thoughts

~ The Hidden Cracks ~

~ The Hidden Cracks ~

‘Appearances can be deceiving, so they say. And you look at those cities from above and what do you see? You see everything standing straight and upright. Everything is organised, cemented down, and fixed into its correct place. There is a perfectly-engineered quality to it all. But appearances can be deceiving and in those neatly-lined houses what do you find? You find people. You find people who are not as strong and sturdy as the cities they live in. You find people who are slowly breaking down, disintegrating, being held together by the smallest things; little vices that get them through each day without collapsing. Drugs. Alcohol. Therapy. Violence. Many of those people on the surface, just like those cities, look stable on the surface. Their clothes are neat, their shoes polished, and their hair straight. But take a careful look and you’ll often see the hidden cuts and cracks behind those shiny appearances. Open your eyes and you’ll see the self-harm scars of the girl serving you coffee in the cafe; you’ll see the trembling hand of the alcoholic businessman on the train; you’ll see the bloodshot eyes of the smiling mother at the school gates. Wipe off the makeup of the modern world and you’ll see that under its surface, many people are slowly crumbling under the pressure of it. Every day the slow demolition of many people’s souls is happening all around us. Meanwhile, the city stands strong; the traffic lights flick from red to green, the bins are emptied, everything is in order and running smoothly. But as this civilisation continues to do its thing, a continual sickness pervades among its populace. This empire of sand is somehow held together by hoards of people suffering in whatever way imaginable. From one week to the next, they are slowly going on while dealing with their demons, fighting their battles, journeying through their darkness. In workplaces. In homes. In spaces so lonely that even with a million people around them, they still feel like they’re marooned on some distant planet.’

short stories

~ Cold Thoughts ~

~ Cold Thoughts ~

I watched my breath in front of my face as I lay frozen in pain. Shivering uncontrollably, I reflected back to the time seven years previously when I had got lost on the mountain in New Zealand – my sorry ass eventually salvaged by a rescue team before hypothermia had set in. This time I was not lost on a mountain on the other side of the world from home; this time I was home – in the comfort of my own bedroom, to be exact. It had so far been the coldest weather in years and some parts of the country were even experiencing their lowest-ever recorded temperatures. Outside it was minus five degrees, which isn’t too bad if you have central heating, but unfortunately mine had decided to break in conjunction with this cold snap. My bedroom hadn’t received any warmth in two days now – the same amount of time I had been confined to my bed. Four blankets covered me, along with my thermal clothing and jumper – but it still wasn’t enough to keep my body warm. Not only was I fighting off the cold, but also a bad bout of the flu.

Yes, I had also managed to come down with one of the worst sicknesses of my life during this tragic heating malfunction. It was a pitiful situation – the sort of situation where you had to question whether the universe was out to get you. I was drained and defeated in almost every way; my head pounded with a headache, my throat felt like it had razor blades in it, and my whole body ached with a fever. I didn’t even have the energy to get out of bed, let alone go to the toilet, so I used a plastic bottle beside my bed to piss in whenever the time came. It seemed like it would be a good time to sleep and try to fast-forward to a time when I was feeling better and the heating had been fixed, but unfortunately my insomnia had come on strong too. I had barely slept in two days now. With not even enough energy to reach for my laptop and put a film on, I simply stared trance-like into space like a wounded soldier, letting whatever thoughts drift through my delirious and dying mind. 

None of them were cheery thoughts, naturally. I considered that I actually was a dying soldier and this is how my eventual demise played out. It would have been a somewhat underwhelming exit from this earth if that was the case, but at that point, I’m not even sure I would have even fought it off too much. Whenever one is consumed by such intense illness and pain, it’s almost a nice feeling to surrender yourself to the darkness. It was that darkness where you could rest in peace, free from existence and all its traumatic struggles – pain, sickness, depression, loneliness, taxes and tiredness. At that point, I reminded myself that I had come down with the flu before, and, as bad as it got, you were usually up and kicking a few days later. No, I was admittedly being slightly somewhat melodramatic about things. I was going to make it out of this one, but what was I making it out into? What was my life looking like on the other side of this sickness? 

