The Person Behind The Mirror

Life is just a series of  tiny moments. Unique little, fleeting “nows”… that happen in the moment, before we realise it happened. At an attempt to understand the now, to determine what the now even is, takes us away from it, and to a new experience. A new now, spent on analysing a now that has already passed. For to spend time analysing the moment, you cannot be in it.

Comparative to when you are in a stare, and as soon as you realise you are staring, no matter how hard you try to remain in that moment of bliss, contentment, or nothingness… It’s already gone. And you can only try to pretend you are still in a stare. But you aren’t. You’re just looking in a direction. 

What this leads us to understanding, should we spend enough time thinking on it – is that you should not necessarily spend time piecing together why you are feeling how you are in any given moment. You should not quantify it, or assign it a given arbitrary value. For if you are happy, you may wonder why, and by wondering why you are no longer feeling that experience of pure happiness.  
You may compare your assigned value of happiness, to a time when you thought you were happier, and suddenly this most recent moment becomes less valuable. But only by comparison. The moment itself has changed in no way. 

You may find yourself dancing in the living room, and in a state of content; and then by suddenly wondering WHY you are enjoying yourself at such a small moment, you may lose it. Your arms may fall to your side, and you will lose you buzz. But only because you chose to think about it. Instead, if you were happy, be happy. Equally if you are overcome with sadness, be sad. Don’t be more sad, or angry because you are sad. Just be sad. Be in whatever moment, you chose to be in. In whatever state of you, you choose to be.

These, fleeting little now’s, that change and dip and rise over time, leave us to grasping a fictitious concept of ourselves. Not only must be ponder the moment in the now, but also the person in the now. And these too, are troubled little changing chaotic beings. We can stand firm, and think, and be quite sure that we are a certain kind of person, but of course, that perception is as much affected by what we have done, as what we will do. For instance, I remember a time when a group of bullies started to harass a boy while I was at school. I wasn’t close to this boy, he wasn’t in my friend group, and in fact I know the boys who were bullying him. But I still stood up for the boy being bullied, despite the fact I lost face in the eyes of the other boys. I raised my voice and defences, and fought off the bullies, until they walked away with their tails between their legs. So this must mean I am brave…

And yet… I remember an identical time, on a bus, when another boy was being bullied. He was the same, in yet I did not know him very well, but it was clear he was uncomfortable, and was outnumbered. These bullies I did not recognised. I thought myself brave as before, yet when I went to raise my defences once more… I got scared. I was afraid in that moment, and so… I did nothing. I let them bully and torment that boy, and ultimately so did everyone else. And he went home, having a bad day, because absolutely no one stood up for him. And so by that moment… I am a coward.

So what am I? Am I brave, or a coward? Is the answer to that simply determined by counting how many times I was brave versus how many times I was a coward? Well… Then it comes more difficult. Because one might suggest that, actually fighting is in itself a cowardly act. That rising above violence is in fact the much braver act. That talking things over, and resilience are far better attributes that flaring brute power. In fact, any number of people could argue these things, and could change there points of view at different points in time. And so when they do… Do the bravery vs cowardly numbers flip? And who gets the final verdict? 

The answer, ultimately, is… you. You get to decide. You will manipulate any memories in a way such as they benefit your motives and agenda’s, given on your perceived state and morality. If you think lowly of yourself, you will manipulate memories into believing you acted as lowly as you are, and if you think highly of yourself you will paint over memories to convey yourself as a God.

The point being, that the now you’re thinking about in the past, ISN’T the now. It’s whatever you think the now is, or whatever you want to think it was. That memory of a now, is actually a new experience you’ve created, and dressed up as that now. And so, it doesn’t matter what any given moment WAS. In a way it matters what it IS. To you, now.

So it shows that once the moment is gone, unfortunately no matter how hard you try… it cannot come back. It is then within your best interest, not to begin analysing it so deeply, for all you will do, is cut it’s time short. Be happy when you are, and be sad when you feel like it. You can control your emotions, in a sense, because you can determine your reactions to the world – but if you’re already in an experience, just be in it. Accept it. Experience it. 

