thoughts

~ Escaping the Grind ~

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~ Escaping the Grind ~

“All I wanted to do was to live, but there were systems which prevented it from happening. It was the mechanical nature of modern life which forced you into a robotic state of existence. I could see it in the stuttering traffic jams, in the ticking clocks, in the computer loading screens. The repetitive nature of everything going round and round until you became some sort of machine yourself. Eventually your thoughts and your words became as predictable as clockwork itself. Your creativity and imagination was replaced with practicality and pragmaticality. After a while life became some sort of mindless march to an unsure goal. It was like we were all creating something, but the act of finally enjoying what it was we had created never came. It was the perpetual loading screen. The feeling of completeness which never arrived. The relentless push and slog through life to get to a place which was seemingly always out of reach. Consequently we lived in a world of people staring at the red lights waiting for life to finally begin; of people staring at screens trying to find a connection that would not come; of people missing the beauty of life because of the relentless obsession with the future. It was a strange state of existence and often my eyes would look to nature to remind myself of the true rhythm of life in the present moment. Those birds swooping and soaring; those leaves fluttering in the wind; those ripples gliding across the water. As human-beings, we had deviated so far from the natural rhythm of things. We were out of sync with the universe, which was no doubt the reason why we were so destructive toward it. The thought of it all caused a great rebellion to stir in my heart. More than anything I just wanted to escape the grind, to punch the clock – to smash the machine and emerge back to a way of life that was sane. A way of life that was peaceful. A way of life that understood life was a dance to be danced and not a battle to be won.”

thoughts

~ A Familiar Feeling ~

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~ A Familiar Feeling ~

“I had been back almost a year, living the normal life. At times I thought I had gotten rid of the itch; that my life might finally begin to settle down into some sort of steady routine. Maybe it was tiredness but a part of me even wanted that at times. But no matter what happened, it was always there in my heart, like a ghost that would never grant me peace. The desire for the open road. It called my name back into the unknown. It left me staring up at ceilings in the middle of the night. I knew it would never go away: that need to throw my things into a backpack and go get lost on a new journey. It was a feeling that left me looking out at the world around me: the comfort, the security, the familiarity. It was an easy life and a safe life. It was a life many people around the world would have killed for, but I just couldn’t be happy with it. No matter how much I tried to follow the script and settle in, at all times a great force possessed me to abandon it all for the thrill of adventure. Gradually I realised that there was no way around it. Some of us just can’t be permanently adjusted to systems and societies. We cannot fit into forms or fashions. We are wild at heart, explorative in spirit. We have those eyes that look to the horizon, those feet that itch for adventure, that heart that aches for freedom. And no matter where we go or what we do, there will always be a piece of us longing to go to a place where we do not know what will happen but the rising and setting of the sun. That wilderness is our home, and it is the home that will make us wanderers until the end of our days.”

thoughts

~ The Greatest Adventure of All ~

born explorer

~ The Greatest Adventure of All ~

“I knew from a young age that I was a born explorer. I wanted to explore everything, but in this life the act of growing up is something that asks you to quell that state of being. You become static in one place, stuck in a routine. You sink into a sofa and close your curtains to the world. I didn’t see how it would be possible for me to adjust to it at all, at least without killing a large part of myself. At all times my heart was longing to run free into an open wilderness; to venture into the unknown and see something new and wonderful. I looked at the script of society and was confused with what was asked of me to fit in. Forty-eight weeks of work a year, jobs that didn’t allow gaps, pieces of paper that cemented you down to one spot. The adult game was a strange one and one that I was not afraid to say I was fearful of. Everything good in my life had come from doing the opposite of what their culture and conventions asked. I had found greater riches within myself than any of their advertised products could offer me. I knew that the existence expected of me would slowly kill whatever was real inside of me. So what was I to do? I thought of how I could make it work on both ends – to adjust myself in some way – but in truth there was always only one thing ever to do for a natural born explorer. It was to reject. To reject their systems and reject their styles. To follow your values. To be brave enough to turn your back on a way of life that does not offer you any fulfilment whatsoever. Yes, there will be prices to pay, but the thrill of living a life full of adventure and exploration will make it seem small in comparison. You may not be considered successful in a traditional sense, but you will have a wealth that so many people will never know: the wealth of waking up every day and knowing that you are living a life that is totally true to yourself. And in a world where so few have dared venture into such territory, perhaps that – in itself – is the greatest adventure of all.”

