On Ghost Ships and Gratitude

In early 2016 I began a journal entry with these words from Cheryl Strayed:

‘I’ll never know, and neither will you, of the life you don’t choose. We’ll only know that whatever that sister life was, it was important and beautiful and not ours. It was the ghost ship that didn’t carry us. There’s nothing to do but salute it from the shore.’

When we decide on something, we inevitably decide against something else. The choices we make open up certain pathways and lead us away from others. I like the quote above because it reminds me to acknowledge other possibilities, but focus on the opportunities and people that currently fill my life.

This year has been hard and wonderful, uncertain and unpredictable. As we settle into Christmas and see off 2016, I’m grateful for the decisions, relationships, conversations and books that have shaped my experience of the last twelve months.

In the autumn I wrote this list of things I’ve learned to date. I stand by these lessons, but the main one I’ll be taking into 2017 is to enjoy the details that make up a day, a year, a life. Bright skies, long hugs, fresh air, lazy mornings, a familiar voice on the phone. I want to be mindful, to be kind and to continue making time for the people and projects that are important to me.

I’m a firm believer that you can do significant things in an ordinary life. It can be easy to judge ourselves against markers set by others, especially when the media is flooded with tips for becoming more successful in the new year. Ignore the clickbait – you get to decide what success looks like for you.

I hope you welcome in 2017 alongside people you care about. Wherever you are, remember that you are doing fine. Salute your ghost ship if you like.

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