thoughts

~ A Writer’s Path ~

~ A Writer’s Path ~

“I took a few wrong turns, made some bad decisions, got lost along the way. But I look back now and realise it was the totality of those things which eventually led me home. I am living proof that fearlessly following your heart will eventually take you to where you need to be. My words come from that soul-searching wilderness; of walking alone through dangerous places with only my heart to guide me. It hasn’t been easy, and yes – there were some troubles along the way – but I now feel a completion in my soul that eluded me for so long. That completion has come after finally making it to the place I always knew I belonged. This is the linear way of life. We can only live it in one direction and our journeys usually only make sense when we look back upon them. Our lives are the culmination of many twists and turns, ones which leave marks upon us which we end up treasuring. It’s those scars and scratches which tell our story. It’s those cuts and bruises which make us the people we are. And it is our pain and our mistakes which eventually lead us to the lands which make our hearts sing and our pens dance.”

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short stories

~ Lost in the Virtual World ~

smartphones

~ Lost in the Virtual World ~

It was sometime when I was sixteen years old that I came to school one day and found everyone shifted to a strange new state of existence. There they all were: heads down to their hands, totally absorbed by whatever it was they were holding in them. I walked closer to see what it was that was causing them to permanently reconfigure the skeletal structure of their necks. I reached the circle and saw them all clutching their precious new possessions. It was the arrival of the smartphone – a small device, no bigger than a notepad, which sat in your hand and connected you to the entire world. Clearly a new age was upon us. We had lived in trees; we had lived in caves; we have lived in farms and towns and cities. Now we were living in hyperspace – connected and communicating with each other via satellite signals and apps. I looked at the transfixed faces of my fellow classmates and knew something had changed for good; seeing just how much this device yielded a sort of otherworldly power over the person it belonged to meant humanity was in for a wild new trip.

I resisted the urge to get a smart-phone for years and, as a result, I became an alienated member of society. At first, there were still a few of my kind left – those people using those heavy Nokias and old flip-phones – but quickly they were becoming a breed on the brink of extinction. There were many times where I sat left out in social circles as people exchanged things over their phones and sent Vines and Snapchats. Soon Instagram was taking over the world as selfie-taking spread like a contagious virus – evidenced by the fact that the word itself even made it into the Oxford English dictionary. I watched curiously as my species became possessed by the need to pose, take and post pictures of themselves whenever they could. Even their cats and dinners weren’t safe. Apparently, whatever meal was on their plate somehow needed to be shared with all the random people in hyperspace, desperate to see one more time what a mediocre plate of spaghetti bolognese looked like.

It was a confusing time altogether and I tried to get by in modern society without owning this new organ of the human body. It was something that quickly left me out of touch with many people. I recalled a girl in a bar asking me what my Instagram and Snapchat was. When I told her I didn’t have them, I was met with a look of shock and horror – as if I were a time-traveller from a prehistoric age. Another time I was laughed at for not being able to get directions somewhere on my phone. Soon the alienation of not having a smartphone continued to grow at a sharp rate. So often I sat in a circle of friends, unable to speak to any of them as it seemed social media had overtaken real social interaction. There was a certain irony to it all and I wondered what exactly this shift in human behaviour was leading to. Perhaps soon we’d just sit at home and control virtual versions of ourselves? Perhaps we’d be able to ‘like’ people on the spot and our value in society would be judged on how many followers we had?

It was a scary thought and one that kept me from joining in on the madness, but eventually it got to the point where I could no longer get by in society without having a smartphone. It seemed that everything was geared to this one device that now ran the world. I couldn’t even get a taxi with my friends without being seen as tight for not paying anything toward the fare they shared over the Uber app. I couldn’t even purchase a goddamn bus ticket in some cases. Getting by in the world had become too difficult, and reluctantly I went and got a smartphone to join the masses in this strange new era of human behaviour.

