The End

To be honest, I’d expected the Apocalypse to be a lot more fiery and unpleasant. Right now, it’s just fucking irritating.

All I can hope is that someone cares enough to stop all these carriages careening off their various tracks and into the abyss. I’ve been attacked by Government today for taking a COVID test so that my daughter didn’t panic even more than she did, and presumably if I’d have kept her out of school for 10 days to discover she had a cold they would have paid my fines for not having her educated.

This is the same Government that’s about to use the word ‘notwithstanding’ to try and circumnavigate decades of Northern Irish history, presumably because it assumes no-one really has the time or money to challenge them. This is, as a mate of mine unexpectedly summated, a dystopian nightmare, which shows absolutely no signs of abating.

Maybe we can have a break at Christmas to clear up a bit.

Would I like to know the end is coming? It gives me a chance to make peace with various demons. I can get a bit fitter, so I look okay in the coffin… except by that point there is nobody to bury you, or indeed to remember the lack of contribution you made. In that regard, maybe an impending apocalypse might make a few people pick up their game.

Let’s see what happens.

Across the Universe

It’s been an odd weekend. Once the negative test results came through on Saturday afternoon, a poem fell out of me that wasn’t really poetic until right at the end, but undoubtedly is now the most accurate summation of my life thus far. Considering your mortality is something that happens a lot as you get older. I did it a very great deal this time last year after coming out of hospital.

Today, I’ll be making a massive effort to eat healthier, and continue to do so going forward. I have an FTP test on Saturday which will redefine the next three months of exercise. There is a lot of work to do, both personally and professionally and it is time to stop mucking about and get on with the process of progression. I am ready to move forward.

I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my life. The biggest ones never leave, are permanently rattling around my head, and it is sensible never to dwell on them for too long. There are opportunities now to be a better person, permanently, understanding that penance is never going to remove those actions, but as time goes on the moments themselves will become less relevant.

I’ll be having nightmares over that test on Friday. It’s more than likely that’s not the last one I’ll end up having to self-administer: this thing doesn’t go away now. The world has changed, and will continue to do so for years to come. There has to be a way to meet all these challenges with optimism, and determination. Redefining existence should be a regular occurrence.

It’s one of many plans that are about to be set in motion.

The Boy in the Bubble

We are now in self-isolation awaiting test results.

Gonna take this opportunity to work on things away from the Internet this weekend. I will return on Monday.

Stay safe and WEAR A MASK.

Mirrorball

There will be a moment, not long from now, when I rationalise my personal timeline. That’s nothing to do with social media followers either: this is the task of writing down notable moments in my existence to check the voracity of events. The stuff I can remember is VERY clear, almost technicolour in its brilliance. Everything else… yeah.

Emotional overloads have caused holes. Some are deep and wide enough to have obscured entire years. It was one of the reasons I started blogging, if truth be told. It does mean making time to trawl through everything that still exists as litany to various pasts, and interests, and people who have long since been removed.

It’s why Facebook remains absolutely never an option.

This month will also be the one where I step away from anyone trying to sell the ‘Internet is EVUL’ line ON THE INTERNET in order to sell themselves. It’s becoming really quite easy to spot the idiocy here and you have two choices: embrace and fight or ignore and walk. If the person’s high profile, it isn’t worth amplifying their reach. Anyone else however and I’ll call them out.

People have always been disappointing, the world is full of idiots: if countless people mistake my politeness for a come-on or an attempt to seduce their partner? Nothing really changes in the long run except the baseline level of comprehension. We are miles ahead from where this was 30 years ago, sure, but it’s still the fucking Dark Ages. Make no mistake, if there’s stupid to be had, someone will always ask for seconds.

This month, I’m gonna aim for more interactions and less beef.

Anything else will be a bonus.

This Is How We Do It

Occasionally, there is a moment when everything is calm, quiet and still. If you are VERY lucky, within that will come a revelation that will alter the way you look at everything. I bang on about epiphanies, mostly because for so long now I’ve been rediscovering things about myself that it seems fair to suspect that other people had worked out for themselves years ago.

However, as has happened previously, there are moments when someone else inadvertently lights the touchpaper under your personal firework stash before casually walking away, singularly unaware that they were even the instigator of change. I’ve had these moments off and on for my entire life. Films have this effect on me: notably Brazil, The Fisher King, Empire of the Sun, Tombstone, Skyfall and most recently Arrival.

