A very busy M&S at the self-service tills

A young woman in a fetching M&S uniform asks “cash or card?” Some of the tills were card-only and others were cash-only.

“Both, please,” I replied.

I could see the word eh? forming in her mind from the way her forehead took on the texture of corrugated cardboard.

Generously, I saved her the time it would have taken to vocalise her question: “I’ve just been to Butllins, you see.”

Her corrugated forehead deepened in complexity. “Wha?”

“They have an arcade there, you see,” I explained.

“Not with you,” she countered.

“Not important,” I counter-countered kindly.

She looked worriedly behind me at the queue that must have been lengthening and so I said “Allow me to get to the point.” I paused, waiting for her expression of relief to form. Strangely, it didn’t.

“Well, go on then!” Her voice had raised more than half an octave over the duration of the pause moving it from a rather fetching alto to a distinctly tremulous soprano.

“I’d like to pay for this loaf of bread …” I waved it before her for clarification. “… with thirty-six pence in two pence coins and (quick maths) one pound sixty-three pence in, erm, that is to say: on my card.”

“Ah, okay,” she said brightly, ” you can do that at the service desk.” She smiled and looked behind me at, one would presume, the next customer.

I headed for the service desk as “cash or card?” rang out behind me. I knew exactly where that desk was because I’d visited there before. Do remind me to tell you about those times.

Equivocal

Mirriam Webster, whoever the heck she is, says that equivocal means ‘subject to two or more interpretations.’ In other words: uncertain, misleading, confusing and/or undecided.

I guess that I’m equivocal. You can perhaps tell from the way that I write. Or maybe you can’t. Whatever. The point is that this is probably the way that I am. I doubt that I was born like this, but either way, my nature (or nurture) has turned things around in such a way that this is how I am now. There’s a chance that I can change, but the odds are that I’ve painted myself up a tree by being this way. I mean, the world is primarily equivocal too, so why not fit right in?

Here’s the thing: all of the future; every single second of it, is equivocal too. Sure, a change could come at any second because there are few certainties, but even with the certain stuff, like death and taxes, the timing of them could alter at the touch of a hat. So why not find a comfy place on this boat and enjoy the ride.

Because you know what? I like living this way.

Living within an approximately scheduled world suits me down to the tips of my toenails. Like everyone, there are a few things I like to rely on, like a bed and some food, but beyond that, let the floodgates of uncertainty open and sweep me away into the future.

Will I like to regret this invitation?

Maybe (or maybe not).

Who knows!

(not i 🐸)

You?

World Embracing Love

Each day is an opportunity to reach out and touch someone’s life in a way that makes the world better for them, you and, actually, everyone. This works especially if it’s an amazingly massive good thing you’re doing, like … and here imagination fails me.

I mean, what kind of deed could really reach out and touch the whole, entire human race. Giving money’s not really going to cut it; unless it’s lots and lots of money. And that ain’t going to happen. Not because of the lack of will but because I just don’t have enough money to make a difference in almost 8 billion lives.

But what about love, I hear you say. What if you were to do some kind of loving meditation that embraces the whole world and everything it contains with some kind of healing and revitalising power. Well, yeah, there is that. The thing is though: I’ve been doing that for some time now and no one’s stopped me in the street and said great meditation last night, Robert, I feel much better now, thanks. Not that I want the praise and adulation, you understand, but it’s just that … well, how do you know if something like that is working!?

Wait, hold on; I got it. I just realised how I know it’s working. I know because I’m having a really great life and I feel the good vibes of everyone I meet. I feel that we are all joined in one loving and supportive family and every time I meet someone, that vibe comes through really clearly. Okay, well, in that case, I’ll carry on with the loving, world-embracing meditations. 🐸

Join me?

Photo by Kristina Paukshtite on Pexels.com

Forgotten Slogans

I thought up a great slogan for a better, happier life yesterday. It went something like this:

Don’t something, something stuff because something, something, but despite something, something!

I remember being ever so taken by it. I saw it as being not only something that could turn around my own life but also the lives of millions, if not billions of others.

I wonder how many other life-changing slogans have been lost over the millennia since people grew brains and stopped hanging about in trees. I imagine that many revolutions have been spoiled because people omitted to record their brilliant ideas when they were clearest in their minds. I mean, you can’t write much down in the shower, but what’s to stop you from sneaking through the house with a towel wrapped around your nether parts so that you can get to your pad, electronic or otherwise? And when you wake up from that inspiring dream with awe in your eyes from the vision you’ve just had, don’t stop to rub your eyes and stretch, just write it down with your eyes closed! Change yourself and you might just have a shot at changing the world.

