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Your Fears – Defined

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When someone says the word “define” to me my stomach knots. When it is followed by the ever faithful “in your own words” a bile sets into my mouth. Yet today, I was asked to do just that – to “define” horror, as a genre or otherwise, “in my own words”.

Up until that moment I had never thought of the definition of what has become throughout the course of my life one of the most influential and poignant tools to not only my writing but in turn, to my view of the world and its inhabitants.

Horror is widely perceived to offer the consumer one thing – cheap thrills. Anything deeper, or darker, than superficial (and mostly superfluous) entertainment usually brings about a completely different genre definition – Dracula for example. I would not define Dracula as horror, for the intimidating elements of Bram Stoker’s classic are not the defining characteristics of what has made it so timeless. It is erotic, thought provoking and two steps away from absurd at times. It’s the ultimate anti-hero tale that just so happens to be set against a spooky canvas with some devilish undertones.

Those of you who know me (and have read some of my rants on here) will be expecting one name to drop now – Stephen King. How you ask, can I write anything about, well anything, without somehow bringing the King into it? Well my friends, you know me well, because I am going to drop his name right now.

I do not perceive what the King writes to be “horror” in any traditional sense of the word, and those of you who are learned enough to have read beyond “It” and “Misery” will know why I say this. I can think of more books that the King has given us that have no supernatural elements whatsoever, that scarred my mind and played with my heart for longer than even his most sickly tales of textbook gore.

Three words – The Bachman Books. A compilation of stories published between 1977 and 1982 all of which are void of the standard boundaries of horror writing as we know it. (*Disclaimer – I refer to the four short stories published in the compilation The Bachman Books and do not include “Thinner” (1984) in the next series of statements (PS. Brackets inside brackets rock! :P)).

“Rage” (1977), “The Long Walk” (1979), “Roadwork” (1981) and “The Running Man” (1982) – These are my examples and if you have not read them, then you have no earthly business here so please move along, long days and pleasant nights to you J

For those of you that remain these stories are in my mind offer some of the most notable and defining characteristics of horror and still to this day haunt my mind from time to time like no others. They have no supernatural beings, no demons in hoods or inbred super humans with chainsaws – all they have is real people, in real (and some would say unthinkable) circumstances. Because at the end of if it all, is that not what we are afraid of most as human beings? The REAL horror?

We are told from the time we can remember that the things that scare us as children are A) not real or B) not threatening – or sometimes both. Therefore we starve that fear within ourselves and no longer as adults find the vampires, ghosts and ghouls of time gone by intimidating anymore. This is a double edged blade in many ways. It allows us to grow up (reasonably) well adjusted as an adult afraid of such childish notions is frowned upon – but the sharper side of that blade is that it desensitizes us to the things we SHOULD live in fear of and paints our world an shade of magnolia.

We should fear the ordinary, the mundane and the dreary that sap at our souls and eat away at our subconscious. We should fear each and everyday being the same, repetition leading to passivity. To be passive, about anything, is a disease. To be passive is to be dead on the inside, if not on the outside too. So we starve the fear of childhood and replace it with the fears of adulthood.

If you were to ask a grown man in the street which do you fear more – a dinosaur coming through your bedroom window and eating you and your wife while you sleep in your overpriced linens, OR lets say life strangling monetary debt? I cannot make any guarantees in this life, for I am not Yoda, but I would bet my breeches on the latter being more scary to anyone “normal” in this day and age.

One simple fact makes this so – debt is real, dinosaurs are not (sad face). Therefore you must ask yourself, as our fears change due to social, political, economical and a whole lot of other -cal unrest in the world, does this not in turn, change the definition of horror?

As adults we fear our cars not starting more than psychopathic clowns lurking in the bushes with razors for teeth. We fear maxing out our credit cards and then dealing with grossly inflated repayments, more so than we fear faceless monsters under our beds at night. We guard our houses with alarms and flashing lights to ward off burglars, feeling no need to have a barrage of crosses and garlic hanging by our front doors to ward off vampires.

The fear of a child is a beautiful, endearing and natural being that should be starved for the sanity of said child. As a person whom read her first King novel at the tender age of eleven, I can vouch for this. We forget that those children, whom starve their fears until they have no strength to scare them anymore, never quite have the ability to kill them completely. They therefore carry these fears into adulthood – that’s when it gets interesting.

Authors are duty bound to make you feel what they are portraying in their prose. To make someone swoon at a love story, cringe at a war crime, or feel empathy towards a lonely old spinster in a wedding dress – these emotions are easy to capture, as love, guilt, hurt, empathy – they are all emotions we are allowed to express as adults. Mummy and Daddy are however, not so easily entitled to fear as their children are.

To make Mummy and Daddy look over their shoulder when they are walking home from work, for fear of what lurks in the sewer grates beneath their feet, to make Mummy and Daddy get into bed before turning off the light at night, for fear of what may grab their bare feet from under the bed in the process – to make Mummy and Daddy’s hearts beat in their throat until they feel as though the bastard were physically trying to climb out of their mouths – this is the power of horror, because when it comes down to it, the things we are afraid of never change, just our willingness to address them.

If as a writer you can force people to address the things inside themselves that they forget they were afraid of so long ago, to make them look at themselves in the mirror and ask themselves what they would do if they actually did find themselves in palaver with a clown with razors for teeth, you are in turn forcing them to question their own psyches and again, as a result – their own humanity.

To make a credit card seem small, to make a deadline at work seem frivolous, to render Christmas with the in-laws worry free, by replacing these fears with those childish notions of fright – to make an adult face that child within them – opens so many doors, the draught alone may cause a complete overhaul of that persons life. It has the power to change them.

If you are capable of doing this, then my friends you will have marked the earth for eternity, for when human beings die, they leave behind headstones but when legends pass on – they leave behind legacies, that long outlive even the stone that upon which the mere mortals of this world will all inevitably carve their epitaphs.

With An Adult’s Eyes and a Child’s Heart

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When I look back at my life as a (hopefully) old woman, I want to know that I did all the wrong things for all the right reasons. There are things I wanted five years ago that seem to me now, better left as pipe dreams, the ramblings of an over imaginative teenage mind. However, the dreams I do still possess would seem that way to most of you reading this were I to tell you what those dreams were, but in all honesty, have you achieved your dreams?

