Wrong Side Of Paradise

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Charmer Karma

*bad language.
*bad morals.

This is a blog...I'm going to blog now.

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

I’m seldom awoken by the birds singing at my window, and today was no different. As the blood curdling yelp of an urban fox echoed through my half covered ears, I grudgingly opened my eyes. Feeling no more rested than I deserved, I stumbled out of bed and fought to get free from my tangled sheets like a drunken ninja taking on an invisible opponent.

I showered, shaved and arranged my hair in a deliberate disarray, deciding I looked semi acceptable (Ha "semi").

I headed out to the same familiar noises, smells and glances that I have become accustom to.  And upon arriving at the station to catch the morning train, I was notified of a lengthy delay. I laughed to myself as those around me cursed the universe for its unpredictability.

When I finally arrived at where it was, I was supposed to be. I took my time counting manhole covers as I walked. I grabbed at my pocket to feel for the half empty pack of cigarettes I had stashed next to my chest like a cardboard pacemaker. Deciding that I would soon need more, I stepped into a dimly lit and overly crowded inconvenience store.

I made my way to the counter, brushing against my fellow inhabitants of earth as they angled themselves into an uncomfortable formation to let me pass. At the counter a girl stood, the same girl I make a habit of visiting whenever I’m around.

I reach for a highly advertised energy drink that’s bordering on legal high, just as the girl moves to reach for the cigarettes she already knows I’m going to ask for. I look at her, she’s one of those girls that either wears no makeup, or spends a lot of money on makeup that makes her look like she isn't wearing any makeup.

Her long, dark wavy hair hangs on one of her shoulders and her large green/blue marble eyes look back at my narrow brown ones. To call her beautiful would be inaccurate...Ethereal? Maybe.

I stare at her for a moment too long, no doubt making her uncomfortable. I imagine that she lives in a small apartment above the shop where she sews her own clothes whilst listening to jazz on an old record player, and in the evenings she sits by her window with a glass of wine, reading some old overlooked book pausing to watch strangers in the night.

Idea for novel, boy meets girl, boy writes girl into his idea of perfection, girl springs into existence. ‘’Wait? Didn't someone already do that with Ruby Sparks?’’

‘’Nine pounds twenty two’’ a soft voice with an almost undetectable hint of a French accent shocks me back to reality. I pay up and begrudgingly make my way out.

My Purpose today is to meet with Belinda, a girl I once dated almost a year ago. My relationship with Belinda was kind of a big deal (for me at least), I haven’t had many long term"girlfriends" as most of my relationships tend to fizzle out after a few days when I inevitably get bored of questions I don’t want to answer, or ‘’she’’ has enough of my vague attempts at communication.

But against all odds I dated Belinda on and off for quite a while, how long exactly I can’t remember. She was sweet, smart and funny, but also annoying and...annoying. Anywho, after a long time not hearing from her, I recently received a lengthy email detailing Bell's travels, adventures, career and asking to meet up as it would be a good idea for us to be ‘’friends’’.

Hence my purposeful trip today.

I walked towards the coffee shop I would be meeting Bell at and paused on the opposite side of the street leaning against a cold, thrice painted metal gate. I surveyed the area and spotted her sitting on a chair outside of the coffee shop fiddling with her jacket sleeves impatiently.

It pains me to admit it, but she looked hot. Her purposefully torn indie band T-shirt had a pair of unnecessary sunglasses hooked onto its collar, and the collection of quirky bracelets she wore on one wrist looked like a wreath of candy.

I stared at her, and was struck by several memories. Her goofy laugh, the feel of her always warm hands and then...her never ending questions, her poorly disguised judgments, her forced laugh around her plastic friends. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

And it struck me, did she call me here in some childish attempt to show me what I was missing?

It was possible.

I sighed as she finally made me and looked over. My heart sank, and I realised I had two choices.

One, I could go over, lap up her stories, nod and smile at the right moments and pretend...Pretend as I've become so good at.

Two, I could go over. Grunt and shake my head at the right moments, and try to be polite...Polite as I can be.

