Last year I was fortunate enough to be awarded a Red Balloon experience. For those of you not familiar with this, it involves someone giving you a voucher to choose one of a variety of experiences.
I have been interested in photography for a number of years but had never learnt how to use my camera properly. So the experience that I chose was a day out with a professional photographer to walk around my city to learn all about taking photos in different environments.
I had a wonderful day out, not only because I learnt a lot about photography, but also because, as a mum of two young children, a whole day out by myself focusing solely on things that interest me felt so indulgent and reminded me that my life does not need to just focus on parenting and working.
I spent the day with a professional photographer and two recreational photographers. One of them was a man who had recently gone through a divorce. He also had young children, so I guess I identified with him a little bit and thought about how I would react if I was in a similar situation.
It was interesting to listen to him talk about life after divorce. He could have been negative and bitter about all of the things that he had lost as a result of his marriage breakdown – a life partner; living fulltime with his kids; the dream of what he expected his life to be.
Instead he told me that now whenever a new situation was presented to him, he said “why not?” and just did it. As a result, he has experienced things he never thought he would – swimming with sharks and driving a racing car, amongst other things. More importantly, he now approached life with a sense of opportunity, excitement and positivity.
As someone who likes to know the reasons behind things and has a reputation for asking “why?”, it was really enlightening for me to consider the flip side to my rational way of approaching life. After talking to this man, I became much more aware of the times when I might be putting the brakes on trying something new, or not doing something because I am too concerned with the rationale about why I should be doing it.
Since then, I have started to (sometimes) say “why not?” and just do what is presented to me, when what I really want to say is “why?” and put it off to wait for the ‘perfect’ time or opportunity. As it turns out, this can be a very liberating and fun way to live.
So I’d like to thank this man who showed me the flip side to my “why?”. Without realising it, he has shown me that although my usual “why?” is useful for the sensible decisions, the flip side to this – the “why not?” – is important for creating a sense of enjoyment, positivity and opportunity in life.