I went out of my way to go into London last weekend to see the poppies at The Tower of London, by London Bridge. I’ll admit that I’ve never gone out of my way to join in a remembrance day event before, though I do sit in quite contemplation at 11:00 on the 11th November and pay silent thanks to those that put themselves into harms way (willingly or drafted) in order that I can live today in the relative peace and freedom that we have. I don”t try and imagine the hell they experienced in their service to country, but I try in that moment to solemnly pay respect and thanks that they did it.
So this year I decided to do this. Make an effort. Go the Tower. I couldn’t get there for the actual day (its a 3 hour drive to London for me – 6 hour round trip!) but I was ‘down south’ the weekend after so I got up early on the Sunday and jumped on the train and headed into London.
There were plenty of people there, but no where near the amount of people that I heard were there on the day. I didn’t have to queue to get near to the Tower and found space at the walls looking down onto the moat and the tower wall without any effort.
A see of red poppies in the moat around Tower Bridge
I stood at the walls looking down for 10 minutes, knowing that each flower represents a life lost, but the scale is just too big, This was just one side of the tower and the poppies surround it completely. It really makes you think. But then, as I walked around the Tower, what I saw made me sadder still. It is only a temporary installation – a Remembrance Day display, so there was an army or people already starting to remove the display.
Poppies being packed away into boxes, their service done, much like the soldiers they stood to represent
Seeing the poppies had had an impact on me – the scale of the loss of life made real to me, and the realisation of how easy it is to not put real meaning to big numbers, when the loss of a single life is so tragic. But seeing these poppies, so rich in colour and reflecting life and sacrifice, being pulled up, dismantled and placed into boxes was a much more poignant to me. It reflected the loss so much more profoundly; You’ve don your duty, now lets put you to rest. You Stood proud for such a short space of time, but now that time has gone. We salute you and are proud of you, but now we move on.
I stayed in the area of Tower Bridge for about an hour, slowly walking the perimeter of the moat, viewing the poppies, deep in my own personal thought, and then with a final silent thanks, I left to carry on.
Because as much as we must not forget, we must carry on.
We must live – and we must live a life we are happy with, that we can be proud of, that we don’t waste while waiting to something to happen.
So think about that. What are you doing?
For me, I realised I’m working too much. That I’ve slipped back into working long days and even when I’m away from work, the pressures on work are still at the front of my mind.
Time to start pushing back for me. Time to start focusing on doing the things I want to do again. Like finding the time to write this. Time to spend more time with Kate. Time to find more time for friends.
Lets see if I have that courage.