You only live once they say. YOLO says a generation who have not lived much as yet. I feel I have had many lives before this one. Each different, and each separated, so that my life is more like the different scenes of a play than a novel.
Dancing round the garden with a hole in my sock and my 99p sunglasses, I was a happy child who loved his mum. Bright yet wilful, I found it hard to settle at school and as I started to mature I realised that boys like me loved their mums because the world outside didn’t like fairies in the garden.
With my bleached hair covering half my face I declared to the no one that was listening my theory on music. The B52s were great and obviously Talking Heads were seminal. Grace was thrown in as reference to the cool indie gay I thought I was. He bore no resemblance to the plain fat boy staring at me in the mirror who dreamt of dance floors
Once I had a house with a gate and a privet hedge that required more attention than it got. I worked for the council and let out my spare room to meet the mortgage. I hated life and it seemed life hated me back. I was bored and realised, once again, that if you don’t fit you shouldn’t force it. I stopped going out and just stayed in.
Slovakia was an unexpected move. The grief of my early departed mother was set aside and I tried on some wings. I was no angel but sometimes I felt like a benevolent god in the classroom. I accepted life and being a foreigner, allowed myself to stand out from the crowd in so many ways.
Tired of London…
A decade in the capital was squandered in never ending round of parties and nightclubs. My career soared and so did my anxiety. Each promotion fuelling an ever more chaotic social life and an ever darker horizon. When I left London I moved to the quiet gravelled beaches of the east and walked myself into sanity. I found a sobriety and a calm in the flat landscape with large skies. I thought I’d never leave.
I sold it all. Everything I own can fit in a suitcase. I have nothing. I have no one. I have a freedom that makes me dizzy. My past is gone and here I am living in the moment. Inner calm has been hard won and I exercise my mind to exorcise its demons. The fairy has left the garden behind and dances on the world’s stage. Have I reincarnated myself until I have found nirvana or are there more short stories still to come.
As you like it
I run away from who I am or perhaps run towards the who I want to be. I have only had one life but my goodness I have played all the parts. All the world’s a stage, and even in Shakespeare’s day we were allowed to live multiple lives. So to the YOLO generation I say this – you just don’t know what’s coming next and that, for me is the greatest gift. Live life as you like it and if you don’t like it, change it until you do.
Imagine standing in the middle of the desert. Nothing as far as the eye can see. Imagine looking at the ocean. Only the horizon disrupts waves. There is a majesty and splendour in that frightening isolation.
Here I sit in a café. The cars pass by, horns sounding warnings to the market shoppers. The street vendor’s bell jangles above the humming drum of the city. All of the chaos of Asian life is crammed into the narrow streets of Phnom Penh and in the February heat it feels as if there is no space for air.
Here I sit in a café. I shift my focus. The heat cools and the sounds silence. In the glaciers of my psyche I create a shimmering isolation. The lone man lost in his mental landscape and divided from the jarring reality of life.
Once I found the world as an overload on my senses. It attacked and assaulted me with unwelcome sights and smells that left me aching and disoriented. Now I can disappear. I have made my Aspergers a rabbit hole and with a little focus I can fall into the detached wonderland of mind.
I can imagine standing in the middle of the desert for I do not fear the majesty and splendour of my own isolation.
I am a traveller of sorts. A meanderer who has no set path or clear destination. After a year in one country you might argue I am settled, but my journey is more than merely physical.
I see the collectors of experience. They meticulously checklist their way through tomorrow’s memories without even stopping to whistle. Cultures are sipped and palates rarely cleansed before the next new taste is up for consumption.
I am no different. Instead of travelling through countries, I travel through people. Life is kept fresh by keeping the door to my mind wide open to passing souls who come, and sometimes go, with ease. Rapport is something that can build in a moment, especially with those rare few who resonate with the deepest vibrations of my soul.
This weekend I met man, so earnest and passionate and we talked. Stories of youth were shared and the depressingly universal experiences of growing up gay were bemoaned. My new friend was interested in self esteem and bullying, and the role educators can play in breaking the cycle of depression and self harm for young gay men. Bad histories were being turned into better tomorrows by his actions. It was talk that went somewhere.
We may not meet again but we are connected. A good conversation can change the course of life. I may not be the fastest traveller but he has moved me and shown me places I never expected to see.
Life isn’t a bed of roses and romance should be left in the pulpy swamps from which it is dredged. What is being acted out around me is grimy. Those visceral feelings are not pure and altruistic, but far more deep seated in a brutal survivalism. Man invented his wheel, but it has been used ever since to ride roughshod over our neighbour.
Humanity is stretched across our flaws like a thin veneer, often chipped and peeling. Social media is full of inspiring clips, much liked for they are deemed remarkable purely because an ounce care and compassion was shown. We have evolved so little since our cave dwelling times. The pictures on the wall may be cable rather than chalk, but the bloodlust is far greater than the killing of a buffalo to feed our kin.
Everywhere I look I see mass acts of greed and hate, of envy and pride, of man beating his chest to prove he is just the dominant ape. It is hate,and not heroism, that has gone viral.
So I will put down my rose tinted spectacles and see my life in the mire. The future isn’t looking good so I am going to turn off my television, leave my cave, and see if someone wants a slice of buffalo. I will find the meme inside myself and share it in the social networks of reality. It’s time for me to reinvent my wheel.
Why are you hanging on? What are you clinging to? If it is some semblance of decency or the last vestiges of what your poor mama told you, then sweetheart you need to wake up and smell the effluent.
You are living in shit creek and never mind the paddle because your boat’s been stolen. So let go and wallow in it. Life is a dirty, messy, stinking place and you have pretended long enough that you are above its drives and temptations. So drop yourself and your delusions of grandeur and allow the glorious murky warmth of reality to enfold you. Once you’ve given up you can seek solace.
