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!

Something for the next Ten Minutes of your Life

I have 40 minutes of you and you have 10 minutes of me. That means that what you can read in 10 minutes takes me 40 minutes to write and edit. I have only 40 minutes because I have to get the tea (dinner if you’re posh) on by then because she-who-must-be-obeyed will be coming down the stairs in her hungry state and will be expecting to be fed. We’ll be having lapsy-papsy rice and a nice crunchy-salad.

For those of you who don’t know what lapsy-papsy rice is: it’s rice with veg that’s really, really nice when it’s freshly cooked but which goes a bit soft when it’s been in the freezer and then is nuked in the microwave until all the listeria is dead. Yeah, I’m not keen either; but, like I said, the salad will be nice because it’ll be freshly put together from seven chopped (cubed) ingredients (pickled beet, vegan cheese, avocado, olives, tomatoes, grapes and cucumber) slathered with various flavours (cider vinegar, olive oil, salt, basil, aminos, soy sauce and something else I’ve forgotten) served on a bed of lettuce (iceberg for me and something from a bag of leaves for she). Anyway, it’ll be delicious and nutritious, so what’s to worry. If that doesn’t fill me (or my mouth ends up too salty) then I’ll probably have a couple of small bowls of cornflakes (not Kellogg’s) sprinkled with granola (M&S Three Seeds) and plant milk (a delicious mix of Oatly (Barista Edition) and rice-based liquids). It’ll be two small bowls instead of one large one because I like my cornflakes to be crispy.

After that comes the future, which will be divided into two parts:

  1. Stuff I can guess at
  2. Stuff that’ll spring on me like a cat that was lurking in the shadows.

As you can guess, if you’ve read anything I’ve ever written) I’m going to launch into something weird and blue-sky now. It’d be disappointing to me if didn’t. I have no real idea how you’ll feel about it but, to be honest, I don’t really mind., which is different (in my mind at least) to being callous, insensitive and uncaring only by virtue of the fact that I say it’s different. And I do: it’s different (see, I said it).

So, off I go into a long (oh, actually it’s going to be short because I only have 18 minutes left) digression about the only thing that matters to me: me. This one, to give you fair warning, revolves around the reasons I very easily lose interest in the things I do. Here’s my usual arc: something interests me and so I decide that it’s the thing I’m going to spend the rest of my life doing. Two weeks (or some other short length of time) later I know everything I want to know about the subject and so I stop being interested in it. Here are a couple of examples:

  • Computers. I used to buy those old style computers that came in big, grey cases and had to have peripherals (screens, keyboards, mice etc.) and I used to pull them apart and put them back together to see what made them tick and to find out if they were still alive afterwards. One way of taking a computer apart is physically (new hard drives, modems, graphic cards etc.) and the other way is more subtle (it involves taking the operating system and software away and then replacing it with another operating system etc.). Both ways got boring after a while and computers went the way of all the toys (in a box in the attic / garage). What finally killed my interest in computers was getting a Macbook Pro. Those things don’t need anything doing to them – they just go on and on. I’ve got the first one I bought in 2008 and it’s still going strong.
  • People. I used to have friends and I used to be in close contact with my family. Heck, I even used to live with them for a while. But as the years went on I realised that they were saying the same things over and over again to the extent that I could predict the next line to emerge from their minds (via their mouths, that is). I can even do that with movies because, they usually have characters in them and characters are prone to the same repetitivenesses as people are. Obviously you are the only exception to this rule, because you are new to me at the moment. I do so hope that you will continue to invent a variety of interesting things to say, though, because if you don’t then I may (I’m not saying I will) lose interest and that would be tragic because you seem like a nice, caring, well-meaning person.

I only have 4 minutes left and so I’m going to have to leave you now. I hope that you have something nice planned for your next meal and that, after that, you have a very lovely rest of your day. And remember this: the things that you remember are the things that are important to you.

The Attraction of Solitude

I find it fascinating that, no matter where I sit in order to find peace and quiet, whether it is the most isolated of spots along the whole length of the river or the most secluded glade in the forest, within minutes that place becomes the most frenetic hub of activity in the entire history of forever.

On this picture, you can see my feet and legs (fun fact – in Hindi there is only one word for both articles). Minutes before, this was the only sign of life for miles around. Seriously, there was no-one! As of now, not three metres in front of me, there is a whole crew of young men and women intent on launching a boat into the river; one and a half metres in front of me is a man walking and calling to his small, black dog; four metres to my right are a group of men and women chatting about life, love and languine; a few metres to my left I can hear the clatter of heels on cobbles as a solitary remnant of the Saturday night crowd finally heads for home; and just behind me are the soft-soled paddings of joggers going round and round their imaginary race circuits.

