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New Book: No Filter Necessary

Hello guys!

If you regularly read my blog, you will know that I normally just post my pieces of creative writing without any sort of casual ‘blogger’ chat (sorry, not sorry) – but today I thought I’d break that trend just to introduce my brand new book…. (insert drum roll)

mockup book
No Filter Necessary is my latest collection of writings, the third book in an ever-growing catalogue of work. It is a book that is made up of my stories, thoughts, notes and poems – all of which offer a revealing exploration of my own consciousness, characterised by my introspective and existential voice. People have described my work as “poetic”, ”raw and honest’, and that it shows the world through the eyes of the soul-searching outsider. No topic is off-limits (sorry Mom and Dad) and I write about cheery things like depression and social alienation; about alcoholism and failed romances; about being off the rails as my world falls completely apart around me.

This first-person, autobiographical style of writing is something I’ve been exploring and evolving for the last three years now since I properly started my writing journey. That journey began with me walking away from a creative writing master’s course at university back in 2017. I knew from the very first class that my path was not on the course, and just a few weeks after starting, I quit and booked a ticket to Mexico to carry on travelling the world and following heart through life’s bewitching wilderness.

When I returned from that trip, I started a blog called ‘The Thoughts from the Wild‘. The concept of this blog was to post pictures of people hiking in nature with some sort of internal dialogue about life or society. This concept allowed me to finally find and develop my writing voice – one that I have continually been evolving through the completion of my first book The Thoughts from the Wild, my follow up book Scraps of Madness: The Notes of a Wanderer, and now my new book – No Filter Necessary. 

no filter necessary 2
It’s been a journey of constant experimentation to work out what exactly it is I am trying to do with this artform, but I feel that this piece of work is the most fully realised version of the vision I have been pursuing for a few years now. While I am happy to a degree with my first two books, I feel they were full of teething problems that I have sorted out to complete my most accomplished piece of work yet (of course, I would say that – but it’s genuinely how I feel!) If you wish to purchase it, please find the UK version here, and the US version here. For anyone else in a different country, please just search the title name in the book section and it should appear near the top of the results.

Thanks for reading, and I will leave you to the opening section of the book. Otherwise, stay tuned for more introspective, autobiographical madness in the near future. Ryan 🙂

No Filter Necessary

“Of all that is written, I love only what a person has written with their own blood.”
Friedrich Nietzsche

No Filter Necessary: a brief note

“But why can’t you just speak up about how you feel? Why can’t you just say what’s on your mind? You don’t always have to keep it locked up inside your own head. Please – just share something with me….”

It was in a hostel in Vietnam where I heard those words. I had just spent the last week travelling around the north of the country with a Danish girl. Naturally we had bonded over that time and formed a close connection. One night we were sat in the courtyard drinking beer and smoking cigarettes when she started to tell me about her troubled past; about her eating disorders, her mental health problems, and the childhood beatings from her father. I sat there nodding my head and listening in, just as I had done so many times before with others. Often while travelling I had found myself in the situation of being someone’s momentary therapist. On mountains paths, sunset shorelines and in smoky bars, I had stared into the eyes of others and listened to them share their secrets. Tales of pain and desperation. Tales of trauma and heartbreak. The suicides of friends. The divorces of lovers. The abuses of childhood. The emptiness of unlived lives. So many people had opened up and allowed me to go beyond the surface level of their character. But as she started asking me about my own issues, it suddenly hit me that I was always the one listening in, but never the one sharing any issues of my own. I stalled and puffed on my cigarette, trying to stop my mouth from spewing its mess and madness upon her. “Just open up and say,” she said, spotting my stalling. “You’ll feel better from it, I promise….”. An awkward silence ensued until I eventually mumbled a few vague things about past battles with depression and a general feeling of being lost in the world. She nodded and congratulated me on opening up, but we both knew I was holding back – that I was alone with my thoughts as I had always been. An atmosphere hung in the air until we eventually moved on from the conversation as we went to bed and sank into the silence of the night.

That moment in Vietnam stuck with me and over time I came to think about why it was so hard for me to share what was on my mind. I guess I was never too good at speaking up about how I felt. Staring into the eyes of my fellow humans, I often thought they would throw me into the nearest mental asylum if they were to see the contents of my head. It was something I had felt from a young age. All throughout my childhood, I spent my time daydreaming and getting lost down the rabbit-holes of my own mind. I lived inside a world of my own making, while sending out this surface-level character that would go out and interact with the regular world. A mask was on; a filter hiding my true colours. As I got older there were times when things started to get stormy beneath the surface. There were times when I felt hopelessness in my heart; when I felt the demons encircle me in the darkness. No matter how bad things got, I never sought to let my thoughts see the light of day because, as I said, I thought they would just be dismissed as nonsense by other people. And besides, even if I wanted to talk about how I felt, I just couldn’t seem to find the words. It was like there was an ocean of thoughts inside my head, and speaking was like trying to get them out through a bathroom tap. So on I went wandering through life, lingering in that solitary world inside my head, often drowning in my own thoughts and feelings.

One day I was sitting on my bed when, struck by a moment of sudden inspiration, I went online and created a blog. It was a blog inspired by a YouTube channel which played ambient music alongside pictures of people hiking in nature. Often I listened to that music and stared at those pictures, wondering what those people were thinking while in such beautiful surroundings. Getting into the heads of those people, I began to upload the photos onto my blog alongside some sort of introspective dialogue about life or society. The blog was called ‘The Thoughts from The Wild’ and it soon started to grow as people resonated with the things I was writing. I wrote about social isolation. I wrote about wanting to live true to yourself. I wrote about pain and love and hopes and dreams. After a while, I realised that the words I was sharing were the things I had always wanted to share with the world. By stepping into the heads of other characters and expressing myself through a pseudonym, I had seemingly found a way to drain that ocean of thoughts inside my head. The blog continued to grow as tsunamis of truth poured out of me. My heart became less heavy. My true colours could be seen. And I felt good. 

