thoughts

~ Fear of the Future ~

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~ Fear of the Future ~

The ice caps melting. Australia on fire. The ocean filling with plastic. The Amazon slowly disappearing off the map. David Attenborough on his last legs. Angry Orangutans smashing rocks against bulldozers. Young girls sailing across the Atlantic to shout at world leaders. The earth’s temperature rising and rising. The rainforest trees falling and falling. The media telling you all of this was less important than the royal family or an episode of Love Island…

The world was seemingly coming to an end and yet we still marched mindlessly through the motions of everyday life, working our meaningless jobs, sinking into our sofas, drawing our curtains and watching television show after television as our minds became as polluted as the very air we breathed. We were a species at war against the very organism we were a part of. Like a virus, we ripped and tore at the flesh of our host. We spoke of our career aspirations for the future while ignoring the fact that we were on the verge of some sort of environmental and social apocalypse. I could feel a looming sense of dread was slowly building, the storm of destruction waiting to rain down upon us. The anxiety was at an all-time high for some people and it wasn’t uncommon to hear someone talking about how bringing kids into the modern world was an act of cruelty. 

It was easy to see why some people were choosing to not reproduce. After all, why bring a baby into the blender with the rest of us? We were on track for total destruction and the way I saw it, it was going to go one or two ways. A great awakening would occur and people would realise that they are continuous with the natural universe. They would realise that it’s better to work with nature rather than against it, and thus society would begin to adjust to treat the environment with love rather than hate. Minimalism would arrive. Sustainable technologies would run the world. Meditation would become commonplace and people would put the environment before profit. It was a nice thought to ponder but in all honesty, it was just a dream. When I really thought about it, there was no way things were going to be turned around at this stage. Society had simply gotten too insane. Money and Brexit were more important than the biological health of the organism we were a part of. People cared only for their cars and castles. Angry mothers shouted at supermarket workers when told that shopping bags now cost five pence. In their resentful faces I could see the destruction and hate that our species had buried in our collective consciousness. We were always meant to destroy the world. It was ingrained in our nature from the start. It was our unavoidable destiny to wipe ourselves out.

The next century or two will be the unfolding of our demise. What will happen is the lands will be flooded, food will become scarce and society will gradually collapse under the weight of the environmental crisis. The people will live in squalor and the rich will shield themselves in pleasure-domes of material comfort. Eventually those rich will leave the earth in the last spaceships as humanity descends into desperate, frenzied chaos. All of this apocalypse waits – and sooner than we think. But still, tomorrow I will face the faces of people again asking me my plans for the future and all of that bullshit. My plans for the future? Well if you must know I imagine myself building a rocket and taking off from this sinking ship. I imagine myself sailing through the cosmos for many years in search of a new home – one in which a sane species of intellect populates peacefully. One that is harmonious with the environment rather than at war with it. One that values nature more than a piece of paper with a number on it. But for now I guess I will sit around drinking beer and awaiting our earthly demise. I will try to find what joy I can as our last years on earth are lived out with people like Trump, Putin and Boris Johnson at the helm of the ship of stupidity that sails us into the storm. Make no mistake. The abyss awaits. These men of nothingness. This system of nothingness. I know not that I can save this world, I only hope to save my soul before we all drown in this abyss. May these words been found somewhere beneath the rubble. If any aliens are reading this and are wondering what happened, I don’t know what to say. Humanity happened. And that was enough to destroy us all. 

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.”

 

short stories

~ A Nightmare on the High Street ~

entrapment

~ A Nightmare on the High Street ~

I woke up in my room with a hangover from hell. A storm raged in my head and my tongue felt as dry as sandpaper. I had no recollection of getting home and a quick search in my pockets gave no clues to the tragedy of the night’s story. I sat up and looked around at my lair. Beer cans lay toppled on my bedside draw, my clothes were strewn across the floor and a general sense of dread seeped into every corner of the room. A spot of tidying up was necessary, but first my stomach was screaming out for sustenance of some kind. I dragged myself out of bed, got dressed and went out in pursuit of something to alleviate the hunger and the pain.