In a way, this did feel like the universe was punishing me and putting me in a place where I had nothing else to do but reflect on the plight of my life. I knew almost certainly when I had got this flu – the previous Saturday night when I had gone out on my own and drank myself into oblivion. That was the night I had managed to buy over twenty drinks and go to four different nightclubs until 7am in the morning. This was the latest reckless bender in a series of benders where I had been destroying my health and finances. I had tried to curb my drinking a couple of months before, but that had backfired and now I was drinking even heavier than before. I knew I was heading down a dark path and perhaps this was life’s way of forcing me to stop and reflect on my ruinous behaviour. I had nothing else to do after all, and that’s exactly what I was doing – reflecting on why I was a self-destructive idiot who got myself into terrible states such as the one I was in. 

I knew exactly where some of this self-destructive behaviour was stemming from; an underlying feeling that had been growing inside of me for a while. I looked out at the current state of the world and saw little hope in anything. Society was becoming more ridiculous by the day and it was harder to find the strength to take part in the circus at all – especially when sober. There was a cost of living crisis, a climate crisis, a nuclear war crisis, a mental health crisis, a physical health crisis, and my own personal ageing crisis. I also now knew I lived in a world where people would quite happily throw away their freedoms in response to whatever hysteria the media created. Things went from one low to the next, and it was now looking like working a full-time job soon wouldn’t be enough to even feed yourself or heat your house (if the heating was even working that is). Myself and a friend had recently coined our catchphrase ‘The Collapse is Coming’ and this was now embedded into our doomed worldview. Because everything was clearly going to total shit, it seemed that nothing was worth it so you might as well just get drunk and live like there was no tomorrow. This was the new-age nihilism, I recognised – a feeling which had been sending me those reckless benders and ultimately helping me end up in this pitiful situation. 

I continued watching my breath and aching in pain as such reflections drifted through my sleep-deprived mind. I realised that if this was the universe challenging me to put myself under the microscope, I had to recognise that I couldn’t just blame it all on these external factors. In particular, I recognised that there was just an internal wild-side inside of me that had always been there. It was like a stallion in my soul – a beast that would cause me to consistently charge off into the wilderness and have no concern for anything other than the pure thrill of being alive. Its aim was to live daringly and thrash about in a way that it could never be caught and tamed. That stallion had been a part of me all my life; it had taken me to some great places and helped me to experience some wonderful things. I was happy to say that I was someone who had definitely made the most of his youth. And if this flu and cold weather were to see me off, then I could check out from the game content with my score. I had experienced life – gotten to know it to its blood and bones.

However, while I was content with what I had done with my younger years, a part of me knew I couldn’t keep living like this – at least if I wanted to have a normal lifespan, that was. I had known this for a while, but perhaps this situation was the moment where I needed to take the time to really accept that something in my personality had to change. It was time to finally start taming the stallion inside of me, or to keep letting it run wild until I died an early death. This wasn’t even me being dramatic, I deemed – something inside of me knew deeply that if I didn’t get a grip of this runaway horse, then I would end up dead and buried at a young age like so many of the writers and artists I idolised (not to forget my uncle who also died of alcoholism in his forties). When I really thought about it, in some ways I felt lucky to even be alive now. The alcohol, the drugs, the adventures, the reckless behaviour and excessive revelry – a bit more misfortune and I could have already died before my time. How much longer could I keep getting away with such a way of living? The general consequences of living so wildly were getting worse, after all. It was just a few months before when I had woken up in a town in Mexico with cuts and grazes covering my face. I had no idea what had happened and, with this mishap taking place in a particularly dangerous area, I thought myself lucky to just have a bloody face. Yes, there was no denying my reckless behaviour was getting worse and worse and it wouldn’t be long until I went too far. The edge would be found and crossed. And never recrossed. 

Oh, but what is a man like me to do when he tames the stallion within him? Especially when that stallion had brought him so many unforgettable thrills and sensations? Especially when that way of being was all he knew? I had to accept it was either to watch my life end in premature wreck and ruin, or to evolve into something else. But what was that something else, exactly? A steady career?A suburban lifestyle with a wife and kids? A life of monk-like contentment? It was hard to imagine living the rest of my life in a subdued state from what I had known, but this was what had to be done in order to have a ‘rest of my life.’ It was a confronting realisation, one that was maybe worth chatting to a therapist about. Well, for now it was just me and the cold and this flu ripping my insides apart.

