Have something to say.

If you’re struggling to think of what to say, perhaps you should listen more. In a world of noise and consistent stimulation, the urge to shout into the void is overwhelming. The desire to be heard.

If you were a passenger on a train barrelling towards someone tied to the tracks, you would be compelled to scream out to them in the hopes they can hear, even if you have no power over the ability to stop the train, and they have no capacity to untie themselves. To you in the moment, there may simply be an irrefutable desire to let them, and everyone else on the train know, that it horrify you, and that you would do something about it if you could. And while this is very good for the passenger, it matters not very much to he who is tied to the track.

The problem then it seems, is that the fear of not being heard, outweighs the need to have something to say. To have something that can cause change, in the heart or the mind. Hence an era of blogging, to meet quota rather to inspire, or to relate. No one wants to educate, they just want to have their opinion shared. Equally however, they are so bombarded with story and information from others, they may not even be able to hear their own thoughts, or listen to the reply.

And that’s equally an important distinction, is that a conversation is two way – which results in mutual affirmation and education. One’s theory can only be expanded upon hearing another knowledge base which can confirm or deny it. Shouting into the void is remarkably one-way, and seldom results in any kind of actual validation, or expansion of the mind. If your opinion can reach anyone, as in the age of the internet it can; then equally anyone – regardless of whether they hold a genuine opinion or not, can respond and seem just as valid as anyone else. Largely, we experience not validation – but either nothing, or a sort of anti-validation when no one responds. Or “likes”. Perhaps you like a photo of you, and find that for once you look beautiful, but when you post it, no one or few people like it, so immediately you assume it must be disgusting. – When in fact, perhaps people were simply busy. Or… didn’t care.

The simple fact is, no one has a compulsion or a requirement to care. And while that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t say it – it just perhaps means you should be less offended by it.

Perhaps you should be less worried, about the desire to have your thoughts heard or validated. You may not like what you find.

“If you remain silent; people may think you’re a fool. If you open your mouth; they may know it for a fact.”

There is nothing wrong, with listening to others for a change, even if you don’t like what you hear. And when you decide you are ready to speak, be sure you have something to say.

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…”