Self-worth and wealth

I’m starting to see how fundamental self-worth is, now that I can honestly say that I have it.

Case in point: I have struggled to get out of my large overdraft for the past ten years. In my early twenties, it just kept gradually getting bigger. And then I clawed my way out of it by twenty-four, but could never make it stick. I’d break even, and then need it for something big, or change my life and lose my income, or get myself into a situation where I was just, for some reason, haemmorhaging money. There was just never quite enough money, and I couldn’t figure out how to make there be more, or to make the need less.

In the last few months, without trying very hard, I have watched my financial situation transform. My current account is so healthy I don’t know what to do with it. And it pivoted around me realising I was worthy without qualification. I mean you could argue it was coincidence, or luck. A bloody long string of lucky coincidences. But the fact is I started interacting with the world differently. I started seeing and handling opportunities differently. I set my standards for myself higher.

Maybe you really do just get what you think you deserve. I mean, how else do we explain Donald Trump? Maybe the real privilege is being born into a life where you don’t ever need to question whether you deserve to exist.

Expand and retreat

Out walking today, it was very, very windy. After aborting our beach walk, we were heading inland, my son in a carrier with the cover over his head like he hasn’t been for about two years now. We’d had quite the adventure racing to shelter when the wind picked up. He’d had enough of the ‘sand wind’ and wanted to be safely wrapped up against my chest, with my cardigan secured over his legs. He went very quiet and very still, resting his head against me. Amidst the screaming wind, he seemed like the centre of all peace.

I’d taken provisions for a full day out – I guess I should have checked the weather more carefully. As it happened, about 20 minutes after we got to the beach, we were headed home again, my son no longer even in the mood to visit the swans at the park. I hadn’t intended to be carrying a nearly three year old on my front, my rucksack full of clothes and drinks and snacks on my back, and his little rucksack stuffed full of toys in my hand, for essentially a two hour round trip. But it was an unanticipated blessing.

I’ve been doing my best lately to give him space to grow and flourish into the human he is becoming. To make myself a little less important. It’s challenging and relieving and rewarding and terrifying. But to embrace him as the baby he still in some ways is is as comforting to me as it is to him, I think.

We are all in need of both expansion and sanctuary. One without the other soon becomes a bleak existence. But residing on the borderline does amplify the contrast. It creates a tension which can be uncomfortable, especially during times when we feel the balance of our needs shifting. Ultimately, though, it allows us to sink deeper into each space; to enrich ourselves more fully. Like all aspects of duality, it’s the dancing on the borderline where we find the most living to be had.

Before the Chaos claims us

I don’t want to die.

Sometimes I wonder if – in my lifetime – our technological evolution will become so exponential that we will hybridise with machines and become immortal. I agree with Elon Musk that either that or certain doom at the hands of our own creations seems the inevitable crossroads we will stumble upon at some point. I mean I’m paraphrasing substantially, it was a long time ago I heard him talk about it, I could have it all wrong, don’t sue me.

But when I wonder about that, I also wonder whether it would represent a great victory or a great tragedy. The part of me that doesn’t want to die would like to believe it would be a great victory. But the part of me that doesn’t want to die likely doesn’t have the whole story.

Many people say they’d hate to live forever. How can they possibly know that? I mean, look, having given it considerable thought in my teens, I would hate to be a vampire. I will give you that. But I simply cannot conceive of what it would be like to live forever in a world where it was possible and acceptable to live forever. In a world where other people lived forever. But, come to think of it, forever is pretty fucking farfetched anyway. Could we outlive the Universe? Could we endure the in-breath and out-breath of countless Universes? That would be pretty fucking indestructible.

True immortal consciousness must surely be retained for the non-physical. But maybe we could be more like the elves of Middle-Earth, immune to aging and disease. Would a greatly elongated lifespan accelerate our progression as a species, or stagnate it? Would it allow us to develop as individuals far beyond anything we’re currently capable of? Would it separate us from our source for too long and leave us spiritually ailing?

Whatever happens, I guess entropy will get us in the end.

The thawing process

Once Upon A Time, I visited Iceland. It was originally a trip planned with my boyfriend after we found out I was pregnant. A miscarriage and a break-up in the months preceding meant that it was a somewhat different prospect by the time it arrived.

I could have cancelled (I had hardly any money, so that would have been the most sensible option), or I could have invited a friend (though I couldn’t say I really had any close enough to ask at the time), but the path of least resistance for me was to go alone.

I was still pretty fragile.

