Saturday, 6 February 2016

Exploring the idea of humanity at 18.25 years old.

Often I think, at 18.25 years old, that I have worked everything out. Arrogant, I know, but what else is there to be? I feel as if I have gone through the whole spectrum of emotions and I am waiting now for it to go on repeat. I am in a sort of limbo in my last year at school, stuck on boredom and stress. But I have had a glimpse at the extreme in this small section of my life and I fear that the rest of it will no longer be much of a surprise. Is this it? Sometimes feeling very sad, sometimes very happy and then long stretches of very little in between?

My dear rabbit died when I was 12, I have felt what grief feels like and I know that that grief will one day increase tenfold. I have been really, really riled up about the world we live in, but I feel a little tired, because there is always something wrong. I have experienced mental illness. I have been so angry, so enraged that I scream and cry and feel absent from my own body. I have believed in something so powerfully, so completely and then had that belief slowly crumble away into an absence of something that used to be strong. I have had love and heartbreak. I have cried so hard that I couldn't breath, or felt that I would never be able to stop crying. I have laughed so much that I crunched my stomach muscles until they ached. I have had friends I would steal the moon for, and loved them like sisters. I have cried and laughed with them, held their hands, kissed their cheeks. I have grown up in a family so passionate, so mad, so quick-tempered and so full of unconditional love that sometimes it has felt entire lifetimes unfold in single evenings in this house. I have travelled some of the world with these people, seen sunsets in places that are not my own. I have been at least four different people so far in my life and I am well acquainted with change so what possibly could there be that is waiting for me in the indefinite rest of my existence?

Almost absolutely everything. I do not know humanity at all. I have not felt all of its evils, its graces, its quirks. I have not even come close. I have gently dipped my toe in the water thus far, maybe my entire foot is in now, but I am yet to immerse myself completely. That happens when time passes, and fortunately that happens all the time. I am only just becoming familiar with the destruction people can create, the torture, the greed that they can feel, the conscious ability to cause another person pain. I do not understand that yet, but I know I will continue to see more of it. I do not have any idea of what love is. Only a small picture of it, I am waiting for it to explain itself to me. I do not know what death is. I am still trying to convince myself it is okay to never know. I am still pretending it will never happen to me or anyone around me. Death is something that happens to other people. Humanity is what is happening to me.

I know nothing. Right now, at 18.25 years old, the world is a complete mystery. I am arrogant to think that there is not much left. There is everything left. I have not worked anything out. I am exploring humanity, but I will never know it all.

Saturday, 30 January 2016

Sending out signals.

I love all forms of communication. I am desperate to reach out, I always find new ways of expressing myself. I like to speak well, write anything, I like to act, sometimes I like to draw even though I can't actually draw, I love to dance even though I'm not very good at it. I don't even know what I'm trying to get out to you, I'm just reaching out my tentacles to touch the minds of as many as possible, and for them to reach back. I love long conversations. I learn French so that I can have more ways of speaking, and more people to communicate with. I read so that I can receive other people's reaching out, and so that I can talk and think about more. I have a naturally expressive face so already, without even thinking about it, I am trying to communicate with you. 

Really, I'm not quite sure what it is I'm wanting so badly to say. I've imagined colourful waves and light making lines to and from people, signals through conversation and art and movement. I'm just here sending out signals to anyone who'll take notice. Perhaps I'll learn morse code, or another language. Just ways, I think, to satisfy that strong human urge to connect. Human connectivity, love, that's what it's all about. That's what I'm trying to say. 

Saturday, 23 January 2016

The good, the bad and the famous.

The idea of celebrity is neither all good nor all bad. It's mostly bad that we idolise actual people to a superhuman level and then follow them around in a self-selective big brother. They can do no wrong, until they do, and then we either hypocritically turn a blind eye or ostracise them for making a human mistake. It's okay to publicly humiliate people we've never met on a mass scale because they're famous. "Normal" people just don't have this problem. 

On the other hand, celebrities who contribute their art and insight to culture are often vital to a person's life. Especially a young person. In formative years the people we see, the music we listen to, the films we watch, the books we read all make up the personalities that are growing within us. We attach ourselves to celebrities because they attract us with qualities we like about us, or that we aspire to have about us. Young people who are totally unsure as to who they are need celebrities to make them feel even an ounce of normal. They need role models, essentially. 

