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On Being Boring

I moved from London to Brussels with my husband nearly 10 years ago. When I told people we were moving, the news was greeted with bemusement: why did we want to move to a city that was possibly the most boring place on earth? Ten years later and I can honestly say that I've had more fun here than I ever did living in London. It might not be the most exciting city in the world but it is a fantastic place to live. It is full of hidden treasures that you probably never get to see as a tourist: wonderful shops, amazing food, great museums and galleries, beautiful architecture, a forest (yes, a whole forest), and so much more... And if that doesn't convince you, well, get on a train and you could be in Paris, Amsterdam, Cologne or, yes, London in no more than a couple of hours... Which other city can you say that about?

Bad Advice

Blog every day in May, day 28 (3 days to go! 3 days to go! 3 day 3 day 3 days 3 days 3 days to go-o!): What is the worst advice you have ever received?

How is it possible that I can’t think of one single piece of bad advice I’ve been given? Not one. Ever. Maybe I’ve only ever been given good advice. Or maybe I’ve been assiduous enough not to follow the bad stuff. Or maybe I did follow it but am too stupid to realize my mistakes. Or – yet another possibility – maybe, having realized my mistakes, rather than regret them, I have learnt from them – so that the bad advice was turned into opportunities. Don’t know. What I do know is that, having wracked my brains all day, I can’t think of a single time when I have really and truly regretted following anyone’s advice.

There has been some advice I’ve regretted TRYING to follow. It wasn’t bad advice, it just wasn’t helpful. I’m talking about all the conflicting advice that was bestowed upon me as a scared, confused, and sleep-deprived new mother.  It went something like this: “pick her up when she cries” “never pick her up – leave her to cry” “feed her on demand” “feed her at regular, predefined intervals” “wake her up” “let her sleep” “pump” “do not pump” “call the doctor” “do not call the doctor” and on and on… I did eventually get to “do whatever feels right to YOU” but it took a while.

Maybe there’s a part of me, a very small part, that wishes there had been more bad advice. That, just perhaps, I had done more stupid things when I could afford to. More crazy, spur of the moment, you only live once things. When I was younger and had nothing to lose. Though that’s a fallacy really isn’t it? You always have something to lose. If not life or limb, then at the very least your place on the unique trajectory through time and space that gets you to where you are now. And I feel very lucky to be where I am now, so I wouldn’t want to mess with that. If I’d taken more risks as a teenager, done more stupid things at university, followed some properly awful advice, who knows where I’d be now? Maybe I’d be living in a tiny flat struggling to make ends meet. Maybe I’d be renovating a tumble-down farmhouse in France with 12 chickens and four children. Maybe I’d be pootling around a beautiful home in Barnes, waiting for the landscape gardener to arrive to discuss this year’s planting scheme. But none of that quite compares to here and now. So maybe I’m quite happy, after all, that I stuck to this trajectory. Maybe sensible and boring becomes me.

30 May 2013 - 3:20 AM ralph - You are one of my favorite people, and I could read your thoughts all darn day. "... at the very least your place on the unique trajectory through time and space that gets you to where you are now."

30 May 2013 - 9:15 AM Cass - Haha! Thank you Ralph! And there was me thinking that that sentence was far too long... and weird!

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