Every day give yourself a present
Advice for a lifetime. What will you do for yourself today? (Nice coffee? It’s always coffee over here).
If you have not yet, please proceed immediately to Netflix and watch this comedy special (or, anti-comedy special). I am bowled over by the oratory genius of Hannah Gadsby. I’m so glad we get to live in a world that includes this show. I’m sad that we had to live so long without it. Just, please, watch it. All the way through.
No spoilers I promise: I’m just gonna say, the sunflowers were one of my favourite bits, but actually all of it was my favourite bit. I might have cried. Once you’ve watched it, let’s talk
Last year, I quit a stressful job and moved across the country to live with my boyfriend in a peaceful little corner of the East coast, with a little garden. I collected my old-lady-lifestyle cat, and turned 32 accordingly. These days I get a ton of sleep. The fresh air, gardening and cat cuddles see to that.
Obviously everyone knows sleep is important, for such wholesome things as good brain function and heart health. Anecdotally, now that I am no longer going insane from sleep deprivation, I no longer: fall asleep on the bus to and from work; lose my rag at the slightest inconvenience; get embroiled in deeply regrettable misunderstandings; shout loudly even when I’m trying to sound calm and professional. A whole new world, lads.
If you have anything that is preventing you from sleeping, you have my utmost sympathy. Sleep matters more than I ever would have imagined. Now I know it, I’m never going back. Sleep. That’s my advice. Shhh. Don’t fight it.
I’ve been reading If You Want to Write by Brenda Ueland. This book was first published in 1938, which may be why it includes so many references to the Holy Ghost; but this also means that it includes a chapter titled: ‘Why women who do too much housework should neglect it for their writing’. It’s an absolute hoot, and it’s also kind and energetic and generous and frankly, fabulous. As well as myriad quotes from Vincent Van Gogh – never a bad thing – it also urges the reader to seriously pursue laziness. Or, as Brenda calls it, a ‘fairly long period of protection from talking and busyness’. That is an ambition I can endorse.
Take it away Brenda:
‘Our idea that we must be energetic and active is all wrong […] The imagination needs moodling – long, inefficient, happy idling, dawdling, puttering. What you write today, you thought and created in some idle time on another day’.
No one ever regrets moodling.
Find your Inner Mindy
This is not some sort of wellness jargon. Quite the opposite: your inner Mindy is absolutely terrible at life.
Let me explain. Ever been entrenched in some grim situation (a sales pitch, a ‘networking’ event) that you wish you could escape, if only you had the sheer brass balls required to successfully extract yourself? Ah, the prison of social niceties. If you have even the thinnest veneer of good manners, you’ll know what I’m talking about. You know who doesn’t have any issue with just telling people to fuck off? Mindy.
Mindy: she’s your power move. Thrice divorced, she has a tangled mane of dirty-blonde hair. She has tattoos of ex boyfriends’ names (it helps to remember). She gets bored easy. Mindy won’t wear anything that’s not glittery. Even her flip flops are sparkly. Some of Mindy’s favourite things: cocktails that double as desserts; swearing; revenge; Twitter. She’s got some low level alcoholism on the side. If the drinking and the glitter mania wasn’t enough of a clue: Mindy is living a life beset by depression. Mindy has no fucks to give. The fucks shop is all out of stock for Mindy.
While Mindy is largely indifferent to the suffering of humanity, she will occasionally rise to the occasion to ensure an enemy’s downfall. Mindy had a romance with a man who she then found out was married. Mindy moved to his home town. She joined his wife’s book club. She built trust with the woman. They became fast friends. The woman’s husband’s life was slowly falling into an abyss. Would Mindy tell? Maybe she wouldn’t (he reassured himself, helplessly, at 3am, awake in bed). Two years to the day after Mindy’s failed romance with the cheating husband, she told his wife about it, and then left town that night in her Ford Mustang convertible. That’s how Mindy deals.
I hope you’re already imagining the spectacular, blaze-of-glory exits you could make from boring meetings or boring relationships, by channeling your inner Mindy. Don’t be afraid. Mindy doesn’t know the meaning off afraid*
*If your life goes dangerously off the rails because of this incredibly bad advice, I’m sorry, but not as sorry as you are I bet.
Interrupting the meanies with jokes from the internet
Interrupting is one of the highest offences against decency (when you think about it, you are just broadcasting that you believe all your thoughts matter more than anyone else’s, which is incredible, and incorrect). However, if you ever feel the need to shut someone up, someone who’s being rude, or mean (this is for emergencies only), gently take their arm, tilt your head to the side, strike a contemplative air, and say, ‘In a way, aren’t we all internet explorers?’
Grow your own
In my sleep-deprived days, I was in the habit of buying beautiful plants and then neglecting them to death. These halcyon days I’m striving to keep plants alive, and have had a summer of roses to show for it. I’m so in love with our rose plant that I go outside in the evenings to swoon around it and whisper ‘you’re pretty’.
Growing raspberries has been an emotional rollercoaster (are they dead? Oh, they’re alive. Oh no they’re growing out of control now), and has produced 3 raspberries total, but still, there’s something about living alongside the rhythm of plants that’s good for the soul. At least, I feel, it makes a pointed mockery of all my rushing around.
If you want to find out what it’s like to become acutely aware of a plant’s opinion of you, Michael Pollen wrote this fascinating, beautiful and extremely far-out account of what that’s like, in The Atlantic. He is braver than I.
Is that tree watching you? Yes, yes it is.
Life is just a ride
I often lose sight of how massively insignificant my worries are. It helps to keep in mind the famous Bill Hicks quote about letting go (which is somehow misanthropic and life-affirming at the same time). Life is just a ride. Happy Sunday.