I did neither.

Instead I flipped her off from across the street. My middle finger held up triumphantly as strangers curved and passed me by.

Bell looked confused, staring at my finger that signaled "fuck you".

Then she looked at my eyes...My eyes said "spin on it".

I lit a cigarette and walked off, thinking how cool it would be if the sun would cast a lonely shadow as I walked into the distance. But it didn't, it began to rain, and then it poured soaking me like some sort of message from the skies telling me how much of a jackass I was.

Relationships? Who needs them?

Not me.

Paper Boats.

The rain falls down, swallowed by the ground. And it's the same drip, the same lonely sound.

I taste the wet air, spreading in my chest. Clean the debris, leave nothing left.

And I remember playing, on the river’s edge. Fall down, wet bodies, floating heads.

Cold days skimming stones. Warm hands, still my shaking bones.

Cut short your blue...Winter's song.

Because these paper boats...Don't float for too long.

Whisper to me darling, how the story ends. Leave me your words, my charming friend.

Nothing lasts forever, so they all said. Torn pages, book's half read.

The seasons change, the wildflowers bloom. Same scent, untouched perfume.

But the future comes around, pictures fade. Scattered different ways, no place to evade.

Cut short your blue...Winter's song.

Because these paper boats...Don't float for too long.

When I think about it, bittersweet sight. It's like bright lights, clear skies
at night.

But the future came around, the river froze. White box, green grass, black clothes.

Rest your head on my, frail immature bones. But that skinny quiet boy, now he's all grown.

You know, the memories of you, set like stone. Warm in the sunshine, cold against cool winds blown.

Unfinished your blue...winter's song.

Because these paper boats...Don't float for too long.

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

The Conformity of Non Conformism

No shepherd and one herd! Everyone wants the same; everyone is the same: he who feels differently goes voluntarily into the madhouse.
I'll inevitably see you in this promised madhouse in the afterlife Nietzsche.

Conformity? In short, conformity refers to norms, beliefs, and attitudes shared by individuals in a group.
Recently I seem to find myself coming across people who claim to have no tolerance for the type of blind conformity I'm used to witnessing. There's the douchebag I met the other day who "doesn't listen to mainstream music and hates everything in the charts". And then there's a friend of a friend’s father who has decided to sell his rather luxurious house and move to a small Greek village to live a "simpler life"...With his twenty year old girlfriend.

There's also the guy I met who "only watches foreign movies, because Hollywood sucks"...I should mention he doesn't speak any foreign languages.And then of course there is me. I question everything, I don't laugh at jokes I don't understand despite everyone else laughing, I don't like being told what to do, and I like to think I have my own opinions. But in many ways I am a terrible hypocrite.

I...like many others, to at least some extent, conform to popular culture.

I sit in a ralph lauren shirt and leather shoes, Vivaldi playing from an overpriced speaker bar hooked up to an apple iphone, premium cigarette smoke clouding the already stuffy inside air, complaining about the self interested capitalist bullshit agenda we are all under, whilst simultaneously taking part in it...I'm such a dick. Well, at the very least, I am conscientious enough to be aware of my choices and how they are influenced.

I like the music I listen to not because it's popular, but because it sounds good.
I didn’t start rocking timberland boots when all my friends did, because they all looked ridiculous (to me).
Just as I didn't jump on the twitter bandwagon when all of my friends did, because it wasn't my type of thing.
I'm not religious or superstitious despite my family being religious and very...very superstitious...(they'd say, that's the demon inside me speaking).

Anywho, all the above are little things. What's worrying is when people conform to things that have a major impact on their...and our lives.

Be it politics, morals, or I guess, even religion. Many people I know are homophobic, they won't admit it and it's not the type of in-your-face homophobia that makes most people sick. But it's homophobia nonetheless.

Despite this I've never judged people on their sexuality, and I grew up to have several gay and lesbian friends...separate from my backwards, baseball bat bearing, tobacco chewing friends. (Yes I just insulted my "friends").

