Jutta is the person with the strongest roots that I have ever had the pleasure of meeting.
She is the very image of a tree rooted in the earth, because she has never left the town where she was born, she speaks the same dialect no matter which language she is using and she single-handedly represents a region and a local way of life.
So far, there’s nothing really remarkable about this story – until this country girl puts on her rucksack, walks across India or finds an excuse to chat with any strangers that she comes across in an unknown country.
She has an open-mindedness lacking in many city dwellers who consider themselves cosmopolitan. I’ve certainly learnt a lesson of humility from her. She has always said that she admires my life as a multilingual businesswoman and serial homing pigeon. And yet,
staying with the tree analogy, it is Jutta who has branches that extend in all directions touching on philosophy, religions, open-mindedness, complete lack of judgement, and is an example to many of us.
She successfully combines the deepest roots with the longest branches. But she still lives in the place where I was also born.
Who is the “tree” with branches longer than yours that you admire in the place where you were born? Tell them. They will be pleased to hear it, and leaning against their trunk will do you the world of good. I know from experience.
We all know someone who drives us to despair. This person has an amazing talent for systematically pointing out the one thing that’s not right.
You proudly show this person your new car and he or she will point out that the boot is too small for your shopping or too big to be able to park easily.
You tell them that you’ve bought a holiday flat by the sea and they’re sure to say that from now on you’ll always have to go there and you’ll never get the chance to go anywhere else.
Their talent is to find the 10% that’s not right, according to their standards.
The saviour side of me used to want to turn such people into optimists. But years of experience has taught me that the thing to do is to have a sort-out of my friendships. Instead of wanting to save these poor unfortunates, I’ve simply stopped seeing them. It does wonders for my nerves and my time management.
What about you? Who do you allow to spoil your enjoyment of buying things and making decisions? Do you need to have a sort-out?
I jog and listen to a book at the same time thanks to my headphones. I take a plane and learn how to use new tools thanks to my Kindle. I spend my time slotting my professional, family and personal activities into one another like a giant game of Tetris so that I’m always doing more things more quickly and all at the same time.
In other words, I’m often phenomenally efficient, and obsession tends to generate more obsession.
But what happens when the noise stops?
During my 6-week hike this summer, all I did was put one foot in front of the other. No headphones. Silence around me. Silence inside.
Picnicking alone. A sea view. No books. No conversations. Even a tin of tuna tastes different under such circumstances.
Having got a taste for doing just one activity (as well as for tuna), I now feel that I’d like to be more present in my everyday activities.
What about you? What single activity would you like to spend your time doing without being drowned out by your own obsessiveness?
Summer is coming the magazines are full of slimming diets, detox treatments and body sculpting exercises.
Readers throw themselves headlong into the method suggested, get disheartened and give up. Often because they have taken on something that was too ambitious.
Tibetan monks have solved this problem in a different way. When they take their vows, they take the ones they feel capable of keeping. And once they have committed to them, they can no longer change them.
The same applies to New Year’s resolutions. Do we make the ones we are capable of keeping? Are we just playing it safe?
What about you? What personal commitment would you like to make?
I nearly always adopt the same approach when I am writing a bubble of happiness. I look for an idea, find an angle for it and start to write.
This summer I did it the other way round. I sat down every evening to write a chapter for a story that came to me as I went along.I didn’t know in the morning what I would be writing in the evening and what was going to happen to my characters.
Sitting at my keyboard, I would observe the images that came into my head and describe them.
On some occasions really bizarre ideas sprang to mind. On others, I was laughing to myself. I wondered where all these ideas originated – they seemed to come out of nowhere.
That fount of stories, that only needed letting out, had always been there. Untapped. Bubbling with all sorts of sounds. This summer I drank from this source for the first time.
What about you? Do you take the time to listen to the stories hidden deep within you? What inspiration lies within you that is just waiting to be nurtured?