At first, I was quite good with it; never using data or the internet while out of the house, not downloading any apps, but just using it absolutely when I needed to while enjoying the camera that came with it. It wasn’t long however before I found myself getting sucked into the vacuum of hyperspace. After getting relentlessly asked for my WhatsApp, I downloaded the app and quickly found myself part of numerous groups and conversations. There I sat staring at the screen as the notifications flooded in throughout the day. After a year or so, I found myself part of a bunch of chats that made that phone constantly ping. It was easy to see how so many people got sucked into that vacuum and spent hours of their day in a hypnotic trance as they stared at whatever it was that was on the screen. It was either you ignored everyone trying to contact you, or spent hours of your day replying. Like a baby that wailed, the phone was always there commanding your attention and it was easy to cave into its incessant demands.

One day I realised I would have to join the thing I despise the most: Instagram. On the most part, this photo-sharing application was the great tragedy of our generation, creating millions of narcissistic and self-absorbed millennials whose sense of self-worth was dependent on likes and followers and emoji comments. This constant need for social gratification off random people on the internet had led to a mass of people who dressed up their lives with masks and makeup and filters. It had led to people who made out that their lives were constantly amazing, when really they were anxious and stressed and getting by on antidepressant medication. Often, I wept for the state of my generation who had now become so fake that being real was sure to leave you as an outcast. However, like everything else in the world, there was still some good out there, and Instagram gave a platform for genuine artists, singers, writers, dancers and whatever to share their work. My Facebook blog had crashed as Facebook was experiencing a mass exodus of users, and I realised I would have to post my work on Instagram if I actually wanted a decent amount of people to read it.

The problem I had found immediately was what I wrote was typically longer than twenty words. One of the byproducts of the age of the smartphone was that people now had the attention span of a newborn puppy on cocaine. Relentlessly, they finger flicked and scrolled away at the neverending content that filled their screen. If something was going to take more than thirty seconds to read, then the odds were that it would be swiftly dismissed. This meant my longer pieces of writing didn’t really have much of a chance of being read by the entranced thumb-twitchers of the world, so I focused on turning some extracts of my writing into succinct, easy-to-digest quotes and memes. It worked to an extent I guess, although it made me feel limited into what I could share, and it was definitely going to take a miracle to become popular on a platform where ‘instapoets’ had amassed millions of followers for posting things like ‘true love never quits’ in sleek and stylish memes.

Still, I got on with it and tried to find my place in the modern world where this device had completely changed the way we behaved forever, and most definitely not for the better. Sure, things were easier in many ways, but people’s mental health was suffering as it became a socially-accepted form of addiction. People’s minds were like overcharged computers, saturated and frazzled by relentlessly checking their phones and notifications throughout the day. Some days I found myself with a headache after allowing myself to get sucked into numerous Whatsapp chats. Other times I found myself getting anxious about what some stranger in America was commenting on my posts on Instagram. It was a device which had the power to completely take over your life and it appeared that no one was safe from its tyranny. Even my parents – who had always been slightly ‘technologically challenged’ – had conformed to this new state of existence. One day I walked in the front room to find my mom with her head also embracing that permanent shape of facing down at her hands. She had gotten a new tablet for herself and now spent hours of the day scrolling through tabloid news stories and looking at holiday packages on travel agent websites. It appeared that even the older generation were getting sucked into this smartphone vacuum, even going as far as overtaking the youth as the core user base of Facebook. Yes, you could now find your grandparents sharing Daily Mail articles to the social media world. And let’s not forget about the new members of human society. Now you could find kids as young as three years old with their faces glued to those tablets and phones. Many parents had discovered they could keep them transfixed by those devices and thus spare themselves the hassle of actually having to entertain them themselves. There on Instagram you’d find Timothy, just four years and three quarters, posting selfies with his latest toy or comic.

