I have always thought of “normal” as a good thing, stirring feelings of contentment within me. But when I heard this quote recently it made me stop to ponder and then realize that it’s good to not have too much normality surrounding you.
I think we have all experienced times in our lives when we have just gone through the motions; we have done what needed to be done, boxes have been ticked and all tasks completed. They may not have been happy experiences, rather, they were mundane. Days may have felt as if they were monochrome and could possibly be described as drudgery and joyless. And although dull, it was easy and comfortable, a routine existence that felt safe. Dare I say that whilst all things were completed and all to-do lists ticked, there may have been a complacency or a fear of rocking the boat. so nothing changed. I don’t know about you, but this road of banal comfort, – cruising in neutral – is not the one I would wish to walk, and it is not the one I want to encourage my pupils to walk either.
As a parent it is difficult to weigh up the safe comfortable path for our children with allowing risk and a little more colour. Our children are our most precious thing and we want to keep them safe – it is that zoological altruistic need to protect our gene pool for another generation. But is this sort of altruistic parenting of benefit to our children? Perhaps we can explore that on another day, today, let’s focus on our own roads. What can be done to make our paths more interesting, how can we plant our, metaphorical, flowers.
First of all we need the path not to be so smooth and even, we need to explore the route that has a few cracks, holes and bumps, so that, by necessity, we will have to look where we are going, we must learn to skirt around the obstacles, appreciate the road that we are on and not expect it to be perfect. This rugged road is going to offer us more challenge with its steeper gradients, some scary drops and fearsome hairpin bends. By choosing this road, we will learn to take risks, to extend ourselves and sometimes stumble and trip – a bloodied knee is always a really good learning injury. It won’t be easy but neither will it be boring!
When we stop to look back at the road we have travelled, it will be with a degree of satisfaction and a huge amount of learning, there should not be an ounce of complacency. Some of our journey will be hard and we may get hurt, physically and emotionally, we must try to let that build us better, not bitter. We will need to stop, take stock and admire the view and I imagine that for every challenge faced a flower grows. Giving ourselves time to reflect and process experience is essential if we are to move forward – make that time!
I hope that along my journey I will meet others, who are planting their own flowers, and perhaps they are singing, dancing, prancing and cartwheeling their way along, all of this activity serving to make my journey more fulfilling; meeting others and giving each of us an opportunity to discuss, to share experiences and celebrate joys.
I believe that the continuing pandemic, and times of isolation, have really shown that we are pack animals, we need each other, we need social interaction. Maybe as a result we will be less self-conscious about talking to others -I have recently seen in town centres benches with signs on them saying, “Happy to chat” in a bid to combat loneliness. I have spent time on those benches, not because I am lonely but because I recognise that there is a need to extend that hand of community to others. As a result, I have been given fabulous insights into other people’s worlds and histories, wonderful people have made my life richer, and I hope that I was able to reciprocate.
Having elements in life that are a little bit quirky is like turning the pages of a gripping novel. You don’t quite know exactly what is coming next or how things will resolve, but you’re keen to find out. So, I urge you not to take the complacent route, but to see that there is beauty in stepping outside of your comfort zone and experiencing things that aren’t in your nature. Aim for interesting and look for unique – it encourages growth within us. Plant your flowers