Always Push For More Out Of Life
I’ve spent too much of my life NOT living in the present, avoiding even starting to do things because my busy little mind is already two steps ahead, thinking of what’s happening later, the work I yet have to do, the ironing that’s piled up, the empty fridge that needs filling. When I stopped drinking, I embarked on a journey of self-discovery, and that growth in my personal development is something I would never have done had I carried on riding the booze bus. But recently, I have noticed just how rarely I engage in doing the stuff I want to do and – ironically – how happy I am when I actually engage in the stuff I want to do. I’ve come a long way, but I want to go further.
Years ago, on a trip to London, my then boyfriend and I found ourselves looking at ancient ceramics in the British History Museum, and we were laughing so much at the fact that we had no interest whatsoever in looking at them. Why were we there, we pondered? We wound up a couple of hours later in a bar in SoHo, getting drunk and deliberating over our boring pot-gazing activities. The point is, not that we ended up getting drunk later, but that we even bothered to look at the pots in the first place.
A lesson in authenticity: never waste your precious time on earth doing the things other people like doing and that you think you SHOULD be doing. This is often drilled into us as kids when we desperately want to make our parents and other grown-ups happy, and we dutifully do what is expected.
But it should never carry on into adulthood, and this means developing the means and ability to understand your own needs, getting to know yourself fully, and finding the confidence to just go out there and do whatever the fuck you want with your life (as long as you don’t hurt anyone in the process, obvs).
I’ve been aware of a dawning realisation in recent years of how much of my life is now spent working and doing the things I don’t want to do. Most of my weekends are taken up with ‘clearing the decks’ so I can concentrate on work when Monday morning rolls around and I won’t be consumed with ironing, cleaning and shopping. Don’t get me wrong, I love my job and am very happy when working, but I don’t want to spend the rest of my life, when I’m not working, doing household chores and over-planning the future.
The thing that’s hit me recently is that in order to get the most out of life, the parts when you do the stuff the love, you need to immerse yourself in it and do it properly, mindfully, with love and passion. I have too-frequently just gone through the motions, acting out a part, with no heart or soul invested in the process. I may as well not have been there in body because my mind has been elsewhere, busily planning and scheduling and worrying.
So in 2019, my number one goal is to live in the present doing the things I love, and doing them mindfully. If you never feel alive, then what’s the point in being here at all? I want to look back on a life packed to the rafters with laughter, fun, contentment and love. I do not want to cast an eye back and remember slaving away over the ironing.
How then to go about this plan?
I’m a massive believer in accountability. This got me sober. You have to put it out there, to a degree, that you intend to change, otherwise there’s absolutely nothing preventing you from returning to your old ways.
Here is my accountability – here are the things I want to do in 2019…
· Go to a few festivals – not necessarily Glasto but little ones, culture-based ones, book ones, ones where I will be interested to see what’s there, music ones, fun ones, family-friendly ones. And when I’m there I want to relax and chill the hell out, and not worry about how much work I have to do.
· Climb mountains. Walk up blustery hills, and hike in the bleak, wintry countryside. With a flask of Yorkshire tea.
· Go on a surf/yoga retreat.
· Run the Palma half-marathon and go to the after party.
· Visit Go Ape again, and swing about in the treetops.
· Hire a bike and cycle around Derwent Reservoir.
· Plan to walk a section of the GR-221, the mountain walk through the Tramuntana Mountains in Mallorca, in spring 2020. Not just plan it, but sort it out, book it, and then do it. With my fella.
In 2019 and beyond, I am going to have some fun. I’m going to take myself away to a new and different place, mentally, and do my best to let go of ancient anxieties, hang-ups and self-imposed restrictions. I won’t be visiting museums full of old pots. I will be spending time in the sea and in nature. I will laugh a lot. I will remind myself that life is for doing the things that make us happy as much as possible, and not just for hard work and domestic drudgery.
And I’ll let you know how it goes.