Tuesday, 28 February 2017

How do I do it, this thing?

How? Start with the end in mind. This advice has served me well. It worked with students working towards exams, and these days on workshops where participants will achieve speaking without notes for example, and always I'm re-learning it for myself. 

Work in progress © Maggie Sawkins 2017
My word art on Etsy
I know the exercise is a good one for life. Way back, when I started on this path, it was because I felt so odd and unhappy in my own skin. I was introduced to the idea of creating the obituary you'd like others to write about you. So it pushed the questions; what is my life for? Or what truly matters to me? And more recently after lots of procrastination, I finally made a will and thought about the bequests I might want to make and funeral plans that would reflect my preferences. 

Sometimes when I sit still for long enough with no agenda and off the wheel of a ‘busy’ life, it all makes perfect sense to start with the end in mind. 

As readers of this blog will know there's been much reflection as I look through the papers of thirty years of work. I have not always felt in charge of the direction taken. Sometimes I found myself in situations that seemed like a ‘good idea’ but later felt very stifling. I have felt heartbroken from all the effort. There'd be a burnout or a break-down of sorts. Then there are relationships that set out with promise (even love and marriage) but turn out to be far from functional. Some choices I've made have not been so clever. I’ve often put huge amounts of effort in the not-quite-right direction.

I am on the bridge of a ship where I can't see ahead at all well - there is a lot of fog - but I know that degree at a time, the ship is being turned around to point more and more accurately on a course that fits. This has taken willingness to resign from 'figuring it out'. A life is not a problem to be solved. My brain hasn’t got the answers anyway (lord knows I’ve spent huge amounts of time and money trying to find them…) And it definitely won’t have the answers under pressure. This is the time to walk in the park, sit or smell the roses. Creativity is about having the time to have the ideas. 

So whilst this ship is turning, I continue to put my thoughts down here, plan a possible book and focus on the bigger message. I would like to end my life having more money than I need, so that I could give lots to meaningful projects that make a difference to lots of lives.
In my ideal world litter would be no more, art would be everywhere and planning committees would have artistic sensibilities. The Ministry of Kindness would have convinced politicians to re-build the NHS in its original image where there is care enough for all. Care would involve people of all ages supporting each other.

We would once again see food waste as a crime and ensure food gets eaten not thrown away. Young men trapped in gang life, would have received the esteem they seek in new ways of changing their locale by entrepreneurship. Someone would have invented chewing gum that no longer sticks to the street but by now, people wouldn't be spitting any longer. This weekend past I'm grateful for inspiring and wonderful ideas from diverse speakers TEDxEastEnd to help me keep the faith. 

Meanwhile my course is set on helping others get heard: to find courage to speak when they thought it was impossible. To resolve matters where they are in dispute, to listen like it matters. And all of us to realise that we are all ‘good enough’ and don't need to change in order to be ‘better’. I really don't know how to achieve many things that I would like to. But I know that thrashing my fragile ego over the coals definitely does not work. I will continue to start with the end in mind, work my way back and see what today, is the right next small step. x