All things considered, it’s a surreal time to be alive and who knows what the state of human interaction and behaviour will look like with the technologies of the future. Right now, you’ve got people like Elon Musk trying to connect AI to the human brain. You’ve got the sex robots being developed by horny tech gurus. There also are bio cells that could lead to people becoming ‘amortal’ – meaning they will live indefinitely without being the victim of a car accident or fire. Smartphones will soon be able to control everything in your house as well as provide a database for everything you’ve ever done or said. It’s a strange and scary time to be a human-being. No doubt some of you may even be reading this right now on a smartphone or tablet or whatever other device is now out there to keep you transfixed. Well, if you’ve made it this far at least you had the patience to read more than an Instagram meme. Thanks for that. Oh, and please remember to follow my blog on social media: @thethoughtsfromthewild. A part of me would really ‘like’ that. Cheers.

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thoughts

~ A Message to Writers ~

pen

~ A Message to Writers ~

Well, it’s true I guess. Most people can’t write an honest sentence to save their lives. They project themselves onto the blank page the same way as they project themselves into the world. There’s a certain fear, a filter, which hinders them from truly expressing themselves from their heart. Instead, they offer well-tidied words in pretty fonts; little flicks and tricks of the pen that give the appearance of self-expression, but are as contrived as the pop stars who sing songs written for them. Many are fooled by these pretend poets – these Rupi Kaurs of the world – but look closely and you will find that their words lack any real blood and substance. That substance is all we ask for when we read a writer’s work. Hemingway said it himself: “there is nothing to writing; all you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed”. Sounds so simple, but it is still so very rare to find writers that have shown us every last bit of emotion – every last dirty thing they would be ashamed to admit. The sheer amount of pain that fills the average human heart should mean that there are millions of potentially great writers out there. Yet, the world is full of writers who have been afraid to truly take off the mask and show the world every last detail of their blood and guts. If you are one of the ones crazy enough to live without a filter, then keep writing and keep getting the shit kicked out of you by the world for simply being yourself. Living a life with your heart wide open will definitely leave you bruised and beaten, but it will also allow you to create more authentically than those who keep their defences up. This is the secret. True writing comes from pain. It comes from sitting at a keyboard late at night as the world stands against you. It comes from having to write the words down to stop the demons from closing in. It’s a crazy way to be and good luck to anyone else who has this curse cast upon them.

“Writers are desperate people, and when they stop being desperate, they stop being writers.” – Charles Bukowski

 

thoughts

~ A Certain Type ~

~ A Certain Type ~

“There is a certain breed of person in this world who is destined to always be in conflict with society. They are the type that does not accept a way of life simply because it is ‘traditional’ or expected of them. They are the type that feel a thunder in their heart whenever they’re asked to change in order to fit in. They are the type who will not let themselves be influenced by slogans such as ‘the real world’ or ‘growing up’. Watch out for these people. They are the ones that will not bow down to peer pressure. They are the ones that will not be bought off with money or possessions. And usually they are the ones that will cause others to reflect on their own life choices as they fearlessly chase their dreams without regard for others’ opinions. But know that more than anything, society will always need and depend on this type of person. It is those misfits who saw things from new angles, who charted the uncharted and made new discoveries. They are also the ones who bring us the books and artworks we love. Without them, humanity would have been deprived of many treasures and riches. We weren’t all born to fit into the same mould, so let the wild be wild and the weird be weird. Some birds were not made to be tied down in the same spot.”

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short stories

~ Social Distancing? No problem ~

solitude

~ Social Distancing? No Problem ~

The great crisis of our generation came almost out of nowhere. It was just after the turn of the new year when reports of a novel coronavirus spreading through China started appearing in the media. At first it seemed like something very far away – a drama unfolding in the far east, something similar to the outbreak of SARs virus a few years before that quickly petered out into nothing. I guess it was that sort of scenario which people expected again. After all, we were a generation who was regularly being told the world was about to end: swine flu, bird flu, ebola, the climate crisis, Donald Trump – we had read about our imminent destruction many times before as editors fervently created sensational headlines to shift newspapers. So, it was only natural there was a sense of ‘here we go again’ when Covid-19 started featuring on the front pages of The Sun and The Daily Mail.