Do not stress. Do not stress that you are not good enough, or wonder if you ever will be. Do not worry and think of the future, and the chaotic nature of it. The what ifs and the hows. Do not compare yourself to another, whether that is another version of you or another person altogether. In fact, don’t even compare, period. It is the enemy of joy. Remember that your perception of the world and yourself can change on a flip of a coin. And it is entirely up to you when you flip the coin, and even the outcome of it. For you can call the coin at any time, and determine whether you want heads or tails to prevail. 

There is no contractual obligation by which you are held, to be the same person you were five minutes ago. You do not have to be something because of what you are now, or because of what you were.

I wish everyone reading this, the most wonderful festive season, and the happiest new year when it comes. It’s a time when for whatever reason we chose to change ourselves, and so by definition must judge and define ourselves. So if you chose to do that, remember:

You are who you chose to be. And ultimately, you need only answer, to the person behind the mirror.

The Burial

Do not consider the version of you, that you are today, to be the best version of you that there ever will be. This presupposes arrogance, or a reluctance to learn, to improve. Stagnant and immovable, unlike anything else in this flowing universe. Which is a sign of the ignorant, and the boring. The version of you, that you are now, is not some post-best version of you. Even if you’ve been through times of greatness, or succession of success, and that comes to an end, do not then assume that something new will not come along again, or that you’ve played your part and can wait by the sidelines until the curtain closes. There is no stopping, there is no end, simply a change in the game, or in the rules that you play by. This feeling of lost, or ending, is a feeling we often get at the end of a long venture, such as a business venture, or maybe even the end of a period of formal education, such as school or university.

It’s at times like this we must most remember; the road is a long and arduous one – with friends and people you’ll meet at the start, while others you’ll meet at the end. Some will stay with you throughout, and some will part somewhere along the way. Some will carry you for a portion of time, as your feet tire against the persistent gravel, and there are others you will carry for some time too. If you’re lucky, you’ll smile and laugh as you carry or be carried, in the form of a piggy back. Sometimes it’s more that you are carried or that you carry, by the back and by the back of the knee, as you rest against their chest, or as they rest against yours.

Sometimes eyelids will be closed, shielding tender eyes from the searing light of the sun, or the unforgiving reminder of the vastness of the universe in the form of twinkling stars. Sometimes they will remain closed for longer than they should, for fear of all that  they’ll see. Or if you’re feeling lonely; for fear of whom you will not see, around you, when you need them most. Those whom your crave, to keep you warm amidst frosty nights.

Sometimes you will smile; and lie. Inside you curl up your toes underneath your bottom, and hold on tight to your shins as you fear the coming storm, in whatever form it chooses to manifest itself – and yet your outward projection is one of confidence, a frame that can withstand all the weather that can be thrown at it. When in reality, you are as sturdy, as Autumn leaves.

This is known as bravery, being the only one that knows that you are afraid.

But never let it be forgotten, that you do not have to be brave, to be good. You can be honest. You can be kind. And after you have been consumed by whatever life has become for you, and thrown at you, you must remember you can revive yourself or be revived with the support of others, and you can be brave again. Even if only a time, until you cannot be brave any longer. We are what we do consistently; not what we have done once before. Greatness therefore, is a habit. Not an achievement.

So you have not been great, and guided; and now you are lost, and mediocre. The road is simply not without its speed bumps. Its speed limits. It matters not that you slow, just that you do not stop. You are great, and you will be great, because of what you continually strive to do. It is okay to fail. It is not okay, not to try.

Do not long for a version of you that has passed. Rather, ensure their return, and eventually safeguard that they are improved upon, and no longer the standard by which your own personal greatness is based upon. Ensure the return is relentless, and without mercy. If the world is a fire, ensure you are a storm. Whatever life throws at you, as unrelenting as it is, remember that you are unyielding, and more ferocious than it can ever hope to be.

Do not find yourself giving up early, due to wearing parts and exhaustion; suppressing your dreams and ambitions off to one-side and pretending that you can gleeful accepted mediocrity, when in fact you have merely given into it. For all you will accomplish, is not realism – but an early death. One where you die, at twenty five – and are buried much later in life.

There is no point in giving in. There is no emergency exit. For not even the end of the road, can be the end. There has never been an end. Only a change of the game, or the rules by which you play.