I’d paid the deposit on a private room at a hostel, and I could have transferred it to a much cheaper bed in a shared room, but I kept it, because I couldn’t face the idea of being around strangers. It left me with only £50 spending money for the week, but it didn’t feel like a choice.

I was lonely, in truth, but I was so excruciatingly on edge around other people that I couldn’t bear it for very long.

Every morning I would peer through the small window on the kitchen door trying to ascertain if there was anyone in there. If I could see multiple people, I’d go back to my room for a while. Sometimes I got caught out and walked in on a group – when that happened I’d panic, fudge some kind of small, quick task, and leave again as quickly as possible.

On my first day, I was booked on a group horse trek, and afterwards got talking to a Canadian girl. She was about my age, and also holidaying alone. It was nice, I liked her, and the conversation was comfortable. But then she invited me out for dinner, and I freaked out; making excuses, declining solutions and probably inadvertantly offending her.

Another day, an older Danish gentleman struck up conversation with me when I was getting breakfast. He was kind, interesting and unintimidating. I benefitted from his knowledge and we talked about things I think about to this day, but I still couldn’t wait to get out of there.

There was only one person I let myself connect with on the trip, and how that even came about speaks so much about where I was at. What I was learning and what I still had to learn. Where I felt comfortable and what I could accept.

One day, I was picking up some things for tea in the supermarket around the corner from my hostel. I was staying a decent way out of the city centre, so it was a fairly small, quiet shop, with only a handful of people inside. As I was finishing up my transaction, during which I managed to say less than three words, a tall, rugged Icelander in a black, red and white Nordic style hat cut in assertively to ask the cashier something. As he stepped back, we made eye contact. He nodded at me with a smirk, and departed.

A few days later, I was feeling the strain of my isolation and decided I had to overcome my anxiety and do something social. For this, it seemed, I was going to need alcohol. I identified the only supposed rock bar in Reykjavik and set out to locate it. Then I walked up and down the street past it about three times.

Finally, teeth gritted, I headed up the steps.

As soon as I got through the door I noticed a tall, rugged Icelander sitting in the corner with a companion; his black, red and white hat lying on the table. After clumsily ordering a whiskey, feeling unbearably conspicuous, I took a seat at a small table nearby.

Despite a way-into-the-realm-of-obvious amount of eye contact, and a bunch of ideas raging through my head of what could transpire from this point, I was soon one drink down with nothing to show for it beyond some vicious internal tension. It was getting weirder by the minute, but I decided to spend some precious Króna on another and give myself one more chance. When I got back to the table with my one more chance, he and his friend were leaving, drinks unfinished.

Fuck.

I waited for a while to see if he was coming back. By the time the barmaid cleared away the glasses, I figured that was probably unlikely. So I migrated over to the now vacant table. It had a better view of the room, and maybe I could salvage this still by striking up conversation with someone else? This probably wasn’t enough whiskey for that but, if I didn’t have hope, what else did I have?

The place was almost empty. It was looking bleak. I left my jacket to mark my seat and went to the toilet to see if the change of scene helped rally my dwindling optimism. I sat there for a while, wondering what the Hell I thought I was doing entering into a social challenge way beyond my paltry capabilities. Did I actually really believe this would accomplish anything?

When I got back to the table, the tall, rugged Icelander with the black, red and white hat was back. This time with a group of friends. This time sitting at a different table, but right next to the seat I had usurped and claimed with my jacket. Right next to me.

Fuck.

As he and his friends exchanged their Icelandic words, I sat there, burning, silent, sipping my whiskey as slowly as possible, waiting for an opening wide enough to drop a bumbling, crippled shygirl into.

My glass was dry.

Fuck.

After sitting, trying to look casual, doing absolutely nothing for a few minutes, I figured it was time to call this as a failure. I began faffing with my bag to waste a little more time. And then the tall, rugged Icelander with the black, red and white hat turned to me.

“Hey, can you do me a favour?”
“Yeah?”
“Can you watch my stuff for a few minutes?”
“Sure.”

Thank fuck.

When he returned, it could have easily been an awkward moment where I failed to seize the opportunity veritably dangling its genitals in my face. But, instead, he took a few minutes to talk to me, then bought me a drink and invited me into the group. I could take no credit.

My experience instantaneously was transformed from quiet and painful reflection to reckless enjoyment and abandon, completely orchestrated by him. He had single-handedly delivered me from loneliness, and so I followed him like a disciple for the rest of the night, and well into the morning.

I’m still learning from that night. Mostly, these days, I’m learning from the flaws in myself and him I was unable to see clearly back then. But, at the time, it was simply the flood of relief I desperately needed, reminding me of what it might feel like to be truly alive.