When I was at uni, we would have these excruciatingly long seminars which would sometimes consist of a debate. Sometimes these debates would be graded, and I would always stick to my guns and my beliefs, despite sometimes knowing it would lead to a lower grade. Most others would go with whatever was favourable with the class and the lecturer. I literally witnessed so-called educated people change their views on things like abortion and the third world overnight. And after a time they would get so caught up in the facade, that their views outside of the lecture hall would change. It was very worrying.

I'm reminded of an experiment I'm sure many of you have heard of. It's famously known as the Asch conformity experiment. The experiment was actually very simple. In short, Solomon Asch, set out to test the power of conformity through a series of visual tests. Participants would take part (as the word participant suggests) in a series of "easy" visual tests. The subject would participate in these visual tests as a group. However, everyone in the group (minus the subject) would be in on the experiment and would give the wrong answers to very...very simple visual questions.

They would, for example be shown a picture of a line and asked to match it to the corresponding line.
Ok, so the results?

A whopping 32% of subjects would give incorrect answers if they had seen 3 or more in the group giving the wrong answer.

32%? And that was during a visual test. Could you imagine the implications if we applied this to all the little things in life?

It amazes me...but I'm just easily amazed. I'm reminded...again (I'm so damned nostalgic) of an experiment of my own.

I set out to convince my fellow peers, through some very slight deceit, that a traditional fried British breakfast, followed by some high calorie chocolate drinks throughout the day, could help those wishing to lose weight (I listed the total calories to them). I had my minions...I mean friends vouch for me and sing praises for my new diet. I didn't’t have the heart to actually make them follow through with the diet. But the fact that 5 out of 12 people wishing to lose weight were willing to try it, was as shocking as it was sad.

Do we really conform so easily? Someone once told me (I forgot who). That people want to be told what to do, they crave instruction. Sometimes I think he...or she was right.

So what about the rest of us so called non conformists? As Alexandra Gedrose so greatly put it...

We should find out what other non-conformists are doing.........

And make sure to conform to it perfectly

Written 01/2013
*Long boring, droning blog post.
*Strong language.

"What is this life if full of care?…"(William Henry Davies).

‘’What’s the deal with the glasses Jiro?’’ I asked, poking my fingers forward carefully to realize that Jiro has decided to wear lensless glasses today.

Jiro looks up, his jagged fringe ("bangs" if you’re American?) hangs over one side of the white plastic frame. He stares at me for a long time before finally saying


‘’Can I borrow them for a minute? I can’t read the small print on this manual.’’ I ask reaching for his face again. He jolts back and gives me the finger that I'm so used to.

We are trying to put together an expensive and complicated piece of
furniture that Jiro had delivered to store his many empty box files. I
assume it's supposed to be a standing shelf of some sort, but it currently looks like scraps from a carpenter’s workshop.

I say ‘’we’’, though so far I have only managed to create a paper boat out of the foreign instructions. Which I was very proud of and about to attempt to climb into, when it was trod on by Jiro, my partner in crime against furniture. I would much rather slot things in place and hope for the best (No that is not innuendo <) But Jiro insists on taking a methodical approach, which consists of standing and staring intently at the mess of parts and trying to fit them together with the power of telekinesis.

We both stood and stared for a long moment. Jiro scratched his head and appeared to be getting ready for a fight by removing his jacket,
watch and jewellery (he kept the glasses on) I yawned exaggeratedly
before Jiro finally spoke.

‘’I think we take that big thing and slot it into that little thing.’’

‘’That’s what she said.’’ (That's innuendo<) I say, managing to get a smile out of him, where he revealed a silver incisor.

We’re both stuck in what is often referred to as a research room. Like many research rooms in London, this room is situated somewhere in the
depths of the building, only to be frequented by the brave and underpaid. The windowless room has dividers placed randomly around the polished hardwood floors. Despite the fluorescent lighting, the room is dim and dreary. It’s the kind of room where day and night are created by electricity… The kind of room that delivers a jolt of disappointment to those who step outside in the winter to realize that the day has turned to night without their knowledge.

