It was a little after 3pm on an idle Sunday afternoon in Sydney when I finally got it. I’d known it intellectually for some time but I had not been able to fully embody it. I wasn’t living it.
Like Morpheus said to Neo in The Matrix, “there’s a difference between knowing the path and walking the path.”
I’d hesitated momentarily before I took off my summer dress to reveal my bikini underneath. “They’re going to see how fat I am…”
My friends Aloka and Elke were already in the pool, totally unaware of all the fucks I was giving as I faffed around pretending to be doing something. Stalling.
Luckily for me, the day was far too nice for me to be sitting on the sidelines wallowing in my imaginary fears and insecurities.
“Fuck it.” I thought as I walked over to the pool sans summer dress to join my friends.
As I floated around the pool I realised, with great delight, that I was finally living it.
There I was, in the pool with my friends, being all fat and shit* and nobody gave a fuck. Nobody. Not one. Not even me.
There it was…. The glorious difference between knowing you shouldn’t give a fuck and actually not giving a fuck.
(*When I say fat and shit, what I mean is that I’m currently wearing a layer of memory foam… fond memories of the one too many margaritas I drank in Mexico... the delicious food I consumed with friends as I travelled around L.A and NYC… memories of red wine and chips enjoyed on my friend’s balcony as we watched the sunset… )
On that lazy, sunny afternoon by the pool I realised that no one really gives a fuck what I look like or how fat (or not fat) I am. Literally no-one. So if no-one gave a fuck, why did I used to care so much?
I used to care to the point of ridiculousness. (The ridiculousness being that despite constantly feeling bad about how none of my clothes fit properly, I was not making an effort to eat less crap or workout more!)
As I enjoyed laughing and joking with my friends in the water, I basked in the absence of fucks. I realised that I’d spent a huge chunk of my life gathering up all the fucks in the world that other people weren’t using. “Excuse me, are you using this fuck here? No? Mind if I take it?”
Once I’d collected all the redundant fucks, I edited them into a show reel and then played that show reel of fucks on a loop in the back of my mind. All day. Every day.
Judgement is part of the human condition. Most of the time we don’t even realise we are doing it. To ourselves, to our loved ones and to innocent strangers who have the misfortune to be standing in front of us in line at the check-out.
If I see a fat person, my mind will spew out it’s autopilot commentary, usually something like, “they’re a bit fat.”
That’s it. Then it’s back to whatever I was doing.
I don’t spend hours, days or weeks thinking about that person and how terribly fat they are.
Recently one of my friends wrote a blog post telling the whole world that she'd shit her pants. Some people would spend an entire life-time hiding that fact. Being mortified and ashamed of it. Not my friend. The funny thing is, her sharing that story only made her more loveable and relatable. She expressed her realness, vulnerability and humanness. Something that unfortunately is not all too common any more.
It’s in those moments of realness that connections are made.
It’s those, “WHAT?! You do that too?? I thought I was the only one…” moments in life that best friendships are formed.
It’s the moment that somebody lets their guard down and risks looking like a fool that touch our hearts.
The first Christmas I was in Australia, I got invited to a friend’s family dinner where I knew hardly anybody. Everyone was on their best behaviour as there were a couple of kids and older relatives present. I’d already been pre-warned not to swear (you can take the girl out of Northern England…) A little after dinner when most people had left, one of the men sat back in his chair and let out a tirade of profanity, “Fuck! Shit! Wank! Twat! Cunt! Ahhhhhhhhhhh that feels better.” Followed by all of the things he’d refrained from saying throughout the day, including, “Who the fuck buys a little girl a tattoo kit for Christmas? It’s like putting a fucking bumper sticker on the Sistine Chapel!”
Oh how I laughed! It was a classic, “you are just like me!!” moment that took small talk with a mere acquaintance and catapulted us to a rich, juicy conversation with lots of belly laughs.
It’s still early days for me in my quest to relinquish all fucks. So far I have kept the momentum going by getting naked in front of three girl friends in the name of art (but that’s a story for another time).
My mantra has become, “nobody gives a fuck.”
I use it every time I catch myself deliberating on something trivial or worrying about what others may think of me. My Gran uses the internet and there’s every chance she will read this post and discover something that I’ve hidden from her for eight years... that 'cunt' is one of my all-time favourite words.
We’re only here for a short time. We might as well be real.
“Oh my God, what if you wake up some day, and you’re 65 or 75, and you never got your memoir or novel written; or you didn’t go swimming in warm pools and oceans all those years because your thighs were jiggly and you had a nice big comfortable tummy; or you were just so strung out on perfectionism and people-pleasing that you forgot to have a big juicy creative life, of imagination and radical silliness and staring off into space like when you were a kid? It’s going to break your heart. Don’t let this happen.” ~ Anne Lamott