A long love letter from the middle of nowhere
From the Run Wild Creative archive
This comes form the Run Wild Creative archive, an email newsletter from way back when.
Letting go gives us freedom, and freedom is the only condition for happiness. If, in our heart, we still cling to anything - anger, anxiety, or possessions - we cannot be free - Thich Nhat Hanh
I’m sitting in my favourite cafe in the foothills of the blue mountains. There’s a cold brew by my side and I’ve got my swimmers on, ready to jump into a neighbourhood pool once I finish off this letter. There’s a school swimming carnival happening there at the moment, I’m trying not to think about all the kid piss I’ll be gliding through very shortly.
I hope that whatever the life situation you are currently in, you are well and finding little bubbles of joy amongst the waves. I hope you can hold the hand of a loved one, view the blue sky or eat something that you think is absolutely fucking delicious.
I’ve been thinking about timelines, our penchant for planning and how we may inadvertently be making ourselves smaller than we actually are. One of the smartest software people I know recently took a punt on a job that she thought would be five years into her future (she’ll smash it), another kind friend is rejigging his exit from a company sooner rather than later, realising that he wants to enjoy each moment with his kids, instead of being tethered to a 1080p camera attached to a computer.
What do you think you can’t do, or you can do, but only three years into the future? Maybe the time is now. Maybe, if you’re feeling overwhelmed, it’s about re-writing your definition of yourself, or perhaps, it’s about taking a step back so that you can enjoy each moment. Scratch three things off your to-do list that doesn’t need to be there, re-write your story, drive without a destination or a map.
According to my loved ones, I am a woman of extremes, dark contrasts of black and white that pivot so fast it gives others whiplash. The last four months has been an exploration of the grey. I left what I thought was my dream job with an amazing team of designers that I deeply love and admire and my first reaction was to…hunt for a similar job, even though my body had literally halted due to pain over the last two years* and my relationships had turned two-dimensional**.
I remember one night after my job exit, I cried so viciously that I burst into a full-body sweat and sobbed “If I don’t have my work, then I’m just a broken person because I can’t even walk”. Ouch. I was loved, I was held. I think change can only happen when you vocalise your worst fears with someone safe.Then you can move on from unconscious motives that might have been driving you for years and write better mental scripts.
I was talking to a friend this morning about how school and work really trains you to strive for other’s definitions of success. You get a table of how everyone is graded, you work towards it and you get a gold star, or a raise, or a feeling of self-importance.
But when you step out of those tables and grids, you really have to think a bit more about what actually makes you happy, and it’s terrifying but exhilarating in it’s freedom. If you’re a woman, it’s not too disimilar to when you’ve been wearing restrictive bras for a while and you suddenly decide to free-tit*** for a visit to the shops. No one fucking notices and you question all the invisible rules that we live by.
I’ve stopped acting from my initial reaction to things, and I’m learning to wait, think, then act. I’m doing much more effective and powerful things with more ease and less stress. So I’ll keep on going at being undefined and borderless and see what happens when I follow the joy.
I like to end each letter with a creative exercise for you to do, something easy and freeing with minimal tools, so here it is:
Go for a walk outside and find a plant that looks good to you. Take a small leaf or flower, put it in a folded sheet of paper so the colour doesn’t run, and then put it in your favourite book with a little note to someone in the future. Completely forget about it.
With much love,
*I had a rock climbing accident 2.5 years ago that resulted in an amazing sunset helicopter ride out of the mountains (thanks Medicare!), four surgeries, three broken bones in my left ankle, two meds that didn’t sit well, one secondment at a pain hospital and a very patient and kind partner. I’m on the mend and improvements are out of this world. Every single fucking day I am grateful for what I am able to accomplish.
**Lots of work travel, then an unquenchable thirst to be the next Jony Ive resulted in me being quite a boring conversationalist.
***I imagine it’s a bit like free-balling? Either way, it's pretty great. Please dress responsibly...or not.
This letter is in loving, heart-felt memory of dear Zen buddhist teacher Thich Nhat Hanh, who passed in January 2022. His work is felt in ripples around the world every day and I am a better, more accepting person because of him. Here's one of his calligraphy works (and a brilliant short doco on it)