However, fast forward a couple of months and the disease had now started spreading throughout Europe. A side effect of the virus was seemingly the sudden urge to travel the world, and consequently hundreds of people had brought the virus over with them on their holidays and business trips. The north of Italy was the first region of Europe to have a mass outbreak. Almost overnight, towns and entire regions went into ‘lockdown’ – a phrase that was quickly to become one of the most spoken words of 2020. People were confined to their residences, only allowed out for ‘essential’ things such as getting groceries or medicines, as well as travelling to work (that was if your company was still open and you were not out of work or working from home). All things considered, it was the biggest change to people’s lives in peacetime, and it wasn’t long before most countries in the world were imposing tight quarantine and social distancing measures to stop the virus from tearing through the population.

There was hardly a person on earth that wasn’t negatively affected by the crisis, but it was fair to say the outbreak of Covid-19 came at a particularly bad time for me. I had just left my job with the anticipation of taking part in a lucrative medical trial and then using the money to go travel on my latest backpacking trip. With the job quit, the trial cancelled and no international travel possible for the foreseeable future, I was left in the situation of being unemployed, stuck in my apartment and having about £5000 less in my bank account than I had anticipated. Obviously there were people far worse off than me – the ones who lost businesses and, you know, those who would actually die from the virus – but it was fair to say I wasn’t jumping for joy about the emerging situation. 

Nonetheless, I had to roll up my sleeves and get on with it like everyone else. I did exactly that, spending the first few weeks of lockdown in my apartment that I was supposed to have been moving out of. Instead, I was now stuck inside that apartment for twenty-three hours a day, only going out for my one form of permitted exercise, as well as the occasional trip to the supermarket to try and buy whatever food the panic buyers had left on the shelves. It wasn’t so bad. Having been someone who delighted in my own solitude, the whole self-isolation thing came as no big deal to me. Often I had looked at the four walls and thanked them for the great guardians they were. They were the walls that kept humanity out; the walls that gave me some peace from the insanity of society. I could have happily spent months within those walls in my own company, and I quickly realised having a hermit nature was a great strength to have in the era of Covid-19. Apparently the act of having to keep yourself socially-distanced proved to be something that was the challenge of a lifetime for many. Past generations had endured world wars, civil wars, crusades, genocides, great depressions and the black death; our great crisis was having to stay inside and keep ourselves entertained with Netflix, Disney movies, social media and group video calls. The difference was almost laughable, but apparently many people couldn’t cope with actually having to be alone with their own thoughts, while also not getting their regular dose of social gratification. A part of me almost delighted in it all. All my life I had been stuck in a society that catered almost exclusively for extroverts. Introverts had always been told to be more sociable and outgoing to fit into the system, but now the tables had turned and the extroverts would have to learn to be happy in their own company to survive the lockdown. The age of the introvert had finally come and the thought of it made me sit back on my bed with a smug sort of grin. What a time to be alive it truly was.

The great global crisis of our generation continued unfolding as I kept myself busy with a routine of meditation, writing, reading and just going on seemingly endless hikes through the Youtube wilderness. Of course, I kept my eye on the situation too by regularly checking the news reports on the development of the outbreak. The death charts and infection tallies were shooting up all the time, and it had quickly gone past 9/11 to become the biggest news event in my lifetime. I was now living through history and I sat back in my lair of solitude to soak it all in. I knew people were dying from the disease and, of course, it was a tragic and sad thing; but I also couldn’t deny that a part of me also found it refreshing that something dramatic was actually happening in our everyday lives. It really was like one of those end-of-the-world movies: the sight of people wearing masks, empty town centres, skies without planes, shops without food, police patrolling the streets – they were the sort of things you only saw on a movie screen, but now you were witnessing them through your own eyes. Finally, I didn’t need to quit a job and go travelling in some dangerous country to feel like something exciting was happening. 

