I REALLY like those three reflective questions Jane suggests we address to our previous year’s exploits : Did I Love, Did I Live, Did I Matter? Sums it up as far as I am concerned. Last night, whilst slumped over a drink watching TV, a BBC ad came on to apply for the Apprentice (Good God, are they still making that rubbish?) and they showed Sugar vigorously pointing at someone and sneering about something they may have said or may not have done.
Early January I am not full of the milk of human kindness, being low on energy, hormones, Vitamin D and heartily struggling with the half-light we are served by way of daytime. And he just finished me off. I am so tired of being fed images and stories of ‘Successful People” when what we really mean is “Rich People”. We are bombarded with magazine articles at this time of year advising us how to set goals to achieve more at work, earn more money, sell more widgets or get a promotion to boss more people about (yes, yes, I know the good ones ‘inspire more people’ rather than boss them about, but that’s a whole other article and we regretfully admit they are fewer and farther between). I am an ardent believer in self-improvement, personal development, lifelong learning and self-actualisation, for sure, but I am tired of these being so lazily applied to stereotypical portraits of economic aggrandizement and power over others, rather than influence.
The three questions Jane suggested we reflect on reminded me why, as a move buff and cinema lover, I have remained faithful to Frank Capra’s 1952 delight, ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’, when pressed to name my favourite movie of all time. Ever since I was a little girl, entranced by fairly lights, Christmas trees and the idea that fairies and angels do exist for our benefit, I have adored the story of George Bailey and Clarence the Guardian Angel who showed a desperate and depressed George how much he had lived, loved and mattered to the world he had decided that night to leave behind for its own good.
January is a reflective time and we will serve ourselves so well to reject a lot of the c**p out there about what success or achievement look like, by some nebulous media consensus. As we get older, we realise we can’t change the world quite as readily as we suspected we were going to be able to do when we were 22, but we also start to think grey is quite a flattering colour. We learn to live with complexity, difference and challenge and to have the confidence to know that we have a very individual dimension to add to the world. As a utilitarian I would suggest the only responsibility we have is to add it positively, without an intention of impacting negatively on anyone else and to approach each new year with, at the very least, some real thought as to how we can best add value to the people with whom we come into contact.
For me, it’s all about that motivation, that intention – that’s the bit we have to spend some time on. Some people will never like you, will never agree with you, will never warm to your style and vice versa. It’s a lifelong process wondering whether that’s a character flaw on either side, or if there’s some genuine merit to both points of view. I’m still working on that and I think I may be getting better at it.
Though I still like to think that every time a bell rings….
Clare Logie is a regular contributor to the3rdimagazine.