Over the next years, I grew more and more connected to the process of writing. I was still not totally able to express myself face to face with another person, but I was able to get down my thoughts truthfully onto paper. Through the art form of writing, I was able to finally show people that solitary world inside my head. This book is the latest journey into that world. It is a collection of thoughts, notes, short stories, and poems – all inspired from a life of what would typically be called that of ‘the outsider’. The writings reflect a period of life in my twenties that was marked with excessive physical and mental wandering. In it lie the truths of my journey. The pain and the ecstasy. The joy and the despair. The light and the darkness. In it lie the things I couldn’t say to that girl that night in Vietnam. It hasn’t been easy for me to write some of these things, and I still feel strange about sharing my deepest secrets, but I hope sharing the contents of my own mind can inspire others to do the same. Because right now in this world so many people are wearing masks and letting their true colours be filtered out. We are characters on the stage of society, and I believe many are going insane because of it. But what if we could all throw away the mask for a short while? What if we could open up and share the secrets of our hearts? Just imagine how different the world could be if we all found a way to let the filter fade and our souls show…eye

~ A Piece of Me ~

They say broken hearts can’t be healed, and it’s true. They can be pieced back together, but always they will show their scars. Those scars tell my story and it is one of pain and madness. I have stood in rooms of darkness staring into nothingness. I have crawled through swamps and sewers of desperation. I have screamed out alone in the torture chambers of my mind. My soul has been ravaged by a world in which I didn’t belong. Into those morning mirrors I stared, seeing the latest damage being seared into my soul. Often, I couldn’t help but look at that reflection and wonder what would be left of me? When the years had run their course. What would be left of me? When the storms had rained their rain. What would be left of me? When the demons had had their way with me one more time. I didn’t expect there to be much. The storms would continue and this heart of mine would continue to bleed out over the years. Still, sometimes I collected that blood and poured it into a poem or story. It gave me relief and some people out there even seemed to like it. This was our nature. We were all parasites of each other’s pain. The blood and guts of others give us the fuel we need to continue on. It is our nature to feast off the scraps of another’s soul. I hope this piece of mine gives something to you.

~ Beaten ~

Eyes full of sickness and sadness, I stared at the dancefloor with a feeling of resentment. There they all were: those happy people with their happy faces. They moved effortlessly across the floor like they moved effortlessly through life. No doubt they all lived sane and orderly lives of structure and stability. They didn’t know my pain, my madness. They didn’t know what it was like to linger always on the sidelines and stare on in. I stood there doing exactly that, leaning on the bar while watching them as they moved and grooved. I downed a double whiskey coke while continuing my distanced observation. I drank another one then realised my friend had left with a girl. I looked around for any possible chance with a female before conceding defeat and heading for the door.

Exiting the bar and stumbling out onto the street, my eyes beheld a jungle of kebab shops and neon lights leading me through the city centre. I watched as drunken revellers shouted, scoffed food, and clambered into taxis. The human race was a wild species that had been tamed by its own creation of civilisation, but there was still a certain level of anarchy we allowed to unfold. This was best witnessed at 3am on highstreets full of broken bottles and broken minds; on highstreets where couples stood screaming at each other; on highstreets bearing piles of puke that were symbolic of the inner sickness of our society. The sight of it all made me sad and it was at this point I remembered it was my first time in Sheffield and that I was supposed to be staying with my mate who had just disappeared. I had no battery on my phone to contact him and suddenly found myself in the situation of having nowhere to sleep. Not an ideal situation, admittedly, but by that point I was too drunk to care.

Lost in the blur, I carried on staggering down the sidewalk until three men started speaking to me. I must have said or done something slightly disagreeable because the next thing I know I was getting the shit kicked out of me on the floor. Kicks and punches rained down upon me. My body ground against the pavement. Venomous words of hate filled my ears. The beating continued for a good thirty seconds until the blurry figures ran off down the street and disappeared out of sight. I picked myself up and assessed the damage. Blood dripped from above my left eye as my ribs ached and hip throbbed with a friction burn from the concrete. I knew immediately that my body was going to have more scars – more symbols of defeat etched permanently into my skin and flesh.

Still not knowing what to do or where to go, I wandered aimlessly around the early morning city streets while looking like someone from a horror movie. Eventually a policewoman picked me up after some bystander spotted me in my gory state. I told her what had happened as she drove me around town in her car. I guess I was expecting to get taken to a hospital, or perhaps to the police station to file a report, but in the end she just cleared up my wound and dropped me outside a closed train station. I got out of the car and stood there alone in the cold winter night wearing just a t-shirt. Cuts to the public services in Britain had resulted in this; underfunded and overstretched, they looked for any way to avoid you utilising them. Consequently I stood there shivering and staring into the empty station, waiting for the damn thing to open. My ticket wasn’t until noon, but I decided that I was just going to board any train I could. If only there was a train off this planet, I pondered.

Finally the station opened and I went inside and sat down on a bench in the corner. Back on the sidelines again, I resumed my distanced observation of the human race. I watched the smartly-dressed business people get ready for another day at work; I watched the mothers quickly glance at me and look away in horror; I watched the little kids snicker and gossip about the wounds on my face. Those looks followed me onto the train where I tried to sleep but was woken up by a ticket inspector who told me my ticket was invalid for the current service I was on. I got out my card and paid for a new one as the conductor kept his distance. Thirty minutes later, I arrived in Derby where I was meant to switch trains to Nottingham. Looking at the board, I could see it would be a fifty-minute wait in the cold until I could catch the connecting train. Suddenly it was all too much and I left the station and paid for a £30 taxi back home.