Still, although I found many things about the lockdown refreshing, I was not without my problems. I was living off the savings I had and not being able to find a job, I soon faced the prospect of moving back in with my parents. At the age of twenty-eight, moving back home wasn’t ideal, but if I was ever going to do it then this would be the time. Like most people my age, my happiness to a degree was built on my own independence, but strange times had arrived and I figured this would be the next step down the rabbit-hole of Covid-19. The decision was made. I packed my bags and moved back in with mommy and daddy to set up camp for the rest of the lockdown. 

Back in another city, I started looking for jobs again. Luckily there was an Amazon warehouse close to my house and I now had the opportunity to be a modern-day sweatshop worker. At this point, Amazon was comfortably the biggest company in the world. Jeff Bezos had capitalised on the age of mass consumerism by providing an online e-commerce store in which you could buy anything you could imagine under the sun, and even have it delivered to your front door within twenty-four hours of clicking the purchase button. This meant that all the ‘thing’ addicts in society now had a place where they could order whatever caught their attention that day. This would naturally be even more extreme now that people couldn’t spend their money on getting pissed in pubs and clubs. Thankfully, good citizens like me were on hand to help them get the important products they needed to survive such as celebrity autobiographies and one-litre bottles of ‘luxury anal lube’.

Sorting those products for them to be distributed for ten hours a day was how I kept myself busy during the great crisis of our lifetime. I could imagine little children asking me what I was doing during the great Covid-19 crisis of 2020. “Well, I was helping people to keep busy with acts of experimental sex,” wasn’t quite as good as saying I was fighting on the beaches of Normandy or parachuting behind enemy lines; still – it was something I guess. And besides, I actually ended up enjoying the experience of working there. I felt like I was some sort of dystopian sci-fi movie having to distance myself from fellow workers, wearing protective equipment and having to go through a temperature check every time I entered the building. It was something I knew would feature in textbooks for school children for many years to come and I made sure to stop and enjoy every moment of history unfolding around me. 

After a while of working there and waiting out the crisis, I got speaking to a girl online. Meeting girls in real life was something of a bygone age and Tinder had connected me to this girl living in the city I had just moved out of – Nottingham. She was a teacher assistant who had been ‘furloughed’ – something which meant she got paid her normal wage for sitting at home, sunbathing and drinking bottles of fruity cider. I envied her situation as I texted her while stuck inside that dark warehouse for over ten hours a day. We were soon speaking most evenings on the phone as I began to feel an attachment to someone I hadn’t even seen with my own eyes. Maybe it was the drama of the situation, or just that I was sexually frustrated due to the lockdown, but we struck a connection that I had rarely come across with another girl. She was another misfit like me; someone a bit scratched and scarred by life who loved animals and nature and fantasy movies. Fantasy was an important thing in the world of lockdown and often we imagined going on weird and random adventures. Hell, I even convinced her to write some poetry and short stories – one of which she turned into an erotic camping trip in the peak district. It was a modern sort of love story; two people separated and unable to meet from the lockdown of Covid-19, but still living out imaginary lives over internet messaging.

We continued talking online for weeks until one weekend when we arranged to break social distancing measures by meeting up for a day in the park. She drove to my city to come and meet me where we walked around and had a picnic under the trees beside a stream. Finally together, we spoke about the world and our lives and all the things we had chatted about over the phone. We then moved to the long grass and fondled before spontaneously deciding to drive back to Nottingham where we played with her dogs, watched Lord of the Rings, got drunk, ordered pizza and put an end to our lockdown sexual frustration. In the morning, I lay  by her side and watched the curtains flap beside the window. Out there was a world in the strangest state I had ever seen it; and the situation I was in seemed to fit in with the madness of the age that had arrived. I was truly living in some sort of strange dream – a surreal reality that wouldn’t have been out of place in a George Orwell novel. I imagined the future of the modern world; perhaps this random meeting would turn into something long-lasting and we’d be telling our children the story of how we met during the great crisis of our generation. I was supposed to be going travelling but with international travel looking like a shitshow for the foreseeable future, I didn’t know where the next tumble down the rabbit hole of Covid-19 world was going to take me. Life was as bizarre and unpredictable and weird as ever, and not even Donald Trump or Boris Johnson had a clue where we were all going. 

