What comes next…

The adventure doesn’t have to be good, to be worth having.

More often than not you pick up a book in order to see the protagonist brave adversity; to overcome obstacles corporeal or otherwise, endeavour against an antagonist mental or physical and reach a natural conclusion – rather than read how fantastic their lives are at all times, and how regardless of the black upon the white of the page it continues that way until the end. If we were to do that; if our characters were to stay static and for everything to remain unchanged regardless of what happened – then it would be as much use to us as if nothing happening at all. If life is a state of change, why would we endure an experience of nothing; of stubborn unchanging?

It makes sense for our character to change, evolve and develop from moment to moment, exponentially even from chapter to chapter; regardless of if that development is ultimately better for them, or worse.

What this tells us; is that what comes next, does not always have to be the time at which you were most happy, for it to be the time you most needed. It does not have to a time you were most proud of; in order for it to be a story you may later wish to tell.

In fact; a large number of stories you’ll recall from your youth, involve actions you would never take again. Or unintentional copious amounts of alcohol.

The age of anxiety is upon us; because we feel as though what we have now isn’t that great, and that it’s only going to get worse. Which seems terrifying.

In order to avoid it, we try to cling on to this exact moment, knowing all the while that inevitably it will be taken from us, whether we like it or not.

Rather, offer no resistance. Let it go.

Do not be afraid of what’s to come; relish in the experience, knowing that if what is to come is pain, pleasure will be put into perspective, and it will follow in time.

What comes next may not be the time of your life; but it will be yours. What you can decide, is your perspective upon it. And how you will tell the story, when its over.


 

This article is best paired; with the following:

Uncertainty

Stop The Possibility of Future Happiness, Determining Whether You Are Happy Now

Temporary

 

Mature

What would be the mature option?

To accept continuous burden in silence; to live with worry about the future, regret of past actions, and anxiety in the present.

OR

Talk about it.

Ironically, it’s so easy to chastise someone for thinking terrible things about themselves, and yet so easy to do it to oneself. If a friend were to exclaim that they’re ugly, you would be startled, almost offended, and reassure them otherwise. And yet, give yourself a mirror and time, and you’ll pick out every flaw about yourself until you’ve convinced yourself wholeheartedly of it.

What’s worse, is if you’ve convinced yourself of the theory that you’re ugly beforehand, you’ll twist and warp facts until you believe it so, and have evidence (however twisted) to prove it.

This applies to much more than appearance. This applies to money woes – where you could convince yourself you’ll be bankrupted and homeless, it could be about career and dream aspirations – and you’ll think you’re going nowhere, or it could even be about friends – and that you worry you have none, or that they don’t care.

There is nothing too big or too small, to be considered. It’s okay to not feel okay, today. It’s okay to have an off-day, and off-week, or an off-heck-of-a-lot-longer-than-that.

What’s not okay, is to accept the burden alone, indefinitely. We shelf small worries everyday, and as long as we then deal with them in the next hour or so it’s okay. But everything that’s negative to us, regardless of size, will damage us if left long enough. You cannot simply accept burdens all your life, and shoulder them alone, because you believe they are yours to bare. They are not.

You cannot somehow value yourself worthless, when in reality surely you must know that you are not, because no one is ever worth nothing. Especially not you. It doesn’t matter if you feel this worry or negativity is stupid to others. Or small. Or that you’ll be mocked. If it’s important to you, if it weighs on your mind, then do not hesitate to talk to others. Let them know. They can offer support, and you can beat it, or they will make you see more clearly how foolish you are being, and can dissipate your woes altogether.

Sharing a burden, halves it altogether immediately. And in sizeable chunks, it can be defeated.

You are important. Your worries and concerns are valued. Remember that if your thoughts are damaging your mental health in any way (and that includes just making you have a bad day) then you should tell others and the ones you care about and/or care about you, because they love you. Others want you to be well, even if you don’t feel like you’re worthy of it. It’s not fair, for others not to even know you’re not okay. So let them know. Share with them. They want to see you happy. You know who they are.

If you bare a burden that weighs heavily on your mind, regardless of how big or small it actually is;

Talk about it.

That would be the mature option.

Don’t Do It Alone

You don’t have to do it alone.

No matter what it is; or how you feel; if you are right or wrong; or if you feel you are too far along. Whether the outcome will be a success or a failure; whether you will be forgiven or not; whether things can go back to the way they were or not; whatever you are going through – you do not have to do it alone.

Loneliness is such a hauntingly beautiful concept; because it’s so ironically universal. It’s something that unites us all together. We have all felt alone.

