Last week I went for a walk in the park. Whilst not groundbreaking news it’s the sort of thing I always intend to do. Intention whilst an incredibly powerful thing – we talk a lot about doing things intentionally – it only works when there is follow through. When we moved to our new home one of the perks was a 30 second walk to a park. Not just a park. It has a lake and waterfall. Whilst off a main road you can barely hear the traffic. You wouldn’t know you’re in London. It’s a little piece of tranquility and I fully intended to make the most of it. Needless to say I didn’t and haven’t. But there’s time.
Whilst walking around the lake on a drizzly afternoon I had a startling realization that I was having a good day. To many people this may not seem like another piece of groundbreaking news. If, like me, you’ve lived alongside both physical and mental illness this may seem more familiar. Likewise, if you feel like life is a marathon of running pillar to post. Feeling like you never get to catch your breath, let alone actually enjoy life; this may ring a bell. My life is a mix of both. Sometimes it’s my mental or my physical health toying with me. Sometimes it’s both. Sometimes I’m so busy keeping all the balls in the air. Or keeping the plates spinning, whichever circus metaphor takes your fancy, that I rarely stop to actually be in the moment. Life just is. Rather than being something I can apply an adjective to.
It has occurred to me in recent weeks. And with the addition of reading The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck by Mark Manson (book review to come) that every minute we are not living, we are essentially dying. Or to quote The Shawshank Redemption:
“Get Busy Living or Get Busy Dying”
Death is inevitable and any fear that holds me back from doing what I want is one more day, or minute, or moment I haven’t lived. With this in mind I had realised that that rainy Saturday afternoon was a good day. Had I died the next day I would have passed on satisfied with how I had spent my last 24hours on earth.
This feeling of contentment makes for a strange bedfellow. It’s not something I’m accustomed to or comfortable with. And yet I felt a warm spread of satisfaction. The day wasn’t groundbreaking. I hadn’t climbed a mountain, conquered a fear, written a magnum opus or achieved anything really. But I had spent time with the people I love. I had read a good book. I had spent time outside appreciating nature. I had helped a friend. Whilst this doesn’t make for a scintillating diary entry looking at this list still makes me feel the echoes of the warmth I felt in that moment. Life isn’t always about the big moments. After all they are few and far between. Sometimes it’s about the little moments. The investments that we make in ourselves and others, rather than money or success, that are the hallmarks of a life well-lived.