Political Incorrectness 

Political Incorrectness 

 

Usually I make a point of never making any form of political statement, the internet is full of serious comments boasting a political agenda and quite frankly I’m not politically informed enough to comment. It’s very easy at this point, also, to put down any political information I may relay down to some more ultra-emo ramblings of another disgruntled millennial with twenty-four-seven wifi access. That’s not what this. In actual fact, I hold my hands up, when the older generations comment on how ignorant us young ones are, typically I am one of the young ones. I have never voted and some think that this is means to say that I am part of the problem but as the week draws to a close I’ve noticed, time and time again a consistent theme. The phrase “if you’re not angry you’re not paying attention” is thrown around so carelessly these days and the truth is, I am paying attention. I’m not angry but to claim that anger and awareness are the same thing is just deluded nonsense. The nazis were angry as are the left wing. The black panthers were angry and so are the KKK. In all of history has anger really gotten anyone anywhere? In the same stroke however, peace and silence has probably done even less and in my opinion it’ll continue to do even less. The honest answer is that there is no quick fix, people will continue to be angry and others will continue to be blissfully ignorant, no amount of votes are going to change that. 
 I got in to a taxi over the weekend and anyone who follows my riveting snap chat story on a regular basis will know that I was faced with a very uncomfortable situation. I’ll preface this by saying it was 1am on a Sunday morning and I was coming back from a friends house so you can imagine my surprise when I stepped into the taxi and the gentleman behind the wheel had verses from the Old Testament playing on the radio. At first I laughed, I recorded snippets and sent them to my friends making jokes along the lines of being part of a ritual sacrifice. It was then I heard the booming voice, in stereo, repeat “And the merchants of the earth will weep and mourn over her, because there is no one left to buy their cargo..” I have since come to learn that this was from the book of revelations, a fitting title since I was having the revelation of a lifetime; I’m going to die. It was as we were driving down the country road, with nothing but darkness ahead of us, I plucked up the courage and asked for the radio. My reasoning was simple, it was too morbid to listen to after enjoying a fun-filled Saturday evening. The man smiled and immediately turned over to whatever repetitive chart singles were playing that night. 
At this point, my curiosity was peaked and I asked him why he was listening to bible verses, more so I was baffled as to why any public service worker would make such a public religious statement; if it were the Quran he would’ve received an unfair amount prejudice. He stayed silent for a moment, mulling over his answer, as I imagined every possible way he could drive his car into a tree and murder me and my flagrantly homosexual self in the middle of the woods.  
 “I’m a Muslim” he spoke, my eyes widened as I only became more intrigued. Immediately before I knew the mans religion I had judged him and made jokes about it. Now I was sat with a man listening to a religion that we are taught opposes his ideologies and one that we are consistently shown does not match up with his lifestyle, yet here he was listening. As the car continued through the various roads he explained that he was listening to the bible to gain understanding, to learn the teachings as he had been taught from an early age. He revealed that his understanding was that everyone was fighting for the same lessons. 

It was at that point that I realised that the only thing that is going to make anything easier or make any sense of the world around us is to be less ignorant. I don’t follow a religion, my answer to the this is the same as my political stance, I simply do not know enough to commit my life to one way of living. But we could all stand to be a bit more open minded and willing to learn, to listen and to make informed decisions based on those findings, not what we’re told. It was also at that point that I realised not everything is about race or religion; sometimes people are just assholes. Religion and extremism, race and stereotyping are all very extreme sides of a very thin coin. 
That being said, we’ve witnessed what using that thin coin to pay for our mistakes can lead to. It’s for this reason that there will never be a fix and there will never be a way to make everyone happy. The only “fix”, is for everyone to educate themselves as much as possible and not become prey to the general ignorance of the world. Travel, expand your friendship circles, surround yourself with as many different people as possible. Very plainly: become a part of the solution, not the problem. 

