thoughts.