A lot of New Year’s resolutions appear to involve a lot of deprivation – a lot more of doing less. Lose some extra pounds, spend less money, etc. These are of course not bad things to do necessarily, but with the world’s media egging you on, the New Year becomes less about positively improving your life, than a competition to become a ‘better person’.
Every year I always have a long list of things I intend to do to better myself. And yes, losing some weight (damn you metabolism, you were supposed to stick around for a few more years yet) and being more sensible with my money rank among those. However, there is another one tacked onto the list of usual suspects this year, and one not influenced by those who benefit from consumerism. This new intention is to appreciate the everyday things and my free time more.
I doubt I am alone in being one of those people who ends up seeing exciting events mostly through a camera lens rather than just experiencing the moment fully. I doubt I am the only social media addict who loves to update Facebook when I am at an interesting location having a great time with @so and so. And, I doubt that no one else is guilty of rushing through life thinking, I need to get this done, need to tick this off my bucket list and not actually sitting back and appreciating your surroundings, the things you have right in front of you, or even the wild activity you had planned ‘forever’ to do.
Over Christmas I was staying with my parents in the country, transplanted away from my usual whirl of activities in London, and I got a glimpse of this life. It was Christmas so everyone would be too busy with family to answer the phone, so I left my mobile in my room all day. I didn’t have work to do so I had hours of free time to just read or finally make use of my Netflix subscription. And, with nothing to do because of course only London has ‘things to do’, I could just walk around and appreciate silly little things like how eerie bare tree branches look in winter, the smell of sea salt and farm animals in the air, the sound of local church bells and how the London media types achieve the rustic cottage look in the decor of their second houses in the Suffolk countryside. It was like exploring a new place, and I didn’t even have to pay an air fare! My trip home emphasised to me that in this digital age, you don’t stop and really use all your senses to experience what is right in front of you, and you are really missing out if you don’t.
So 2014 – you are going to be the year I do a resolution that shouldn’t be all that hard to keep and will reap many rewards. I’m going to live in the moment a bit more, open my eyes wider and appreciate what’s in front of me. Even if that does mean learning to appreciate the quirks of Tottenham, such as the screeching sound of foxes taking on the local tabby cat. And furtive shadows cast through the opaque living room window by the lady who steals from our recycling bin.