The Turning Point

The Turning Point

As my 21st birthday looms in the distance and the ability to blame my shenanigans on being a teenager moves further away, I’m left to wonder; what does it mean to be an adult? I know, I know, the idea of pre-teen angst is all so original, who am I? What does it all mean? And all that cliche nonsense. But that’s not what this is. There are so many defining moments that one can look back over 365 days and say “I’ve grown up since then” it’s in this that we gain the ability to see ourselves reflected in day to day life. There’s a moment when you know longer look at other people but you look at yourself. A year is a long time and when I think about how my life has changed in that time I no longer identify with that person or the people who were themselves at the time. 
I believe that being an adult is about learning to be honest with yourself. There’s a moment, there’s always a moment when you look at someone and think “you’re doing this to figure yourself out”. Some people turn to drink, others turn to drugs, some people even turn to copious sex acts in order to work out who they are. There are some of us that fill our social circles with meaningless connections or form connections that are totally fictional. Some of us never grow up. We look at these people and see everything we used to be, we judge or we laugh or simply try to navigate them as best we can. But then there’s a point that everything changes, one day you wake up and you realise that none of it matters. 
The turning point comes when you wake up and start doing things for yourself, you take responsibility for what you say and what you do. You become honest with everyone around you including yourself. You realise that there was maybe a connection with someone and it’s no longer there, that the tether that once held you together is now maybe connected to someone else and not only may it be connected to someone else it might actually be healthier and happier for all concerned parties. You learn to let go of things and people allowing yourself some peace of mind. Once you turn that corner you’re also faced with the realisation that sometimes it’s not worth the argument, some things are for the best and sometimes things just happen. You turn that corner and there’s an entire avenue of possibilities that’s awarded to you with growing up. 
The reality is: there’s no pressure, life is as simple as you make it and no one has any idea what they’re doing. In allowing yourself to fall apart you can truly have yourself together, in admitting you’re wrong you’ll always be right and in knowing that winning isn’t everything, you’ll never lose. You don’t know what you want to do with the rest of your life at twenty one and that’s perfectly normal, some people don’t know what they want to do when they’re forty and some figure it out when they’re eight and watching a documentary with their parents. Being alone feels better than being with someone who isn’t right for you, taking yourself out and not having to rely on others to make you feel good feels better than any amount of approval. There’s a difference between being confident and conceited, there’s a difference between being honest and being nasty and ultimately you learn that there’s a difference between being sure of yourself and who you are than being resistant. 

Maturity isn’t a measure of how long you’ve been on the planet it’s a measure of your self against everything you think you should be. The thing is, either way you’re right. 

Being Alone 

Being Alone 

There’s a lot to be said for those who are truly alone. Learning to actually be alone is something that takes time, it’s a skill almost. Learning to be truly comfortable in ones own company is something that some of us never master. So what if we never learn how to be alone? What are we meant to do other than constantly seek out someone else? 

A year ago I had never considered life by myself, I was awarded the luxury of never having to be. For the first 20 years of my life I constantly had people that would feed me approval and give me the ego boost, whether they were friends or lovers. It continues to this day, I’m still not alone. It’s all my own doing and I’m aware of that; I’ve never learned to be alone therefore I seek out the company of others. How many of us prefer being with people as opposed to being alone? 

It’s the people we see day to day completely comfortable in their own skin, caring for themselves and not worrying what others think. They have family, they have lovers but they don’t define them. They don’t have to surround themselves with people to feel something but they do anyway. 

I felt alone before I was surrounded by people, being alone just amplified this. Living alone, being truly alone gave the inner Me that chance to win. Why bother with something that’s not good just because it’s something? It was a case of being with people for the sake of being with them and still I seek out people that provide this.

There’s a moment, there’s always a moment, where you’re truly alone and you can appreciate the sunset or a good film or even a conversation with a stranger. In those moments we find ourselves, we learn that being alone and being lonely are different feelings altogether. When we’re alone we rely on ourselves, we think and we consider and we find tasks to fill our time. However when we’re lonely we seek attention from people, we listen to like minded music or read books. Some of us even go to the extreme of finding other people that may be lonely and provide company, it’s part of the distraction. 

In that moment we decide wether or not we’re going to stay alone, if we’re going to be lonely or we’re going to allow others in for the sake of being around someone. There’s a gift when one learns to be alone, when you wake up and there’s no one on your mind. When you think of no one but yourself and you are your main priority; that’s when you’ve learnt to be alone. It’s a small moment, it takes a few seconds to realise where you stand but once you realise you’re alone, there’s no better feeling. 

You can sit, by yourself, in a coffee shop or at work and you know that you’re ok, you know that you feel content, there is no one else that can provide that feeling besides yourself.

I Am A Camera 

I Am A Camera 

Everything has a beginning, middle and an end, something everyone has been conditioned to accept from day one; but what about the parts in between, the transition? The change is something nobody ever really gets used to. I mean, how do we truly know when one thing has ended and it’s time for another to begin? 

