Tag Archives: work

Walking to Work: A Year to Live

I don’t know about you but Autumn’s always been a time of change and moving on for me. New schools and colleges started, leaving the day job, moving houses and, once upon a time, a new baby (Hello Clare). Then there’s writing this, this ‘what I do’ sort of thing for this website. Nothing as life changing and earth moving as any of those others. Or maybe it is? All new starts containing within them a sense of possible perfection, the pristine emptiness and possibilities of a new page, waiting to see what might get written on it?

The page, this time, is not going to be entirely blank. I’m not leaving behind all of the things I do. But in sitting down to write I’ve decided I won’t simply edit what’s already there. Because it’s Autumn and so time for a new start. Here goes.

After which promising start, written on a Friday in a nearby café (Hello Naked Lunch) over a cup of tea, I meandered around for a day or so. Coming up with not very much. It can be how writing goes sometimes. Though I’d decided on the ‘new start and almost blank page’ approach I needed to find some words to help my reader understand my general, and expressed right here, wish to work on a variety of things. I played around with a few words and phrases, thinking these might sum up the sections or paragraphs I could then go on and write about: stories, adventures, curiosity, being opinionated, helping out. But at three o’clock, going on two (it’s the day we turn the clocks back) on Saturday afternoon I was still stuck. Repeatedly erasing the paragraphs you can’t see where these new ones now sit.

Then I remembered I’ve already got a theme in my real life, never mind these literary devices like ‘the nearly blank page.’ A theme that’s sat behind or even in front of everything I’ve written since some time in August this year. Continue reading

The Clearing 3: Is this the life we really want?

Previously on The Clearing, Sarah said…

“You know the Leeds Liverpool Canal? If you had a year to live would you bother finishing it?”

“No” I unhesitatingly replied.

A third episode of getting rid of the stuff of our lives that’s lost its meaning.

So here at Clearing Central in Liverpool we’ve already made a start on the latest round of clearing what we do. We’ve cleared that supposed complete canal walk for no better reason than we couldn’t be bothered finishing it. A good sound reason.

Along with the canal walk we got started with a serious clearcut of possessions in the first of this series of posts. Next we gave the people we know, or don’t really know, some profound consideration along with a bit of unfriending in the second post. Now, to round things off? Well let’s start with some more potentially wasteful and redundant activities that might want clearing from our lives like the canal walk?

How about watching the television? How much of your precious life is that swallowing? Now perhaps you imagine you only watch serious nature documentaries, highly regarded art-house films and those marvellous music genre histories on BBC4. But that’s not true is it? Not even nearly true. Continue reading

A year to live? 10 things I’ve learned

The culmination of a whole year of ‘Year to live’ posts and also part of a podcast with Liam Black and Lucy Adams.

A year ago now, October 2013, I began living my life with the constant and conscious thought that this year could be my last. Questioning everything, asking ‘Would I do this work, go to this event, spend time with this person if I thought I had a year to live?’ Reasoning that one day this will be true for all of us, but that of course we mostly never know. So why not live with this consciousness for a year and see what it does?dsc05973

I decided to write about it too, and you can go back and look at the posts and discussions that followed if you want. For me though, at the end of this theoretical final year it’s time now to reflect on the main things I’ve done and learned from doing it. I don’t say what follows will turn out to be all I’ve learned, but these are the first ten things that come to mind.

1. You truly never know the day.

I began this ‘Year to live’ in good health and as a theoretical exercise. Out running several times a week and fully confident in my own body. Then within weeks I was thrown into hospital land, a place from which I am yet to emerge. Continue reading

A year to live: A quietening down of the rage to succeed

Thinking more about my ‘A year to live’ post. And a story from my friend Sarah Jones.DSC08791

A response to the post  from Robert Day got me thinking when, after telling his story of leaving the wrong job behind and how it was going he’d said:

“So: I take from your post something that I’ve found for myself – follow your dream. I know that’s a dreadful cliché, but it’s true.”

Now for most of the last many years I’d have agreed that this was indeed what I was getting at. But his words made me realise that my ‘Year to live’ thoughts were changing this long followed urge. I replied:

“Do you know, I’m not sure I do mean ‘Follow your dream’ anymore? I’ll write more about this when I’ve thought more about it but maybe following your dream is another form of the over-driven ambition to succeed we so suffer from?

As you can probably tell, one thing I’ve learned from many of the people I’ve worked with is the relief of letting go. Letting go of the wrong work and the wrong people definitely. But also a quietening down of the rage to succeed. Doing things you love, sure – but maybe they’re not all big things. And maybe some of them are around you anyway? Friends you’ve never spent quite enough time with, cameras just waiting to be picked up for the love of photography?

A friend, Sarah Jones, quickly picked up on this exchange, particularly highlighting the phrase ‘A quietening down of the rage to succeed’ and how peaceful it could feel to let all that go. Continue reading