While in London, I've spent a few days and evenings with a younger friend who is struggling with the loss of a significant relationship alongside a tough time at work and undertaking an intense therapeutic journey. I've been struck by how exhausting it all is - and how much of that minute self examination I no longer do.
It's not that I think it's not important. It's just so tiring maintaining such a high level of closely monitored misery - surely letting some of it slide wouldn't hurt?
Do what you wanna do... Go where you wanna go...
I remember years ago telling another, also younger friend, that I never did anything I didn't want to do - and it sparked the most catastrophic row I've ever had in any friendship. In fact it ended it, such was the fury and passion of my friend who was outraged at what he saw as my arrogance and selfishness.
If I'm honest the statement wasn't entirely true, but back then, once committed to a position I would argue it fiercely - like Crane Dog once said 'Form an opinion quickly and stick to it!'. So I started by arguing a point I didn't fully live by - but the more entrenched I became - the more sense I was making to myself.
By the time our argument was done, so was our friendship, but as hard won as the insight was, I remain grateful for it. I learnt something important about myself and my boundaries. In my 30s and early 40s I used a lot of trickery, deception and skullduggery to protect my time and I felt guilty about it too - not much but some. I avoided family gatherings, special birthday parties, friends with problems, calls at inconvenient times, shopping, excercise and even work on the odd occasion. (Oh bite me - you've done it too).
Fibbing is an artform
Now I'm much more relaxed about being up-front with my decline and if the person I'm turning down is too fragile, insistent or distant a pal to take a truthful 'no ta' for an answer then I'm completely happy to fib. Yup you got that right. Fibbety fib fib fib...
I've been described as a 'truth missile' in the past but that's just a perception - the truth is, it really is worth letting go of some of the stuff that doesn't matter all that much - and focus on what really does and you need to practice being dilligent about it too.
Stop doing what you keep doing
Stop doing things you don't want to do, it wastes so much time. You waste time thinking about it too much, then you squander some more doing it and resenting it, then how about dropping some on feeling guilty and or cross and no doubt you'll waste yours and someone elses time talking about how much you don't/didn't want to do it. When if you'd just said no - and let it go.
You'd be doing something worth the thinking and the doing and the sharing. Hooray for you!
So make a list of all the things you plan to do that you don't want to do this week.
NOW CANCEL THEM ALL...
Miraculously you now have some time to do something you do want to do. Paint, read, clean out a cupboard, go see a friend, walk the hills, take a singing lesson, maybe just stare out of the window for an hour - it doesn't matter, as long as it is something you really want to do.
Oh and if you don't want to be sitting around snotting up hankies and feeling sorry for yourself - then that's the perfect time to stop it and go and do something else.
But if you do...want to spend some more miserable time feeling blue, then do it and fuck it and for heaven sake don't call me about it because I er... I've lost my phone, yes that's it! - terrible thing, really inconvenient...