When you were a kid did you say to your friends –

I want a job where I sit behind a desk all day in a polyester uniform and fluorescent tubing illuminating the depravity of the stale magnolia room that I call my workplace. I want a nondescript dog with an equally pallid human name, because after all animals are my “babies”. I want to sit in traffic all morning listening to Traffic FM, looking out at all the other tired faces stuck in the rush. I want to mix all my liquor with lemonade because it is not acceptable in polite company to drink anything stronger than a beer without a mixer. I want to complain about how busy my life is, when in actual fact I lay awake at night with stomach cramps and tears in my throat, at the thought of how bitterly boring my life really is. I want to read nice books, watch nice films and wear nice clothes. I want to donate my three pound a month to charity and sleep better at night knowing that I am helping “the less fortunate”. I want to raise three blonde haired, blue eyed children who all end up with a degree, a car, a spouse of the opposite sex and three more identical children each, replicating the uniform of perfection for the generations to come. I want to paint my nails in neutral translucent polishes because anything other than that is garish and offensive to taste. I want to vote for the same politicians year after year because partisanship is what made this country great. I want to make love once or twice a week, always in my bed and always for a certain amount of time. I want to live for my package holidays in Spain where I can let my hair down for a couple of weeks and drink wine with my lunch. I want to drive a car that has more buttons and knobs that I know what to do with, but will turn heads when I pull up in the car park. I want to do all my shopping at farm stores and local venues, because I support my community. I want to hold my chin up high and give the youths that pass me wearing torn jeans and lip rings, my best “I’m-not-afraid-of-you” look. I want to wake up at half past five in the morning on a Sunday and trawl round car boot sales, to fill my house with other people’s unwanted shit. I don’t want to get involved in people’s problems and a fight on the street is none of my business. I want to be able to wear a Winnie The Pooh watch as a forty year old woman because Winnie The Pooh is timeless. I want the highlight of my year to be a meal round the table with the relatives that could make it, while the real pine Christmas tree sparkles in the corner of the room and no one finishes what they put on their plate. I want to live a long and happy life, knowing that I made ripples in the waters of life.

I want to be normal.

Kids never aim to do any of these things and yet the adults they evolve into seem to fall neatly into many of the beige compartments of conformity and why? Because your parents and their parents before them, know the dangers of making waves instead of ripples. They train you to reach for the stars and ignore what lies beyond it. They tell you that you need a job, a spouse and three perfectly formed children to match you perfectly formed people carrier that sits in its cradle outside your perfectly formed house. They do not train you in this way because they want you to be normal, heavens no.

They would love you to be the astronaut that occupied your vocational mind between the ages of five and six, or to actually be able to make a living from playing your twanging guitar – they would love you to be able to accomplish it because they too, would have wanted to be able to live that life. They do however, know more than you ever will, and by the time you leave home they only want one thing for you and it is not the stars, the fast cars or the endless mountains of cash – its security.

At the end of it all that’s all any parent wants for their children and if it means falling into the land of the beige and living a good, clean and honest life to achieve a low blood pressure and a calming existence then why wouldn’t a parent wish this life upon their children? I don’t care for my daughters blood pressure. I don’t care for the colour of her life. I don’t care for the money she will one day have in the bank. I don’t care if my daughter remains a rolling stone her entire life – I care about her heart.

If my daughter wakes up in the morning with a smile on her face, goes to bed at night with the same expression and does exactly what she wants to do in between I can honestly say I would sleep content in my old age knowing that she never gave in. I want her to bleed, to cry, to push and to writhe with want. I want her to want something that bad that she never gives up, that she keeps pushing through the mind numbing boredom of the beige compartments until she gets it. I don’t want her to settle for anything less than her childish notions of happiness, because at the end of it all – isn’t that when we are at our best?

Being an adult is an amazing time of life and the responsibilities that come with being an adult do nothing but enrich our outlook on the world. But if you can maintain the childish qualities of dream keeping and balance it with the adult duty of book keeping, if you can still comfortably climb a tree without fearing what other parents in the playground may think of you, if you can still build a fort in the living room on a Saturday morning with Pokemon on the television, eating toast wrapped in blankets without pausing for a moment to worry about what might stain and what might crease – then you have achieved as close to nirvana as one would dare to find in this century.

When push comes to shove all we want is to be happy and in turn its all we want for our children, but happiness does not come from a catalogue or in a pay cheque. True, unadulterated, fiercely beautiful happiness comes from one overlooked and underrated place within ourselves. It is a place that most forget is even contained inside us. There are people in the world who would kill to have this place etched out in their histories and in their blood and bone beings. It is the place that so many people before us fought and died to preserve and it is the only place that will bring you any real joy.

There is a place inside you that holds your freedom. Your freedom to do what you please, when you please and how you want to do it. See the world through your adult eyes – assess risks, pay bills, go to work, remember birthdays – but feel the world with a child’s heart. In between these places you will find yourself truly free and in return inexplicably and fundamentally happy.

When my daughter asks me what I want her to be when she grows up I will smile and touch her soft, curly brown hair. She will look at me like I have officially lost the last of my marbles when I respond –

“You.” If I have done my job correctly, she will understand exactly what I mean. I may even get a hug.

Why Sleep Scares Me

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There was literally nothing around me but hard, red dirt and cracks of endless dust tearing through the barren rock. The sky was as blue as I have ever seen it, the sun a chrysalis of frosted glass, hanging between clouds almost soft enough to taste. It was hot. It was far too hot to be a normal day and sweat spiked on the nape of my neck and dripped into my eyes. I wiped at them tenderly, they were dry and sore, the salty dampness just making them shriek in their sockets.

I knew that I was not alone, but I could not see anyone. So I started to walk, ignoring the intensity of the heat beating down on my body and cooking my flesh. I walked, the dust kicking up from my shoes and settling on my wet skin. I felt as though I were caked with dirt, my throat slick and scratchy. I could hear footsteps, small, scuffling footsteps. The footsteps of something too small to make noise, or something that did not have walking down to a fine art. I would find out that the footsteps belonged to both something small, and something unable to walk.

There was a building in the distance, not so far away that I could not identify it as an indoor swimming pool, but still far enough away not to be able to make out whether or not it was in operation. I focused my exhausted eyes on it and continued, one step after another, the way I always had. The scuffling noise returned and I turned hard enough on my heels to swirl a cocoon of dust around myself, momentarily disappearing into the redness of the air.

There was a strangled sound of gargling, as though someone were trying frantically to breathe through oil laced sea water. I could feel my heart beating in my mouth, when I realised at once that the strangled sound was actually coming from me. I tried to smile, the skin on my scorched lips cracking and allowing tiny runlets of copper coloured blood to rise to their surface. I licked tentatively as them, wincing back against the enormity of pain, but savouring the taste of anything in my mouth, even if it were my own blood.

Caught in the monotony of walking I did not notice the deep crack in front of me until I was at eye level with it. My head hit the hard pan with a sickening thud and for a moment the sky lost its azure allure and became a speckled black greyness that seemed to swamp straight into my bones. I rolled over onto my back and closed my eyes, a dizzying sense of becoming unravelled settled over me and I allowed it to take me.

When I opened my eyes I could see them coming towards me, slowly staggering, as though they did not have full command of their bodies. I want to say to you now that they were mutants, out there in the middle of nowhere, the left over products of a wasteful and even more hurtful society of experiments and forgotten mistakes. However as they drew closer I saw that they were not in fact mutants but children.

They were about seven or eight in total, but grouped together amidst such nothingness there may as well have been a hundred of them versus the one wounded me. They walked with their arms drawn into their chests, their wrists locked out at awkward angles, as though they were mimicking a praying mantis. Their feet pointed inwards, their hips slanted and the closer they came to me, I realised that they had no fingers or toes. It did not look as though they had been born without them, more so than that they had been forcibly removed.

It was their faces that made me get up and away. Their heads were cocked back like an angry pistol, their twisted grimaces of what could have been pain, but could just have easily have been pleasure, saluting the silence of the topaz sky. I now realised, with a gut wrenching certainty, that the noise I had heard before my face hit the floor, the gargling sound of strangled breath, was not coming from me after all. They were all trying to speak, but their words were dead before they could be born, as though their lungs were full of sand. Every single one of them was hideously sunburnt, to the point that their skin was peeled off in great, weeping welts all over their naked bodies.