A Healthy Body

Look after your body.

Remember that the saying, “A healthy body, a healthy mind.” is not just a catchy saying. Rather, your mind – as abstract as it feels – IS maintained by your body. In fact, your mind as beautiful and intrinsic as it is, is made up of a series of connections, that determine and create chemical reactions which in turn allow you to feel and think and control your body in turn.

It’s cyclical. Meaning if your mind cannot be properly maintained, because your body has been poorly looked after – you will think bad thoughts, and make more bad decisions, and feel bad, and so your body too will decay, and slowly but surely this cyclical process will take a devastating toll on your overall well being, and lead you to places of sadness and negativity.

A treat – foods that taste good but offer little sustenance or nutritional value – is a shortcut to happiness. But shortcuts often lead to long delays. If you find yourself using these shortcuts too often, you will eventually build up your backlog and it will hit you hard. Hard in the form of a dependence on those shortcuts, because your body can no longer make the chemicals it makes naturally in a fit and healthy body – because it does not have the nutrition and the vitamins to do so.

So while decadent treats certainly are such – remember that often they are a treat for the tongue alone. They do not generally account for the nutrients and energy that your body needs. Don’t eat fruit just because you’re told to – eat it because it’s good for you. Eat your vegetables, and enjoy them, knowing that you are fuelling your body to a brighter tomorrow. You are boosting your immune system, and giving your body the excitement it needs to do new things, create new ideas and new works of great.

You do not want to be out of breath walking up some stairs, because your body is struggling to move itself and convert chemical energy to kinetic energy, because it has not properly been topped up.

With no energy, you cannot even embark on the adventures that you so desire, for a wonderful life.

Equally, prepare your body for those adventures. Even the adventure of daily life. By improving your cardio, you will ensure that should you need bursts of energy, you can do so – because your body has learned to function more productively. When the air sacs in your lungs can perform effectively, they ensure your body can respire aerobically, meaning your blood is oxygenated and can carry oxygen to your muscles that require it so they can perform optimally.

Your body will also, at some point need to bear a heavy load of some sort. Perhaps you will carry a dog down a hillside, after a hot and tiring day. Or perhaps your children in your arms, up to bed.

Then, it behoves you to ensure your muscles are ready for this task. The way your muscles work, is that they can only grow in size, once they have been proved to not be strong enough to handle the current load. So you must work out your muscles, lift heavy objects and lift them repeatedly, until your muscles tear (slightly – not as in an injury) and then they must repair themselves stronger so that they know not to be broken by that same activity again. Then you must lift heavier objects, let them tear, so they grow bigger to not be broken again by that activity, and so on.

Run far; lift heavy and repeatedly; and eat healthily; and you will prepare your body in such a way, that it can live it’s best life naturally.

It is as simple as that. To be kind to yourself; you must be kind to your body.

A New Home

A blank canvas. With the material equivalent spread on new walls all around you,  you are boundless. You could write, you could paint, you could be whatever you want to be within these walls. They are untouched – and while they wait for your kinetic imprint, the footprint of life, they are potential.

Ahead of you, you see what your life could be, at your time within these corners. You see the smiles and the laughter, of the ones that you love as they gather round where your dining table will be, when you’ve managed to obtain it. You’ll place your fingers against the walls, and trace where picture frames of friends and family with smiling faces, will hang. You’ll walk around and imagine your legs bent at the knee, as you lay in comfort with your arm around the one you love, as you remember why on idle Sundays you cherish having your person to do nothing with.

As you stand with a smile, baked across your face, for a brief moment in vanishes, as you think of the places you’ve left behind to get here. All the places you’ve been, and all the people you were, at all the points in your life. You’ll think of the good times you had, and feel a sincere moment of melancholy, only because you are so thankful to have those memories in your head, and sad that they are in the past.

And then you remember; the person you are now. And as the smile reappears, you stand in awe of the future ahead of you. And the future you’s ahead of you.

How times you’ll never forget; have yet to happen. How your dreams will slowly metamorphose into memories, and in turn spawn new dreams and ambitions you will work towards. You realise the road does not have an end, but you will instead consistently be amazed by the happiness you will achieve.

