Lessons in Living
I think it's safe to say that for most of us, the majority of our lives is spent feeling as if we are just a few minutes late—it's not a bad thing, it just is. But this year, I was very much on time; I had a book published.
I'm not actually used to being on time, and I'm definitely not used to things going to plan. So this year has been interesting. It's been an experiment in boundaries and time, an exercise in limits and predictability and colour. It's was also completely unforeseeable. For those of you who have only recently joined my saga, I have written a little before about the events which have (seemingly) led me to here, but will now try to explain to you more generously and/or coherently what is currently inside my head—for my own benefit as much as yours.
This book has been a lesson in living.
For me, it was just as much about the before and during as it was the after, so here are a few variations on the thoughts I amassed in the run-up to publication.
1. YOU WILL NOT SEE THE MAGIC COMING
365 days ago, I (supposedly) knew what the next 3 years of my life looked like, and would not have been able to tell you what a bound galley was. I wasn't filled, or unfulfilled, or much in particular—just wandering in the vague direction of life. It was OK, but I didn't think anything would ever get any easier or understandable.
2. THE BAD DAYS ARE MADE UP OF GOOD ONES
3. YOU ARE GOING TO DO THINGS THAT YOU SAID YOU WOULDN'T
Before, when I read about people who had become unbalanced, who were working too much and not leaving any room to just live and to just be, I didn't think that I'd ever count myself as one of them, because I like living. But. If you're anything like me, projects get under your skin and you begin to put things aside in order to either not fall behind, or to get ahead. Why would you go for a walk when you have 15 emails to reply to? I'm still attempting to rebalance myself, before 24/7 work days become irreversibly normal, because it doesn't equal more of an output, or a better one.
4. THINGS WILL GO WRONG AND YOU WILL MAKE MISTAKES
I'm pretty sure this might just be nature's way of ensuring that your head doesn't get too big for your body, but for anyone who resembles a perfectionist, it can be really difficult not to beat yourself up about these matters for the next few weeks, or years, or forever. It takes practice to let things float on by, but it's so, so necessary.
5. DON'T BE SURPRISED IF YOU STILL WAKE UP FEELING LIKE YOU WANT TO GO INTO PERMANENT HIBERNATION
Good things happen to bad people and good people, but they also happen to people who are prone to being unhappy. And even miracles are not going to mean you wake up everyday feeling ready to tackle the world—sometimes quite the contrary.
6. THE NEW WILL EVENTUALLY BECOME NORMAL
7. PROCRASTINATION IS FOR EVERYBODY
8. SAY YES MORE THAN YOU SAY MAYBE
9. SLOW THE GODDAMN DOWN
Have you noticed how fast people move these days? Sauntering is frowned upon, as is talking less at than 300 words per minute. Stop moving so fast. I want to write/rant properly about this, but for now, just calm yourself.
10. BRAVE IS BENEFICIAL
I didn't know that I was a brave person until quite recently—in the past I'd just thought I was either reckless, careless, foolish, or some combination of those. You, and mostly everybody around you, will benefit from your braveness. I also think that upon demonstrating your lion heart to the world, it will throw more lovely things at you—more challenges that terminate in good.
11. DO YOUR BEST TO STAY ODD
I always set my alarm clock with the minutes as multiples of 11. Your desire to conform is one that you don't want to keep around, because being able to look yourself in the eye is countless times more important.
And so, an ending of sorts. I never know what to write at the end of a list. Instead I will leave you with an indistinguishable shape that I think looks quite like a hummingbird.