I hate February. I hate February for an abundance of different reasons. Valentine’s Day is in February. A day put aside only to make single people hate themselves, and not-single people argue with their partner about who forgot and “you could have at least got me a card, Michael!” Some years, February has more days than other years, which will never make any sense, and it is still as cold and depressing as January, but you no longer have the excuse that it is January for over eating and crying all the time. It is also ‘national dental month’ and John Travolta’s birthday and those two reasons alone are enough to despise February.
February’s only saving grace is Pancake Day, and that’s not even good. You will almost always forget it, and when you don’t you will have an argument with someone about why there is a day dedicated to eating pancakes and then consume so much pancake/sugar/ Nutella that you feel sick for three days later and vow not to eat pancakes until next year, because you don’t even really like them that much.
If February alone wasn’t bad enough, for the next 28 days, we have still got Brexit, Trump and the implications of both to contest with. We also are knee deep in university work, as well as being expected to have secured a graduate job, saved some money and have a life plan. Oh, and we’re also being slowly killed by roast potatoes and toast. Unbelievable.
Despite attempting to find solace in the simple fact that life expectancy for American males is only 78, with a bit of luck, Trump might just…die, and failing that then I guess suicide by roast potato can’t a bad way to go, I am still struggling to keep it all together. Third year, as well as general life, is taking its toll, and amongst all of the resentment and frustration and pain, it’s easy to forget how to be a good human being.
Roald Dahl once said; “If a person has ugly thoughts, it begins to show on their face. And when that person has ugly thoughts every day, every week, every year, the face gets uglier and uglier until you can hardly bear to look at it”. I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently. Trump, I would say, has one of these faces. A face that illustrates a lifetime of unkind thoughts, and hostile words. Alas, as unbearable as his twisted and crumpled little pidgeon head is, unfortunately Dahl did offer no remedy to fix such a face. It would appear Trump is stuck with his ugly-thought-face for the rest of eternity.
Following this, Dahl says; “A person who has good thoughts cannot ever be ugly. You can have a wonky nose and a crooked mouth and a double chin and stick-out teeth, but if you have good thoughts it will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely”, and this too makes so much sense. I would like to think this part could refer to people like Mary Berry or James Corden, or Claire Balding.
I suppose we could all probably try a little bit harder to be a person with good thoughts. Kinder thoughts. In a world that is so full of hate and cruelty and despair, we want the sun to shine from our faces until we are all walking around glowing and beaming, like the sunshine baby head from The Teletubbies.
I once read something that resonated with me, that said; “If today you found out you were dying, would you be nicer? Kinder? Love more? Well, you are. We all are”. And I thought holy shit! So we are! It serves as a poignant reminder that there is always so much more we can do to be better.
It’s hard to be a good human right now, I know, because on a large scale everything we know has been turned upside down. We’re being governed by people we hate, our favourite foods are killing us, our managers are firing us and our boyfriends are breaking up with us. It feels like we’re all going to be miserable and sad for the rest of our short, potato-less lives and ultimately die miserable and depressed from toast-induced cancer.
But we mustn’t forget to see the beauty of the world and humankind, which is buried within the microscopic, mundane, absolutely ordinary realms of everyday life. It’s actually all around us, embracing us when we are too busy reading the news, or thinking about being dumped or being broke.
It lies within a shared eye roll at the queue in Lidl, or in the fiver you find in your old coat pocket. It’s in a really good cup of tea or a really awful joke. It’s in heaps of golden brown autumn leaves and children wearing wellington boots and videos online of puppies wearing pyjamas. It’s in that moment you say exactly the same thing as your friend and then gawp at each other in awe and in that moment you finally find a lipstick that looks really great on you.
It’s in those orange and purple sunsets, and in the ocean, and in glistening, snow covered mountains and it’s in the little fluffy bird that sits in your garden every single morning. If we remember these things, if we inhale them and absorb them and share them with others, then perhaps the sunbeams will shine from every pore, and we shall always look lovely.
So if someone has broken up with you this week, or if you have just been fired, or if you did badly in a test, or if your parents are splitting up or if your president has made you feel unwelcome, what do you do?
You take a deep breath, you make a steaming mug of tea and you put on a smile and you take on the day. You let pedestrians cross the road and you pick up things that people have dropped and you share smiles with strangers and you give that fiver from your pocket to a charity and the sun will beam from your face, and you will look lovely.
In Matilda, Dahl says, “if you are good, life is good” and that is something worth remembering every day