(*Insert mood-appropriate word of four letters here.)
Last week, I discovered a book that, for want of a polite term, was all about the subtle art of not giving a hoot; not one hoot in terms of spending time with people you don’t like, doing things that you don’t care for, expending precious energy about stuff that you’re not interested in.
This seems incredibly liberating. My husband and I were chatting to some friends last week about growing older and the ways in which you change, and all of us agreed that, with maturity, comes a sense of not giving a hoot. Obviously this doesn’t mean that you should set out to hurt others, but life is a game of self-preservation and, given that you will live just once, surely you should spend your time, love and energy, on the people and actions that matter the very most to you?
This is not the kind of selfishness we experience when younger, when we are more interested in self-satisfaction. Instead, it’s an altogether different kind of selfishness. One in which you simply get to an age where you face your own mortality a little more, you are willing to stand up for yourself a little more, and you are mature enough to construct a coherent argument as to why you should do exactly that.
I can’t imagine that in most people’s final moments, were you to ask them, that they’d tell you how they wish they’d spent more time in a mindless job, less time with their families and friends, and more hours involved in meaningless activity. So, perhaps, if we cut out the stuff, or change the stuff, that we are the least happy with, then our quality time can be poured into the things that we truly care about, having a positive impact that is true to ourselves and true to others.
When we’re younger, we get sucked into caring too much about what people think of us, what parties we are or are not invited to, and what label jeans we ‘should’ be wearing. The problem of course is that once we‘re older, and more tuned into what really matters, our children take not one jot of notice about our advice. It’s something that each of us has to come to learn. Or at least those of us whose brain function has evolved significantly since the primordial swamp we were once existing in. I’d like to think that we all get to a stage where we wear what we wear because we like it, with not one whit given to whether anybody else is impressed by it or not.
You may find yourself spending precious hours of your free time involved in activities that you have no interest in, simply to please other people that you are not particularly struck on, and that gives you no real defining sense of self. But what you could do, is quit that activity, and spend the time devoted to people that you do care about, or a cause that is close to your heart, and that will have a happy impact on both you and them. Sometimes a sense of duty is a great thing but, at other times, it fools us into believing that we need to waste hours of a life that we will never live again, on something that drives us mad.
Perhaps there simply comes a time in life when we recognise that it truly is all about quality and not quantity. You can lead a huge celebrity life that has a positive impact on millions, but you can also lead a small life that is meaningful and precious to you. That one small life can impact thousands, via the attitude you have, the love that you give, the work that you do, and your sense of social responsibility. As long as you are living the life that you want to live, and you’re not hurting anybody else in doing it, then who gives a hoot what anyone else thinks?
First published in The Portsmouth News, Tuesday 9th February 2016
Image courtesy of positiveoutlooksblog.com