Sometimes in a dark room, with a beer or a glass of wine on something resembling a table in front of you, you will feel alone. As you monitor friends and family, who seem to be having fun. Perhaps you’re sitting and wondering who that person you think about, is thinking about. And maybe you’re wondering why they aren’t here beside you.

Sometimes, shoulder to shoulder, or on a busy street, you will feel so alone. As no one looks your way, or perhaps that they do and choose to stay at a distance. Perhaps it’s even one of those times, when people are talking to you; but the words they say and the ways they relate to their life and yours around them, you would be better off talking to a lion who has been taught your native tongue – for your two frames of reference are so far apart you no longer understand each other.

Sometimes it’s our own pride that brings about our true sadness. The thought that we should be able to shoulder the weight of the world, for this is what makes us strong and tough. This is a fallacy. A whisper that loneliness will repeat in your ear for hours on end. If you have convinced yourself this is true, then know this instead. It is not brave, to accept burden alone. It is not more dignified, or more humble, to pretend the world does not beat you down, and get the better of you on some days. Or perhaps for weeks or months on end.

This is the cruelty of life. It does this to everyone. If you believe you are the only person who asks for help, and are convinced that others you know to be calm and collected never ask for help; you are mistaken. What they really do, is share the load. They distribute the bombardment amongst those they trust, whom they hold dear. And in return, when they can, they offer kindness, love, and reciprocation. They offer an ear, and a shoulder, when it is their burden to do so.

This, I would wager, is not opinion, but fact. Four people carrying 100 kilograms of weight on their shoulders seems reasonable. But one person carrying the same weight, will injure or tire themselves after not too long at all. Remember this; it’s science.

Sometimes the hardest part, is that it seems as though there is no one to even accept your requests for help. It’s a friend, who knows you’re alone, and is unwilling to alter their behaviour to accommodate you. Which arguably is the only thing worse than being alone or being sad. Being alone, and someone else knowing you’re alone. Someone else being perfectly aware of it, and yet choosing not to act upon it. It feels as though no one would care.

But someone does care. People who contact you without a reason to do so. They care about your day, for the sake of hoping it was a happy one, and nothing else. Do not forget them, or their kindness, even if they are not the person you wish was bringing it to you. They can bring some light into your life, as long as you let them. Loneliness is only a darkness. People are not further away; you just cannot see very far in front of you. Or how far your sphere of connection stretches.

Put it does not matter if it is a trick – because it feels so real, to you. It feels empty. When you are scared of what you may find beyond your vision. And your fingers shake, and your arms wave all around you hoping to find someone there, to hold their hand and pull it closer. To feel their warmth against yours, even if they too are afraid.

Whatever makes you afraid; whatever in the future scares you – don’t do it alone. Don’t push those away whom you do find in reach. If they call to you, call back.

And if no one answers – call for me. I will follow you into the dark.

Shorts: Sixty Minutes

No matter what you’re doing in your life at the minute, no matter how busy your day appears to be, or how much furrows your brow each day – take sixty guilt free minutes; for yourself.

You, are as important as anything else on your plate at the minute. To handle all the things you consider important, you must first maintain that which allows any of it to be dealt with. Or even thought about and decisions considered.

Don’t feed the negativity, and the burden of the world. By feeding it, it only grows stronger, more confident, and more ferocious. It will visit more often, Pavlovian. Instead, feed creativity. Intelligence. Feed passion, love, and kindness. Feed selflessness, motivation, and self improvement. If nothing else, feed relaxation.

You deserve a warm bath. A hot chocolate. Your feet resting up against the table, with something wrapped around your body to keep your heat. You deserve your favourite song playing over the hot of a candle at night.

You deserve kind words from friends and loved ones. You deserve hobby which drives you, regardless of what end becomes of it or its futility.

It’s very easy to get caught up in it all; to wholeheartedly believe you should receive the full weight of burden that taxes you every day, and yet require no rejuvenation. And while that sounds convenient, and very noble; It isn’t. It isn’t brave to struggle, for the sake of it, to endure hardship without reward. It’s just sadism. Or masochism depending on your inclination.

It’s mental flagellation –  and your mind deserves better than that, because it allows everything you are, and how beautifully unique you are, to even take place and be perceived. Even if you get mad with yourself, disappointed, or even just a little disillusioned, remember you are absolutely astonishing.

Talk to a friend, or even better someone who will listen. They can remind you of that fact. They can remind you that life has been continuing outside of all that hinders you from sleep at night, and make larger objects in the mirror appear smaller than you might have thought. They can remind you that life will be okay, and whatever obstacles you considered large, are now long forgotten. So you can relax knowing that whatever stresses you out now, too will pass. In fact, you can take that as the one certainty in a world of anxiety. It will pass.

