Hey you – yes you, over there in the cubicle, snatching a quick break to find inspiration from the mundane on this far corner of the internet. You’re searching for something to keep you sane during your 16-hour day – a snippet of greener grass in the otherwise barren wasteland that is your work-life. Well, let’s be honest, your work is your life.
Your life is a hard slog full of grey – grey cubicle, grey suit, grey building, grey concrete, grey smog, grey car (although you probably call it silver). I can almost guarantee that you aren’t wearing purple tights or a polka-dot tie. You’re mainlining caffeine right now – probably black sludge that’s been warming most of the day. It tastes rancid but you don’t have time to make a fresh pot. You may be one of the lucky ones who, on their 5 minute lunch break at 2.47pm, has purchased an extra large, rainforest alliance espresso coffee with double-skim soy milk (extra froth on the side) for the bargain price of $6.00 – it probably tastes like grey cardboard but at least you’ve assuaged your guilt for a) paying $6 for a coffee when the average daily wage in some countries is 50% less than that and b) offsetting the three sugars used to make it palatable by choosing a dairy substitute.
Can I just ask you why? What’s the purpose of your sixteen-hour grey infused day? To have a ‘good job’ that sucks out your soul, to buy the slightly better house with the slightly larger mortgage in the slightly better neighbourhood to have the slightly better car to drive the kids to a slightly better school where they get a slightly better education to get into slightly better colleges to get slightly better jobs where they work a sixteen hour day…rinse and repeat?
Is it so that you can be slightly better than the grey zombie in the cubicle next to you or the one down the hall or in the building across the street? Is it so that, at your ten-year high-school reunion, you can justify your appallingly unfulfilling existence because you’ve done slightly better than your peers?
Can I just remind you of one, mildly important yet generally ignored fact? We only get to do this once…you know, the whole living thing. We don’t know what comes next – we might think we do, depending on our faith and personal beliefs – but we don’t really know. We’ve got this life and only one and we don’t get a do-over. And we don’t know when it ends – it could end tomorrow but go ahead, plan to do the good stuff ‘someday’.
What would happen if you let it all go? What if you no longer cared what your father/ sister/colleague/boss/total stranger/best friend thought you should do? What if you ignored the ingrained expectations and social pressures?
Who would you be disappointing if you lived a happy, fulfilled life? Does it matter, then, if you live in a slightly smaller house in a slightly less affluent suburb with a slightly smaller mortgage (or none at all) and own a more modest car to drive your kids to their less prestigious school where they feel less pressured to achieve and more inspired to live their one life, to find happiness and make meaning?
If you love your sixteen hour days and the hard slog that’s fantastic – you are living the life that you want and you’re probably happy doing it. But as for the rest of us, maybe it’s time to let go of the grey and grab onto some colour.
One final if:
If you don’t liveyour life, what’s the point?
So, Gerty’s been a bit busy and has got behind on her tasksortreats but she’s come up with an ingenious solution. She’s going to combine some of them – feel free to do the same:
I’m going to get dolled up, go to a champagne bar and pretend I can’t speak english, on the way stopping past the art gallery of XXX to make pompous remarks, in english!
This plan combines four different tasks and I think she’s done it rather well. Feel free to take a leaf out of Gerty’s book and do the same.
It’s spring time* and everyone loves flowers.
Buy yourself flowers for your desk or dinner table.
This is particularly cost effective if you buy 1 gerbera (or you nick them from someone’s garden).
*it might not be spring time for you; but there’s always room for flowers.