I started to walk as fast as I physically could, knowing that if I had began to run I probably would have fainted. Instead I briskly broke through the air, creating a much need breeze against my sweltering face. They were drawing closer, in my head I was moving faster than I thought I was. I could not so much as hear them behind me, but feel them, as though the movement of their deformed feet dragging through the dust sent physical waves through the earth and up my legs.

The swimming pool was as close as it had ever been when I fell again, this time hitting my head hard enough to knock the wind out of me. I laid on the floor curled into a ball. I could feel their breath on me, hot and sour, like cabbage left in the sun to stagnate. Their eyes were the whitish blue of a blind man, and where the white should have been was blazing red. Blobs of dead black blood and hard green pus sat in the corner of those eyes. I now knew that they were not grimacing in pleasure, but in complete and irrevocable agony. A fingerless hand touched my face and I felt my heart physically break.

She could not have been older than seven, but her face was twisted and full of confusion. Her hair was blonde, hanging in dirty patches all over her head. Across her chest the skin had peeled away to bone on her ribs and in the unforgiving sun it glistened like a fish on the deck of a boat. She smelt of rotting earth and flesh – hot, decaying flesh, but something in her ethereal eyes made me want to save her. That same something inside myself told me that she, like the others, was beyond saving.

She leant in closer to me, her breath now almost too much to bare. Her eyes flickered back and forth over my face, as though she were trying desperately to see me clearer. A sticky, black tear lurched sluggishly down her cheek as I touched her face, my own vision starting to focus. As I lay there on my back, spitting distance from the swimming pool in the middle of the hard pan, a shot rang out and the girls head exploded across my face, a swatch of dirty blonde hair landing across my face. It smelt like a memory.

I laid there on the dark, hot hard pan and laughed. I laughed until the girls blood trickled into my mouth and down my throat. I laughed until I was physically sick all over myself, but still choking on the vomit, I laughed some more. The other children were retreating from the gun shot now and I could hear someone shouting in the distance for them to disperse. Someone said that their was a girl on the hard pan covered in blood. I laughed until I I passed out, but I did not fall into the blackness of unconsciousness, but the sacred, still blue of the first and last sky I ever remember seeing.

5 Step Guide to Raping Writer’s Block

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During the summer of 2007 I suffered from a severe and degenerative disease that almost killed me. It is not as rare as some would think and not as tragic as some would preconceive but it has the ability to not only incapacitate your body but more importantly – it melts your mind. This illness captures its sufferers in a web of indifference where the world becomes colourless, food tasteless and every day tasks emotionless and draining. Those who suffer with it may find insomnia knocking at their door or may find themselves sleeping for eighteen hours a day and never quite feeling rested. I fear this sickness now with every ounce of my earthly sinew and for those of you whom suffer from it I have a few tips.

Here is my 5 Guide to Raping Writer’s Block 

1.) Ignore The Urge – One of the main traps people who suffer from writers block fall into is trying to force themselves to write. This is a dangerous web to weave my friends and effectively renders you sicker as you eventually become a “Block Bulimic”. You know that writing makes you feel good and without it, the writers block is forcing you to choke on your own words. So you give them some guidance and stick your literary fingers down your throat, forcing them out and onto the page.

Do not do this. It will leave you feeling exasperated and will stunt what little patience you have left with yourself and the written word. Do not force yourself to write if you are not in the right frame of mind to do so. All you will end up with is word vomit sprawled across your page and reading it back will just make you angrier with yourself and feed the block, because you will feel like the quality of your work is dwindling. Ignore the urge to write until it becomes a compulsion again.

2.) Good Ole Fresh Air – Going for a walk or sitting on a bench in a park, without music in your ears or a book in your hand are tried and tested ways of relieving almost all mental tension, including writers block but there are a few more hardcore versions of taking in the scenery that you should try. My personal favourite is waiting for the rain. When you look out of your window and see the rain starting to come down hard, forget your jacket (and maybe even your shoes if you’re feeling particularly hardcore) and go outside.

Sometimes the reason our minds stop allowing us to look beyond the mendacity of our lives is because we forget just how small we are. Go and stand bare foot in a thunder storm. Close your eyes and let the water pound against the lids. Let the water drown out the block. One thing nature has an amazing capacity to accomplish is reminding us that we do not matter to the earth. Writer’s block consumes you and therefore you give it an immense power over your mind. Forget about yourself for a while and remember what the world outside of your head feels like against your skin.

3.) There Are Other Worlds Than This – Most story tellers know that when you are not writing, sleeping, eating or working you should be reading. By constantly immersing yourself in the written word, especially that of fiction, you are subconsciously feeding your own creative constructs. When writer’s block strikes these constructs break down and weaken as a result of the malnourishment more often than not.

Reading will feed these constructs once more and soon they will grow strong and healthy again. Another tip is to try and read books that you do not usually dabble in. If you are a die hard war time historical novel kinda dude, try hitting up a romantic comedy or a supernatural thriller. By taking your mind outside of its natural habitat, you in turn guide the block into uncharted waters, where more often than not it finds it can no longer swim, and if you are lucky, will disappear in the undertow of the unknown.

4.) The Power of Dreams – Many writers have said that they gain a lot of their ideas from dreams, both forged during the day whilst awake and at night whilst asleep. This is a technique I have used on a few occasions when the block has been but a twinge in my spine and it has worked more often than not. If you have the ability to crawl into a dark space, draw the curtains and switch off all sensory equipment then daydreaming works as well as night dreaming, but the basic practice is the same.

Before you go to bed, or nestle down in your favourite spot, make sure you have a notepad, a pen and a glass of water beside you. Upon waking, from a day or night dream, before you do anything else, take a sip of water and a deep breath. Commence to write what happened in your dream, however fragmented it may be, because after all masterpieces have been spun from fragments. Re-read it, the re-read it again and keep reading it until you feel that you have got everything down. Put these “dream notes” in a binder and keep them close, reading them from time to time. You will be amazed at how much inspiration can be found from those reports, especially after they have had enough time to disappear from your mind completely.

Remember that writer’s block only destroys your capacities to write when the thoughts are forming in your mind. If you manage to expel them before the block has a chance to feed on them, you are effectively starving the block. A hungry block is a weak block, and weak blocks can be destroyed.

5.) Wishing You Were Someone Else – It is also important to remember that reality and writer’s block are daytime friends and night time lovers. Ninety percent of writer’s who suffer from the disease usually come down with it during times of physical or emotional stress – a relationship on the rocks, exams on the horizon, an upheaval of some sort – it is therefore your responsibility to ignore reality whenever you can.

People will think you are crazy (but if you are a decent writer they probably already do J ) but pretending you are someone else is one of the greatest sources of strength during a difficult time. When you are walking down the street with your head phones in, pretend you are not John Doe who has a million worries at home, but that you are Johnny Doe-Cool, a space cowboy with a soft spot for cyber courtesans and the fastest hands on Klacton-9 – be anyone you want to be, because your alter ego does not have the problems you have – including writers block.

