All or Nothing At All

Yesterday was lost to reality. It wasn’t all bad.

There’s a bug in that picture, I assume on one of the three lenses. It is almost time to upgrade my phone again (yes, really has been two years) and yet again camera strength will be a significant factor in purchase. I have my eye on a Pixel 4, if truth be told, because having sold myself once to the corporate gods, it might be time to give it another go.

Yesterday was a brilliant day of photographs and fun. There was also a point where I was asked a question by someone and, for the first time in over three decades, I didn’t lie about the answer. An awful lot has changed this year, most of which has emerged from my own ability to deal with the consequences of my past. I may yet need to go back to counselling, however, but right now everything seems to be working out without that need arising.

In the meantime, apologies but this will be the last blog until Monday: there is simply too much RL this weekend to support online time, which might once have been a horror but is now really quite lovely. It’s also nice to be able to know I gotta be organised that far ahead of time to begin with. Next week is the last week of the Summer Holidays too and going back to school is… well, it’s gonna be interesting.

Whatever happens, I think we can cope.

Think

Saying nothing, until you are capable of formulating a rational answer. It is a lost art, especially amongst the political. They would rather grasp the immediacy of the visual metaphor. It’s cleaner, easier and only requires your military to tear-gas a couple of blocks and not shut down the whole damn Capitol. Except, of course sometimes that’s the unintended visual metaphor everybody else will make the best capital from.

When we all look back on the last week, properly grasping that ridiculous is defined by the last thing that made us think we’d seen everything but clearly haven’t the visual will be what defines this year. It was when companies finally grasped that just sticking up a black block then pretending to care wasn’t actually enough any more.

The bigger truth is that the lies are now so much more apparent when there’s no other shit to cloud people’s minds. By being stuck inside, many have had epiphanies the like of which never really took place when the fascists were voted into power. It has become the perfect storm of information + comprehension = understanding.

As the scales fall from an awful lot of people’s eyes, will you just decide it’s all too much and walk away, or will you understand this is an opportunity that comes around once in a lifetime. Are you about to grasp the opportunity presented, or simply return to the vacuous life you had before because, in the end, all you really care about is yourself.

You are seen, in every connotation of the Urban Dictionary definition.

Time to make the difficult decisions.

Yesterday’s Men

Wednesday is normally a bit teeth-grindy. I can’t do that really right now, though this morning it must be said the pain has reduced from yesterday so maybe I should just shut the fuck up and wait to heal. The Bond 25 trailer dropped, and despite best efforts I could not escape it: it even turned up on the electronic advert screens at the Gym. Still not going to the cinema to consume, it can wait for a DVD release.

However, it looks like an improvement on Spectre.

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I’ve not really hit my writing targets this week, mostly because of pain, if truth be told. However, there’s been some major exercise developments, which included me being able to get on a bike yesterday afternoon, do approximately thirty minutes and feel as if it worked for me. It also sets a notional benchmark for the rest of the month.ย Same course, same time, and if I feel like doing more, I can.

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There’s also been a bit more of a focus on stretching, plus trying to ensure thirty press-ups a day are done regardless of whether I’m resting or not. Stamina doesn’t just come from longer workouts and harder training, it has consistency at its core, and this is a part of the equation I have failed at quite a bit across the years. Things feel like they are coming together too, this is the new status quo.

Yay.

Silence is Golden

Social media has always been a popularity contest. Zuckertwat created Facebook to rate girls, remember? When that fact is grasped… well, everything becomes a bit of a wankfest. The dopamine hit of self gratification when you ‘go viral’ is undoubtedly better than anything a cheap bar of chocolate could recreate… which is why exercise is, I now grasp, so much better as a gateway to kicking the habit for good.

As that’s happening with greater frequency (and satisfaction) this week was always going to be about stripping back on crap. It’s all Reddit’s fault, if truth be told: after I deleted my account there was a sense of… well, actual liberation. The platform was rarely used. It’s users are… a colourful bunch, but the fact remains that popularity comes from a particular brand of interaction, that I’m simply not prepared to do.

Once that was gone, there was empowerment to go further.

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In the last week an awful lot has been learnt about how my WordPress blog actually works, which is long overdue. I’d say about 95% of interactions via likes are non-human, and so to remove them and the avatars people use with which to do so was really a no-brainer. The only notifications that will register are when replies are written to posts,ย the only way to post is when you’re authorised by me.

There are those who undoubtedly would argue ‘this is not free speech’ and they would be correct, but until WordPress allow me better means to curate who can see my work without taking a blog private? This will have to do.ย However, the silence of the last few days has been utterly glorious. Not gonna lie, this is something I should have done YEARS ago because it removes so much pointless detritus from existence.

