I sat down to write my New Year’s Resolutions today, and I had every intention of producing a list of my future goals. Of the things I wanted to achieve. Publish something by 2014? Save up enough money for the deposit on a future flat? Stop falling for pretty faces and find myself a sensible boyfriend?
But then I started thinking about goals. About directing my future towards deliberately placed checkpoints. It’s a pretty standard thing to do, at least where I come from. Everyone’s got that bucket list in their head – the job title they want by the time they’re thirty; the family they want by the time they’re forty; the bulging bank account they better bloody well have by the time they’re fifty.
But as I thought about that today, I had another one of my “zoom-out” moments, where I suddenly look at the world as if it isn’t the familiar place I’ve lived for all of my 21 years. “Daisy, you think about everything too much!” said one of the readers of this blog at a Christmas party last week, and I imagine you might want to tell me the same. But I can’t stop the cogs from whirring, and this time, they whirred up something weird.
“Success” takes many forms, from successfully achieving a position or an award, to successfully attaining a particular emotional state, to successfully causing certain consequences, perhaps for the benefit of others. It is simply “the achievement of something desired, planned, or attempted”, or that’s how thefreedictionary.com defines it. (Look at me, using sources!)
So it seems sensible that it plays a significant role in the direction of most people’s path through life. That we make lists of our resolutions with the intention of realizing them. That’s certainly how Princeton encourages us to live our lives – we should think about what we want to achieve, prepare and plan for it, and then go out and do it.
But I’m beginning to think that way of life is not for me.
My brother is currently on his second ski holiday of the month while I have yet to go this year, so I have skiing on the mind, but I think this analogy helps explain. Because life is a bit like a ski run. You go zooming through it, doing your best to make the most of the terrain. Goals and resolutions are like slalom gates that you set out down the mountain, and you experience that flash of success as you go whizzing through them.
But, you see, I am, through and through, an off-piste skier. I’m always finding myself stuck in a rocky couloir, where I have to take off my skis and bum-shuffle down. I quite often get lost, and I very rarely end up where I was intending to. But, for me, there’s nothing like the moment when you suddenly pop up over the lip and can see untouched snow for miles, or when you look back up at your tracks and think “holy moley, did I really make it through all of that?”. Trudging across the flat, or slipping over the icy only makes that easy, beautiful skiing all the more enjoyable.
I’m almost done with the skiing metaphor, I promise. But I’d like my route through life to be like my ski run – varied and unpredictable. There’s just no place for slalom gates when there are rivers to cross and ridges to climb and trees to get stuck upside down in.
So I won’t be making any New Year’s resolutions for 2013, except one.
This year, I’m taking my life off-piste.
I am, however, still very much taking on weekly challenges. I’ve got next week’s planned but if you’ve got something suitably challenging and possibly ridiculous for me to do, send it in at parisianproblems.tumblr.com…