Well, for now, I guess the only thing we can do is sit back and enjoy the dystopian movie we’re living in. Let’s let the crisis play out while we all isolate ourselves away within the walls of social solitude. Let let the earth’s atmosphere and environment recover while we are all stuck inside our homes writing these books and getting drunk and watching Lord of the Rings and having sex and ordering bottles of luxury anal lube off the internet. The future is a scary thing and we no longer need to watch the sci-fi movies and episodes of dystopian series Black Mirror to see something crazy. Just pull back the curtains, look out at the world and you will find something stranger than anything from any fictional book or movie. Welcome to the world of Covid-19.

 

short stories

~ In Another Place ~

in another place

~ In Another Place ~

 “Where are you?” she asked me. 

 “What do you mean?” I said. “I’m right here.”

“No, I don’t mean it like that. Like right now, where are you? I can see that you’re standing here in front of me, but I feel like the real you is far away in another place. A place that I can’t get to. A place I can’t see or touch or reach.”

An awkward silence followed her words. I looked at her and knew exactly what she meant. I could see a sort of sad confusion in her eyes. I knew she could sense that I was not truly there in that time or place with her. She was perceptive and had a vision for those things. There was no way I could pretend to not know what she was on about. I didn’t know what to tell her and, to be honest, I wasn’t too sure of the answer anyway.

“I’m not sure where I am,” I told her. “I guess I’ve never really been sure.” She looked at me as the silence surrounded us. A few seconds passed until she turned away and we continued on with the day to forget about the moment like it never existed.

It was a poignant moment of interaction and one which stayed on my mind for a few days after. It was true that I really had no specific answer to where my true self was, but I knew that it wasn’t here of this earth. All my years I had been there walking through the requirements of life. I opened doors. I walked into rooms. I stood in front of others and let words come out of my mouth. Physically I was there, but another part of me was off roaming a place that was not of this world or dimension. Often, I got lost in it as I sat staring into space or looking wistfully out of a classroom window. In a strange way, I was merely a bystander to all that was going on around me – a sort of spirit in a surrogate body just here out of a duty imposed on me by an unknown force.

It was a state of being which left me out of sync with my surrounding environment. I found it harder than most to be a part of the world because my heart and soul was not truly in it. The places I went; the lessons I attended; the jobs I worked – it was just something I had to do to be a part of everything, but deep down my soul was relentlessly wandering through some nameless wilderness. In the meanwhile, I looked into the eyes of the others and beheld a look I just simply couldn’t relate to. They all seemed to be really there – as if they were part of the world and fundamentally belonged to it. Sometimes I wondered how obvious it was to them that the same look wasn’t in my eyes, and what they would do exactly if they knew how much of an imposter I was. 

Though the vast majority of people looked like they belonged to this world, I knew there were a few others out there who felt what I felt inside. Sometimes I thought I spotted them while out there roaming the streets. They had a specific look in their eyes – a subtle one that was often confused for someone daydreaming. They wore that look because deep within they also felt that they just didn’t belong. In their flesh and bones, they could feel a strange yearning; an inner tugging to some ineffable place far away in space and time. Since the very start of their lives, they had experienced this homesickness for a place they’d never seen or been – a place they couldn’t even describe, but somehow knew existed out there somewhere beyond the ether. Like me, they would have to speak the sentences that kept them functioning and do the things that kept them alive, but they also needed those moments of solitude and silence in which they could try to feel a connection to the home that had eluded them since birth. 

