It was… Not the best nor the worst of times. It was chaos and calm and innumerable other adjectives in varying ways on different days.
I must say, the last quarter of this year has been a bit of an unmitigated clusterfuck. The best way I can describe it is a long, slow, and intense nervous breakdown, leaving my nervous system, cognitive and emotional state in tatters. I know that the dark days pass. They always pass. But I am not yet at a turning point that I can see a brighter, breezier, easier road.
That will come.
I’ll be glad to welcome 2018. I’ll be glad to insist on a slower pace and less race and more space to myself.
The year ahead will be my 40th on this planet. I thought 40 would be a bigger and more daunting number.
As it stands, I am quite looking forward to it.
To illustrate my enthusiasm I thought I might share 40 things I have learned over the past four decades. These are not the ultimate, not even the penultimate lessons in my life. Just forty random observations in no particular order.
- Everyone’s home has its own smell.
- If your pet or child does not like someone, it is likely because that person is actually an asshole. There are exceptions, but I do find this to be a good indicator.
- People are flawed.
- Plans change.
- Words can hurt and heal and can’t be reclaimed once shared.
- Candles are wonderful and a gift you can confidently give for nearly any occasion.
- Horizontal stripes make you look slightly taller and thinner while vertical do the opposite.
- It actually is possible to disagree with someone and respect them anyway.
- Nobody is always right, and the people who fight the hardest to prove their point are often the most insecure. Often with good reason.
- It is okay to call time out on life and stay in bed late once in a while.
- Finding things you Love to do that are good for you (hiking, reading, writing, kayaking, yoga, skiing, drinking beautiful tea from dainty cups, etc.) can be one of the most noble and fulfilling pursuits in your life.
- It is never too late to try something.
- It is never too late to learn a new skill.
- It is never too late to forgive.
- It is never too late to apologize.
- It is never too late to call time out on a toxic or difficult relationship, and this can and should be done with respect and kindness.
- Everyone has bad habits.
- Being honest with yourself and others is hard and frequently worthwhile.
- Giving a sincere compliment can TRULY change the trajectory of a person’s day, week, year and in some special circumstances, their whole life.
- It is incredibly noble and worthwhile to earnestly and authentically laugh at yourself sometimes.
- Cruelty is never funny.
- Kindness is never truly wasted, despite it feeling like it may have been.
- There is no universal formula or indicator for guessing or supposing people’s worth and character. Trial and error is the only way.
- Tastes change. In fashion, food, and even friends. This is nothing to fear or worry about.
- I do not like scat jazz… But the older I get the more I enjoy jazz that isn’t scat. Shooby do wop wee woo skippity bop be bop. Sigh. Nope.
- It is ironic, that the funniest people I’ve met and fallen deeply and importantly in Love with, are often sufferingthe most intense emotional and mental pain.
- I’ve not found a way to describe amazing comfort I feel, after a long day in or near the ocean, and taste the dried salt water on my skin when I rest my face on my forearm. Growing up landlocked, this one simple sensation, reminds me that I am where I am for every good reason, and it is where I belong.
- Most of us hurt the people we Love the deepest and the most when we are hurting deeply ourselves. This is counter-intuitive, but it so often seems to be the case.
- Love will kick your ass no matter how careful or carefree you are. Get in the game and let Love kick the shit out of you from time to time, as it will keep you humble and honest. Everyone who holds a part of our heart; family, friends, lovers, they all have the power to break you and build you up. Just get on, open up those arms and that heart, and learn from the pain and grow from the nourishment of your heart finding and connecting someone else’s.
- Sing, dance, draw, do any/all the creative shit you can be bothered doing. Do not do it to be the best, do it because it feeds your soul and you like it.
- Sad songs are salve for the soul some days, and other days you gotta get the fuck out of bed and put something chipper on and keep going.
- It is worthwhile to make a bucket list. If you tick off one or a thousand items, it is nice to have little goals and thoughts.
- Having a pet is an invitation to heartbreak, as there’s a strong statistical probability that you (and your children/family) will outlive the adopted baby you bring into your heart and home. Do it anyway. And Love and learn and fill your heart and home with memories of that animal, because it is going to smart when goodbye comes to call, and be soworth every morsel of bitterness and pain to be Loved the way only and animal can.
- People will surprise you. I mean this in the most uplifting and positive sense, as well as in the most soul wrenching and heart-breaking sense. Yes. People will surprise you. I doubt there’s much advice to be given on managing this, because, well, surprises are, but their very nature… surprising.
- People are all fighting a hard battle. Be kind beyond what you think others may deserve, as a simple kindness in the face of deep despair can change their world. And, you may never know if it has, so go ahead and do it.
- Hurt people hurt people. If someone is an asshole, it is probably because they’ve had the shit kicked out of them by life and that’s how they cope.
- We could all benefit if we’d take the time to: Listen. More. Carefully.
- You are the person you will spend the most time with in your time on this earth, so you may as well fucking like yourself.
- Seek out your tribe, but please do endeavour to find and learn from people who are different to yourself. Different politics, philosophies and paths. We learn plenty in our comfort zones, but far more when we are prepared to step safely outside and take in new perspectives.
- I can sum up all that I have learned in four words: Don’t be a cunt. Well, actually, if you’re being a GC (Good Cunt) go for it. Every day we are given dozens of choices and scenarios. Doing anything to willfully harm another, doing anything to further your own greedy or self serving trajectory, laying false witness, being two-faced, cowardly, mean, greedy, or willfully unkind is NOT the way you ought to roll. Be a decent human. Don’t take the path of least resistance, take the moral high ground and do good things when and how you can.