I felt devastated about the news of David Bowie's death because I'd let him become a big part of my life. He'd been there in my parents' life for a long time so his music made its way into mine eventually. I don't have anything profound to say about him other than that his fashion, his music, his attitude so completely embraced art that I can't think of any other way to live well. He was there right in the middle of the colours and the instruments and the sounds and the waves of culture, taking it all in and throwing it all back out at us right up until the end. People threw street parties on the day of his death to celebrate that vibrancy of life and art. David Bowie was a "good" celebrity because he did it all his own way, and we all basked in his artistic glory. We didn't all follow his private life like dirty stalkers, but we took what he gave us and that was enough. 

People need inspirations like David Bowie to enhance their own experience of life and art. We don't need their body shape, or their last boyfriend, or the dress they wore to that awards show, but if they're handing out the brilliance of the inside of their mind for us all to share then they are important. We all need brilliance. 

Friday, 8 January 2016

It's all in my head.

I am, as my brilliant dad likes to tell me when I'm down, in total control of my thoughts. This doesn't mean I am in charge of what thought processes enter my head - if I had that power I feel I would have unlocked the secret to life by now - but how I let those thoughts effect the way I react. I am in control of my own thoughts, which means I can let myself spiral out of control. 

On Wednesday I had that sort of dark feeling that creeps up on you out of nowhere and taints the rest of the day with a heavy grey hue. At one point my eyes kept welling up in the library so I had to escape to the toilets to have a cry. I felt horrible. It was like an existentialist firework had exploded in my heart and head. The world was a sea of nothingness, my life was pointless, I was a shoddy human being. And do you know how it felt? Strangely lethargic. 

It was almost as if by allowing myself to self-loath and self-pity I was giving myself a break from the opposite effect of avoiding these thoughts. It was ridiculously indulgent and in itself a ridiculous thing to do but I didn't gain nothing from it. For the least I gained this blog post, but I also realised that my dad was completely right. I wasn't in control of the initial thoughts I was having because they popped into my head unannounced, but I was in control of the amount of time I lingered on the worthless, self-pitying trite. It was all me, creating enemies out of thin air to attack my own identity from the inside. But I was exercising my power to choose how to react, and to be totally aware of what was going on inside my mind. At any moment I could have stepped in on myself and told myself to move on and shut up. Instead I chose to watch and see what would happen. 

Sometimes when I feel the weight of the world sitting on my chest and restricting my breathing and my wise old dad says that it's all in my head I want to scream at him. It's not my fault that I feel this way! And a few seconds later when I've evaluated the situation in my mind and inevitably calmed myself down by not letting my thoughts influence the way that I feel, I'm suddenly a little more grateful for the helpful advice. It still wasn't my fault, thoughts always happen one step ahead of when you're ready for them, but I was aware of them now and that stripped them of their influence. 

We have a staggering tendency to underestimate the power of our own minds by letting our own minds overpower us. It's all in our heads, this fight against ourselves, this letting ourselves down, this frustration over how we react, and we all have the absolute power to just let it be. 

Friday, 1 January 2016

No to the news.

Sometimes, when I'm in a sort of mood, I can't cope with looking at the news. The bad news. I just don't have the energy all the time to let my heart bleed for far off tragedies I can do nothing about. It's exhausting. I am a sensitive, passionate person which means that I really feel for those who suffer in the news and I want so desperately to offer help even when I have no means. Sometimes I'm so sensitive about my own life that adding more anxiety and stress is like putting more and more weight onto a thin layer of ice.

Sometimes even when people bring up topics that I care about but are currently depressing or upsetting I want to escape the conversation. I'm too tired to get angry, to enter a fight against something that will help me achieve nothing. I don't want to let my mind dwell on something too dark. I have often wished for the conversation to move on so that my body doesn't tense and I don't bring myself down. There is so much in this world that I can't solve, or soothe, or abolish. I get scared. And frustrated.