There were times when that solitude gave me moments when it felt like I was almost there. They came out of nowhere: a moment’s hiking in nature when the sunlight shone through the trees; standing on a dusk shoreline without another soul in sight; the moments when I had been writing my thoughts down in a silent room late at night. They were moments of completeness with the surrounding environment when some things at least started to connect and make sense – when I was somewhat in the right direction to heading home. But always they were short-lived and I was soon left feeling like a foreigner stranded in alien lands once again.

I read about this theory one day that we are all spirits here in human bodies, but some of us have mistakenly arrived here from another place. I think that maybe it’s true. It’s clear to me some people have crash-landed on the wrong planet, existing in the wrong age or world. Those ‘old souls’ or ‘wayward spirits’ – destined to always wander on and never feel a true attachment to the places they reside in. I dunno, it’s getting hard pretending I belong here. I guess I will keep opening those doors, walking through those rooms, speaking those words and doing those things that keep me a part of this world, but know that a part of me has all but left it a long time ago. If you ever see me staring into space with a look of longing in my eyes, know that I am man lost in the spaces of my own being – a sort of sailor out on the ocean of existence, steering my way through the storm, setting my eyes to the horizon – searching for the sight of a shore that will one day let me know what it’s like to finally walk the lands of home.

short stories

~ Things They’d Never Understand ~

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~ Things They’d Never Understand ~

“So, how’s the job going?”

“I quit,” I told him.

“You quit? why?”

 “I wasn’t able to write.”

“What do you mean you weren’t able to write?”

“I wasn’t able to write, like when I went home. I had used up all my mental energy at work.”

“So?” he said. “The job was a good opportunity for you. Who cares about the writing?”

“I do,” I said.

“But you don’t even make money off your writing. Your job had a lot of opportunities.”

“It doesn’t matter about the opportunities,” I told him. “If I’m not able to write then there’s no point to any of it.”

“I don’t understand you really. Your writing is just a hobby. You had room for progression at that place.”

“Look,” I said. “It doesn’t matter about the job or the money or the room for progression. None of that stuff fulfils me like my writing does. If the job stops me from doing that then I’ll happily leave it and struggle to get by another way. As long as I can write. That’s all that matters. As long as I can write.”

He stared at me with a confused look. I could see the cogs in his head turning as he tried to grasp my view, but after twenty seconds I could see that he had given up and dismissed me as a madman. I thought of a load of other ways I could try to explain it to him, but knowing that he was a career-focused guy whose reality and sense of self were determined by his employment and bank balance, I knew it was like trying to speak English to a goldfish. There was simply no way to convey how my happiness or value system worked. There was no way to explain how just putting some words down on a page kept me from going insane completely. After ten seconds of awkward silence, he shook his head in disbelief and walked off.

A part of me understood his confusion in all reality. I had been working the ‘proper job’ for over four weeks now. It was my first ever nine-to-five role that paid better than anything I had ever had before. My parents were happy I had finally got something stable; my friends thought that I was finally preparing to conform to the norms of society. In all honesty, I was quite happy to have some sort of stability after surviving on agency temp jobs and medical trials for a while, but I knew straight away that the job was going to twist and tear me up. Besides the main problem of losing my energy to write, a lot of the job involved speaking on the phone which was a pet hate of mine, and it also involved being concentrated and engaged for the majority of the day. I was a chronic daydreamer and didn’t want to be deprived of my daydreaming. Having to advise someone on the phone for forty minutes meant there was no way for me to go sailing off through the galaxies of my mind on my latest introspective adventure. Besides that, the whole sitting behind a desk all day in artificial lighting in an office was something that was spiritually suffocating to me. 