I think it was about three o’clock in the afternoon when I awoke finally sober. Being too tired to clean myself first, I had collapsed onto the bed and left bloodstains all over the sheets. I grabbed them and threw them in the laundry. I then went into the bathroom and stared at my beaten face in the mirror. Back in a normal state of mind, I could finally see the severity of the beating I took. There were deep cuts, bruising and bumps around the left eye, as well as a few scratches on the right. It was a sorry sight to behold and I suddenly remembered that I was supposed to be going on a date with a girl later that evening. Maybe it could be rearranged, I thought. I then spoke to a friend on the phone who convinced me to head to the hospital to check for a concussion. I walked there for an hour as people continued to look at me like some sort of circus freak. Reaching the hospital, I stood and looked up at that grey building with its rows and rows of windows – windows in which the dying lay dying; windows in which those old hearts beat their last beats, those lungs gasped their last breaths, and those eyes soaked in their last bit of light. I guess that’s where we all end up, maybe with a few relatives and flowers beside us if we are lucky. I headed in where the doctor inspected me and told me that I didn’t have a concussion but that I needed to be careful. I then asked if there was anything I could do to stop the inevitable scarring around my eye. No solid advice was given.

All things considered, I sat back and knew it had truly been a night of disaster. Perhaps the most disastrous of any night out I had been on, and there had been a few dramas along the way. I thought the situation couldn’t get any worse, but apparently the gods had a few more tricks up their sleeves. When I returned home, I checked my jean pockets and realised I had lost my passport at some point during the night. I also remembered that I was supposed to be starting a new job in a few days, and that I would have to turn up on my first day with my face looking like I had just ten rounds with Mike Tyson. That’s not to mention what the girl would think of me when I showed up to the date. It was a sorry state of affairs and, all of a sudden, a strange feeling fell over me. I touched the wounds on my face and felt like crying. It was the realisation of the horror and futility of it all. The world was relentless pain and agony, and no matter how good things got, you were always just a short way away from being stamped down by the boots and fists of life. I was only one week into the new year and already it was looking to be another one of misery and destruction. The gory reflection in the mirror said it all. I was a beaten soul, scratched and scarred and stained with a dirt of which I’d never be clean. It was a sight I had beheld many times in my life – physical and mental wounds that gathered over the years; wounds that told the story of my turbulent path through life that seemed to only get worse and worse.

I continued wallowing in my self-pity until something strange suddenly happened. Out of nowhere, I burst out laughing. I stared into the mirror and laughed and laughed until my stomach hurt. I then walked back into my bedroom and laughed some more. I even did a little dance in front of my wardrobe mirror while marvelling at the absurdity of my appearance. The misery subsided and out of nowhere I felt a strange determination within me. It was something that always appeared in moments when I was stuck in the swamp of despair. The more this world tried to stamp me down, the more I just wanted to rise up against it and bare its blows. No doubt I was still just in shock, or on the way to losing my mind totally, but I looked at my reflection and told myself I was going to make sure my life would be lived before death had its dirty way with me. With that thought in mind, I showered, put some cream on my wounds, drank a beer and got dressed for my date.

It was going to be another magical evening.

~ “You’re a Dreamer” ~

“You’re a dreamer,” she said to me.

“Yeah, and what’s wrong with that?” I replied.

“Nothing I guess. It’s good to dream. But you need to be realistic too.”

“How do you mean?”

“Well,” she started. “You want to not be shaped by the system, to live your own life and do what you love – I understand that and commend you for it – but you gotta keep one foot in the game, you know? You need a reliable way to make money, and some basic security. I’ve seen people end up in serious trouble when they just march against the system not giving a fuck.”

“Really? Like who?” I asked.

“There was this one guy I once knew who had a bit of a crisis and quit his insurance job to pursue his passion for film-making. He lived off his savings and devoted most of his time to directing short films, hoping to break into the industry. Within a year he was jaded and depressed and trying to get his old job back, but unable to. He couldn’t keep up his expenses and had to move back with his parents. The recession then hit and he figured out he didn’t actually have what it took to live on the breadline while chasing a dream. Most people need that safety net. Perhaps you should find a way to have a stable career and do your writing in your spare time.” I paused and thought about it.

“Well, I’m not like most people,” I said finally. “I’m willing to live on the edge to do what I love and chase my dream. And besides, I have no idea what else I can do anyway. If I end up in the gutter, then so be it; at least I gave it a try.”

“You say that now when you’re young and full of angst, but seriously you may start to crave a bit more stability. Things about the system you thought were traps, you may start to look at them with desire. You’ll see the value of routine and being able to plan your weeks and months. You’ll want to not worry about where the rent money is going to come from. I’m not saying you should give up your dream to be a writer – I hope you live a life doing what you love, as we all desire to deep down – but just be aware not to be too gung-ho and burn all your bridges. Think about finding the middle ground. I think that’s the best way.”

“Yeah, yeah…” I stalled. I was starting to feel a bit awkward and lectured. Still, it certainly was one of the more interesting conversations I’d had on a first date. “I’ll think about it. But whatever happens, I’ll always be that wide-eyed dreamer running toward what I love. Maybe there is a balance, but you gotta make sure that chasing that balance didn’t mean you essentially trade your dreams for comfortable mediocrity. I see that a lot; people giving up on themselves and justifying it by calling in ‘growing up’ or something like that. Ultimately the people who achieved something special were those who had the guts to go all the way on the pursuit of their passions. Yes, that pursuit can take us to the edge, but some of us are born to live on the edge. It’s that edge which sharpens our steel; which puts force behind our fingertips. It’s that edge where our greatest work is done.”

At this point I could feel the eyes of the surrounding people in the bar on me. She sat across the table and also stared at me, undoubtedly deciding there and then that things weren’t going to go any further than a first date. It didn’t need to be spoken at that point and I was okay with it; the thoughts she shared showed we weren’t compatible on that front. They were also thoughts similar to those of my sister. My sister was a bit like me – critical of the system and a bit ‘alternative’ in many people’s view, although even she had eventually decided to pursue a career and embrace the idea of a conventional life. She rolled her eyes and looked at me with a ‘come on’ look every time I started talking about how I was going to work odd jobs and do medical trials to fund my lifestyle. “You need to find the middle way,” she also said. Suggestions came of finding a trade, a stable job, or going back to school – all of those things that seemed to identify you as someone who ‘had their shit together’. The same suggestions came from peers, from parents, and from teachers. I guess people were concerned by my irregular behaviour, and felt the need to share what I deemed the common sense of the average civilised person – the same common sense that caused them to stare at me like a deranged madman when I told them my life plans.

