Many of us have a lot to be grateful for. A secure job, people who care about us, somewhere to call home at the end of each day. When others don’t have so much, we can feel guilty for wanting more. But if it’s possible for us to live even more fulfilled lives, why wouldn’t we? If we’re only going to be on this crazy planet once, why would we not strive to make the most of it? What is the point in settling for existing, when we could be living?
I’ve been there. On paper my life was great and I was grateful for my lot. But there was just something inside me that wasn’t satisfied. I went to bed each night disappointed with what I’d achieved and woke up already dissatisfied with how my day was going to turn out. I let everything external to me decide the kind of day I was going to have and was then surprised it hadn’t turned out better. I knew, if I wasn’t careful, the fire in my belly that I called drive was going to go out for good.
Now I wasn’t quite around in the summer of ’69 but when I was a child the summers certainly seemed to last forever and I do fondly look back on them as the best days of my life. So whilst on the packed and sweaty tube this morning on the way to work, I got to wondering what it was about childhood summers that made them so great and so stress free.
Here are a few ways to reclaim those happy days to make more of the summer of ’17 (not quite so catchy!).
The school uniform
As a 30-something, one of the stresses of summer is the colourful, skin-bearing, accessorised, never ending wardrobe that we (and the magazines) expect us to own. Summer mornings are therefore spent surrounded by mountains of unsuitable outfits as we scorn the sunshine and declare for the 3rd time that week “I have nothing to wear!” As a primary school child, that was never a problem. That little checked summer dress or grey shorts and polo shirt were thrown on, accessorised with a dashing pair of bright white socks and, if you were a girl, and a really lucky one at that, a pair of those patent Clarke’s shoes with the keyhole in the sole.
Between the ages of 5 and 10, I had two phases of being controlled by OCD. The one I remember the most seemed to be triggered by the misinterpretation I made about what my Sunday School teacher had told me. I am sure these weren’t her words, but what I took as the meaning went along the lines of “If you don’t like everyone you are a bad person… and bad people go to hell”. There was someone at the time that I did not like. I cannot remember for the life of me who that person was, but it clearly concerned me greatly that I had bad feelings towards someone and was therefore doomed to join all other bad people in the devil’s fiery pit.
Over time, this concern began to plague my thoughts and actions and resulted in obsessive hand washing and daily rituals. The OCD I experienced was unfortunately not the tidying type – I lived in a very messy room with a ‘floordrobe’ of clothes, but rather I had to tighten all the taps before I went to sleep to stop the house from flooding, and I had to say good night to each member of my family in exactly the same way. I suspect the hand washing was an attempt to cleanse myself of the bad thoughts, the rest an attempt to control everything around me so that I wasn’t a bad person who could cause the world to crumble.