I’ve been silent for a while because I’ve been pondering, processing. When something rustles up my psyche, I find I need to let it settle. It’s like throwing a pebble into a pond and watching the ripples spread out. Then throwing another one. Everything becomes a bit chaotic. It’s never a good idea to make big decisions when your ripples are swirling.
The Facebook exercise (last post) was just so illuminating. It’s one thing to come up with ideas oneself but when other people suggest them it’s far easier to monitor your gut reaction (at least that’s what I found). So I learned pretty swiftly what I didn’t want to do. Many were highly sensible, practical suggestions. A fair few were options I’d considered myself. However, seeing them written down, my gut just turned up its nose (okay, so that’s a really bad image). They just didn’t feel right.
I also kept finding myself coming back to that one question – what career did you want when you were seven? As I’ve said, I was pony-mad. My idea of heaven was to grow up to have a stable-yard of horses snickering at me. Nowadays, while I still love horses, the idea of all that mucking out, grooming and falling off no longer rocks my boat. Yet it got me thinking. My seven-year old world wasn’t all about the ponies. What else did I love back then?
I was a funny little child – a mix of extreme introversion and bossy extroversion. I spent hours hidden away in my ‘den’ behind the sofa, painting, crafting, writing, imagining. Yet equally I coerced my friends into arcane clubs and secret societies – complete with passwords, signs and relentless rules. I was in love with the mystical and magical – I made little nature shrines for the fairies and tremulously believed in ghosts and spirits. I nervously checked under the bed for monsters. Going to sleep was a dangerous venture unless I’d recited a litany of prayers and imprecations.
So much for memory lane but does all this reflection have any practical purpose? Well, yes. Years back I interviewed someone who said that our life’s purpose is usually writ large in childhood, before we succumb to the pressures of school and home. It’s as if there were a line of arrows leading through our lives that show us where we should be going. Unfortunately most of us veer away from that path. We’re taught that we need ‘proper’ jobs; sensible professions – and so we often end up just enduring. Our life purpose seeps away, a distant dream or maybe not even that. Trouble is, when the gap between what we should be doing and what we are doing becomes too great, we can often become stressed or even sick.
Often all it takes is a little tweak. I’ve realised, looking back, that my life has veered far too much into the introspective side. I need to work with people, with a small team ideally. I also need to bring back some of that wild magic and imagination into my work. It’s a good start.
How about you? What did you absolutely love doing when you were seven?
Image is by Jill Wellington.