It’s a Sin

Sometimes, you wish you weren’t built the way you are.

Loneliness isn’t because there’s nobody to talk to, it’s because there’s no-one around who really understands. You wish, more often that you would ever care to admit in public, that it would be great sometimes not to have all this stuff going on in your head. Trying to explain what you see normally goes one of two ways, too: people get it, or they think you’re the sad one, because you won’t let other people be themselves. That’s not what this is about, I didn’t come here to piss on the fireworks. It’s just how I work.

Being alone is soul-destroying, and in the days before you could just go sit somewhere or do something when it was bad. You’d just sit, and watch the other people who were lucky enough to not be burdened with this and pretend everything was fine. You’d start conversations with strangers just because it was great to have someone to talk to. No, of course these people weren’t your friends, but it didn’t matter. You just wanted to talk to someone, anyone. It just made you feel as if being here was important.

If you don’t understand why this is a Thing, I doubt you ever will. You’re lucky enough to not need that connection, that you don’t ache when someone else doesn’t ‘get it’… this has taken a very long time for me to get my head around. Other people mistake it for things too, think that perhaps this isn’t just about a dialogue and that you want something more. No, it really isn’t. This is finding empathy, and trying to encourage better dialogue, and if it were an exact science I’d not need to sit here, aching to work out how I stop feeling so fucking empty.

Sometimes, you wish there was a simple answer to your problem.

Too Much Pressure

I’ve not been looking forward to today, if truth be told. My weekly race looked a bit hard. I wasn’t wrong.

The harder part of today however has been writing 12 poems from scratch, and I’ve only managed 10 before calling it a day. Mentally, it was a lot to ask, but tomorrow should be easier, as I won’t have to climb a fucking mountain first. This is the first instance where physical exhaustion’s cause a mental consequence for a while. There’s a good chance however those last two will be done before bedtime. For now, I’d just like to do anything else…

Open Up

Today, as I though might be the case, is the fastest I’ve done 5 km for almost a year. This time last year I was in the midst of RED January but yesterday, I had a day off. It wasn’t because I was that tired either, it just felt like a good idea, having covered 10 km for the first time the day before. Tomorrow, I have quite a challenging virtual climb to deal with, and we are into the realms of new and unexplored in terms of exercise.

This is an interesting time in terms of knowing what’s possible and what should be avoided. For the record, yesterday’s rest day was the first one taken since December 23rd. That’s not meant as a flex either, it’s just a statement of how much more adjusted I am to working hard and recovering differently. It’s also got a lot to do with the fact I’m not lifting anything hugely heavy and that endorphin burst, as a result, needs to come from somewhere else.

The biggest step forward, undoubtedly, is pulling this level of effort in the real world and not hidden in the shed. A lot of that has to do with a growing confidence from elsewhere: I submitted the NaNo to a contest yesterday, which would NEVER have happened this time last year. There’s a choice, simple and inescapable: either move yourself forward or never know how good you could be. Balancing the options can happen for the rest of my life but nothing ever changes.

It’s time for some positive, assertive action.

Fear

Have decided to do what I said I wasn’t going to do and publish myself on video to YouTube. It’s another tiny step outside the comfort zone [TM] and as I already know the worst that could happen, there’s very little left to lose. I’ve not had a new Patreon sign-up for months, so stuff needs to change. If I get one new person as a sub, it was worth it. That’s the tiny benchmark that needs to be attained. One new Patreon Sub.

It worries me that those surrounding me have little interest in what I do. It makes me wonder why they follow in the first place. When you ask, the answers are always wrapped around how interesting I am or thought-provoking, yet that is not enough to make them take part. There is the very real understanding, of course, that I have chased true fans away in the past, because that level of devotion I found worrying, and in some cases actually frightening. Finding a balance is a tough ask.

This is as much about me as it is them.

Comfort zones are hard things to break free of. If life’s good enough, especially in the current climate, why on earth would you want to in the first place? There’s enough fear and loathing in place without intentionally manufacturing any more… but to grow, this is the task. It’s why today 10km outside needs to happen for no other reason than sometimes, the only way things improve is when they hurt. I know this will be painful and difficult and that would once have been enough to prevent any forward motion. Now, it just has to be done.