Sometimes I just don't watch or listen to the news. It's not worth it. Other people's unsolvable happiness will not improve my own. I worry just enough with the unseasonable weather outside without heightening that fear with useless information. And it is okay, to not look at the news, or participate in heated discussion every day, because it's a strange business anyway. Developing your understanding of the world is good, caring about what happens in it is good, but making yourself stressed or unhappy when you can't do anything to help is deeply unhealthy. You don't need information thrown at you all the time. You need to take a break, and stop looking at the news every once in a while. It'll improve your mood greatly.

Thursday, 24 December 2015

Merry Christmas.

It's Christmas Eve this morning. It hasn't snowed. It's 12 degrees outside. And raining. I feel... Excited. Not how I did when I was younger. That was magical. How does one describe it? Is Christmas an emotion? I can remember when I was little being afraid at 10 o'clock at night one Christmas Eve that we'd be too late for Father Christmas to come. It was all so real. The presents, the food, playing with my new toys, Doctor Who in the evening. It's changed a little but I love it still. It just keeps coming round too quickly. All these traditions are lovely but I feel I'm on repeat. I didn't do this a year ago, did I? 

Christmas is weird. It's like some sort of nostalgia fest for adults over their childhood. I'm only 18 and that's what it feels like for me. All the joys I had as a little girl are now but funny memories and far off sensations of "Christmas".

Now it's different of course. The main focus of the whole ordeal is my family. I can't wait to be with them all day. To eat and drink and laugh with them. We do that most days, but this is more intense. It is like we've selected a day to not part each other once and give gifts and eat a gigantic meal and tell each other we love each other without actually needing to say it. 

Perhaps the magic of that Christmas feeling will come back to me again one day. It's probably just my age. Or the weather. For now it shall have to become simply the best family day of the year which, actually, is quite alright by me. 

Saturday, 12 December 2015

Jamie the Tramp.

I met a tramp the other day, on the train. He called himself that. He sat down next to me and said "I'm a tramp." He smelt and looked like one, he was carrying a plastic bag full of belongings. I believed him.

He had glazed over eyes, bright blue, and one of them had a red cut through the middle. He had a fresh cut on the side of his face too. And scars underneath that. When he spoke it was thick with a Glaswegian accent and the slurring effects of alcohol so the odds were against us to understand everything he was saying. 

He immediately began telling me about his terrible life. His fiancĂ©e had died, he had been in the army, his parents had died. I think I managed to pick up a vaguely racist story about some "black boys" who had stamped on his stereo on the bus. It took a while to try and decipher that one, I'm still not sure I understand. 

On some occasions he'd actually cry. On others he'd pretend to punch an invisible man in front of him. On another occasion he actually rapped. 

He asked me for £20. My heart dropped. I only had £20 to go up to Leeds for the day with, to get food and bus tickets and such like. At first the £20 would be going towards funds to get a train to Glasgow. In the midst of explaining that to me he pointed to a ditch in a field and said "that's where I should be." I timidly said "no."

A few minutes later the £20 was going to go towards a cheap stereo from Sainsbury's. He then handed me a CD that he apparently made with "his boys" and he was DJing. At this point I was confused, and I still hadn't said I would give him the money. I had told him I didn't have any cash on me. He had simply replied that we could go to a cash machine when we got off the train. I had somewhere to be when we got off the train. 

I didn't give him the money in the end. I didn't get the chance to. He moved away eventually, saying good bye to me across the other passengers. At Doncaster we were delayed for a few minutes. As we left the station the driver explained that someone had been removed by the police. Other passengers in the carriage laughed as they realised who it had been. I noticed he had left his hat on the seat next to me. He wouldn't have it wherever he went that night. 

The whole time I spoke to Jamie I felt on edge. My body language probably told him that: he was on the outside seat and I was facing quite deliberately towards the window when I could. When he took my hand I probably shook it feebly. I didn't want to be pathetic and tell him to go away. Part of him was only making conversation. But I didn't enjoy the decision making over whether I would give him money. 

I don't know whether I would have paid him the £20 in the end. Or whether I should have. My values should dictate that he needed it more than I did. But he made me feel uncomfortable, and I was nervous about going up to Leeds alone for the first time, and I wasn't even sure he was always telling the truth. My response to him has probably been terribly middle class and overthought. It might mean I'm a bad person. I'm not sure. I just keep worrying that he might be cold without his hat.