A few weeks ago, a friend of mine was giving me a lift home from work. On the way, she kept complaining that she was so hungry and really wanted to eat. Our plan, however, had been to go for a run, or at least do some exercise, and I generally don’t eat right before exercise (it’s just not a good idea), so I was basically trying to get her to stop complaining and get some control over her appetite.
Over this last week or so, I’ve been reading Eckhart Tolle’s book A New Earth. I bought it at the Lifeline Bookfest last week-end. It’s kind of funny because I wasn’t looking for it at all. I was browsing through the paperback fiction tables, being incredibly picky because I have an incredible backlog of books from previous Bookfests that I still need to get through …and then suddenly I saw this book.
Possibly the only reason I know about this book at all is because a friend from work told me about it, and he highly recommended it. Initially, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to buy it or not: it’s in good condition, but a $5 price-tag is kind of a bit much by Bookfest standards; and although it was recommended by someone I know and respect, I wasn’t sure if I’d get much out of reading it – spiritual / self-help books aren’t really my thing…
At the end of last year, coming into the start of this year, I read Haruki Murakami’s What I Talk About When I Talk About Running; and I’ve left the book sitting by my computer since then, both for inspiration and also because there are a number of things I’d like to talk about from the book.
Within the first chapter, Murakami mentions that he’s often asked what he thinks about when he runs, being a long distance (i.e. marathon) runner. Since I’m not famous, and no one really asks me anything about my running except to ask where and/or for how long I run, I don’t think I’ve been asked this before. I have, however, pondered the question in my own time, and it seems that my answer is more or less the same as Murakami’s:
On cold days I guess I think a little about how cold it is. And about the heat on hot days. … But really as I run, I don’t think much of anything worth mentioning.
He then goes on to talk about running in a void, or running to create a void, and that, I think, is one of the truly marvellous things about running.
This afternoon*, however, I went for a run, and I tried to make mental notes about what I thought about, just for interest’s sake. It’s still nothing really “worth mentioning”, but this is my blog, and it’s already filled with plenty of pointless ramblings, so one more surely wouldn’t hurt… Continue reading
As I walked to the bus stop this morning (it was my turn to work the Saturday shift today), I had some unexpectedly profound thoughts. I asked myself: What keeps you up at night?
(Side note: Ironically, as I was writing the initial draft for this post, I was feeling really sleepy. About three paragraphs in, my browser suddenly crashed for no apparent reason, so I lost most of the initial draft. I’m not re-typing this, and might take a different angle now that I’m slightly more awake after having brushed my teeth.)
What keeps me up at night?
That was my first response. But what am I afraid of?
So many things. Mostly intangible things.
Things like not having the chance to tell people the things that I should tell them.
Things like maybes and what ifs and should I haves.
And a fear of not knowing.
Apologies if this post sounds a bit despondent or melodramatic. I don’t think that I’m usually sad when I have these thoughts – more contemplative than anything – but, on paper, it can come across quite differently.
And, as a final note, there’s no need to worry: I don’t lose much sleep over this. I only really lose sleep from losing track of time (both intentionally and unintentionally) and going to bed later than I should.
I wonder who else is up at such late hours, thinking, pondering, contemplating…
If you’ve glanced over at my Twitter feed today, you may have noticed that I’ve tweeted a photo of one of my most favourite trees. I felt compelled to take the photo not because it’s particularly awe-inspiring, but because I realised that I’m hardly ever walking past it at that time of the day (while the sun is setting), and I then realised that I’ve never taken a photo of this tree.
It’s the tree across the road, on the hill. It would be a sad day if this tree was ever taken down – either by machine or by nature (although it would be no easy feat either way).
I’ve seen the odd episode of ‘Gardening Australia’ but I don’t know enough about plants to tell you what kind of tree it is, other than that it is really big and really old (well, I assume it’s old because of its size, which has never changed in all the years that I’ve known it). Yet this tree is special nonetheless.
