Could I let 2014 slip away without one last blog post? I'm sitting at "home home", back with my family for the Christmas period, and I'm reminded of my old ways. The days, weeks, months I spent scribbling/typing away in time which needed filling or which was stolen from studying. I read a tweet earlier today claiming that a good writing tip is to write when you're supposed to be doing something else. The feeling of being naughty, knowing you're supposed to be researching for your coursework or getting ready to go outside. What am I avoiding now? A last minute dash to the shops for hopefully the end of the Christmas shopping period which I promised myself would happen in October. There's always next year..!
At dinner last night with some of my closest friends, we took it in turns to speak about the highlight of 2014. I know it's a question that's upcoming in my 5 year Q&A diary too. It's often a question I dread because when I reflect, the more painful memories always seem to stick out. In a privileged society like ours, it can seem almost like we treat happiness and pleasantry to be the norm and experiences which do not fit into that category are treated as blips on the smooth journey we expect from our lives. Do we always appreciate fully that these marks are as much part of our lives as the good stuff? Or is it a case of attitude and approach?
I've been taught recently to re-adjust the way I view decision-making and management of worries and anxieties by someone who enthuses about life and has much more positive eyes than I do. M posited the following: "Rather than look at why you wouldn't enjoy something, think about why you would". Rather than worry about what someone doesn't like about you, remind yourself of reasons why they do. Rather than formulate theories about how unbearable an experience is going to be, focus on the excitement and gratitude you might have for the opportunity.
The instinctive analysis that my brain decides to undertake at every given chance however warns of the dangers of getting carried away by not considering whether the bad outweighs the good. We can't ignore certain negativities for the sake of trivial indulgences, for example; it is a balancing act, of course it is.
But it can be a useful mantra I think - apply it to present-buying, a new opportunity at work, planning a trip. How can it help you? If you find yourself in a situation where you are needing encouragement to do something you're unsure on but ultimately feel like you want to do, maybe we should apply that logic.
Going back to the question of 2014's highlight - what would make you say you did enjoy it, rather than what would make you say you didn't? For me, it was my trip to Spain over the summer. Not necessarily for the travel aspect of it, which I suppose is the predictable part of the answer (travel is a popular highlight for most people), but rather for simple reasons of time and freedom to be me in different places with the person who so often I forget is a separate person to me.
Of course, we do carry with us grief, trauma, pain and it forms part of who we are, through the good times and the bad. Suffering doesn't go away but shiny stars do need a dark backdrop.
Or as Dumbledore would put it: "Happiness can be found even in the darkest times if one only remembers to turn on the light."
Wishing you all a peaceful Christmas