 

thoughts

~ An Emergency Within ~

self isolation

~ An Emergency Within ~

“Again I returned to the world of normality and every time I came back, it seemed that the place had gotten more insane than before, or maybe I had – often it was hard to tell. It was true that I was a wreck compared to everyone else. Everyone strolled through life living sane and orderly lives, but meanwhile I could feel the madness scratching away at the inside of my skin. I could feel the world attacking me for who I was. I could hear the sirens screaming inside my skull; cries of horror in the dark alleyways of my mind. I knew deep down that something was wrong with me – something was very wrong with me and my life. I guess like everyone else, I felt like I had a right to belong somewhere in this world. Even if it was just for a short while, I felt like I should have had a taste of home – a taste of what it was like to stare into the eyes of someone who understood me for who I really was. But everywhere I went I was left confused and alienated by what I saw around me. The empty conversations. The mindless conventions. The strange mannequin faces. As time went on, the idea of belonging somewhere in my lifetime increasingly became a distant dream. Some people assured me that everyone had their place in society, but for me that place was seemingly in the solitary shadows, in the sewers and gutters – in the dark rooms of isolation where my heart screamed out for a connection that would just not come.

Sometimes when it all became too much, I looked at the phone and thought of calling for help, but realistically there was no one out there to call. The times I had opened up to others and tried to get close, I had been shrugged off and cast out. I understood that I guess. People had their own problems to deal with and they didn’t need a disaster like me to add to their baggage. Over time I came to realise that my fight was to be a solitary one and one that was probably going to last a lifetime. And yes I can’t lie: at times the idea of giving up becomes desirable, but ultimately something inside will not let myself be murdered by this world without a fight. Like others before me, I will keep searching for whatever strength I can find. Fighting my way through the shadows. Dragging my smouldered, blistered dreams through the flames. Breathing life back into my starving soul. Another scratched and scarred being searching for the daylight that will one day make all this darkness disappear.”

short stories

~ The Search For Meaning ~

the fighter

~ The Search For Meaning ~

“So why do you do it if you don’t make much money from it? It’s a lot of time to devote to something isn’t it for a small return? What’s the end goal here?”

I looked into his eyes. Those eyes of normality. I cleared my throat. I went ahead and explained how I wrote my books not for fame or fortune, but instead of a strong need to fulfil myself from deep within. To do something that stirred my soul. To create some meaning in a seemingly meaningless world. Okay, maybe I left that last part out, but I could see from his blank expression how he thought it was strange that I devoted so much of myself to something which wasn’t rewarded by money or women or a firm pat on the back from your boss. Mostly my writing was only read by a small amount of people, but still I typed away at that keyboard like a madman anyway. It was something I was driven to do with all my heart and blood and guts. In the world, I looked around at things I was supposed to desire. I saw jobs that gave you money, prestige – hell, sometimes even your own parking space – but nothing that really was going to make me content and fulfilled at my core. Some of those jobs really gave you quite a lot of money after a while, but what could I really do with it that actually fulfilled me? Buy some new clothes? Drink some higher quality beer? Gamble it all away at the races for a cheap thrill? 

Looking around at my surrounding society, I essentially saw myself stuck in a soul-sucking system where people were forced to consumerism, alcoholism, gambling and whatever else it was which helped fill that inner existential void which inevitably widened every year. Many had children and this kept them busy with a purpose for a couple of decades, but I wasn’t too attracted to that prospect either. After all, if you had children just because you couldn’t find any meaning in your own life, it seemed selfish to bring more people into the world who would have to face the same recurring existential dilemma. It seemed that it wasn’t just me who was uninterested in creating a little miniature version of myself; I was now part of a generation where people were spawning fewer human-beings into the world than ever before. Consequently, we now lived in a dystopian world where there were a growing amount of people trying to find something to get out of bed for, or to keep them busy with – or to simply just do anything that stopped them staring into space thinking about the monotony and banality of it all. The life of tedious and trivial repetition. The life of watching other people’s lives on soap operas. The life where many people’s greatest aspiration was bossing around a bunch of bored people in a dusty office room.

