• Amber

Marching Forward


I'm sorry - I know it's a terrible pun. If I'd published this yesterday, I could have said 'leaping forward', but I feel like that would have earned an even bigger groan.

Lately I've noticed I'm punning all over the place. It's perilously close to out of control at times, as I try to convince myself it's deliberate wordplay and not just the accident it's always been, my mouth tripping over thoughts I haven't given it time to process. The punning that used to go on around the dining table in my house was so serious it should have been classed as a sport. And as the athletes I can relatives revved up for the heats, I was left at the back like Jamaica in a bob sled, all good intentions and no expertise. Note - this is clearly a Cool Runnings reference and not a dig at Jamaica. I suspect they're still a lot better at bobsled than I would be.

Anyway, back to the puns. Suffice to say that when I managed to hold my own against my brother on the subject of cheese at a barbecue last summer, I was so triumphant at my pun success that I almost tipped over my camp chair. But lo and behold, the gift comes and goes, or rather my awareness of coming out with these things does. My love of playing with language makes my periodic pun-blindness something of a thorn in my side, one of several chinks in my linguistic armour. Unconscious punning is a sign of cleverness, I recently read, but I'm not convinced. I'd rather be able to do it on demand.

As with puns, so with life. Last night I went home in the knowledge that today would be the first official day of permanent employment in a new job, close to nine months after I had to leave my last one. Soul searching, assorted DIY projects and temping in the meantime notwithstanding, it's quite a momentous day. I am finally engaged in doing something creative, something that I genuinely love and can see myself growing into. And yet - of course - there are some niggles, some irritations under the skin of fresh success. Because if I have learned anything in my nearly twenty-eight years (and I hope I have), it's that things are not entirely under my control. Like my errant pun skills, what I want and what I actually get may be two different things.

This is entirely normal, I'm sure, but I still feel the need to interrogate it because hey, that's what I do. Each step toward where I am now has had some element of doubt in with its progress, some sober judgement underlying the elation. It's impossible to ignore how temporary the positives of life can feel if we are always looking at what is missing, or just what could be missing. After months of anticipating disappointment and success in equal measure, it's difficult to elevate myself above the baseline considerations of financial and lifestyle comparison, wistfully longing for what I had in the past or what I expected to have by now.

Clearly I struggle to be content, because I set targets for myself that rely on me being in control - which I am not. I mean I am a bit, but not completely. And actually that is normal, and probably for the best. I do not always make the best or right decisions, and I certainly don't know all the answers I would need to inform my actions if I were. It's difficult for a person who likes order and plans and lists and goals to let go of them. It's even more difficult when people around you have achieved what you haven't.

Keeping the green-eyed monster at bay has been an absolute priority for me in the past year, because I quickly recognised what an ugly person it would turn me into. And truly, whatever my selfish tendencies, I do want the best for the people I care about. I have no desire to begrudge others their success. Quite the opposite - I want to champion it. I want to be the kind of person who is relied on for encouragement, and can cheer both friends and strangers on from the sidelines with no need to force myself into their arena to grab the glory for myself. What I have to keep reminding myself is, there is room for all of us.

Success wears many faces, at many times of life, and we learn best from getting on with what's before us rather than losing sleep over what we haven't got. People will tell you not to put all of your eggs in one basket. I couldn't if I tried. Honestly, the basket is in need of repair and at the moment there's only a couple of eggs. This metaphor is cracking and the yolk is slipping through my fingers.

So - and yes, pun intended - let's march forward! Chin up, my lovelies. Let's be present where we are, and make the most of it.


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