Last Tuesday I went to university with a friend of mine to do some writing. We decided to adopt a working technique that my mum told me about: we worked in 25-minute sessions and then had a 5-minute break. After a few of these sessions there is a longer break. We were going to start at 11 am and just before 11 I started thinking – what am I going to write about? I have a vague idea for a story in my head but I felt as if that needed some more planning and I could not figure out where to start. Luckily, I had my little Creative Writing Moleskine notebook with me, with not only ideas and characters, but also with some creative writing exercises. Usually when I am writing fiction I edit every sentence as I go and therefore, I write very slowly (this is one of the reasons why I want to try doing National Novel Writing Month, because then you do not have time to overthink everything). This time I decided to just write. It didn’t have to be pretty or eloquent or even make sense. The exercise that I chose was “describe your perfect day”. I started writing and when I read back what I had so far something struck me – the day that I had just described was not something fancy, unachievable or unrealistic, but something I could strive towards now.
What I found out during the exercise was that in my idea of a “perfect day” there should be a sense of structure. I am not someone who sleeps in until noon and has breakfast for lunch and stays up until 3 pm. Of course, there is nothing wrong with enjoying days like that but personally, I like standing up early and getting things out of the way. Usually, I am in the gym by 7 or 7.30 am because I know that I am less likely to go in the afternoon. I feel good when I get things like that out of the way early in the morning and I still have the majority of my day left. In my perfect day, I would have a little ritual in the morning – a morning routine. When I was still living with my family, this routine came into being quite naturally. Everyone had to leave at a different time, so whoever had to leave first had dibs on the shower. One by one we would leave the house and in that perfect little routine, we all had enough time to shower, eat breakfast and get ready without being in each other’s way (not too much, at least – the bathroom is pretty small so on those rare occasions when we all had to brush our teeth at exactly the same time it could a bit crowded). However, now that I have my own place I tend to be slower and less productive in the mornings, and even though I take plenty of time to get ready, most days I have to rush out the door to be in time for class. Subsequently, I cycle so fast that I still arrive way too early and I have to catch my breath until class starts. Usually I lose track of time and have to rush because I have my TV on. Watching TV and checking every single social media website in the morning is something I’d like to change when university will start again, in the first week of September. Coincidentally, my mum and I are going to a lecture by the School of Life next week, which will deal with the topic of turning resolutions into habits. My resolution is to create a morning routine for myself so that I can start my day in a calm, positive way, and I hope that the lecture will inspire me as to how I can turn that routine into a habit.
Part of me expected that my idea of a perfect day would have been something completely out of my reach. Something that included a faraway country, a secret bank account, a dream job, not having to study, a big house… As it turns out, I would start the day with my little routine and then do some writing, occasionally taking a break for a walk in the garden. Then I would go for lunch with my sister (who would live in the same city), and after I’d write some more and have inspiring talks with friends and do a bit of yoga. After that, I would cook dinner for my parents and sister who’d be coming over (my parents would also be living in the same city). How simple can it be? I am starting to find out more and more that my happiness is not dependent on buying things I like, but on spending time with the people that I love: my friends and family. In my perfect day I would still work and learn new things because growth is so important to happiness – without it, I’d be standing still. However much I love this August, my “me-month”, I cannot wait for September, for university to start again and to get some structure back into my life. At times, happiness seems a completely foreign concept to me – and at other times, it just seems so simple.
With freedom, books, flowers, and the moon,
who could not be happy?
– Oscar Wilde