There is no once else like you, for every nuance of yourself. For small details you do not even notice in yourself, but that a poet would spot in a heartbeat, and write a sonnet without your knowing.

Relax. Be you.

Take sixty minutes. And between us, we’ll call it maintenance.

Pressed for time.

You will always be aware of the passage of time. As leaves around you turn amber and crumble, as trees wither and rivers shape mountains, you will be well aware that nothing can escape its grasp.

Man – is the only animal on Earth that pertains a concept of time; and with that comes an equally unique fear; what happens when it stops.

Rather than spin this in dim light, rather – look at it with unhinged beauty. Time is based on our own perspective. Five minutes to someone in an excruciating interview will crawl its way along, while the same five minutes to new lovers will pass in the snap of a finger.

While you can be certain that your life will expire as it is at some point in the future, and while you can say with relative certainty you will not live to be as old or much older than a century, equally, you could unexpectedly perish tomorrow of some unnamed disaster. While you know your time will end, you do not know when. You do not know how worth your time will be, or how quickly it will pass. The time on your clock may tick for the last time, in the following heartbeat.

So… run. You are pressed for time. And if you wish to leave some part of you in this universe, act with haste. Do not put up with situations that bring you unhappiness. Relish in those that do. Do not bother with people who are toxic to your well being, in any way. Rid their weight from your shoulders and press forward linked in swinging arms of equally enthusiastic runners. You owe nothing to anyone, and are bound by nothing but that which you yourself will accept to be bound to. The thing about the great social contract (where we conduct ourselves uncharacteristically for the sake of  the acceptance of others) is that we do not have to abide by it at all. And just because we have spent so much time on it, does not mean we must continue to do so.

“You are under no obligation to be the same person you were five minutes ago”
– Alan Watts

Rather, do what brings you joy. With happiness being forever fleeting you must pursue it as though fire burns at the back of your heels. You must dish it out and lend a helping hand to those you can. Kindness and happiness can be shared without depreciation. So, do.

Put nothing on hold – because it can be dropped at any point – no matter how securely you imagine yourself to be holding it.

Let no anchor tie you to the shoreline, because adventure awaits beyond the horizon. To find new land, you must watch traverse stormy weather, and watch as the horizon obscures the security of where you came from.

Plan; but do not fret if the reality of the situation alters so much you cannot use it. While your sail can steer, it is still influenced by the wind. And the changing of that wind, is anyone’s guess. But that does not mean you should opt to float on driftwood, just because the sail may fail.

And so with that in mind, equally do not judge. Others or yourself. This will only stifle your release of endorphins from your runners high. In fact, do not concern yourself with the achievements or the decisions of others. Comparison rarely every bring anything other despair.

Instead… run, and beat the clock.

And while you will always be aware of the passage of time – you will slowly start to realise you no longer fear it. And the time you spent on the race will no longer matter, only how far you ran, and all the things you saw along your way. How you turned the leaves red, and shaped the mountainside.

 

 

 

Shorts: The Call of the Void – (L’appel du vide)

You’ve had a great day at work. Perhaps someone complimented your appearance, or your hard work received the recognition you feel it deserves. You’re going home to your favourite meal, and since you’re ahead in all your chores, there is little to do but put your feet up, and relax the night away. You stand at the train station, as a light rain pours down, with a smile on your face as you think of all these simple delights that await you. At some point, you glance over, and see that a train is approaching. It is not your train, and it does not stop at this station so it’s going at a fairly high speed. And although you are happy, a coldness washes over you. You stare blankly at the lights on the front of the train. And from somewhere in the attic of your mind, you suddenly think, “Jump.”

It’s a thought and a whisper and a command all at once. “Jump… Jump onto the tracks. Right. Now.”

The train blazes by. It’s gone undisturbed. The train driver is still smiling, completely unaware of what you just thought about doing. You watch the train for longer than usual, before staring blankly ahead. What just happened? Why did you think that?

L’appel du vide. The Call of the Void.

A french term, referring to that feeling we get, even for a brief moment, where we just think – “I could do something terrible in every sense of the word right now. For no particular reason at all.”

It can range from the example I’ve given above, to thinking you could just crash your car into a tree while the kids argue in the back. Or perhaps that you could push your beloved friend over a mountainside as you both stand enjoying the view. It could be to cause damage to yourself, or to a loved one, or just generally do something horrible, like knocking an ice cream cone from the hands of a child, simply because you can.