Arrival destroyed my linear timeline, and actually that’s no bad thing, because it’s given a quite fertile imagination a much better idea of when to work and why. As a result, this morning I went to the Gym, then came home before falling into some new poetry. Crucially, I didn’t let myself get too immersed. It was all about drawing the lines, then walking away.

I’ll do the same tomorrow, or maybe later this evening if I feel awake enough after cycling. The key is not to get hideously stressed by the process. We are going to adopt a ‘less is more’ strategy for the next few months, and see how things pan out. It was this attitude that ended up getting me a shortlisted work, when all is said and done, so that seemed successful.

I should be looking more at what works and focussing on that.

Music also has a quite seismic effect on me. This is in the MMXCI playlist, which I’m listening to during the editing process, and the lyrics have stuck with me for decades. It’s an anthem for a lot of people of my generation. At some point, you work it out. Everything finally makes sense, then you get to move forward to the next bit.

Welcome to the Next Bit.

You Know My Name

New month. I changed some stuff last night, on a whim, because this is apparently perfectly acceptable if you’re on social media in 2020. I’m also considering some more systemic alterations going forward. As this is the ‘transforming idea’ section of my Change Process diagram, anything is conceivably possible if I have the momentum.

Every year since I started my poetry journey, I’ve taken a speculative punt at the National Poetry Contest. For the first two goes, it was just that. This year I was convinced I could be good enough to at least have a chance. After all, if you can’t believe your own hype, who else is likely to? However, looking at last years’ entries, I remember how angry I got and then really, everything got a bit messy.

Yesterday, I put two entries to bed.

For some time there has been internal conflict over what makes a commercial success just that. I’m also very annoyed reading a lot of ‘current’ poetry because… well, it just doesn’t do the job of being poetic enough. Coming out of what has undoubtedly been a quite intense and emotional period of my life, working out the rhyme in reason has begun to matter rather a lot.

Over the last couple of months I’ve speculated with a ton of other styles of poetry and then, it occurred to me yesterday, that’s not how I do my best work. ‘Rock poetry’ is my best work right now, and by that I mean the poems I’ll conjure as prompts from an image a bloke on Twitter posts, approximately once a day.

Most of this has rhyme in it somewhere too, which is not de rigueur for most places at all and so, based on the considerable success of these works in a poetically sympathetic audience, a decision was made. One poem written in the moment, one written over time. Both submitted yesterday, and that’s it. No more stressing. No more letting it control both mood and thought. They’re gone now, move on. I won’t even know that I’ve failed until February FFS.

There are better things to be worrying about.

I Predict a Riot

Making things work is hard. Whether it be poetry, or relationships, or schedules, nothing is never easy. Anyone who tells you otherwise is lying. The most difficult task you will ever undertake as an adult is getting everything right first time. If you see people doing it, they will have practised forever. Trust me on this.

I’m trying to write a poem for a Thing at present and at 8.35 it looked easy. Here, at 1pm, it is anything but. I know why this is now. The key to unlocking that as easy has finally manifested, after what will have been about two years worth of practice. I have to accept that I’m enough to make it work, and still can’t. It is my own confidence that defines it.

Believing in myself some days can be a hard ask.

In fact, if I’m honest, I’d rather have a sammich now than worry about stuff like this, and maybe that says more now than anything else I could possibly write on a Bank Holiday. So, let’s do that instead, and we’ll stop stressing over details for a bit, and when there’s summat worthwhile to write about we’ll come back and do that.

Excellent idea.

Lippy Kids

I could have spent this weekend fretting, or working. Instead, I’ve rearranged my entire working area. A remarkable amount of stuff has been tidied, even more thrown away. The last six months of detritus that’s gathered is put aside before we start September. It’s as much a psychological move as anything else. There needs to be more space here to breathe.

I’m still not done either, one more day tomorrow and I should hit the mythical 5K MEP threshold. Failing now on Friday night doesn’t seem so much of a big deal, especially after tonight’s horrendous 40-minute interval close to FTP. It’s only two weeks now before I retest myself, and then the whole things starts again with a different plan.

It’s useful to have long-term goals, after all.

Tomorrow, we’ll break the back of the outstanding workload. Then, come September 1st, lots of things restart a little differently.

I’m really rather looking forward to where this will go.

The Take Off and Landing of Everything

When you just look at the numbers here, you’d be forgiven for thinking I wasn’t making an effort. That would be incorrect, to a point. It was really apparent, very early on, that my body wasn’t happy with the exercise choices made yesterday. The morning’s PT ended up as a fight between brain and body over anxiety. Last night, my legs told me they needed to stop, and instead of ignoring them, I listened.

