Make it up as you go

My title is shamelessly stolen from this most excellent song by the Plain White T’s

I was pleased to find their album on offer half way through a very long car journey home this evening and bought it so I could listen to something easygoing as I drove (by this point I was maxed out on female voices, which featured on all the CDs my friend had in her car – a lovely car to drive, btw, the VW Polo…) and was extra pleased when I realised I’d listened to the whole album without thinking “Oh, not sure I like that track”, which usually happens at least once per album.

It’s a great track with very liberating lyrics advocating a laissez faire approach to life and no worries if anyone else isn’t keen. We had a lot of that this weekend. We stayed with some very good friends-and-relations and their 2 year old son. Sponteneity and 2 year olds (and consequently not having to mind too much what other people think) go hand in hand. Whether it was chase-and-tickle, trying to get him to keep his outdoor gear on to go out or his input at the table (below), it was highly entertaining and think-on-your-feet-ish.

On receiving his breakfast from his Father, who also gave me my breakfast
Toddler – Thank you Daddy. *Stern look at me* Say ‘thank-you’ to Daddy.
Me – Thank you

There is something liberating in not worrying what people think of you and rather dancing to your own tune, and this I can agree with to a point. I definitely think there are things worth being care-full about and passionate about and even things which it’s worth recommending to your friends about. With regard to the superficial, though, yeah – I’ve come rapidly to a point of ‘life’s too short’.

With this in mind I thought I’d make myself a slightly aspirational list of ‘Life’s Too Short’ things to get me through the times when I begin to fuss (and probably shouldn’t).

Life’s too short…

  1. not to try new things. Not necessarily mad new things but just new for me things. Like in a restaurant try to order something I wouldn’t normally have so I can try it once.
  2. to get pernicketty over the little things. I was sat next to a woman this morning in church who kept texting and had her keypad on the ‘make a little irritating beep every time a key is pressed’ setting. Rather than turn on her and tell her in no uncertain terms not to be so %&@*ing rude I told myself she might be texting an ill relative or someone who really needed her reassurance right then and managed not to fly off the handle at her mid-sermon.
  3. to worry about what strangers think of me.
  4. to get hung up on waiting for someone to flush, run a tap or run the drier before peeing in a quiet public toilet. We all pee, rarely silently. This should SO not be an issue.
  5. to ignore the good things in each day. I keep meaning to kick-start my ‘thankful’ list and not doing it.

And for balance

Life’s too long…

  1. to not worry about what my friends-and-relations think of me. They’re usually good judges of character and have advice which they offer in a spirit of my best interests.
  2. to stay wound up at Husby for too long – it’s just not worth the stress (for either of us) and I could do with getting better at managing my part in our semi-occasional bust-ups.
  3. to not clean. Things will stay dirty and now our letting agents have picked up on it. Admittedly Husby thinks the bloke was new and being over-zealous but when the report for every room reads “_______ is cluttered and untidy but no damage was observed”, something needs changing.
  4. not to try to change things for the better. I don’t *want* to go into politics but am not sure how else to even attempt to get my viewpoint over. This will need serious consideration.
  5. not to have a family. It. Will. Happen.

And whatever the length of life, the quality of it will always be improved by good relationships and good food and good music. So I’ll leave you with a note on music from my brain-crush, Lewis Thomas.

The need to make music, and to listen to it, is universally expressed by human beings. I cannot imagine, even in our most primitive times, the emergence of talented painters to make cave paintings without there having been, near at hand, equally creative people making song. It is, like speech, a dominant aspect of human biology.

The individual parts played by other instrumentalists – crickets or earthworms, for instance – may not have the sound of music by themselves, but we hear them out of context. If we could hear them all at once, fully orchestrated, in their immense ensemble, we might become aware of the counterpoint, the balance of tones and timbres and harmonics, the sonorities. The recorded songs of the humpback whale, filled with tensions and resolutions, ambiguities and allusions, incomplete, can be listened to as a part of music, like an isolated section of an orchestra. If we had better hearing, and could discern the descants of sea birds, the rhythmic tympani of schools of molluscs, or even the distant harmonics of midges hanging over meadows in the sun, the combined sound might lift us off our feet.

There are, of course, other ways to account for the songs of whales. They might be simple, down-to-earth statements about navigation, or sources of krill, or limits of territory. But the proof is not in, and until it is shown that these long, convoluted, insistent melodies, repeated by different singers with ornamentations of their own, are the means of sending through several miles of undersea such ordinary information as “whale here”, I shall believe otherwise. Now and again, in the intervals between songs, the whales have been seen to breach, leaping clear out of the sea and landing on their backs, awash in the turbulence of their beating flippers. Perhaps they are pleased by the way the piece went, or perhaps it is celebration at hearing one’s own song return after circumnavigation; whatever, it has the look of jubilation. [Lives of a Cell]


2 thoughts on “Make it up as you go

  1. Ah to own our own home is a dream which we are thinking is rather a big one at the moment. Fortunately we are in the position of moving next year to a gorrrrgeous flat which will be owned and rented to us by some of our nearest and dearest, who (I sincerely hope) will not mail us such damning reports of our housekeeping!

    Lewis Thomas has essays full of marvellous quotes and while I fully intend to keep adding them, if you like his style, I found Lives of a Cell as a downloadable .pdf via a Google search; I cannot recommend it enough.


  2. That was a great song! Life is so much more fun if every once in a while (or every many times in a while) you just let loose without thinking about your image.
    I had to laugh when I read the report on from your letting agent. So glad we own our home. I can't even imagine what a landlord would say about my place!
    You always have such good quotes. Thank you for sharing them.


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