‘Human beings, by change, renew, rejuvenate ourselves; otherwise we harden.’ — Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
I like to pretend I’m superior to New Year’s resolutions. The truth is, I make resolutions all the time, so January 1st holds little weight for me in that regard. But this is the time of year I like to take stock of the leaps in life lessons gleaned over the past 12 months. You know, so I can make more informed resolutions.
15 Leaps from 2015
- People’s actions can be inscrutable, sometimes even to themselves. There’s no need to internalise them; it’s rarely about me.
- When stuck: reboot.
- It’s always better to speak up than to sulk or seethe. I knew this anyway, but here’s the latest incarnation: speak up as soon as there’s any discomfort, rather than hoping things will change on their own – only to end up watching the whole thing play out like a slow motion horror movie.
- Everything is practice.
- Don’t make the important stuff fit around the chores, make the chores fit around the important stuff.
- When in need of redirection, change the soundtrack to life.
- It’s just weather. This is something I learnt to say to myself during the summer monsoons, when I found myself getting agitated. It’s just weather. Either that or: it’s just traffic.
- Instead of looking for the solution by trying everything, I need to remove everything and the answer will come to me.
- Love, laughter and joy are not zero sum games. Be with people who don’t hoard them. By the same token: be with people who can’t wait to be with you.
- Also: stop socialising with people who assume friendship requires no loving tender care, who treat you like you’re their entourage, who run hot and cold for no reason other than being manipulative, or who refuse to accept you as you are now.
- It took a while to get there – pruning social media, news, my clothes – but now I know I already have everything I need.
- Instead of constantly wondering if I’ve made the right decision, I have to make a decision and then adjust it as necessary.
- Set nothing in stone.
- And therefore: only get one-way (ie: open-ended) tickets. For planes, trains and life decisions.
- Forgive. Only then is it possible to let go.
Favourites finds of 2015*
Two monks are walking in silence. They come to a river where a woman is shouting angrily at her helpers as their hands are full with her things so they can’t carry her across the water. The elder monk picks up the woman and takes her over to the other side, as her helpers wade across with her belongings. She is ungracious and yells at the monk who helped her. The monks keep on walking. Some time later, the young monk says, ‘I’m sorry, but I must speak. That woman was so rude! She didn’t even thank you for helping her.’ The older monk says, ‘I carried her across the river three hours ago. Why are you still carrying her now?’
‘Glance into the world as though time were gone, and everything crooked will become straight to you.’ I read this line by Friedrich Nietzsche on the brilliant blog, raptitude.com.
Cappadocia was stunning, but Istanbul was a revelation. This is the only city in the world that stands on both Asia and Europe. It also appears to embody much of what I love of each: the warm hospitality of the East, and the independence and ease of the West.
We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler. Oh, such a great read! About families and what we learn from each other.
Camscanner. My home office used to contain numerous bulky machines and lots of stationery – printer paper, paper clips, hole punch, ruler, stapler, stapler pins, pencils, erasers, pens, markers, tape, tape dispenser, scissors, envelopes and on and on and on. I’ve gradually gone paperless (except for necessary legal and tax documents) and with it, have let go of all of these things. When I need to scan documents, I use this free app on my phone and save as JPG or PDF. It can also convert documents to editable text with OCR.
Force Majeure, directed by Ruben Östlund. It’s a fascinating exploration of manhood and how we perceive ourselves.
Follow up favourite: Boy, directed by Taika Waititi. This funny and touching film is set in the Maori community in New Zealand. The entire cast is wonderful and three-dimensional even when not saying much.
Amy, directed by Asif Kapadia. Oh how I love Amy Winehouse. Despite the tragedy of her life, Kapadia avoids all sensationalism, and lets her story unfold using only video footage and voiceovers.
I read Dr Oliver Sacks in college, and his writings about neurology formed much of what I think of as the human experience. I still remember a case study where he described a mathematician patient who got cyclical headaches; when Dr Sacks gave him medication, the headaches went away – but so did his ability to do maths. Dr Sacks died this past summer from cancer; before his death, he gave this exquisite final interview to Radiolab. He spoke with his usual incisive candour, but this time about his upbringing and personal life. It still moves me to tears when I think of it.
*Some have been around for much longer, it just took me this year to come across them.
Wishing you all a beautiful, peaceful and joyous 2016!
‘A self that goes on changing is a self that goes on living.’ — Virginia Woolf