A new home is the epitome of potential. It is the foundation, by which you will build yourself, and the life of the best you that has yet to come.

So, artist, now that you stand before your canvas, what will you paint?

Serenity Now

Peace cannot be achieved, today and now, without an immense amount of effort. It takes everything to let fundamental disagreements, pain, and past unfairness subside in order to move forward without the anvil of the past weighing you down. It cannot be demanded, because by its very definition there can be no force and all parties must accept the conditions amicably.

Demanding peace is no more useful than demanding yourself to relax in a moment of panic. It’s a paradox. Fundamentally it cannot be rushed. It takes effort. It takes endurance, respect, and consistency.

What differentiates the villains from the heroes in old tales, and even blockbusters that we know of now – is that the villain must only succeed once to achieve their goal. If the villain wishes to cause terror, to take lives, and to exert their will, they need only do it once. Their world ending plan, or their terrorist attack – has to be only be achieved the one time. Terror, is spread easily – peace is a little tougher.

So we must be consistent. Stronger. Unwavering, and unfaltering. It begins not with magnanimous leaders that boast their own narcissism, but with the people who we often forget actually run the world – the people. It can only be achieved on the grand scale that it will, once the small behaviours of the people change. Once people remember to prioritise what they want most, rather than what they want now.

The next time someone skips you in a queue, or walks in front of you – do not storm and pout and get mad about it. Even if it irritates you in the exact moment, work hard to laugh, or joke, and move past it. Do not let the second, dictate the minute. Because very quickly, the minute can dictate the hour, and so on. Big things are only made up of small things, and it is our lack of vigilance on the small things that allows larger things to manifest themselves over time.

Talk about the small things; communicate towards a solution, as they arise. Accept that the solution may not be achieved immediately, but it cannot even begin to be worked upon until stakeholders are even aware that an issue exists. More so; do this with a smile. Do not assume maliciousness, where ignorance will do. If your waiting staff have not cleared away a table you wish to sit at, do not be so arrogant as to assume they are not doing their job, and complain of the terrible service – instead stop for a moment, consider it may be busy, and that by chance in this exact moment you spotted the table you want to sit at, they were dealing with other issues and unfortunately this was not their priority. In fact, if you have worked in the service or retail industry, you know this to be true. Be polite and kind, and with a smile bring it to someone’s attention. Think about it for a moment, from a perspective that is not your own. Imagine you are in their place, and how you would feel if someone spoke to you horribly. Equally, imagine the difference it would make if someone was kind to you, when everyone else was not. Simple actions, behavioural changes and understanding can change the world. You just must apply it to everything, every example that you can.

Say thank you with sincerity. Mean it, no matter who it is, or for what it’s for. As much as we like to believe in a society that there are certain rights we have, which we do not – such as the right to be served at a restaurant – we… don’t. Someone could just say, no.
“I have the right to refuse you, and I do.” So when you are served, when you would like to be – say thank you. And pleases are just basic manners.

Your opinion is not inherently worth more than anyone else. While of course, someone who is actually educated on a subject may have the facts to more accurately represent it, it does not mean they are any more important than the next person who wants to discuss it. Discussion is for everyone, so listen to everyone’s opinion. Do not simply wait for your turn to speak. Listen. Use it to change your own opinion, or cement it. Regardless of what it does, it is almost always certainly worth it, as long as the person on the other end is genuine.

IF we had wished to achieve serenity now, all of these things we should have begun to do a long time ago. But while we must be patient and wait a little longer, and to some degree this can be disheartening, simply remember the following phrase;

“The best time to plant a tree, is twenty years ago. The second best time, is now.”

This will guide you, and remind you that all things worthwhile require persistence, patience, consistency, and sacrifice.

This is all a lot to remember. And a lot to do. But the truth is, the small change in attitude brings about all of the following in turn, a domino effect. Once you approach everything with kindness, and acceptance first, all of your future decisions can be made by you in the moment, rather than requiring guidance, and a list of examples by which you can conduct yourself.

Use advice as your guidelines, not your rule book.

