Bench Views #17 – Haxby Road Bus Stop

Did you know that there are 4,648 words for rain (not true) in the English language and that every available cloudbursting state can be experienced within a single day (true) and they all leave one feeling moist (to various degrees). And I’m now moist.

When I left home twenty minutes ago it was fine and dry. The forecast was for fog and there was not a raincloud in sight. Oh sure, the sky was uniformly grey, but it is September after all and the summer was never going to last forever. But then the fog turned to mist and and mist to mizzle (a fine word for drizzle that’s mainly used in Scotland) and so I stopped.

And that’s why I’m here typing this.

I’m perched on what passes for a bench these days inside a bus shelter. It’s a metal and glass structure that barely covers my stretched out legs, but it at least stops me from becoming more moist. Me and the bike, that is. We were on our way to the last carboot sale of the season at Wiggington and now we’re not (unless the rain stops).

The view in front of me is not exactly attractive. I mean, sure houses and cars have a certain charm, but they’re not really what you look for when you’re thinking of scenic. Still, the tree is nice.

Behind me? Hmm, not sure; let’s have a quick look. *quick look* Well, there’s a fence that’s protecting a garden. After that there’s another fence. And beyond that, it’s fields, fields, fields as far as the eye can see. When I look on a map, they march all the way to the East Coast of England where Bridlington stops them from falling into the sea (lucky for them).

Well, it looks like the rain has stopped, but the road is wet now. That’s means that if I cycle on, my bum is going to get wet, which is never a comfortable feeling. Shall I ride on and spend an hour walking around the carboots of Wiggington, or should I turn back and dry off? I think I’ll stay here and read my book for a bit and then check how I feel. Probably colder would be my guess. Let’s see.

Comfortably Numb

Lots of things happen to me. And many reactions of all different kinds arise as a result of these things. I win a prize and I get happy. Someone tells me I’m fat and I get sad. How do I stop these reactions? And do I want to (or need to)?

One way to stop these reactions, both the good ones and the bad ones, is to be aware of the presence of God in my heart. I mean, God is always good and benevolent and is an unlimited source of power and peace. Being aware of this, in the sense of staring into a bright light, can take away my awareness of other things. This can be a cleansing experience.

It’s like using using one of those absorbent cloths to wipe up a spilled glass of water. You end up with a dry surface, but also, it’s an empty surface because the glass has to be moved, and the toaster and the pile of recycled plastic bags and the kitchen roll holder and the random bottles of pills etc. etc. And it’s the emptiness that bothers me.

I could allow all of my mental processes to be blotted up by this blissful state of union with God. I could give over vast swathes of time to this emptiness. Times when I read, learn Hindi (my latest thing), watch movies, listen to music or even attend to my blog could all be subsumed by a tsunami of sweet God-consciousness.

I worry though. I worry that I’ll become zombified. I worry that my mind will turn to mush and I’ll end up like one of those people in a care home that just sit there staring into space while the world whirls around them in all its colourful profusion. That vision alarms me and, to be honest, scares me a little.

But I’m sure there must be a middle way. One in which I engage with the world and yet don’t let it affect me in a negative way. One in which I can be detached from the bad stuff and yet still be in love with all the wonders of the world and nature.

I guess that it’s all about having a balanced approach to life. And then, all the cliches flood into my mind. We all know them so I’ll not bother repeating them here. In essence – I’ll just do the best I can and not worry about what I can’t manage. That’ll do.

Right, that’s the world set to rights – how about a nice cup of tea.

A Madman in the Mechanism

Just watched this great talk by Chris Golding about the benefits of listening to people’s emotional reactions in a business context. He says that emotion can be a key to innovation and prosperity if appropriate and sufficient attention is given. So, yeah.

That made me wonder if a bona-fide mad person (male, female or anything in-between) could have a beneficial effect on how much innovation flows through a company. I mean, mad people think outside the box and they are generally immune to negative criticism, which means that they will not be put off their stride by the usual scorn and ridicule heaped on anyone who thinks a little differently to your run-of-mill cubicle inhabitant.

Of course, the maddie (not intended as a derogative term) should not be given any kind of control of the company. They must be kept in harness and only used for their innovative approach to potential product and service lines. Put them in charge and you risk a Hitler. Keep them in check and you have a Rasputin at your service. One would command an army whereas the other would command the ear of the Queen (aka Chairman of the Board).

It’s just a seed of an idea, and it can be taken further, but not now because I have to join a meeting. Don’t worry, my genius will be kept in check there; the whips and mauls will see to that.

Finding the Positives

The paths are snided with children on their way to school, but I know a back-road way to avoid them. And even if I get lost, there’s always Google Maps.

I’m busting for a pee, but I know that I have a strong bladder and I’m only a few minutes from home. And even if I get lost, it’s recycle day and so there are plenty of bottles around.

My fingers are cold and so it’s taking ages to type this, but at least it’s taking my mind off my raging bladder and the fact that I might have taken a wrong turn whilst concentrating on this. But, hey – you’ve got something to laugh at, right?

Ah look – home is just around the corner. Not lost after all. Not moist after all. And not even cold now that the sun has come out! It’s all good.

How I Write Blog Posts

Here’s how I write a post:

  1. I write a random title. For example, this one is called ‘Twaddle’ (nonsense talk) at the moment
  2. I start writing the first thing that comes into my head, correcting the grammar, spelling and syntax as I go along
  3. I keep writing whilst watching and reacting (in terms of what I write) what has gone before
  4. I change my general direction (or not) purely in terms of what thoughts are triggered
  5. When I get close to having expressed a complete idea (one that could have a distinct title) I start looking in my mind for an ending
  6. I write a rounded ending
  7. I change the title to suit. For example, this is going to be called ‘How I Write Blog Posts’ (copy -> paste)
  8. I give it a quick read through to make sure it makes sense (it rarely does)
  9. I add a category and tags
  10. I post it
  11. I read it again
  12. I edit any small mistakes I initially missed
  13. I forget about it.

