Month: July 2013

Slowly Happy

It feels a bit like a long slow ascent, floating higher and higher above the ground. Everything seems to be changing perspective, as I drift over ground previously covered and onwards to new pastures.

The benefits of this extra distance are obvious. I can see the connections better, the well trodden pathways and places I’ve spent some time are clearly defined, but as I float away the detail matters less and less and, instead, I’m left with the impression of them.

It’s a strange feeling to slowly realise that you are changing. The first half of the year is over and looking back, whilst I didn’t realise it at the time, I’ve learnt a lot about myself, about who and what I am and I think, finally, I’m starting to accept myself for myself.

I’m flawed, imperfect and not yet finished. And so it will remain.

I’m trying to be better in subtle ways, trying to make myself happy, and more and more I’m succeeding. It’s one thing having moments of happiness but it’s quite another to realise that it’s a default position, even if it’s realised more as contentment it’s much more preferable to me than my (previous) normal pessimism.

It’s been so gradual that I’ve barely noticed at times. No matter how much I may say it to others I think these subtle shifts in our self are harder to register and it’s only when looking back that you can see where you’ve been.

Of course a large part of this is that I don’t look back as often as I used to. The past is the past for a reason. I’ve learned from it, painfully at times, but I am where I am today and the only way is forward.

Ahhhh such are the ramblings of insomnia. Lying awake in the half-light, pondering my life and realising just how good it is, how blessed I am and how, fundamentally, I am happy. Consistently happy.

Stop Planning

I’ve recently managed to do something I’ve been trying to do for a while.

In fact, I’ve managed it twice.

The interesting realisation for me is that I hadn’t planned to do it the way it happened, it just … happened.

This event had it’s genesis in the realisation that it’s ok to fail. That it’s ok to stop doing something in favour of something else. That I don’t need to do everything.

I’d been trying to do since January and started out well enough, best intentions leading me forward and, for a while, it was going ok but over the past few weeks it started to falter.

So I did something I don’t recall ever doing before and, once I’d done that, I felt ready to move on. It felt cathartic, liberating, and maybe a little bit of the right kind of wrong.

It got me thinking. Maybe I need to stop planning things, stop trying to control things so much and just let things happen, be more organic (is what I think the marketers would say). I have always presumed I worked better if I had a goal in mind, set myself a challenge and then layout out a plan of attack but I think that’s only true in certain cases.

It seems that, for things I want to achieve that I’m not able to do on my own, I need to be challenged, need to have something to prove to someone else. To succeed I need to have that nagging feeling that someone else will ‘win’. I’ve tried setting my own goals but it just doesn’t stimulate me as much as the desire to prove someone wrong, or to put it another way, I thrive on competition.

The most obvious example is the fact that I’ll happily play an hour of basketball, push myself to my physical limits and if the chance arises play on for another 30 mins. If I go to the gym, with only myself to compete against I start to flag and that’s when the excuses start.

Of course it depends on what the goal is and what I’m only just figuring out – seriously, I’m almost 40 – is that some things don’t need planned, don’t need a goal. If they need to happen, they will.

Lesson learned, read what you want, when you want.

Glastonbury 2013

It’s a different world. A different reality where hours and days merge, and you spend most of your time in a state of heightened attention as you try to absorb everything that is going on.

It was our second Glastonbury, the first rushing past in a blur of bands and mud. Last time around we spent too much time worrying about time, trying to get from stage to stage, thinking that we had to get the most from the weekend by seeing as many bands as we could.

This time around we took a different approach, made easier by the fact that a lot of the ‘big names’ weren’t really our cup of tea. Instead we wandered the Circus area, Greenfields, the smaller tents. We made stops for specific bands, The Villagers in the John Peel Tent, Portishead and Smashing Pumpklins on the Other Stage, Dizzee Rascal on the Pyramid Stage and yes, we were there for the Rolling Stones (more on that in a bit).

For the most part though we wandered. We stopped to watch a French woman do some amazing tricks on a bike, laughed and joined in with a juggler/magician/comedian on a tiny stage right on a busy corner of the site. We visited the Rabbit Hole, we danced and sang at the Silent Disco, we boogied in Beat Hotel (and other places), we explored Shangri-la during the day but didn’t make it back at night (that’ll be on the list for next time).

And we had a blast. We walked until our feet hurt, then stopped and danced and walked some more. There is so much to do at Glastonbury, so much away from the main stages to take in and all of it, every single second of it, is relaxed. Sure it can get busy, the crush coming out of the Acoustic tent after seeing KT Tunstall wasn’t great but not a patch on the madness that was Saturday night at the Pyramid Stage, but it’s never threatening. The spirit is very much ‘we are all in this together’.

We didn’t watch all of the Rolling Stones. Not because they were bad, but because we were too far away to feel connected to it. The crowds had built over the entire day, people camped out and waited from mid-afternoon. We heard the first few tracks then spent about an hour trying to fit our way through the crowds to get somewhere, anywhere, else.

That aside, it was a fantastic weekend. Will we go next year? Maybe, maybe not. For the same money we could spend a week on a warm beach but… would that make me feel so alive?

Coming back home (we left early on Sunday night as we weren’t bothered about the two main headliners) was odd. It’s funny how quickly you adjust to a new schedule, a new approach to the day to day aspects of life. Sure it’s great to have a hot shower, a comfortable bed, but every day life does seem quite boring, mundane even.

Glastonbury is huge, both in scale and in physical size. Even if you are only partially interested in the music aspect, I’d encourage you to go to experience it. Can’t wait until the next one.