So that’s my miniaturised five step guide to pinning writer’s block against a wall, spreading its legs and showing it who is boss. Remember that you are not alone and however bleak it may seem, every human being with a lust for the written word will catch the disease at some point. Try these steps and if they do not work, invent your own. The key is not to feed the block. Ignore it, forget about it and do not indulge it – it is not herpes and will not get worse if you pretend it is not there.

The more you give into it the more it laughs at you. The angrier you become and the more you put yourself down, the harder it gets. It likes you being frustrated and it feeds off of your incapacity. Starve the son of bitch out and eventually it will quieten down and let you find your groove again, but one thing I can tell you is this – as long as you are a slave to the written word writers block will be waiting for you. It is your enemy and as such, it is in the palm of your hand – so squish it.

Rivers and Forests

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I read somewhere once that music is like a river. That everyone whilst being able to appreciate its beauty cannot appreciate its power unless they fully submerge themselves in the water and become part of the current. The people that become part of the river, the people that become the continuous ebb and flow of the water, the forever changing patterns of ripples and tides, the sunken debris forgotten by all and missed by none – these people are musicians.

They understand the river better than the river does and when mere mortals hear just an incessant babbling of water over rocks and lapping against the banks, musicians hear something entirely different. They don’t hear the noise of the river, rather than the music of it. They have become part of the river and respect its ability to take them anywhere and away from anything. People who do not have the ability or the inclination to be part of the river become passive observers to something that at first appears as simple as a body of water or a string of chords, but to the river, and to the musicians, there is a far deeper and more complicated meaning to its composition.

When I read this I instantly began to think about the river in all its complexity and my mind drifted to the forest. During the day a forest is possibly one of the most breath taking and beautiful places you would be lucky enough to find yourself standing in and its omnipresence is astounding sometimes. Mile after mile of trees that have stood longer than your lineage and will outlast the best of us, intertwined forever with the earth through a connection of soil, roots and promise. Massive natural structures completely untouched by man that dwarf you into insignificance and remind you just how unimportant you actually are.

Sun breaking through bough after bough of fragile looking leaves, no two the same that seem so utterly breakable but are in fact intricate natural phenomena that put our peasant like cardio vascular system to shame. Trunks as wide as cars and armoured with bark that is so easy to break and impossible to replace. Stagnant earth swamps your head and on a hot day can become absolutely intoxicating. The smell of soft, damp, breathing wood and the muddled sense of belonging to the earth and it to you when standing in such a place.  

Every possible crevice your eyes could search rich with life and death in equal quantities, a never quite silent place that is as unnerving as it is attractive. You could be a hundred miles away from the nearest human being or they could be hiding behind the nearest tree but the forest will never forsake your solitude. You came to it and you took the time to breathe with it, if only for a moment and if only coincidentally. For that single moment, you were alive with the rest of the world and in that single moment you were perfect.

Then you start to feel an unsettling kind of bewilderment radiating from your stomach and forcing your teeth to clench. The sun is dipping behind the broken boughs and shadow begins to steal the way out. It’s getting cold and suddenly there are too many trees, too many twisted skeletal remains of various fallen friends blocking your once safe path and threatening to send you spluttering onto the damp, dead floor. You start to shudder as shadow begins to envelope you as well as the forest, and your heart begins beating in your ears. Saliva pours into your mouth and you realise that you are frightened.

Because what was so beautiful just moments before the sun disappeared behind the now suffocating canopy of translucent leaves and insidiously shaped branches, is now one of the most intimidating places you dare to imagine. The liberating closeness of the trees now feels claustrophobic and the quaintly sporadic half walked paths that were roughly guiding you through to the end have now disappeared in the darkness and you are on your own and out of your element.

You are now alone in the dark with the earth and the earth doesn’t seem to like you very much anymore. The fractured roots of monolithic trees catch your feet and send a jolt of adrenaline straight to your already over excited heart. Getting out of the forest is all you can think about now. The sounds of crickets and birds are now haunting and unsafe, the low rumble of what you thought was a toad in the day light, the ruffling of leaves on the forest floor that would have been a rabbit were the sun still up, have now become the sounds of ravenous wolves and angry animals the likes of which your pressured mind need not comprehend for fear of complete and utter terror.

But there is one consistent in it all, one thing about the forest that never changes even when the light surrounding it does. Like water is needed to make a river a river, trees are needed to make a forest a forest and it is the likeness to these trees that call to mind the similarities between musicians and water.

Just as musicians are ever changing, flowing with what seems to be at times unbridled passion and unadulterated abandon for what convention has to say about how they choose to follow the bends in their banks, writers and the words they string together are stoic and unchangeable like the trees of a forest. A musician on stage performing a song can change it at any given moment, improvising or just following a tangent of unthinking trust that the music, the river, will guide them to the end of the performance unscathed.

Writers have a harder time adapting their work once it’s completed.  The moment those words pass through a press and onto the page, they are their forever, the deafening deepness of their roots hard to ignore or escape. Books do not flow, they do not adapt and their trunks are only soft when they are young. Once they are complete, finished and rooted in reality they stay the way they were made forever, or until someone cuts them down and rebuilds them in their own image.

We cannot improvise and we cannot comment, we are instead forced to stand on whilst the sun fades behind us and what you once treasured about the stories we told becomes marred with sadness and fear. We cannot uproot and clear a path for you to follow, we cannot lap against your ankles and offer you comfort when you so desperately need it.

All we can do is what we have always done; look on with concrete confidence and hope that even when the sun sets on our time together, your knowledge of and trust in the forest of the day will accompany you to the end of our affair with a deeper understanding of just how hard it is to be one tree in a forest, one drop in a river and one story that at one point, needed to be told.

It is through this understanding of relative simplicity that we cease to be rivers and forests, men and women, broken and whole and we simply become what we were always meant to be but never really took time to notice we were – alive. 

Just Like Everyone Else

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When I was a kid I used to get called weird a hell of a lot, as I am sure most of you mutants reading this surely did. Now, I’m talking about when I was a little kid, before I knew what a bong was and during the sadder stages of my life when I would not have been able to pick Bob Dylan out of a line of old men, let alone utter a single word of Klingon. The phrase was most definitely “weird” back then, when pop music still ruled the air waves and Harry Potter was not even a movie yet.

To ask me why I was called weird I probably couldn’t tell you, because I thought I was perfectly normal. I thought that all ten year old girls had posters of Meat Loaf on their walls. I thought that all ten year old girls were teaching themselves Latin. I thought that all ten year old girls wanted to be Sherlock Holmes when they grew up. I thought all ten year old girls attempted to read the Times before school in the morning. I thought all ten year old girls wore orange jeans and BCR’s in their ears instead of little gemmed studs. I thought that all ten year old girls sat on their window sill listening to the radio and wishing they were a million miles away from where they were, who they were and what they would inevitably become. I thought I was just like everyone else.

I was oblivious (as most ten year olds are) to what adolescence would not only bring, but what it would take away. It brought all the things the things I was warned about, as I knew it would – puberty, secondary school, stress, homework, hormones – but it took away a lot more than I thought it would. It took away the innocence of the word “weird” became something all together more negative, making the now freakishness everybody spoke about more and more apparent as my friends began to grow up without me, but still I thought I was normal.

