“First say to yourself what you would be; and then do what you have to do.”Epictetus
Sunday evening. And what did you have for dinner? (Honestly, email me. I’d love to know.) Emma and I had fried chicken, bacon, avocado and a whole lot of mayo, all of it shoved majestically into the last two pieces of stale panini bread the Tesco Express on Abbeydale Road had to offer me. And a few salty chunks of halloumi. It worked.
For most of my adult life I haven’t had to anticipate Monday mornings with the grim reluctance most people seem to, because I’ve either been unemployed, or self-employed, or started work in the afternoon. For all intents and purposes, Sunday evening should feel no different to me than any other evening. But coulda woulda shoulda… it does feel different.
You might see it differently, but Sunday evenings feel to me like the end of one little chapter of my life, and the beginning of another. A sort of mini death and rebirth. And so what I like to do, in a completely informal way, is to ask myself – when I remember to – “How will you shape this next chapter of your story?”
I use the word “shape” very deliberately here. I don’t believe that I can control the future – not even one week at a time – any more than I believe that I can throw a pork chop through a fifteenth-story window and have it land directly into a frying pan. To be honest, no matter whether I leave things be, or try obsessively to control them, things tend to just happen the way they want to happen.
But make no mistake, I am in no way a defeatist. I haven’t given up. There are some things I can do. I can look inside myself and ask who I want to be. And then I can try, just for this week, to act like I am that person. And if I can at least try to do that, then it doesn’t matter how spectactularly I fail… my week will have been, on balance, a damned sight better than if I given this no thought whatsoever.
Fail your way forward, as I have never said, but may start doing from now on.
Well, what about you? How will you shape this next chapter of your story? What would bring you that inch closer to being the person you truly want to be… the person you actually are on the inside?