Recently, everything’s been pretty damn great for me, personally. I’m getting fitter, healthier, and I’m pretty much settled into my new life in the big smoke. Obviously it’d be nice to have a little more money, a little more time, and all the usual things that I’m pretty sure stay on the nice-to-have list no matter how much of them you have – but generally, life has been good.
However, over the last few days I’ve been a little bit frazzled. I’m working on some pretty awesome projects at the moment, including some brilliant freelance stuff, and an exciting thing I’m going to be revealing here soon – but as a result, I’ve spent quite a lot of hours swearing at my laptop and contemplating throwing my iPhone at the dog. Web design is something I do, but only in the privacy of my own home, because it regularly turns me into the female British Bruce Banner, mid-Hulk transformation.
So I’ve been going about my business, getting all tightly wound about formatting issues and trying to work out how I accidentally uploaded the entire contents of this blog to a client’s website (duh) and muttering to myself about how everything is SO GOD DAMN INFURIATING.
This, on the back of a week where I’ve been very, very busy in the day job; a week where I’ve been on buses overtaken by riot vans and ambulances heading for Woolwich, and been pushed back from a tube station two days later by scary looking armed police; a week where I’ve been trying to help friends get through boy issues and boys get through friend issues, trying not to get caught in the middle of couples arguing about stuff that just isn’t my business…
So you get my point. It’s been a bit of a stressful week, with all sorts of things on all sorts of scales.
But sometimes, things happen to give you a bit of perspective.
I’m not going to go into all that much detail here, because this situation isn’t mine to talk about, and it would be unfair on the people involved for me to be going about talking about their business as though it were mine.
However: a nine year old girl died this weekend.
I mean, seriously. I’ve got nothing. There aren’t really words for how sad, cruel and frankly unfair that is. She was a loving, beautiful, clever and bubbly girl with a great sense of humour. She knew she was sick, and took it bravely in her stride.
She made the most of every moment, because she knew she only had a limited amount of moments to enjoy. And so, when she died this weekend, there was no doubt she had lived it completely to the full.
For all the time we spend being grown-ups, with grown-up worries and grown-up stresses, I can’t help but wonder in the face of this kind of thing: are we really all that smart?
Because it seems to me that real wisdom, and real maturity, is that: knowing you’ve only got so long to enjoy life, and making the most of every last moment.
I say this from a position of guilt, because I found out about this shortly after having a bit of a tantrum about an absence of coffee in my day, whilst skimming through my emails bitching about how much I’d have to catch up on after the long weekend. We all do this.
Because when life is stretching out in front of you without any particular end point, it’s incredibly easy to take it for granted. There are always so many little things that could be better – hell, there are often huge things that could be better. It’s hard not to focus on those things, because they’re just… There.
There, getting in the way of your happiness.
The only (admittedly very clunky) metaphor I can think of is this: nobody ever said a stained glass window was any less beautiful because of the black lines holding it together – even if they are blocking out some of the light. They’re necessary, and they make it what it is – beautiful, and a hell of a lot better than a plain ol’ bog-standard window.
I know, I know – that’s an awkward metaphor. You should know by now that this stuff isn’t my strong suit. But you get my point.
There will always be things that seem as though they’re in the way of your ability to be perfectly happy. In fact, the idea of being perfectly happy is a myth. Life will never, ever be perfect, and nothing will ever go entirely to plan – but that’s the point. It wouldn’t be life any other way.
So there is no sense – none – in letting things get you down, because you’ll miss the bigger picture. We are so lucky, and so privileged to have what we’ve got. It’s imperfect, it’s sometimes stressful, and from time to time it’s really god damned hard – but it’s life, and life is a limited thing.
I’m aware this might not be my most eloquent post. It’s not even really on topic, and I can’t offer you much wisdom in a situation that just seems to me monstrously, cruelly unfair, other than this: don’t take life for granted. Any of it.
Those seconds queuing in the rain for a bus that’s already five minutes late; those times you’ve got no mobile signal when you really need to tweet something incredibly witty; those times when you’re too poor to afford a decent cup of coffee and you’re still a week from payday. Those seemingly terminal arguments with your other half; those times when it feels like you’re too far in debt to ever work it out; those times when you’re depressed, or sick, or everything seems hopeless. Those times when you lose someone.
These are all life. It is a complete fallacy to think that life is only lived when you’re enjoying it, because every second is another little piece put towards what you’re going to look back on as your life when you’re at the far end of it. That’s why it’s important to be aware of it, and make it count.
I don’t want this to be a depressing post. This isn’t about realising life is imperfect and miserable. It’s about realising it’s imperfect, and utterly amazing as a result.
And so, in tribute to my dear friend, and her ability to raise a little girl who was far wiser in the way she lived her life than I think I’ll ever, ever be – please make the most of every second. Make it count. Be aware, be imperfect, and be you, living your life beyond the stress and tedium it might seem like it’s filled with, aware of the fact that there are a million opportunities to appreciate it instead.
Because when it comes down to it, life is too god damn short. We are all lucky.
We are alive.