"Life's too short..."
How many times have we heard that one? Life's too short to stuff a mushroom. Life's too short to carry grudges. Life's too short to drink bad wine. (I like that one).
I don't hold grudges, but I do hold onto other things. Sometimes I hold on for too long.
I have a birthday next week. For those who are interested in such things, you will know that makes me a Taurean. Those born under the sign of the bull are notorious for their stubborn natures. Hmm - I like to think rather that I demonstrate the virtue of tenacity.
But it can go too far. I spent fifteen years as a chartered accountant – a role utterly unsuited to my creative nature, because I was too stubborn to give up. I spent twelve years in an unhappy marriage because – well – ditto. And there might be some pride in there too. If you don't give up then you have not failed. The moment you give up, then the final score is tallied and – you've fallen short yet again.
The trouble is that holding onto things, whether material things, relationships or jobs when there is no joy remaining, not only sentences us to a pretty grim life, but also prevents us from embracing anything new.
Yes – change is scary, and none of us like to admit defeat, but if we lift our eyes from the thing we are clinging onto, with metaphorical clenched hands and straining fingers, we may see other opportunities ready and waiting to fly straight into our arms.
Please – I am not encouraging any of you to resign from your job right now, or to go home and pack your bags; sometimes holding on is rewarded. But it has to be an active embracing and an openness to change within the existing framework. Change is a constant, we cannot hold on to sameness. If something does not change then it is dead, and even then there will be the inevitable change of decay.
And sometimes change can be in the smallest of things. I finally opened a bag of coffee that has been sitting in my cupboard waiting for the perfect moment. I realised last week that there never will be the perfect moment. So I opened it, and drank it with breakfast. It was good coffee. It would probably have been better coffee had I used it before its best before date – which was 2008...
I told you – I hang onto things too long.
The one thing I've been able to change successfully is that I no longer continue to struggle with books I don't enjoy. Reading is my greatest pleasure. Life's too short to read a book that does not give me that pleasure. Even if it did win the Booker prize last year.
But I will continue to hold onto friends, because friendship is too precious to let go.
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