Also, there could really be better trainers at some point, so yeah, being rich and famous won’t happen without showing my face in this world that is utterly obsessed with looks over stats. Sometimes I wish I was better at things that get you better noticed too. Being as susceptible to jealousy and social avarice as the next human being… all of this is part of the exam syllabus. How you cope, and how you react. Getting five people to follow the YouTube Channel yesterday was the most excitement I’ve had virtually for days.

Fear must be overcome for us to proceed.

Hey Ya

Yesterday, I made three videos in one day. Once upon a time, it took me a week to do that just once. Of course, it helps that it’s just me that needs to be edited, and there’s no extra elements at play. However, we’ve entered a new realm after the chaos of Christmas, and there’s a desire to keep the momentum going for as long as is conceivably possible. In the middle of all this, it undoubtedly helps that there is nothing else to do that focus on working: no School Run, nor any real stress from my family.

I also made it outside to exercise. There was shopping done, though the reality in my supermarket of choice is that Brexit is having more of an effect on supplies than anyone is really letting on. After writing this, I’ll pull a yoga mat out and see if I can’t do an hour or so, because there’s undoubtedly some benefit in having a decent stretch once a week. Then, it’s just more of the same for as long as I can, because there is this feeling that if I do stop, everything will just summarily disintegrate around me. A niggle with my left inner ear is a case in point… it’s better now I’m awake and upright. Let’s see how changes in balance affect it, shall we?

No, I’m absolutely sure I won’t crumble, but just in case…

The disturbing thing about this email that I was sent was, undoubtedly, that its title was indeed an old Facebook password. This tells me all I need to know about how safe (or otherwise) the platform was back in 2009 and that I’m really very grateful I have nothing anywhere, any more, that is of any interest at all to Zuckerberg. The next job on my list of Tech Related Gubbins is to delete WhatsApp once and for all off my phone. After that, people will just have to text me. I’m sure we’ll all cope just fine.

The more I go off grid and force people to have to interact on my terms, the happier I become.

Making your Mind Up

I wrote a NaNoWriMo Novel in November, after nine years of false starts. Yesterday, I had a Zoom call with a friend who’s read it, and she’s urged me to enter it for a first novel contest whose deadline is this week. To be honest, there would not previously have been the confidence to do so. However, that call’s galvanised me into action and a week that was already quite busy has now become full-on as a result. Normally, adding onto an already packed diary would bother me, but now? It’s a challenge.

All of this becomes a stress test of ability.

Over the weekend I also finally finished two poetry submissions, and submitted something else that, again, I’d have never possessed the confidence to do previously. Thinking about what has changed between here and last year, very little actually has in terms of capability. However, belief is different, mostly I suspect because if it’s possible to do 500km in eight days, the strength is within to make these things happen when it matters. So, what is there to lose by pushing the extra mile.

I suppose there’s only one way to find out.

Having finally departed Instagram, this time for good, it still feels like the correct decision. After what happened in the US last week, and the undoubted contribution Facebook has made to general disinformation, there needs to be something done as principle. Therefore, I’ll be using Ko-Fi for pictures and art going forward, because it’s under my terms alone. Algorithms can do one: honestly, if it’s good enough in the end, where it happens won’t matter.

This is my future, and that’s all that matters.

It’s Grim up North

Everybody, at some point in their lives, should try and read or learn about both Ethics and Philosophy. The ability to be able to critically assess every idea you’re given is a life skill that a great many people could sorely do with attaining, especially before being given the keys to a social media account. Once you realise that ‘reality’ is only a definition and not necessarily the world around you? So much begins to alter. It’s the foundation of everything else in existence, underpinning enormous swathes of contemporary education, business and crucially entertainment. Let’s ask A Famous Actor to put both together for your mind-altering pleasure…

So, if time is a flat circle, it should not surprise those living through Covid that their lives are, amazingly, incredibly similar to those of their ancestors. But hang on, they didn’t have protest or media stars running their country… ah, but you see, they did. Just because social media has given so many a voice, doesn’t mean that this is the first time ever people have stood up for their rights and worked together. Your experiences may well be unique to you, but that does not necessarily mean those are unique in a wider context, and this is a crucial fact that it’s easy to overlook for expediency, as so many people are already doing.