For example, we’re born and we live the first few years as an infant, then we move on to childhood, then young adults and so on, but where is the line? Where’s the divide? Who decided that we when we live the first five years of our lives that we’re ready to start learning about the world around us? Who decided that after the first 13 that our bodies would become ready to have sex? Who decides when we’re ready to ‘grow up’? I know, it’s refreshing to hear adolescent angst along the lines of an identity crisis or whatever but that’s not what this is. I know exactly who I am; I’m just not sure whether I like it. 

Christopher Isherwood once said; ‘I am a camera with its shutter open, quite passive, recording, not thinking.’ It sums up all I am and all I ever will be, for that is exactly what I am, a camera that does not think but still takes it all in and reacts. There’s a moment, there’s always just a second when the button clicks and the flash goes off when a picture is taken and we get a glimpse of everything that’s going on. In this moment we have a choice; do I keep it and take it for what it is logically and calculated or do I react without even giving it a thought? 

The reaction, wether calculated or not always follows. Someone I once knew said “until you make the change, you’ll never know the outcome” and that resonates with me to this day. Among other things it was one thing that has stuck because we can sit here and say that ” things won’t change and people don’t change so why bother?” But until we make that change, we’ll never know for sure. 

Change is hard, this is a common fact akin to no one likes change but it’s important to realise when something needs to in order to benefit ourselves and the people around us. Regardless of whether you’re in the begging, the middle or the end of a situation at any point it’s sometimes necessary to change direction. Go back to the beginning, fast forward to the end and revisit the middle of you have to. It’s ok to record for a while, take the snapshots and react accordingly. 

The biggest challenge when it comes to change, of course, is ourselves but in all honesty; when there’s more in your head than you find in your life, it’s time for a change. 

Live With It 

Live With It 

Inside all of us is the constant inner monologue that runs from the moment we wake up until the moment we fall asleep. For many of us the inner voice that sits inside our heads is usually a repetitive cycle of things that have happened or things we wish would happen. The repetition of a catchy jingle or an annoying pop song that just won’t quit and comments that we decide to keep to ourselves clog up the empty silence. It’s harmless enough and sometimes the inner voice works it’s way out and that’s ok, but what if that inner monologue is one of doubt? What if that voice is speaking of guilt or anger? 

We’ve all done things throughout our time on this planet that we’re not proud of, things that embarrass us or leave us feeling stupid and that inner voice is all too quick to repeat it over and over again. Like the time you called a teacher ‘Mum’ or hung up the phone by saying ‘love you bye’ to the wrong person. Or what about the time you fell off of your bike on a busy street or your jeans ripped in a crowded room? What about the time you said something you shouldn’t have, the time you hurt someone’s feelings or stole something or broke someone’s heart? What about all of the times that you played the villain instead of the victim? Your inner voice isn’t so easy to keep quiet then and that’s when you have to ask yourself, “how do I move on with myself?”. 

There are those who don’t feel guilt or remorse for what they’ve done and I believe that the rest of us feel it for them. The term ‘forget about it’ circulates amongst peers but the inner voice won’t allow it. That voice acts as a saboteur trying to trip you up at every unsuspecting moment; you could be walking along the street when all of a sudden you think of something that makes you stop and wonder why you did the things you did or said the things you did. Speaking from experience, I know there are things that I have done to people I really did love that are inexcusable on every level of the spectrum and if you are by some chance reading this, know that it weighs on me every day, but that’s another story for another day. 

Then comes one of life’s most important lessons, learn to live with it. How? That’s up to you. Some people drink, some smoke or scream or write it down, turn it in to art and never let it see the light of day. Some of us do forget about it and refuse to let it rule our lives, put it away and realise that what’s done is done and nothing can change that. By holding on to it, however, our inner voice is tamed and fools us into believing that by somehow never forgiving ourselves for it at makes it better. To forget about the thing that makes you feel guilty would be to act as it never happened and to do that would be to relieve yourself of the pain you believe you deserve to feel. 

