Begin Again

Yesterday was a revelation for a lot of reasons, but mostly because I stuck a ton of clear air between me and my future. If all this is going to work, there needs to be an acceptance not simply of responsibility but focus. Sunday was supposed to be a bike training day, but instead there’s understanding I’m already capable of the physical goals that are being presented. I can do the rides being asked of me, without a problem, but the writing and planning goals that are important need work.

Sunday was when everything changed for the better.

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There’s still tons to do, but now I’m not stressed or worried about running out of time. I have plenty of hours left, if they’re used properly, and I don’t allow the bad things to consume everything else. It’s the same mantra I repeat every few months, but this time there’s a tangible difference.

I like this feeling.

Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting

Last night’s dream was good enough for the Twitters:

It also marks the first time I’ve been able to keep the dream running in my mind whilst aware and at least semi conscious and return to it for a conclusion. I take this as a really good sign that the brainmeats are functioning at optimum capacity, and although I may have trouble stringing sentences together without at least three cups of tea, the subconscious is sorted.

ON WITH THE DAY.

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BOY did I need that lie in.

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Next week is last five days of School runs, which is already being looked forward to with an enthusiasm that has not previously experienced. I’m not knackered per se, and suspect I’ll still be working at the same levels during the Summer Holidays, but there won’t be the same set of peculiar stresses at play. What it does mean is the opportunity to go take photographs during the day, and to do much needed organisation and back end faffing that won’t get done otherwise.

For now, however, it’s time to put my England shirt on and go to the Gym.

Third or fourth, it doesn’t matter. I’m very proud of the National side. They’re my team again.

You May Be Right

What if everything you’ve ever done has been leading to this point?

A lot of time is spent contemplating our navels, like it or not. Imagination and role play as children allow vital opportunities to escape beyond the confines of self and stare forward to the future, with all the myriad of possibilities it presents. However, telling kids they’ll have it all sussed out by the time they reach eighteen and need to plan for a career is the biggest joke in the history of mankind (apart from the whole ‘everybody is equal’ thing, obviously ^^) Sometimes, it takes a bit longer to arrive at your chosen destination.

For some of us, a lot longer is needed to allow reality to finally register as significant.

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My favourite metaphor right now when trying to explain to people how I’m coping mentally with everything comes from the cartoon my kids loved as toddlers, and still enjoy now. There’s an episode of Spongebob Squartepants where he’s forced to help his frenemy Squidward Tentacles convince his snobby friend he owns an expensive restaurant. The titular sponge is forced to throw out of his head all the stuff that won’t help him focus on fine dining and breathing, and inside his sponge brain hundreds of tiny Spongebobs run around in anxiety and terror, shredding files full of memories of anything that’s not relevant to the task in hand.

For a long time, that was how it felt for me: ignore the bad stuff, don’t worry about the expectations of others and simply focus on what matters, which right now is cycling and writing… except, of course, this kind of approach is fatally flawed. Then you have nowhere else to send the stress, because all the other places it could have been siphoned off too are ignored. This weekend needs to be one where I don’t fixate on what could go wrong, and do my best to mentally relax, whilst simultaneously keeping up the training. I think there’s a Velo Park trip possible on Sunday too, which (if true) I’m already looking forward to.

It’s not going away, I can’t bottle and not do this. I have sponsors and a charity that is relying on to get the job done. The eternal questions of the Universe will have to wait, but they’ll help find the right mental balance going forward.

Time to get serious.

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There’s an increasing trend amongst the writers I follow on Social media: people turn up and use the immediacy of the platform to deliver negative reviews, and it’s not going down well. This is not how books work, after all: a writer tells a story, and you accept it. By purchasing their book, you are entering into a social contract with the author. This exchange is a willing acceptance of their ability to alter your reality with an opportunity to be convinced it works. If it doesn’t, put the book down and move on. You don’t pick up a pitchfork, light a torch and then tell the writer how they should have written it, because that is not how art criticism works.

Except there’s an increasing number of people who need to attack the source material with everything they own, because it’s how they can make themselves briefly famous.

The subjectivity of enjoyment is, well… a very personal thing. I LOVE this Bond movie, but this person knew full well that if they sat and picked it to pieces, someone would be interested. If enough aggrieved individuals share the notion their favourite franchise has been ravaged? We get the whole Star Wars groupwank that appears to not want to go away, with EVERYBODY and their idiot brother deciding they know better than the people who made the movie.

No, this isn’t film criticism when you start verbally abusing stars or threatening directors. That is vandalism and verbal assault. There is no way to justify any of it, and yet by dissecting these theories ourselves, by discussing them in our own spaces, we simply keep chucking twigs on the fire. As long as something is around to burn, the conflagration never goes out, which seems to be a point many well-meaning people simply overlook in the clamour of being noticed. Your attention seeking, however passive, is still that.

There’s been a bit of a hoo-hah on Social media this week after an American decided to wade into a cave in Thailand with his own solution to a problem that was, at that point, pretty much under control. Many have suggested that this was a bit of an attention-seeking move on the philanthropist’s part, after a period of bad publicity… but undoubtedly, this man thought he was helping. The guys who are telling Disney to remake The Last Jedi are exactly the same, like it or not. Their view of the Universe is different (see yesterday) and it’s a place where people like me aren’t welcome.

That’s not the only reason why I’ve finally lost the plot with a lot of genre content.

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My daughter is a massive Steven Universe fan: this show should be the default state of ALL genre content going forward: nothing is wrong, everything is potentially feasible, and anything can be written without fear it might offend someone. The message of love, and why it matters, may not be very palatable to those who feel stories must use conflict differently to be satisfying, but it proves that you don’t need negativity to either create interest or drive narratives forward. The biggest issue, in all of this, is quite simple. Some people are more worthy than others. 