I thought that every fifteen year old girl had posters of Bob Dylan all over their walls. I thought that all fifteen year old girls were teaching themselves Klingon. I thought that all fifteen year old girls wanted to be Allen Ginsberg when they grew up. I thought all fifteen year old girls attempted to read Rousseau’s Discourses before school in the morning. I thought all fifteen year old girls wore hot rocked band t-shirts and BCR’s in their lip. I thought that all fifteen year old girls sat on their window sill listening to the radio wishing they were a million miles away from where they were, who they were and what they would inevitably become. I thought I was just like everyone else.

Then something shifted and I was no longer adorably weird or standoffishly freaky. I became this new breed of strange that still to this day I don’t understand the connotations completely of. I became a “geek”. Now I always thought that geeks were typically people with a deep and unrelenting not only appreciation, but understanding of space, time and science but somewhere the wires of definition have been crossed and sparks have begun to fly. I have found myself tirelessly unpicking the meaning of this word, that so many people label me with and I have to the conclusion that “geek” actually means “enthusiast”.

There are millions of people who think that being a geek or a reject or an outsider, a freak or weird whatever way you want to spin the barrel – they think its cool to be on the outside of the social norm. But take, lets say, a long haired, Satan worshipping metal head and put him in a room with a your typical imaged obsessed teenage drama queen. Now neither one of them are conventionally “geek” material but when placed side by side they show a remarkable reality and that is that we are all enthusiasts and therefore geeks.

The girl will know more about clothing brands, make up techniques and reality television history than the metal head, but he will know how to stretch an ear lobe the right way, why Metallica and Megadeth are linked and just how Tony Iommi lost his fingers – because what they care about, what they are enthusiastic about, they are completely obsessed with. Isn’t that what makes a geek a geek? The unrivalled and slightly unnerving obsession with their chosen fields of expertise and interest?

Now the metal head will think the girl is shallow, superficial and self righteous. The girl will think that the metal head is arrogant, should shave and wear less black but the point is the same. The popular kids bully the geeky kids, we’ve seen it a million times, but what made having knowledge about the planets more socially unacceptable than having knowledge about the price of shoes?

I think as a species, humans have failed at even the most basic of tasks the main one being social identity. Surely the human beings with the insatiable appetite for knowledge based around the advancement of the race – science, medicine, literature, philosophy, politics, law – should be at the top of the social elite, as they have the most to bring to the table. Surely they should be made reality stars, fame should wash over them, they should make headline news and they should be adored as the genuinely interesting people that they are? Why do the people, the real rejects, the real freaks, who have little or no interesting characteristics or ascertainable incentives to live, make their way into our living rooms, our newspapers and our lives with their incessant and frankly boring idiosyncrasies?

We have ended up in a world where the geeks that used to get bullied for being weird as ten year olds and freaks as fifteen years olds writing the articles about the popular kids, stuffing their chests with silicone, reporting about them side by side with war and famine – the geeks end up enabling the popular kids to remain just as egotistical and obsessed with their own enthusiasms as they were as ten year olds and fifteen year olds.

I could now start rambling about how its cool to be a reject, an outsider, a freak – but it really isn’t and those who claim to be proud of being just so, are bullshitting themselves and you my friends. No one wants to be those things and no one wants to be told that they are different. There is no strength in being in a minority and no courage found in adversity. Cynical, maybe. True, debatable. But if you have ever felt what it truly is to be one of these people, you will know exactly what I mean.

The scars of being different never heal, instead what they do is create a mangled barrier of broken flesh around you, eventually shielding you from the constant over analysis of you compared to other people. People mistake this protective layer of damage for strength, some would even say pride, but it isn’t. My friends, my loves, my fellow geeks, freaks and weirdo’s it is only our enthusiasm that gets us through life in no less than a million pieces.

Geeks are the people who never realised that they were not like everyone else. Once you realise it and wear the badge of “I am not normal” proudly, you are no longer a freak, a geek or indeed weird – because you are simply pointing out what the rest of the world already did. You have accepted that you are not normal and by that standard you have made yourself a reject, an outsider and indeed a social oddity. So those of you who claim to be proud of being any of those things, who think that to be a social retard you cannot be popular, to love video games and comic books means you cannot like football or actually want to touch a member of the opposite sex, to wear Pokemon pyjamas to bed or find Anime foodstuffs alarming adorable – you are just as normal as the rest of the world.

Truly original people, freethinkers and disbelievers do not even recognise the word “normal”. I am completely normal. All women in their twenties have posters of Stephen King on their walls. All women in their twenties are teaching themselves Elvish. All women in their twenties want to be Iron Man when they grow up. All women in their twenties attempt to translate Spanish war time transcripts before work in the morning. All women in their twenties wear peace sign shoe laces and spikes in their face. All women in their twenties sit on their window sill listening to the radio and wish that they were a million miles away from where they are, who they are and who they will inevitably become.

I am just like everyone else. Difference is, I have the balls to admit it.

A Series of Ambiguous Questions

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Love is not a new subject for my rants, in fact, it is one of my least favourite but most committed sources of anger, confusion and genuine exasperation, hence its appearance as those three emotions are usually at the core of all of my rants. However my friends, I am not going to knock love to the floor and kick its teeth once again, no, I am going to ask you a series of questions that I want you to answer in your minds. I want you to answer them in your minds because were you to vocalise them, to me or anyone else, you would not be telling the whole truth. Love and truth are the mistresses of the mind, enticing us and crippling us in a matter of moments. They go hand in hand and as such, you must keep them away from each other as much as possible. We all know what chaos they can cause together.

In my experience on this earth, which after all is what this entire charade is about, I have come to accept that when love is on the cards, there are three types of people in this world – those that are IN love, those that WANT love and those that HAD love. And so comes my first question to you, my inquisitive readers … Will you read on?

Are you IN love? Do you share your heart, your mind, your body and your soul with another human being, so carved from the heavens that even the mention of their name sends your stomach tumbling in on itself? Do you perish at the thought of that love dissipating, or *gulp* disappearing altogether? Do you hold hands in the street and steal glimpses of each others infatuation when at the dinner table? Have you got that crooked grin that all lovers wear, that says “She is mine and I am His”? Do you wake up in the morning just to watch them sleep? Is the thought of any harm or pain coming to your love so overbearing that you would literally die before you saw them shed a single superfluous tear? Have you found the only other hand that you will ever hold on this mortal earth? Are you in love?

Do you WANT love? Do you want to commit yourself to another entirely and regardless of fault or flaw? Do you want to belong to someone else’s family and be enveloped in to their pasts and futures? Do you want to sign birthday cards with two names instead of one? Do you want to have someone there for you whatever the need or cause? Do you want someone to hold you and tell you that everything is going to be alright, even when in all honesty things probably won’t? Do you want to be able to say “This is my boyfriend/girlfriend”? Do you want the kisses, the cuddles, the commitment and the confusion? Do you want to be so consumed by someone else’s body, that the worries about your own no longer matter, because someone genuinely thinks you are beautiful already? Do you want love?

Did you HAVE love? Did you have those moments that felt like they would go on forever? Did you have those perfect trinkets of your love together, however meaningless to the rest of the world, that meant everything to you at the time? Do you find a stray item of their clothing and find yourself powerless to bring it to your face and inhale the scent of what you lost? Do you hear a song or see a movie and feel a hot prickle of tears in the back of your throat? Do you walk down the street and convince yourself of the words you would say to them were you to bump into them again? Do you find yourself powerless to tense up whenever their name is mentioned, intentionally or otherwise? Did you ever think it was possible for a human body to produce the amount of tears yours has? Did you have love?

