I spent this afternoon getting lost amongst the pages of a wonderful book, My Heart Wanders by Pia Jane Bijkerk, a visual memoir which documents Pia’s creative and personal journey as she ‘follows her dreams’ and sets up home in Paris, then Amsterdam. (see Pia’s creative blog here ) This book was gifted to me a couple of years ago by my artist friend Rebecca (you can view Rebecca’s Dainty Dora site here). Rebecca understands my love for Paris, and this book definitely evoked wistful memories of a beautiful city. Even although I had dipped in and out of the book several times over the past couple of years, I was saving it for a day when I craved inspiration, and had time to pay it the attention it deserved. As I now have the luxury of using Fridays for my writing days, (or creative days is the way I am going to start thinking of them going forward), I devoured it all in one afternoon and it successfully made my mind go on a wander.
Lots within the book resonated with me, (and I am sure I will return to other aspects in other posts), but this statement in particular jumped out at me today:
“I realised that having a little faith in myself and learning to be more patient were two attributes I needed to continue working on” Pia Jane Bijkerk
Sometimes the way our world is designed makes it hard to allow ourselves to be patient, and to just ‘be’ (I’ve touched upon this in another post). I think lockdown has enforced this upon is in new ways we could never have previously imagined possible!
Still, I feel we are very much living in a world where we are encouraged to work towards milestones, to achieve ‘life goals’, ‘career goals’ ‘family goals’ ‘creative goals’, whether self-imposed or absorbed from societal views. And If we take too long to achieve them, or never achieve them, then it is easy to become self-critical.
It can of course be quite helpful to have goals if it makes you feel motivated. But sometimes goals can make us feel pressured.
It can be helpful to take a step back, and reassess these ‘goals’, and question what they really mean to you. Recent conversations I have had with friends, with work colleagues and with writers, over the past few weeks all tie into different aspects of this chain of thought.
I keep thinking there is sometimes such an obsession with the destination, rather than the journey, (I don’t care if that sounds cheesy, it’s the best way I can think to describe it), that it blinds us to the things that are so important along the way: experiences, the learning, the giving it a go and the failures, the doing things and trying things for the indulgent sake of enjoyment, and the small steps.
Not enough praise is given for small steps. As a side-note: Education officials: please stop trying to judge young people by statistics. The very definition of Education is supposed to be learning and within learning you’re not doing it properly if you don’t fail sometimes.
Taking time out and hiding away and giving yourself a break from even thinking about achieving anything when you need to, is also so important. Especially just now.
I know I am guilty of setting myself high expectations and striving for perfection. Whenever I start writing a new book for example I want it to be the best thing I have ever written, (doesn’t everyone??), but it’s much more realistic to approach a new project with the realisation it’s probably going to be pretty rubbish, until at least a number of edits have shaped it into something more readable. Maybe even then it won’t be amazing, but there’s always something to be learned, and hopefully something enjoyable, throughout the process.
I’m going to end this post with another quote from My Heart Wanders:
“If we started becoming more aware of the beauty in the details of our surroundings, then we might appreciate the moment we are living in – rather than the moment that passed years ago, or the one we wish for in the future.“ Pia Jane Bijkerk pg 291
I know for many of us right now it might be hard to find the beauty in our current situations, but I’ll leave you with a great challenge that the writer of this book proposed within her blog. To find a heart shape in unexpected places – a simple kind of beauty that might brighten up your day in an unexpected way.
I seem to have pre-empted this one as I posted a photograph on social media a few weeks ago, where I saw a heart- shaped cloud, (I saw this shape anyway!) surrounding a rainbow. It seems an appropriate image to accompany this post!