I have no idea what your own cultural connotation of the blog post title might be, but on the Noah—Josh Hartnett spectrum, I’m veering a bit closer to the ark. Just a little expectation-management, on my part, for yous.
Hi! What’s up? How you doing? I’ve feeling pretty good. Yup. I’ve just had a brainwave. Not a momentous one. It’s more moment-ful. Oh man, I hate me. The point is: it’s pretty ordinary. It’s hard to unpick the order of events that led up to the ‘Ting!’ moment in my head, but I’m an historian‘s daughter so I still feel as though I should try.
I can’t do chronological, so I am just going to list various things that have happened in the last few days that all led into the Ting. I might ambitiously refer to it as a Causal List:
- William P. Teasley, III (aka Bud, aka my husband) does a lot of reading and thinking about what we should do with uncomfortable knowledge we acquire, and writes a brilliant and funny blog post about vegan shoes.
- I drum up a list of things in my head that I do that I probably shouldn’t and make excuses about why I do them. I also think about No Impact Man and how earnest he seemed and I worry that I won’t ever be allowed to buy a dress from Primark again.
- I read a Guardian article about the Sunday Assembly in London, and get totally inspired by the idea of an event that lifts all the good, community, uplifting bits of church and religion, and leaves out all of the dogma. A “godless congregation”. Awesome.
- I remember that next Tuesday is pancake day and I get excited. A while later I realise that pancake day is not just about batter, but also about Lent.
- I go to my first ever Zumba class at my gym. We warm up in silence. The instructor sips coffee in between fervently shaking his ass at a motley group of women. The group’s response is lacklustre, coordination abominable. I wonder if I have ever felt so depressed in my life. Then I remember the strip club I visited in Sydney on my 19th birthday, and I get some perspective. As I shuffle-shuffle-cha-cha-cha, I keep thinking about Good Gym, and the value of expending my energy in productive, life-affirming ways. I slip out of the class after 35 cold, dispassionate minutes. I run a fast 5k on the treadmill, go to the front desk and cancel my gym subscription.
- At home, I leave my kid upstairs while I go downstairs to make a sandwich. He turns on the TV using the remote control and watches Cbeebies. He’s two.
- I speak to one of my best friends whom I haven’t spoken to in two months, and haven’t seen in three. I joke to her about only reading two books in the last twelve months and she jokes to me about books being more decorative than devoured. As we talk, I realise that I have read no novels since the summer of 2011, but I have colour-coded them on our bookshelves. And they really bring such brightness and pep into the living room.
- I buy a copy of Grazia. I hide it in the laundry room out of shame, but then decide to sod it and read it in full view at breakfast the following morning.
- I give some money to The Women’s Room on a crowdfunding platform, and it reminds me of what good can be done in a short, pre-determined amount of time.
- Someone asks me to define ‘flourishing’ and I talk, yet again, about the nine flourishing features or strengths at the core of Spark+Mettle’s work. And I say, again, that it’s about becoming the best version of you. I mention Plato’s horse theory, again, and Benjamin Franklin’s 13 virtues and self-improvement programme, again.
- The omnipresent Alain de Boton says goodbye to new bezzie mate Harry Styles and comes up with his own list of ten commandments for atheists.
- I remember that I once read somewhere that it’s meant to take six weeks to make or break a habit. I google it but to no avail, then I come across Charles Duhigg again, the habit maestro, and am happy.
So here’s the brainwave:
For 40 days and 40 nights, I’m going to greenhouse/road-test/hot-box a number of things with the aim of bringing out the best version of me, while also having a positive impact on the people and the world around me. The sorts of things that I might be terrified to say that I am going to do forever—such as not eat steak or watch any more television—but that for 40 days seem manageable. I’m going to come up with a manifesto that is based on the nine flourishing features we use within Spark+Mettle, and create opportunities both to act and reflect on them all. I’m hoping it might mean that I kick some bad habits and kickstart some good ones in the process. The only rule I have so far is: I don’t want to end up being earnest, or smug, or preachy, or boring—if that’s what the best version of me entails then I’ll be pegging it back to mediocre, quick sharp.
I’ve got a week to get it all figured out. Bud is up for the experiment, and the kid will be a part of it too, whether he likes it or not. So now we’ve just got to figure out what it’s going to be, what it’s going to look like. I’m excited. It’s going to make me look at my values in a way that I haven’t done since my teenager years and all their D’n'M conversations. In between now and then, there’s a lot of meat in the fridge that needs to be eaten, and the end of Breaking Bad Series 5 to be watched.