This is part 7 in my 5 part thinking exercise to declutter my brain and get a proper framework for determining when/how/if I lead a meaningful life.
In previous parts I have determined that proper standards for meaningfulness can only come from accepting I am human. This comes with the human traits of having a brain that loves to be engaged, learn and play. With having a heart that loves to be swept of its feet. With having eyes that love to feast on things and having hands that love to touch. And with being a social animal that needs other humans to be happy.
I’ve also determined that at the moment I’m cramping my style by using too rigid values, premisses and habits which I’ve picked up from my upbringing and social groups I participate(d) in.
While writing this part, #7, I reached one conclusion I want to share with you upfront: my inner moral compass is good. Basically I am a decent person, with good morals. I cannot properly wrap this compass into words, I cannot articulate the premisses or values it uses. But I can trust it to make decisions without trying to justify them or couple them to values or premisses I’ve picked up along the way.
This gives me freedom. It also feels a bit daredevelish, since I’ve seldom made choices without words and constructions and logical foundation. Ha, this whole blog is evidence of that! But hey, I am going to use that freedom to determine what it means to be me and try to connect it to how that will make me lead a meaningful life. Off with the blinders!
PART 7: BEING ME
So, carefree and without justification I’ll now name some things that make me deliriously happy:
- Artisan work. I love smart hands and what they produce. Where I to do my life over I would have skipped University and would have learned a trade.
- Natural materials. Wood, paper, porcelain, glass, trees, wool, silk. The joy my hands feel.
- Quick results. I’m good at peaking in the moment. Making something in one afternoon. I give it all and I get results. This makes me happy.
- Exploring a fascination. I need some sort of intellectual component in my work. This can be an all intellectual endeavour such as writing a popular science article. Or the artist’s fascinations of getting colours just right and together.
- Having interesting points of view on most things in life, original views. I can make people look anew to things. I love to make myself look anew to things. I am most happy when I shed my blinders and find a whole new way of looking at things.
- cuddling with the cat.
- sitting at an airport or city cafe and watching people
- sleeping or being in my bed
- laying in a golden wheatfield in August with birds playing overhead. Kayaking along the edges of a fjord, looking at plants and animals, talking to the mountains. Roaming through the forests of Norway, becoming a wood spirit. (this last one actually can make me insane, I fear)
- humour. I enjoy seeing the fun of things.
ABOUT ARTISAN WORK
I’d love to be a artisan. To know a trade. To have magical hand. I could seriously contemplate learning a trade at my age and start a new life.
The only trouble is, I wouldn’t know what to chose. What niche to call my own… what would the subject and skill be that even today -while I’m still chronicly fatigued- I’d gladly wake up for in the middle of the night, pack the cat and some lunch and go out to do?
some things come to mind immediately.
- running reindeer in the north
- designing and making little carroussels that can be run by one person sitting in a lazy chair using two bike pedals. A small thing perfect for a street corner, allowing three children at a time to ride. Handcarved horses from wood. Glorious paint jobs. Stained glass in steel at the top.
- making and selling artisan chocolats on farmer markets in Norway
- printing wallpaper by hand from woodblocks in bright colours (I’d have such an interesting palette! not the duplo colours either)
These are dreams springing from the heart! No justification, no practical sense. These are all careers I have seriously contemplated at one point in my life, even researched. Even today I would wake up for them gladly. Should I contemplate starting one of them again? There áre some practical issues to resolve…
No, no, no. This post is not for the practical, the editor, the planner. This post is for the dreamer, the playful person, the optimist. She tells me I delight in skill.
ABOUT NATURAL MATERIALS
Celebrating the sense of the fingertops. The smell of cut wood, oak wood.
I have a feel and a love for natural materials. These will be a part of my meaningful life for sure.
ABOUT QUICK RESULTS
This gives a nice idea how I am to plan my time. It will be a good idea to dedicate a day or part of a day to one project at a time. I will get things done. I know I will get in the right mind set to get the job done. This is a time management style that fits me.
Results are important to me, apparently. I need some sort of closure to the exploration of a fascination. A tangible goal to work towards to.
They will come and they will continue to come for the rest of my life. I have no fear of ever running out. I do have a bit of a problem of choosing which fascination to explore here and now. Allotting time and effort. I have already determined on this blog that I can do it all, if I work one fascination for each day of the week. I’m not sure this strategy works permanently but it’s a good starting point.
Exploring my fascination-du-jour is important, it is what makes me happy.
There are some fascinations that I keep coming back to:
- Colours and shapes. Visual art, paintings, colour blocks.
- Spatial design. City spaces, architecture, landscape design, sculpture.
- Lines, silhouettes, shapes and countershapes, black and white.
- Scientific workings. (body, digestion, cell functions, enzyme conversions, bacteria etc.)
ABOUT INTERESTING VIEWS
I have them. I like it. Other people like it too. It comes natural to me, I don’t have to work for it.
I have specific memories about times when I found a new way of looking at things. Like that time at architect university when I first learned to look at spaces instead of masses. Or a few years later when I first laid in a park, in the sun, without a thought in my mind. Or when a mushroom experience showed me my sight is restricted by my brain and habits. Or when I lost colour sensation due to hormonal imbalance. Or as a child when I first noticed the skin changes on my hands, when the ‘grid’ showed first. Or seeing letters in scribbles for the first time.