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Respect’s a tough thing to earn in the modern world. If my work’s good enough to make someone want to respond, undoubtedly they will, and that means past a click.ย Likes are no longer worth purpose when they have such a negative psychological effect on people, especially those who are easily influenced. However, the biggest bonus for me in all of this is undoubtedly the opportunity to dictate personal terms in public spaces.

As the future becomes control taken out of individual hands, the ability to pick and choose who and where my information is disseminated is vital. It isn’t just AI that causes concern either: real life nutters and stalkers are a constant, insidious threat, and with little or nothing the average person can do to protect themselves, it is massivelyย  important to know how you can minimise such issues.

Knowledge really can and will set you free.

To The End

I’m fucking terrible at looking after myself.

In my defence it is getting better, and I have the Internet to thank for this. Let me wheel in Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs as an example of how self-education is allowing my brain a chance to expand and embrace the shortcomings:

maslow's hierarchy of needs

If you’d like to know how this became one of the keystones of modern Psychology, there’s a YouTube video for that. Needless to say , it’s a beautifully visual means by which I can grasp exactly what self-care ought to mean.ย There’s been failureย on almost every level of personal balance in the last week. I’ve not eaten properly, failed to look after my health, done less than great things with relationships and ultimately lost sight of what it is I’m here for.

One level however has been massively restocked with energy: esteem.

For a LONG time the top two parts of my pyramid never actually existed at all. I’ve been trying to crack relationships properly my entire life, with varying degrees of success. Above the ‘Love and Belonging’ point for probably a decade there was simply nothing of any value. With the push towards trying to better my own personal narrative, there’s the outline of a pyramid in place. That’s still all it is. There is a phenomenal amount of work to do.

I survive on a lot of vapour, especially during days when the eight hours sleep required for basic survival doesn’t take place. When tired, so much else just disintegrates, which is why it has become so important to instil a level of physical fitness to offset this… but that requires a phenomenal amount of mental effort to establish. That, plus the ability to rebuild my writing skills from the ground up have finally given this pyramid a top. Yeah, it’s doable, but not all at once. I failed this week by overloading myself.

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The consequences of expanding my understanding are important to note: you don’t just absorb the information and that’s it. All the new stuff needs to be considered and absorbed, integrated back into the framework that already exists. That’s where I failed this week, because the layers of my pyramid are not nearly as well defined as Maslow’s. Certain elements cross all the levels, some only a few. There’s lines from top to bottom too, side to side that require acknowledgement.

Visualising all this however is the master stroke. Being able to ‘see’ where some emotions begin and end, that others are far more significant in holding me together, that there’s still an awful lot of negativity that has not been addressed. The answer, of course, is to keep on working the problems, deciding what matters most, and then attacking those areas in a sensible, structured way. No good is ever going to come from approaching a dozen problems all at once.

Yesterday was the first day of grasping that doing nothing is neither bad nor wrong.ย The results of stopping myself from thinking for a couple of days are already emerging:

Then, the sleep ‘problem’ throws up its own odd consequences:

This is new territory, except it’s not. That’s a story for another day. For now, time to strap in and see where this new road is taking me.

Take Me Out

I had a meeting yesterday, at the local arts collective, where I’d applied to take an in-house Residential space. Not being accepted was understandable: there was no portfolio of note to present, lack of back catalogue to refer to. However, there are now options and inroads, possible paths that were perilously unmarked. I have a ton of potential options, including a speaking gig in September.

There’s also a 1-2-1 with a literary agent when I get to Leeds next month, which requires me to finally decide which of my selection of long-form works should get the push. That’s still not clear, either. I have a phenomenal amount of stuff suddenly to think about, and a brain that is still struggling with the action of moving from lying to standing. However, I could do burpees this morning without too much discomfort, so that’s progress.

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In a change of plans, I’m going to my Mother in law’s funeral next week, which will mean I’ll have to work extra hard to make up the exercise shortfall. With a laptop and a cloud drive, all my work can be done wherever I happen to be, of course, including the back of a van on a motorway. The process of writing poetry continues apace, it should be possible to be into my final edit next week without too much stress. The website is ready.

Time to do the work.

New Frontier

Right then. We have an appointment for two weeks time to get the last bit of my hair that remains not white to become so. Then, it might be time to start taking a bit more care with appearance. I’ll keep cycling, and doing PT, and exercising. We have a schedule.

I’ve replaced my failed Mac Mini with a discounted late 2014 model, thus saving a ton of cash and allowing me to continue my plans of World Domination. Next up is clearing off all the unwanted crap from my online life and rebooting certain areas.