But until then, let’s raise a glass to the hope of a better world; one without forgotten slogans. Cheers!

Mostly About Buddhism

I’m drawn to Buddhism again. I like the philosophy of Buddha, but not so much the Buddhists. On the whole they seem a little too stick-out-like-a-sore-thumbish.

If I were to become anything then I’d need to be able to do it in a t-shirt and blue jeans. Yeah, I know that’s an attachment and a craving and it’ll keep me back from Nirvana as long as I adhere to it, but that’s a small price to pay. I want to be ordinary on the outside and extraordinary on the inside.

I remember a story that some guru told of how he went to India and studied meditation for a couple of decades and became enlightened and all of that. Then he went to visit his folks in his hometown and when he arrived there he bumped into an old school friend who said (something like) “Hey, Fred – great to see you! Well, look at you – you haven’t changed a bit!”

I wanna be like that.

I have some bad habits (haven’t we all) that I want to get rid of; afflictions as they’re called in Buddhist terms. Nothing too serious. Nothing that could see me arrested or anything, but they bother me all the same. Nothing that a couple of decades in a Buddhist Monestary wouldn’t put straight, right?

(Man, there was a lot of nothing in that last paragraph!)

I have a mind like a grasshopper. I sit on the end of my bed thinking up these wonderful schemes. Maybe it’s about time I get on with doing something about them.

That said, I’ve done some interesting stuff in my life (so far). I’m going to try Ramen for the first time in my life in a few minutes. Not exactly groundbreaking, but it’ll do me for now.

Making me feel hungry now. Laters. 🐸

How to Want what you Don’t Want

Was just in the library looking for a book called “How to Want to Talk to People you Don’t Want to Talk To”. Surprisingly, it hasn’t been written yet.

There’s lots of advice on the internet on “How to Avoid People You Don’t Want To Talk To”. But articles, websites and erudite papers on the opposite of that just don’t seem to exist.

There are two ways to look at this:

  1. This is a gap in the market and so I should write this book (to critical acclaim and mass-market appeal), or
  2. No-one actually wants to learn the skill of how to talk to people they don’t want to talk to so I should give up.

I suppose that wanting to and not wanting to are viewed as being on different sides of the fence and, consequently, no-one would ever want to jump over that fence.

Is it that you either want to eat chocolate or you don’t? You want to date an attractive dwarf or you don’t? You want to be an exciting stage performer or you don’t?

But why? Can you not be persuaded otherwise? Can you not want to be persuaded otherwise?

They say that variety is the spice of life but they also say that people resist change. I think that change is good and that the best change is difficult change. What could be more difficult than changing my mind about what I desire (or not). But then again, what could be easier!

Changing the world is challenging. Changing other people is virtually impossible. Both of these things are outside our locus of control.

Changing my clothes is easy. Changing what I think about things is eminently possible. Changing what I desire / want is definitely something that is inside my locus of control.

So why do I still not want to talk to this person that I don’t want to talk to? Darned if I know! Probably it’s time to write that book.

Flow

I was thinking about the shifting and shiftable nature of life and those around us and ideas and culture and all sorts of stuff like that. I can sometimes get irritated about how the things around me stay in a state of perpetual motion. It can tick me off that my favourite flavour of crisps is no longer available or that the kind of music I love has been relegated to the fringe of YouTube or … well, you get the idea.

Here’s the thing: all of this world is mine. All the words that I read are mine. Everything on all the supermarket shelves belongs to me. The people walking through the streets and driving along them are all my people. The music I hear is my music. I embrace it all. I embrace you. You, with your foibles and flaws, your fanciful notions of how life and love should be – I embrace you.

We’ve created all of this together, and together we’ll create tomorrow too. It’s fine to regret, but we don’t let it take us over and bring us down, do we? The shifting nature of things means that the stuff that we love today will be gone tomorrow, swept out along with the things that we don’t like. I’m not really an optimist ’cause really, all I’m saying is that I like to go with the flow. I’m going to get swept along with the world and there’s nothing really I can do about that and even less that I want to do about it. If you’re with me then you only have to raise your hands to your heart and say ‘yes’, and then flow.

A Bit of a Rant

Seems crazy to me that things should last for a long time. I mean, there’s so much variety in life that it makes me wonder why would we want to have the same things in our houses, minds, gardens, glasses or cupboards for longer than a couple of weeks. Take people for example. There’s almost eight billion of them across the surface of the planet and so why do we remain friends with specific specimens for a lifetime? Wouldn’t it be better to keep swapping people around so that we let a little bit of variety into our lives? Maybe today it could be a Hindu, tomorrow a washerwoman and the day after that a spaceman!

