I stumbled across this quote by Mark Twain on Goodreads when I was browsing the other day. It’s one which really resonated with me; good friends and good books are two of the most important things in my life. Add good food and travel into the mix and I’d be as happy as a pig in mud.
My friends are probably the most important thing in my life. The old adage goes “you can’t pick your family, but you can pick your friends” and is so true. Friends bring an extra layer of joy to every positive experience in life; they make the good things great.
Have you seen the latest Facebook adverts which seem to be dominating my 4oD viewing at the moment? Much as I’m not a massive Facebook fan, I actually love the adverts as the sentiment resonates completely, so perhaps that’s targeted advertising at it’s finest? My favourite one has a beautiful piano version of Rihanna’s “Umbrella” as the soundtrack and has my favourite (condensed) voiceover:
“They make our lives a little different. Leave us a little bit changed. So we leave behind proof of the time we spent together… They drag us into their madness, make us heroes in their stories… They challenge our point of view, push us out of what’s comfortable, and we trust them just enough to follow.
But each changes us. Even if just by a little. Each shifts the trajectory of our life, simply by being our friend.”
I’ve moved cities twice in the past 4 years: from Cardiff to London and then most recently from London to Bristol. In these years after university many other friends have done similar things, so we are now dispersed around not only the UK but the world. But my key friendships, the ones with the people that matter the most to me, survive distance. They may even flourish. We may no longer pop to the pub to watch the football together, nor spontaneously go shopping, nor veg out on the sofa watching tv. But, we do have brilliant phone calls, epic WhatsApp conversations and the same amount of laugher. Those weekends where we do catch up, where we manage to be in the same city or town or house or pub; they’re magical. I love you guys.
Few underestimate the power of a good book. Books can transport us to new worlds, make us understand something unfamiliar through another’s eyes, challenge us, make us laugh, make us cry. It is incredible really how impactful truly engaging writing can be. I’ve become an avid user of Goodreads to seek out books which will enthrall me as some of my favourites do. I also rely on recommendations and gifts from friends, who often provide a surprise gem.
But recently I found two captivating books after I was enticed into a bookshop by a vivid window display (which is really not something that happens to me regularly). Both books that I purchased were non-fiction and I could not tell you the last time I read a non-fiction book. Both books have blown me away, so I recommend you try them.
An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth by Chris Hadfield is quite simply brilliant. Chris has an exceptional way with words. It would be easy to write a book about space travel that is full of superlatives and cliches. But he avoids this and instead writes an inspirational account of his personal journey towards achieving his dreams. I read this cover-to-cover in a matter of days; I was so engrossed I couldn’t put it down! It’s left me motivated and refreshed in my desire to enjoy my life and every decision I make. I’ve been recommending this book to all in sundry and my copy has started doing the rounds with a few friends.
I am currently halfway through The Establishment: And How They Get Away with It by Owen Jones. Although I do not agree with everything he writes, on the eve of a British election this book could not be more timely. Owen dissects the network of people who have created and still underpin the Establishment who control the power and wealth in Britain, at the expense of the majority. It has been an eye-opening and stimulating read; I encourage everyone to read it even if, like me, you have not read a book about politics before. It’s leaving me angry about the way our country is ruled and reinforced a desire for change.
“..a sleepy conscience”
The “sleepy conscience” part addled my brain for a minute or two. Just what did it mean? It could be about having no regrets about your past behaviour, so much that your conscience is not required to be active in your life. But I think this may be too narrow; surely it’s impossible to live a life where we make no mistakes? I think it more makes reference to being at peace with our past wrongdoings. We all have done or said things we are not proud of, but surely life is about learning from them, growing as a person and then moving on. Hence a sleepy conscience is one that is aware of where things have gone wrong before and doesn’t want to repeat those negative behaviours. And trying not to awaken it again
“..this is the ideal life.”
Well, it’s the only life. We only get one. We should aim to make the most of every single day; I know I try to. But there’s always more. I think the “ideal life” is not something that is set in stone; what I see as ideal now I will likely be different to how I feel in 5, 10 years time. And that is perfectly ok. We should adapt; we change as we grow. All we should do is try and be as happy as we can be in that moment.
For me what makes me happy now are my friends, good books, good food and travel. And that’s how I like it.