What’s your vice? Alcohol? Women? Drugs? Chocolate? Men? Indulge yourself in a little tawdry hedonism, for there are buttons to undo and stays to be loosened. Life is not about striving for unattainable perfection. It is about be able to laugh even though you live in the gutter.
The man sat in his room and wondered. It was Saturday night and he knew the great cabaret of life was being played out on stages as he sat there looking at the walls and contemplating the ifs and buts of his next decision. He doesn’t realise that he is on his tawdry stage just like the rest of us. His one man show may not have pizazz and his monologue, should he ever choose to speak, might be môntone, but he is stripped bare and dazzled in the footlights of existence.
Some people take three hours to get out of the house. The minutiae of each step weighed and analysed with mentally generated flow diagrams to plot the possibilities of an action. If that is not a conceptual piece of performance art worthy of staging then life is not a cabaret, old chum. Life doesn’t pass us by, but it comes in a lot of different shapes and sizes.
Like each of us, he only lives once, so he needs to be certain. He finally makes a decision, certain that his choice is valid. Semi skimmed not full fat milk. Now, shoes or trainers…
He says he is my friend and I want to believe his sweet words. However, his words are not always so measured or kind. His actions too, can be somewhat chaotic, and I am beginning to think this friendship comes at a high price.
He is Prince Charming. He is interesting and interested in everything around him. He comments astutely on the issues of the day, and I find myself in the company of a man who makes me think and ponder. I see new perspectives through his eyes but am never left feeling my own perspectives lack value. Hours pass and are barely noticed as we rally back and forth. Wit and charm married together in one man who seeks out my company. So what's the problem!
He is a drunk. Sometimes, by ten, the conversation is already a little muddled and a few times recently I've found myself in heavy waters. His patience wears thin and I feel blamed for his loss of concentration. With reduced focus comes a loss of veneer and, when the charm disappears, what lies beneath is not too savoury. A short temper is the most noticeable. Never directed at me, yet, but skulking in the background like a surly dog, he snarls at the people he loves. He becomes more negative about life and will cut people with a tongue that seems to sharpen in alcohol. When he is like this, I keep a metaphorical eye on exits and I am on tenterhooks.
So I have a rarely seen friend and an often times worrying companion. It's time to let this friendship slide into the cool waters of acquaintance. A kindly nod and a friendly hello with a distance kept. The next time I am texted beseechingly, I will remember that it is Lady Alcohol and not Prince Charming who is seeking my company. I will miss my friend. I do already, for I haven't seen him sober for a while.
He says he loves me. He says it when no one can hear. I know he loves me. He shows me when no one can see. Love should be so simple but life is so complex.
He wants to keep me away from the public eye so that my very existence cannot taint him. Yet the thing he is afraid of isn’t me. It it inside of him. It goes where he goes and he cannot escape himself. These feelings he wants to suppress overflow like lava and each eruption confirms that he is not who he wants to be. So he has placed our love in a cage. A well defined place with limits and boundaries. He puts me in purdah behind a rainbow screen and, because he can’t deny himself, he denies me.
At the moment he hates himself and by seeing all that he hates in himself reflected in me, he hates me. He could start down the long road to self acceptance. If he could learn to love himself as he is, our love would be so different. I cannot tell him what to do. He needs to make these decisions for himself.
I am what I am. I am my own special creation. But so is he.
Once I lived in a beautiful town on the bank of a river. Kind people and happy faces were in no short supply as I pottered about. My life was built around casual conversation and good coffee. I was living in paradise. Why did I leave?
Well I suppose the main factor was that I lost my job. My employer pushed me into getting a diagnosis of Aspergers and then seemed unsure what to do with it. That uncertainty sat over me like a cloud and brought a great deal of unhappiness. I locked my heart, steeled my soul and tried to protect myself. I was told that I wasn’t wanted. They were guilty of disability discrimination and they knew it. My silence was bought and paid for but the hurt and the shame came at a higher price than money.
I ran away. I travelled to the other side of the world and kept moving. For now, I am living in a beautiful town on the bank of a river. Kind people, happy faces and good coffee percolate my soul. Having lost paradise, I am not trying to regain it but it seems to follow me. I am a traveller now. I don’t want to settle and build a life. I want to keep moving, keep changing until eventually, the fear of losing is lost. The shame will subside and the hurt will heal. Then I will find paradise for I know where it is. It’s locked away safely in my heart.
So a man decided to attack Parliament in London. The man was a Muslim. This was a terror attack. The logic is very simple. However this simplistic logic can be quite dangerous. There are extra police on the streets of Britain. Sadly what is feared most now is not another attack on the highly protected mother of all parliaments, but an attack on ordinary Muslims living in the U.K.. Why would anyone do that? Islamophobia apparently, but surely its just good old fashioned stupidity served with a dash of post-imperial racism. A Muslim man attacked Parliament so let’s should attack someone with the same religion. Or even more ridiculous let’s expect someone of that religion to explain the motivation behind the attack and a solution to ISIS and Syria while they are at it.
I know what fills me with terror and it’s not terrorists. I see people, scared people, not terribly intelligent people, who are filling themselves with hate and anger. This vitriol is then hurled indisciminately at people who are in some sense, other. It could be Muslims, gays, the disabled, blacks, Europeans, Asians or intellectuals. There are a lot of people in the world to hate and ironically, the narrower the mind, the broader the hate spectrum. We need a war on that kind of terror. We need to educate the ignorant and reduce the threat of prejudice. So let’s choose a phobia and start to gently wipe the fear from the minds the scared people.