The house is on fire! Which 5 things do I save? Desperation engulfed me when I first saw this Daily Post challenge. “How awful, our whole lives gone!” was my first thought. And the next. Eventually I sat down to condense my thoughts, and I am surprised to find I can’t actually list 5 things I’d have to take to continue enjoying a meaningful life. For every wonderful object my mind throws at me I can’t help but shrug my shoulders: it can all quite easily be replaced. Photos? They are mostly on the back-up hard-drive, we never get around to printing them. I’ll take the hard-drive, alright then. Although if that failed I’d sigh, be sad for a while, and move on. The memories will always stay with me. I don’t need the photos to remind myself or prove anything. I’d like some of the photos up on the walls because naked walls are a tad stark, but I have got used to that. I would like to keep the photos, but I wouldn’t be lost without them.
Wedding ring? I always wear that, stupid. Unless I’m digging in the dirt or handling something gross. The odds are I would be wearing it. But imagine I weren’t, I had left it in the burning house. Would I risk my life to retrieve it? I might have given you a ringing (ha! see what I did there?) “YES!” until a few days ago, when husband told me he’d lost his. I discovered I wasn’t as upset as I had expected. It was a valuable symbol, but now that it is gone it is reduced to an object. Its disappearance does not confer any meaning onto our relationship. Husband is considering having a new one made in the image of mine so he can wear a visible symbol of our relationship like I do. The fact that it won’t be the ring I put on his finger when we got married is not material. We both know that event happened. The ring represents our dedication to each other rather than a particular moment in history. So again, replaceable.
iPad? I love it, but the insurance would buy me a new one. I’d buy a new cover for it, the same lovely wooden one I so painstakingly selected. Clothes I spent ages picking out? I enjoy browsing and finding things that are that little bit different, so it’d be a wonderful opportunity to buy a whole new wardrobe. My wallet? Now here’s something I’d definitely want to save from the fire. It would be such a hassle to have to replace my identity card, bank and credit cards, driver’s license and such. I hate wasting time on such mundane things.
Don’t get me wrong, I value all of these things; they all add something to my life. But it is a relief to find that my life does not depend on them. The nice things really are the icing and the cherries on the cake. Without them my life would still be intact: I would still have the people in my life that matter, a job, and the same opportunities and challenges. Which would include dealing with an insurance company and living out of a caravan for a while. Which, in turn, breeds a potential risk for those vital relationships to be strained too far, but let’s take one step at a time!
When was the last time I worked hard to learn something new? That is what The Daily Post is asking me to remember. I can only hang my head in shame and admit that I tend to give up quickly when I try something out that I am not good at. I am prepared to refine a skill that seems to have been lying dormant deep within me, waiting to be nurtured and grown. Languages, for example – easy peasy. Give me another one any time. But unless I feel from the outset that there is the potential for me to do reasonably well I lose interest very quickly. I am not sure why that is. It goes against the mantra I was raised with by the Nuns: that you had to work on something, anything, always. They taught that you couldn’t expect things to be good all by themselves, there had to be effort involved. Which has kept me in an unhappy marriage for longer than was really necessary. In fact I might never have taken the decision to get married then had I had the insights I do now: I now know there are key things you not only can, but should expect feel natural and good without any effort, and relationships with a partner firmly belong in that category. Of course there will be little niggles but if the relationship itself feels like it is work rather than enrichment, ditch it. It drains rather than adds to your life. Nuns, what do they know!
I suspect that laziness and competitiveness both play a role in my tendency to give up quickly. There just isn’t much spare time in my life, and even less energy. It serves me well to direct the energy I do have effectively: it helps get through the challenges of every day life. However effectiveness is not conducive to trying out new things just for the heck of it. Testing potential requires a certain abundance of energy I can’t always muster. Which is a shame really: I must be missing out on tons of experiences.
In my defense I took a leap of faith just last week and attended a yoga class for the first time in my life. I had always believed yoga was not for me, but I enjoyed it and I am going back next week. You guessed it, I did allright. I managed to stretch and contort myself as instructed, and nobody knows every muscle in my body ached the next day. Did you know you can overstretch your foot soles?
The yoga class was not competitive. It is simply impossible to stare at other people while you’re straining to keep your balance and holding your gaze at the ceiling or over your shoulder or some other uncomfortable place. That may have helped. I don’t like being really bad at something other people clearly find easy to do. It makes me feel inadequate. It makes sense to leave the stars to it and find something I can be good at, doesn’t it? Why torture yourself? Find your niche!
I find I feel less guilty admitting this to you all than I had expected. A feeling of loss actually pervades instead: I realize I miss out on the sense of achievement that comes with accomplishment. I mostly pursue interests and activities that seem achievable, and when I get good at them it merely feels as if I’ve completed a set track. I don’t excel or beat the odds. Catch-22 really: I would love a sense of real accomplishment, but I can only get it by getting good at something I have lost interest in, and what is the point of that? I’ll have to work on feeling more proud of the things I can do, regardless of the effort that was involved. Stuff the Nuns’ teachings.