And finally, while peace and a global serenity may not be achieved tomorrow; while it will require an immense amount of effort and forgiveness on all sides; while it will require the removal of pride from the equation and the relinquishment of “the upper hand” of power – you can start today. You can be the best you can be, and as that’s all you can do – you as a human, and the ones you love close to you, can achieve serenity now.

 

 

There are no stupid questions.

There are no stupid questions; only stupid answers.

To be a good teacher – and not just a successful educator – it is important to remember that the idea of being stupid (a horrible thing to think of someone, or to address someone as) could only be reserved for someone who lacks intelligence. And you know the only way to gain more knowledge, and to be more intellectual as person? Asking, questions.

Fundamentally, the sentence “They were asking stupid questions” or “that was a stupid question” is flawed – you’ll most likely either have said this in a moment of fury, or have overheard a disgruntled friend or colleague complaining. While it’s easy to understand why someone might say this, as they’re just frustrated, its equally not a helpful phrase for anyone.

Let’s suppose that you have never learned how to wash your clothes. You are a teenager, and have just moved out for the first time in your life. There is no washing machine in your apartment, so you head to the nearest laundromat with a couple of bags of dirty clothes, that you’ve no doubt put off washing. Nervous, you stumble your way towards a stranger, and in a moment of courage, you tap them on the shoulder and explain to them your predicament. “I’ve just never learned how to wash my clothes” You’ll say, “So… How DO you wash your clothes? Is there a system for putting it in the washing machine, or do you put anything in with it or… ?”

They laugh in your face. They sputter their words, and they repeat it, “You don’t know how to wash your clothes!? Are you stupid!?” They continue their merriment, maybe chuckle to themselves or turn to a friend. And you sit there wondering… “Am I stupid?”

What’s happened in that scenario, and in every other scenario where a variant of this has happened, is that someone asked for help to improve their own understanding, and was made to feel small in return. As though because they did not know something, that they know nothing. Which, ironically, is a stupid thing for someone to think. By acting that way, or by saying these things, you’re only conditioning someone not to ask questions, because when they do, they’re reprimanded. So they may stop asking questions. And without questions they don’t know answers. Now you’re hurtful comments have sustenance to them, but only because of what you did. And by doing that, you are far more stupid, and worst yet ignorant, than they could ever be.

You may not consider yourself a stupid person, and yet – do you know anything about botany? Or rocket science? Or fishing? Maybe even geology, sociology, psychology, phrenology? If you are not an expert in all these fields, it would be expected that at some point if you wanted to know more about the subject you would have to ask a question, no? So, does this make you stupid?

Fundamentally, we are all uneducated in some aspects of life. To call someone stupid, or make them feel small in any way, because you excel in an area they do not; is arrogant. It’s unkind, it’s unfair, and you are objectively helping to numb society to the pursuit of intelligence.

Curiosity IS intelligence. To wonder what lies beyond. To wonder about that which you do not know, and pursue it relentlessly. Do not stifle someone, and trip them up at the first hurdle of understanding. You are hurting someone’s potential more than you know.

Next time someone asks a question you feel they should know; that you feel is a stupid question – be patient. Take your time to think of the appropriate answer. For it is you who is on the ropes. Because there are no stupid questions; only stupid answers.

Shorts: Disagree.

It is okay, to disagree.

It is okay to like someone, but have aspects of their life which do not cohere to aspects of yours.

Imagine a kaleidoscope, with a near infinite number of fragments, which with a single near infinitely small turn will change the outcome of the projection it gives. The chances that any two people land on the exact same image and their views align, becomes quantum; but that doesn’t mean they can’t both enjoy each others pretty patterns.

It can be a struggle, at times – usually because of an error in how one might perceive what it means to disagree. Disagreeing, does not mean you dislike the person whom you are disagreeing with, and vise versa it does not mean they have an aversion to you. It simply means both of your opinions do not align, at this one point in time. And as you know, your thoughts, loves, hates, passions, and ambitions change almost daily. Maybe a turn of the kaleidoscope in the future may bring you closer, or further away, anyway. But for now they do not work out. It is not so severe an obstacle to friendship or more than you might believe it to be.

You’ll find that it would be an awfully lonely world to be friends with someone only like you. For you are unique; in many ways you may not fully realise.

