Flying with the birds

How you shouldn’t let your aspirations clip your wings.

Photo by ade tunji on Unsplash

We have established routines, we have furniture, we have a bike. I have, for the first time in a long time, the luxury of time. I decide to make the most of it.

My ideas of how to spend this time are plentiful but lacking in clear direction. They are, instead, as a murmuration of starlings: captivating yet uncapturable.

These thoughts, these notions, these dreams twitter and witter and soar and swoop. They are unpredictable and intangible. They border on the ethereal. I yearn for something more concrete. More focussed.

“Write the ideas down” say my learned friends and their wise book recommendations. “Close your eyes. Where do you see yourself? How do you feel? How do you get there? This is what the successful people do. They know where they are going. They focus all their efforts on getting there”

Reflecting on how successful people sound more like migrating geese than swirling, whirling starlings, I grab a pen.

Inner goose channelled, I still can’t articulate my thoughts on where I want to go. I know I need to start somewhere. Stoically, I start with the mundane:

1. Be on top of household admin.

2. Be in control of finances.

3. Know what is for dinner.

4. Have what is for dinner in the fridge.

5. Let what is for dinner be healthy. And edible.

This creaky and rather lame start continues, moving on to themes so vapid I am not sure they count as aspirations. They are more vague notions acquired from reading too many glossy mags:

6. Have a healthy BMI.

7. Be more supple.

8. Be more strong.

Eventually, though, I find my groove and am propelled forward by the slipstream of the task in hand. I change the grip on my pen. I bite my lower lip. Ink and thoughts take on an arrow-like, focussed configuration. I continue:

9. Own my own business.

10. Own my own successful business that allows me to be financially independent.

11. Own my own successful business that allows me time to be financially independent whilst also allowing me to remain on top of household admin, be in control of finances, and know what’s for (the healthy and to hand) dinner.

I shut my eyes, I picture what I am doing in my own business:

12. I am writing and problem-solving and connecting with others at a desk that overlooks the sea.

13. The desk is in a house that is decorated in shades of white, natural wood and clean, unbroken shiny things.

14. I am located near clients who I can arrange to see as and when they need me. They need me often. But not too much. There is a charming coffee shop with take-or-leave acquaintances. There is a coastal cafe in joggable distance.

15. I can jog.

16. Inexplicably, I am dressed head to toe in garments from the White Company.

I make a note to check if the White Company sells sportswear.

I look around my future life and am mildly horrified to notice that there is nobody in the house but me. I wonder who exactly is keeping the place so clean?

Where are the children, the tangle of family, the buzz of friends? Where is the pile of homework, the scribbled messages, the lego.

Where is the pile of shoes?

Where is my husband?

In The Dream, I seem to have erased all of these things.

I realise this is not The Dream at all. It is merely an idle escape to a place where I have minimal responsibilities and maximum control.

It is an over polished folly that is so focussed and streamlined and organised that it feels mindless in its unexamined need to arrive unwaveringly at some predetermined destination.

I miss my starlings.

I start again.

This time, my aspirations are to have synchronicity with my flock. I want to understand and enjoy the pattern of our ups and downs. I want to feel the joyous predictability in our unpredictable nature.

I want to continue to belong in this swoop and this twitter and this witter, to be swept away in a whole far greater than my small part.

This exercise has not been futile — I acknowledge that now and then I want to break free to a perch of one’s own, to sit alone at my desk, to write and to problem solve and to connect and to feel in control of my mind, my body, my soul. My money.

It would be nice if I could hear the crash of waves from where I sit, but not particularly essential. A view of the birds going about their business, whatever their business may be: that will do for me.

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