It’s been a beautiful sunny day today and we’ve done lots of outside, autumnal, getting jobs done ready for the winter type stuff. I spent an hour or so picking rosehips and brambles (as task for which my sore finger tips are not thanking me now) and another hour later in the day chopping firewood. Both fairly mindless tasks which leave you free to head off on flights of fantasy and introspection while you get on with the job in hand.
I’ve been thinking about the parts of our life here which are challenging, which test us and make us wonder what we’re doing and why we’re doing it. I’ve had a grumpy few days myself due to various factors which have clashed rather with children turning into teenagers and some frank words have been exchanged, some new boundaries established and some new responsibilities allocated. I very much believe in everyone spending as much time as possible doing whatever it is that makes them feel happy and fulfilled, whether that is minecraft, lego, drawing, listening to music, planting seeds, knitting a scarf, watching a wildlife documentary… I don’t believe there is any one task more worthy or credible than another but there is a basic level of stuff which just needs to happen to keep our lives ticking over when you live like we do. Not everyone is able to do all of the tasks, some of us prefer some of the tasks while loathing the others, some of us are more physically or mentally able to carry out some things than others but if this is the life we have collectively chosen then we all need to do our bit to make it work for us. There is am intrinsic joy in contributing to the family which we should all share in and add our own individual strengths and skills to the mix. At certain times of the day, week, month, year different things will pull different members of our family away and we all need to support each other to make this happen. We need to be individually fulfilled and doing things which make us happy and feed our souls, help us relax and are important to us and move around to fill the spaces left when someone is busy elsewhere.
I’ve been really proud of Davies and Scarlett’s efforts to make this happen this week – washing up after lunch, making cups of tea and bringing them out to us, feeding the animals, tidying up the static and coming outside with us to do their bit where possible. It turns out Scarlett is excellent at chopping up kindling and her and I had a very happy hour together while I split the big logs and she made sticks.
While I was pricking my fingers with rose thorns and bramble spikes earlier I was recalling the things which used to be testing and challenging and worrying back in our old lives. I remembered the angst of Monday mornings going back to school, fretting about homework not done, teachers who picked on you for no apparent reason, complicated friendships I never seemed to grasp the rules of. Workdays where the onset of this time of year simply meant longer (unpaid) working hours getting ready for Christmas, the stress of sales, stocktakes, deadlines, targets, budgets. The anxiety of meetings, of a new manager and dancing to a new tune, of management initatives and brand new methods of working (oh how many of those I worked through during my years in retail management), of staff, of appraisals and reviews and structure changes and redundancy threats. I thought about traffic jams, credit card bills and supermarket queues, of potholes and road works and feeling like I should wear jeggings because everyone else seemed to be. I pondered on the dilemmas of various friends about homework, issues at their kids’ schools.
I would never try to belittle or demean those issues because for pretty much everyone I know, and for me, for well over 30 years of my life they were my issues too. Rum is far from Eden – 40 odd people does not make a balanced, complete society in which to function, raise children, exist. Issues are magnified, problems go unresolved. Our life is a long way yet from our ideal – I want a bath, a washing machine and a freezer closed than a mile walk away, I’d like a place to hang my clothes where they do not go moldy and if I need the loo in the middle of the night it would be nice to not have to go outside and brave roaring stags, wind, rain and the risk of slipping in the mud to do so. But I can feel that our challenges have meaning, we are making a difference and most of all the issue we face are within our control. We get to decide how to tackle these things and how best to find solutions. I’ve never felt so empowered, so in control, so able. I love that phrase ‘ be the change you wish to see in the world’ and I think here in this life we get to be the change.