There is a third option. One acts never spoken about, one that needs to work itself out along side the inner monologue that wishes to hold you hostage. Feel guilty, feel sorry for what you’ve done, but learn to live with it. I’ve previously written about the ‘Forgive and forget’ mantra and this applies to your own wrong doings. You can live with the things you’ve done without having to burn yourself alive everyday within your own head. If you can’t learn to live with it, or yourself, then it will eat away at you until there’s nothing left and if there’s nothing left there’s nothing to gain. To live with the mistakes you’ve made comes the ability to not repeat them, to not allow more people to fall prey to the destruction you may have already caused. There comes a time when we need to realise that no amount of apologies will fix it but every moment we try not repeat ourselves is every bit as good. 

Living with the things we’ve done comes with the added bonus of learning to live with ourselves, to live inside ones head and be truly alone. This takes time. But trust me, it’s worth it. 

Gravity 

Gravity 

Ask yourself “why?”

The question why is part of the basic vocabulary, it’s a four year olds favourite response to most situations and as a child it’s an innocent and somewhat annoying but necessary question to ask. Why does the Sun go down at night? Why can’t I stay up passed 8.00pm? Why do I have to go to school? And each answer is met with a further “why?”. To every response follows the need to know more as if no reason is ever enough and the curiosity of innocence is something that is inexplicable. As we get older we learn that the sun goes down every night because the Earth spins because of gravity because it’s in orbit because a few billion years ago the universe came into existence and it just is. We can’t stay up because we have to go to school and we have to go to school to learn and grow and we have to do that because otherwise we may be four forever. As we get older we learn the answers and the question why becomes more personal. 

Why did I just say that? Why did that person lie to me? Why did I believe them? Why did I do the things I did and hurt those people the way I did? Why do I feel this way?

These are questions that have no real answer, however this week I spent time in a place full of people that had the same question constantly rotating in their heads; “Why me?”. As I entered the small, cottage-like building I could see the varying degrees of people and each stage of “why” they were at. It would be unfair for me to name them but what I can tell you is the four people that I came into contact with knew more of why than any doctor or any professional I have ever met. 

With why comes how. How did I end up here? How did I manage for so long? How do I move on from this? As we sat down to play monopoly in a true Breakfast club fashion, we talked and we listened to each other. The middle age tattoo artist who realised he couldn’t work feeling the way he did, the older mother who had been told to go by her therapist to go for a ‘genuine rest’ and the younger mother who had spent a lot of time battling with her own mental health yet still found time for her children. Then of course, there was me. To walk along a street and see the four of us together one would think that we were the most mismatched family that nature could produce, however as we sat there until the early hours of the morning we learnt that we were not that different. We all learnt something that night: sometimes a day is all you need. Sometimes all you need is someone that genuinely understands where you’re coming from and someone that isn’t going to tell you that everything is going to be ok because they understand that it’s not easy to see it. I learnt that you can never guess what a person is feeling or thinking without asking, some of the nicest people who are always funny are hiding behind it with an immense amount of suffering and most importantly, I kick ass at monopoly. 

As far as the question why or how goes, I found my answer. As the Earth spins and the Sun sets at night there’s a gravity to everything we do. A gravity that pulls us towards the how’s and the why’s, it’s a gravity that keeps us rooted to our thoughts and the things we’ve done and let’s us stay attached to things that no longer matter. That force of pressure pushing down on those of us who needed a so called “genuine rest” is just there, it exists and it keeps our feet planted on the earth just like gravity. It keeps us spinning and as it makes the sun appear to everyone else that it’s rising and setting, so does it wIth us. Everyone gathers round to watch the sun rise and enjoy the day and they may even watch the sun set however the minute it goes dark people are all too quick to go to bed or shut themselves away. The truth is, on our sunsets, some of use need people who can stay awake and see us through to the sunrise. 

So as we sit here and ask ourselves why or how, we’re left with the ultimate realisation that, just like gravity, something’s are the way they are just because. It exists for a reason, it happens and as we move through life we have to learn to spin like the earth and rise like the sun. 

The Glamorous Addiction 

The Glamorous Addiction 

Addiction is a word that’s followed by scrutiny and judgement, sympathy and sadness but one thing addiction often isn’t followed by is understanding. More often than not we pass a homeless man on the street and we instinctively think that he has a drug addiction, heroin or crack, something that we deem below the social standard. We often look at those people and forget that addiction comes in many forms, some of which we actually idolise. We’re taught from an early age that being a drug addict is a bad thing yet simultaneously we’re asked by peers to swallow a bottle of vodka before a party. 
Everyone wants to know how much you can drink until you drink too much, everyone wants to ‘drink you under the table’ until you actually end up under the table. There’s a sense of pride that comes with being able to drink more or not suffer the consequences of drinking that isn’t associated with other addictions. That is, until it’s too late. 
Recently I heard a young girl, about seventeen, joke about how she hadn’t been out over the weekend to drink her usual bottle of wine and ‘socialise’ with her friends. This then led to her joking about how she may be going through withdrawals. Anyone that knows me knows that I am one of the hardest people to offend, however in this circumstance I wondered how different it might have been if it was cocaine or heroine. No one would have laughed, they all would have turned and either walked away in disgust or tried to help.   

