20 April, 2014

A Little Chaos is Good for the Soul

It seems to me, a happy life is one which has found the balance between living for the moment and planning for the future. Sounds obvious? Maybe it is in principle, but in reality it’s really bloody hard to put into practice. On the one hand we know that living in the moment is key to living 'fully', but at the same time we live by all these ruddy rules, rules which dictate our future. How do we know when to stop being sensible and start living, or when to take off our party shoes and hoover the oven?

It’s taken me years to find balance. YEARS. Being a bit “all or nothing”, I can usually be found in either total disarray (I am happy to say it is a long while since this was the case) or living a life so pristine you can barely see me without squinting. I’d say round about now the balance is pretty good, if anything I’ve worked so hard to find my equilibrium that sometimes I forget to just drop the ball, stomp of pitch and forget about what comes next. We all need that from time to time, but it is easier said than done.

There is no denying that right now my days are pretty disciplined – the gym, work, healthy meals, lists, early nights, meditation, hobbies, chores and a little room for fun and love. Barely a dentist appointment goes missed and it sends me into sheer panic if I ever have to cross something out in my Filofax. It looks so messy and THIS WAS NOT IN THE PLAN. I’m a first class student at being organised and “good”, so much so that I really struggle to let go. Ever. I have spent my mid-twenties doing a full 180. In place of chaos there is order, and with it so much tension in my back.

Obviously I love this lifestyle, otherwise I wouldn’t live it. I am healthier in every way and a better person for it. Gone is the stack of unopened post warning me of my financial troubles, gone is my wine gut and matching headache, gone is the overuse of dry shampoo because I never had time to wash my hair. My bank balance is Black-ish, my house is pretty, my bed is well slept in and my even my toe nails are sparkly. The view is definitely far better from this side – I’m strong, I’m fulfilled and I no longer live a life in fear of debt collectors - but I am tired. 

This has been very apparent to me this week, when I’ve been enjoying a week off work. A week filled with indulgence, celebrations, city breaks, treats and all the things I spend most of my normal life wishing for. It has been a most wonderful week, but I have found it harder than ever to sleep-in, switch-off and just Carpe that Diem. This problem has crept up on me over the past few years – it’s like the tighter I run my ship, the less I have been able to just go where the tide takes me. I’ve been waking up at 6am ON MY DAYS OFF, feeling restless, itching to fill my time with productivity. When you put yourself under so much pressure in your day to day life, it takes time to loosen up again. Yesterday I finally slept in, a full 7 days after breaking up from work; it should not take that long to unclench.

From the outside it looks easy, like when we’re stressed and wound up all we need to do is take the pressure off ourselves, sit down and eat an ice cream. That may be true, but it isn’t that simple when there is a deeper driving force behind all those little choices we make in a day. For me, part of the reason I live as vigilantly as I do now is I'm a tiny bit terrified of going ever going back to stormier seas. I have been there and I didn’t like it. I am all out of buoyancy aids and anyway the calm looks good on me.

The world doesn’t help people like me. The uptight ones, the worriers, the real life Claire Dunphys. Pressure is chasing us all the time, wherever it may come from, and there is so much choice nowadays that if you are even remotely unsure of yourself you can end up in a tizz pretty quickly. I am mainly sure of me and my direction, I know what I want and I don’t ever compare my life to anybody else’s, but I have been known in my most obsessive moments to spend an hour agonising over whether to go for a run, or choosing between walking and the bus. I hear myself deliberating over such small things and I think for the love of god woman it’s a run not a face transplant. Working (and playing) in Social Media doesn’t always help either. As much as I clearly love it, all our tweeting, posting and gramming encourages us to switch on, and on, and on, and on...

I’m happy to have finally switched off for long enough to enjoy Easter, but we can’t always rely on a week of massages and mini-breaks to reach this level of reprieve. Some day to day changes need to be made. I don’t plan on throwing out my whole routine, obviously, because it really works for me and I kinda love (and need) my job, but I do want to start thinking a little bit less about tomorrow. It is good to make choices that tomorrow us will be grateful for, in fact I think that is essential, but I also think sometimes we can just ignore the ‘should’ part of our mind and give in to the wine or sack off the gym (I know, edgy), let some chaos colour our lives. Last week I had a hangover for the first time in 2 months and although I woke up with crisps in the bed, a messy house, and a liver begging me not to start all this nonsense again, I kind of enjoyed the disarray, because I knew this time it was happy disarray, and a scene of chaos I this time could control.

So much of our time has already been dictated for us that sometimes we really need to throw caution to the wind, let our hair down, paint the town Red, kick up our heels, and do all the other footloose and fancy-free clich├ęs that we don’t really understand, because as much as being sensible is good, sometimes you need to feed your inner child or that child will DIE. On that note, which Easter Egg shall I eat first?


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