Off the wagon: some thoughts for 2014

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I downloaded a new to-do list app. One of the great quests of my life is to find the perfect to-do list app, one with colours and sections and the perfect cathartic scribble. This new one isn’t my life partner, but I rather like it on my home screen, because it’s called ‘Do!’

It makes me feel all resolute, seeing it there. I have a lot of big things to get done, this January, and I’m frightened to death about at least half of them, but I flick open my phone and it shouts ‘Do!’ So I do. I bring up a mental image of Heath Ledger slamming down his helmet visor in A Knight’s Tale (this is an image you should always have on standby for emergencies), and I slam down my visor and flip my medieval hair out of my face, and flipping well DO.

The busyness and scariness are two reasons I haven’t done much in the way of resolutions this year. Usually I’m all over resolutions, because I love the sense of starting again, the grip on possibility that it gives me. This year, I have an idea that it would be better for me to concentrate on one task at a time. But there is one thing I want, very much, aside from Heath Ledger’s fabulous medieval hair.

I want to be kind.

Because it is so easy not to be. Because you can’t move on the internet without tripping over piles of sarcasm, boxes of angry reaction blogs, stacks of passive-aggressive Facebook comments. I’m not very good at being out-and-out mean – too much guilt, and I can never think of something snappy in time – but when it comes to crabby irritation and sarcastic asides, I’m a ninja.

Lately I have been feeling that it would be so much more restful to stop leaping on the judgement wagon every time someone opens their mouth. If this were better worded, I would make it my mantra for 2014:

people do things for their own good reasons.

They are sat in their own set of circumstances, working with what they’ve been given, and trying their best. I don’t have to agree, or even like it much. But I do, yes, I DO have to be kind.

That applies to my toddler, too, who is doing his best to help me remember what my angry voice sounds like.

And it applies to me most of all. Someone I love once said to me, ‘the only voice in your head you should listen to is the one that speaks with compassion’. I think about that all the time. We were made to be works-in-progress. We were made to create and soar and love, and also lose tempers and slam doors and forget to take the rubbish out. Sometimes I’m standing, arms wide, at the top of the Arc de Triomphe, and sometimes I’m picking a baby’s nose with sick in my hair. The whole of my experience has made me who I am. I want to embrace it for what it is, and forgive it for what it’s not.

I just want to back off, and let it go, and pause before I say something, especially if that something is to me, in my head. And, well, be kind.

I will really try. Maybe then the rest of my list will start taking care of itself.

SAM_2246

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3 thoughts on “Off the wagon: some thoughts for 2014

  1. This is such a great resolution! I’m actually getting into the idea of resolutions again after years of figuring there was no sense disappointing myself, so it’s nice to know someone has faith in the whole enterprise. For yours, may I suggest “The Happiness Project” by Gretchen Rubin? She’s a so-so writer, and reading about her marriage makes her husband sound like he could use a swift kick in the you-know-whats, but a lot of her resolutions mirror yours: focusing on kindness, putting the angry voice on standby. Plus, it’s very methodical, which I like, because then it feels me-proof.

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  2. reverend61 says:

    You’re a better man than I am (well, figuratively speaking). I’ve actually taken it upon myself in recent years to not be kind at all, but be compassionately honest. And when I can’t do that, I stay out of the debate. Maybe that’s a form of kindness in itself; I’ve had to learn when to shut up.
    Happy New Year to you and yours!

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  3. I took to doing this in earnest a year or so ago and it’s such a weight off. All that mental chatter weighs us down and also blocks us from seeing alternate motivations behind peoples choices. I focus on Love and the world opens up. I hope it works for you too.

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