While this is a scary thought to think about, and we often feel at our most insane in these moments, the good news is… we all have them. You are not bad. We’ve all thought about doing something like that, and sometimes frequently. But most importantly… it’s completely normal. You’re not saying you WILL do them, or even thinking you should. It’s just a combination of a sudden feeling of power revealing itself at an opportune moment. It’s a sudden realisation that in this moment, you have control, and a power to do anything, regardless of whether it’s good or not.

It’s actually beautiful in a way, because for a brief second, we feel truly empowered. It just manifest’s itself negatively, because thankfully we don’t often think these thoughts, and so we seize our brief moment to do so.

The next time you do have one of these moments, be comforted by the fact that it is so common place, the French have a name for it. Be comforted knowing the kindest people you know, have thought these things also. And be thankful that while you thought them, you did not do them.

Instead, watch the train, or the tree, or the shrinking mountainside go by, smile and laugh to yourself, “L’appel du vide…”

PROCRASTINATION

If it takes five minutes, do it right now. You’re putting it off, and in thirty minutes you’ll put it off again, and after thirty more times of putting it off by thirty minutes, it’s time for bed and ultimately your objective is failed. But don’t worry, you’ll do it tomorrow. Procrastinate, I mean.

It’s one of the worst, most stressful feelings to procrastinate, because you become more aware of time than ever, and most importantly the sheer lack of it. You’re not a bad person for procrastinating. We work more now than any other time in our recorded history. Even those who were of pure hard labour were given more time off to mend. We have more obligations, commitments, and deadlines than ever before. You’re consistently told you should do more, and for less. By the time you’re twenty, your job requires twenty years experience. By the time you’re forty, they’ll want someone who’s twenty. From the day you are born, you are being shaped to work, and the entry requirements now are astonishing. So you’re not a bad person for feeling like you require more time, less effort. It’s okay to feel that for a day you wish to do absolutely nothing. Time wasted, is not necessarily wasted time. As long as you need it to be.

That is why there are those who say “Work a job that you love and you’ll never ‘work’ a day in your life”, for if you can practice and hone your hobby and it is classed as working to some, then bingo. But unfortunately that process can’t be forced. You have to be one of the lucky ones and hope that your hobby does not become work for you.

See more on doing what you love in life in – WHAT IF MONEY WERE NO OBJECT?

During the great depression, Bertrand Russell proposed the idea of the four hour working day to combat this from happening. Think about it, instead of the main focus of your life being to serve your workload, your boss at work, the main focus of the day would be your hobby, the things you actually care about, rather than those things you have to pretend you care about. When you get to the end of your life, you might actually have done that one thing that you “always wanted to do”, purely because you had a reasonable time frame in which to do it in. Whether what Russell proposed would work in practice rather than theory, whether I agree with him to any degree or not, it’s an interesting thought. That we have lived our lives, since the beginning of human lives, dedicated to working. That one paradigm has never changed.

And the frustrating thing about working all of our lives, to achieve greater things, is that no matter how much we work – it will never be completed. There is no limit to us, no limit to life. There is no end goal. We will always need more food, more water, a greater thirst for knowledge, more money to trade, more deals to be made.

No wonder it gets tiring.

If you find you are procrastinating, but you are not lazy, then perhaps you are simply over working yourself and deserve a break. Maybe, the next time you convince yourself to work because you should be, and find that you can’t get anything done, you should take a break. Take time for yourself. To explore yourself, and what it is that you need to wind down.

Otherwise, ultimately you’re achieving nothing of use in your work. You would work more efficiently with a rested mind than you would with a tired one. Waste your time, in whatever way you need to. Time wasted, is not wasted time.

Just ensure that when you actively choose laziness over rest, you must ask yourself a few simple questions, “Should I be doing this?”, “Does it take a couple minutes?”, “Will I be much happier relaxing if I know that it is done?” and finally, “CAN it wait?”. If the answer to two of the first three is yes, then do it. Equally if the answer to the last question is no, just do it. Don’t be mad at yourself for procrastinating, but understand that there IS a time and a place for it.

To procrastinate means you are human, and an overworked one at that. Don’t let yourself or anyone else tell you that you can’t procrastinate every now and then. But the secret to never procrastinating again, the true secret of it all, is – … I’ll get to that tomorrow.

BUT WHAT IF?

What are you worrying about?

Being worried doesn’t make any sense. As my Grandmother always says, “You worry and you’ll die, you don’t worry and you’ll still die.”