It’s that balance you need, as people kept saying to me. To me, seeing how far you were willing to go on the pursuit of your dream was like a test of courage and resolve; and indeed, it seemed to me that the greatest treasures were found by those who went all the way. I thought about the great artists who had lingered on the edge before creating their masterpieces. I imagined a teenage Bob Dylan packing his bags and hitch-hiking to New York to perform in small cafes. I imagined Jack Kerouac drifting around the United States with barely a dollar to his name. Bukowski starving in small rooms alone. Orwell working as a dishwasher in Paris. Of course, these were the ones you knew about because they had eventually achieved success after living on the edge. For every great success, there were countless failures you never heard of. Or, as another dreamer put it: “For every moment of triumph, for every instance of beauty, many souls must be trampled.” (Hunter S Thompson)

It did, of course, occur to me that I was most likely to be one of those trampled souls in the dirt, my dreams dying in a ditch as the sun set on my unsuccessful quest of being a writer. But still, the idea of that was still more appealing than passively drifting through life without any fire in the heart. Even if you failed, you would at least know what it was like to live with a genuine passion for life in your veins. When I walked the street and stared at the faces and listened to the conversations, I felt sure that there weren’t many out there who had that same passion within them. Yes, many of them had the stability and the security. They had the car on the forecourt and the rug on the living room floor. The fireplaces were all lit and the fridges all full; but just how full was the soul? How much fire was in their hearts? How many were truly excited about what they were doing with their life? Personally I felt that many people out there lived in a state of quiet desperation in which they grew old in lives that saw them staring at strangers in the mirror; and indeed there were maybe only a few souls out there who had that magic spark in their eye. That was the spark of the dreamer – the free-spirited warrior who didn’t compromise or filter down their heart’s desires for the sake of ‘fitting in’ or ‘getting real’ or ‘growing up’.

And yes, maybe it’s just me being a romantic idealist, but I believe the world needs those dreamers. Those runaway spirits; those renegade souls; those rebel writers. In fact, I believe the world needs them now more than ever, and I was proud to be one of them – or to at least be considered one of them, as the girl on the date did, as my sister did, and many others did. I think that some of them were even envious that they didn’t have it in them to hurl themselves towards what their souls desired deepest. For me, it was the following of that desire that took me first toward travelling – hopping on that one-way flight to South America after graduating from university. Within that came the mountain climbing, the hiking, the long-distance cycling, and finally, the writing and general avoidance of anything that did not truly fulfil me. All of these things were things my soul screamed out for, and answering that call gave me a fulfillment that nothing else could. Yes, I didn’t have much physically to show for it: but if I were to lay down my head and bid my life goodbye, I would not have left this world without too many regrets. And isn’t that what a good life was? To know you lived it completely and authentically and passionately? To know you made the most of your one fleeting existence here on this planet?

That girl on the date, we didn’t see each other again, but that way okay. Some people are not made for our paths, but she did make me think – I’ll give her that. I know that my mind is a little more manic than most. Perhaps the degree in which I live isn’t for anyone, but it is for me. If one day you find me face down in a ditch – my cold dead hands clutching the manuscript of my unpublished novel – know that my life was one in which I actually felt a fundamental connection to what I was doing when I woke up in the morning. I was there in those moments, not someone merely existing like many out there dwelling in dusty offices of the mind and soul, but someone alive and awake to the world around them. Someone discovering a joy that cannot be bought or sold or manufactured. A joy that comes from living from the core of your being. A joy that comes from answering your soul’s call. A joy that comes from running wide-eyed into life’s wilderness, pursuing your treasure, and not allowing anyone else to shoot you down for daring to dream and chase that dream and live that dream.

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~ The Comfortable Life ~

the comfortable life

~ The Comfortable Life ~

I stood at the top of the hill above the city, looking out at the sprawling concrete jungle before me. It was a world our hunter-gatherer ancestors could not have imagined in their wildest dreams. A whole society living indoors, buying processed and packaged meat from supermarkets, getting everything delivered to their front door and communicating with each other via satellite signals. Lives lived behind desks staring at screens rather than sunsets, chasing promotions rather than prey, climbing career ladders rather than mountains. Lives of sedentary comfort but existential pain; lives of technological development but spiritual emptiness. A life – ultimately – not for me.

It had been just two weeks working an office job and sitting behind a desk all day only to come home to my apartment and sit and stare at another screen. Already I was beginning to see how I was slowly being moulded and melded down into a life of systematic routine. Each morning I awoke at the same time to the alarm clock. I then walked to work and watched the same cars stutter through the traffic jams. The day, on the whole, played out exactly the same as the last one without any real surprise or novelty. This is how it was for masses of people out there: each day sitting behind a desk and staring at a screen before you came home and sank into a sofa to watch yet another screen. Gradually you sank so far into that sofa that your dreams and desires disappeared down the sides. The curtains were drawn along with your creativity and curiosity. From society’s point of view, you were an accepted member of civilisation who had found your groove in the grand scheme of things. You fitted neatly into the system and your life became some sort of well-polished pair of shoes, shiny car or well-groomed lawn outside a suburban home. Things were pretty on the face of things, yet beneath that superficial surface, the spirit began to wane. Too much comfort killed a person. Murdered them. Left them with a tamed spirit and an idle mind. Left them unable to think for themselves.

It was the way of modern society that was now accepted as ‘the real world’. Personally I felt it was a hollow existence but what was the alternative? Running off into the wilderness often seemed like a good option. Sure, I knew that the wilderness was full of things that wanted to kill you. Storms could drown you. Mountains could freeze your toes. Rocks could break your bones. Animals could poison you and tear your flesh apart. It wasn’t quite the easy everyday existence of modern life no doubt, but it seemed a sacrifice that was worth making sometimes. I thought back to my hiking trips in the Himalayas. There were times where my adventures had led me to the precipice of death and destruction; there were times where the feet blistered and my brain ached with apprehension and doubt. But, in those times, there was something that stirred my soul and made the blood flow through full-speed through my veins. That something was a something that was extremely difficult to find in the everyday life of the citizen in modern Western society – a something that just didn’t seem compatible with the life expected of you by your peers and parents.

