Some time ago I when was younger and wiser, I wrote a list of what I wanted from my life. What would it take to make me live happily ever after? I have searched and searched for that list – it’s somewhere in a piles of old diaries or in a book of lists that was meant to be written but never designed to be reread. But I don’t need the book, I don’t need to read what was on it. I remember.
There were choices in that list, choices that I made as I committed those longings to paper. Be careful what you wish for, it does have a habit of coming true.
I wanted to move out of the city, and live in the rolling hills. I do but that journey took me to another two countries on the way.
I wanted to work part-time and write part-time. I do, but not in the way I expected to.
I had specific needs in a partner – kindness, a sense of humour. Politics was important. And a sense of adventure. I got all that and more.
But happily ever after isn’t a matter of ticking all the right boxes, as a friend reassured me when no one else could understand why I longed to leave Amsterdam and come home to England.
You have to work at happy ever after. You have to accept that happy ever after includes imperfect eyesight. It includes laughter-lines and grey hairs. Happy ever after isn’t fixed by botox and hair dye, it’s nourished by hard work and appreciation.
When I was looking for my list of what would be my happy ever after I came across another notebook. I had grandly called it my book of abundance. Inside, each and every day I would write down a list of the abundances in my life. The first few pages spanned my whole life that far – not everything, just a sample that included elderflower trees, a word processor, childhood holidays in Swalecliffe, intuition, and a kingfisher feather from Jaisalmer. The entry for 27th January read:
- Lunch with Rose, Eddie and Andrea
This was my life – the little things that helped create my own happy ever after. And it worked. On good days the abundances flowed from the tip of my pen. On the bad days I’d read back a page or two, remind myself of something good.
I only managed to keep it up for a few months before I fell out of the habit. I tried again a couple of years later, and again and again. Over the years, those snapshots of my life reveal a kind of happy ever after steeped in reality. Along with vegetable curry and last night’s fondue, there is bereavement and lethargy, There is Booker Prize winning publisher interested in my novel, there is my agent (I wrote that in caps but I won’t shout it at you.)
If I had carried on writing those lists there would have been more bereavements, there would have been mentions of summer sunsets, real ale, headaches, sore throats, freshly baked bread. There would have been partings from friends, and reunitings with others. Endings and beginnings. There would have been reading glasses.
Though I kept it so infrequently by book of abundance is almost full, which is how it should be. And I’m tempted to start another one, right now. Today’s list would include the following:
- Low mist on the hills
- Painting fence panels
- Yorkshire blue cheese
- An afternoon run
What would be on your list?
Inspired by the Daily Post prompt Happily ever after.
“And they lived happily ever after.” Think about this line for a few minutes. Are you living happily ever after? If not, what will it take for you to get there?