It’s not so much a new groove I need, more of a new life!

When I was a child, I read a book called The Discontented Pony by Noel Barr.  The fact that I can remember most of the story forty years later indicates quite what an impression it made on me.  The story centres around a pony called Merrylegs who lives and works on a farm.  He has a good life, friends and the freedom of the fields, but he feels discontented and starts to dream about what else he could do.  He goes to market with the farmer on fair day, sees the magnificent carousel horses and wishes he could be one of them.  He goes back at night but the carousel horses, which he so admired, are now silent and unresponsive.  He is caught by the fairground owners who tether him so he can’t get away.  They want to put him to work pulling a cart.  He’s frightened but eventually goes to sleep.  In the morning he escapes and runs back to the farm, grateful for what he has and no longer wishing to be anything else.  He is discontented no longer.

The reason for telling you the story is because I feel a lot like the pony before he went to follow his dreams.  I know this is a children’s story but it made such an impression on me and now, as my adult self, I get quite annoyed with it and its message.  To me, the moral of the story is to be happy with what you’ve got, don’t try to better yourself, stick to what is safe and comfortable.  Don’t get ideas above your station, you will regret it.  It also says to me that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side of the fence, which I agree with, but I don’t see why that is a reason not to go and explore the world.  Life and expectations were very different in 1954 when this was first published and when I read the book in the early 1970s gender roles were still quite narrowly defined.  Girls weren’t expected to be bold and adventurous, at least not in my little corner of the world.  But it’s hard to change the beliefs instilled in you when you were little, at least in my experience.  We are all so much a product of our upbringing.

I’m very grateful for what I have; I have no major worries, there is no illness to worry about, no major upsets to deal with.  I should be contented.  But still I wish for more, a different life or at least an evolving one.  I’m not talking about running away or taking a holiday or finding interesting work or anything like that.  Nor am I talking about my little boy tying me down.  I don’t feel that way about him; in fact he sets me free most of the time.  He is the best thing about my entire life.  Hubby is contented, happy to stay as we are.  But I need a whole new approach.  I am not where I want to be, literally or metaphorically.

Kate’s Groovymums project is a great source of inspiration, and she keeps me ticking along week by week.  I nurture myself more now with the little things that make me happy, and that is a direct result of rising to Kate’s challenges.  Every morning I wake up and see my copy of Van Gogh’s Sunflowers on the wall, I buy pretty things for myself, and burn scented candles because they make me happy and I find fire hypnotic.  I make more time to read, because it feeds me.  I wouldn’t have made so many changes had it not been for the challenges on Kate’s blog.  At least, by being involved with the Groovymums, I’m making small changes to my life and I think that keeps me from having a complete hissy fit – probably not a good look on someone of my age!  But these things aren’t sustaining me and I’m starting to feel like I’m just exploring the insects in the grass rather than looking towards the blue sky and sunshine.  I’m not completely over the hill yet, I just feel like it.  I’m sure there must be more adventure to be had.  I’m looking at the brightly coloured creatures in the distance and wishing I could be like them.

Is anyone else feeling anything similar?  Am I talking rubbish?  Am I just having a mid-life crisis?  Should I just keep quiet and be grateful that my husband has a job and we’re not about to have the house repossessed?  Answers on a postcard, by commenting, by email, by Tweet or direct message, I don’t mind.  I find I learn the most from other people’s experiences and perceptions.  Any insights gratefully received.

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16 Responses to It’s not so much a new groove I need, more of a new life!

  1. Thanks for the lovely feedback on how Groovy Mums helps a bit and also for a story I have never heard of.
    I have felt very like you do recently. Perhaps now you and I have done the toe-dipping in small ways, we are now ready for bigger adventures. We have changed our lives in small ways proactively so surely we can do the big stuff too. One big question is to really identify what we are actually looking for.
    That probably does not help one bit but is my honest response

    • I can definitely do the big stuff, although I think it will be more difficult with a small child. The trouble is having a partner who is more than happy to stay as we are, doesn’t want to make any changes, and holds all the cards. I never even wanted to live in this village, it wasn’t part of the deal, but seems to have become the deal.

  2. Ally Bean says:

    I think that every rational woman wonders if there is more that she can accomplish in this lifetime– if things were different…. So, no I don’t think that you’re talking rubbish.

    Like you, I am living someplace that was never part of the deal– with a husband who is quite content with things as they are right now. I am by nature a rather “bloom where you are planted” sort of person– and considering how things could of worked out for me, I am grateful for where I’ve landed. But I also know that when we have the opportunity to move on to somewhere that suits me better, we will.

    And maybe that’s the real issue with you. That you need to know that there is an escape valve from your village life. That there is a plan, no matter how vague, that says: the next move is for me.

    [Just a thought. Not sure if it is at all helpful. Will continue to reflect upon your words. Good thoughts here.]

    • Very helpful Ally, thanks. You are right, I need to know there is a plan. At the moment there is no plan and no prospect of a plan either. Wise words and something to think about. Thanks again.

  3. Zazzy says:

    This is one of those dichotomies that I find really hard to resolve. On the one hand, I think we spend far too much time trying to chase some mystical “more” instead of enjoying what we have. On the other, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with wanting the more. the dreams and goals and adventures of life. The problem, for me, is that the “more” is very vague. It’s a longing for something that I can’t define. If it was something specific, I could make plans, take steps, do something. I’m not sure that this vague longing is useful for me.