Is this normal, to have a memory bank of these experiences? It’s like a photo album I keep. I don’t remember birthdays or school events, I remember the times when I gained a new way of looking at things.
Finding a new way of looking at something also gives me the giggles. It’s really fun.
ABOUT CUDDLING THE CAT
I’m a bit embarrassed to admit that this holds a spiritual aspect for me. I learn from my cat how to live. What a good pace is to live through the day. What good activities are (“don’t run around all the time, rest and relax in the sun for a while too!”). The importance of stretching for the health of the body.
ABOUT WATCHING URBAN PEOPLE
What can I say…
ABOUT SPENDING TIME IN BED
It’s when I recuperate. I should not feel guilty or useless when I spend time in bed. It is good for me. I should be proud.
ABOUT BEING IN NATURE
I have not much to say about this. There was a time when I needed to visit patches of forest at least every week because I would be totally overwhelmed otherwise. This was when I was working in an office, making a career. Living in a city made of concrete. In this country, the Netherlands, that is so filled with concrete.
Then there was the time I roamed the Norwegian forest near Bergen and almost went insane. I’m still not sure whether it was the path to insanity or to artist’s grandeur. Or both. Sometimes I wonder if I should’ve walked that path to the end, for the sake of art. But it would cost. At least my connection to the people I love and people in general.
For now I hold the view that what happened in Norway was an example of beginning perversion, where a good thing gets carried too far and damages a person. But it will be one of those things I’ll keep wondering about right until the day I die. Perhaps one of the regrets.
ABOUT BEING ALMOST DEAD
As you know, at the moment I have this cold. No biggy, no worries. It is almost gone now.
But there’s also something else going on in my health, a current running underneath that has been bugging me for months now. The doctor agreed and yesterday I had an echo of the belly. An echography of both upper part and lower part. We suspect it’s gall stones. We hope it is! Because other things might be more problematic.
“Other things” might be some sort of intestine illness (sigh…). Or a growth (yikes!). Or something I wrecked with that unusual diet I eat or the medicines I take (oh no, I made a mistake!).
Of course all kind of scenarios ran through my mind. Especially the kind where they discover something lumpy and nasty and they have to tell me, wringing their hands, that I only have three months left to live.
disclaimer: these kind of dying-fantasies seem very human to me and I’m not apologizing for them. Not even for the part where I seriously spend time thinking about how I would break this news to my (online) friends and how I would handle my own death on internet without faking it. I’m only human, thinking up horror scenarios is what we do.
disclaimer to the disclaimer: shall we share a howling belly laugh when I dó get lumpy-news in a couple of days?
disclaimer to the disclaimer to the disclaimer: you know I am trying to jinx possible lumpiness by writing about it of course. I am such a human!
The reason I’m openly showing you my morbid thoughts is because amidst this vanity indulgence there was half an hour where I actually had myself seriously considering what to do with the rest of my life if I only had three months left to live. That’s now until February.
What would I do?
Two things emerged quite forcefully:
- I would work. I would work every day. I would explore one fascination and would bring it to an end result. I have not chosen which fascination, that depends on the moment this actually happens I guess. It is still a fantasy at this point.
- I would involve my friends in getting to terms with me being around for a limited amount of time in my own way. I would have nothing (or very few) of the lamenting and the woes and the doe eyes. Instead I would show them a way of bringing the life of a friend to conclusion. My way. Probably a bit different from how ‘normal people’ do. I would talk openly about it. I would insist on hard core yoking. And I would continue to sweat the small stuff with them because that’s what daily life is, moaning when you get rained on or when people cold calling or hurting your toe. Also, I would have a party or two, at least one where they get to plunder my wool stash.
This is a novel way for me to find truths within myself. No thinking, no words. Just a strong incentive and up they bubble! Very interesting.
I won’t question these two things that came up. I will just take them and accept them. Should I get “lumpy news” from the doctor I’ll approach my friends in the manner I’ve described.
And the first thing… it tells me I am ready to work. Yay!
I try and find fun in things. All things. This too comes naturally to me, it comes at no effort. Sometimes it takes a bit of effort, when I get miffed at a posting on the knitting forum. But this always comes down at trying to see things from another perspective, which is always an interesting exercise to me.
When I feel good I see fun everywhere. It seems I emphasize it automatically. It enhances my happiness.
I particularly enjoy thinking up stories. They always have a funny aspect to them. Like the drawings of Quentin Blake.
I can trust my inner compass when I make choices and decisions. No need for justifications or logical explanations.
When doing something that makes me happy my life is meaningful.
Skills involving my hands and natural materials are key in making me happy.
Exploring a fascination is essential. A tangible result of this exploration too. My fascinations run for about 3 months at a time. Or 2 weeks. I like to emerge myself in the subject for that time.
My fascinations revolves around colours, shapes, spatial design and experiences, science. Lots of them involve play. Playful investigation. Trying out new tangents without being hung up on the outcome or the route.
Spending time in my bed is important.
I am ready to take on a fascination and run with it for the next few weeks. I am ready to wórk!
I can take the fun-loving habit of mine and use it as a driving force. I am getting feedback from people that they enjoy that part of me manifesting itself in the world.
This is part 7 in a series in which I think myself towards a meaningful life. So I don’t feel worthless anymore.