Month: October 2013

Forever Falling

The sky slowly darkens as the sun dips behind the clouds, the windows slide from light to grey. Whisps of air stream past, chasing droplets across the glass, helter skelter as the plane starts to descend.

Inside the cabin the light changes, melting from the dazzling brilliance of moments ago to the dull artificial glow that washes over the life within; an irregular motion bumps and buffets the plane, pockets of turbulent air enjoy their brief moments of power.

The rows of seats are almost full, the gentle chatter of a hundred strangers fight the mechanical hum, a war of attrition that neither will win. A sudden burst of laughter breaks through but is soon lost, impaled on the battlements of the background drone.

Near the front of the plane sits a young woman. She is quiet through all of this, contemplative and resolute. She sits upright, deaden to movement, seemingly calm and controlled. She is Joan of Arc, no martyr but divine in her moments. She is powerful yet still, assured and confident, the low tone of her voice resonants authority when she chooses to use it. She knows this full well, she knows the power she holds and she chooses her moments to wield it based on nothing but pure whimsy and focussed vigour.

She closes her eyes and thinks ahead to the man that will be waiting for her. The moment their eyes will meet, the last few steps they will take towards each other, the touch, the kiss, the embrace. A gentle smile creases her lips as her mind slips away into a daydream of what is to come.

At the back of the plane a group of men can be heard, their back and forth exchanges echo down the cabin. They conform as you would expect, leery with the flight attendants and, with no sense of self, annoying and apologetic to those around them, They are an endless series of in-jokes and nicknames, inane chatter and sudden outbursts. The quiet bully and vicious mockery they spout is learned but not fully understood. Around them, silent glares and simmering rage.

A few rows forward, oblivious to the noise, an elderly couple are crouched in their seats, anxiously peering out at the wall of cloud beyond. They hold hands in comfortable silence, aware of each emotion passing between them with no need for words. They force their minds back to their holiday, the strolls along the promenade, the exotic drinks and spice laden food, the sun and the dashing youngsters, bronzing on the beach. Anything to take them away from their current reality, the terror of falling.

They are still enveloped in cloud. The windows of the plane mirroring the transparent opaqueness of the air outside. The light in the cabin seems to disperse and everything inside takes on the soft hues of a dream. Loud voices start to dull, quiet voices cease altogether and, slowly, silence ripples through the cabin.

Heads start to swivel, eyes straining as the passengers unite and turn to query the windows, peering through the grey white world outside. They are desperate for a view, any view, of something else, something real. Instead all they see are their reflections staring back at them and none of them like what they see.

Realisation creeps through the cabin like a sharp breeze, cutting through everything else, and all thoughts are tuned to the same idea.

The view isn’t changing.

The cloud isn’t ending.

Moments of Beauty

“Live quietly in the moment and see the beauty of all before you. The future will take care of itself……”

Paramahansa Yogananda, Autobiography of a Yogi

I can’t recall where I first heard this advice, I know I’ve not read the book, but it’s stuck with me.

Part of me wonders if it’s always been something I’ve done; I’ve always been a bit of a daydreamer, idly gazing around me as I take in the world, memories of childhood evenings spent sitting staring out of my bedroom window watching birds hop around the back garden, the dazzling lights of cars on the roundabout behind my parents house. The windows were old, with wonderfully imperfect glass that let me distort and reshape what lay beyond with a simple tilt of my head.

Always look up, I was once told on a visit into the “town” with my grandmother. You’ll never see what’s around you if you don’t remember to look up, she said. Sage advice indeed, but what else would you expect from a grandmother? Regardless, her advice rings in my ears whenever I am in any city, pausing me as I raise my head and lift my eyes to the skyline and a whole different view.

I’m not sure why certain things stay and become part of me but embracing a simple notion like finding moments of beauty everyday have had a subtle effect that, only now, do I realise have been quite powerful. Simply put I feel more aware of what goes on around me, almost like part of my subconscious is constantly scanning my surroundings to try and find that hidden moment.

My definition of a moment of beauty seems to be anything that makes me pause and smile; this morning it was catching a brief exchange between two strangers, one of whom was getting directions, and the moment when they parted with a smile. Instantly I find myself pondering the simple truth that there are many more people in the world who are willing to do good than those who do bad, something that can be easily lost in the ranting, whining, drama filled noise of social media. It made me smile.

Yesterday, it was a rainbow.

Today's moment of beauty

Rainbows may seem like a simple example. They are, without a doubt, a beautiful thing to see, so pretty and colourful, what’s not to like? However even a simple rainbow deserves a pause to fully appreciate it. Not just to admire how it looks but wonder at how it comes to be, nature in all it’s glory.