It was normally a ten-minute walk to the city centre but I made it there in fifteen. It was a journey which soon turned into a sinister one, and not just because of the rain clouds gathering. Walking down the busy Saturday high-street, I looked at the faces of the people around me and felt like I had entered some sort of nightmare. Perhaps it was the paranoia of the hangover, but this time they looked even more abhorrent than normal. Their expressions were hideous, their laughs were hideous, their movements were hideous. A sinister aura filled the air like I was in some sort of horror movie. Humanity was a strange foreign species and sometimes when my mind was in the right place, I could see them for the terrifying creatures they were. It was the way they clutched those shopping bags; the way they stuffed McDonald’s burgers down their throats; the way the red-faced mothers pushed those prams with the screaming kids along. In their red faces you could see the strain and the pain to heave humanity relentlessly forwards to its doomed future – towards a future of greyness becoming constructed by the cranes that loomed over us.

Suddenly I felt the paranoia and alienation stronger than ever. I felt that they were going to spot that I wasn’t one of them and lynch me up for the unwelcome guest I was. They were going to burn me on a stake, stone me to death – chop me to pieces and feed me to their dogs. A panic attack was brewing and I knew I had to get out of there fast. I looked around. I spotted a run-down old bar just off of the side streets and headed there to take shelter.

After entering I looked around cautiously to observe my surroundings. It was a dark room with a musty smell in the air and a decor that was in desperate need of refurbishment. Old men were dotted around on tables alone and an awkward silence filled the air. I ordered a pint of Guinness from the bar and sat down in the corner. Across the room an old man with beer down him sat on his stool leering at me. He took a large sip of his beer and then placed it down firmly on the bar.  “We got ourselves a newbie here,” he said. “What’s your name kid?” I told him my name then looked away to sip my beer, hoping he would leave me in peace. It was no luck; he kept talking at me and by this point there were three other elderly men glaring at me with frightening looks. I thought the darkness of the bar would save me from the terror of the streets, but it appeared I had stumbled into a haunted house of some sort. I could see the horror and consternation in their disturbed faces. Faces of sadness and defeat; faces ravaged by time and life; faces of tired old men drinking alone at tables while waiting to live and waiting to die. I then spotted some obese woman plastered in cheap make-up eyeing me up while trying to stir her drink with a straw seductively. There was only so much I could take before I took my leave and headed back out onto the streets.

Outside I turned and almost tripped over a homeless person sitting there in the rain. “Got any change kid?” he asked. Naturally I didn’t; no one had physical cash any more. I apologised and left him there wondering if one day I would face the same fate of the gutter. The next corner I turned around there was a group of Jehovah’s Witnesses standing and preaching their gospel to anyone who would listen. They claimed to be people of faith, but looking into their eyes I could only see fear. It was the way they stared and the way they spoke. It was the way they clung onto those signs and ideologies because they were as lost and frightened as we all were. And so they should have been. Looking at the scenes around me, it was clear the apocalypse was coming and that no god was coming to save them.

I continued making my way across the main square while trying to avoid the manic crowd. They now seemed to be coming in the hundreds of thousands like an angry swarm of locusts. The noise was deafening. My panic started brewing once again so I sat down for a second to try and calm down. I breathed in and out deeply to catch my breath while observing my surroundings. Looking around the square, I saw an old man feeding the pigeons a little down from me. He had a look of sadness in his eyes; it was subtle but it was there. Some little kids pointed and poked fun at him. One of their parents spotted them but said nothing, instead turning away to look at their phone. The old man noticed the kids and continued to feed the pigeons. I thought I could see a tear in his eye, but perhaps it was just the rain – I couldn’t be sure.

After a couple of minutes I carried on looking for somewhere to eat. I turned a corner and saw some flowers left outside a shop where some kid had been stabbed to death on a night out a couple of weeks before. It was a place I had walked past many times drunk and the thought hit me how easily it could have been me who bled out alone in the cold winter night. Twenty years old and slain on the sidewalk in a drunken moment of madness. The flowers lay soaked in the rain and some had already begun to wilt. One card bore the message “May you rest with the angels.” Another read “I pray that you are now in a better place.” I hoped they were right.