Of course, the consumer capitalists argue that anyone who thinks differently should go back to the prehistoric ages and live in a cave and hunt boar with a spear or something. They’d argue you’d live twice as long now as you did back then when we didn’t have our comfortable lives, cubicles, smartphones and our takeaway delivery systems. It was a reasonable argument I guess, but I could see people who have made it to eighty yet not lived at all. People stuck in lives that led to obesity, heart disease and vitamin depletion from being stuck inside all day. Then came the mental health problems that this society caused. The anxiety, stress, depression and quiet desperation that haunted the hearts of so many people out there. Seemingly there is a price to pay for all our industrial development; there is something that is twisting and tearing us up because deep down we know that we were not meant to live this way. Our evolution has taken us to a weird place where we now don’t have to worry about dying of disease at thirty-five, but instead we work jobs we don’t like and use that money to pay for therapy and drown our sorrows at the weekend.

As always, I kept my eyes open and looked to find a way to liberate myself from the entrapments of the system. I was from the U.K and there wasn’t much wilderness around apart from the odd country park. So my plan was just to keep saving up some money to afford myself some far-off adventure every now and again to remind myself that it was to be truly alive. That was the trick I had been doing so far, and it seemed to work, always reinvigorating my soul with a sense of life that was sorely missed in the monotony of the work routine. That spell of chaotic adventure every year was truly valuable, and I knew it would be the thing to reach for whenever I felt my spirit slowly being sucked and swallowed up by that sofa of submission.

That sofa of submission was always waiting for you and the thought of it made me recall an elderly guy I used to serve in the supermarket I used to work at. Like me, his life and happiness were dependent on a bit of adventure. He had kept himself in great shape all his life due to regularly going mountaineering, running and on long cross-country bike rides. One day he was up in Scotland when he had a bike accident which permanently damaged his right hip and leg. Consequently, at the age of seventy, his days of venturing out into the wilderness had come to an abrupt end. He was now left to embrace the comfortable life. We spoke often about life in the store while I told him about the latest adventure I had planned and he told me about his new state of being. He wasn’t suicidal or something, but I could sense a sadness in his voice. Confined to his small bungalow, his life was now dependent on television, reading and the same old walk around the neighbourhood. Consequently, I could see that once blazing light in his eyes slowly begin to fade. He was now one of the many comfortable souls out there and the special energy he had had before the accident quickly began to fade. 

Still, at least he had tasted the thrill of an adventure for the majority of his life, which was not something said for many people out there. So many will never know the beauty of jumping the fence of security and allowing themselves to become a little scratched and scarred by the rugged wilderness. So many will never taste the joy of not knowing what is around the next corner or where you will sleep that night. Such a way of life is becoming increasingly alien and the comfortable, sedentary life will only get worse from here. Soon the sex robotos will be here and people will no longer even leave their houses. Soon the food will come through pipes in the ground like water and gas. Soon the Amazon drones will deliver your latest gadgets and gizmos through your window and we will all lie on sofas working from our computers. The wilderness will disappear from the earth’s surface as well as in the majority of people’s hearts. Our souls will be paved and tarmacked over. Our minds will be connected to the internet and there will be no unique or original thought anywhere. Life will become easy and safe and predictable and boring beyond words.

It’s a way of life increasingly hard to avoid but I guess I’ll just keep resisting the system and letting myself get lost in the wild every now and again. I know, I know. Those rocks can break your bones, storms can drown you, mountains freeze your toes and animals poison you and tear your flesh apart. If I die early on some mountain-path, please know I died content with the thought I at least knew what it was to taste the thrill of adventure. That I had explored the unknown and not let myself be spiritually murdered by the mundane. This is the way life that will keep me alive to the end; a way of life that will see me happy to bid it farewell when my time is done. Not a slow and safe march to the grave down a grey highway of routine, television and weekend drinking, but a thrilling run through the wilderness that leaves you screaming for more.

“If you think adventure is dangerous, try routine – it’s lethal.” – Paulo Coehlo

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~ How to Raise a 21st-Century Pet Human-Being ~

~ How to Raise a 21st-century Pet Human-Being ~

“It is no measure of health to be well-adjusted to a profoundly sick society” – Jiddu Krishnamurti

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Congratulations! You are here because you have purchased your very first pet human and are looking for the best insight and advice into looking after and nurturing your animal toward a happy, healthy and productive life! What separates the 21st-century human from many of its fellow animals is the high level of cognitive intelligence that it yields in its abstract DNA. Such development and qualities can often mean having a human as a pet can be a far more encumbering experience than that of other pets (this is because the typical human demands more to look after and regiment into a routine lifestyle). Fortunately, years of social conditioning, engineering and homogenization by veterinary experts has led to the development of an array of cages, products and advice at hand that can now allow owners to have the beautiful experience of owning a pet human, stress-free! Here are some of the essential tips and advice on how to go about looking after your animal and setting up its cage as it goes through its life happily with no alarms and no surprises for you, the owner.

The Wheel 

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Like most animals of cognitive intelligence, your pet human will need some sense of routine in its life to help it lead a happy and fulfilling life – not to mention a mechanism for which this wondrous creature can focus all of its energy upon. Such needs can be nurtured with the addition of a spinning plastic wheel to its cage in which for the animal to instinctively run endlessly around all day. Once this item is purchased and fitted, a happy and healthy human will typically spend at least 8 hours a day, 5 days a week exercising on its wheel, repeating its conditioned habits again and again as the weeks, months and years fly by. The sheer routine of this will provide the animal with a sense of purpose and belonging; furthermore it will also act as a vent in which the human can tire itself out during the day, allowing it to sleep and rest thoroughly during the night. As we all know, there is nothing more annoying than a noisy pet banging against the cage and keeping you awake during the night – not to mention the troublesome thought of it escaping! End that worry now by purchasing a pet wheel from the range of hundreds of thousands currently on the market!