    • Thanks Zazzy. I think I have spent far too much of my life waiting vaguely for something that I haven’t defined. That is why I’m grateful for what I have, considering how I could have ended up, but I think I just need to see a bit more of life than I am currently seeing, or have much prospect of seeing in the near future. I need to define it and make specific plans. Thanks again.

  4. Lisa says:

    oh dear, I have a lot to say on this post, but probably because a) I know a lot about you :-) (aren’t I lucky!) and b) we are, at times, complete opposites. I was very moved by the discontented pony story as I often feel like that pony – always darting off to see what’s around the corner or over the hedge. I think he had a lucky escape – to me, the metaphor of the glittering – but ultimately lifeless and going nowhere – carousel said it all. How lucky he was to get away from the horrid fairman and to have a lovely field to go home to….

    It’s never too late to make changes – and you are a great example of that. Things of all the things you have done – don’t want to list them here because I don’t know how private you want to keep some things – but I could list DOZENS of experiences and skills and talents that you have picked up over the past 25 years. You are more than capable of making big and small changes – maybe (just maybe) the world really is your oyster now and you have the the ability to do anything you want, but maybe you can’t quite believe in yourself yet…. more over a cuppa!
    Shall i come over and give hub a give up the bum? 😀 (love him too though) x

    • About the pony, just because the fair wouldn’t have been the thing, doesn’t mean he shouldn’t leave the field. It’s not a binary decision, in my view. Hubby’s been kicked up the bum enough by me just recently, probably best to leave him alone for a while! :-) More over a private chat, I think. Polly xx

  5. I know the feeling. Not sure I have anything useful to add. I think it’s healthy and positive to want to feel as if your evolving – I think sometimes there is an expectation from others to be content with what you have.
    I wish I did have an insight, all I’m doing is nodding my head in agreement. X

    • Well, that does help, Gemma, just to know that other people might be thinking along similar lines and they’re not just looking sideways at me and thinking I’ve lost the plot.:-) Thanks for taking the trouble to comment.

  6. I think many of us feel like this at some point or another in life. I don’t think there is anything wrong with wanting ‘more’ or wanting change. I think new experiences feed us, inspire us, make life interesting. The tough bit is trying to identify what to focus on where the changes are needed.
    I don’t know the answers, but a couple of thoughts that might help in the short term. Focus on the things that make you happy. Keep doing more of them. It might not revolutionise things but it might help. Also, maybe you could think about writing a bucket list – this might help to focus on what you would like to change most – and I get the impression that you enjoy embracing new things and new challenges.
    On the brightly coloured creatures in the distance. I always say, ‘you never know what’s going on in other people’s lives’, and it’s true. You don’t. Only before Xmas I was wistfully looking at the lives of two people I knew, and thinking how glittery they were. They weren’t. It’s just at the time I didn’t know it. We all go through these things, one way or another, so don’t feel alone. x

    • Thanks for your comments, Claire, I was hoping you would write something as you always seem to hit the nail on the head in your writing (whatever nail that might be). I like the idea of a bucket list, I’m definitely a new experiences person, very much so, so that is a really good idea. I was never made to vegetate in one place for very long! Maybe I’ll blog on it as I go along. Thanks again, plenty to think about. Px

  7. Isnt it interesting which childrens stories get imprinted in our minds. This obviously spoke to you. There is nothing wrong with aspiring to something new and more as long as you stay grounded in the present. Echoing the above comments, might it be an idea to focus on your present achievements and what you have accomplished so far. Remind your self its baby steps. Maybe you could make a collage of your goals and where you want life to take you – like a picture map of your aspirations and stick it on the wall somewhere. Or write an affirmation of your goals as if you had already achieved them and repeat several times a day. You could also spend ten minutes before bed visualising and affirming where you would like to be, and then let it go. It can have a very powerful impact on our unconsciuos processes. Also, and finally, I have often written down all my worries before bedtime followed by writing a gratitude diary for stuff that happened that day. Empties the worries and helps me to be at peace before bedtime as well as anchoring me in all the good things happening in my present.

    • All great ideas Sarah, thanks for taking the trouble to write them down. I am grateful for where I am, I could be in a lot worse situation, so that bit will be easy! Thanks again.

  8. mammasaver says:

    Dear Ms Merrylegs,

    I think it’s more common than you think to feel the way you do.

    A good friend of mine went through something similar, where she wouldn’t change anything about her life, but felt that she was searching for something else.

    Do you search for a feeling, or something concrete in the here and now? Is it an idea of what you think you should want, from childhood?

    Trust your instincts and try not to worry about it too much. You’re a very self reflective person, and I think that will help you through it.

    PS. I read the Merrylegs story too! Loved it.

    • Hi Rosie – thanks for taking the time to comment, any insights or suggestions are always very useful. I don’t know the answers to your questions yet, apart from “probably both.” I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m having a bit of a mid life crisis (based on what I’ve read about what I’m feeling, of which there seems to be surprisingly little) and that would be why lots of people feel the same way. The main question now is: what am I going to do about it?! Watch this space, I may blog about it from time to time. Thanks again. Px