It’s a quirky book based on de Bernières recollections of village life in a time past with some very insightful observations.
During a conversation in the potting shed, as the rain beat on the roof, John the gardener, Allan his assistant and Sylvie the attractive young stable girl were pondering on who else they would like to be when John declares ‘I don’t want to be no one else, I just want something to happen, I don’t want to be a tree no more.’
He then goes on to explain, and I’m paraphrasing here, that a sapling in its first autumn loses its leaves and it’s a novelty, the following spring the leaves return and it’s an exciting time for the tree. When the birds start to nest the tree feels useful and life’s good but fifty years down the track exactly the same things are happening to the tree and the tree is no longer excited or amused by his new leaves or the birds that nest in them. John bemoans the fact that he does the same thing over and over and over, he does the same thing each day as he did last year on that same day. He has cheese pie for dinner every Thursday and macaroni on a Tuesday and he has the same phone conversation with his daughter every Sunday.
John laments that he’s going to his grave never having really lived ‘I reckon I chewed on life, and never tasted it at all.’
Stop just chewing on life.
Is your life that routine, do you do the same thing at the same time every day or every week or even every year? Are you only chewing on life?
Now’s the time to change that, with the change of season, particularly here in the southern hemisphere where today marks the beginning of spring, why not change your outlook. Brighten it up. Metaphorically speaking, take off that comfortable coat and put on that brightly coloured shirt, swim don’t paddle, live life, don’t just exist, aim for the moon, you might surprise yourself and reach it.
A Positive Outlook
The first thing you need to do when reinventing yourself, or just making that decision to get more out of life, is to find that positive outlook – the one we were all born with but that life gradually ate away at.
Stop thinking that you can’t do things, because if you set your mind to it, you can. I come across so many people, many of them a lot younger than me, who tell me that there’s no way they could do what I did and trek to Everest Base Camp. They’re not fit enough, they haven’t got the time, they’ve got a family, they can’t afford it – that’s crap and you know it. These are excuses not reasons and there are ways around these obstacles. I’m not saying trekking is something that everyone should want to do, if everyone wanted to do the same thing there’d be some very crowded spots on this planet, but figure out what it is that you do want to do and then make it happen.
Stop saying ‘no’ and put ‘yes’ back in your vocabulary. Maybe and possibly and sometime don’t exist, they’re just dithering words. I ‘can’t’ isn’t an option, you ‘can.’
Mark Twain was a smart man when he told us that it was the things we don’t do in life that we’ll live to regret.
It’s easy to procrastinate with research and planning. It’s in your head, it’s on the screen in front of you but that’s going to get you nowhere – you have to actually do something about it.
You have to make that move, make that commitment and put all of your planning into action. For me, with the beginning of spring that means getting back out there and training – doing some local hikes, climbing the steps. I’ve decided to head for the Himalayas again next year – now I need to make it happen.
It takes two … or three … or more
Rope in some friends or family members on whatever plans you’re making. It’s fine to do stuff by yourself and many people like it that way, but some things are easier to achieve or more fun if you’ve got someone along with you.
Put it out there, whatever it is you’ve decided to do.
You’ve booked yoga classes – maybe a work colleague or family member has always wanted to do yoga but has never had anyone to do it with. Go together. You want to cut back on the drinking and get fit – there’s bound to be someone who’ll join you in that one. You’ve decided to go see the Northern Lights/Uluru/Spain – find someone else who might be interested, you never know till you start talking about it.
Whatever you want to do, do it and make it fun. Rope in those friends, bug your family with it, don’t give up and don’t let people tell you that you can’t or you shouldn’t or that you’re mad or weird (you already know that!).
If you want to get fit – do it.
If you want to build your own home – do it
If you want to backpack through America or Europe – do it.
If you want to trek in South America or the Himalayas – do it.
If you want to do volunteer work in Asia – do it.
If you want to travel by train across Australia – do it.
If you want to climb a mountain – just frigging DO IT!
Stop chewing on life and get out there and taste it.