Vitamins and Treats

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To keep your humans happy, healthy and productive in their cage, it is acceptable to provide them with certain vitamins on a moderate basis. A good owner will purchase the three essential treats of Caffeine, Tobacco and Alcohol – these three tasty items can be found at any local store and will help supplement your pet’s living habits and keep them healthily running on the cage wheel efficiently and routinely. For example: caffeine provided to them Monday to Friday will maintain their alertness and concentration, keeping them efficiently running on their wheel in the week; a healthy dose of tobacco will further supplement this behaviour by acting as an aid to vent any stress that may come with such hectic employment endeavours; and finally filling their water bottles with a filling of alcohol at the weekend will drown get any remaining problems out of their system whilst also resetting their batteries before they begin to return back to the routine the following week. It’s all a part of the animals’ natural living habits so it would be cruel not to provide them with these healthy treats!

Important note: please remember not to feed your animals any of the ‘other’ substances on the pet market; such treats ARE NOT natural to their being, may damage their living habits and won’t be beneficial to you, the owner.

Media

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Living life in a cage may often cause your pet to dream of escape (yes, your pet human dreams too). It is only natural for such an intelligent creature to want to discover what’s beyond its confines. However, as good owners, we know that the outside world is a dangerous and perilous place for the domesticated human, and thus it would be irresponsible to let it out into the scary and risky domain beyond those bars. Fortunately, such behaviour can be fairly controlled by providing your pet human with a constant daily stream of media for which to meet its dreams and needs of escapism. For example: fitting a television in its cage will keep it hypnotically entertained with shows of their fellow species competing in singing competitions and reality dating shows; tabloid newspapers will furthermore help them realise the true nature of their dangerous and perilous world beyond those bars, meaning they will slowly lose their mischievous thoughts of trying to escape their cage! With a never-ending stream of shows, celebrity magazines and sensationalist tabloid news, your pet will be spoilt for choice and will become slowly homogenized and relaxed to the condition it lives in – thus allowing you and your pet to both lead calmer lives as it becomes happy with the cage it occupies. Smart stuff, right?

Play Toys

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Finally, just as a dog needs a bone and a cat needs a piece of string, a human also needs playful items to help keep it preoccupied when going about its daily routine. If your pet human is consistently keeping itself busy on its wheel, you may wish to reward it by providing it with a few key play items to maintain its happiness and well-being. Such items over the years have become popular with their species and treating them regularly to the latest smartphones, designer clothes, apps, automobiles and furniture will ultimately keep your much-loved pets happy and productive in their cages – allowing you the owner to sit back and relax whilst your animals lovingly adorn their shiny and pretty possessions. Such items are accessible in shops and stores nationwide, so please don’t be hesitant in treating your humans to the fun little balls of joy they truly deserve!

As you can no doubt see, the sheer array of needs to fulfil for your new pet may seem daunting at first, but after providing them with the things listed above and getting to know your human’s habits and personality, you will soon to be on your way to a loving relationship as you nurse over your animal from day-to-day! Just remember that although the pet-human may be more of a challenge to look after than your typical fish in a bowl, the sense of ownership, power and fulfilment you gain from raising such a magnificent being will ultimately be worth the cost of your care and attention. At the end of the day, humans just want to be kept from harm and looked after without the worries of the fearsome natural world. With the right amount of domestication, regimentation and engineering, not only will your pet human be happy and safe, but it will also be your best friend. Good luck!

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~ Closed Curtains; Closed Mind – The Dangers Of A Sedentary Lifestyle ~

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A fish out of water; a classic car rusting in a garage; a bird in a cage.

Some things in this world just simply aren’t meant to exist in certain environments. Disregarding the qualities that makes them such wonders of life, art and magnificence, it makes our heart ache when we witness such beings go to waste during their precious and powerful moments here in the universe. Contained wonder; contained raw power – a true travesty of existence that leaves most compassionate people with a sense of melancholy when witnessing such unnatural sights as a fish flapping helplessly on sand, or a bird hesitating to spread its wings because of the metal bars three inches in front of its beak. These things do not belong in said environments, we tell ourselves – in is not natural, and it is not just. But in looking at these things and concluding such thoughts, sometimes we need to look in the mirror, look back upon the reflection and ask: what about humans? What about ourselves?

Of all the creatures on planet earth, we are by far the most complex and intellectually powerful. With the tool-set to explore, interact, construct and create, me and you have the dexterity and intelligence to build skyscrapers and climb to the top of mountains; we have the utter depth of language to connect with people from all around the world and go on journeys, start adventures, live dreams, share knowledge and discuss complex ideas. No other being can even get remotely close to the level of communication me and you have right now in the writing, reading and understanding of these words and sentences. In human history our kind has culminated such physical, linguistic and intellectual excellence to sail around the world, write novels, build satellites, fly into space, climb the tallest mountains, run the longest races and break the unbreakable records.

But as majestic and advanced as we are, we are not invincible and – just like the aforementioned creatures – we are also vulnerable and at risk when we are to enter unnatural environments; ironically one which is self-created in the form of a sedentary lifestyle that permeates our daily routine living. Such a way of living comes from an overexposure to technology and a society that places us in one place and often tires us out, leaving many of us not to explore, build, exercise, learn and interact with the world – but to instead live a life of stillness – one where we remain indoors and incessantly consume media as we degenerate our health and complex minds. In doing so we become the salmon out of water, the Chevrolet rusting in the garage, the eagle in the cage. We become the very thing that so often leaves us with a sense of melancholy and sadness – our abilities to explore, build, run and discover contained by a lifestyle choice of closed living.

The effects are deadly. Health campaigners against sedentary living warn that such lifestyles can be linked to as many deaths a year as smoking, with the risk of falling victim to fatal heart diseases rising by 64% when one maintains a sedentary lifestyle. Amongst this, research papers conducted on the public also attribute health problems such as depression, diabetes and even dementia. The problem goes beyond such physical health problems though – it rocks our foundations of mental and spiritual well-being. How can we as people aspire to become learned and knowledgeable about the world when our windows to it become sensationalist tabloid-newspapers and trashy, unimaginative television? How can we learn to talk to people and develop our empathy when we physically interact less and less each day? Whereas a lack of exercise will degenerate our bodies, an over-consumption of media and lack of real world empirical experience will degenerate our minds.

