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. 

People Lose Things 

People Lose Things 

People lose things, they just do. It happens throughout the day and throughout our lives without question. Whether that be our phones or wallets or sense of self, on a daily basis, people lose things. 

We’ve all felt our hearts drop when we reach for something in our pockets that isn’t there; it’s like walking up the stairs in the dark and assuming there’s an extra step. As your foot falls so does your stomach and that feeling of loss becomes all too real. It’s like crossing the street and not realising a car is speeding towards you, you stop in the headlights and you can feel your stomach somersault. When you lose it’s the same feeling. 

I’m speaking strictly material of course, but what happens when we lose something more personal? What do we do when we lose something that can’t be replaced or something that doesn’t sit in our pockets? 
People lose things but they also lose people, they lose emotion or respect or even themselves. Waking up and realising you’ve lost yourself gives you the same sense of stomach dropping, heart stopping loss that reaching for the wallet in your pocket does. In the same way reaching for someone that isn’t there any more does. 
When the day arrives that you realise a person is no longer there, you experience the same sense of loss you would have and in some ways you wish it were as easy as losing a phone. There are many factors to losing a person; they can chose to go or they can be taken. You can push them away and cause them to become lost or you yourself can just become lost in everything you were once so sure of, causing other people to lose you. All of a sudden your foot is falling through the dark again, you’re crossing the street, your heart is pounding and you’re left with the realisation that someone just isn’t there. You’ve lost them, you’ve lost it and everything. 
You reach out and they don’t acknowledge you, you fall and they don’t catch you like they used to and they definitely don’t give you the time of day. Losing people is hard but in the same way that your foot falls and reaches ground or the car doesn’t hit you, you’ll feel that sense of relief eventually. 

When you lose yourself, your motive or sense of being it can be harder to consider the reasons why you’re perhaps doing the things you are. Waking up becomes difficult and you wish that you hadn’t because being asleep is easier. When you lose yourself it isn’t as easy as reaching the ground or asking someone to help you find it, no one knows where it’s gone or where you last saw it, it’s just gone. Before you know it it’s difficult to make breakfast or to listen to music or go to work because you’ve just lost that light that everyone talks about when they meet you. 

In the same way that you find your phone after panicking or your feet finally find the ground, so can you. You can find yourself again in little things you do every. You can find yourself in the spontaneous karaoke sessions with your best friend or find yourself in a family meal. You find yourself in everyone that smiles at you whether that be a cashier or a stranger on the street. You can find yourself in the good deeds you do every day or in the family you have around you but you are there. 

By all means lose yourself, but lose yourself in a song or a conversation that you’re passionate about. Lose yourself in a musical or a film that you connect with and don’t be afraid to feel it all. Lose yourself but be ready to pick yourself straight back up and continue on. 

A Letter To Myself

A Letter To Myself

There are many moments in our lives when we stop and think about how a younger version of ourselves would’ve handled the situation. There are also times when you would’ve been asked or would’ve asked ‘what advice would you give sixteen year old you?’ Recently I was awarded the luxury of finding a diary I had written when I was of that age. In a way I read it back and realise that at sixteen, I needed the twenty-one year old me to help them, I find myself reading snippets that I would read from a teenager now and criticise. It makes me question, how many of us would recognise who we were at that age? How many of us can see that in today’s youth and be repelled by it? 
I’ve given this a lot of thought over the week because in a previous post I’ve stated how life simply happens and whilst that’s true, life has already happened. In the year of 2012 I was finishing high school and I thought I knew what was important. For others in that position I’ve received similar answers, but what would you really like to tell teenage you? It’s a universally acknowledged truth that we’re all a million worlds apart from who we were in high school. As I spoke to friends throughout the week I received answers as far and few between as “I would tell myself to never be scared to push your own boundaries because you can’t LIVE life when you never leave your comfort zone, that and crimping your hair is not a good look and it should be left in the past” and simply to “fuck off”. 

The conversations we have with ourselves are probably more important than those we have with others. It’s about giving yourself time to adapt, realise that four years ago you weren’t the same person and four years from now you’ll be unrecognisable to yourself. I know that if I had the opportunity to sit myself down at fifteen I would have more than a few words to say.
Dear me, 

You won’t always feel down or angry, that will all fade in time as long as you let it. Take time for yourself, it’s ok that you don’t have all the answers but you do have some and you just need to take a breather and think for a moment. You’re going to meet people that you couldn’t imagine your life with out, some that you still can’t. In a short while you’ll meet a certain someone that changes everything, this person will give you something to look forward to if a weekend and they’ll create the best adventure of your life. That in itself is worth sticking around for. 

You’re going to be okay. Keep reminding yourself of that and stay positive. It is impossible to live your life on the back foot and that’s something you need to learn sooner rather than later. You’re going to find yourself in a dark place more than once but it’s only going to be temporary. You’ve got this, I promise. 

Sincerely, Me. 

Life Happens 

Life Happens 

Every once in a while, life happens. Now when I define life I sit and think about the physicality of the situation, we live we die we wake up every morning and go to work or run off to school but life happens every day in the most unexpected of places. 
A fiend of mine experienced something over the weekend that was unthinkable for most people, without sounding too serious, life happened. As I prepared myself and dealt with the severity of the situation I couldn’t shake the feeling that wether it was part of my story or not, it was my responsibility. Waking up on Sunday morning with a handful of messages and contacts from people that thought I knew more than I did opened my eyes to the fact that life, albeit unexpected and irrevocable, can happen at any point. As you walk down the street and pass a stranger waiting for a bus, you may not think of it but life is happening to them. They are waiting for a phone call from a doctor, they might be preparing for a wedding or they may even be on their way to attend a funeral, the point is that life happens. It’s unstoppable. 

Life happens at 6 in the morning when you wake up and can’t decide wether or not you want to go into work. Life happens when you get a phone call you wish you didn’t or when you hear the words that create a lump in your throat. When you cry for no reason or when you lose or feel pain. Life happens when the rent is due and you have to miss a payment or when you go to work and navigate a difficult situation. Life happens when you simply have nothing left to give. 

I often sit and wonder what if this life isn’t mine? What if my life was being written by somebody else? Like I’m trapped in their mind and I wasn’t doing stupid shit because I’m sick, but rather they are? When life happens you have to question the reasons why. You ask yourself if I’m being punished, you ask other people if you deserve it but the truth is, and as insensitive as it sounds the majority of the time there is no reason. 

Life happens, it just does and there is nothing you can do about it. But Life also happens when you laugh so hard that you cry and you thank god that you’re surrounded by the people you are. When you have a conversation with a stranger who brightens your day in the cue at Tesco and you repeat the interaction to your friends and family. Life happens when you find a ten pound note in a jacket you haven’t worn in a while or someone notices that you’ve changed your hair. When you hug someone or when you fall in love again. When life happens for a second time, all of the bad stuff melts away for just a moment and it all becomes worth it again. 

There may be nothing you can do to stop it but you can always change the outcome. Smile at strangers, revel in your hobbies and things your passionate about. Make life happen and tackle it head on, you’ll get over it and you’ll be ok.