Every year, before my birthday, I do a reality check. Being a mid-winter baby, I am prone to melancholy and need to ground myself for the coming year. It’s a salutary exercise as it means stripping away fantasies and unrealistic expectations. It’s akin to severely pruning your favourite rose bush in the hope of a more abundant crop of blooms.
Facing the truth about yourself and your circumstances doesn’t come easy to everyone. There’s a need to be conscious about what is happening in your life which doesn’t involve media influence or the rampant competition to be more special than the next. It’s hard enough maintaining being you without the exhausting mirror- gazing to seek out the next flaw that you feel needs fixing.
With so much so called fake news around, it’s difficult to know what to believe about the world, but so much easier to know what to believe about yourself since you are your best and only authority.
I am not part of that bold generation who like the laser beam to be shining on me all the time. In truth, it makes me feel slightly uneasy. However, I’m going to share with you my ten point reality check which will guide my sixty second year beginning with the least talked about. I’m not self-pitying or looking for sympathy, in case you think I am. These are the facts.
- I am a year older than I claim. I mean, my birthday marks the end of my 62nd year on Planet Earth and the beginning of my 63rd. Same for all of us.
- There are many things I can no longer do comfortably. One of my birthday gifts is a walking pole. Call it Nordic, Martian, what you will, but the reality is that I need support when climbing the mountain sides in my beloved Peak District.
- My weakened eyesight and poor spatial awareness means I am a danger on the road. I can no longer fantasise about driving again. My optician doesn’t recommend it.
- I miss going out to work. Writing at home is a lonely business. I am lonely. That’s the truth.
- No longer as confident as I once was, I rely more on other people for validation. This year I won’t look for it from social media. Only from people whose opinions I trust.
- For those of you who’ve ever listened to Garrison Keillor on the radio and the tales of Lake Wobegon, “where the children are above average”, - that’s me. I wanted to be able to hold clever conversations, be an eloquent writer, an artist… all sorts of things but the truth is… I sit at 6.5/10. Even my fitness level hovers around that.
- I’m a decent person. I try to help people where I can and don’t expect anything back.
- I’ve learned to accept what I can’t change and I’ve let go of controlling outcomes but I overthink. I am my harshest critic.
- I try to listen more than I talk and I don’t offer opinions unless I am asked for them. These days I think more about “Other” than Me. I also think about death. A lot.
My list is much longer than this, but I appreciate stuff like this can become monotonous. Reality checks are important if we are to find a level of acceptance about our limitations at any given time. This way we can clear the decks of the pressures we put on ourselves and move along our individual path, one step at a time.
It’s Blue Monday. My birthday is tomorrow. January 16th. According to the astrologers, there’s a mega planetary line up on that day. A stellium of six planets. It’s supposed to bring positive changes. That’s good. It might lift the melancholy that sits on my shoulders every winter, like a damp tea-towel.
Happy birthday to all Capricorns reading this. Keep climbing that mountain but settle where it feels the most comfortable.