Most of the time life is predictable to a degree. Not a huge degree, out of choice, for me, but there is something calming about a routine, until it becomes boring which is quite a different feeling altogether. A lot of us, I notice, live alongside ‘boring’ doing everything we can to cheer it up into a fizzbangpop now and again, to add colour and texture with a weekend social or a new frock, or, more recklessly, a Wednesday dinner date. For the rest of the time, we allow the long chain of endless weeks to pull us along in a sort of mindless stupor, our eyes searching the week-day gloom for a glimpse of the weekend- those two short days when we can really be ourselves.
It is hard to be myself in an uncomfortable suit, one that grabs at various bits of me whenever I sit down and overheats and confines me until I fear I might have turned into a lizard. I must bow and scrape to those I don’t even like, never mind respect enough for any such bowing and scraping. I must hear things I don’t want to hear, witness unkindnesses about which I feel I can do nothing, and, finally, at the end of this day, I must push my way home for a short rest, if I am lucky, before doing it all over again the next morning.
Now, I know this doesn’t apply to those who love what they do and have made their life into the right shape for them, but I really believe these people number few. What they have done is to say ‘ How can I make life fit around me?’ and not ‘How can I make myself fit into life?’
Everywhere I go, when I see someone out of kilter with their work, their lives, I will ask them what they want to do. Many will shrug and say they have no choice, are in too deep now, too committed with a mortgage or debts or schools or whatever, but I will challenge that. It isn’t always a popular challenge, and I am not in the least bit surprised. When a person challenged me, at a time when I was trying to squeeze myself into a life two sizes too small, I would flap them away as I would an annoying wasp. And all because their questions touched me deeply, threw me off balance and into a black hole from which I could see no way out.
How do I go from here, where I don’t want to be, to somewhere else, when I can’t see my way ahead? I don’t even know what I want to do, how to make my life fit me. All my clothes are two sizes too small and I have no cash to buy more. Nor do I want to admit the defeat I will inevitably feel when my friends challenge my crazy idea. It just isn’t sensible.
How do we define sensible? Is ‘sensible’ just a word made acceptable by the world we live in now? A hundred years ago, the way we live now would have been considered completely un-sensible by every living soul. So, which meaning do we choose to believe?
If I know anything now, I know that if a person lives with stress that leads to unhappiness, they will become unwell. Learning to manage stress is saying ‘I am not important enough to honour myself and how I want to live.’
It takes courage to make big changes. The fall-out can range from disapproval to downright rejection, but this blows away in time and is forgotten. Whenever I find myself doubting on the shores of a new ocean, I remind myself of the time I walked away from work with no income. I remember the reactions around me.
I also remember the smiles and admiration from the same people when I made myself a new life.
If this is the encouragement you need. Take it. It can be your truth too.