Month: April 2013

Coloured views

I remember sitting in a lecture hall, third row from the front. It was an old room, well loved, and the sun was streaming through the vertical blinds captured in the dust stirred by 30 nervous, anxious and very unsure students.

It was the first day of college and I had no idea what to expect. As it turns out, I never really figured it out but that’s a story for another day.

Instead I sat there next to two guys who I’d happened to wander into the room with. We were chatting awkwardly and I think we were all grateful when the lecturer entered the room.

Fresh from school, we all hushed up and did our best impressions of being good, eager students. He welcomed us and started to talk about the Glasgow Herald, the local broadsheet, beloved of my Gran.

I remember wondering why he was telling us about how to read a newspaper, trying to figure out just how it would help me get through the next few years of Electronic Engineering lectures and workshops. And then he said some words that have stuck with me to this day, and which I don’t heed half as often as I should’ve.

“Whatever you do, read the paper. All of it. Front to back, or back to front. It doesn’t matter where you start, just read everything you can about what is going on in the world.”

I didn’t, for many years, take that advice because it’s hard to do. I don’t mean it’s hard to read a newspaper, but that it’s hard to keep yourself open to the rest of the world, to the experiences of others, the lives of people you don’t know and wouldn’t naturally gravitate towards.

Over the years most of us will develop our own worlds, we become tiny centres of gravity and attract the people we want to attract into our lives, regardless of how fleeting the contact. In doing so, we make choices to push away others that don’t share our view of life, and I like to think this is what my lecturer was trying to guard against.

I’m as guilty of it as the next person. My view of the world differs from yours but, naturally, I’ll place far more weight on my views.

I’ve written in the past about trying to steer away from ‘drama’, on trying to reduce the noise, to simplify and step away from negativity. I’ve been pretty successful and I’m only now realising that in doing so I’ve also managed to embrace some of my lecturer’s advice. I’m still not the most open minded, laid-back guy but I do try to understand.

My ex-boss noted something about me which sums it up well. I used to put this down to being a Libran (I know, but it did help me understand this part of me when I was younger), and as I grow older it holds true, but I just don’t do well with absolutes.

This very weekend a lovely woman I know talked in such terms. She talked of something ‘guaranteeing’ to work for others because it worked for her. I visibly baulked at the very statement because I know it’s not true.

But I didn’t say anything to her. There is no point to objecting for the sake of it, no point in making noise when it’s clear that the other person doesn’t share your worldview.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m always happy to discuss and sometimes challenge, and be challenged, on my views if it’s clear the other person is also looking to discover and explore something, rather than simply dismiss it.

I know my views are not shared by many. But they are mine. I will voice them. I will stand by them, just as I expect you to stand by yours.

We are not the person we choose to let others see, and we all have a choice in what we do and don’t expose to the world. If you don’t like it, that’s ok. Feel free to ask questions, to discuss, to engage.

But always remember that what you say will colour others opinion of you, as much as what I say colours your opinion of me.

Default

Try something new. Try something different. Don’t give in to the fear.

A while ago this was a bit of a mantra. I was pushing myself, not dramatically but enough to broaden my horizons and my view of the world (or the world as I see it).

But recently, not so much. Case in point, for Christmas, Kirsty bought me a guitar lesson and I’ve yet to cash it in. Why? Mostly fear.

I need to find a better way to get healthy. Whether it’s join a gym and get an exercise program in place, or find something that’ll help me control my eating habits. I’ve not done anything about either of those. Why not? Fear.

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Life continues

New tattoo, sprained ankle, and a desire to write more.

But aside from that, not much else in my head. Nothing ready to fall out here at least.

Off to my cousin’s wedding on Friday, sunny Birmingham for some fun with friends at the weekend and on Monday I’m hoping to try the award winning Meathead Ltd burger. My boss is over from the US of A, so hoping to treat him to some of the better places in Glasgow. Dining at Urban on Thursday with the team, and then on Monday I’ll drag him to Oran Mor, Nice and Sleazy, and then to the Horseshoe Bar, finishing at Blackfriars.

A mini-tour of some of the more down to earth pubs in Glasgow should about do it.

It’s funny, for all the times I eat out in Glasgow, I don’t really blog about it that much. Have I mentioned the Hanoi Bike Shop for example? or Pinto? The Hyndland Cafe?

We are spoiled for choice. I do love my home city (more on that, later!).

Finding the way

Overhead the clouds swirl, heavy drops of rain plummet onto his upturned face. Eyes closed he savours each tiny impact, each one reaffirming one thing, he is still alive and, as the rain washes away the dust and grime, he smiles.

He lowers his head and looks around, noticing each blade of grass anew, the slick leaves on the trees, springing back and forth as the rain continues to fall. His head is light and the disconnect remains, he is floating just outside this reality despite the cold damp of his sodden clothes.

He turns full circle, unsure of what he is looking for and as the first shiver of the evening passes through him he intuitively sets out to find shelter. Instinct and survival are simple thoughts and he focusses on them, exploring their raw straight edges, simple and primitive in design. He sees an old shack, a dull light flickering in the window and heads toward it, picking his way through the fresh puddles.

Sheltered in the porch he shakes what water he can from his clothes and knocks on the door. Three sharp unanswered raps. Then again.  A third time with no response, he knocks once more before trying the door handle. The cool metal turns easily in his hand and the door slides open silently. Stepping inside he calls out and soon realises he is alone.

Embers flicker and glow in the fireplace, nearby a friendly old armchair basks in the glow. He suddenly realises how cold he is and pulling a fresh log from the stack next to the fire, starts to kindle the fire back to life, watching the edges of the rough bark glow and burn off into the air, the subtle darkening of the log until the light blue yellow of an emerging flame takes hold.

He pulls the armchair closer and huddles over as the fire grows, his rough hands outstretched as he embraces the heat. All the while he tries to remember how he got here, tries to retrace his steps. He knows this place. He is certain of the familiarity, just as he feels the sense of deja vu, the notion off a path once trodden. He knows this place, is unsurprised by the candles on the table, the tapestry hanging over the door, yet he can’t recall any detail.

He closes his eyes once more and tries to remember where this all began.

A sharp stabbing pain slashes across his forehead, his eyes fly open as he cries out. The pain subsides as quickly as it came. He sits there, stunned at the sudden viciousness, wary and wounded. He feels his forehead but there is no scar, no wound to heal there. He wonders if this is where he has always been, this place of warmth and comfort, scattered and scarred with pain, the same shivering, broken man. Unrepaired and untended, slowly wandering round in circles with no memory of where he has been.