I don’t see moments of beauty everyday, but they are out there and they never fall to lift my spirits and make me happy.

How do you do yours?

It has taken me a while to get the Spotify bug but as I can’t seem to escape it I’ve done my usual and leapt in at the deep end leaving my iTunes library mid-rebuild to explore Spotify and see how it fits with my needs. It’s good! I like a lot of things about it and I will happily admit it’s a much nicer place to be than iTunes which has meant that (as most of music listening is background stuff so I prefer things I’m familiar with) I’ve been going a bit playlist happy.

There are a mixture of things that are driving my behaviour, but the ‘availability’ of a large set of music than I have in my own collection, coupled with the speed at which I can find tracks are the main two reasons why I’m finding it much more fun to create playlists in Spotify.

However, it does leave me with a bit of a quandary.

Because I have access to so much music, I find myself easily distracted and start to get lost as I find more and more tracks I like.

For example, say I’m compiling a playlist of heavy rock music – Foo Fighters, Pearl Jam, Queens of the Stone Age, that kind of thing – and stumble across a remix of something which takes me off on a tangent into Nine Inch Nails and then to the Prodigy and then on to Chase & Status and… wait, what was I doing? This isn’t rock music!

Back to the playlists, but this time I’ll try and add to my Soul playlist. Ahhh yes, Aretha Franklin, Sam Cooke, James Brown, Eddie Floyd… wait I know that track from somewhere else, ohh yeah, Ami Stewart did a disco version, I liked that, I can add that to my disco playlist, and maybe some Bee Gees, Sister Sledge, Chic, ohh that Communards track that got overplayed… what’s this? Then Jericho, that’ll go in my 90s playlist and… gah! It’s happened again!!

Is it just me or is this a common affliction?

Has social media dropped my attention span so low that I can’t even keep focus long enough to add a handful of tracks to a playlist?

What does everyone else do?

And then I turned 40

It’s a milestone!

It’s all downhill from here.

It’s just a number.

It’s a turning point.

I’m not sure quite what it is but I do know that, subtly, the approach of today has been in the back of my mind for the last year. However, in the same way I don’t hold any sway over New Year Resolutions, I’m aware that this is just another birthday; it really is just a number.

But.

Ahhh yes, of course there was a but!

Turning 40 does feel different to previous birthdays. I can’t quite put my finger on why though and I’m aware it might just be coincidence as this birthday is coming around the time other changes in my life have gathered pace, both in my personal and professional life. Who knows.

Regardless.

I’m now 40 (right as this post was published as it happens).

Almost there…

It’s October, my birthday month. I only mention that as it marks what I guess is something around the halfway point of my life. And, as it approaches, I’m finally realising I’ve got myself mostly figured out and my life is taking shape.

A few years ago I wouldn’t have believed you if you described my life as it is now. It’s not that I had a bad life, I wasn’t unhappy before but I didn’t realise what was missing.

But then, hindsight is 20 20 and all that.

Hmmmmm, 20 + 20 = 40

There’s something in that…

Random Thoughts

I love my Apple products. But leaving my laptop charger in a hotel, with an official replacement costing £65, does make me consider cheaper alternatives. Thankfully, the hotel staff found it and are posting it to me.

I’m almost 40.

I need to make time to get back out jogging again.

A few months ago, Spotify and I finally “clicked” and whilst I won’t ever fully invest in it (it’s a closed system, I can’t export my playlists for one thing), it is very handy for ‘whims’ and random silly playlists. It desperately needs playlist folders though.

I can’t remember the last time I watched ‘live’ TV that wasn’t sport, and even then that hardly happens.

I haven’t read a book in over a month.

I haven’t weight myself for a couple of weeks.

I have been taking stock of everything I have and realising I’m very lucky, and very happy.

With my birthday approaching I’ve been told not to buy myself anything. It’s only with this stipulation in place I realise just how much money I spend (waste?) on ‘stuff’. I really need to buckle down.

In saying that, I did just buy a mahoosive big bean bag

I think I need to be planning things months in advance now, weeks just ain’t cutting it.

Still loving my new car.

FOMO

Poly Means Many: There are many aspects of polyamory. Each month, the PMM bloggers will write about their views on one of them.  Links to all posts can be found at polymeansmany.com

What is happening with them? Are they having fun?

Why am I home alone? What’s the point of having more than one partner if I’m still alone?

Are they having a better time than we do? Is he more fun? Is she more entertaining?

