Acritic of the prolific writer PG Wodehouse complained his later work "contained all the old Wodehouse characters under different names". In the introduction to his next book Wodehouse replied: "With my superior intelligence I have out-generalled the man this time by putting in all the old Wodehouse characters under the same names. Pretty silly it will make him feel, I rather fancy."
Well, last year about this time I wrote a list of 30 random things I had learnt. Guess what? Twelve months on and turns out all I've done is learn all the same darn things all over again. I am already approaching this Wodehousian task pre-hated, but a refresher course can't hurt.
1. There is no right way to be or to do anything.
2. Probably the thing that made me feel happiest this year was paying off a stranger's library fines.
3. When you are a grown-up, you have permission to disregard the instructions you received in childhood. It was merely the installation phase.
4. Lose the perfection/piece of shit dualism. You're neither. You're human.
5. Gaviscon, duct tape, Roman sandals, QB8 exercise books, gabardine coats, china teapots. All good stuff.
6. Botox doesn't make you look younger; you look the same age, but blanker.
7. Whenever you can, try to switch from automatic intuitive mode to manual conscious mode. Or, expressed more snazzily by Rachel Carson: "If I was a fairy godmother my gift to each child would be a sense of wonder so indestructible it would last throughout life as an unfailing antidote against the boredom and disenchantment of later years, the sterile preoccupation with things that are artificial, the alienation from the sources of our strength."
8. Try getting a bit less interested in romantic love and a bit more interested in other forms of life-sustaining love.
9. Your Inner Hatchet Lady will say you should be "more" (more successful, more disciplined, more worthy, more whatever) and also that you are "too much" (too sensitive, too intense, too emotional). Ignore both.
10. If you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree it will live its whole life believing it is stupid. (From Sir Ken Robinson, I think.) Along the same lines: don't go to the hardware store for milk.
11. Try to learn to live with the ambivalence of our limited power, alongside our unlimited potential. Life involves maintaining oneself between contradictions that can't be solved by thinking harder.
12. Keep your seduction in check. You don't always have to be the new girl in the whorehouse.
13. Don't expect the magic to be "out there". Be open to the magic happening inside.
14. Practise saying the whole truth of what you feel even when it seems embarrassing or awful. You might find the more you practise telling the whole truth the safer you feel.
15. Fear of and obedience to a fantasised dominant male authority in this world or the next remains potentially deeply problematic to us as a species.
16. Deep within, most adults want to let go and have someone take care of them. Dangerous! See No15.
17. It's okay if your whole life is a kluge. (Kluge - a clumsy or inelegant solution to a problem, a computer system that is constituted of poorly matched elements.)
18. Wag more, bark less.
19. The ability to observe without evaluating is the highest form of intelligence.
20. Stop doing pirouettes. It is impossible to feel mentally strong when all your energy goes towards pleasing everyone around you.
21. Baboons have lower stress levels when they are fighting to gain from upheaval, rather than just sitting there.
22. No amount of lavish appreciation and delight from others can dismantle your self-loathing. Babes, you know how this one goes. Only you can do it.
23. The more extreme, rigid and self-righteous one is about anything, the more likely it is that one has something to hide.
24. Music reminds us pain is not personal. It's an intrinsic part of being alive.
25. Attention is the most basic form of love. How many people each day am I unable to see and respond to because I unknowingly classify them as "other"?
26. Avoid self-satisfied ding-dongs.
27. "If we could read the secret history of our enemies we should find in each man's life sorrow and suffering enough to disarm all hostility" - Longfellow.
28. Traumatised children have 50 times the rate of asthma as their non- traumatised peers. (I can provide the citations for this research). Sometimes, your body feels the sadness your mind can't.
29. Touch the things around you that you once thought ugly. Look around and see not only what is missing but what is there.
30. At any point we can step out of our frozen selves and our ideas and begin afresh. Personally, I can never hear that too many times.