Then, after THAT, we’re gonna begin reorganising the house, a room at a time.

This article will have a significant effect on a number of decisions made going forward. Primarily, knowing when to say NO has freed up the rest of the month to get my act together, and alter trajectory going forward. This is a VERY good thing.

I’ve managed four days of cycling in a row. Tonight I Blaze, then it’s one more night on Friday before I get a day off. Last night I was shattered, and fell off bike and into bed. It was an important corner turned. This is progress.

Lots of things are changing for the better.

Love What You Do

This is one of many lines in the sand, drawn because I’m absolutely fed up of growth being used as a means to make money, and not betterment as a person. I have no desire to share my posts and improve likes by sticking a hashtag on the end. However, I’ve included one that will get me picked up when posting this by a particular group of people for a very good reason. This is a cautionary warning to those I began to follow using said hashtag because, rather naively, there was an assumption people would form relationships based on mutual interest and not simply for self-promotion.

At 52, there’s still an awful lot left to learn.

What matters far more than the number of people who follow each without thinking are those who do and then realise that looking to themselves for answers is a better use of time and effort. It is the complete antithesis of growth in a material sense, because to truly grasp the lessons required to survive as a person needs introspection, not a legion of similar followers. The single-minded pursuit of wealth and success is not the answer, and whilst such a small proportion of the worlds’ population holds the most money, it never will be. Praying at the Church of Consumerismย is driving the planet towards self-destruction.

This is not what I want to be a part of, and it’s not the future ascribed to.

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If success is measured by volume, then follower numbers need to keep dropping. I’d rather sit in a virtual room with those who care and listen, and those who can help me improve than ever be associated with bling and noise. If I am going to make any cash from this endeavour (and at some point, not gonna lie, that remains an ambition) it will be from actual material output: my words, my pictures, that’s it. Their carbon footprints will be small, and I’ll know exactly how they were generated.

Therefore this needs stating: at some point in the next 12 months,ย you willย be asked if you wish to buy stuff I make and do.ย However much I may malign consumerism, these websites cost a fixed amount each year to maintain. It would be lovely to earn a modest living as a freelancer. I’m not after massive success and adulation either. Nothing is further from my mind at this point. What matters is to be successful on my terms, confident in my space, whilst producing things that make me happy. It’s not a pipe dream either, other people can and still do this. My issue, such as it remains, is redefining a career path in my fifties.

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Those who support and nurture me are known and loved. These people provide a foundation moving forward. The next stage, undoubtedly, is the push towards making total strangers sit up and listen. There are shoots, first flush of new growth, and that’s my plan moving forward. Build a name for myself using honestly, humour and pictures.

Yup, that will mean video. It will happen, trust me, and probably before Christmas.

Somebody that I Used to Know

There has been very little time to sit and consider the achievement of last week until now. I will be applying for the Ballot for the 46 when it is open, with no desire at all to complete the 100. Knowing what’s involved, having had to deal with the virtual versions of both hills, that’s not what will ever be considered enjoyable. I’m not sure a lot of the 46 was that much fun in the rain, but it would be a lie to say the overall experience wasn’t satisfying. Next time however I’m determined to complete the thing on more than three hours sleep.

Sitting here in a foreign country, this is the first opportunity there’s been for a while to think generally away from what counts as normal life since before I started race training. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that on my return there will be much more of the same, with a probable increase in frequency: not because there needs to be improvement, but because there’s more enjoyment whilst doing that than was previously realised. Exercise has stopped simply being for a purpose, and has evolved into a genuine form of relaxation, which may sound odd, but is 100% accurate.

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There are other changes already being formulated too: my working space is going to alter (and reduce) plus there are thoughts forming that might relocate me completely. The benefit of going away, ultimately, is to allow readjustment of everything that surrounds, and it would be a foolish person (in my mind) that did not attempt some form of reinvention at least on a yearly basis. So, on our return (after a break with its fair share of drama) it feels only right and proper to start as I mean to go on.

The other key to this shift will not be to go out and buy new stuff to fill this space, but recycle what already exists in the house. There is plenty of desk space available to move and shift, and I’m not looking for anything sparkly or ‘new’ to work with. It will be a challenge of an ability to creatively recycle, and that’s something that appeals to a brain which is beginning to grasp that the future isn’t about a relentless process of continual consumption. There are some issues left to address at home too, it would be lovely to try and fix as many as possible in the months that follow, and those within my grasp will be summarily addressed.

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This is a much needed holiday. When I get back, the hard work will begin again, but with renewed enthusiasm.