I will leave this place now; not because of the un-asked-for company (because, actually, I find it quite endearing), but because my bum is now numb. Early morning benches are too cold for long visits. Plus, I need to pee.

Ciao for now.

Self-Respect (and a Cow)

Wanting people to like you means that you have low self-respect.

A bold statement, but is it true? Of course it is; and of course it isn’t. It all depends on what your truth is. I’m sat on a gate at the far end of a field. It’s far away from people, but it’s on a path that people can take. If someone chose to walk here then they would cross my path. Do I want that? Yes and no.

I went to the GP Surgery today to make an appointment to see a doctor so that they can look at the patch of skin at the hairline of my right temple (I wonder which part of the brain is under there). The skin patch is asymmetrical with an irregular border, has more than one colour, is more than 6mm in diameter and is evolving. Yeah, those bold letter are the abcde of what cancerous moles look like. I looked them up on the internet. So that’s my news.

There are lots of people in this world and there’s a scale, a continuum on which they fall. Take a simple one with good at one end and bad on the other. Don’t define the terms so that we can keep it simple. Let’s just say that if a bad person came along then I wouldn’t care to be disturbed. If, on the other hand, a good person happened along then I might be open to a little company. But not much. Just enough to get confirmation that it’s a nice day in terms of the weather.

I was going to tell you something important. In fact I’d typed it out. But then a cow came along and ousted me from my perch. It walked slowly up up behind me and then stood, waiting politely for my attention. When I turned it simply looked at me with its cowish eyes but said nothing. I ventured a “Hello, I have nothing for you,” but it didn’t seem concerned. It just continued to watch me from a discreet distance. I asked “do you want me gone?” and the cow dipped its head once; as good a nod as I’ve ever seen on man or beast. And then it looked up again to check it still had my attention, and then flicked its head to one side to indicate the direction of travel I should take. I took it.

At a good distance I looked back and the cow was stood in the same place but it’s attention was not on me. I took out the device I’m typing this on and continued my important message to you. Or, at least, I tried. But I must have pressed the wrong button because as I looked, the relevant paragraph vanished. Gone as if it had never been. So I left it gone. And I moved on.

So, yeah, my path was crossed not by a person; either good or bad, but by a cow. I have been visited and I have benefitted from wisdom and none of what just happened involved wanting people to like me, or having low self-respect. Isn’t life wonderful?

Because it’s late and I’m hungry and far from home I’m just going to send this without proofing it. I trust that its going to be alright.

People-Awareness

Here are some more discussion questions* (and my answers). This set is on people-awareness:

  1. How do you express gratitude to the people in your life?
  2. Do you listen with the intent to understand or reply?
  3. How do you decide whether someone is good or bad?
  4. How can you improve your interactions with people?

Expressing Gratitude: I tend to look people in the eye and say ‘thank you, I really appreciate that.’ If their eyes are not available then I make sure that I send them a message via whatever medium works best for us. I like thank yous. I like them so much that I get annoyed when I don’t get them from other people. It’s a trait I don’t admire in me but it’s so difficult to stop. I mean – basics, people!

Listening Intent: I tend to interrupt a lot when someone is talking because I’ve got a clear idea of what I want out of a conversation and when I don’t get it I protest. So I guess that I don’t listen properly. I listen with the intent to reply. I want to have my say and I want to have it now. I need to stop doing that and start listening in order to understand what people are saying to me. People are at least as important as me and what they say is a distillation of years of their accumulated wisdom and beauty. So, yeah – I’ll listen more from now on. What’s that you say? Baloney? Well, rude!

Good or Bad: Yeah, I know – there’s no such thing as good or bad, there’s only convenient and inconvenient in terms of my wants and desires. When someone says or does something that’s inconvenient for me then I either try to stop them expressing it, or I try to get them to change their mind, or I just sulk until some other thought comes into my mind to wash away the old one. This can be anything from an minute up to a week, but rarely longer. I know, I know – I really need to work on my ego.

Improving Interactions: Boy do I need to improve my interactions with others. I get angry and sulk far too often. How will I do this? How will I change my own personality to the extent that I can actually stand to talk to people for more than a few seconds? I think that I need to constantly remind myself that people are people too and that I’m not the most important person in the world. In other words, I need to quell my beating ego. If I say it’s going to be easy so that it will be then this will not mean that I’m taking the task lightly, so, yeah – it’ll be easy. *crosses fingers*

*These questions are adapted from the ones Jeff Weiner used during his talk: On Leadership. I’m working my way through this 3.5 hour talk now.

Previous questions in this series are here: Self-Awareness.

You’re Not Alone

So I asked the Google Assistant on my phone a question:

What’s the nearest place to here where there will be no-one within half a mile of me?