I reached over in pain and took a sip of Lemsip that one of my housemates had brought me. I felt that warm liquid run down my throat as I gazed around my lair. My eyes met a picture of my family and it was then that I suddenly started thinking about my dad and my brother. Although on the surface they seemed the complete opposite to me, when I thought about it, I recognised that they, too, also once had this craziness inside of them. My brother was six years older and I recalled all the trouble he’d get into when I was a teenager. I thought of his absinthe-fuelled nights-out which could result in the police turning up at our door the next day, or even him returning with a bloody head like that one time on the morning of Christmas Day. And even my dad (a now relatively dull and ordinary man by most measures), had his stories of debauchery and anarchy from his youth as a punk. I knew what the key difference was between me and them though: a woman. A wife, even. They had eventually quietened and settled down into a sensible and sane life. Set straight by marriage, they had packed away such hedonistic tendencies and set off on a life of peace and stability. My dad had done it by the age of twenty, and my brother by the age of twenty-seven. Yet here I was now past the age of thirty, and I had barely even been in a proper relationship. All I had done was travel the world and slept with as many women as I could, all the while being uninterested in forming any real lasting bond. I dipped into dating but again it was never with a serious intent of getting a long-term partner – rather just another impulsive thing to keep myself entertained – an unhealthy vice in which I didn’t even intend to get anything out of other than momentary thrills and pleasures. 

All these thoughts whirled around my mind as a sudden fever came on. Suddenly the shivers stopped and I started sweating profusely instead. My heart palpitated, almost as if I had some bug or creature inside of me pounding at my chest to get out. At that moment, I felt like some sort of terrible bug myself, and the thoughts of why I had never been in a relationship began to make sense. A terrible feeling of self-loathing came over me. I felt that I really had something hideous inside of me and that I put this shield up against love and relationships because deep down I knew that I was someone that no woman deserved to get entangled with. I wasn’t worthy of love or affection or someone sharing their life with me. I was a ghastly insect, an unwholesome creature like Frankenstein’s monster that belonged banished from civilisation, wandering alone in the barren wilderness. Perhaps this is why I so frequently pushed others away? Perhaps this is why I poured so much poison inside myself? Perhaps this is why the world was apparently trying to kill me?

The thoughts continued to get heavier and heavier as the sweat poured from me. My headache was now at the point where I felt like I had an axe embedded in my brain. I yearned deeply for sleep to take me away from myself, but that wasn’t going to happen. My mind kept racing and I wanted to be anywhere but there, but it was no use – I was stranded with myself in one of the coldest times of my life. It was a winter of discontent and even the thought of my one regular escape, alcohol, made me feel sick. There was nothing to do but dwell in my own solitary suffering. To make it even worse, outside the sun was shining. Rays of light entered through the curtains. I heard birds chirping. I could even hear the hearty laughs of my housemate in the garden while on the phone. 

Although at first such sounds and sights compounded my misery, they eventually reminded me that there was something bright in this world. It wasn’t all the doom and gloom I had been living in within my own mind. There was light and there was victory. There were moments of great triumph and joy. There were birds jumping out of nests and tasting flight for the first time. There were baby turtles crawling courageously towards the ocean. There were little children standing up to bullies. There were shy loners creating beautiful music to be played in concert halls. There were poor kids growing up to be doctors and saving people’s lives. There were flowers growing through gaps in concrete streets. Yes, if you kept your eyes open, there were moments of pure universal triumph bursting and blooming and blossoming all around you. I knew this; I had seen these things with my own eyes. And yet I had forgotten them. Time and time again, I let the darkness of the world drive out the light, even when I had seen the glory in life and felt true bliss. I thought of those moments of standing on those sunset shorelines, staring out at the sea, watching the seagulls dancing in the sky as the daylight faded out and the light of distant stars was slowly revealed. I saw that sight again there in my room one more time as the pain faded for just a second.

Immediately, I wondered whether I was on my deathbed. This is how I imagined it to be on your deathbed, after all. You’d see all these visions of all the wonder your eyes had set sight upon throughout their long journey. I smiled to myself as I saw the other visions: bright faces in moments of joy; tender kisses on lips; the laughs of people free from their struggles. Yes, I knew things were bad – there was no denying that – and there was also some light on the other side of this sickness and my general struggles. I couldn’t feel it now but I knew it was there, and the only thing left to do was to own my suffering. This was my suffering that was currently taking place, and yet with it, I was finding something useful with it. It was a time to lie down, stare into space, and reflect. This was the purpose of my life at the moment. And I knew it was going to pass and that in a few days, I’d be back out on those streets with my mind in a different space. I’d be back at work, or running along the river, or shopping at the supermarket, or talking with friends in the pub. It would be time to re-enter the circus again and do my best to get through to the next day. In sickness and in health, fighting to go on and survive. The neverending battle. The only thing that we were all united on – trying to keep it together and finding the air to breathe and searching for the sunlight as the storm of life shakes us to the core.