I guess it was that desire to transcend the monotony of the ordinary which led me to writing – to strumming away on this grubby keyboard right now. Travelling on backpacking trips had kept me busy for a few years of my young adult life, and it really was true that travelling and exploring other countries and cultures had kept me fulfilled to a degree, but eventually the novelty of it had dried up and I needed something else to stoke the fire within. Modern society seemingly had nothing to offer me, and so I now tried to create some meaning by locking myself away in an isolated room as I obsessively tried to create the next literary masterpiece. 

It was fair to say the attempts to make our lives meaningful were often extreme and I figured many of us would have been better off in the hunter-gatherers times where you spent your time gathering food and supplies while enjoying the leisure that came alongside that. It seemed to me that so many people out there had been spiritually murdered or left unfulfilled by the sedentary and relatively easy lifestyle of modern life that gave you comfort in abundance, but left you feeling like you were some sort of robotic cog in a machine. There it all was lined up all nicely for you. The animals slaughtered out of sight and packaged neatly on supermarket shelves. The clothes and furniture delivered right to your front door. The partners available at the flick of a finger on internet dating apps. Comfortable office jobs that you had absolutely no connection to. There was no real fight to be had; no great battle to be won. Some still chose to join the army and be thrown into some sort of oil-war out in the middle east, but that was a desperate measure at best. 

A life without real meaning was torture to some people and consequently the search for it often came out in violent and ugly ways. One only had to go to a football match and see the twisted, cursing faces of people in the crowd screaming out their inner frustration at a referee simply trying to do his job. Their lack of meaning and inner fulfilment led them not only to venting at sporting events, but to the bottle – the pill – the powder. It, of course, led them to political things too. When Brexit happened in the U.K, many people suddenly saw something arbitrary to fight for. With newspaper headlines rallying you to fight for your country like there was an actual war going on, so many people jumped on board to give themselves a sense of identity and purpose that they had been missing for a long time. In their shouting faces, I saw the pain and lack of meaning in their everyday lives which had drawn them to this ‘war’. Ultimately this is what happens when a man or woman has no true calling or belonging in their everyday life – they latch onto whatever the hell it is that makes them feel their lives have something worth fighting for.

Our quest to give our lives purpose was like a thorn in our sides and often I wished I could live a life as purposeless as a cat, just sitting around and being content with sleeping and the occasional meal here and there. Naturally this desire led me to an interest in Buddhism which celebrated the notion of the purposeless life. I researched a lot about Buddhism, reading books and watching youtube videos. I soon found myself meditating often and feeling the benefits of the Eastern philosophy. Western society was all about achieving success and status and chasing promotions and whatever the hell it was that was supposed to make you happy. But with Buddhism, you went the opposite way – you eliminated desire and then had everything you ever needed right on your front door. With this in mind, I went through a period of embracing the purposeless life. I meditated twice a day and went for long, slow walks in the parks. I stopped stressing and straining at work. I quit being anxious about the future and things out of my control. The lifestyle was a welcome change but after a while, the desire to find some purpose came creeping back like an incurable disease. Couple that with people constantly asking you what ‘your plans’ were, then it was only natural that my need to create some specific goal or point to my life came back.

So I went back out into the world and looked at what I could do to make my life meaningful. Of course, by that point, I already knew without question the direction I would take. The feeling I got when I read those messages that came in about my writing was like spiritual heroin. Via my blog and self-published books, I had already inspired people to change their lives, quit jobs and pursue their deepest dreams and desires. That feedback was something that stirred my soul beyond anything else I had experienced in this life; it gave me a pleasure which couldn’t come from any drink, drug or woman. I needed more of it so I sat back and planned to write another book, and then another one – and even if my writing only had an effect on just a handful of people – then that was the existential purpose of my life. To write, write, write. To share the contents of my heart and soul. To bleed my brain dry. To pour everything onto the page and hope that it had an effect on someone out there in the world. 

