Etymology doesn’t have much to do with what I wanted to talk to you about. I’m here to check in with you. See how you are. So many of us have had cause, pause, and necessity to re-examine and re-think so many things this year. I’m genuinely curious about where your thinking has led you, and as such, I am going to share with you a glimpse into my various re-thinking in this surreal reality we are wading through.
What a year. How are you holding up? Did the vast and varied changes tip you up or top you up through 2020? Have you stayed a similar course to the way things were in the before time? Are you in one of the industries that’s been crippled, changed, or created? Are you, like me, packing a quarantine 15? Have you chosen to completely change your situation by moving home, career, or changing your personal situation?
Did you know the etymology of that phrase “another think” which so many people mis-speak as “another thing” coming? Well, if you do, cool, and if you do not, let me enlighten you with this article from the guardian that pointed out the evolution of the phrase, and crystalised my choice to stick with “another think” rather than accept “another thing”. Both phrases are valid, I’m just stating the fact we have a choice about which phrase we use if we choose this phrase for any reason.
I’ve been keeping a bit quiet, however, recently my confidence is returning. There’s no shortage of observations and stories to share, there’s also no rush back to the dizzying pace or crippling loneliness and emotional pain that was standard operating procedure before 2020. There’s more than a trace of shame in admitting that this has been the best year of my life on this planet so far. There are others like me. People who had a chance to slow down, or were forced to do so. People who have made significant and brave changes to their priorities and trajectories that they’d never dreamed possible.
I’ve mic dropped my old life and chaotic schedule completely and moved toward an arguably obsessive interest in regenerative practices and carbon capture. I crashed and burned rather spectacularly and twice after screaming into the void for a decade about carbon divestment. I still LOVE divestment. But that’s someone else’s journey now as I am too tired to keep battling the bureaucracy and bullies that have surfaced through the years. Needed to slow down, and soil is seemingly less sexy and therefore less likely to attract greed and hubris I hope. Guess we will see…
For years I was stuck in the cycle of doing the same dumb stuff and expecting a different result. As is in my nature, I did not make changes by halves. I stepped out of my marriage (never my deep and integral friendship with Phteven my Phoulmate) any and all public and professional roles except those I could actively commit to in good faith, and completely retreated to the safety of my family and tiny social bubble to rest and re-assess.
I have re-assessed. I have re-thought. I have retreated. I have rejuvenated. I have not retaliated only emancipated myself and others from any non-virtuous cycles. There are some serious concerns I’ve had the time to consider, and I am genuinely hopeful for the first time in a very long time about my own future, and that of humanity and the planet. We’ll all need to be ready for another think coming. And another. And I guess we will all adjust if, when and how we best can if we are given the opportunity and information to help us make thoughtful choices.
I’ve never shied away from ruffling feathers or questioning things or asking for clarity. I’ve also been regretting my previous choices to let the whole world into my heart and head at times. This meant some pretty dark and vulnerable bits of myself were laid bare over the years. A few times this has had devastating results and offered truly sad, dangerous or evil people to do some grave damage. It’s also weeded out a lot of evil and drama and taught me the power of no. No is a gift to the person who gives it and receives it. No is powerful and is the only way to make space for heartfelt and enthusiastic participation in only those things and to those people who deserve a yes. 2020 really helped me create and observe the boundaries and culture needed to keep me and my family protected from harm and even unnecessary stress and drama. Not going to lie, there’s a few gentle waves of schadenfreude (joy at others’ misfortune) as some peoples’ active propensity toward dishonesty and antipathy to authenticity and grace often leaves them hoisted on their own petard. I do not relish or enjoy anyone or anything suffering needlessly, but I always celebrate and feel joy in the prospect of growth. Not sure if the past few months living with a Buddhist have affected my idea that suffering can be a gift (there was a time long ago that this sounded like nonsense) but it is just one of the many re-thinks I am still thinking about. Put simply, there are some people who have a lot of growing to do on their journey, and sometimes that takes a shove from the universe or experience or society to set into motion. As such, my faith and optimism stays guarded at a safe distance from people who have run out of chances to disappoint me, but I will celebrate any win or evolution I observe from the safety of my chosen and trustworthy tribe.
I want to speak clearly to those of you who I know have struggled this year. Whether I have had the honour of holding you in my heart and arms and speaking to you about your struggles or online. Or if you’ve been treading these stormy seas without mine or many other people’s knowledge or support. If you have been wading through difficulties, redundancy, divorce, isolation, change, and challenges of any nature, please reach out and keep reaching until you find safe and adequate help and guidance. I will not tell you that these things were sent to try us, or that you have to toughen up. The fact is, I don’t believe that we are only given what we can handle. Many people are forced into absolutely extraordinary grief, challenge, hopelessness and pain and it is confounding how anyone could manage that level of torment. Sometimes it could be consequence of illness, decisions or luck, sometimes it just sucks.
Now for the good part.
There is so much magic in the world. There are so many glorious opportunities and people. Metaphorical rock bottom is arguably the only place to build a truly sound foundation, but as one of my absolute heroines of history and the universe Jane Fonda famously said:
“It’s never too late. It’s never too late to start over, never to late be happy.”
Even if you have another think and change your priorities or even your entire life and turn your back on some of the things that were difficult and insurmountable it won’t be a smooth path and there is no guarantee of success or satisfaction. If you find a new and brighter path following your bliss, you are still going to struggle. Struggle is inevitable. Failure is inevitable. But success and joy are impossible if you stay siloed in a system that doesn’t even give you time or access to the things you really want to say yest to. All I want to leave you with is the philosophical nugget that perhaps you can and should put effort, struggle and resource into things and people you truly Love and are worthy of you and your gifts and talents? Perhaps you should spend your time and energy on activities that give you joy, and avoid people, things and situations that are unsafe or unfulfilling?
I am embarking on a whole new trajectory, and facing fear and doing it anyway. A new relationship, a new family culture, a huge new project. Any of these things could fail. But fear of failure would have seen me rotting in some dark corner hiding in a bottle somewhere. So, I am armed with a tribe of fierce friends and trusted allies, but most importantly, I am making decisions and taking risks that are well thought through and considered, rather than rushing off in all directions attempting to be all things to all people. I will honour my past and always be a clear and enthusiastic advocate for divestment, innovation, collaboration, diversity and social justice. But I will no longer hand over all that I am and all that I have and keep nothing back or safe for myself. That’s it. That’s the epiphany I wanted to share and am hoping someone out there needed to read.
Wherever you are, on the planet or on your own personal journey, I really do wish you the best.