thoughts

~ A Voice from the Wild ~

Photo by Okky on Pexels.com

“These days I’m a little more settled and stable, but I’m still shaking ideas out of my head that ‘shouldn’t’ be there. The voice of logic and reason is as clear as ever, the way forward so visible like a well-marked path through the forest. Meanwhile, faint voices whisper through the trees, calling my name, daring me to veer off-track and take a tumble in the wilderness. I look into that foliage and see the crooked branches, the thorns, the nettles, the slippery terrain, the red eyes peering at me from the shadows. It is the path of one who wants to be devoured and consumed by the unknown. Most would never even consider venturing into such an area, but it seems I can’t shake those voices tempting me in. They are there whispering to me as I go about the daily grind, as I put on my socks and shoes, as I attend to the tasks I am required to do. I can’t shake them out of my head as I look up to the ceiling at night in bed, as I brush my teeth in the morning, as I pick up things from supermarket shelves and place them in my basket. I look around at the others following the set path of sensibility with apparent ease. Do they hear the same voices too, I wonder? It doesn’t seem like it as I watch and listen to them. They are seemingly content people of stability and sanity. I know that their path can make my hair neat and my sleep undisturbed, but a vacant space in my soul tells me something is missing from such a life too. After all, what is this human experience without mystery and madness? Without adventure and exploration? Without risking it all to find gold in the darkness? What is this human experience without being totally alive to each and every moment?”

thoughts

~ I Don’t Care Anymore ~

~ I Don’t Care Anymore~

Like many young people growing up, I was once full of inner conflict and at odds with the world. Resentful of my surroundings and feeling misunderstood, I sought to set things straight and take back some ground for myself. My blood was full of fury and a war raged constantly inside of me. The pain in my heart meant I was willing to go to extreme lengths to slay down everything I felt was wrong with the world. Maybe it’s me getting softer in older age, but the truth is I don’t care anymore. I’ve set down my sword. And thrown away my shield. I’m no longer charging into any battle, or craving some sort of victory. Things I once fought were worth killing myself for now seem meaningless. Something has changed inside of me. A stillness comes over me. Points of tension begin to relax. And feelings of anger begin to finally fade. After all these years, it seems this soul has found some salvation from the storm. I now find myself in a state of calmness, where I find that I have obtained the victory I always wanted – a victory where I can now rest and relax, because really it was just me stopping myself from living in the lands of peace anyway. And as the smoke of the battle begins to clear, I begin to see the sun shine, and the birds sing, and my soul smile.

 I don’t care anymore.

thoughts

~ Thoughts of a Bum ~

Photo by Thuong D on Pexels.com

~ Thoughts of a Bum ~

The days of waking up and doing as I pleased continued on. As an unemployed person, you were supposed to feel down about your lack of contribution and participation in society, but there were often moments when you thought otherwise. I lived nearby a river and on a sunny day, I’d walk there to go sunbathe and watch the rowers go by. On the way there – just on the street off beside the river – there was a big office building for some sort of German bank. Often I’d stare into it and see them all through the windows: rows and rows of people sat at computers, boxed into cubicles, working under artificial lighting. I’d look in at them and suddenly feel better about my situation. Sure, I was without much money or security, but in that moment I was at least able to live my life how I saw fit without any controls or confines. I didn’t have to watch any clock or chase any deadline. And there was no boss or supervisor to answer to.

It’s common for unemployed people to feel down or pitied by other people, but at times I looked in those windows and saw some of them sat there looking out at myself without any pity at all. I walked by so often that I was sure that a few of them recognised me and probably wondered how I was always out there strolling freely in the middle of the day. Maybe I was deluding myself, but it was not pity that I saw in their eyes, but envy – envy mixed with a wistful look of boredom. I’d then carry on walking, find a nice spot on the grass beside the river and park myself down. I watched the ducks also living freely, the seagulls flying above. I’d then watch the rowers go by and the sunlight glint off the water’s surface. I’d pour back a drink and appreciate my temporary wealth, just allowing myself to simply exist in peace like the birds around me, living in a way that felt way more natural than the once prescribed to me by my country and culture. Living in a way that had been lost post-agricultural and industrial revolution. Living in a way that at least felt like living.

