I had the overwhelming privilege of hearing Gill Hicks speak again this week. Gill is the Australian survivor of the London bombing. I wrote about her last year and re-blogged one of her articles. I think that the world needs more people like Gill.
Despite the very and mostly happy nature of this blog – many of you know that I’m juggling one hell of a life.
I sat on Thursday morning, in a beautiful room at the Royal Motor Yacht Club in Point Piper – one of the most serene and beautiful places one could be on a Thursday morning listening to Gill recount her hours before the bomb went off on that London train line, changing her life forever. I want you to think about how this could be you, on any given day – because it could be me.
She was aggravated with her partner. She was slamming drawers while he slept and she rushed off to work. She was looking for that particular scarf to make an outfit work. She was in a hurry – hissing at people who were loitering and in her way. She wasn’t looking at faces – her destination was her primary concern. She’d left her train pass at home – had to stand in a queue – made her even later. And more aggravated. Up, down escalators, running to catch a different connection to be on time. Out of routine – to make it work. And that changed her life forever.
A minute or two out from the station, when she was probably breathing a sigh of relief, she was going to get where she was going on time – a suicide bomber detonated
She says it happened quicker than you can click your fingers or take a breath.
I sat there unable to take a breath and wanting to cry. Not because of what happened to Gill – she is the last person on earth you would cry for – she is brave and strong and uplifting and inspirational. I wanted to cry because I’m not appreciating anything at the moment and life is a complete blur. A blur interrupted by small aggravations and meaningless upsets that characterise every day.
There are a series of blog posts going around – conceptually it’s a letter to your 16 year old self from your 40 year old self (or however old you happen to be) telling you how your life is going to turn out despite the fact that things seem so completely crappy there and then.
I’m about to turn 42 and I know that my 60 year old self will possibly have this to say to me:
I know right now that you think you have too much on your plate. You probably do, but that’s life and you will survive. Promise.
That feeling that you aren’t doing anything well, that your outputs both professionally and personally are mediocre – it’s in your head. Not everyone is a superstar all the time. And no-one feels let down.
That body of yours that refuses to let you run four times a week but does let you spin as much as you want. Cherish it – when you get to my age, chances are all you’re going to do is walk round Centennial Park. Slowly.
You don’t have early onset Alzheimers – you’re just moving too quickly and not paying attention. Your Post It note system works most of the time – just remember to have some at home (as well as all over your computer screen at work) so you can remember where you put the Cadbury’s you were hiding from the children.
It’s okay that you don’t want to go out dancing on a Saturday night and that you’d rather be in bed by 8pm watching Law & Order re-runs. You danced for 12 years in the clubs – you’ve done your bit for classic rock, hiphop, rap and disco.
All the wine you drink – it’s medicinal. You’re not an alcoholic. They drink from early in the morning. You wait til 5 o clock. Like everyone else. To harp on the point, that article you read on functioning alcoholics – that’s also not you. So stop with the labels and enjoy the wine. And remember – it’s cheaper than therapy. Vodka works a treat too.
No – you don’t need to envy those people that actually have the nervous breakdown you’re always joking about that you don’t have time to schedule. Even if they get to go to a really nice hospital and rehabilitate for a few weeks. Rather put your foot down and demand a week in Thailand once a year. You’re working hard and you deserve it. It will also make you a more pleasant person to live with. Win win.
It also wouldn’t hurt to have a good cry more often. You’d probably feel relieved and let more things go. It’s not a weakness to shed some tears – you’ve just forgotton how.
Go out and buy all the coral and orange pieces you want for summer – the colour will be beautiful on you. Enough already with all the black.
Even if you put on a few pounds every now and again, people will still love you. There’ll be more of you to love.
Spend more time with your parents instead of feeling guilty. Life is short.
Try and leave the office behind when you pick up the children and for God’s sake put down that mobile phone. People managed for years without them – a few hours every afternoon will not make the world end.
And above all else – laugh more and remember – it’s not about waiting for the storm to pass – it’s about learning to dance in the rain.
With love and best wishes for the next 18years,
Your friend for life