It's a peaceful way to start the day which is why I always love Sundays. As I rolled over to gaze upon the sleeping face of The Boy (which is always the first thing I do when he's home) I inadvertently woke him too. After a sleepy smile he curled up behind me, entwined his fingers with mine and utilised his enviable ability to go straight back to sleep whilst I attempted to turn the pages of my book one handed and avoid the hot stench of his morning breath.
30 minutes or so later he was ready to wake up and have a cup of tea, some scrambled eggs and beans on toast and watch Gone Baby Gone, our latest Love.Film offering. After this quality time together we went our separate ways - him to run some errands and do some work, me to tidy up, put a layer of paint primer on the walls and ceiling of our newly plastered attic room and clear the living room ready for it to be plastered tomorrow.
Whilst I was washing up and planning dinner for this evening I started to think about the things that I am good at, the things I contribute to the world. I'll never invent a cure for cancer or save the economy or be famous for something grandiose and significant, but then I don't crave those things. That's not who I'm supposed to be.
I pity people who measure the success of their life against someone they're jealous of, or by criteria that shows how they've failed at something that someone else succeeded at. If you can't run 100 metres in less than 10 seconds it doesn't mean that you're a failure, it means you aren't taking into consideration the fact that you are great at something other than running. It might be something you're not aware of, it might be something that you haven't tried yet but EVERYONE is good at something, everyone contributes to the world in some way.
People can be categorised as givers or takers and even the most independent, self sufficient person (such as myself) still needs someone. After all if you provide a service, you need someone to need that service.
That's where the balance comes in. I am a worker bee - I get my satisfaction from supporting others whether that's in my job as a marketing executive or whether that's in my personal life. My friends, family and The Boy might think I'm special and want me in their life because I work hard to take care of them but I think they're special and want them in my life because they let me. I love to cook so I especially appreciate people who love to eat. I love to resolve problems and get things organised so I find that the majority of the people in my life are the kind of people who appreciate my willingness to do that for them when they need it.
I'm not a saint or an altruist - I just know what makes me happy and what I'm good at. I love being surrounded by happy people and knowing that I have contributed to that happiness in however small a way is as satisfying to me as it is to the person who finds a cure for cancer or saves the economy or writes Harry Potter.
Everyone contributes and as long as what you contribute is something you can take pride in, is something that makes others happy then it doesn't matter what it is. A politician and a prostitute both fuck people for money but I think there's a lot more dignity in prostitution. A prostitute asks her client what they want and gives it to them. That's 100% service delivery and customer satisfaction. A politician has less dignity in my opinion and a much higher rate of failure but I guarantee more people want to be politicians than want to be prostitutes.
I know people who aren't happy with their lives - who want to be richer, thinner, more qualified, to find love. Some of them need to make changes, some of them need to accept who they are and what their life is.
I truly believe that the day we stop learning, the day we stop identifying new goals for ourselves is the day we start dying. The thrill of the chase, the journey to getting where we want to be - that's life, not what happens when we get there.
We all hear those stories of people who "die trying" or people who regret the things they never did out of fear or a lack of opportunity. Are they happy? No - because they're focusing on the wrong things.
A very wise man sang "you can't always get what you want, but if you try sometimes you just might find that you get what you need" but he also sang "I can't get no satisfaction". You should have a goal, you should aim for satisfaction but you should understand that the path you set out on might take you to somewhere you didn't realise you needed to go. Getting lost, winding up in the wrong place might just help you find yourself, find the right place. Reevaluate what makes your life a success, redefine what failure actually is.
This is turning into a manifesto for personal fulfilment. I wish that people would learn to love themselves, make the best of themselves. Life is about balance - good and bad - and you don't appreciate the good without the contrast of the bad.
Some truly awful, fucked up things will happen to some of us during the course of our lives. People we love might die, people we trust might betray us. We have to roll with the punches and look at the bigger picture. Yes something bad happened but what did we learn from it? What happened after that to change your life for the better? Look at where you are now in your life - are you happy? Can you say that you always have been? Would you be happy now if you hadn't been miserable then? Of course not - so don't regret the bad stuff, don't focus on the bad stuff that happened - move on, move past it towards the good.
Everybody needs something. People get sick so that doctors can heal them. That balance of destruction and construction, pleasure and pain - we need it! People fail in order for others can succeed. When we fail it either teaches us humility and to accept that we're on the wrong path, or it motivates us to try harder, try something different until we do succeed.
If your friend is killed by a drunk driver - that accident might be the catalyst for that drunk to reevaluate their life, change for the better. They might become that person who cures cancer. It doesn't make it any less unfair that your friend died, or any less tragic but I guarantee that with every achievement, every failure, every twist and turn of your life whether it brings joy or sorrow to you will have a positive and negative impact, somewhere to someone.
Those of you who are religious might take comfort that it's part of God's plan, others believe in fate, others don't want an explanation. However you dress it up or down it's life and it's happening and you have to go along with it.
If I were asked to give anyone advice, its this. Look at your life. Look at yourself. Work out who you are, what you're good at and what makes you happy. You'll figure out what you want this way and that's when you go for it. Just be realistic and be kind to yourself! If it doesn't give you pleasure and satisfaction then you're doing life wrong. When it's hard - learn from it, when it's good - appreciate it.
If you're in a bad relationship - why are you working so hard to change it into a good one? I once spent 7 years with a man who didn't deserve me to keep trying the way I did to make us both happy together. Do I with hindsight consider that a waste of 7 years? Does it make me frustrated with myself or depressed? No! I learned from it.
Because I was unsatisfied in my personal life I channelled everything I had into work - and my job makes me very happy. I am also now I'm in a relationship which makes me truly happy. You don't get to your future without learning from the past. What are you waiting for?
Ziggy played guitarrrrrraaaaarrrrraaaarrrrrr
Title: I Demand A Better Future by David Bowie