Truly, time was more valuable than anything; the problem with the 9-5 work system is that you exchanged the vast majority of your days for being at work, going to work, getting ready for work, and everything that came with it. To me, it didn’t matter how much money you had when you couldn’t buy the time to use it. And often that money went on things you couldn’t even enjoy. I’m talking about the house that remains empty cause you’re at work all day, or the furniture you fill that house, or the car and fuel you need to get you to work. Sure, a person had retirement, but the retirement age was now approaching seventy – and we all knew that our best days to be free were far before that time when the energy goes and the health problems come. No, I had a couple thousand pounds in the bank still, and I was gonna make it last the rest of the summer at least. This was my time for freedom; to be alive and enjoy what was left of my youth. Sure, I knew I’d be back at work at some point, trying to spin together some money once again. I knew I’d start other jobs and spend a lot of time at other jobs. But I also knew I’d quit other jobs and never stop trying to get the most out of life without it all passing me by.  I just didn’t want to stop dreaming of freedom, or becoming the person who looks out at windows all their life, dreaming, waiting, wondering, and finally fading into a job position. I wanted to smash the glass whenever I could, to come out onto the sunny street, to sit by the rivers and watch the birds and the bees and the sun shining in the sky. I don’t propose there’s any great philosophy or strength to this thought, or to propose I am some sort of countercultural hero. I’m here only to announce that I am aware that this life is about freedom, and I intend to grab as much of it as I can.

short stories · thoughts

~ Wandering the Darkness ~

~ Wandering the Darkness ~

At times I knew I was falling too far into the pits of depravity and insanity. My drinking became heavier and my behaviour more outrageous. I wanted to come back to some sort of peace and tranquillity. I always thought it was there, like a bridge I could cross whenever I got tired, but one day I considered that maybe that bridge had collapsed and I wouldn’t be able to easily return to that steady state I was once in. I was stuck in the lands of madness, where the crooked tree branches surrounded me, where wild-eyed vultures picked at carcasses, and dark spaces held hidden terrors. There was no clear way of going back so onward I kept walking into the dense foliage toward whatever fate awaited me. 

On that path I thought of all the others who had gone crazy and lost themselves completely on similar journeys. I didn’t want to be like them and I knew I still had the light inside of me – the light that could lead me to the lands of peace once more. But at that moment a great doubt settled in my head and I couldn’t help but wonder whether destruction and disaster was my inevitable destination. My drinking continued to become heavier as I felt more and more distant from the people who stood in front of me. I was losing touch with reality at times, drifting away in a room of crowded people, fading out from my surroundings, losing my mind while wandering in the darkness.

I wouldn’t be the first in my family to have wandered down such a path. I thought of my uncle who died alone in a room of sadness and alcoholism. They found him amid the empty bottles, unresponsive and not even fifty years old. He had been living in that apartment for some years, separated from his ex, rarely seeing his son and drinking heavily. I remember my father first telling me about his problem. “You have to understand that he can’t stop himself when drinking. Most people can have a few and then stop themselves, but he can’t. When he drinks just one, he carries on drinking until he passes out. That’s why he can’t drink any alcohol at all.” 

At his funeral I looked around at the forlorn faces of my relatives. Funerals were always sad occasions, but when they were for someone who had passed before their time, then there was an extra bleakness in the air. My other uncle got up and told stories of his life before breaking down in tears. Listening to his words, I reflected on the last times I had seen him, usually in passing in the city centre while he was on his way to his job serving meat on a deli counter in the market. As a teenager, I had failed to spot the pain in his eyes, but now I was older and the sadness of the world had made itself home in my heart too, I looked back at those occasions and understood things a bit more clearly. I think about the situation he was in, barely surviving off a cash-in-hand job at the local market, living alone in a small flat, failed relationships and rarely seeing his only child. Like many hurting people, he turned to the bottle to numb the pain of his reality. And now I see his face in my memory; the bloated face, the red cheeks, the lost look in those eyes. The reality was always there in front of me if only I had the awareness to see it.