A big executive style table sits in the middle of the room, occupied by worker bees bent over paper pads and fiddling with gadgets and smartphones. I spot an older man, maybe in his fifties, appearing to ‘’chat up’’ an intern. He spots me looking and winks, an awkward, slow, struggled wink. I give him a crooked thumbs up and circle the table, spying on peoples’ work and Facebook pages.

I spot Sil, the part time cannabis dealer/ handyman / security guard. He’s sat swiveling in an orthopedic chair, reading somebody’s copy
of Esquire magazine and twisting his beard between fat fingers.

I call his name and motion him towards Jiro and I. I wait impatiently as Sil drags his big feet towards us.

I speak when he’s halfway to us.

‘’Sil, I’ll pay you to fix this shelf thing.’’ I say. I turn to Jiro and he shrugs.

‘’HOW MUCH?’’ Sil asks, excited.

‘’How much do you want?’’ I ask.

‘’Hundred pound.’’ He says nodding his head.

‘’One pound.’’ I counter.

‘’Ninety pound.’’

‘’Two pounds?’’

‘’Eighty pound.’’

‘’Three pounds.’’

‘’Seven…’’ Sil begins before Jiro cuts him off with his own offer
‘’Fifty pounds Sil…Yes?’’

‘’Fourty nine pounds.’’  I say shaking Sil’s blister laden hand.

Having outsourced our work for a few hours, I reluctantly followed Jiro
into the daylight and to the closest source of food. I would have much preferred to lay my body down in the damp car park where I would breathe in the life affirming wet air...and cigarette smoke until I would inevitably be dragged back into white collar prison for causing
an obstruction.

Instead, I followed Jiro into a small building who's sign promised a "bistro", but who's interior suggested something totally different. Dim lighting was teamed with expensive flowers, dark begging to be marred glossy floors, and red curtains pinned on the sides of pictures instead of windows. The place was essentially manufactured romance for those who couldn't muster up any of their own. The type of place someone would bring his weekend girlfriend but not his wife. Was Jiro trying to tell me something?

Stuck in my pondering, I had been left alone by Jiro who was now sitting at a table at the far end of the room. Pretending I hadn't seen him, I spun around awkwardly like a child who had lost his mother in a supermarket.

I felt finger tips tap softly against my shoulder.

‘’Hello...I...am...Emma.’’ Said a waitress pausing slightly after each word. Her brown hair was tied and pinned behind her ears in an elaborate formation. She smiled a wide, gap toothed smile and gave me her hand.

‘’Should I kiss it?’’ I thought briefly before deciding to give her a firm handshake.

‘’Hello.’’ I said.

‘’Who...are...you?’’ She questioned.

‘’I'm still trying to work that out.’’




‘’With a K.’’


‘’My name is Kash.’’


‘’Yea I know, you already told me that. What else?’’


‘’What for?’’


Putting an end to one of the longest conversations I've had today, I pointed at Jiro and made my way over to him.

‘’What was that about?’’ Jiro asked me, sounding more excited than necessary.

‘’Nothing, she was just asking about you...What's good here?’’

‘’Piss off, she wasn't.’’

‘’Ok...They have milkshake. I'm going to have a milkshake. What else is good here?.’’

‘’Coq au vin. Was she asking about me?’’

‘’Coq au what now?.’’

‘’What did she say?’’

‘’She said you were cute or something.’’

‘’Yea...I am.’’

Our food arrived quickly, like it had just come from a microwave.

‘’Your plate looks different.’’ Jiro said, tucking his napkin into his collar. I looked down at my plate.

‘’Yep, my coq’s bigger.’’

We ate, slow but with purpose. My food was dry and bland, much like my
day. I drew a frowning face in the sauce left on my plate and slurped
the remainder of my child sized milkshake through a curly straw, much to the annoyance of Jiro.

A girl sat opposite us held a smartphone over her food for reasons unknown. I wondered if she was a spy. There’s probably an app for that…An app for spies.