All that has happened will do so again, unless history is listened to and summarily rejected/embraced, depending on which way you come into all of this. I’ve been at environmental activism since the 80s, and we’re still no further forward in some places than was the case back then. Ironically, the loss of coal as fuel was never the problem, it was how business and government sold it both as industry and a career that was. The echoes with this and finance as the same is not lost on a brain that can already see this forgotten in a decade.

It is easy to see who is learning right now: there are undoubtedly those with absolutely no interest in anything except how their lives remain the most important part of reality. It makes perfect sense, of course it does, as the fear that results when forced to consider anything outside that sanctified bubble is both feeling and action I’m very personally acquainted with. Except, as a human being, fear is part of your growth experience. It is what makes people travel across the planet, urges them to undertake superhuman acts. To overcome your circumstances, to triumph against adversity is a victory against a very human emotion.

With fear under control, literally anything is possible.

I’ve spent a lifetime reading other people’s self-help manuals, looking at how to be happy. The one trick that nobody wants to tell you is that there is no cure-all: they all just hope you’ll make them rich. Once you decouple from the idea that someone else has all the answers, that buying stuff or treating yourself is all just your brain tricking you into a cheap dopamine hit? Honestly, it all gets an awful lot easier. The true reality is balance, and making sure fear never has enough fuel to destroy your life.

If you can manage all that and still feel happy? That’s a pretty decent life, right there.

Hotel California

It’s 6.30 am, and I’m awake with cramp in my left leg and insane urge to pee. Having drunk and emptied my bladder, I sneak back into bed, only to be met with the following:

“You’ll never guess what happened last night,” says my husband, and I’m already imagining what new horror 2021 has presented. Was there an explosion somewhere, or some huge disaster that has taken more lives?

“They finally took his Twitter account away.”

I find myself wondering how the World ended up in the mess it has, and then remember that most people consider success as being rich and powerful. The reality of this stupidity is pretty much impossible to ignore, whatever future you decide to pursue: for instance, as a writer it is drummed into you from childhood that to become successful, there had to be a book deal. Publication matters above everything else. Last year, I self-published my first chapbook, and the thrall of other people’s success was summarily exploded.

Twenty copies currently have been sold, and I know every single person who bought one. My joy, every time someone else hands over money to read it will never, ever diminish. If this were all there was, if tomorrow I ceased to exist, this would be the happiest I’ve ever been. It will never be a bestseller. Graham Norton will never interview me on a chat show. That’s not the reason this journey’s being undertaken. I’ve seen famous writers, and what they do with their fame. I’m frankly embarrassed and depressed at what other writers consider a good use of their power. That is never happening in my world.

Validation is yours to dictate and nobody else’s to own.

It’s incredibly liberating, only having myself to compete with. For decades, all those moments when impressing others probably destroyed my own chances of personal development… there’s no point hand-wringing any more. The future is what matters, ensuring less stress to hamstring creativity, resulting in constantly improving output. Doing exercise every day has been a massive boost too, being physically tired used to completely wreck any ability to move forward. Now, rest comes in different ways. Lots of stuff has been redefined for the better.

If you read back though this blog, that evolution has been a long time coming. Some people would delete that ‘expired’ content and somehow mystically pretend that things were always this great. I will never, EVER be most people. All that I am, good and bad, is here for the world to see, progression from There to Here, with all points in-between, testament to a now fundamental belief that life is only worth living if you are true to yourself. That means admitting the mistakes, embracing the shortcomings and in my case, on a semi-regular basis, setting everything on fire before planting new ideas within my own ashes.

Never again will there be a pretence of living life under someone else’s auspice.

