There are absolutely no guarantees as to how any of it pans out and regardless of how good you are at planning and scheming; the world is beautifully designed to send surprises your way. And Hallelujah for that!
One of the biggest lies ever is the idea that if you do well in your studies, work hard in your job, fall in love and get married, have 2.4 kids and save tirelessly for increasingly, swanky, holidays abroad, you will be happy. There is no singular path - there is no right or wrong.
Life is a game. It's all snakes and ladders. Sometimes we get lucky and sometimes we slide back. But there is a way to stack the deck in your favour so the cards you get dealt have more potential to deliver an extraordinary time.
Keep experimenting. Every aspect of life can be played with. Where we live. How we spend our evenings. What we eat. How we exercise. How we find meaning. The way we show up for our work. What we read. How we learn. How we dress. Where we go on holiday (yes they are happening again!). How we think about ourselves. Our sleep patterns. Our reasons for giving a damn. Everything can be played with. And I believe by doing so we can only benefit. Experiments create energy and help us feel alive. They break us off of autopilot and therefore make us truly conscious. And every experiment has learning, and growth baked into it. They are intrinsically linked.
Lockdown has certainly reduced our opportunity to create adventures through travel, people and stimulus. But it can certainly give us the motivation to experiment with the basics. For our well-being we need to shake things up. Those who appear to be thriving right now are creating adventures in their own homes every week. Create some small experiments in your life and see how it pays back.
I have made a couple of discoveries over the last few months by shaking things up a little in my life. For a reason that still seems to escape me I decided to buy a straight razor. I guess I always found them beautiful to look at and the idea of shaving with one had a certain romance to it. But equally it scared the living daylights out of me. My first shave with it left me bloodied and scarred and only went to increase my fear of it. But three months in and I'm really enjoying the experience.
It's not that the shave is that much better, although it is sometimes. It's not quicker - it's definitely slower. It’s that when I hold that blade up to my face, I become incredibly conscious, awake, and alive. As we spend huge chunks of our life on autopilot; shaving with a straight razor has now become a way of me stepping out of that. By doing so my life has become a little bit more vibrant, because at that moment I really have to pay attention.
Pay attention. I love that. And I would never have learnt that simple things can wake us up so profoundly if I didn't embrace experimentation. Over this past year I’ve really missed seeing my family and friends, and I really miss experiencing different cultures. My little experiments have filled part of that hole. It's not the same - it's definitely not. But in some way, I have found something that I had never had before. I am reminded to be spontaneous and to keep on, keeping on. It helps me break out of what can feel like an overly serious life. It brings back an element of play and that brings more joy and more laughs. And we all need more of those.
Experiment. Go on, give something different a chance and see what you discover.