I’m thinking about dogs clambering out of the water onto the river bank, and then shaking themselves so vigourously as to soak the surrounding metre or so of ground. That isn’t quite what I need: the dog remains fairly wet. I’m thinking about ducks and swans, clambering out of the river with the water running off their feathers.
I am divesting myself of other people’s expectations. I am ceasing to conform to other people’s pictures of me. Whether it’s the friend who wants the best for me and is convinced that I could get it right now if I only put a little more effort in, or the casual acquaintance who adds up ‘goes to church’ and ‘doesn’t talk much’ and gets ‘disapproves of everything’, I return all those assumptions to their rightful owners, in the same way that I’m giving up feeling guilty about sending presents that I didn’t ask for and don’t like to the charity shop. I’m giving up contorting myself and apologising for myself and trying to please people.
I am shaking off ought to and really should. I’m doing things as I notice them or feel like doing them. I’m giving up pushing myself. It’s a useful skill, but I know how to do it when I really need to, and, oddly enough, things seem to get done one way or another without my reducing myself to a wibbling wreck over the question.
I’m shaking off the things that aren’t mine, and perhaps next year I’ll find that I don’t need to shake; they’ll just be running off my feathers.