Shiny Things

Good evening ladies and gentleman

All this thinking about missing the past, about finding a purpose and not being able to understand the point in the monotony can be difficult. It can be very easy to fall into a depression through times like this, so i choose to think, to wander and attempt (at least) to understand.

I find myself fixated in particular on our purpose in the universe and its unfortunate relationship with the materials we “own.” I’ve tackled the materialism problem a few times before, but here the desire for “stuff” seems to be a symptom of a much wider problem. Chasing.

Always chasing, running towards something, someone. Running away from things just as fast as we ran towards them. It’s as if we don’t know what to do once we catch what we are chasing- like a dog whose already caught its tail. We seem as a society to have been taught we need something. We need to have this latest thing, a better car, a nicer house, a better paying job but work more hours, work harder, sleep less, see your children as much as you can but “duty calls.”

We are being led down a dark path by the very idea we use to cope with the stresses of modern life. Similar to how magpies are attracted to shiny things, we seem to be too. We sit there in a job we can’t stand, hoping to move up, get promoted and smile every time you ever lock eyes with anyone even with a mask on in an attempt to keep face in a place you are never ever going to be able to be yourself in, as you chase the next “big thing.”

Like i said before, the materialistic society is a symptom of a wider problem. Things are just that- things. They can’t hurt you, will never try to control you (the power you give them is all you) and ultimately will always be there for you. They are a constant, until they get boring. Then they have to be modified, changed and upgraded. For every person you see driving a nice car, there are probably 5 people driving one bored of it and in need of an upgrade.

The desire to chase and win seems to have spread to the pursuit of relationships too. A great number of the population (in the western world in particular) don’t want a relationship. Truth be told they don’t even know what a relationship is beyond what they’ve seen in movies or been told about by their friends who think their relationship is the “one” – whatever that means these days.

Let it be known I’m not hating on these people, if whatever they’re doing in their lives makes them happy, all the more power to them. I just choose to believe things aren’t that simple, that even in the relationship with the “one” there is still someone chasing…something.

The infamous, brilliant speaker and comedian George Carlin was a man far beyond his time and in one of his most famous routines said this:-

“Be happy with what you got. Because the owners of this country don’t want that. “

There are people in the world that have vast sums of money and things. More than you and I could even possibly imagine. In the infinite irony of the world we live in these days, those who are the “richest” in the modern sense of the world don’t seem to live all that far away from some of the “poorest” people. How can this be so? Chasing….always chasing.

These people may all be happy, they may all be sad. It’s hard to tell and ultimately for the person sat reading this, shouldn’t even matter. We as a whole species seem to waste so much of our lives chasing this perfect ideology to impress people who aren’t paying that much attention to us anyway. Thats the truth of it, you are chasing the point where you are able to control someone else’s thoughts about you.

That shiny utopia. The ultimate shiny that means pain, questioning, self exposure to potentially negative feelings or ideals never has to happen, because you always know what’s going to happen.

We are chasing a life without pain, so having money means you don’t have to worry about money, having a partner who cherishes and virtually worships you can mean you are able to do as you please without the potential for loneliness. This is what we have been convinced of ultimately, this learned behaviour to not be happy with what you have, to always want more, to want to be more, to have this never ending itch you will never be able to scratch.

The world will tell you this is what makes you feel alive, that drive to do and be more. I agree to a certain extent, but it leaves very little room for self understanding. You spend a day in bed staring at the ceiling convinced you are never going to stop crying and are probably just going to carry on feeling like this forever. That feeling isn’t something you chase, it’s something you survive.

You feel as if you have given up. You listened to the videos, you went to every talk and meeting you could- but ultimately there you lie, tears rolling down those puffed, swollen cheeks. A failure. Not able to chase anything, not going anywhere. Stuck in that same rut you’ve been in for years with seemably no way out.

You take these days so hard- they hurt so dam much. As a result you feel the need to chase so much harder for whatever you’re driving towards afterwards. Yet, the only factor that needs to be running at full strength to receive all we could dream of from the universe is us. We have to be there, focused and prepared for action. You cannot be this on point without the bad days. The days where you don’t get out of bed, the days where the dark is your new best friend. The endless chase has to stop, it has to stop.

These periods of time, this periods of self imposed reflection are giving you the tools and the clarity to look beyond the shiny bone the dog has been chasing after for weeks now with limited success. We need these times to stop and reflect, about who we are and what we want to be doing with our lives.

Then a smile wont feel so forced because it comes from a place of genuine joy. Think of this pursuit of “shiny” things for a second if you will.

You should be happy with what you have, says George Carlin. First and foremost in the process of doing that is being happy with yourself. Then the build, the chase, isn’t just for the sake of chasing something, just because it’s shiny.

Yours, with love as always.