Organise or Let it Be

There must be some sort of personality type grid with Organise in one corner and Let it Be in the other.

Whatever.

But I feel them fighting inside me.

Mostly it’s Organise that wins. The fact that all these words are (hopefuly)┬áspelled correctly demonstrates that principle.

At other times, you gotta just let stuff be. The sun is out, the sky is blue(ish) – I just let those things get on with being themselves. No sense in getting her up about them.

But there are things in the middle that I just don’t know what to do with.

Things like:

  • Memories
  • Old laptops
  • Mortifications
  • Last year’s socks
  • Memorabilia
  • Old friends
  • Writings.

I don’t know whether to leave them where they are so that they rot in-situ or whether to dust them off and arrange them neatly in some well-lit place so that I can look at them.

I’d like to write an autobiography. I guess first of all, I’ll need to do something extraordinary. Much though I’m enjoying it, sitting on a wall typing this doesn’t qualify. Even sharing such blinding insights as you’re reading now doesn’t cut it either.

I’d like to dig out the contents the attic and garage, attach an rfid chip to everything and then pack it all back.

I’d love for someone to come along and catalogue all the people I ever knew and then present me with an indexed book containing photographs and information about them all.

I’d love to get on with publishing all the things I’ve ever written. All those long-lost stories. All those posts on blogs and forums. All that utter twaddle.

Yeah, on second thoughts – maybe just let it all be.

Heart Key

Heart Key Ring

Strikes me that there are at least two ways to change the way we communicate, in order to have a better relationship with our significant others.

One way is excruciatingly exhausting and the other is very easy.

First, the difficult way. This path is is the one beloved by marriage guidance counselors and couples therapy experts the world over. Call me cynical, but I suspect that this is because it makes them rich. What am I yapping on about? Yep, you guessed it: talk more.

To be fair, it’s not just about saying more words, it’s about saying the right words, and it’s about listening too. And don’t get me wrong, it’s great in theory, but in practice – it can be exhausting. I mean, who knows about anyone to be able to say the right thing to them?! Heck, I don’t even know what to say to myself most of the time!

Which bring me nicely on to the easy path. Done properly (with love) this is a method that has the potential to stop each and every argument dead in its tracks. It is guaranteed to prevent you from putting your foot in your mouth (again), saying the wrong thing (again) or winding your partner up  beyond their breaking point (yet again).

It’s short (almost brutally so) and therefore easy to remember. It’s simple to apply and so it’s open to anyone. And it’s effective in any circumstance, when used compassionately.

What is this method? Well I’ll tell you immediately after this short break:

Here’s the advice: STFU already!

Bench Views #16 – Skatepark off A59

Skatepark

I have no idea where I am. Oh, don’t get me wrong – I know how I got here and I know how to get anywhere from here. But I don’t know the nature of this place or why it’s here or how long it’ll remain. It just seems to be abandoned land with a skatepark in the middle of it. Perhaps that’s what it is. Maybe that’s all I need to know. Probably that’s okay.

There are no kids here. It’s eleven in the am on a Saturday morning. Where is everybody? I mean, I know I used to have a lie-in on Sunday when I was a kid, but Saturday was a knocking-about day. And what better thing to do on a sunny day like today than get the old skateboard out and go and watch that guy sitting on a bench tapping away on his phone! Such fun!

But it’s nice here. Great place to be alone and think about nothing much. Fine spot to watch birds wheeling overhead and feel the breeze and wonder, for the nth time, what that snuffling sound is in the bushes behind me.

*finally looks around*

Jeez, it’s … aaarrrrgggghhh!

Territory

The council seem to have stopped spraying weedkiller on the weeds at the sides of the road. As a result, grass, dandelions and other green things are lushly growing out of the cracks between the kerbstones and the road.

I keep kicking them out. As I pass a big clump of weeds, a well-aimed kick sends it sailing into the road. Clump by clump I’m clearing York’s roads of weeds.

There are lots of places where weeds are free to grow wild. They take over these places and thrive in their prolific profusion. They are at home there. They belong. Where they don’t belong is in the cracks at the side of these road. So says me.

There’s an ants nest in the walls of our house. Sometimes, the ants come into the house, but mostly not. Still, they are not welcome there. It isn’t their place, despite their feelings (or whatever ants have in place of feelings) to the contrary. So I try to kick them out. I squirt poison into their holes and then block the holes with matchsticks. And then I cover the whole area with that white powder.

There are lots of places for ants to live and thrive in their relentless profusion. Just not in the walls of our house. They don’t belong there. So says me.

Pigeons try to build nests under our solar panels on the roof. Need I say more?

I have this idea of boundaries: that things and people only exist in delineated territories. That we should stick to our own places and that we should not invade those of others.

I have many, many stupid ideas like this. Ideas that cause division and argument. I declare that this is mine and that no-one else has the right to take it. And, inevitably, when they do, I rant and rage and slam doors and drawers to show my displeasure. I use anger as a tool to try to communicate the message that I feel intruded upon. That my territory has been invaded. And that I want it back.

It’s really difficult to shift this feeling of ownership. But I’m aware of it. I’m aware that the feeling that I own things and places and ideas has moved into my mind. And now I’m aware – I want it out.

Ah, if only there was a powder you could buy for that.

In the Night

What a perfect time for sunrise is the morning. When all is quiet and calm. It’s cold and the world needs heat. It’s dark and light is the perfect antidote.

I am dark, quiet and cold.

Where is my sun?

Hello?