As a child, I didn’t understand how someone couldn’t stop themselves from drinking. But now I have reached a time in my life where I start to see the darkness in which my uncle lost himself within. The demons lure you in, and it becomes so easy to spiral off into a storm of self-destruction. There had been too many times that I had gone on reckless benders, drinking myself into oblivion, sedating and medicating through the bottle. When your world feels a bit empty, it’s a quick fix to migrate to a different land – a hazy land that may feel like heaven in moments, but is really hell. You make a trade to distort and suppress your senses, but life loses its shine until the darkness is all you know. Slowly you become comfortable in it as it surrounds and engulfs you. You don’t even struggle against it; you like the feeling of seeing yourself slip away in the distortion. That blur of new faces, the hedonistic excess, the reckless and wild behaviour – the brutal hangovers only cured by picking up the bottle again. It’s madness. Pure madness. And you get sucked into the vortex ever more rapidly until that chaos is all you know and understand.

Despite currently drinking heavily and being out of control, a part of me believed that I was able to put the bottle down if I absolutely had to. I had a period every year where I stopped drinking for two or three months in the autumn. I also knew the happiest I’ve ever been were those stages at the age of 26 and 28 when I went sober for a few months. I exercised often, ate reasonably okay, slept well, meditated and didn’t go near the bottle. Even just staring at a drink made me feel nothing at that point. There was zero attraction. I knew it was poison to the state of consciousness I’d acheived – that all the gains of happiness I’d made would be dragged back and taken away from me. But despite those periods, I still find myself here I am a few years on drinking more heavily than ever before. There are reasons for this I suppose. The loss of time and frustration that came from the covid lockdowns; the fact I’ve just turned 30 and want to make the most of this very last bit of my youth. I’d had fun in some ways, I suppose, but these latest benders fill me with almost a fear that perhaps I really have lost my mind; that I have lost control; that I will never return from these woods of madness and find my way back to the lands of peaceful light. It fills me with a fear that I will not be able to stop and they’ll find me one day in that room of isolation, unresponsive on some beer-stained sofa, amid the bottles and beer caps – another soul taken by the need to try and find some shelter and escape from life’s unrelenting storm.

thoughts

~ Striding Proud ~

“He not busy being born is busy dying.”

‘It was no secret that there was a great sickness in modern society. Sadness filled the streets and I saw the souls suffering around me every day. I saw the sunken eyes, the feet dragging along the pavements, the bitter words coming out of mouths. I saw the behaviour of frustrated and jaded individuals. The people staying in jobs they hated; the people neglecting their inner voice; the people dragging others down with them. It was all around me but I kept on striding and doing my thing. I made no apologies about my way of being. I was here to live my short life on this earth to the absolute fullest. If I disliked a job, I’d quit it; if I disliked a place, I’d move from it. I refused to compromise on any of this. Hell, there wasn’t time for compromising. Very soon I would be another dead person in the ground, my one precious life all spent and gone. And with that knowledge I set out to make every year of my life a great adventure. I set out to do things that would fill my soul with joy; that would leave my mind full of memories and my heart full of fire. And as the years went by and time aged me, I would refuse to let life grind me down like it seemed to do to so many walking down those streets. No, I would continue to stand proud, a straight posture, my head high and my eyes wide and open. Still looking toward the next horizon. Still chasing that inner bliss. Still discovering the beauty of life on this earth until the very end.’

thoughts

~ The Great Beyond ~

~ The Great Beyond ~

“I sat on the beach facing the almighty pacific ocean. The waves crashed on the shoreline and the sun reflected off the water onto my face. I closed one eye as I downed my bottle of beer, thinking of memories of the past and my path to here. It was true: thirty years old and still living in the dirt, dreaming in the darkness, wandering the outside spaces. Maybe some thought I would give up this freedom fight, maybe I did, but there I was once again: travelling alone in Mexico, wandering through old towns, drinking in random bars and speaking to whatever stranger drifts into my course. I am a boat out on the ocean of the unknown, and by now I don’t think I’ll ever dock. These sails still catch the wind firmer than ever and the journey shows no sign of slowing. Stormy seas I have known, and my crew of weary sailors – whose blackened faces work the coal engine rooms of my heart – their eyes know the toil of that turbulent journey. Their eyes know this ship wasn’t made for safe harbours of stability and security; those anchors of mortgages and marriages, but instead to drift in the great beyond in search of some divine light of freedom and adventure and life and beauty.”   

thoughts

~ Dismissed ~

“Hello Ryan”

“Hey! How’s it going? You’re from here then?”