Having emptied our wallets and filled our bellies, Jiro and I made our
way out. Before we reached the door, I turned to Jiro.

‘’So are you going to get her number or what?’’

‘’What? Whose?’’


‘’Who's Emma?’’

‘’The waitress.’’ I nodded my head towards her. She was stood twiddling her thumbs, smiling her gap toothed smile at no one in particular.

I pushed Jiro towards her.

‘’Don't be a pussy.’’ I encouraged before walking out.

I was across the street from the Bistro staring at my reflection in a puddle of black water, when Jiro came running up behind me.

‘’Got it!’’ He said smiling. He reached to pat me on the shoulder but changed his mind.

‘’Good for you Jiro, maybe you'll lose your virginity.’’

‘’I've seen her loads-a-times, didn't realise she was checking me out.’’

‘’She wasn't.’’ I said, pausing outside of the entrance to research purgatory.


‘’I doubt she was checking you out back then.’’

‘’But she saw me today, said I was cute.’’


‘’What are you on?’’

‘’Liquor and nicotine.’’

‘’What do you mean nope?’’

‘’She didn't mention you.’’

‘’Yea she did...You told me.’’

‘’Yes, I lied.’’


‘’She did not mention you.’’

‘’Then what-the-hell were you talking about?’’

‘’Methods of payment.’’

‘’You're a prick. Why did you do that you fucking prick?’’

‘’Would you have asked for her number had I not lied?’’

‘’No…But you can’t do shit like that .’’ Jiro said looking at his watch.

‘’Come on, we’re late. We need to go…We’re late…We need to go.’’ He
said panicked.

‘’I don’t understand what you’re trying to say.’’

‘’I said we’re late.’’

‘’We’re not. Sil thought it would be funny to change your watch. Do you really think we just spent two hours eating?’’.

‘’Oh…Wait. Sil or you?’’

I didn’t answer, hoping that Jiro wouldn’t notice that Sil’s fat fingers lacked the dexterity for my pointless prank. I lit a cigarette and hunched my shoulders forward, aiming smoke into the holes of Jiro’s fashionable glasses. Jiro started talking about some uninteresting political development in Europe (I think). I was on my second smoke when he waved his hand in front of my face.

‘’What’s with you Kash?’’

‘’I’m tired.’’

‘’So put the cigarette out and find a comfy chair to sleep in.’’

‘’I mean in general…Tired of this.’’ I spread my arms out.

‘’Let’s go make fun of Sil, then later we’ll get some more food, some beers?’’

And that’s what we did, because that is what is done. I had long come to the realisation that ‘’this’’ is all there was. An endless cycle of working, sleeping, eating, drinking and fucking. In constant motion never broken. But I’ve also come to the realisation that there has to be at least the chance of something else, something more…Or maybe I’ve watched too many movies. Either way, I’m going to find it. I just have to stop and figure out where to start looking (somewhere other than the bottom of an empty beer bottle). But for now I'll lay still, but still in motion.

‘’What is a life if full of care?...We have no time to stop and stare.’’

No shit Davies ^.

Competition by Nature.

Back in 2010 I was sitting in a library with a friend attempting unsuccessfully to start an essay.

Tom; "Hey I won that essay competition, they gave me an Ipod"

Me; "cool"

Tom; "you know what's weird...your name wasn't on the entry list"

Me; "I didn't enter"

Tom; "But we wrote our essays together"

Me; "I already have an Ipod"

Tom; "So?"

Me; "..."

Tom; "Didn't you want to see if you could win anyway?"

Me; "Why would I?"

Tom; "It's in our nature"

Me; "Winning?"

Tom; "Competition".

I've always been taught that competition is one of the most important things in life. Be the best, be better than that guy, etc. When I was younger I entered some martial arts competitions at my dojo, and we we're always told not to win on points, but to "take the other guy out, get the real win''. But that's the nature of the world is it not? Competition is healthy. It encourages us to be better. Or so I thought.