I like how its small leaves turn into confetti in autumn, even if they do have a tendency to blow in through the window, light as they are. I even don’t mind those big clunky seeds it drops (I assume they’re seeds – not sure what else they could be) because they’re fun to step on and kick around. Some things from childhood still haven’t left me.
More than all that, when I look at this tree, I remember those times as a kid when I’d daydream, ponder, or just think about nothing while looking at this tree – sometimes marvelling at it, sometimes just staring into space.
The question now, of course, is if this tree isn’t the favourite, then which one is?
Well, I don’t think I can pick a clear favourite, but there are two other contenders: the tall evergreen in the front yard, and the young apple tree out the back.
The evergreen has a similar pensive quality about it as the tree on the hill. We had to have it trimmed one year before storm season, and I remember being quite sad about that. I got over it, of course; the tree didn’t really lose anything from it.
As for the apple tree – my mum, sister and I planted that when I was about seven years old (that’s really just a rough guess – I don’t remember exactly when). We watched it germinate and grow; we saw it bear fruit (albeit small fruit) and lose it to birds and who knows what else. I still vaguely remember the day I realised it had grown taller than me – it’s like it was all grown up and getting ready to fend for itself…
I suppose some people might find it strange that I seem to have such an attachment to these trees. They’re just trees, right?
Well, maybe they are to other people, but to me they represent strength, wisdom and constancy.
So I’m now 12 days in to my “100 Happy Days” challenge, and I think I’ve got this figured out. I reckon I’m doing ok with it (it really isn’t that hard to maintain), and I feel like I understand why/how this sort of thing “works” to make people feel better.
What I have noticed is that participating in this challenge has made me spend more time anticipating happiness and recognising happiness. Basically, it just makes me spend more time thinking about happy things. There are days when I kind of know in advance what I’m going to post/tweet for that day (hence the anticipation). Then there are days when it’s getting a bit late in the afternoon/evening and I realise that I haven’t posted anything yet, so I have to reflect and think of something that has made me happy (hence recognising happiness).
And if you have been following my posts/tweets (I’m new to Twitter, so it still feels weird to say I’m “tweeting” stuff…), you may have noticed that the things I choose aren’t really major / life-changing / I’m-going-to-remember-this-forever sort of moments. But I’m actually glad that they’re not. I feel like that reaffirms that happiness can (and should) be an everyday thing.
The main problem I’ve found (if it can be considered a problem… maybe more of an inconvenience) is that I can’t (or don’t think it’s a good idea to) post photos of my workplace. And yet I spend 9+ hours there, every day Monday to Friday, and, believe it or not, there are happy moments from time to time – moments which cannot be properly documented and included in my “100 Happy Days” portfolio. But I’m pretty sure I did warn of this from the outset.
So instead of lovely photos of my workplace and the people I work with and the customers I help, you’re just going to be stuck with random pictures created from this random doodling app that I happened to remember was still on my phone. But, don’t worry, I’m trying to limit these (in the same way that I’m trying to limit tweets about food and blue skies).
Just something kind of random (but still related, mind you!) – I was just thinking about this challenge earlier today, and I started wondering if you did the opposite of what this challenge is asking you to do, and you documented things that made you sad/angry/annoyed, whether that would have the opposite effect and make you miserable. I mean, if the premise of this “100 Happy Days” thing is that you become happier by being more aware of happy things, it only stands to reason that it could work the other way, right?
I’m almost tempted to try it… just out of curiosity. Almost.
Furthermore, what would happen if I tried it at the same time as I was doing “100 Happy Days”? Would the positive and negative effects cancel each other out? Would I just go insane from trying to analyse every little thing that happens every day so that I can document things that make me happy and unhappy? (Actually, since it’s going to be (officially) Winter soon, I reckon if I did do an unhappy version, most of the posts/tweets would just be about how torturous it is to have to get up before sunrise, and drag myself out of my warm bed…)