What I learnt this week: Life and Death

I just finished reading ‘The Bright Hour,’ by Nina Riggs.  It’s a true story about  her journey from being diagnosed with terminal cancer to her treatment and finally death.  Sounds like a real happy read I know!  But although it’s about death, it was beautiful in the way that it made me think about life…

Nina was a descendant of Ralph Waldo Emerson.  His writing has been quoted all over the joint.  And most definitely on my blog somewhere along the way.  The poetry they both created with their words was extremely profound, yet steeped in such realism as they shared their experiences of the world.

In ‘The Bright Hour’ Nina didn’t give up and despair but embraced the time she had left.  Even the most normal things like watching her boys play or taking a ride on a motorbike and feeling the wind in her hair were cherished.  She spent time with the people she cared about the most.  And took the opportunity to grieve for all that she would eventually lose.

Yes, Nina’s book is about moving closer to death.  But we all die, we just don’t like to talk about it.  Which is funny because we’re surrounded by death.  All you have to do is turn the TV on or pop onto your phone and bam it’s there!  The truth is death is something most of us can’t imagine ourselves doing, yet it’s the only inevitable thing in life.

And it’s healthy to regcognise it will happen and we don’t know when. Reading the book made me more aware of how I’m living my life.   It made me to look more closely at the doing the things I wanted to do rather than the things I thought I ‘should’ do.

When I finished reading the book tears streamed down my face.  But in some weird way I felt comforted.  I saw that dying wasn’t the worst thing- not living your life truly is way more scary.  Nina was someone who really loved and really lived, though she knew death was knocking on the door.  And that’s something we could all do a little more of- really living and really loving.

What I learnt this week: Fearless

So my journey into 13 different worlds at the Melbourne International Film Festival is over.  It was heart breaking, uplifting and eye opening.  I loved it.  And funnily enough there was a very strong theme in all of the films I chose…

Every character had a sense of fearlessness.  Whether it was a woman with an intellectual disability who was beginning her first relationship at 50 OR a man traveling with a an elephant across Thailand by foot, in an attempt to get him back to his home OR a group of black, underprivileged teenage girls aspiring to college whilst working in a creative dance team- they were all fierce.

Some were fictional characters and some were real.  My favourite was a young Pakistani girl called Marie who played squash internationally, in spite of death threats from the Taliban (a true story).  She wasn’t willing to give up her dream for those who threatened it.

In fact Marie summed it up perfectly in one line when she said- ‘We are born fearless.  Fear can only be learnt.’

It’s so very true.

As an adult almost anything can be scary- if we let our fear get the better of us.  We must dig deep and see where we might be holding ourselves back.  As we need to be constantly reminded to get out of our comfort zone.  To be challenged.

I remember before I walked the Spanish Camino in 2013  I thought I was adventurous.  However I really wasn’t living my life adventurously.  I was scared and safe in my little routine.  But after that 600km  walk I had the courage to move my life to the UK where I only knew 1 person!  In 2 years I traveled to 16 countries, made new friends and built a life for myself.  I came back  to Australia fearless.

However that type of feeling can fade and you need to seek out challenges, otherwise you don’t grow as a human.  These challenges will be different for everyone- marriage, jobs, traveling.  You just gotta shake that fear by doing the thing that scares you.

You can do it.  Be fearless.  It’s how you were born.

What I learnt this week: Outrageous

I’m in the middle of attending a bunch of films at the Melbourne International Film Festival. And I’m in heaven. Seeing things from around the world opens your eyes to different cultures. And you realise how good we have it here in Australia.

We have everything a human could EVER need. Of course nothing will ever be perfect but we generally have the freedom to do as we please. And that can most definitely be taken for granted.

I know I can be complacent and complain. We all can. It’s called being entitled and it’s bullsh*t.  Of course there are things in life worth complaining about. Worth standing up for. I’m not saying we all lay down and be door mats when something is wrong.

What I’m saying is this…

  • If you turn up to your sushi place for lunch at 11am and they haven’t finished making the brown rice rolls you want- don’t moan about it. Get the white ones. You won’t die.
  • If someone asks politely for your to move your bag off a seat on a peak hour train so that they can sit down, there’s no need to get huffy.  You’re bag isn’t alive.  It doesn’t need a seat all to itself.
  • If your work place only offers full cream, low fat and soy milk don’t be pissed off that almond milk isn’t available.  You’ve got milk.  Drink it.

Another reason not to complain about inane crap is- NOBODY cares. Even if they pretend to. They don’t. All you’ll do is lose friends.  And alienate people.  Talk to your friends when you have a legitimate issue. They’ll be sympathetic and want to help.  After all that’s what friends are for!

We live in an amazing country. Let’s appreciate it. No- we can’t forget our rights. But our right is not to be outraged if our Wi-Fi is playing up. Outrage only when necessary. Please.

 

What I learnt this week: The need for SPEED!

This week in an effort to go beyond our digital dating system I went Speed dating.  It was a crazy, fun and very random experience.

What Speed dating taught me…

  • It’s OK to tick no when you don’t feel a connection. You don’t have to be a ‘nice girl’ and worry about hurting a guys feelings because you don’t like him.   As general rule it’s OK to say no in life.  Don’t say yes, unless you mean it.
  • Explaining who you are doesn’t necessarily mean you have to share what you do for a living. Because what you do isn’t who you are.  It’s only a part of you.
  • There’s no text, tweet, email to hide behind. It’s real, raw and you have to engage in conversation like the olden day humans used to do.  And that’s scary but exhilarating too!
  • It’s better to be honest because faking it with 20 strangers for 3 hours is a challenge no-one wants.
  • You have the freedom to disagree with people and share your own opinions. You don’t have to stroke other people’s ego.
  • The best idea is to go with an open heart and no expectations. You never know who you’ll meet and what great conversations you might have.  It’s also an awesome way to expand your friendship group.
  • You’re forced to talk to people that you might’ve ignored had you been in an ordinary bar situation. Because of this, your mind can be blown.
  • Everyone there just wants to connect with another human being. And that’s a really beautiful thing.  It’s not tragic, it’s not hopeless, it’s not pathetic.  It’s f*cking beautiful.  Speed dating is a brave thing to do.
  • It reminds you that it’s important to step out of your comfort zone every now and again. And more importantly to know that you can!
  • You make it your own experience by the energy you give out. Not everyone will be a match.  Sometimes 4 minutes will feel like 4 hours.  But at the end of a day it’s a great story.  And life is all about adventures- BIG and small!

P.S.  Going with a good friend definitely helps with any beforehand nerves.  And it’s also fun to have someone to have a laugh with after!