I'm a very curious person. And over the years I've read a lot of books and watched a lot of documentaries in a naive attempt to better understand the world. I've been to libraries, churches, overseas, lectures, protests, etc. It's had the opposite effect. I'm more confused than ever... Maybe I'm just stupid.

Anywho, I've watched the usual popular new age documentaries. An inconvenient truth, I am, Zeitgeist, waiting for superman... And I've read everything from Dawkins to Plato and all of that good stuff. And my belief that "human nature is competitive" was suitably challenged. In the documentary "I am"  (If you haven’t seen it, it's nothing particularly new but a great watch) there was an interesting tribal story that a professor shared.

In short, it was about an ancient tribe. The strongest of the tribe would go out hunting and their gains would be shared out equally amongst everyone in the tribe. One day the strongest hunter in the tribe who was doing the most work decided that he deserved to keep most of the meat. So he hoarded most of his gains for himself. Then the second and third strongest hunters decided to do the same for themselves. The stronger hunters then started hoarding their kills to the point of excess. And they taught their ways to their youngsters. This meant that the old, the weak, and those unable to hunt went without food. And the weaker members of the tribe perished and the foundations of the once equal tribe collapsed.

The story teller goes on to explain that this is a true story. Not because it happened...But because it is "happening" right now, with all of us. Well what about nature? What about survival of the fittest? We talk about it like it's some kind of animal instinct we have. Packs of animals can often have a powerful Alpha, just like we have alpha males and more recently dominant females in our society. It's an animal instinct rooted inside us all.

Wait...is it?

Some of you may have heard of the red deer experiment conducted by Conradt and Roper. Simply put the experiment aimed to measure cooperation amongst the deers. They wanted to see how deers  made decisions, particularly how they made the decision to travel to a watering hole. Most of us would expect the alpha to decide when the herd would go to the watering hole. But instead the deer would gradually shift or gesture in the direction of the watering hole one by one. When the majority of the deer had decided (roughly 51%) then they would all travel to the watering hole. Often leaving a confused alpha to follow. So even animals have some sort of democracy and cooperation. I don't know why that fascinates me but it does.

Well what about us humans? Politically (yes I'm getting political again...sorry). Politically the right side of the political spectrum (right as in direction not correctness) most conservatives would argue that any grand socialist ideas of social change are unrealistic because they are incompatible with human nature. So what they are saying is, we are generally self interested individualistic people. A fair assessment I guess.

Which coincidentally fits in perfectly with our free market capitalism. What about pre-capitalist notions of human nature? We weren't seen as egoistic, self-serving, and greedy beings way back when. Human nature was viewed as holding a mostly communal aspect.

Marx viewed human nature differently. Some claim that he argued human nature does not exist. I don't agree with that, but Marx does go on to say that any form of human nature is subject to environmental factors. As in, we learn human nature. Or as Desmond Tutu (did I spell that right?) once said "we learn to be human by observing other humans". I learn to walk, talk, eat, dress myself, shave and do the jitterbug by observing others. I am human because of you, my fellow humans.

That being said, I learn to be self-sufficient, self-interested and selfish because of my fellow humans. I read your books, I wear your clothes, I follow your agenda, and I learn to be another product of society just like everybody else. I am essentially a robot (albeit a well oiled one who can do the worm).

My question to myself is...what if we've got it all wrong? What if our nature is inclined to cooperation instead of competition? What if ideas of excess, self-gratitude, self-sufficiency and self-indulgence were replaced with other ideals? 

Like love, compassion, cooperation, generosity and collaboration? My friends would say I'm creating a utopia for myself that could never exist. I probably am. And those on selfless journeys who seek this type of cooperation are playing a dangerous game and usually end up losing.

And in most aspects I am an incredible hypocrite wishing for the change of a system I participate in anyway. I don't love my neighbours, I hate 90% of people, I buy and spend in excess and I'm generally a poor excuse for a human being. But I'd hate for that to be the case for future generations to come. I don't know if I'll ever have kids but if I ever do, I wouldn't want them to live in the self interested and hollow world I've chosen.
So...future kids, I pledge to you now that I'll be one of those pot smoking, jazz playing, hippy parents. And before I'm inevitably locked away, I'll give you little bastards the best damned parenting ever.