Things will be submitted this weekend, because the only way confidence is ever built is by being rejected. However, this year it’s not about being upset or frustrated when I fail. Instead, the lessons will be learnt. All this good work will be used, in one way or another, and nothing will ever go to waste. As body becomes leaner, mind is sharpened. I take with me the story of a woman who found my blog by accident whilst waiting with her mother for cancer treatment. She read every post I’d written, then sent an email as thanks for such an honest, uncompromising read.

Every piece of criticism is read and digested. Every compliment, filed away and remembered. You don’t get better by ignoring others.

You only improve with quiet, continuous effort.

Sabotage

That was 36 hours that will live long in the memory, and it’s not over yet. Of course, it’s not even close to being done but what happens next isn’t a test of the man who’s still in charge, it’s a check and balance of everything else. Now we see who works out what. Now we see who is punished. Time to watch how modern democracy evolves.

I have a lot of thoughts on this, but it’s not time yet, because too much is happening too fast, and I learnt that lesson last time something like this took place. It is not about deciding to be that person when that’s everybody else’s job right now. There’s work that needs doing and opportunities going to waste and frankly, with me in the best writing shape I’ve been for some time… using the energy for good is what matters most right now.

Therefore, I’ll be back.

Don’t Believe the Hype

Despite what people might try and tell you, there is no one thing that will change your life. If you happen to find a book, or a video or a lifestyle choice that helps you make better sense of reality, or improves your progress, that happens not just because of that revelation, but as a result of EVERYTHING that came before. We do not live our lives in bubbles, though looking at social media some days, you’d be hard-pressed to believe that was true.

The Government, amazingly, is not to blame for this. Forget for a moment that they’re a shower of incompetent dick-splashes who hate everything unless it’s a) white and b) makes them money and focus on the realisation that the Government did not stand over these people, forcing them to vote for Brexit. Many people were perfectly capable of understanding that they were being lied to. 48% of the country grasped the reality of the situation, and voted to remain where they were not because they hate the idea of UK sovereignty, but knew that the consequence of losing EU clout would be this horrible, which it is.

Blaming the government because you still think this is 1953, that we’re a Post War country that prioritises our own indigenous desires over absolutely everyone else in the World, that ‘being British’ is somehow more important than being either respectful, human or a citizen of Planet Earth is not the Government’s fault. They perpetuate the stereotype to farm stupid white people for their money and fealty, and nothing has changed since Churchill. If you’re dumb enough to believe this shtick? More fool you.

The lies Government tell will never change until EVERYONE accepts they’re at fault.

I watch people complain that ‘things don’t look good enough’ about 215 times a day at present, as if the quality of your virtual reality will somehow improve the state of the Real World. The number of fanboys creaming themselves over video game landscapes as an antidote to looking at a television or reading a news article has reached new heights. Hopefully now that the US has been saved by the people who really cared enough to get out and do so, that might change, but don’t hold your breath.

Your gaming experience is not unlike reality, except it won’t feed your kids or save the actual planet you love to imagine as a high-definition dystopian wasteland. That needs you to start putting the pieces together for yourself. It’s not hard, but clearly feels that way when your job’s been furloughed and there’s no employment to be had except to do the jobs you hate to begin with. I watched a high-profile commentator this morning make his washing up into a discussion topic. That’s where we are now. Maybe the answer does lie with you and not in turning all your settings up to Ultra and pretending reality isn’t happening behind you.

You wanna know the one thing that transformed my life for the better? Let me share that one simple trick for completely changing the way life works: do stuff when it needs doing. Looking at something that isn’t in the right place, don’t ignore it, go take it to where it needs to be. I attack one hard job a week, make my brain shut the fuck up and stop complaining or thinking that one day of indulgence doesn’t matter. It does, and that never changes. If you want to move forwards, stop looking backwards and don’t stand still. Really, it is that simple.

I know how hard life is. However, if you a) have a place to live and b) have food on the table plus c) the same tomorrow and an internet connection on which to complain? NO LIFE ISN’T HARD. Life is the one go you get at being relevant under your own terms, and not someone else’s. Make that happen, sooner rather than later because the very real fact remains that tomorrow might be an eternal certainty for the Universe but absolutely isn’t the case for you.

Maybe, this time around, don’t keep complaining and maybe start making a difference.