“I live in Birmingham. What do you do?”

“Oh, I live in Nottingham. I just got back yesterday from backpacking in Mexico.”

“Don’t need work? Or still on vacation?”

“Yeah I’ll look for work soon but I have savings for now. And you? Where are you from originally?”

“Do you have any major? I’m from Kansas City, USA.”

“My degree is in communications. How’d you end up in England?

“I work here in human resources…. What position or job do you want to apply for?”

“Okay cool, and I’m not sure. Why so many questions about jobs? 

“It’s kinda important.”

“Okay, well if you’re looking for a career-obsessed guy then I’m not that sorry. I live my life to travel.”

(conversation ends as I’m blocked)

Speaking to girls on dating websites, it’s usually in the first few messages that they steer the conversation onto careers. Not always, but the majority of the time they drop the ‘what do you do’ question within the first few sentences. It both amuses and saddens me. No discourse about your life views, your interests, or what fills your soul with joy. They have to know straight away what your profession is, and then work out if you’re someone they want to invest their time in. This robotic process, cold and calculated, as if human relationships were a mere business plan. As if people were mere products and items. As if the union of two souls depended on their financial capital. And of course, I say this as someone who has never had a ‘proper job’, but who has spent his time working on his art and travelling the world for experience. When I tell them the truth about my life, the replies stop coming and I’m weeded out. I guess I can’t blame them. They have a mission in life which is different to mine. Especially if they are over thirty, they are scrambling around looking for a partner to settle down with. They need a person with a reliable income so that they can get the mortgage, the wedding, the kids, the nice kitchen, the fancy holidays, and all the things we are supposed to have to be accepted members of society. That march relentlessly to the middle-class mecca of suburbia where they will finally be happy and complete, where they will have the car on the forecourt, the flowers in the garden, the kids at the dinner table, the dog in the kennel, the plump cushions on the sofa.

I admit there are times when it can get lonely living the life I live, especially as a single man. I see the world from the outside spaces, and from there I get to look back in from a different perspective. To them I am a loner on the outside, and to me they are trapped in a herd – held in place by those around them and unable to move freely to spaces that I know contain so much treasure. I guess I should really know better by now, and not to even bother with these dating sites. Maybe it’s the masochistic side of me, or the need to constantly investigate the human condition, but again and again I return to them to face the same barrier. I know my women are not on those sites. There are some yes, but they are hard to find. They are much easier to find when I am out on the road – when I am staying in dingy hostels; when I am wandering the hiking paths of a mountain wilderness; when I am getting drunk in the local bars of a far-off land. That’s where they are, and yes I do meet many of them, but as is the nature of travelling, we both move on to different places, and there I find myself once again: back home facing the frowning frontline of women who are mostly frightened, disinterested, or even disgusted by the lives of someone like me.

I guess this is just the way life is. You choose your herd, you choose your way, and you accept your freedoms and limitations from whatever type of life you choose. I have chosen mine and I know I’ll never be going back to those women and the way of life they expect of me. But to hell with it! There is a joy bubbling in my soul right now as I type out my truth once again. The joy of the lone wolf, roaming free in untamed lands, living a life of personal truth. Living a life where I feel a greater connection to the whole than any partner or gold ring could give me.

thoughts

~ An Inside Job ~

Like others before me, there came a time in my life where I knew I needed to find something. Whatever that something was, it seemed to be not available in my immediate surroundings. Unsatisfied with my external world, I realised my journey was to become an internal one. One day my quest began. Digging into the depths of myself, I struck that spade into the solid ground. With force and might I pulled away the dirt with a driven and determined energy. I knew in my bones that something in those depths, buried away in the darkness, waiting to be uncovered. I didn’t know what it was exactly, but I could feel its presence within, and soon everything else in my life centered around finding it. Naturally I knew there were those out there who would dismiss such an undertaking as foolish or crazy, but I knew that that something within me was something that would make me richer in most ways that people had experienced. So I kept digging away, breaking apart that earth, with blistered hands searching deeper and deeper within my own soul. And in that act of soul-searching, I felt assured that one day the time would come where I would stand with that great diamond in my hands; a man who broke through his walls, who stripped away his surface, who unearthed his treasure and let it finally glint in the morning light. A man no longer blind to what he possesses.

pricless pleasure