Sure, the technological aspects of the information era present to us many advancements in the world. Computers and their capabilities act as the veins of society; TV news brings us far-off events to the comfort of our homes; our phones make it easier to connect than ever before. But to leave this world completely unregulated, place too much emphasis on it and let this static consumption totally replace our natural environment is unnatural and damaging. In a world where technology is becoming increasingly ubiquitous, we need to seek to experience people, events, and places not through profit-driven media, but through travelexercise and exploration. We should learn not through word of mouth and gossip, but by empirical experiences and real tangible things. These are the things that help us evolve mentally, physically and spiritually – not a static and still sedentary lifestyle that is counterproductive to the evolutionary process that has made us all such advanced beings in the first place.

You and I were meant for so much more than a still lifestyle. So let’s put the fish back in the water, fire up the rusty old Chevrolet one more time and release the eagle from the cage. Take flight. Walk, run or cycle once a day; integrate travelling movement and learning into lifestyles. On the journey of evolution let our lives count for positive, adventurous and progressive strides, not static and still ones. Because as far as you and I go, we are only here once – so let’s use this time to utilise the tools that make us the most advanced species here on earth. Get up from the chair, open the curtains, open our minds, explore, dream, learn, move and discover.

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~ The Movement Of Life ~

~ The Movement of Life ~

Move. You were born to move. From the very second you entered this earth you were born to move. Before you could talk, you cried; before you could walk, you crawled. Wild and curious, you grew and explored the world around you. First was your home and your school, then it was your street and your neighbourhood – then your city and its fields. As the weeks went by, your world and horizons opened up and everything became bigger as you grew into the universe around you. You dreamt, you learnt, you explored, you wandered – and you moved. Because that was the most important thing; that was what was natural. To move and to grow. But what happens? What happens as you get older?

Your natural curious instinct to move and explore is stifled out of you. You become an adult and are asked to decide on things that ultimately make you static. You’re asked to have a job in a singular building in which to spend your adult life saving to buy a static house that ultimately compounds and cements one’s lack of movement. Your range of movement that once soared week-in, week-out as you grew into your world becomes reduced to the simple repetitive commute to work, the few square metres in the building of the work space and the same old journey to the supermarket and pub at the weekend. Too tired after work, you park yourself down on the sofa to watch a box in front of you every night. Your mental and spiritual world also becomes ever-harder to expand and explore; with time constraints and a grinding exhausting routine, there is no time to write that book, to learn that language or to play that instrument. You are too tired and too busy. So you no longer explore, you no longer wander – and you no longer move.

But it’s not all your natural state of being; a lack of movement in intrinsic to a lack of life after all – no movement consequently suggests no life. If one lets their physical and mental movement decline exponentially then they are left living less and less each day as they descend into old age. And so you have to respond. To live to your fullest and make the most of now, you have to move. Whoever you are, in whatever capacity, in whatever format. Go running before or after work; find time to work on your passion; travel to a new place on the weekend; save up all your money to go on an adventure – an exploration, a journey, a voyage. If you’re young and have no responsibilities to attain to, then travel and live on the other side of the world, in a new culture, a new landscape. If you’re old and encumbered with responsibilities then embrace them – take your kids to new places, try new things in your spare time, seek to learn something new and break bad habits.

    Exercise. Exercise your body, your rights of freedom, your right to explore, grow and be happy. The ability to run, to cycle, to jump or to climb is due to the ownership of the greatest device one can ever own. Your body is the most valuable piece of equipment you will ever have the privilege to operate – a privilege that is fully denied to many others. So make the most of your mobility and feel the power of your existence as you tread the earth’s vibrant soil and run through space and time. Make the most of your mobility and move.

    And keep moving. Don’t let your movement decrease; ever. Stay hungry, stay wild. Your movement is the exercise of your life, your process of being conscious, alive and a part of this universe. It’s what quantifies your existence in this moment right here – right now. Never let your life slow down to the point where you are sitting still and killing time; not while you have the ability to run, fly and soar into the space around you. Just remember that the day all your movement decreases completely and you cease to move and look forward, mentally and physically, will ultimately be the last day of your life. To move is to live. So get up, open your horizons, explore your passions, plan your adventures, keep growing and keep moving. Always.”

(taken from my book ‘The Thoughts From The Wild’ available here)

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~ Life Is An Opportunity: Go All The Way ~

~ Life Is An Opportunity: Go All The Way ~

“Naked and screaming you arrived: a living, breathing organism made of flesh, skin and bones on a rock spinning a thousand miles per hour as it levitates around a giant ball of fire in an infinite universe of exploding stars, black holes and interstellar nebulae. You arrived in your physical form with a body to explore with, a head to think with and time to play with – time that is, to undertake the brief, bittersweet journey that we call life. Planet earth is the stage for that journey – a playground of immense beauty where there are endless possibilities and where one thing can’t be denied. That from the day we are born until the day that we all die: life here is an opportunity.

It is an opportunity for us to come to terms with the mind-blowing scenario of life on this floating rock and decide how we are going to make the most of it. To decide how many of our dreams we are going to follow; to decide how many places we are going to visit; to decide how any professions we are going to undertake; to decide how many people we are going to share our journey with. Life is an opportunity – a chance to make our lives extraordinary and daring; a chance for all of us to push the lever of life down hard, chase the horizon and explore our wildest dreams. Life is an opportunity.

Yet when one looks at the world and society, how many people can honestly say they are pushing the lever down hard? Who are doing all that they can to make the most of their existence in the universe? Who are either chasing or living their dreams? We are all different, and one person’s version of a life well-lived is different to another’s, but so commonly as individuals we are disempowered and discouraged to neglect our dreams and passions (no matter how ridiculous they are) in order to be moulded and shaped by the cultures in which we are raised to live a life that is just ‘okay’ and ‘safe’. We forget that life is an opportunity and do things not because it’s true to our own nature, but to keep up with culture; to do something because everybody else ‘does that’ and because other people expect it of us.

