The past two years have been a steady journey towards one goal – that of a peaceful, simple, stress-free life. To be clear, this doesn’t mean shelving all ambition or turning away from taxing work. There are still aspects of the day-to-day that have their high-tension moments. It’s more about the context, the backdrop. That’s what counts. From a place of safety I can enter the fray, give it all I’ve got, then retreat. It’s the standard introvert M.O.
For some time it wasn’t clear how ‘calm and peaceful’ would manifest. When the understanding formed, it was kind of obvious. In short, I cashed in my chips and went home. This meant giving up the rural idyll of the previous 8 years as well as the place in London that had been home before that. Now, I’m back in Cambridge where I was born and raised, all of 6 minutes 20 seconds walk from my sister (she timed it on her phone). The wanderer returns.
Subconscious minds can sometimes take their time to be heard. A coach friend once described the relationship between the conscious and subconscious as like rider and elephant: the rider thinks she’s calling the shots, but if the elephant decides to go its own sweet way, there’s really no debate. Eventually my elephant made its feelings abundantly clear and the path was set.
With a little distance I can see that my time away was fraught with shoulds and oughts for the sake of ‘getting on’. I was always on the move and over-extended; permanently anxious about the size of the mortgage versus the desperate unpredictability of independent work. In the early days of post-employment I was weeks away from being unable to pay the bills, but even then, going back to a regular job was out of the question. It comes down to choice. Though what doesn’t kill you allegedly makes you stronger, I’ve done my toughening up, thank you very much. Enough already.
So, with a little practice and conscious intent (new habits take time, after all!), I’m breathing out and accepting my limited tolerance for risk and adrenaline, much as I accept I’ll never have a 24 inch waist and a thigh gap. Or a private jet. Or an Oscar. Or, [insert preposterous/irrelevant/unobtainable thing of choice here]. Instead, I’m in a life that leaves room to breathe, room to see, room to give and room to love. It’s a simple thing but in every sense a revelation – and in doing these things I’ve found that the giving and loving comes right back in spades.