Plato once said. “An unexamined life is not worth living.” As backed by Cornell West, who says in his documentary, Examined Life. “…a philosopher is not necessarily academically trained, but is a seeker of wisdom…” So I humbly fall to the idea that I could be in the club!
At this time of year, the process of reflection inconspicuously rears its head and weaves through our minds. ‘How quick has this year gone? What have I done with it? Have I done enough? Aww…I loved that bit! Wish that had never happened…If I could do it again I would…But next year I’ll be sure to…’
All these reflexive cues swirl around the soul, sometimes causing the stomach to bounce on a trampoline (that you’re sure is not supposed to be in there), forcing the heart to thunder. Anxiety and self-doubt hog their places in the spotlight and all you want to do is crawl under a rock and stay there until Mum announces that Christmas dinner is on the table.
Since the GCSE chapter of my life, this has been an annual tradition of mine. However, in the spirit of maturing, I used this annum to pilot a different approach.
Whilst taking an evening stroll through Hampstead and Swiss Cottage with my Mr, admiring the mansions and quiet life, I noticed we shared both an admiration and slight envy for the opulent wealth that surrounded us, making us seem small, and smaller still in the dark.
As we passed a beaming lamp, silence was broken. I asked him to list three things he’ll take from this year. His answers: 1)Make sure you do something out of love, not convenience. 2) Life is short, so enjoy it. 3) Keep positive and look forward to things happening, instead of worrying about them not happening. All of which I fundamentally agreed with.
After a long discussion, he threw the question back at me, which was such a blessing because I’d been thinking about this often (as I do at this time of year). Unlike Kye, I fail to get straight to the point. Like most artists, I needed metaphors and analogies to make sense of my answers. To abbreviate, I said a little something like this…1)I’ve learned not to compare myself to others, because in doing this, I’ll miss out on all the things I could love about myself, andcould also come across as a petty, envious bitch (never cool). 2) I’ve learned to enjoy the ‘process’ and not worry so much about ‘the end goal’. It’s so easy to be consumed with a fear of failure (often contextualised by how well real end goal looks when held up next to the initial, hypothetical one) but, since doing my masters and shaping my business for the better, I’ve realised that the end goal can change (often for the better) and if you don’t enjoy the process of getting to it, you’ll never feel accomplished, and that is not a healthy way to live. 3) Life is short, and to be willing to die for something, means you ain’t living for nothing. DON’T GET ME WRONG. I am not a voluntary martyr. I like my life and I’d like to keep it going for as long as I can have it…but I’ve also had my eyes open to the endless atrocities of the world…and if in some way, through my skill set, etc, I can make some small change for the better…I’ll have lived up to this philosophy. Literally ten minutes (at 13.21pm…yes, I’m telling you the time it happened in the hope of proving that I’m not misusing the word ‘literally’) before typing this paragraph, my partner received a text informing him that an old friend passed away (and today is also the ‘would have been’ birthday of a friend who passed away earlier this year). Both young, talented healthy men, susceptible to the fragility of life, as we all are – further reinforcing that the end is inevitable, so while we’re here, we have to make it count…Daniel and Quincey did that. May they rest in peace.
I think the umbrella that shelters all these ideas is a colourful one – its fabric thick, and yet so easy to tare. Up until last week, I’d been racking my brains, trying to think of a way to articulate my lesson of the year…and once again, the method was waiting for me in a creative writing session!
It was the last Scribble Ink workshop of 2014. Mince pies (Morrisons premium range I’ll have you know), Thorntons and fizzy pop adorned the table. This was the busiest workshop we had this season (I knew the food would reel them in). As always, we took a little time to stimulate our creativity with a writing prompt exercise. Given the occasion, I thought it timely to centre the prompts around self-evaluation and new year resolutions. Upon seeing how concentrated and enthusiastic the group was (writing so fast steam rose from their papers), I couldn’t help but have a go myself!
Below is a piece of poetic-prose-wanderlust that I conjured when faced with questions like ‘what would be your soundtrack for 2014?’ Let me know if you’d like me to send you a copy of the writing exercise we did (it was so therapeutic). Consider it my Christmas gift to you!
Hans Zimmer’s sonic architecture plays endlessly in the background – crescendoes, diminuendos.
Sharp strings and bass drums align themselves with the turbulence and fluctuations of the seasons.
Perhaps if time machines were tangible, I’d go back and give her that £1. I’d be less presumptuous, more patient and more open to empathy.
To relive that week buried in the heart of the Lake District – hiking forests, climbing Skiddaw, strolling through small towns and occasionally, embracing those still moments – being vulnerable to a voyeuristic nothingness – in a rocking chair, face-to-face with all that’s priceless.
In inevitable anticipation of the next chapter, I’ve prepared myself for being ok with myself. Dismissing all manufactured worldly pressures, enjoying the process as opposed to fearing a failed outcome.
It was the Orwellian-Angelouvian-Chimamandean-ReLOVEoution words of wisdom that sprung from the pages and seeped into memory – expanding vocabulary…igniting creativity.
2013 taught me that grief, like love, evokes the fear of uncertainty of everything…but love, unlike grief does not provide inevitability…and yet, the aftermath can be just as vacuous…
But in overcoming the traces of tribulation left by such traumatising tangles, I’ve come to find that love, unlike grief, can only be vacuous if you ensure that that’s how it will stay.
Then 2014 came, and life being the work of art that it is, exhibited itself as a canvas with compartmentalised blocks of colours, and did slowly metamorphosed into a kaleidoscope. Images, thoughts and scenarios slowly coming together…a collage akin to one theme — melting to make sense.
Now this fragmented kaleidoscopic view which had the potential to become one big picture (with just a few more strokes from the artist’s brush and clarity of ideas) predicts a message of knowingness, assurance and happiness.
2015. This could be it.
So what can 2015 empower me with, that 2014 could not? It would seem, more confidence, reassurance and a clearer picture. I’m making a point of looking forward to it.
This will be my last blog entry for this year (I’ve got presents to wrap, family to see and I predict, a hangover to cure). Thank you so much for your readership! Your loyalty has been invaluable and I look forward to writing more in the near future (spoiler alert: the next blog is likely to be in celebration of Scribble Ink’s 5th birthday).