Over the past few months I’ve found myself pondering life’s big questions – what should I do with my life? Where will I be in 10 years time? What can I do so that my daughter is proud of me / learns how to be a strong, independent woman? It can get exhausting. Especially at the moment with the huge trend for focussing on yourself. Don’t get me wrong, I’m partial to a bit of naval gazing (don’t you just hate that phrase) as much as the next person, but sometimes I get so focussed on whether things are going as my 11 year old self wanted them to, that it all gets a bit much.
Life isn’t supposed to be so rigid. Or dictated by my 11 year old self but we’ll save that for another time.
I was reminded of this yesterday when I was out walking with Nath (my husband) and my daughter Ivy. My phone buzzed as we were leaving so I flicked it onto aeroplane mode and focussed on enjoying this time with my little family. Cheesy I know, but necessary.
As we got near the shop we decided to dash in and get hot chocolate from the Costa machine (and a bottle of wine for later – yes I use the basket under Ivy’s pram as my wine trolley. She’s cool with it). Nath handed me my cup, and it was this gesture mixed with the fading light and the cool evening air that triggered a memory I haven’t thought about in years. A memory that I look back on with such fondness it makes me feel warm inside. And happy. Really peacefully happy.
In handing me the cup, Nath made me think of bonfire night during my second year at Lancaster Uni. Nath didn’t go to university, he started work as a joiner at 16, so he’d come to visit me every weekend and I like to think he got a taste of uni life from these visits. I’d heard there was a bonfire and fireworks at Lancaster castle so we hopped in the car and drove to the centre. After parking miles away because so many people had the same idea (not much goes on in Lancaster), we walked the rest of the way. As soon as we left the car it started chucking it down, so Nath gave me his coat and grabbed his ‘emergency’ high visibility jacket from the boot of the car – don’t ask me why he had this or why I didn’t have a suitable coat – let’s just say I was a naive student and he’s a human Swiss army knife.
After we got half way we were wet, freezing and miserable, but we’d spotted a little cafe that was open late for the bonfire crowd. We dashed in, were told they only had tomato soup left and that we couldn’t eat in as they were shutting soon, so tomato soup in hand – in a plastic cup just like the Costa ones – we carried on to the castle in the rain. That soup remains to this day the best I’ve ever tasted, and it warmed me right up. As we walked along and sipped it I was so happy to be in that moment with Nath, I can remember looking at him and thinking ‘this is what it’s all about’.
This memory will probably seem insignificant to you, and you might wonder what I’m making such a fuss about. The point I’m trying to make is that we often agonise over the big decisions, purchases and trips in our lives but the things we actually end up remembering are those tiny pockets of happiness that caught us unaware. Those moments when the stars align and for the briefest time it feels like everything has clicked into place. It’s these everyday moments that we look back on and feel a spark of pure joy for having lived them. I never thought that night in Lancaster would be one of those moments for me, but yesterday I got to feel the warmth of it again and I realise how happy that small, unfiltered moment made me.
If I teach Ivy anything it will be to find joy in the little things because we often neglect them in pursuit of life’s bigger goals. Don’t get me wrong big goals are great and there is a place for them, but they shouldn’t overshadow the tiny sparks of happiness we can find in our everyday lives.