Except, of course, they’re not.

That’s not how art criticism works. That’s not how movies work. It’s not how Social media or journalism should work either, but the people in charge seem a bit reticent to change what makes the most money: right now if you’re not being contentious, you’re not doing it right. Except this is the absolute best way to make people like me decide that you know what? Life is too short for your bollocks, this repeated wanking over sacred cows you feel have now been destroyed by intervention, when the reality is far more simplistic. This stuff was never meant to be bled dry. It was a product of its era, and can happily be left there. It should be consumed, before moving on.

The best art stems from conflict. The conflicts that matter most are those with relevance to the largest sections of society. The last time I looked, approximately, 107 boys are born for every 100 girls. I think it is high time that life reflected a far more balanced outlook than is currently the case.

This really isn’t too much to ask.

Do It Again

Your reality is different to other people’s. Sure, we all live in a collective version of existence, but how that is individually perceived is vastly different from person to person. This is why there is an automatic gravitation to like-minded individuals, who agree with the same things we do, and won’t attack us should there be the desire to open up. When it is impossible to agree on basics, however, there will inevitably be conflict. Even best friends will differ on interests: when that happens, it becomes a measure of each person’s tolerance, that you will accommodate the variety, and celebrate it as normal and not an aberration.

Except, of course, not everybody thinks this is how it works.

Events of the last few weeks are leading me to grasp that my outlook on life is significantly different not only to that of my parents, but of lots of other stupid white people. These are the ones who only want men and women to marry, that would love to keep foreigners out of our country and jobs, that believe sexuality is binary. They are often deeply religious too, as if support of a God somehow allows all of these blinkered attitudes some kind of legitimacy. However, you don’t need an almighty arbiter as backup, though occasionally it is useful to have somebody else to blame.

More insidious still is the understanding that these beliefs are often passed down to children, without allowing them an opportunity to decide for themselves what matters most in existence. That whole ‘ignorance breeds ignorance’ thing is spot on, and I genuinely worry what certain parents think they will achieve with actions that, at least from a distance, make it feel as if humanity’s learnt nothing at all in the last 100 years. Add to that the doom-mongers who’ll have you believe anything that promotes independent thought is dangerous and…

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The basis of all this, of course, is that men make the rules. Don’t start with me that this is a feminism diatribe, because that has nothing to do with integrating actual equality into institutions and progress. EVERYBODY IS EQUAL. Take away your extremist viewpoints and your desire for power and just STOP. No really, it doesn’t help anybody, and the almost destructive desire of many, many people to ignore some really fundamental truths is only making things worse. That’s why we need less people arguing on Social media and more working towards using individual human experiences for good.

My respect currently is garnered by those people who not only accept their own shortcomings and limits, but embrace those issues, using them for good. If all you do is spend all day spouting shit on Social media in the hope that you’ll up your follower count because other people retweet your shit to make them look good? Door’s over there. Ironically, the robots get a pass for this, because true random has a certain, innocent charm, about it. When it’s a person sitting their spouting bollocks, or pedalling something that could be considered quite close to hate speech, not so much.

In the last two months, three guys I’ve followed after conversations that were totally innocent on Social media have considered because I was polite, and can string a sentence together, that I might want sex with them. So, stupid white people, you have a choice here: accept that what you want is not as important as educating yourself, or we have nothing to say to each other. Oh, and I see you married men flirting with a random female each day to cover the dopamine hit that interaction gives you. Don’t be that guy. Get off the Internet and sort your fucking lives out.

Time is running out for your immortal soul.

Strange Days

About once a week I think, perhaps a bit less, someone who I know is fairly prolific on Social media will vanish. If they’re a sensible type, there’ll often be a précis to this along the lines of ‘I need to take a break.’ It is becoming the norm, rather than an exception, and denotes that an individual has, quite sensibly, grasped how much of a controlling influence this medium can become. There’s a reason you take rest days in exercise, can’t eat the same junk food for months on end without at least injecting some healthy food groups. Everything in excess is dangerous.

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However, this may not help solve that persistent unhappiness that’s experienced via Global group interaction. Social media is neither soft drug nor cranial stimulant. It is the equivalent of talking to someone for an hour whilst simultaneously doing something you either love, hate or really aren’t that fussed about. If you’re in a bad place, there’s a 50/50 chance it won’t improve your mood, and then you have another important decision to make. Should you rely constantly on virtual encouragement when, if the power went out, you really would be on your own?

Why do I see people constantly using it as a crutch when in reality a ball and chain is the more realistic metaphor?

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There’s the key: appearance. What you see as one thing is completely different to someone else. That’s why we no longer just have glasses of water in the future, you’re either full or empty and let that be a lesson to you, young lady. Do NOT stand in public places and decry anybody else’s opinions as shonky, lest ye be judged as shonky yourself, for the future is being listened to only if your follower count is over 9000 and you’re a registered Opinion Haver. We are approaching the last days of independent thought: algorithms are already blocking your Tweets as noise to the people you really care about. They’re already leaving Social medias because grown men can get them the sack just by having a Reddit group.

Seriously, this is the future of the Internet?

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We dodged the bullet in Europe in the last week over copyright, but they’re already reloading the gun. People in the US are already seeing their net being throttled and metered: it is just the beginning. We will look back on these glory day in a decade’s time (assuming we’re all still here of course) and wish we’d stopped wanking amongst ourselves far sooner. This will be a place where you need to pay for an opinion, and then negotiate the various paywalls in order to have any chance of being heard. If you want emotional support from friends, you can bet it will come with a fee and conditions.

The Data Apocalypse is coming: don’t say you were not suitably forewarned.