So I have gotten into a habit over the year of blogging just after New Year’s with my thoughts on the days past and those that still lay ahead of me. 2012 was a hell of a crazy ride and for all intents and purposes I am still somewhat surprised, sitting before you now with my thoughts laid bare once again, that I made it through in one piece.
As a celebration to hard lessons well learned and my never ending pursuit of optimism I thought I would share with those slightly less than optimistic about 2013, a couple of things that I learned over the last year that are and will be enduring lessons to guide me through the next twelve months. I hope wherever you are and whoever you are, some of these words offer you solace as you wage war on the New Year.
Mama Always Said
Although my mother has never compared life to a box of chocolates, she has come out with a few one liners that still flitter into my head from time to time and the most important piece of my mother’s advice that I found coming back time and time again in 2012 was this – “You are only responsible for you.” Seems simple right? There aren’t many words and my Ma has never been big on superlatives but these six little words mean a hell of a lot more when they come to you at just the right time.
What my Ma was trying to say was that I was going to drive myself crazy trying to figure out why people did what they did and said what they said, and when it came down to the bitter end why they didn’t do what they should have done and why they didn’t say what they should have said. I took this apart a little and with my mother’s words came to this conclusion – the problem isn’t necessarily how something happened, but how you responded to that something when it happened.
Life is perception and you are only responsible for you. Respond accordingly.
Forgive AND Forget
The old adage “forgive but never forget” has never been closer to my consciousness than it was in 2012. A long procession of what the fuck moments proceeded by what felt to me at the time like a blatant disregard for my own emotional wellbeing led me to re-think this adage and I present it to you now, new and remodelled and now in full working order – forgive and forget, because it is impossible to do one without the other.
You cannot forgive someone something and still view what they did to wrong you in the correct light, just in the same way that you cannot forget the unforgivable. To truly forgive someone you must forget what they did and rewrite the past in a new light, then shine that light on all the shadowy secret places you never thought to look for answers when you were still hurting. You will be amazed at what you find in those dark places where the truth sometimes hides.
Forgiveness is stoic, a declaration that you will move past something and leave it where it stands, whereas memory is a living, breathing entity that cannot be so easily left behind. So take it with you, wherever you go, untainted by your own feelings and lighter to carry as a result.
Love Like Crazy
It’s easy to forget to say “I love you” to your parents, siblings, children and partners when hanging up a phone call or dashing out the door but this year – try not to. I always tell two people that I love them, without fail, and have as long as they have been in my life – my mother and my daughter. But this year, my big sister spent a significant amount of time in hospital and only when I went to visit her and saw her condition, a monolithic weight of energy and happiness in my life reduced to a drowsy rubble, did I realise how hard it was for me to tell her that I loved her when my time came to leave.
I have two siblings – an older sister and a younger brother – and I can count on one hand the amount of times I have told them that I love them. Don’t get me wrong, we all know that we love each other but we show it in different ways. My little brother, apathetic towards almost everything in life and unenthusiastic to a fault, went the sober route and got my name tattooed on his wrist, along with my sisters and my mothers. My older sister, a fireball of emotion and eccentricity, is a lover of photographs and keepsakes. And then there is me, middle child extraordinaire whose personality lays somewhere in between the two of them, who has only time and the verbal testament of my love.
And I don’t tell them enough. I think it’s about time I started.
Just the Two of Us
Most parents have had two things constantly attached to them from the time that their child was born – said child and a camera. I have never been a big on documenting my daughters every waking moment, but this year I plan to make a little more effort to remember those moments that mean more to me than any other, because they are the moments when it is just her and I.
When we are sitting on the settee watching cartoons in our pyjamas on a Saturday morning and she is flicking cereal at me and laughing when I catch it in my mouth. When we walk to the shops and she insists on jumping in every single puddle there is but warns me to evade them because I am not wearing the right shoes. When she says things that catch me off guard and make me laugh. That laughter is so above and beyond anything I can put into words (and I do this shit for a living). When she falls asleep on my stomach and leaves a warm Molly shaped patch on my skin when I move her into bed. When she mumbles in her sleep and dribbles on my shirt.
Can I photograph all of these moments to make sure I never forget? No, some of them are impossible to document. But those that I can, I will and those that I can’t, I will remember to never forget.
Less Money, More Time
In correlation to the first passage about what my Ma always says, she once told me that the difference between a rich person and a poor person is that a rich person counts every penny and a poor person throws change away. I agree with this to a certain point, being a poor person myself, money doesn’t really matter because you never have it in your hand long enough to imagine the possibilities of what such an amount could afford you.
When you find yourself with severely limited funds you throw money at the dreaded bills and then scramble together what you’ve got left and do with it what you can. As I write these words I am -£6.57 in my bank account and have about the same in coppers and coins in my money jar. However my bills are paid for another month, there is food in my fridge and warm clothes on my back so in the end I count myself richer than poor.
We should spend less money trying to make the time we have more important, and devote more energy to trying to make the time was have make the money we have look more important.
So that’s what I plan to do this year. Take the sting out of heartache by changing my perception of things happened, because as Mama always said, I am only responsible for me. Forgive the forgivable and forget the forgettable, because to do one without the other is to live a life half told. Tell those closest to me that I love them and reassure myself that although they mock it at the time, one day, they will be glad I said it as much as I did. To document the moments I can and remember to remember the moments that I can’t.
And to keep in mind that the measure of a person’s wealth is not by how many coins they have in their pocket, but by how many moments they carry in their heart.