And the ironic thing about worry, is that you know you shouldn’t worry, but that doesn’t mean it goes away. But you’re aware of it. So now you’re going to worry about the fact your worrying, and you know you’re doing this and you worry about it. It’s a vicious cycle and it doesn’t go away – until something else distracts your mind. Work. A hobby. That thing you worry about.

You could wager that there are things in life where it’s perfectly acceptable to worry – how much money you have left in your bank account, how well your current relationship is going, if your relative is going to survive another winter. If you’ve been mentally nodding your head, then your missing the point.

These are perfectly acceptable things to dislike about life, to get angry about, to get sad or emotional about – but not worry about. All these other things make sense, you dislike something because it makes you or someone you care about unhappy, you get angry because your frustrated by a person or thing, you get sad because of loss or desire. But you worry – for nothing. There is no psychological, evolutionary or societal advantage to being worried. All it does is stress you out. And that’s no good.

Now there are three very distinct kinds or worry:

  1. Worrying about something you are going to make happen.
  2. Worrying about something else that might happen upon you.
  3. Worrying about something else that will happen upon you.

If we look at the first kind – think of that thing that you will not do, for fear of the consequence of doing it. You have to make it happen, or you strongly believe that you want to, but you worry about it going wrong. Well just think about it.

Really think about it. What are you waiting for – is anything actually holding you back, or are you holding you back?

Well it’s scary – nonsense. Everything is. Everything you have ever done is scary. You’ve just done it before, so it doesn’t seem scary to you anymore.

Well I’m unfamiliar with – ridiculous. You want things to be different, but for nothing to change?

Well if it goes wrong – stupid. A lot of things go wrong – a lot of things happen differently from how you anticipated them to go, and that’s okay. It got you to where you’re most proud of today.

The fact of the matter is, you can not do it, and wish that you did it. Or do it, and wish that you didn’t. And every good story I have ever told starts with a variant of “I shouldn’t have done that.” when in fact I did.

We’re so afraid of what is broken, ugly and messy that we’re unwilling to break our cycle of boring constancy. Doing the same things, with the same people because we worry. Usually it’s about what people will think of us, how they will react. But it was Olin Miller who said it best, “You probably wouldn’t worry about what people think of you if you could know how seldom they do!”

One day, you’ll lie old and grey, and you’ll tell people of all the things you did. Most likely when you did the thing, you can justify why you did it. Most likely when you didn’t do it, all you’ll say is that you wish you had.

But when it comes down to it, the reason we hate the first kind of worry is because we don’t want to live with things worse than we have it now. If we never had it, then we wouldn’t miss losing it. But if we make a mistake now we might lose it and that just might be difficult to live with.

But do you really want to live a life, where nothing ever improves, because you were afraid it might get worse? The only thing stopping you is you. Get out of your way.

Now what about the second kind, the things that might happen to you. You’re worried you might be drifting from that group of friends or they’re actively pushing you out. Or your workload is ramping up and you’re not sure you can handle it. What if you’re not moving as fast as you thought you would be by now? All I can say to you then, is that odds are, everything will okay. It might take time, it might be uncertain for a while. But it will most likely be okay. The odds that your Earth will be completely shattered tomorrow are not very likely. Think – on a purely personal statistical basis, how many times has the thing you were worrying about actually came to fruition? If the answer is less than 100%, then don’t waste your time on thinking about such things. You’re guess is as much good as chance.

And finally there are things we worry about that WILL happen, of which there are few. You’re worried you will get fat. You’re worried politicians are becoming corrupt. You’re worried that a peer is performing better than you at this current time. You’re worried that you’ll die.

To that I say, you will get fatter, but you can reverse it just with a little extra work. Your weight fluctuates over the years. You’re perfectly fine the way you are for now, because you want to be. Politicians will corrupt, but they always have been. Don’t concern yourself with it, because it probably will never change. Sometimes you’ll do better than your friends, sometimes they will do better than you – it’s a marathon, not a sprint. Just be happy for them, and have faith that in turn they will reciprocate. And finally to the last morbid point – unfortunately you will die. Everyone, everything does.

But if you’re dead then what will there be to worry about?

You’re dead.

You should be no more afraid of dying, than you should be afraid of what was before you were born. Literally, everything you have ever worried about is gone – to you. Everything will be okay. Once you’re gone, so is everything, everything to ever be worried about. So just make sure you have one hell of a time while you are here, that you have plenty of stories to tell on your way out. Don’t spend that time worrying.

You don’t want to get to the end of your life, and worry that you never did anything with it.

So with that being said, what are you worrying about? If you worry, you’ll die. If you don’t worry, you’ll still die.