When people you know try to deter you from drinking they all bring up stories about how someone they used to know, usually a person with so many prospects who was good looking, is now an alcoholic. They usually mention how they bumped into them in a garage or an off-licence buying a bottle of booze and how they’re not so good looking anymore and the stories are usually told with disgust. What about the people that function? What about the people you pass on the street day after day, or even the people that may be training you to do your job that you have no idea about? What if the only reason why they always have a joke to tell or the reason why they are so outgoing is that they too are a slave to their addiction?

There is never an air of sympathy towards the people who they used to call friends. When people talk about alcoholism in schools they always show you the same pictures of the down and outs covered in their own piss and vomit; “don’t be this guy” they’d say. Walking down a street seeing the men and women all red-faced and puffy eyed is meant to make us aware of the lowest points you can reach. But what no body tells you, what they all fail to mention, is the side effects and withdrawals that these people are actually going through. They’ll mention the degenerates parents and how it makes them feel, how they no longer have any friends and that they obviously didn’t care enough. They’ll ask you or themselves what they did to deserve being treated in that way, not what the alcoholics themselves are feeling. 

There’s no compassion towards them because ‘they did this to themselves’. they chose to sit on the stoop outside Tesco with a can of white lightning at 11am on a Wednesday. But that’s not all; according to modern education and social stigmas, they also chose to wake up and have their bodies convulse uncontrollably, providing they sleep at all. If they manage to get to sleep eventually the sweats begin like a broken faucet that’ll continue through three shirts and the thickest of bedsheets. After waking up cold and wet, they’ll try to stand only to find that they have no feeling in their limbs as there whole body continues to shake, feebly hobbling towards whatever day they have planned. That’s just the beginning, then there’s the headaches, the unshakeable sick feeling, stomach cramps and in extreme cases hallucinations that make you question everything around you. That’s what happens when they don’t drink; waking up like this and knowing that it can stop or be made easier by just one drink, one tiny splash of alcohol can make things seem normal again. But they choose to do it right? They chose to live this way.
In modern TV we see day to day the hilarity that comes with alcoholics; Rick and Morty, Bender (Futurama), the likes of Homer Simpson and even characters such as Phoebe Buffay (Friends) and Kitty Forman (that 70’s show) all exhibit excess needs to drink from one time or another yet it’s seen as a joke. Now I can hear you all scream, ‘ALCOHOL IS LEGAL’ and where that may be, the addiction is still real. The addict may still map out five local shops that they can buy from, all of which they can alternate so no one judges on the frequency of purchases. The addict also knows how much every bottle costs, how much they need to borrow or how much they need to give. This addict is also aware that vodka looks like water but vodka also smells like hand sanitiser so in an office or work environment who is going to know?

I’ve done my research and I find myself bombarded with nothing but people that conclude it’s all down to the person. Addiction fits like a glove. There’s the nature versus nurture argument and there always will be. Nature is the bullet and nurture is the gun, anyone can be an addict and as such, no one should judge.

It’s never as personal as people make it, however, the friends and parents of these people, providing they had them, were never intentionally the victims of these peoples actions. It’s more of an occupational hazard that comes with the territory. It’s like smoking a cigarette after dinner and leaving your friends feeling isolated, it’s like being the designated driver and having to be a taxi for the evening or suggesting karaoke when no one can sing. As the addict, you’ll always sing, you’ll always find a way to sing wether that be through running to a friends for a glass of wine or suggesting you go to a local pub event. 

The glamorous addiction, however, allows you to keep up the facade and hide it under talent. Yes, I can drink more than you can, the secret is I need to. Yes, I’m going go out three nights in a row but I don’t feel it because addiction allows me to stay sober. The fact that it’s legal allows one to keep day drinking or to stay drunk as a matter of principle. Meanwhile those who are suffering, who can’t live without a drink, are fining it that much harder. Until it’s too late.