They are my questions to you my eager love fuelled companions. Now comes the fun part. It will only happen with a few of you I am sure, but it will happen most certainly with a few. I am going to ask you one more question and I want you to answer it again in your mind. When I stated at the beginning of this rambling mess that there were three kinds of people in this world, I know you subconsciously allocated yourself one of the labels without the need to read the questions posed. You decided whether you were IN love, in WANT of love or indeed if you did HAVE love at some point. Here is my final question – Did you change your label after you read the questions?

My point is this – love is not a static emotion and what you want from it changes as your experience with it does. Those who have never been in love long for the tiniest things that those that are in love mostly overlook. Those that are in love fear losing it, but those that have lost it, well some of them are regrettably happy to have done so. Love is blinding and that’s why as human beings we are obsessed with it. The wrongs in the world seem a little less sharp when someone holds your heart and somehow love helps most people to function, gives their lives a deeper meaning and they find stability and calm when completely consumed by another’s embrace. The world is a horrendously ugly place at times, but to go home to the comfort of your love’s arms, to hear their voice and feel their heartbeat beneath your face, well, that’s a very special thing indeed. However I propose that this love, this one integral, ball breaking, would-die-without-you love, only comes but once a lifetime. Its logical really.

If you have bore the first label in my list and no longer do then by default you have also had to burden the third label. Subsequently, by bearing the third label, you will find yourself wearing the second soon after your heart begins to work again. There is no adult human being on this earth that has ever experienced love, that will not at some point feel all three of these labels pressed against their forehead.

Now you’re probably thinking, well what if you fell in love and that love lasted forever, and I think you know what I am going to say to that. Those that convince themselves that every love is THE love of their life are cheating themselves out of a wealth of experience, because the world is not black and white. In order to make the extraordinary shades of grey that shape us as individuals you have to mix the black and white, the good and the bad, the love and the loss – otherwise, you will find yourself perpetually blinded to the TRUE power of love.

Being love is an amazing feeling and one that I wish every human being will experience in earnest during their lives, but losing a love, well that my friends is a whole different matter. All the gooey emotions of being in love fade, they don’t disappear if it is real love, but they slowly begin to fade into the background as life steals you from your lovers bubble. All the tormented emotions of losing love, however, well they never really fade. To experience loves better side, that is beautiful, but to experience loves ugly side, that my friends is real. If you have never felt what its like to be at the bottom, you will never truly appreciate what is at the top, even if you remain there your entire life.

People fall in love too quickly, put rings on their fingers, children in their bodies and hope in their hearts, and as much as the media would have you believe it, teenage pregnancy, marriage and scandal is nothing new. Ask you grandparents how old they were when they met, married and had your parents. It may surprise you. But when a child is born out of love, even if that love fades, that child is a lucky one indeed. So many people have children to literally manipulate feelings of love in those that have lost the capacity to love them back. Love has become a weapon and a powerful one at that.

I disarmed that weapon a long time ago and threw the ammo into the Thames. I used to wear the second label, of someone who wanted desperately to be loved and then I was lucky enough to wear the first and finally, had the pain of bearing the third as we all inevitably should. Now I don’t think about love in those terms, which is hard for someone as neurotic as me to do but I try. Now I don’t try to think about love at all. My theory, because you knew I would have one, is that if love wants me back it will come and find me. In the words of Allen Ginsberg I gave it all and now I am nothing.

And I would rather remain nothing to love, than ever have the duty of any one of the three labels mentioned above. Love shouldn’t be a duty, it shouldn’t be something that comes quickly and fades like wise. Love should be real, it should be true but only one love will ever be forever. The words “I love you” are thrown around far too much by people who have no real understanding or respect for the word. Love has become a notion, a card once a year and a broken memory of what it meant to find the other half of your soul.

Love in those words has no place in my heart, nor I in its. And we get along just fine that way.

The Politics of God

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I see the world and its inhabitants, their virtues, sins and idiosyncrasies in political terms and have done for as long as I can remember. The manner in which people conduct themselves, their ideals and thought structures, almost always have political connotations in my mind. I find it amazing that people can care so little about politics and yet devote their lives entirely to other fields of human behaviour, without ever quite noticing the link between the two. Something that people should know, and know it well, is that there is not one thought, memory, decision, triumph or mistake that you will make as a human being without its outcome being influenced by politics.

 

Politics is, at its core, the process of a group of people, large or small, making a collective decision. Its definition has definite links with running a government, but its meaning is a hell of a lot larger than that. So when you’re standing in a shop with your friend trying to decide what film to rent, or when you cannot decide what the best fit of jeans is and you ask someone for their opinion, if you make your decision based on the input of another – you are being political.

 

So now we have established that politics isn’t just to do with fat men and frigid women sitting in a green room shouting random moans of agreement or injustice on the television while you eat your toast in the morning. Politics is its own entity, but it is an umbrella term for a whole host of juicy and controversial subtexts. Lets take the example I just gave about renting the movie again but this time apply two totally opposite political ideologies to it.

 

Scenario A – You are standing in a rental shop with your friend and you are torn between two films, one of which you desperately want to see, the other of which your friend is likewise eager to watch. One is a horror movie, full of gore and guts, the other is a romantic comedy full of vomit inducing stereotypes and grand gestures of love. You want the horror, your friend wants the romantic comedy. You give your friend a valid reason as to why you don’t want to watch the other movie (you just broke up with your boyfriend and it would be too hard to watch that kind of thing, the soundtrack reminds you of a dead pet etc.) Your friend therefore taking into account the feeling of the group, and feeling less opposed to watching the horror movie than you are to watching the romantic comedy for your personal reasons, gives in and you go and rent the horror movie. You watch it together and enjoy it, even though your friend wanted to watch the romantic comedy, they are content in the knowledge that you both would not have enjoyed it as much as you did the horror movie.

 

Scenario B – You are standing in a rental shop with your friend and you are torn between two films, one of which you desperately want to see, the other of which your friend is likewise eager to watch. One is a horror movie, full of gore and guts, the other is a romantic comedy full of vomit inducing stereotypes and grand gestures of love. You want the horror, your friend wants the romantic comedy. You don’t want to watch the romantic comedy because it doesn’t look like your cup of tea, even though you know that your friend isn’t exactly the greatest fan of horror movies. You turn to your friend and tell them that you have to get your movie because you drove to the shop, or you’re the one that is paying, or that it is your house that you will be watching the film at. You basically use the power that you have, most of it completely coincidental to get your own way. When you do get your own way, you watch the horror movie together and you have a riot of a time, but your friend doesn’t enjoy it and is feeling a little bruised that you got your own way for the sake of circumstance rather than necessity.

 

Now most people that I know (luckily) would be more inclined towards Scenario A and would take the feelings of the greater populace into consideration when making a decision that impacts how you both enjoy your evening. Those that did would be loosely following the political structure of democracy. Those that would have been more inclined towards Scenario B (whom I hope are few and far between) and would use whatever means necessary to get what they want at the expense of the greater whole, would have been loosely following the political structure of a dictatorship.

