Enjoy The Journey

I have just had a Birthday. This is my last year of being thirty something, and while I do not have the time, energy or inclination to launch into some kind of dreadful mid life crisis (thankfully), birthdays do kind of always make me do a kind of self check of where I am and where I am going. Am I achieving everything I want to achieve? If not then why not? Then there’s the classic and complex mid-life question : Am I happy? Happiness means something different for every single one of us. For me it comes down to being steadily content most of the time, and then every day noticing the little things that give me intense joy : cuddles from my six year old son -warm little arms wrapped tightly around my neck, watching my eight year old daughter beam when she gets a goal in her first ever netball game, editing a photo I have taken and realizing its something special, and daily hikes to the near top of the farm where the view across the valley is breath taking technicolour after years of colourless drought. I realise that these moments all link together, and if I take the time to notice and be grateful for them, they form a blanket of warm contentment that coats everything I do. I am a questioner though, and , if I want to be honest, an over-thinker. I wonder if I should be more ‘together’ by now. I still feel like I’m making up life as I go along, joining a dance when I haven’t learned the moves. Am I not supposed to be more sorted by now? More adult? I asked my friend John, who is my age, seems ‘sorted’ and who I have known since we were grubby, carefree little farm kids. His response, enviably cheerful and accepting: ‘Nah, mate, we are all just winging it!”. Right then. Here’s something to think about: what if the ‘winging it’ is actually what its all about ? We tend to focus upon achievements : the promotion, the new house, the over seas adventure or whatever it is we are striving for. There is something about the culinary French phrase ‘Mise en place’ (pronounced MEEZ ahn Plahs ) that appeals to me : it literally means ‘ put in place’, and refers to chefs methodically preparing all their utensils and ingredients before creating a meal. Life can feel a little like that too : that we spend time getting all our ducks in a row ( saving for a house, studying , climbing the career ladder for example) so we can achieve our purpose. The downside of this is that we constantly feel in a state of flux, as if life has not yet begun until we cross whatever finish line we have set for ourselves. To be clichéd, we are all about the destination, but not the journey. I wonder if we have it all wrong. Whether we approach life in a systematic ‘Mise en Place’ kind of way, or we feel more like we are ‘Winging it’ - improvising like an actor making up the lines as he goes along - (more often it’s a bit of both) we need to remember that the magic lies as much in the ‘getting there’ as the arrival. To quote Arthur Ashe ‘The doing is often more important than the outcome’.

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© 2016 Claire Inkson. All photographs copyright Claire Inkson

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