The eminent writer William Faulkner once said that trying to be better than our contemporaries was a fruitless act and that the real competition lies in trying to be better than ourselves, and so my Darlings, this then is our mission: to start working today on up-grading who we are and what it is we expect of ourselves.
To become better.
While there is a tiny part of me that cringes at the very notion of finding our current selves unacceptable, there is always room for improvement in every aspect of our lives, and I rather suspect that a big part of that dratted discombobulation is mere boredom with the sheer banality of accepting who and what we are and failing to continue to strive to something more.
Being aspirational isn’t wicked. However in a society now jam packed with those whose very betterness makes us want to throw in the towel and declare ourselves pointless, it is enormously difficult to isolate our aspirational direction from those lives we imagine others are living and instead concentrate bit by bit on bettering our own lives, according to our desperately personal, inner authenticity and the maps that authenticity creates, and we so very often choose to ignore.
So what am I talking about here? Am I saying that every nurse should be harbouring ambitions to be a doctor? That she who lives in the terraced cottage should secretly aspire to live in the gated mansion across the road? Am I heck. I am saying that by the merest teeny tiny acknowledgement that we are both entitled to and capable of better, we create the kind of subtle aftershocks that influence a hundred other aspects of who we are and what we expect from our time on this earth. I am saying we don’t have to do the same things for the rest of our lives. That we can be different. Better. More satisfied. Less damn discombobulated…
* Giving up the modern trashy novels we indulge in daily for the occasional classic or vintage novel. If only so that occasionally stretch our imaginations beyond that which we already know to be true and cease fearing classic works, which are very often more accessible than one would ever believe.
* Choosing to learn something we barely understand. Making the liberating move from Blogger to WordPress. Fathoming out the mysteries that are HTML and CSS.
* Giving up TV-Dinners. Laying the table. Cleaning the bathroom truly, madly, deeply. Sleeping under starched sheets. Remembering to use the lavender linen spray that helps us sleep.
* Committing to replacing at least one thing in our basket with it’s organic or wholefood alternative. Buying the posh biscuits and eating fewer, but truly enjoying those that we do. Buying dark chocolate instead of milk. Skimmed instead of semi. Deliciously salty Normandy butter instead of that same old margerine.
* Stretching our budget to buy the moisturiser that we KNOW makes a difference to our skin instead of constantly settling for the greasy substitute we can chuck into our trolley in the supermarket. Saving up to go back to the hairdresser who made us feel a million dollars.
* Speaking out when somebody says something that hurts us instead of allowing that kind of tiny pain to fester and swell.
* Expecting more from our children. Asking them to do something properly and having the energy to make sure they see it through.
* Making a fabulous three course meal weekly. The kind of meal that acknowledges your relationship and has you striving to improve your culinary prowess.
* Walking away from gossip because we are better than that. Actually walking full stop. Walking and walking and walking till we can’t walk no more because there is so much to see and no better company than ourselves.
This isn’t about huge ambition or ludicrous aspiration. It is about making the effort. It is about subtly making changes to the way that we already live our life. It’s about saying I don’t have to live in this little hole I have dug for myself. For all of us. I can dig a whole new tunnel or pop my head up out of the ground occasionally just for the pleasure of feeling the sun on my face. I don’t have to buy the best, but neither do I have to settle for the worst. Settling is TERRIBLE. Settling is MISERABLE. Settling leads to WITHERING and trust me, there is nothing worse, than a withered woman. She is a bitter and twisted and gnarled old thing. Even if she is still bleaching her hair and looking for all intents and purposes like she is surviving with aplomb.
It is about abandoning envy and working on ourselves: giving up laziness and moment by moment, task by task, chipping away at all the petty fears that keep us bouyed to our current lives, treading water and staring longingly at far off islands and distant horizons. Fears of financial ruin because today you bought Heinz instead of supermarket own brand beans. Fears that no-one will love you if you get a little high-brow in your taste in movies. Fears that others will find you ridiculous or your husband will shout or your Mum will be disappointed or you won’t understand or it will hurt your head or you will bankrupt the family coffers or your kids will pack their suitcases and go and live with the Mummy less silly down the road.
Because make no mistake about it: this is about fear and we don’t have to be cowards all our lives.
We can be better. Get to it today my Sweet.x