A lot of the thoughts and emotions I have around polyamory are still being filed under ‘new stuff’. I do spend a fair amount of my free time wondering: What are this?

However, this area seems to have caught me out a little bit. It’s definitely new for me, as I’m typically quite happy with my own company, to feel a little lonely at times. I guess I just hadn’t really considered how different it was to be alone when none of your partners are free.

It’s an odd thing, and not something I experienced in any of my monogamous relationships. Back then, if I wasn’t with my partner, then I knew where they were and roughly what they were doing. The sense of being alone wasn’t really the same as I knew it wasn’t because my partner was choosing NOT to be with me. It’s a subtle point I think, but an important distinction.

In polyamorous relationships choices have to be made. I can’t be in two places at once and neither can my partners so there is an element of having to choose who not to be with on a given night. Of course the aim is to find a balance and make sure everyone is happy with the amount of time they spend with each of their partners but it’s easy to see how, sometimes, someone might feel like they are second best (I realise this is very much down to your own dynamics and what agreements you may have between partners, I can only speak for myself and that I’m very keen to make sure both of my partners know they have the same voice and value in our relationships).

Regardless, there are nights when I know both my partners are choosing not to be with me. It’s not done negatively, it’s a fact of life, but it still happens and even though I understand why, logically, there is still something there that feeds the irrational brain.

Once you get past that, and I’m never convinced those thoughts fully dissipate, I’ve found I start to wonder what they are doing and, ultimately, whilst I am sat home alone, what am I missing?

The fear of missing out is not unique to poly/open relationships but if anything, for those in our set of relationships, it does seem to be heightened as the fear is built upon knowledge of the choice your partners have made.

The wondering, the comparisons start. Curiosity follows, and you wonder how much you think you want to know versus how much you actually should know about what they may, or may not, be doing.

I’m lucky that, for me, it doesn’t seem to strike me too hard or too often. I know for my partners it’s had an effect on them in the past, and may well again in the future. Thankfully we are all fundamentally happy and committed to making things work, we’ve all been honest and that should keep these fears at bay.

The thing is whilst you may be missing out on one night, or one event, if you are in more than one relationship, the inverse can also be true. Having two partners means I’m experiencing things differently than I would with one partner, enjoying a different point of view of a shared experience or the opportunity to attend events with someone who shares a passion.

The hope is that the time spent together at those times helps keep any irrational thoughts or fears at bay should they arrive during those nights when you are alone.

Letting Go

I have a short, quick temper. It can flare quickly but will disappear almost as soon as it arrives. I vent, I moan, I rant, and that seems to get it out of my system, for the main part.

Thankfully, or so it seems to me at least, those instances seem to be fewer and further between.

Obviously some things, my pet peeves if you will, continue to be a source of irritation to me but even those seem to be fading. It seems I’m not turning into a grumpy (grumpier) old man after all?

I’d like to think that as I grow older I’m actually getting a little bit wiser or at the very least I’m understanding myself a little more and realising that (and this is no revelation) the only person I can fully control is me; that last sentence can also be read as “most other people are idiots”, but that’s a whole other topic…

One constant theme over the past few months remains though. Whilst I’m trying not to let my pending 40th birthday colour everything I think about when I’m being a little introspective it seems that I can’t really help it but as it turns out, especially in this instance, I do think it has a bearing. I don’t think I’m any wiser per se, but as it takes a special kind of moron to NOT learn from repeating the same action and expecting a different outcome, it’s safe to say that I must be learning something along the way.

Tangent: WHY is my upcoming 40th birthday such a factor? It’s just another year on the planet after all. Logically it’s just a number and where I am in my own emotional journey through life has no bearing on it. Equally I know that the things I’ve experienced in life go a long way to shaping who I am, how I think and how I live my life so perhaps that’s all this is, a realisation that I’ve spent long enough spinning round the universe to at least be in a position to ponder my place within it.

Perhaps, behind all of this, there is something more fundamental at play. Perhaps, just maybe, regardless of my age, I finally feel like I have the life I want. There are some obvious signs, some major lifestyle changes being the most notable in the past few years, but for me it’s the subtler signs that speak volumes. I’m much calmer in my own head, much less prone to look for diversions to keep me busy, I’ve become much less materialistic, much more specific about the value I want, and much more forgiving of myself and others when things don’t pan out the way I had them in my head. Lessons learned I guess.

It feels healthier I guess, to realise a lot of this. To realise I’m fundamentally happy and content, regardless of any ups and downs. To realise that I can cope with whatever life throws at me. To realise that, by letting go of so much of my own baggage, I’m happier now than I’ve ever been. A simple, honest, truth.