Perhaps the reason I felt like I didn’t have it in me to write a 2018 recap is because too much had happened and it would be foolish to try to put it into words? The feeling of needing to write has also somehow swindled. I don’t know whether it’s the incapability of finding the right words or the lack of want – what came first and what holds greater power over me. But if there is anything I did learn last year, it’s that when something feels impossible or some other im+probable/mesurable/…, a way to overcome it is to push with almost idiotic persistence – or so it seems at times. And I have learned the hard way, the only one we are truly able to push, is of course ourselves (as little as we sometimes want to admit it – so much easier to externalise problems as well as solutions even when all the answers are staring back at you in the mirror). We’re a fucking piece of work and I learnt it all too well regarding myself l’année passée. Nevermind the bruises.
But as I have two months left before turning 30, I’m not allowed to sound like too much of a grumpy old woman yet. I’ll share a few learnings and realisations that slapped me in my face several times. Some cater for the cute factor, but most are the bare bones hard life truths that are more convenient to be ignored. Disclaimer: I do not think these truths are necessarily universal or that you, you beautiful human reading this, might even align with them, but they have shaken me to my core and I will continue to study life through and with the help of them. Alas, I don’t hold the empire of the truth! Albeit I am sure I have thought I did at some parts of my life previously (cough-adolescence-cough).
So, here’s to the truth.
1) Life is finite
This one is a no-brainer, but how many of us like really really think about the fact that we are mortal on a daily basis? For obvious reasons it’s better not to think about dying the moment we get up in the morning and go about our daily business – threats are everywhere and if we consider all the options, it would make so much more sense to just not get out of bed or your house at all (oh the temptation).
But when we go about our daily stuff, we make decisions on every corner – do I speed to get to this meeting (and risk getting in an accident), do I go on this trip all by myself (and risk possibly getting into a tricky situation without backup), do I get onto this airplane and jump out of it…? Most of the time it’s of course all absolutely fine.
Accidents and bad things are on the news and happen to other people, but the news can be turned off and we can retreat back into our blissfully oblivious existence. When it comes to taking risks, we should weigh the gains and possible losses of the various outcomes. But how often do we consciously do that? I know I don’t. It’s easier to focus on the probability (statistics are my favourite method for pleasant self-deception) and off we go. Chances are, it’s fine. But. When it’s not, we’re not really prepared, as we chose to trust that most of the time things go well.
Now don’t get me wrong. I haven’t become this calculating reasonable person who has everything thought through to the very last detail, but I did – with the help of how little I have thought about the negative possibilities – get shaken to the core when the wave of unexpected feelings flooded my whole being.
Those feelings proved to be the point from which a lot of things in my life started unravelling in my head. They were just so immense that I had to start from scratch and give most of the things and people in my life, as well as the things I do, a proper thought. For this to happen, I had to realise life is finite. It took two really fucking lucky accidents very close to my heart. One being to myself, but that I chose to kind of ignore for a while (“I’m fiiiine, I really am, it’s nothing”), but when it came to demand its due diligence, it had a short term loan interest added on top. So yeah, no better way to get the closets aired than have the metaphorical closet finally fall on you when you’ve ignored the fact that it’s flooding for too long.
Still planning on jumping out of airplanes, by the way. But my driving style has definitely become more conservative, and I have made some other adjustments in lifestyle choices to lower the possibility of digging my own hole unless truly necessary (and as we know, skydiving is a true necessity, of course).
However, the most invisible, but perhaps the most important takeaway for me is that do the things that matter. Do good. Be good. Be with good people and make sure those good people know they are appreciated and loved. It’s the most sensible thing you can do with the however many days you have on this planet. Don’t sabotage your life with bullshit.
2) Freedom is all
This one links to the above-mentioned point. We are free to choose what we do, but the clause with freedom is also that we must bear the consequences of our free choices. You’re free to do whatever you want, but no action exists in a vacuum. If you choose to do something stupid, own the scheisse that follows. One of those look-in-the-bloody-mirror moments. Your freedom, your choice, your responsibility.
I hold freedom in the highest regard. I don’t think captivity is a particularly inspiring or fruitful arrangement – be it for our hearts, minds or bodies. Freedom is the prerequisite for the beautiful artefacts of life to emerge. Freedom of the mind is the holy grail. I believe the most beautiful partnerships are born between the two that are free. The partnership will enhance both individual’s freedom without capping their wings. Freedom leaves space for connecting, for feelings, for companionship. If we’re not free, the bond could end up suffocating us.