That is why every now and again, one of us must come forward from the herd and remind people that they are all individuals. And that they are free. Free to chase their dreams and dance the ridiculous dance of life in an infinite universe. Free to abandon ideology and a culture that is oppressive to the true nature of the self. That they are free to realise once more that life is an opportunity for the artist to create works of art; for the athlete to set new records; for the scientist to make new discoveries; for the builder to create new structures; for the explorer to explore new places. It is a moment in time where the individual has the brief period of a few decades to make the most of their ticket in the playground of planet earth. And not to let any external force, any culture or any ideology hinder his or herself in any way.

When Martin Luther King stood up to fight for the freedom of black Americans, he knew that he would put himself in grave danger – but he also knew life was an opportunity; when Mark Zuckerberg dropped out of one of the world’s top universities to create the world’s largest social network, he faced failure and ridicule – but he also knew life was an opportunity; when Tenzing Norgay and Edmund Hilary first ascended Mount Everest they knew the immense dangers involved – but they also knew life was an opportunity. They knew that such an existence is precious and finite – and thus a chance to go all the way; to stand up for humanity and push the boundaries of exploration, passion and adventure.

And so, just like them, it is down to each one of us to decide at what length we want to explore our passions and dreams – no matter how big or small they may be deemed. It is down to us to look in the mirror, gaze into the eye of self and say: what am I doing right now to live my life the best I can? What am I doing this week that keeps me on track to taking full advantage of this extraordinary reality I am a part of? Ultimately, what am I doing to go all the way in this magical and beautiful world? Because, as far as we know, there is only one life. So, push the lever down hard; make the most of it. Explore. Dream. Discover. Create.

This is your opportunity.

 

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(taken from my book ‘The Thoughts From The Wild’ available here)

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~ Expanding Horizons ~

~ Expanding Horizons ~

Your life is a miracle. An unprecedented phenomenon that can never, or will never, be matched on any imaginable level. The very fact that you are currently conscious reading and understanding these letters, words and sentences is a moment in which its recipe consists of infinite combinations of abstract events happening in the right space at the right time. The optimum position of our planet in the universe; the perfect conditions on earth for life to flourish and evolve; the very fact that your parents went out to the same place on the same day and met each other. Just think: above anyone else that day, in any place, at any moment, they met each other – and you and your ridiculously complex DNA were the result. Just like they were when their parents before them met each other. And their parents. And their parents. The very fact that all these endless combinations of events led to your being on this earth means that your very existence is miraculous – a stoic defiance of the odds and the culmination of a billion unlikely things all gelling together in perfect discourse. YOU are a miracle. So revel in it. Celebrate it. Your life should be a symphony.

But it throws me – life, sometimes. It saddens me even. Amongst this grand symphony of existence on the magnificent stage of planet earth, I look around and I see so many of us consumed by monotony, recklessly killing the precious time that has been gifted to us. I see so many of us plodding along aimlessly, burying our desires, toiling endlessly in a job that we have no interest in – contentedly dwelling in dead-end towns where nothing ever happens until our minds and bodies become old and weathered. With our precious time on this earth dissipating as we sit comfortably on a sedentary cushion, we so easily fall into the trap of drawing the curtains on our world and perpetually living a systematic and samey routine in which we let days become weeks, let weeks become months, and let months inevitably become years. So many amazing opportunities and experiences drifting on by in the great ocean of time out in this vast world – yet we don’t reach out to explore and experience. And why? Why in a universe of violent bursts and endless movement do so many of us let our lives and horizons become so static and still? Why in a world where we could explore and experience a million different things do we persist in doing the same ones week in, week out?

I don’t hasten to say it, but I believe it to be so –  just because it’s easy.  It’s easy for us to get accustomed and stay in one place; it’s convenient for us to only ever interact to the same people; it’s comfortable for us to perpetually relive the same week and repeat the same habits for a lifetime. Due to the impulses of comfort, routine and security, a world can become a bubble – and eventually that bubble can become a world. A world where precious time flies by as we tumble endlessly through the vices of systematic living; a world where comfort and frivolous possessions rank higher than personal growth and experiences; a world where magazines and newspapers open and our minds close.

I know this because I’ve seen it, and I see it more vividly now than ever. After seventeen months of travelling around the world, seeing other-worldly sights, meeting hundreds of new people, sharing ideas, thoughts, language and adventures, I return home from this small lifetime to find that very little has changed. People have new shoes, but the same routine; people have new televisions, but the same knowledge; people have new cars, but the same scripted conversations. And with the pain and bitterness that comes with being back to square one, I have to look in the mirror and ask myself: is this lifestyle really our final destination? Is this static, comfortable bubble really where you and I want to dwell till the end of our days?

Even after only just a few of years of living a culture of experience rather than one of security and possession, I personally already know my answer to this is forever a resounding no. Life is not some story we tell ourselves; it is neither a tale of the past or a preconception of the future – it is the very thing that is happening to us right here – right now. Even as you’re reading this sentence. Now is forever; and if we are to sink into a bubble, stay still and never plot to move forward in any way – nor experience other things, peoples, places and ideas – then we are being short-sighted and condemning ourselves to not taking full advantage of the miracle of life and consciousness that we have all been gifted. And we’re bigger than that; in a time and age where we are more connected and capable than ever before – you and I are bigger than that bubble. Bigger than our sofa realities; bigger than those tabloid newspapers; bigger than closing our curtains and selves off from the outside world.

Our time is now and our time is precious. It truly is – like a drop in an ocean or a grain of sand in the desert, our brief time period of existence is ultimately nothing against the vast canvass of time in the universe. And this universe will not wait. Life is not a rehearsal; it is not some show on television – it will come to an end and there will be no replay button. Time shall pass; youth shall escape us; our bodies shall age; our lives will come to an end – and we will all die – that is undeniable and for sure. But when the time comes, our sun sets and our miraculous time on this earth comes to an end, the only thing of any importance to me and you will be just how much we ever really lived in the first place.”

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(taken from my book ‘The Thoughts From The Wild’ available here)