But back to my grandiose idea of social change. How would we make changes for such a hippie-esque world? I don't know. (Sorry).

But I know where we might start. Consciousness, if we are all aware of what's going on in the world.  We can try to accept the things we can't change, somehow gain the courage to accept the things we can, and at the very least...we can have the wisdom to know the difference. (See what I did there? I got religious as a non-religious man).

So here’s to change or lack thereof. 

Forgiveness... And the rest.

I've been pondering (more than usual) lately, the importance of forgiveness. The American Psychological Association would have us believe that "forgiveness is the renunciation or cessation of resentment, indignation or anger as a result of a perceived offense, disagreement, or mistake, or ceasing to demand punishment or restitution".

That sounds fair enough I guess. And I would like to think that generally, I am usually a forgiving person. For instance this morning I was on a crowded train when a stocky man sporting a beer belly and tight fitting ambercrombie muscle top that made him look like the marshmallow man from the ghostbusters movies, squeezed in beside me
As my eyes began to water from his cheap aftershave and I pondered why he was wearing aviator sunglasses on the train ("maybe he's a spy") he stepped on my foot. 

Me; "Excuse me you're standing on my foot".

Marshmallow man; *kisses teeth". 

Me; *louder "Could you move your foot?"

Marshmallow man; *looks away.

Me; "Hey asshole move your foot".

Marshmallow man. *moves foot "I'm so sorry mate".

After he said sorry, any anger I felt towards this man dissipated faster than my manners at an open bar. But anywho, that wasn't a big deal. It was very easy to forgive. So what would constitute unforgivable?

When someone borrows and ruins your possessions? 

When your girlfriend kicks you in the nuts? (never happened to me).

When you find out that your best friend likes one direction?

That all seems fairly forgivable. But I wonder...

I wonder because a few weeks ago I received a call regarding someone I haven't heard from in a very, very long time. A part of my past I had assumed would never resurface was suddenly back to bite me in the ass. Despite my best efforts to try and remain undisturbed, I was overcome by anger. When I say anger, I don't mean the anger you feel when some idiot cuts in front of you in a queue. Or the anger you feel at phone companies for financially raping you. I mean, the all-consuming, irrepressible stomach tightening anger that leaves a bitter poisonous taste in your mouth, that keeps you awake at night and burns in your chest like an unwavering fire that takes weeks to extinguish.

^ that kind of anger. An anger I seldom feel.

But it's been so long, surely I should be able to forgive...But it's been difficult for two reasons.

Firstly the person in question hasn't asked for forgiveness.

And secondly...I don't want to.

I also don't want to harbor these feelings of dread and resentment anymore. So I decided to let go and forgive. But I felt no different. So by the definition of the word "forgiveness", if I still feel distaste and resentment, I haven't really forgiven at all.


So I guess I'm not such a forgiving person after all. From childhood the importance of forgiveness has always been reiterated. But true to form, I never really listened. One thing I do remember is something I was told at church when I was a child. It was something along the lines of

"Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice". 

I can't remember the rest of the quote or where it is in the bible. But I'm sure you can google it (other search engines are available). I never really asked why forgiveness was so important in the bible. But as I grew older, I realised this emphasis on forgiveness is part of most religions. From the all forgiving Allah in Islam, the cultivation of pure and wholesome thoughts in Buddhism and atonement, or repentance in Hinduism.
I'm not a religious person but I get it. Holding grudges is unhealthy. Resentment is unhealthy
So what kind of person does that make me? A resentful one? A while ago I read some old sermons by Bishop Butler, I think they date back to the 1800’s. And since then a bunch of philosophers have tried to make some sense of them, mostly agreeing that forgiveness is a way of overcoming resentment.

Resentment? I find that word interesting. I think it’s a more insidious and personal type of anger. I could for example, see someone snatch an old lady’s purse and feel angry at the people who did it. But resentment to me is far more personal, as Paul Hughes once put it ‘’what is uniquely personal about resentment is that it seems to be an exclusively self-regarding form of anger’’. It’s like a disease that fades away only to resurface…It’s the herpes of the mind.

