Last night I stayed in university accommodation for the first time since I lived there in my first year, over four years ago. I just caught myself thinking that now, finally, two years after having graduated, I feel just about ready to start and appreciate that undergrad degree. But then my thoughts happily drifted to the realisation that, actually, the experiences I had during those three years and afterwards have made me this person, a person who feels more confident of how and why they want to go, or could have gone about things. This was one of those reassuring ‘you don’t actually need to be so hard on yourself’ moments. Almost all of my close friends from university have said they’d do things differently if they were to start again as a fresher, but far from being a depressing indication that you completely wasted your time (let’s be honest, every student experience requires at least a healthy dose of procrastination and stupidity), it’s an uplifting sign that the paths you’ve taken over the last few years have led to positive transformation. You can be safer in the knowledge that you’ve changed enough to move onto whatever comes next, and that every stupid move you make from now on can be, in fact, a valuable contribution to your personal development. Now there’s an elaborate justification for locking myself both in and out last week if ever I saw one.
The Rabbit is suffering from an array of ailments ranging from Stuck-in-Limbo (which can’t be good for the metaphorical back, I’m sure, as well as my literal mental health) and another case of ‘Rabbit in the Headlight’ Syndrome. When life stops massively sidestepping my version of ‘normality’ I can’t wait for the rabbiting to resume.
After spending much of 2010 pondering whether it is at all worthwhile coming up with new year’s resolutions only to be overwhelmed by the weight of self-expectation and inevitable failure, I eventually hit upon the only lifestyle guideline that could, I think, actually make a difference. The ‘Golden Rule’ (that is, ‘do unto others as you would have others do unto you’), though of course entirely admirable and ever applicable, would do well to be turned on its head and viewed from another perspective: Treat yourself as you would treat others (that is, others who you love and care for most of all, not those who make you wish medieval torture methods would make a comeback in 2011). This at first sounds selfish and relatively inconsequential compared to the glowing and enduring Golden Rule, but if we think about it…
It’s very easy to treat yourself badly. Staying up until the wee hours (the irony of writing this at 3am has not passed me by – my blogclock is still on Eastern Standard Time), consuming too much too often of substances that would be dangerous used as fertiliser let alone ingested, telling yourself that you’re simply not good enough. But would you ever dream of advising your best friend to act and think the same way? Or, for that matter, would you accord your relatively helpless goldfish such disrespect? I hope for your sake, and that of your nearest and dearest, that the answer is a resounding no. And it follows that if you have enough respect for yourself to lead the life that deep down you wish you led, then you’ll be in a far better position to respect those around you. And thus begins the cycle of true reciprocal respect. The Golden Rule, it seems, is the most selfish of the two; the motivation for being civil to others is to receive top-notch treatment yourself. On the other hand, the Goldfish Rule (as it is hereby named) uses self-respect as a starting point for wider happiness; surely the most genuinely utilitarian of the two. And utilitarianism should be for life, not just for new year’s resolutions. Do unto yourself as you would do unto your beloved goldfish and, who knows, you may not feel the need to source those gallows after all.
As a consequence of my new attempt at self-respect, and with my back turned to a less-than-ideal 2010, I resolve to continue regular blogging activities after three months of sad silence and exactly one year after they began. And on that note I wish you and your goldfish (plus a shout out to my neon tetra Pablo and glofish Calypso) a happy, golden and respectful 2011.
Posted by Sophie | Posted in Miscellaneous | Posted on 23-09-2010
Everyone should have a pet. Everyone should talk to said pet for at least a few minutes every day. It’s amazingly therapeutic, alarmingly revealing and even a fish can instantly enhance your sense of purpose. Talking to a human is obviously far less easy, unlikely to bring out the full truth for fear of being judged, misunderstood or even fully understood, and therefore it’s ultimately less productive.
There’s been plenty of research about the physical and stress-related benefits of having pets around, but I don’t think enough is said about the ability of a cat to take or even rise above the place of a priest in a confessional. Get a rabbit and discover your true perspectives, minus the catholic guilt.
I’ve found myself recently telling several people to watch Alain de Botton’s secular sermon \'On Pessimism\'. When I’ve suggested that watching a video on negativity would put an invaluable positive spin on my friends’ less-than-happy situations I’ve not just been given suspicious or pitying looks but have been almost angrily shot down, such is the widespread fear of publicly admitting to struggle and suffering. Just like coming into contact with powers far greater than ourselves (see ‘Car Crash Effect’ post), approaching life from a pessimistic point of view can, paradoxically, lead to the most uplifting sense of optimism. Have a watch, make up your own mind and we can discuss it over half a drink.
Posted by Sophie | Posted in Miscellaneous | Posted on 01-08-2010
How do we know when we’ve let enough time pass that we’ve come to the right decision? Is there even such a thing as a right decision? Do we believe in fate in order to give us the confidence to commit to a decision?
Whatever your opinion, don’t be so sure. You’ll probably think the opposite tomorrow. I know I will. Or at least I think I will.
We shape our buildings; thereafter they shape us.
- Winston Churchill
We shape our world; thereafter the world shapes us. Or is it the other way around? And at what stage are we or should we be, and when?
Posted by Sophie | Posted in Miscellaneous | Posted on 04-06-2010
Tags: growing up, life, people, perfection, peter pan, realism
One of the better things about growing up is that people increasingly make allowances for your ‘imperfections’, because those other people have experienced more life, made more ‘mistakes’ themselves and realised the scope for ‘error’. At the same time we expect ourselves to steadily grow ever closer to ‘perfection’. Anyone spot anything contradictory in there?
I should probably chill out on the ‘inverted commas’ before I’m fined by the punctuation police for excessive usage, but at least this way my disdain for conventional concepts of perfection and expected conformity might get across. An inverted comma (or two) is worth a thousand words. And to tie in with the actual point of this post, one experience is worth a thousand words of advice.
Posted by Sophie | Posted in Miscellaneous | Posted on 01-04-2010
Tags: april fools, happiness, humour, optimism, superstition
Everyone loves April Fools’ Day (even the fools, a few months down the line). The superstitious amongst us love to inject some good luck into the four-and-a-bit weeks ahead by declaiming the words ‘white rabbits white rabbits white rabbits’ (or some rabbit-inspired variant) on the first day of every month (see ‘Rabbit rabbit‘ wikipedia article for extensive info on the positive vibes emanating from this blog’s title!)
Why can’t every day begin with the same good intentions for light-heartedness and high hopes for good fortune? As I’ve already mentioned (Feb 14: ‘Happy New Moment‘), we could all do with some of that refreshment that a new month can bring.
The novelty of April-1st-style pranks and overwhelming optimism would never wear off. And rabbits might fly. Honestly, I read about it today.