D.R x

Empty Inkwells & New Colours

Good evening ladies and gentleman

Recent times and lockdowns in mind, purpose has found its way into my rhythm of work and existential crises. We live in an age where it’s very difficult to have a purpose, to know what defines us. We are allowed to go to the shops to buy essential items and go to work when we can’t do it from home. It means a great deal of people are at home, sometimes alone, for vast periods of time without any form of social interaction.

We are stuck in an endless cycle at the moment, every dam day near identical. Waking up the same time, going to the same place and doing largely the same thing for the same amount of time, eating at the same time, sleeping at the same time etc. It’s easy to feel as if you have no purpose, as if someone hit the pause button and now it’s stuck.

As much as this is a nice idea and could appease the most of us, i don’t think it’s that simple to you. We are still living, still growing, learning, every day another day we are unable to get back, even if it’s spent forcibly doing very little. You define yourself through your purpose, especially in these modern times, because external factors for life have become so loud now they are near impossible to ignore.

You like reading, cars, fish, animals, stamps- whatever it might be. They are your hobbies, the things that you enjoy doing. The places you wish to see, the road trips you have planned, the friends you only want to embrace after seeing them after what feels like forever. To hug someone who understands, to hug someone you care for so deeply as they squeeze you tighter i maintain is the most powerful form of anxiety relief going, even in this vast expanse of isolation.

So the truth is- your pursuit of fire, that feeling you’re truly alive has been rather lost for the time being or at least consigned to nothing more than a memory. The memories we have are supposedly the building blocks of our personality, the fundamental makeup of who we are and who we are ultimately going to be. This idea that this is a process, developing new memories and having new experiences has been put on hold is a hard one to handle- because the life we experience is the story we tell ourselves of who we are.

Thing is right now the ink is near out and nobody is sure where to get anymore from.

As much as i loathe such an overused phrase- the “new normal” is something we are all sort of having to get used to. The world is not the same as it was last year and it never will be, so the way we understand life, how we define our lives the purpose we live towards is going to change and continue to change.

The way you define your life has always been the purpose that gets you up in the morning. The reason to carry on has always been what drives your heart and soul when your body would much rather stay in bed. This is the part of you when you question your purpose and wander what you’re carrying on for. “Why am i bothering, to what purpose will this serve me?” and so on. We often seem so controlled by the external factors in our lives, so to lose that part of your life, that reason to carry on- its very easy to feel lost. Almost like you don’t know what your purpose is anymore.

This is where the line is blurred i think, between who we are and what defines us, in comparison to what we want to do and the places we want to see. We are not defined by a place or a car, seeing a band play live or seeing the Mona Lisa in Paris. This does not give us a better understanding of who we are and our place in the world, but instead gives us a better appreciation of the other things in the world.

The inkwell, for the time being, is empty. The black ink you have been writing the story of your life with isn’t available on Amazon, all the ink stores are closed. “How do i carry on without it?” I need my inkwell to dip my pen to write the next chapter of who I am. Without the ink you find most comfortingly familiar, life in itself becomes unfamiliar.

This is, at a time like this…inevitable. We have found ourselves in unprecedented times and the world has been left reeling from the consequences of this pandemic. Furthermore it’s far from over yet, so our personal battles must continue. Now we can fight to find that black ink, sure, but the writing has to carry on. To lose sight of your purpose means life really isn’t worth living, and what defines us is so much more than we know.

You are not defined by your job. You are not defined by your car, or lack of car. You are not defined by the social media platforms you have, or the likes your photos get. You are not the clothes you can’t afford or the payments you struggle to make. You are not defined by the partner you have, or don’t- or their social media presence. You are not defined by the food you eat, by your sexuality or race.

No single thing, feeling or idea can give you an understanding of who you are. Losing access to that familiar black ink is terrifying- make no mistake. The fear however, leaves you with two options at its heart, for like most things- a choice needs to be made.

Give in to the fear and wander what your purpose should be. Fear carrying on the story of you without that black ink, so much so that you write nothing at all.

Or find a new colour and carry on.

The world isn’t ever going to be the same, in truth, the world as we knew it is long gone. We can sit here and mourn its loss, or we can carry on and thrive, evolve beyond ever our own understanding, find a purpose and need to carry on in unfamiliar territory. Here and now is the ultimate time for self exploration and understanding, in a time with so much less to hold your attention, to pull it away from what really matters, imagine all there is to learn about yourself.

Now is a better time than any to learn something new about your best friend and harshest critic. Feed that person the language you always meant to learn, the drawing class you always meant to take. Learn to laugh at the world again, because for all the seriousness it can be hilarious when it wants to be. Life is defined by what we choose to perceive it as…

And what is life to me?

Empty Inkwells and New Colours.

Yours, with love as always.

D.R x