 Suddenly the crowds on the street started getting bigger and bigger; the noise louder and louder. My head started spinning and the panic struck hard again. I needed to get out of there. I started jogging. I carried on until I reached a food joint I liked. I headed in, ordered some food and sat down alone in a corner. Five minutes of solitude passed until a family came and sat down next to me. It wasn’t long before the mother started shouting at one of the children for throwing a chip at his sister. A stern telling off resulted in the kid to start screaming and crying. The mother carried on shouting until the point she was almost screaming too. At that moment it felt as if the whole world was screaming and crying. The people, the buildings, the walls, the weather. All that noise that pierced me to the bone; all those shrieks and cries that I just couldn’t escape.

I couldn’t take anymore and headed back out onto the street. At this point the rain was coming down more heavily and a sense of total desolation washed over me. I stood frozen in time and space like some sort of statue. I could hear the sirens wailing in the distance, the chavs cursing, the drunks shouting, the cars beeping. I could see the plastered makeup faces and mindless marching crowds. Suddenly I had this feeling I was stranded in a strange world far, far away from whatever place I was supposed to be. I had crash-landed into a place where I didn’t belong. My flesh and bones knew the terror of my environment and asked me to retreat from it all. My apartment room called to me and I started running home at a quick pace. I weaved in and out the crowds. I darted across the traffic. I passed the houses, the parks, the buildings. I kept running and eventually made it to my apartment and ran inside. I slammed the door shut and walked over to collapse onto my bed. 

Back in my lair, I stared around me and suddenly felt an overwhelming gratitude for my solitude. I looked at those four walls like the great guardians they were. They were the walls that kept the world at bay – the walls that sheltered me from the horrors of humanity. It was all out there: the mindless people, the empty eyes, the broken hearts, the starving homeless, the stabbing victims, the lonely souls, the screaming children, the old alcoholics waiting to die in dank bars. Maybe my fate wasn’t great, but to be alone in this room was a relief from the terror that lay waiting for me outside. I was trapped in a world to which I didn’t belong, and sometimes when my mind was in the right place, I could see the true horror of my circumstance all around. I closed my eyes and laid down on my bed, not fearing the darkness of sleep. Sometimes the greatest nightmares were right in front of you, if only you dared to open your eyes.

short stories

~ Clinging on ~

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~ Clinging on ~

I stood on the ledge of the building. I looked down at the concrete below. It would be instant if I made sure to land head first. Ten stories was enough to take me away on a final one-way ticket out of this place. Overdosing on pills would have been easier, but I was feeling a dramatic exit would be the right way to end this thing once and for all. I wanted the blood and guts of me staining those streets that had slowly pushed me to the brink over the years; I wanted my inner pain running into the gutters and sewers where it belonged. I shuffled my feet closer until the toes were over the edge. I had been totally ready for a few months now, and yes – I still felt ready. I shuffled closer. And closer. I stood on the precipice and looked straight ahead. My life did not flash before my eyes. There was no great symphony playing in my head. No angel came down to talk me out of it. There was no sound at all but the usual distant wailing of a siren and the sound of some seagulls squawking.

No, it was just me and the thoughts in my head like it had always been as I stood there reflecting on the inevitability of the moment. I thought of all the things that had led me to that ledge. The loneliness and separation that had sent me insane all my life. The homesickness for a place I’d never known. The relentless lack of connection to absolutely anybody else. It was true that the only people I related to were those who had either died by their own hand or drank themselves to death. Van Gogh, Hemingway, Hunter Thompson, Alan Watts, Kobain, Kerouac…  Charles Bukowski somehow made it through the fire with a rare victory to die relatively normally, although he had dodged death and darkness a few times too. It was clear to me that some people were born foreign strangers in this world – and a combination of being misunderstood, alienated and highly incompatible with society – is ultimately what made them blow their brains out with shotguns and drink themselves to death. Those warriors of the word had evidently written themselves into history, but I thought of what would happen in my case. A few flowers here and there. Some people on social media making me out to be an angel of some sort. Sure enough a few weeks later the flowers would wilt and die, and people would move on – my name only occasionally mentioned in circles of close friends. “Terrible what happened.” “He seemed so happy.” “I don’t know what happened.” “We never saw it coming.” The thought of it only got worse as I imagined the funeral with the black clothes and the reading of dogmatic religious texts – the final spit-in-the-face insult reserved for you before being buried six feet in the ground.