 

The basic difference between the two, although the outcome is the same is this – with a democratic decision, the pros and cons come from all the people who are involved in making a decision and then a group consensus is reached once everybody has had an opportunity to put forward their reservations and opinions. However with a dictatorial decision, one person has taken the power away from the other and made a decision based on their own opinions to benefit themselves rather than the greater whole, usually employing tactics that are very hard for the other person to object against. So democratic decision is one that derives its power from the people making it, whereas a dictatorial decision is one that derives its power without all the peoples consent.

 

I do hope you’re still following me *insert winky emoticon face here*. My point (which I bet you were just dying for after all that rambling) is this – a political decision is not just a decision made by politicians but one made by anyone with a certain belief structure in mind. By the same token, a political figure head or leader, is not just someone who governs over a country or race of people, but someone who has the power to either listen to the people or ignore them for their own gain. So I am going to ask you a question, and in true Unknown Hobo meets Jigsaw style, a style that those who read my blog are used to by now, I want you to answer the question in your head. Okay, so here is the question –

 

What political party does the Christian ideal of God represent? Don’t worry my politically confused bumble bees I am not going to leave you completely on your own to pluck an answer from the heavens (excuse the pun) I am instead going to give you three definitions that you can choose from. Now it doesn’t have to just be one, or two, it can indeed be all three but I ask you to carefully consider the facts rather than your own opinion, because after all we are dealing with a leader that is arguable false, so lets try and keep our heads above the philosophical waters.

 

As we have been dancing with democracy I will give you that option first. If God was a democratic leader he would consult with his people before making decisions. His decisions would not be unilateral because they would derived from the people he was governing. He would not have the final word in matters but instead have to side with the strongest majority. He would be an expert at gauging the attitudes of his people and would have to effectively motivate them to behave how he would want his government to be run. He would take an active role in the lives of his people and bend his behaviour to the benefit of the people he governs. He would be a representative of a larger whole, accountable for their sins as well as their successes.

 

The second political leadership style that God could fall into is the laissez-faire or free reign leader. In this instance God would pretty much give the power to the people and let them live as they wished, making their own rules and effectively governing themselves. He would not necessarily lead but let the people lead themselves to their own glory or indeed their own ruin. He would not have much input in the way they lived their lives and would not hold them accountable to things that he did not agree with. He would not be a leader in the conventional sense, rather than someone who handed the power back to the people he would have governed under a different leadership style.

 

The third and final political leadership structure I would like you to consider in regards to the Christian identity of God is an autocratic or authoritarian leadership style, very similar to the dictatorial themes we were talking about earlier. If God were indeed a leader of this style he would possess all the decision making powers and not consult with his people. He would tell them what to do and they would have to do it as part of his government. He would tell them what he wanted to but keep for himself what he didn’t wish to share for fear of revolution. He would make his own laws, regardless of the interests of his people, including his own punishments and persecutions. He would be completely unaccountable to anyone and never have to answer for his actions, good or bad.

 

So there are your options. Now that you have chosen one I would like you to consider something else, because I am all about the interactive internet debate stuff. I would like you to consider how God is viewed “religiously” and how we have just viewed him “politically”. When it comes down to it, religion and politics are one in the same. You have a leader, you have a system of which those people are lead chock full of ideologies, rules, punishment, reward and intelligence. When it comes down to it the only difference between God as a political leader as opposed to a religious leader, is language.

 

In religion God is “almighty”, void of responsibility for his actions, unaccountable and unquestionable. In political terms this “almighty” behaviour may be considered “autocratic” whereby God can do what he likes, when he likes and no one can tell him otherwise. In religion God is “omnipresent”, he is everywhere at all times, watching over his people and making sure that they are on the right track. In politics God could be seen as an Orwellian “Big Brother” figure that leaves not one personal or private decision to the people, but instead enforces those that he believes should be followed on them and carefully watches their every move to ensure that these rules are followed for fear of punishment or “eternal damnation”. In those terms God is not “ubiquitous”, “omnipresent” or “all encompassing” but instead he is a much more real form of “totalitarian” that controls every aspect of his peoples lives and leaves no room for “pluralism”, a governmental structure that encourages multiple lifestyles and opinions.

 

In my mind God as a leader, and not Christianity as a practice which does encourage very diplomatic and democratic thought patterns, does not fit the first definition at all. He does not listen to his people, but instead demands to be listened to and he does not represent us as a whole rather than a superior being with absolute control over the whereabouts of our mortal soul. God does possess certain aspects of the laissez-faire leadership style, in as much as he lets his people make their own decisions and leaves them to self govern, but then he does not strictly adhere to this foundation because the rules we are freely left to follow by ourselves are not made by us, but by Him.

 

So, with my immense powers of deduction, I can only assume that if God is not a democrat and he is not an advocate of free reign, then God is indeed a authoritarian dictator who tells his people what to do from an unelected position of complete power and unaccountability. Breakthrough *smiley face*! So the question burning on my lips is this – why do SO many people follow a completely unaccountable dictator who does not even have the potential to be overthrown?

 

The answer is simple. People don’t like to think for themselves. In a democracy you don’t always get your own way, but you have the possibility to. You vote and your friend votes, your neighbours vote and your parents vote – but not all of you can get your own way all of the time. The possibility of being able to get your own way, and then subsequently watching someone else get their own way is extremely frustrating. Take away that possibility of getting your own way and replace it with a different structure in which you know you, nor your friend, neighbour or parent will EVER get their own way and at least you’re all shooting with an empty gun. Human nature encourages us to suffer together rather than succeed alone.

 

The same can be said for the free reign module. People are genuinely too lazy to govern themselves all of the time and this governmental structure has mostly been employed in times of necessity when the formation of a new government was getting its breath back. It takes a lot of effort to lead a nation or race of people, and generally people who are given this task get bored of trying to please everyone else at the expense of themselves. Give a group of people a die cast set of rules and regulations, already written down and ready to go however, and they will almost always prefer being told what to do rather than figuring out what to do for themselves.

 

Dictatorships work well at the expense of freedom. Decisions are made quickly because there is only one person making them and the state functions mostly out of fear. Fear is a very potent potion in the religious alchemists pot and it is a brew that dictators also carry in their belt. Through this method, people do not have to think for themselves and therefore cease being individuals. This means less crime, less uproar and a slick, functioning society. But what it sacrifices is much greater and that is freedom.

 

To be a Christian (and I mean a real Christian, not you wannabes that only go to church at Christmas) you give up yourself to your God and you trust that his decisions, his judgements and his rules are absolute, without question or correlation to yourself or the greater world. But to take someone else’s judgements, rules and decisions into your head and into your heart, you compromise your own and become a tool of someone else’s mind rather than a product of your own.

 

I leave you now (I’m sure you just punched the air with happiness at this terribly long mess coming to an end) with a proposition. I propose that you live your life as YOU would want to live it, without prior conceptions of how it should be done and certainly not in someone else’s shadow, political or religious. I propose that YOU choose which path you walk on and how YOU would deal with the hurt and happy along the way. I propose that you take each and every ounce of compassion, courage, wisdom and peace from the God and employ it in real time. I propose that you be a good person because YOU want to be and not because God or any other leader asks it of you. I propose that you consciously choose to love instead of hate, find solace in silence and beauty in distress because YOU were built, by the hand of a deity or by the book of Darwin, to be tolerant, intelligent and calm.

