What does it mean to have a bucket list and how do we feel when we knock something off the list?
I think objects and activities have the ability to be mundane and also to be magical. It really depends on the power and focus you give to them.
Last night I was able to tick off a biggie on the list. Since reading The 40 rules of Love by Elif Shafak I have been in awe of her work. She transcends the ordinary particularly because she focuses on the magic of connection. The book explores spirituality and love and actually I am not sure there is much else to talk of in this life.
At the Trouble club in Mayfair Elif was speaking about her new book ‘The island of missing trees’ a novel set in Cyprus. Given that Elif is from Turkey I would think there will be many people who will never pick this book up. It’s a shame because in novels we can find a safe space unhindered by outsiders opinions to explore. This was something she talked about last night. She also talked about how much trouble she has incurred in Turkey because of her other novels. Explorations into subjects which create tension in certain cultures will sometimes meet with anger as Salman Rushdie found to his detriment.
I was enthralled to hear that like me she was an only child brought up by her mum and grandmother. You know when a bell goes off in your head and you are screaming ‘Yes, Yes, Yes’ to her comments? First up, I realised when she said ‘she made up stories because it was more interesting to live in those places as an only child’. I totally got it! I used to create full scale productions in our outhouse, playing all the parts. The hung pheasants were my rather unethusiastic audience! My head was always the Director of my life.
I used to say I wanted to be a Film Director, a Tennis Pro and a Hotel Manager, instead I became a Shop Manager, An Airline Stewardess and a Broadcaster amongst other things. The broad variety in both my working and entertainment life has been mocked by family and friends for its lack of focus. Of course work life was a big topic in the 80s. For a working class kid the question ‘what would you like to do with your life’ was never asked. Instead ‘Get a job, any job’ was what was said. So without focus or guardian to my ideas, I drifted. From one poorly paid role to another. I managed to leave regularly but I realised I felt quite trapped by other people’s expectations of me. After 23 years of working for BA and a redundancy payoff which allowed me to explore what I wanted to do and who I wanted to be I have finally found some joy.
The Eureka moment came when I realised that who I am is blossoming away from corporate life. I no longer work for a company, instead I am self employed. I do a bit of this and a bit of that. I am a master of nothing but I am a slave to no one and that is a beautiful place to be. When work becomes a dictator then your daimon or inner calling is like a caged animal pushing the bars on a daily basis.
The year I joined BA, 1997 James Hillman renowned Jungian psychologist wrote a book called ‘The Secret Code’. I am a chapter away from finishing it today. In a nutshell Hillman talks of each and everyone of us having a daimon (the Greek word for inner spirit) something which drives us, something which makes our heart sing. It’s a core inner knowing. The daimon will pull you back to where you need to be.
I once met a tiny boy (about 8 years old) on an aircraft who told me with utter confidence and a tad precousness that he would be a chef like Jamie Oliver when he grew up. I have no doubt he will. His daimon told him that is what he is here for. Now I know what you are saying ‘what if you don’t know what you are here for’? Not everyone can be Yehudi Menuhin, not everyone can be Serena Williams, not everyone can be Van Gogh. It’s true, but what if the way we judge success is all wrong? How can mediocrity satisfy the masses? Well firstly Hillman says there is no mediocrity of the soul. The margins by which you judge someone’s success must be changed. Do you believe that only economics or fame are markers for success? I bet we all know a lollipop lady who shined above others? How about a bus driver who sang as he dispensed tickets or a fish 'n' chip cook who brought joy in huge amounts to people not just for the food he cooked but because when you were on your knees one night he opened the chip shop, put his apron back on, cooked you a meal and sat drinking Sambuca with you whilst you talked of how your life had negatively panning out of late. Thank you Eric. We all know people who positively shine with the happiness of their alignment.
This week in a private email to the station someone called me a weirdo. I will take that, its a term which has been used again and again throughout my life. You see being weird is not the insult most people think it is. I refuse to be marginalised by other people’s expectations. If being weird means not following the sheep or as Hillman says ‘a crowd of shoppers wandering a mall of mazes in search of the exit’ then I will take it thank you very much. Hillman goes onto to say ‘there is no exit without the guide of individual direction’ We look at the weirdos throughout the ages and we say thank you Amy Winehouse and Picasso, thank you Charles Dickens and Virginia wolf, thank you Andy Warhol and Vivienne Westwood, thank you all for your weirdness. You have given us a tapestry of the richest kind when it comes to culture. We feast out year after year on the stories of a man who had a fascination for morgues, ghosts are not just of Christmas past!
So back to the bucket list. We have a duty to ourselves to delve into as many things as we want and think we may like so that we have knowledge of so much in life. Soak up the experiences and try everything. Our time on this planet is fairly short and we must not be limited by others expectations or judgements.
Watch this space as I defy the odds and snowboard in my 50s for the first time or direct my first film whilst paying homage to little Mandy who gave her pheasants the production of her life.
You too can do it. Decide what you want to try and make the arrangement today!