I wonder if there’s a way that we can search for the exact kinds of people that we want to talk to so that we can save a bit of time. For example, I’ve always wanted to have a deep discussion about Islaam with someone. And actually, when I think about it, I wouldn’t mind a chat about Judaism with someone who knows the subject on a deep level. Similarly, I have an interest in recording equipment right now so where do I find someone who’s into that subject. And Python (a programming language) is piquing my interest and so a person who has experience in that language would be cool. And those just scratching the surface of what I’m interested in.

What I don’t really need is someone who is an expert in all the things that I do wrong. If I sit in a funny way then, yes, perhaps I should improve that, but I don’t find it particularly interesting to be told that. That said, I’ve changed a fair few things for the better as a result of being told stuff. It’s best to tell me when I ask, though because I’m more receptive at that point. It’s, like, I need to go to the loo right now, but I can handle that. I don’t need an alert on my phone or someone asking whether I need to ‘go potty’. I can hold it until I’ve finished typing this to my future self (my primary audience when all’s said and done).

Talking about future selves, I intend to have lots of them. I want to change every few years with regard to the big stuff and every few days with regard to the minutiae. I should really go to live in a different country soon so that I can immerse myself in a new language. I need to change careers to something completely different. I fancy publishing providing it can hold my interest. I need mentors for these things and for all kinds of other stuff. Where are the grand changes in my life going to come from? Me, for sure, so why is change so difficult even though it’s necessary! It’s much too easy to watch movies if I want to know about another place. It’s far too easy to talk to people from all over the world on the internet rather than move from here to there. Telephones have replaced meetings and I’m sure that you can get suits that allow you to be hugged remotely (and if they haven’t been invented, then they will be sooner or later).

That’ll do for now.

Well, there you go – that was a bit of a rant, wasn’t it!

Have you found the best way to convey it?

Writing’s one of those things that can be done in all kinds of ways. Making up a shopping list is much that same as penning a best-selling novel. They might seem to be a world apart, but they both involve the same skill: putting one word after another.

When you write anything it’s always best to use your imagination. Always believe that there are things out there in the world that you haven’t discovered yet, but that have the potential to be important to you. Take, for example, the radio. Until just recently, the only thing a radio meant to me was something to listen to. Then, a friend told me that she was going to host her own radio show. I didn’t realise what a game changer this was at first. I thought that only talented and fortunate people got to speak on the radio so imagine my surprise when, after sending an email to the owner of the radio station, he told me to come on in and do my own show! So I did. And it was great. And I’m going to do it again this week!

Life is full of all sorts of opportunities like this. You only need to listen to the people around you to find them. Sometimes it’s difficult to hear the messages, but if you listen with the right kind of mind-set then you can set yourself up to have all sorts of new and interesting experiences. And that’s what I mean about using your imagination. When you go through life thinking that you don’t have anything to offer the world then that’s precisely what you’ll give. But if you imagine what it would be like to hunt out and use the clues that life puts your way then that kind of openness to change will move you towards more new places than you ever thought possible.

But what’s that got to do with writing, I hear you say. Well, here’s the thing – writing is a really good channel for your imagination to run freely along. Next time you put together a shopping list, try this: add something to your list that you haven’t had in a long time, or maybe even something you’ve never had. Perhaps it’s as simple as a fruit (or a bread or a brand) that you’ve not tried since you were a kid. The thing is, it’s not particularly what you put on the list that’s important, it’s the fact that you’ve added it to the list. It’s the fact of being open to change that sets you on the path to freedom.

In the same way, every single type of writing can do that same thing for you: diary entries, notes on post-its, blog entries, short stories, observations on life, jottings about your childhood, chapters in a novel or epic sagas written in lambic pentameter. At the start of every single piece of writing, including the grandest of novels, is something that we use every day of our life: a word. And after that is another word. Put a few of those together and pretty soon you’ve got a sentence. And here’s the coolest thing of all: it’s entirely up to you as to what kind of sentence you write for yourself.

When you use the same words you’ve used in the past then you’ll end up with the same kind of life that you’ve had up until now, which is fine if you enjoy your life, but if you don’t, then now’s a great time to change. The words you use to write your shopping list or your novel are the same ones that you will use to describe your future. So do yourself a favour my friend, and write yourself an absolutely fantastically coloured, extravagantly described, wonderfully populated and beatifically sweet one. Have fun!