Despite the pain of our poor broken country, we can take our legitimate, silenced rage and channel it into something positive. Don’t let them bring you down, people. Start with you. It’s the very best place to start.
Stop waiting for the right time to do what you want to do. There is no such thing as the right time, as anyone who has ever planned to have a baby or to go back to education will tell you. There never is or ever will be a right time. The right time is a myth that makes us miss the boat of opportunity. Procrastination leads to all sorts of missed goals and under achievements. It can lead to unnecessary poverty, for instance. Set a long term goal but break it down into realistic, achievable steps. Celebrate each victory. Move on to the next stage.
Be grateful. Sure there doesn’t seem to be much to be grateful for now: global wars and warming, African famine, still, in the twenty-first century, our poor broken agonised country. But yet: take a deep breath and look carefully at what you have to be grateful for. Stay present when you do this. Pay attention. At the end of Day One – TODAY! – write down one thing that you are grateful for. One thing and one thing only. You may not write down two things. Not yet. In a journal, in your iPhone, on the inside of your arm if you want, just write it down. Keep it somewhere safe, where only you can see it. It might be the perfect cup of coffee you had this morning in that small, new coffee place that wasn’t there last week. Or how the leaves of the dogwood tree in your neighbour’s garden that you can see from your kitchen window is at its simple, staggering, Autumnal best. On Day Two write down two things. By this time next week, that gratitude list will be seven at the very least. Just imagine. That will be seven things that you can be grateful for, that your heart can sing for, that will make you happy because they-are- yours-for.
Go back to school. If it is too late for this year, start making arrangements now for next September. Third level applications can take as long that to get sorted: ring schools, check your subject choice. Third-level extra-curricular courses don’t have such a wait time to apply. And the subject matters in these are vast and exciting, to say the least. For instance, there is a part time or evening art course in University College Cork, in which you can actually go on a trip to Florence to see the art. http://www.ucc.ie/en/study/ace/what/short/Jan/ . This is also the time every autumn when drop-out rates of existing courses peak. That’s a bad thing, you would think. But it’s a good thing too, for you. Because it means there is a place for you on a course of your choice right now. They will be only too delighted to accept you, in almost all cases. Some short course are coming to an end now and new ones running until Christmas are about to begin. Make enquiries. Do the maths. If you are scared, start small. I once did a drawing class called, ‘I Can’t Draw’, because I couldn’t. And, what do you know, I found that I could! At the very least, check out your local Community School, which is always easy and do-able because it is just that, local.
Get over your fear of the computer. Go to your Library. Sign up for a Fas course, which run all the time, on how to use the computer or even to expand on what you know. They are running course now all over the country. If you live in the Barrow Street area in Dublin, and are of a certain age as they say, you can spend time being mentored by a Google employee, who volunteer to teach older citizens about the wonders of the computer age, like how to navigate the very best thrills of the skydive that is the Wonderful World Wide Web. http://www.thejournal.ie/google-oaps-internet-training-courses-564991-Aug2012/ If you are kind, tough, energetic enough, you can become a mentor and go back into your community with your shiny new-found skills tucked under your arm – like those children in Africa, who go to school every day and then come back to their village and pass on what they have learnt to the rest of the children. Google even throw in lunch for you. Now, how cool is that.
Start your own business. You know that pile of to-do papers stacked on your kitchen table that the clutter experts keep telling us to get rid of? Well, just for now, move that pile to the other end of the table. Another week there isn’t going to bring the world of tidy to a grinding stop. Sit down with your lap-top, iPhone, school copybook, and begin on page one making a list of what it would take for you to start your own business. How many successful entrepreneurs began with a scribble on the back of an envelope? Thousands, people! Thousands and thousands and thousands. You know that luscious chocolate cake/apple tart/salad dressing that only your daughter or your mother or your best friend can get so right? Maybe the two of you could develop that into a small start-up http://www.aldi.ie/ie/html/product_range/best_of_ireland_23417.htm. I wish someone would come up with a better design for the bicycle saddle – stationary or Alps-climbing – that would take the pain and numbness out of what’s there now. Sure, I know there’s no money available from our banks. So what. There are gaps in the market now that weren’t there five years ago when we were saturated with ‘stuff’ of every description.
Take a yoga class. Finally. Sure you can watch yoga on a tv health channel. But, seriously, when did you last actually move the coffee table out of the way and do an hour of yoga? If you take a class, you commit to being there, learn how to do it properly, and carry that template with you to do wherever you happen to be. You can then choose to top-up that base with a refresher class every year or two. And then you have a marvellous tool at your disposal that has been proven to have a whole raft of health benefits.
Go for a walk. It’s cheap, free and you will have a sounder mind and a healthier body in as little as six weeks. If you think you lack the willpower, or the time, or it’s raining, go to Tiny Habits http://tinyhabits.com/ where you will see how to get over those blocks, one walking shoe at a time. A quick click on the subjects and testimonials will prove that, even though it is a simple concept, it really, really works. So it rains here. So what. Get over it: it isn’t as though we have a choice over the weather. Go to Lidl or Aldi and pick up some of their Wet Weather Walking Wear.
But whatever you do, just do it. It is never too late to get passionate about your life. This is not a rehearsal. This is the real thing, baby! Allow yourself to be the star, the hero in your own narrative. Overcome obstacles to re-discover your authentic, heroic self. All the old clichés are true: seize the day, be present, show up. Face the fear and do it anyway. Go be happy, goddamn it!