It’s been a long and slippery road but this is my third book of writing and I now feel like I have manufactured more meaning in my life than ever before. There is now a contentment in my heart when I wake up every day – a fire in my eyes which I can’t be sure I see too often out on those grey streets. Hell, I’ll even go as far to say that I now feel qualified to give some advice. Well, here it goes if you’ll forgive me. Are you also staring into those skies and spaces and feeling existentially empty? Are you also yearning to feel like you’re living and not merely existing? Well, if I may put forward yet another tiring opinion from the growing amount of keyboard philosophers out there: not much makes me feel alive in our modern society, and maybe I don’t have all the answers, but I know that strumming these keyboard keys right now is a better fight than stressfully chasing some promotion or saving up for something I don’t actually need. I guess if I had any advice it would be not to mindlessly grab at what’s in front of you. Don’t try and fill an internal void with external things. Don’t try and obtain happiness through material goods or whatever the hell it is your peers and parents tell you will make you satisfied. Spend some time alone and get to know yourself. Find what makes your heart and fingers twitch a little faster. Find what makes you forget about everything else. The world around you may have got you confused, but deep down inside yourself you already know what you need to be complete and fulfilled. Let it be revealed to you slowly and surely in solitude and silence. Let it be unlocked in the heart. It’s there – your true calling – waiting for you to stand up. Waiting for you to take it. Waiting for you to make sure you are living a life, and not just existing in one.

thoughts

~ Towards the Dream ~

man walking night

“You’ve gotta hold on to them. Those dreams and desires that haunt your heart; that stir in the depths of your soul; that scratch and claw at the walls of your skull. It is easy – it is so very easy to listen to those voices of fear and doubt. To keel over under the weight of the system. To abandon your deepest desires for the sake of a comfortable and crowd-pleasing existence. It takes something a bit extra to abandon such notions and walk fearlessly in the direction of your truest life. And yes: the journey won’t be easy or straightforward. Doubt and discomfort will be felt. Isolation will be experienced. The reflection in the mirror will stare back with testing eyes. But the beauty of living a life totally true to yourself will give those eyes a unique shine – a shine that is hard to find in a world where so many let their inner flame die out without a fight. Don’t let that fate be your fate. Don’t let yourself become another wanderer in that wasteland of broken dreams. Be brave enough to follow your heart. Have the courage of a warrior; the mind of a dreamer; the spirit of a hunter. Have the guts of someone who chose not to settle for life, but who instead felt the glory of what it was like to run full-speed in the direction of their deepest dreams and desires.”

thoughts

~ The Silent Submission ~

~ The Silent Submission ~

“It’s a world of broken people with broken hearts. Of minds full of desperation and desolation. Of starving souls sitting behind desks and staring into space, dreaming of something distant and out of reach – something that can not be purchased in any store or downloaded onto any computer. It’s a world of people tightly gripping onto steering wheels as they try not to go insane on the morning commute. A world of people scrolling on their phones to try and connect with someone or something. A world of people drifting down the sidewalks of life, following someone else’s path and not their own. The absurdity pervades and I like so many others have stared up into those skies dreaming of something to take me away from all this madness. The human condition. The suffocation of society. The struggle to hang onto who you really are as this world strikes you from every angle. Few make it through the machine without being torn up beyond repair. Out there on those streets I stare at the passing faces and see eyes losing their light, hearts losing their fire, minds losing their madness. I see tired faces of sickness and sadness. I see mouths that move but do not speak. This thirst for life in my veins will not let me succumb to the same solemn fate. The wilderness in my heart roars out for some kind of glory. The glory of breaking free from it all. The glory of taking your mind back from the machine. The glory of making sure your life is one that is lived totally to the full, and not stutters slowly into a silent submission of the heart and mind and soul.”

people walking street