There are a number of themes running through the books that I have so far completed in 2020, and those I have queued up: creativity, the pursuit of happiness, and that those completed have been more like workbooks, books to keep coming back to, take from and implement.
One overarching theme is shifting how I think about things.
With regards to creativity I seek to simplify my outlook and open myself to new ideas, realise that even simple acts can be creative, and reduce the pressure I put upon myself.
That last point is always a tricky one to stick to.
Happiness is a loaded and dangerous word; happiness always requires bigger, better, more! Instead, I am focusing on contentment but that also has its shortcomings. There is a balance to be struck between being happy with where you are and wanting to improve, between getting on versus getting stuck.
It all comes back to the narrative of enough. I'm looking to scale down rather than acquire but, in doing so, hope to gain. It sounds counter-intuitive.
I'm definitely at a point in life where I have to slow down, I just don't have the energy to be on 100% of the time anymore. Time is precious and I have to think about rationing it, using it in ways to best preserve a quality of life as other things wane.
I'm looking to reduce burden, reduce stress, reduce anxiety, and in doing so gain balance, gain a better appreciation for what makes me tick now that I approach half a century, declutter mentally as well as physically.
It's not gaining happiness per se but a sense of satisfaction from knowing I am content with what I have, where I am and what I am doing in a way that allows me to still grow and develop. It's a long and winding road full of twists and turns, confusing double backs and unexpected dead ends. It's a road that appears to have no destination; in truth it doesn't and it's more a case of enjoying the journey rather than seeking an "end" because there isn't one. Indeed, there is a point where one eventually, hopefully, becomes comfortable with traveling along it, settled in mind if not in location.
I know there is a long way ahead of me which can appear daunting but that is no reason to give up, to stop moving along this road and accept things as they are. Quite the opposite. It is motivation to move further, to get away from the restrictions of the present to a freer future - freer in attitude, in responsibility, freer from the cognitive load weighing me down such that I can better be myself once I have rediscovered what that truly means.
It all sounds a bit "new age" and more than reminiscent of a mid-life crisis (who's to say it isn't) but I think it's more a realisation that things have changed and they will and need to change further, need to adapt to the ever altering position I find myself in: a position dictated by mind, body, money, society and the expectations associated with each.
Without wishing to make it sound like I was old, my daughter said to me recently that I was "at that age" where I needed to start thinking about myself, putting my priorities in order rather than staying stuck in the rat race. With that one sentence she probably put it far more eloquently and succinctly than I ever could.