Typically I got accused of being depressed or anxious or something like that. But in reality, it simply wasn’t true. I actually felt amazing once I quit. I mean, I was back to being poor, but every day I woke up happy and went to sleep happy. In between, I meditated, napped, read, went for long walks and spent hours working on my writing. To be honest, I could imagine myself doing that until the day I died. I just wanted to work an easy stress-free job and have time to do the things I cared about. Naturally, to many I seemed to lack ambition, but my ambition was simply to be healthy and happy and live a simple life where I had time to explore my passions. To me it was just basic common sense, but apparently such notions were some of the things they would never understand. And of those, there had been quite a few…

“Why do you keep travelling all the time? What are you trying to prove?”

“You’re so smart. Why can’t you get a proper job?”

“Why would you rather be alone than join us at the party?”

There was only so much of being misunderstood a person could take before they went insane completely. I was a complicated person I suppose. A person guided completely by the heart with no logic. A feeler not a thinker. An idealist not a pragmatist. Turbulent and temperamental. Slightly schizophrenic to a degree; able to switch my personality and perspective as I had pleased. Someone who had no set place in society that I could easily slot myself into. Someone that even the therapists and shamans stared at with confused eyes.

Those looks of confusion struck me relentlessly as I went about life. Sometimes they struck me in social environments, sometimes at work, sometimes at family dinners. I think the one that stuck in my memory the most was when I was asked why I was so open about how I felt about life. I had been ridiculed and called weird for expressing myself so openly in the writings I published on my blog.

“Don’t you think it’s a bit strange all of the things you tell people? Don’t you think there are some things you should keep to yourself?”

“No, not really,” I said. “It makes sense to speak from the heart. If everyone did that, the world might not be as complicated as it is.”

“But it just makes things awkward. You’ll scare people off. Can’t you just act normal for once?”

“I don’t like to wear a mask. I think it leads to a world of people hiding who they really are.”

“Not everyone thinks like you do.”

“Sure they do. Everyone thinks deep about stuff, yet we just sit around talking about the weather and football and television. No one has the guts to speak about how they feel deep down. People are afraid, and so they should be. Speaking from the heart all the time automatically makes people put up barriers against you. They keep you at a distance. They don’t accept you. Humanity isn’t ready for a world of people not wearing their masks and speaking straight from the heart. Because I do this, I am cast out and categorised as the insane one. Don’t you realise how absolutely stupid that is? That I am the outsider because I just speak up about how I feel? In the meanwhile, the people who are fake and insincere attract the most people toward them…”

They looked at me in total silence. As usual, I could see the cogs turning in their heads. I thought maybe my luck was in and they would understand my perspective for once, but a few more seconds passed and I was dismissed as a madman once again. My view was simply the comical ranting of a lunatic to them – something that belonged to another time or place or universe. It was something that I found frustrating and damaging beyond words. When you pour out your truth and your heart and it appears as incoherent nonsense to another, then that is the moment when the loneliness strikes you greater than ever. I didn’t even think what I was saying was difficult to comprehend and understand. I just wanted a world where people were authentic and genuine; where people didn’t sell off parts of themselves to fit into the crowd. I tried to explain this to them but they just didn’t want to hear it. My values were so horrifically different from those of society that I knew I was doomed and destined to be an outcast until the end of my days. Deep down, I knew that I was never to be understood totally, but I had this vision – this dream if you will – that one day if I could write down everything correctly, and become good enough at the art of arranging words into sentences and stories, that people may be able to get a glimpse into my reality. Perhaps then there would be some level of understanding of the world I lived in; perhaps then those looks of dismissal could turn into looks of understanding. Ultimately, it was this reason why I sat alone at a keyboard for hours every day. The pain of being so misunderstood made my heart scream out, and I guess fundamentally that was the reason why writing was the most important thing in my life. The reason my fingertips fought relentlessly for freedom. The reason I stayed up late pouring my heart onto a page. The reason you’re reading these words right now.

To try and make them understand,

the things they’d never understand.