 

I propose that you lead yourself and as Jesus himself was said to have done, walk beside those on different paths, not behind them as a lesser being or in front of them as a greater one. I propose that you LIVE the life you were given and THINK with the brain that you possess. Thought and life are the bread and butter of peace and until you appreciate them for the magnificent, all be it intangible, things that they are you will never be your own leader and you my friend, will never be free whether you follow a dictator or a disciple.

Freedom does not come from the government, the Gods or the greats – it comes from inside of you and it is the only thing that separates those that live from those that survive.

Do It For The Trees

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It would be a crime for a blogger such as I not to post something welcoming in the new year, as momentous as it is (apparently). To me it feels like another Sunday afternoon at home with my daughter curled up sleeping in her pyjamas on the settee, the roast stewing in the oven and my hand straying to ash tray, my mind biting it every time it gets too close.

I feel the same as I did yesterday and probably will feel the same tomorrow, and this Christmas was one without incident, something I take a great deal of comfort in. Nothing, aside from the date, has really changed. The trees are still where they were and as the years pass I notice something terribly unsettling but equally awe inspiring at the same time. The world never changes, only the people that live within in.

As this time of year is one for reminiscing I recall the morning I gave birth to my daughter. It was grey, as today is, but dry (very much unlike today). I sat on the step outside of the hospital with my phone in one hand and a cigarette in the other. Giving up smoking also inclines me to recall how utopian that first cigarette after nine long months of pregnancy and then ironically enough, almost exactly nine long hours of labour, actually was.

I remember sitting in my pyjamas, a new mother, while my husband sat upstairs with our new daughter. I looked at the trees that lined the walkways of the hospital and bordered the immaculate lawns. I then tried to picture how many births, deaths, near misses and absolute tragedies that those trees had witnessed in what could have been a hundred years or more, standing where they did.

I then thought of how the things they had witnessed had impacted them, personifying them if you will. If a human being had stood for a hundred years, powerless to witness the most intense joys and gut wrenching heart aches, the signs of such a life would prevail. Human beings are ultimately weak organisms that see such superfluous notions as a new year dawning as a reason to celebrate.

So with this short but sweet New Year’s message to all my readers (the whole seven of you that read this shit) I would like to wish the best for the year to reign and all the happiness you can handle. I also ask that you, such as I, remember the trees, strapped to the spot, unable to change the course of fate unlike we as human beings can.

As Ghandi once said “Be the change you want to see in the world” and although I don’t agree with his methods, the dude came out with some pretty good one liners. Remember that you are not trees and when smiles or sadness are laid out before you, grab them, stuff them in your pocket and run with them. Take what you get this year with an open heart and a clear mind.

 If you don’t want to do it for yourselves, do it for the trees that would, if they could.

Broken By Time, Healed By Hurt

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So I have had this notion in my head for a while – the way people deal with hurt. It seems quite poignant as today holds a great significance to me and the long, arduous journey from then to now. Time. That is always the answer isn’t it? Time will heal all wounds. Once again, the sayings of yester year bare little or no symbolism to me anymore and in my attempts to keep myself from the raggedy edge at this time in my life, I decided to write it out instead of drinking it out.

So let’s deconstruct this concept of time healing wounds. In terms of physical wounds yes time does heal those that can be healed and it does an amazing job at doing so. But can a broken heart be compared to a broken leg? I don’t think so. Not even metaphorically, and I am a whore for a good metaphor (I also like rhymes). No,  all time has ever served to do is to break me down and force me to rebuild, but time only helped with the demolition of my old self and stood idly by as another far more competent construct helped me to rebuild myself.

Emotional wounds never heal and however much you like to think they do or can, there will always be a moment long after the original pain was caused, that it flares up in a brutally real way, reinforcing the fact that even though you thought that wound had become a scar, it was in fact always there and always bleeding.

True emotional trauma cannot be repaired and this is why we blame people’s personalities on what they had to face once upon a time. As a lover of metaphors let’s take this one – think of time as the salt that is rubbed into the wound, as time goes on it slowly runs out of salt and the wound stops stinging, but it is still there gaping at you from a place in the back of your mind only waiting for a convenient moment to converse with time once more and make its inescapable presence known once more.

If emotional wounds really did heal, they wouldn’t be so goddamn easy to tear apart at a moment’s notice. Something that hasn’t caused you pain in years can suddenly and drastically come back into your life in a matter of seconds with a piece of good news to some that is devastating to you, or with a chance meeting that would eventually scar itself as another indefinable regret. In my vast experience with the varied spectrum of emotional lacerations, there is only one construct that has ever served to distract me from the burns inflicted by those who chose to aid the demolition of myself.

I suppose you could say I was broken by time and healed by hurt. New, fresh pain brings with it many more scars that you can pretend are one day going to heal, but along with this new born pain, there is also the delightful relief of distraction. The reason we become so involved with the healing process of our emotional wounds is because whilst they are fresh they are hard to ignore, and they cause us an indescribable amount of intense agony in those fledgling stages of trauma when the skin is still raw and time has a full palm of salt to season the sadness.

New hurt serves to distract you from the old hurt and in this respect, time does help to take away the pain of old wounds but only by replacing them with new ones that it can torture. With each new painful experience that comes to us, a new wound is open and whilst it screams at us we cannot forget that it is there but it takes away the acknowledgement that consumed us in regards to the old wounds that are temporarily forgotten.

Now I don’t suggest that if you are going through a rough patch in your life that you should go out and find something new to inflict pain upon yourself, but what I am saying is that everyone has the ability to distract themselves but some are better than others. I for example, fell to writing when my other methods of distraction from the emotional wounds became too dangerous to myself and those around me, hence the reason why I write about such seemingly ambiguous but emotionally charged subjects.

I write to distract myself from the wounds that I can feel peeling in the back of my mind and my hands fly faster across my keyboard as I run faster and faster, trying to beat them and trying to beat the monkey that sits on my back with its whip firmly grasped between its crude, leathery fingers. In essence what drugs, alcohol, sex, video games, reading, writing – what distraction does is it allows us to take time out of the equation and deal with hurt on our terms and once you figure out that time is actually a hindrance to the healing process, convincing you that its helping when in fact its only hurting, then you will feel much better about wasting on other pursuits that will genuinely help you to heal.

This time last year I wrote the following –

Maybe some people aren’t meant to heal. Maybe some people deserve to remember their scars. Maybe it’s the pain that stalks them every day that stops them going back on their own promises, that reminds them that they are bad people trying to be good. I’ll keep my scars, healed or hurting, because they are the only thing that remind me that through all of it my heart never stopped beating however much I may have wanted it to.

A year has passed now and as if in testament to my disagreement with time as a healer, I still agree with what I said in regards to my own emotional scars last year. I believe there comes a point, when the swelling goes down and the scab peels away when you can actually survey the damage of the wound that’s pain held you captive for so long.

When this time comes you will see that in comparison to those that are fresh and still bleeding, the old ones aren’t as bad as they originally seemed and living with them, healed or hurting, becomes a far more amiable task.