I had a thought today. Or perhaps more a joining of the dots than a thought? A kind of awakening where before there was only drowsy acceptance that sleepwalking through our own lives is the only possibility. It struck me you see that each and very day we are bargaining with the promise of tomorrow and that I for one am striking up something of a rubbish deal.
What if, I thought, we have to EARN our lives? Every smile, every joyful moment, every extra day we get to live so wholly and fully? What if life is a game of mathematics, all subtract this and you get to add that? Multiply that and master this universally mysterious equation? What if every bad choice means a little less of something we love, moments with those care about, one less mind-blowing sunset or the chance to read something that will turn what is left of our lives upside down?
What if every hour we spend lost in social media is an hour we could have been using to change who we are? A chance now lost to us. What if every time we take the lift instead of the stairs, or choose the burger over the Buddha bowl we are whittling another hour off our life? What if each and every day poor choices are costing us penalties on the scoreboard of longevity?
Heavens. It is quite possible you see that I have been doing life all wrong. And it strikes me that other people already understand that one has to earn
(In fact I’ve always suspected my classmates were given a guide to living well at school and I was off with the measles or some other childhood outrage on my person on the day they were handed out, in the same way I missed the Gideon bibles and the proper way to do long-division.)
So yes. Today was the day I realised that life isn’t something happening to me, I can actually steer my own ship through waters choppy or calm. While this might seem like quite the revelation coming from she who teaches other women how to create a life less ordinary of their own, I do believe it is the missing piece of something I have been puzzling over for ever such a long time now. That we can actively EARN better days. Though life will of course keep throwing nasty curve-balls our way we can balance the odds in our favour by making good choices for ourselves as often as we can.
This is I suppose about mindset. The very opposite of the cry “Whats the point?”. It is the difference between thriving and surviving. Actively choosing to feel as alive as can be instead of dragging ourselves around convinced that this is our lot in life and that all that is left to do is to sit back and wait for the life’s party to pass us by, like so many carnival floats on the Mexican Day of the Dead.
In fact, I do believe we can earn everything: from better relationships to more energy. The staving off of debilitated old age and those fleeting moments we will always treasure. The home we want and the health we need to keep creating personal magic. Though it might not be possible to circumnavigate all the cards we have been dealt we can certainly do all that we can to stack them in our favour.
But it takes work.
Ugh. There had to be a caveat to bliss didn’t there? A few years ago my Dad told me that at the grand old age of 67, he had finally realised that there are no shortcuts. No cheats. No hacks. That those who thrive do things properly. They work their bottoms off and they get to where they have chosen to be because they earn it. You can’t cheat life, he said. A mantra repeated by another older man i met who told Ste and I that in the end everything is work and work is all that matters because it is who we are: it is the energy we put into everything from relationships to creativity, well-being and financial security that ultimately reaps rewards.
Sometimes I have worried that within the Salon I ask you to do to much. To spill too much heart. To look too deep inside your own soul. Sometimes I think well perhaps this is just one more thing to do, in lives that already feel endlessly challenged by to-do’s. And then I remember that
Nothing comes for free doesn’t it? We earn firm thighs and money in the bank. We earn nutritious, life-giving meals because we take the time to prepare them, and we reap the benefits of their goodness in our own well-being. We earn insight by being willing to look deep inside and earn joy with our children by being the steady, precious security they need, holding our own moods in check and loving with all we have got. We earn homes that feel like a hug by creating the routines and rituals that help us bring our vision of what sanctuary means to life and above all else committing to them.
For commitment is key to our ability to earn anything. It is showing up every day at jobs we have to teach ourselves to love, and sticking with the partner we adore despite the mental health issues that so often look close to derailing us. It is starting the blog and turning up daily to keep at it even in the months when it is likely it is only your Mum reading it. It is choosing the Seedlip over the Tanquerey, drink after drink and dragging yourself out of bed at 5am each day to do Pilates because that is the deal you have made with yourself and the stronger core you so desperately need to feel able to manage life in the way you see fit.
It is all of this and so much more. Going forward it is questioning every decision and debating within whether this action or that one begets penalty or reward. It is actively making good choices day after day and having enough spirit to understand what really matters to you and why.
It is, I think, earning