Column #1 for Motherland

Written for a new magazine called Motherland

What if where we are right now was – it? As in: that’s it, you’ve made it. Destination arrived. There’s your lot. Is that a frightening thought? It’s how I’m trying to think.

The temptation for me has been to look at my life as a series of stepping stones. There’s a problem with that, because it means I’m always looking to see what the next thing is. Which, by implication, makes where I’m currently standing slightly inferior. Inferior, by the way, to an unknown existence I’m imagining I might have next. It took me a while (let’s say, broadly, a couple of decades) to understand this is counterintuitive. So in recent months I’ve been trying something new. Digging in to where I am, as if this is all I’ve got. It’s like being in the moment, except with a shovel, breaking through the soil, seeing what can be rooted there, or if there’s room to plant.

This is it. And not in a depressing way, because of course, I will move on, there’s always a new season, I’ll get to the next stage – whatever that is. That’s living, which is predicated on change. But I don’t want to get to the next part without having plumbed in, dug down as deep as I can, in this part. I want to be present in the conversations I’m having, in being with my children at this age, in the work I’m doing. And what helps me do this is thinking – this is it. The fabled ‘it’ is now. Not in two years’ time, when I might have more money. Not in three weeks, or when I get an accolade for something. I’ve made it. I’m here. So, dig in, journey deeper.

This could be the moment to note that my life is not one long series of Instagram-filtered prints that, collated, create a Pinterest mood board for Happy Perfection. Often, I am completely rubbish at working out this theory. Instead of digging in to the moment, I hate it. You’ll find me standing on the moment figuring out how to use it to catapult me away. I imagine what things will be like when I’m outta here (brilliant, by the way: no troubles). But when, instead, I try to dig, I have honestly discovered that it works just as well for unhappy moments as for happy ones. Because if I’m there, really there, getting beneath the surface, I can weed out the thorny things, dig out the rocks. Sort stuff out.

That’s why I think digging in isn’t about ditching ambition or motivation. It is about getting the most from where you are. What happens if you look around today and think, this is it: this is my job, this is my family, these are my friends, this is my home? And instead of wishing they were improved, you dug in to all those things, invested time and heart to them – would things start to move and change in a deeper way? Would there be more satisfaction and contentment?

I think it’s about making the patch of soil you find yourself standing on, come alive. So when your borders spill out onto the next part of land, you can travel into that season knowing you’ve worked the land you stood on. And that this new piece of soil you happen to be standing on is – it.

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