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Always take your colouring book with you

Archive: Sep 2011

Action 91: Take the stairs

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Lifts have their place. I don’t just mean in lift shafts. I mean, sometimes, taking the lift rather than the stairs is the most sensible option. I always take the lift in Ikea Coventry, its 5 big flights of stairs to climb up otherwise. So I get the lift, get my full English breakfast, get the lift down. OK, it doesn’t sound the healthiest start to the day, but sometimes I walk to Ikea. Or sometimes I do get the first bus after 9.30, with all the over 60s on it, because they have their free bus passes.

Anyway, lifts serve a purpose. They can take us up many many floors. Or they can help us move heavy items. Definitely the lift in our local Safeways was only good for moving heavy items – if you didn’t have a trolley, it was always quicker to take the stairs. So while Mum pushed the button and waited to get up to the car park, my brothers and I would race up the stairs, sit on the bench and pretend to fall asleep by the time Mum came out the lift. Never say the Knock brothers weren’t cool kids.
Here are six reasons to take the stairs:
  • It’s a little bit of physical exertion that adds up to give you a healthier, longer life
  • If everyone starts taking the stairs, it stops energy being wasted on lifts full of people who really don’t need to use them
  • Stairs tend to be more open spaces then lifts, and especially if you’re going to the office, to sit at a crammed desk for hours on end, surely you want to make the most of the open spaces around you
  • Lifts can break, and you can get stuck in them. That doesn’t happen with stairs.
  • If you see someone on the stairs you don’t want to talk to at that particular time, you can (safely) speed past them. If you’re in a lift with that person, you can’t escape so quickly
  • Led Zeppelin wrote a song called ‘Stairway to Heaven’. And Robin the Frog from The Muppets sang ‘Halfway Down The Stairs’. I can’t think of any great songs about lifts.

What matters to me

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I’ve been up and down like a yoyo this summer. I’ve had days where I’ve wallowed far too much, where the only thing motivating me to get out of bed has been ITV’s daytime schedule. But I’ve also have a lovely time in Scotland, lived the VIP lifestyle (if only for a day) and just enjoyed drinking cup after cup of tea. And while my life has slowed down so much compared to life at university, the news agenda seems to have sped up over the summer. All of those dramatic and heart-breaking events (Norway, Somalia, Libya, UK riots, News of the World to name a few) occurring during a calm summer for me personally have given me a lot of time to think on my life.
I want to say I’ve come up with some revolutionary life philosophy because of it. I haven’t, I can’t splurt out how to live when everyone is so different. But I’m happy I know what’s important to me in life. At the heart of it is still three quotes I had on my heart when I went off to university for the first time: ‘Be the change you want to see in the world’, ‘Never undervalue yourself’ and ‘Take a colouring book with you’. They all link together in my mind: You’ve got to live your life as you think is good, and realize the impact you can have on the world. But the world can also have a big impact on you, and sometimes doing colouring-in will calm that stress.
More specifically I’ve realized how much I value honesty. Everyone is different and that can be hard, but when we open up to one another, when we talk to them, not disregard them as some other we don’t want in our lives, we can understand different points of view, different ways of life that bit better. I’m proud to wear my heart on my sleeve, to tell people what I believe in and why, and to listen to what they have to say. JS Mill’s views on liberty and individuality seem pretty spot on to me.
That’s how I want to live my life. I want to be honest, I want to talk and listen, and I want to know I have an impact on the world and act to make it the best impact I can. I know it’ll stress me out at times. And I know it’ll stress other people out far more than me. That’s why my favourite word is compassion: realizing the struggles and tragedies everyone goes through, and showing them love and kindness (however is appropriate) to make life that bit easier and calmer.
Someone said yesterday, ‘How can you be successful without making lots of money?’ Well, if I can live a compassionate life and pay the bills, I’ll call that a success.