Of course there’s a whole current affairs level of freedom that I am mildly tempted to rant about as well, but as I’m on a little narcissistic monologue here, I’ll leave that for some other time. But the point remains the same – freedom is all.
3) No regrets (yes, you’re allowed to picture a misspelled tattoo)
Linking to the previous point about freedom, I believe regrets are futile. We can only regret the things we did not do, and what we do is our choice. And once we choose, we should own that choice. So better make good choices and decisions – no bullshit. If you choose badly and it turns out bleurgh, you’ve made a bullshit choice. Of course things happen and we all make mistakes, but quite often we base our decisions on some bullshit reasons when we know intuitively that the reason is actually bullshit, but we do it anyway and then wonder about the vacuous feeling. Not every move or action needs a SWOT, but we should take the old mirror and at least ask “why” and “who cares”. The answer to the latter should mostly be “you”, by the way. Also, when a bad decision is made and the result turns out sub-optimal, then the worst we can do is beat ourselves up about it and mope around feeling sorry for ourselves. While we’re occupied waiting for the world or someone else come do us a favour and pick up the pieces for us.. well, it’s not going to happen. Took me some time to learn it, but it was sobering and liberating when I did.
4) Good people are all
Taking the risk of sounding like a grumpy old woman here, but along with the deep acknowledgement of the appreciation for the absolutely wonderful people in my life, the lack of patience for not-so-wonderful people also surfaced. I guess it comes down to how we want to spend our lives – meaningless boring interactions that you know will be forgotten and pushed into the disposable part of the memory, or quality time with people who fill your heart and soul. Should be a no-brainer.
This may or may not be one of the reasons why I absolutely cringe at the idea of dating. The idea of having to spend “quality” time with someone who you realise is morbidly boring, it pains me just to think about it. Bare existential dread, mate.
It makes me vomit in my mouth a little when I use this expression, but I really truly do feel blessed having such wonderful people around me. They make me a better person. I feel forever in debt to some of my sweethearts who have sacrificed their time and energy to drag me though the worst of times and when necessary give the necessary tough love to help me see clearer.
And speaking of good people – I think dogs and cats are the best people. I try to spend as much time with my weirdo creatures as possible.
5) Be present
This is not the part where I’m going to justify the lack of Christmas presents with the line “But I’m your present!” (Maybe I should, though.)
There’s many layers to this. Some things we do physically require us to be fully present, otherwise we’re likely to get ourselves or someone else in a possibly rather shitty situation (driving being a good example of this).
And there’s this inexplicable rush of calm and quiet that can physically overtake you when you switch of all thoughts of the past and all worries about the future and really focus on the NOW. It’s as if your senses get heightened. Weird stuff, but super powerful.
And then there’s the point of being present with those above-mentioned (see point 4) wonderful people. All the recent lessons in life have taught me one thing on the side – slowness can be good. Take time for the stuff that is important so that you can be fully present. What’s more precious than being fully present in the tiny universe that people can create when immersed in a conversation – or perhaps the perfect quiet – together?
I stumbled upon this sentence a friend had shared on social media recently. I think it’s perfect for summing up the topic of being present – only a fool trips on what’s behind.
6) I don’t have a good subtitle for this one, but it refers to a lot of the pain, anger, and other angsty feelings I have experienced during the times of not so much joy. It takes a lot of self-discipline and what sometimes feels like idiotic persistence to get to the bottom of those feelings. It starts with acknowledging that the feeling is there. Then you start following that metaphorical thread down the memory lane and if you don’t get to the very bottom of the reason, you might at least become aware of the sequence of events or feelings that lead you to that particular angsty feeling.
In my opinion, one of the trickiest feelings to acknowledge (and eventually disarm) is injustice/unfairness. What it really comes down to is accepting the inevitable. But but but… the universe was terrible to me! Yeah, but whatcha gonna do? The toughest of the tough ones to get over is yourself.
But, at the end of the day, the whole spectrum of feelings is an irrefutable sign of us being human, and sometimes it’s the best thing to just let all that feels wash right through you. And that’s fine, too. But we really, really should all stop being so bloody hard on ourselves. Because the most negative feelings are in essence just us being dicks to ourselves.
7) I’ve got my own home. It’s the best.
There are a lot of things to smile about. I am beyond late with this and I’m not big on New Year’s resolutions anyway, but this is something I would vow to try and keep in mind, especially when things get tough.
Dis all for now. Much love and world peace!
PS. I had no idea that observing snow ploughs at the airport could be so enticing.