I Had It All Backwards (as usual)

The finger

Just when you think you are on your way, you are almost smug, you think you have a handle on this thing called life and wayward emotions, something happens, the penny drops and you realise you are barely there after all.

“The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool.”
-William Shakespeare

I go for a run each morning and the first 800 metres is along a narrow street where you basically have to park to let another car through. It means I have to park myself and break my ‘stride’ in order to let each car pass. I have this silly thing where I watch intently to see if they will thank me for anticipating their passing, and taking myself off the road (there are no footpaths as it’s on a steep hill). Anything would do, a wave, a nod, a smile. Just any recognition that I had given them a little gift and not made them slow down on their way to work.

When I would detect no trace, I would walk back onto the road and give them the finger behind my back at waist level. Hah! That showed them!! As if they would even see it in such an odd place or know what it was!

Then I realised I had it all backwards, yet again. My joy is in doing a good deed, even if no one notices; in my own opinion of myself. And their joy would be in thanking me, if they did so. The ones that don’t acknowledge it are either in their own little world, perhaps late for work (more reason to get off the road), don’t realise that I got out of their way on purpose or are just not appreciative people. So their little joy is lost to them.

Now I can look into the faces of those in the cars I have stopped for and give them the warmest smiles, come what may. My run just got easier!



The Continuum of It Doesn’t Matter

Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter – Mark Twain

Stressed Lady

I don’t mind what age I am. For the record, I am turning 47 in a few weeks. I heard someone on the radio panicking about turning 30 and it brought up some memories. At that age I wasn’t worried about the big 3-0 because I was where I thought I should be – married, 2 kids and another on the way. And there’s the problem – the thinking and the shoulds. It worked for me but it would have caused me pain if I hadn’t ‘achieved my goals’. And it was a goal, to be honest. I was looking for love and Mr Right from birth I think.

Anyway I digress. What I really wanted to blog about is realising that so much of life just doesn’t matter. I think you need to have experienced the stress and come out the other side to realise that. That’s why I love being this age. I don’t mind my age, in fact I relish it, so it doesn’t matter, exactly as Mark says.

Of course it’s always how you interpret life.

When you are born everything matters – it’s a matter of life and death to be fed and kept warm and safe. But it’s a continuum from ‘everything matters’ to ‘nothing matters’, which we travel along as we age or mature. Everyone is along it somewhere and you don’t have to become an uncaring robot at the far end, which of course is unattainable. You are just more accepting of life.

Here are some things with hindsight that no longer matter to me, or at least matter a whole lot less:

He/she thinks I’m fat/stupid/too much (choose your own adjective) – I care less now about what other people think even if they actually do think that (they may not). It’s their thoughts they are polluting with negativity; I work on purifying my own thoughts

I will be late for work (road rage ensues) – I am on time most of the time and they value me as an employee so they won’t care or fire me and even if they do, I will be OK because I can cope better with life’s changes now

Some boyfriends didn’t want to be with me anymore – change is inevitable and a good thing. Each time that happened it woke me up, created new opportunities and I found someone more on the same wavelength who did want to be with me, or I enjoyed my own company instead. Now I realise that their choice doesn’t have to affect my own opinion of myself

I’m of a certain age and I haven’t fulfilled my dreams – well I never wanted to be an Olympic athlete, and many dreams are still achievable now that I’m older, wiser and have more freedom

This dress is too tight and my tummy is sticking out – it only matters if I think it does. If I don’t realise how ‘bad’ I look, my confidence will be high and I will always have a good time

Full isolated studio picture from a young woman with falling flowers

These are just off the top of my head but it’s such a useful exercise to do with yourself. Become two people and to all your worries, the other you says ‘it doesn’t matter because’. I think if you really look you will find your own answers are right there.

A year from now

You could play this game with almost anything. Mark Twain hits it on the head. It only matters if you mind; if you stress over it and give it your precious thought/mind time. I think being truly at peace and enlightened means learning to not mind about anything; to not stress for a second longer than you have to. That’s the joy of maturing – you work out that most things only bother you if you let them and you don’t waste time stressing over it.

So, repeat after me “It doesn’t matter”.

Kids are washable

Too High A Price

The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it – Henry David Thoreau

I don’t like the thought of having to pay a price for anything but of course we always pay in one way or another. People will nod their heads sagely (as in sage, a wise person) as they say ‘Yes, that’s the price you pay’. And of course they aren’t usually talking about money. Price, cost, charge – such negative connotations even though by the mere act of consciously deciding to part with something in order to get something else, you are appreciating the value of that purchase.  Conscious is the important aspect here.

The kind of price I most fear paying most is the price of happiness, inner peace, sanity. I’ve lost all three at times it seemed and whatever it was that shook me; it was too high a price. I also value honesty, integrity and being able to sleep with myself at night which means of course that I probably miss out on a lot of ‘fun’.

How do we recognise the things that cost us in that way; that exact too high toll on our life; on our inner peace? Do we know ourselves well enough and the likely outcome of a certain action that we repeat in our lives until we learn the lesson? For a recovering alcoholic the price of a drink may be too high. It will likely cause inner turmoil and disappointment. For a battered wife who believes her husband is sorry and has changed this time, the price of keeping the home together when he regresses again is probably too high. She distrusts her ability to judge – herself or him. Do you know your values, and the price you pay to hang onto them? Are there situations where you wobble and can’t decide your course of action because you forget the price you will pay?

Henry talks about price as being ‘the amount of life’. How do we measure this amount of life? It’s unlikely to be in years. I could say I gave 15 years of my life to my ex husband! But that’s rubbish. I didn’t do any such thing – I lived and so did he during that time. We lived, loved and had a good time. No price paid there. Other ex partners might count that cost if they feel they ‘gave their best years’ as if being younger meant those years were better in some way. Most people I know love being the age they are; we are always at our wisest point with all the lessons we have learned along the way. Actually we are always at our youngest, most gorgeous point too. Tomorrow I will be older and a little more wrinkly so today is great! I’m the most gorgeous I will ever be. Enjoy it Emma. Life can just get better and better.

Anyway I digress. I think Henry isn’t referring to time. I think he is saying that the price of your decisions is the toll on your inner life.  Value your self acceptance and the confidence to deal with what life throws at you. That’s worth hanging onto at any price.