Sometimes it feels as though nothing changes, at others if feels as though nothing stays the same. In truth, nothing is permanent and yet we are always in pursuit of something as if it is. If life were to stay exactly the same, what would be the point? Life is transient by nature, impermanent. We grow, evolve.
What if this year you resolved simply to feel good, to seek out the things in your life already that make you feel that way and do more of those?
Sure, there are times when we get nostalgic about the past. This week I remembered that someone had told me my old high school (for 12-18 year olds) had been demolished (7 years ago). For some reason it really started to bother me. Here was this school half a world away, in a town I haven’t lived in for over 20 years, and yet it irked me.
The town was specially designed to have self sufficient neighborhoods, where there was access to local shops, a library, schools etc without having to cross main trunk roads. The demolition of the school and amalgamation with another in the next neighbourhood made a mockery of the principles the town was built upon. Also, most planning and building rules allow for a minimum 50 year life, yet this was demolished after only 40 years, having opened in the 60’s.
As rationally offended as I was by both of these things, what I think upset me more was that it brought up a flood of visceral memories. It’s been many years since I’ve thought about my school years in any depth, yet here I was getting flashes of memories of walking down staircases, sitting with friends in the playground, I even remembered exactly where I was standing at the rear of the school the day I saw the sun glint on my down-covered legs and decided I would shave them.
The attached primary school (for 5-12 year olds) has also been demolished and rebuild further down in the old grounds, looking atrociously offensive in its modern architecture, nothing like the old school, and suspiciously like it won’t last out the next 50 years either.
Struggling to get my head around how it might all look now, with a housing development erected on the land, I got onto Google Maps and Google Earth. By chance the last satellite pictures were taken as the new primary school was being built and the old one was in use, and the old high school was derelict but still standing. Strangely when I zoomed in for a street view, instead of looking into the derelict playground, there I was looking at the entrance to a new housing estate.
It was an odd sensation, suddenly like my school years were ghostly somehow, no trace of the school anymore. As if someone were trying to erase us from the past. It did strike me that I must only be glimpsing at what many of you have experienced on a much larger scale. Close to home we had the Christchurch earthquakes just over 5 years ago that annihilated almost every landmark in New Zealand’s most architecturally picturesque city. Lives and landscape changed forever.
While it saddens me to see how unkempt much of the areas that were my stomping grounds are, that pang to keep them as they were in the 1970’s and 80’s is momentary.
The illusion of permanence is a prevailing desire for humans. We seek to attain something, with the sense that if only we were there, or had ‘it’ then we could relax. At this time of the year we have set and perhaps even already ‘failed’ to keep – resolutions.
The most important thing we could resolve is to breathe, look around, and be happy right where you are. That is distinct from giving up on your dreams, but if you are always looking at the lack of what you have, you will be holding those dreams at bay.
The quickest way for you to achieve goals is to feel as though you’ve already attained them. When I first heard that nearly 20 years ago, I thought it sounded a bit silly. That town I was brought up in is not far outside of Glasgow in Scotland, anything from the mouth of an American in our culture back then was always to be taken with a derisory dose of skepticism and sarcasm.
To be fair those Americans were talking about driving Ferraris, not something I particularly desired or thought of as attainable for that young lass that I was in my twenties. However, over the long years since I have learned the deeper wisdom in what they were teaching.
“Do What You Love, Love What You Do” it says emblazed on my wall in rather swish looking metal art scroll writing. Many of you will likely relate to this saying, it may even resonate with one of your resolutions, yet you will be rocking on up to a job that isn’t it.
When I think about what that might feel like, to do what you love for a living, I think of words like easy, coming home, peaceful, inspiring. So the key to finding your way to that future is to feel your way into it. If you seek and do things that make you feel that way, it creates a momentum.
That is why, even though my daughter took what felt like forever to go to sleep tonight, I still commit to sitting down and writing late into the night because I feel all those things when I do.
Your life is unlikely to be exactly what you want it to be right now, exactly because of the topic I started with – lack of permanence, or impermanence as it’s called.
We desire to hold onto things that make us feel good, make them permanent, marriage is a classic example. Rather, shift focus, and desire to simply hold onto to feeling good (in a way that also keeps you feeling good about yourself of course), remaining unattached to what it is that makes you feel that way. It’s that attachment that holds you back.
Life does move on. Look back only to see how far you’ve come. Sure, take a moment to rest in the nostalgia, to miss people and places, but you can’t dwell there or you will become a ghost yourself. The fact you are here, wherever that is for you right now, is because you have more to accomplish, more to contribute.
Dream big and feel into it, you’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain.
This article was initially published on LinkedIn.
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