What’s more – is that if you in any way respect yourself, you will understand that with while perfection is an unattainable goal, you should still be striving to improve yourself. Always. And if you believe you can achieve this, without learning – you are undoubtedly still a fool. You may not always be – but for now if you believe you can improve without lessons taught, without experiment, and without others, then you are losing out on life. You’re doing yourself a great injustice.

Equally, to disagree with a loved one, ultimately is to show them respect. You respect them enough to say, “I’m not agreeing with you, just so you stop talking. I disagree with you because I think you could make a better decision in this moment. You could think better thoughts, and if not, and I could be better, I want you to teach me.”

So… disagree. Surround yourself with people who agree with you in your entirety, or that you believe yourself to be “better” than, then you will remain stagnant, and utterly extremist. If there is only one “truth” being spoke around you, you will believe it to be so.

Regardless, let me know your opinions. Disagree with me. I’ll love you anyway.

Shorts: You are a champion.

It is irritatingly easy to focus on that which you did not accomplish, rather than that which you did. While you may not feel you need a round of applause for getting out of bed in the morning, relatively if you were experiencing a severe period of depression – getting out of bed actually does merit fanfare.

But obviously – you normally do this every single day, and so much more, regarding it simply as second nature. You don’t ever appreciate all that you do, because you expect yourself to do it.

It is important then to remember, that you – are incredible. Every single day you bring yourself to get up – and try. There is nothing to suggest you HAVE to try. You could simply not. There is genuinely nothing stopping you. Barriers you have placed there yourself may lead you to believe you cannot stop and give up, but you obviously could.

Say you mention to yourself, “I cannot give up today, because I have to get the kids ready for school.” or “I cannot give up today, because there is so much work to do.” or even, “I cannot give up today, because I need to support my partner.”

Of course you COULD give up. You’re just not going to. You’re going to get up, and be incredible, without even realising how amazing you are. You, are a champion, because every single day, no matter what happens – you keep going. The river does not shape the landscape because of its power, but its persistence. You can shape the land. You determine the future. You persist, for one reason alone – because you are a champion. Life has yet to beat you, even once.

Sometimes the day beats you, and that’s not good. Sometimes many days gang up on you, countless days even, and bring you to new depths. But regardless, unique you, keeps on going. You shake off your muscles, and your mind, and you keep climbing upwards.

Even if it doesn’t feel like you do this, you do. A bit like the family smell that has lingered around you for so long you no longer know its there – you too have been so fantastic for so long, that you have forgotten that you are. So take a moment. Breathe. Appreciate you, for all that you’re worth. Give yourself a break.

And remember, you; are a champion.

Shorts: Make your bed.

The first thing you should do in the morning, is make your bed.

By making your bed, you have ensured that regardless of what happens for the rest of the day to come, you have achieved something. It matters not the size of the task; only that you completed it.

It starts your day off with momentum to complete other tasks, and if the day decides to overwhelm you, you can guarantee that you can return home to a soft comfortable bed.

Begin to apply this to everything.

Make a reservation. Not because you require planning to control or to run your life; but because planning begat spontaneity. If you make a reservation in six days time, you are under no obligation to keep it. But what it does provide you with is an option, to make yourself or someone else very happy. It allows you to be free and easy, and have one extra back up option in your pocket. It provides a fail-safe, a winter contingency, that should all else fair, you have a net.

Write your reports, file your documents. Not because you enjoy doing these monotonous things, but because they apply weight on your mind. They take up ANY amount of physical space in your brain, which could be put to much better use.

Clean your living spaces. Not because the smell of ammonia stirs something within you, but because if anything were to happen in the day that provides excitement and a potential for a good memory, you should be able to focus all attention to that at the drop of a hat, and have nothing providing an obstacle to it. If you need assistance in making this particular one a habit, invite your crush or significant other over regularly. Nothing compels you to clean more, than the thought of the embarrassment of someone you’re in love with seeing your messy space.

But if all of these fail; if in fact you did not do that which you had planned, you let the day best you, and the majority of your tasks went untouched or unfinished. Do not worry.

You can return home, and go to bed. It will be ready, made, waiting for you.