I didn’t read the answer. There’s nowhere. People are everywhere. In the air (and beyond), on and under the oceans, and especially here. Always here, with ‘here’ being wherever I happen to be.

And don’t even bother telling me about this scenic place that you’ve found where there’s absolutely not a single, solitary sausage of a soul because you’re wrong. You’re there.

And by the same token, even if I were to find such a place myself, then I would be there too. You begin to see my problem?

To be honest, people aren’t really that bad. They have relatively few flaws compared to, say, dragons or wasps. They don’t (generally) bite or sting. There’s no coughing up of blood or bile on the dinner-table (at least, among the more well-mannered of the species).

Humans do, however, have one or two drawbacks, principle among them that they need to be talking all the time*.

And on that note I’ll STFU and head for home.


*Present company excepted of course.

Time Flowing and Flowering

The Flowering of Time

I’m thinking of time and whether it makes a difference which direction it flows.

Time seems to flow forwards so that things lose energy and orderliness.

If time flowed backwards then things would get more coherent and energy would increase.

Which of these is better?

Flowers bloom and then wither and die. We then throw them away (or, at best, recycle them). If time flowed backwards then we would take the decomposed matter from the recycle bin, attach it to a plant stem (or put it in a vase) and then watch as the flowers become increasingly healthy and vigorous until they reach a state of beauty. Then, the blossoms would shrink back into buds, their stems, would shorten and retreat into bulbs or seeds, which would then go back to wherever they came from. Sounds like an eminently sensible thing to do, doesn’t it?

People decay and die when time runs forward. Imagine how nice it would be to experience them growing fresher and more beautiful as time moves on (aka backwards).

We tend to think of food as providing nutrition, but does it really? Strikes me that there’s a great amount of toxicity in the things we put in our body. Also, a great many things we do to the mind and body are harmful. Imagine taking away these poisons and leaving a more healthy being. This is what time flowing backwards would do. The result: health, youth and invigoration.

Of course, we can’t reverse the flow of time, but thinking about it can teach us valuable lessons.

It’s worth thinking about the effects (decay and death) of what we put into our bodies and minds. What about a daily dose of positive thinking? How about healthy and nutritious food. Why not hang out with good people. Who’s to say that we can’t improve by taking better care of ourselves?

Anyways, there you go. Not trying to moralise nor nothing. They’re just my thoughts as I was thinking about time. What do you reckon? Would you like to turn back time? And what would happen if we could?

A Life in the Day (15-16)

Here in the city, life is more crowded than at home. The Museum Gardens are snided (filled) with teenagers playing Abba and flinging hoops to each other. Obviously some of them are going other stuff too, otherwise the world would be a very odd place!

The pavements and roads around the shops throb and throng with people; enough to populate anyone’s novel. I often wish that I could stop and take photographs of everyone I find interesting to write about.

  • The woman with the bright red ringlets that look like they are made of plasticine
  • The three Nubian sisters that stride – so tall, proud and flawless of complexion
  • The guy who’s so flamboyantly gay
  • The Big Issue seller who sits on the ground and beseeches us to buy her wares with such imploration (us that a word?)
  • The bloke in boots, shorts, a t-shirt and a beanie-hat
  • The people who live on the streets.

All of them, just begging to be in a story. But here’s the thing: they already are. It’s called life!

Anyway, the reason I go into town, aside from the people-watching and the walk (got to get my 10,000 steps a day in) is to go to the church.

St Crux church has a forecourt, and in that forecourt is a charity jumble sale (apart from Sunday and Monday) and within that sale is a book stall where the paperbacks are fifty British pence.

That book stall is the reason that I have thousands (literally) of books in the attic, the study and the drawers in the office. I guess you could say I’m addicted.

After that I go for a pee. And then I take the following photo. I guess they dredged the River Foss.

About People and Communication

It strikes me that I don’t so much want to write as to get my thoughts down in writing and share them with the world. Do you want to do that too? Are we in the same boat?

Or perhaps I don’t even want to extend my reach to the whole world. Possibly I just want to find people who are interested in me. But then, when I do, that kind of gets me into trouble. I’m already in a committed relationship and I don’t need another one. I confuse talking with intimacy. I confuse people on the other side of the internet with friends. I confuse friendliness with something deeper. In short, I’m kind of screwed.

It crosses my mind that I might not be able to interact with real (in the flesh) people and so I talk to strangers instead. But that’s not true. I interact with real people very easily when I want to. But they’re a bit too close. I think that perhaps I need the protection of a few thousand miles. I need distance for closeness to work.

Why am I saying this? I really have no idea. I’m writing this to several people at once (I know who they are in my head) and I’m talking to you (yes, you) but I’m also talking to myself too.

I’m also listening to Dummy, which is an album by Portishead. You should give it a listen.

And that (this) is how not to end a post.

begonia