The Zwift Training programme has been big on mental fortitude. I don’t need help there, I’ve had an entire lifetime of coping. However, what it’s not helping me with is the transformations going on, plus effectively managing food and rest. What I’ve also patently failed to take into account of is how mental stress now affects me physically. The last three months shows that exercise is now the least of my issues.

We need to get this whole space rearranged and optimised.

My family like to point out my shortcomings, in the way all families do: not as criticism, but reminder of what it is that needs work on. An inability to communicate was, for many years, the biggest issue to solve. As a measure of definitive progress, I am now very capable of making how I feel known. The new problem, such as it is, involves focus. What needs to be done, what matters most, and crucially how it all fits together.

This weekend I’m going to instigate some quite serious rearrangement of priorities. Diet is changing, how I organise exercise, when I do it. Then, once my daughter is back to school next week, I can start a proper clean of the house which has suffered a fair deal in the last six months. After THAT, it will be time to reassess again, probably around Christmas.

Let’s see where we are then.

Go Up

I’m quite excited this morning. A Kickstarter which I backed nearly two years ago will arrive (according to UPS) on Friday. This piece of equipment delivers the end to a story which began on my birthday in 2018. No, really, the date on the video below is October 23rd, 2018. It is a story about meditation, from a woman I greatly admire.

Pull up a chair.

As a result of this video, Simone started a Kickstarter to purchase your own Every Day Calendar. As you can see by the progress page it has been a really, REALLY long road to get here which has included along the way the reoccurrence of health issues for Ms Giertz which initially bought her YouTube Channel to my attention. To say she’s an inspiration would be a MASSIVE understatement.

Waiting has never been a problem for me. Patience is part of the long game plan everyone needs to play, and when this item finally arrives we’ll unbox it, check it works but won’t stick it on the wall just yet. That will happen when I get my new office space, which has now gone from just a dream to actual planning. The biggest irony in all of this remains I now grasp I didn’t need Simone to make me a calendar at all.

I just needed her to share the idea.

At the end of August 2017 I’d completed the Ride London 46, with a fifty mile ride from London to Southend the week before as a warm-up. It was the most exercise ever done, and it gave me a new sense of optimism and enthusiasm for what might be achievable going forward. So, in September that year, I decided to push hard for my real goal.

I was going to try and pursue the dream of being published, to become a ‘proper’ writer and stop mucking about on the Internet. However, for the next year, the same issue would play out, time and again: I’d get so far, before anxiety would let me down. We’d be back to square one. It was almost impossible to make any kind of coherent progress.

Then, on my 52nd Birthday, Simone appeared.

Over the next two months, I realised what it was that was stopping me doing something every day: me. I was the problem, and to fix it would take more bravery than had existed for probably my entire life. As the sun set on the calendar Kickstarter, I make a breakthrough and went from ‘just a poet’ to ‘published poet’ and the World got an awful lot brighter as a result.

In the time it’s taken to make Simone’s idea a mass-produced reality I’ve undergone counselling, made exercise a daily habit as well as using meditation and exercise to alter my physical well-being. I’ve become a Time to Change Mental health Champion, have two poems being published before Christmas, and completed Red January as a successful fundraiser.

Crucially, I have tried to be consistent every day.

The journey to here has been anything but easy. However, two years on the path forward is a lot easier to grasp. Why things happen in my head used to be a mystery: not any more. If I use yesterday as an example, I know exactly what triggered my anxiety, and how it was then summarily dealt with. Understanding those reactions is an ongoing process. It never gets better, just easier. That’s perfectly fine.

My life now is a series of red dots on a calendar that mark the days when no only did I do something, but something better happened as a result. Once upon a time there’d be long periods when I never really participated as myself at all, but an echo of myself, a sliver of representation. Not any more. If I can’t cope, I ask for help. If I struggle, I tell people why.

Asking for help is still the hardest thing of all.

I’m really quite excited for this parcel. However, it’s just a thing, an item. The benefits above and beyond that purchase are only now being properly weighted and appreciated. It’s true, sometimes you’ll have to have a bike or some shoes or maybe a club or a gym to go to in order to make some dreams a reality. Other times, all you really need is to believe in an idea enough to make it real without those things.

Sometimes, you need someone else to tell you it’s a GOOD idea.

Turns out daily progress really was mine to dictate in the end.