It sounds absurd but the thing that caused me to turn away from that ledge was the fact I hadn’t left anything behind yet. Those heroes of mine who had died by their own hand, they had shared their truth and had provided some fuel for others looking to continue on through the wilderness. There was a tremendous victory in that and a part of me also refused to let my truth fade into the abyss of nothingness. I too wanted whatever was going on inside of me to be felt by another soul out there looking for some salvation. Feeling something inside me begin to twitch, I took myself home where I sat once again before a keyboard with my fingertips fighting for survival – fighting to hold onto the ledge with whatever words and fight I could summon from inside myself.

Like so many others out there, my fight was a solitary one hidden from the view of the people who laid their eyes on me. No one truly knew the extent of my madness but me. For some reason this is how it worked: these internal battles are often the greatest battles of all, and they are not fought in plain sight in boxing rings or battlefields, but instead inside the hearts of people trying to carry on in a world they didn’t understand. They are the battles never read about in history books or commemorated in museums, but instead only known inside the minds of the people fighting them. They are the hidden wars and I can’t help but stare into the eyes of strangers on the street and wonder how many people out there are also fighting their way through the darkness? Who are lingering on the precipice of suicide and madness? Who are trying to find a reason to continue on in a world they just don’t understand? 

No doubt there are so many more than people would like to think – people who may appear very normal and content with their lives. I know many would find it shocking to know that their friends and family members have once stared into the abyss wishing to hurl themselves in – that they didn’t want to continue in the same world they lived in and were a part of. But it was undeniable they were out there in the hundreds of thousands, and that the majority of the time they were almost impossible to spot. This was the secret of the suicidal. True desolation was invisible. A look of sadness in someone’s eye meant there was still some fight and hope left. But when the light truly fades from all around you, one does not feel despair or agony. You simply stop feeling. There is an emptiness which can’t be explained and nonexistence is not something that even feels like a big deal. It feels welcoming. All the reason and fight leaves your veins as you stumble sinisterly towards that precipice of death and darkness. In the meanwhile fake smiles are easily cast and the sentence ‘fine thanks, you?’ is uttered confidently to unsuspecting loved ones. I knew this because I had felt it myself, and also because I had stared into the eyes of suicide cases a couple of times in my life. Both times it was just a few weeks before they finally went through with it. And yes, I did not see it coming. I did not see the desire for death in their eyes. Their pain was masked; their secrets hidden deep within themselves like so many out there who dwell silently in the depths of the greatest darknesses.

I do not know the cure to all this pain and madness that fills so many struggling souls out there. All throughout the world tonight as I write these words there will be people overdosing on pills, putting the blade against the wrist, drinking themselves to death or hurling themselves in front of trains just to escape this world. Some may save themselves from the abyss and others may succumb. I don’t know if I have any advice to offer them; I think maybe I’ve just gotten lucky to have this stubborn streak inside of me that pulls me back from the ledges and nooses. I guess I know I’ll always be a bit of a misunderstood loner, an isolated maniac writing words that no one will ever read, but embracing that and writing all this shit down keeps me from losing it totally. This is my personal cure and if someone ever asks me why I was so compelled to write, I told them it was out of desperation. Desperation to survive. To leave something behind. To make sure my story is heard and understood by others who never understood what was really inside me. It is an act of redemption and when these fingertips touch these keys, I am clinging onto a ledge with words that – if they stayed inside of me – would cement my fate with so many out there who were slowly consumed from within. They are the words of someone hanging on to it all. The words of someone living on the edge. The words of another man who refused to let himself be murdered by the world without a fight.

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.”