In 2006 the APA conducted some research on forgiveness. It’s a long report that hasn’t really told me anything new. But there was a part where inability to forgive was described as a public health problem. The researchers claim that those who don’t forgive usually find it difficult to maintain relationships. I guess that sounds like me, but is that because I’m less forgiving than I had thought? I wonder. I’ve always lived by ‘’fool me once, shame on me, fool me twice…I’m don’t like you anymore’’.
But looking back, apart from the person in question, there is no one else I feel real resentment for. I’ve found it very easy to let go of everything else, mostly because I am aloof about most things.
However, despite wanting to be the bigger man and wanting to let go of one of the last remaining remnants of bane that has scrupulously latched on to my soul…

I can’t.

Because, as I've come to learn, forgiveness is a process. A process I usually don’t have to give a second thought, but I guess there are instances in life where the process just doesn't work.

So for now I've given up on forgiveness and I’ll take a shot at the next best thing.


Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Radical Honesty.

Life goes on, the truth changes. What was once true is often no longer true later - Brad Blanton.
I didn't really understand that quote until I read it a second time and then it made perfect sense. I may hate you now, and adore you later. The truth, inevitably changes. Although for some of us, this gets hard to accept. Blanton a psychotherapist eloquently refers to the mind as a jail built out of bullshit. Essentially, most of us are stuck in the jails of our own minds. And in being stuck, we fail to recognise when the truth changes and hold on to concepts of what was once true in the past.

So in short, we are lying to ourselves. It's no surprise, we live in a beautiful but confusing and messed up world. And it gets at its most confusing during our adolescence. Most people think of adolescence as occurring between the ages of 13 to 18 or spanning on to our early twenties. But in most cases this lasts a lot longer and a lot of us stay stuck in some sort of perpetual adolescence.

Even in adulthood we try desperately to attach ourselves to a number of self-images we create, any self-image is better than no self-image. Be it the artist, the fashionista, the girl/guy who married their childhood sweetheart, the geek, the poser etc. etc. This is common blindness to the changing truth, and results in rigid thinking. Take this hypothetical example, Bob and his friend Sally, they've been to the same school, college and university together and see each other every now and then. One day in primary school they were asked "What would you like to be when you grow up?".

Bob’s answer? ‘’A power ranger’’. 

Sally’s answer; ‘’A doctor’’.

Over the years Bob’s answer slowly changed. However, Sally’s stayed the same. They took science classes together in secondary school, they both loved it. But...over the years Sally became interested in books. Classics, Shakespeare, Twain, Heller.  She became less interested in science, but kept up with her classes because as she reminded Bob "she wanted to be a doctor".  Bob was baffled, she looked miserable in those science classes when they went to college. And she was less enthusiastic about the whole doctor thing.
And when she failed a few science exams in their final year of college, Bob was sure she would switch to English lit, which she loved and could pass with her eyes closed...But no, she retook the science classes until she passed. Sally’s still studying to be a "doctor" now, Bob saw her on the train recently tapping her foot and chewing on fluorescent bubble-gum, she managed to put her copy of war of the worlds down long enough to blow a bubble at him.

^ that's a mild example of rigid attachment/thinking. She's trapped in the role of doctor. 
Even though what was true yesterday, is no longer true today. And most of us cling to what is no longer true. Be it our career goals, values, morals or even the people we surround ourselves with.

We often make friends with people who we believe fit with our self-image. Our self-image which we may have lived by years ago, which is no longer true today...But we live by this now untrue image anyway. 
Despite our unconscious denial, we may no longer be...or at the very least no longer want to be the people we once strove to be. And believe me when I say, there is no greater loneliness than being surrounded by people who will never know who you truly are. Having an open mind is more important than most of us will ever know.

I'm not a religious person, but one truth I'm sure of is....

Veritas vos liberabit: The truth shall set you free - John 8:32.