I posted this in August 2008. It’s interesting to review what was occupying my thoughts and what’s changed. I’ve extracted what I consider the best bit:
Optimistic thoughts are habitual and as Jo said to me today, “watch your thoughts, they become your words, watch your words, they become your actions, watch your actions, they become your habits, watch your habits, they become your character, watch your character for it will become your destiny.”
It’s been five months since my last on line confession. That’s a good thing as there’s enough self-indulgent nonsense out there already. I am accused of being a Facebook junkie, which I am, it’s a weakness, I am sorry. It does though remain an aspiration to make more use of the pen to express my fascination with life. This urge to bare my soul in public must indicate that I have crossed a threshold; will someone please let me know what’s going on? There are those who will be turned off by the idea of insights into my mind, good. We are custodians of a brief and precious life and frankly there are better things to do than read my musings. So thanks for your attention, if you are not interested in reading about the finer points of lovemaking please get back to those more important things in your life.
My life is free flowing, brief and thirst quenching. Imagine pouring water from a jug, that’s my life being poured out. And how I love it. Bring it on, because with the passage of time comes understanding of what an ignorant pitiful soul I am. It is a wonderful place to be for when you are deep in the valley there is only one direction to go. Helping me are the most amazing people, surprising events and changing seasons.
Vocabulary is the fruit of understanding, without it there is confusion, incomprehension and conflict. Without vocabulary people can’t express their feelings or articulate their beliefs so they regurgitate what they hear and remember. The resultant worldviews come from received wisdom that lacks meaningful substance. Without a credible source of knowledge the TV and print media are relied upon. You don’t keep customers by telling them that they are weak, ignorant hypocrites so they tell people what they want to hear. I’m trying really hard to listen. Listening is a rare skill but incredibly powerful if you can get the hang of it. I have only the most rudimentary understanding of how it’s done; I am a beginner. Far easier for me to criticize and find fault. Wherever I go I hear discussions and dialogue between people not listening. We all need wisdom that has not been drowned out by the charisma, charm and the alluring nature of reason.
This is my fight; to detach myself from the comfort of my prejudices; I want to know the views, beliefs, attitudes and opinions that are at variance with mine. I am now beginning to enjoy exploring why and how others think and behave. It’s fascinating and there are a few apparent themes. Many of the unhappy people I meet display: Depression, fear, low self-esteem, procrastination, self-pity, doubt, and bitterness. They also show loathing and blame. This is invariably targeted at those who are different: ethnic minorities, foreigners, homosexuals, politicians, clerics and intellectuals are all used for people to vent their fury but these attitudes are just two sides of the same self loathing coin. Isn’t it only a matter of time before Barack Obama starts taking hits for people’s woes? How is it that we are so much better off, both materially and physically, than previous generations and yet suffering an epidemic of unhappiness, stress and conflict? Why are our relationships under so much strain? There is an answer.
Patience is a virtue I am desperate to nurture. I am seeking to check myself when I feel a well of impatience. It doesn’t help that I am truly a heathen spawn of Beelzebub with a depraved mind. If I were a truly loving person, I would probably say that the impatience I suffer is the Devil tempting me into self-righteousness. Whatever the cause of these rather poisonous emotions I do feel that I am at least recognizing that to have a more fulfilling life I need to remain optimistic. Optimistic thoughts are habitual and as Jo said to me today, “watch your thoughts, they become your words, watch your words, they become your actions, watch your actions, they become your habits, watch your habits, they become your character, watch your character for it will become your destiny.”
I have been led down a path of considering the values that matter most. The startling conclusion is that the values that have lasting virtue do not come from within. The values inculcated by my parents, friends, school and the Army are important but they are not universal. Above all I have realized that it has nothing to do with me, I am inconsequential. The values that matter will last for all time without me. The popular notion is to choose the fashionable values. This is the path of least resistance, the path of consensus, the path that is the societal norm, to go with the flow; I am encouraged to follow convention, to be normal, it’s what everyone else does so it must be right. That is obviously a nonsense that exposes the fundamental flaw with any form of majority rule governance; let me not go there today. The trouble is I have followed one conventional path or another most of my life and it is leading to a place that looks increasingly unattractive. Today’s news included a report that our consumption of alcohol since the 1960s has increased several fold. This accompanies increases in obesity, diabetes, domestic violence, street crime, pervasive and conspicuous consumerism, STDs and marital breakdown; all wrapped in a climate of spiritual abstinence. This of course has nothing, absolutely zilch to do with our youth (under 30). Let me not, as is another all to common sense theme, blame the young. The only people responsible are those who are older. I share with my peers and their parents responsibility for bringing us to this point in time where we are all caught up in our own pathetically short, meaningless and unintelligent lives. There is a better way. By seeking a life worth living, by countering the desire for accumulating material wealth, by measuring success through positive relationships can I not be a better mentor? I would certainly like to be.
Am I despondent, am I despairing, do I think that all is hopeless? No. If a simpleton like me has the wit to see the answer, if I know others who have hope, if I know the most wonderful giving, selfless people who despite hardship, trials and suffering have hope, if America can elect a black president then I am entirely optimistic. I have witnessed through events and personal relationships that understanding can happen unexpectedly and when it arrives there is meaning. In the words of Jo’s Goddaughter on her Facebook site “everything happens for a reason ”. Life is worth living. Trials and tribulations remind me how fortunate I am to be alive. When you are out there spinning the cranks, running tall or swimming long, no amount of material wealth will help. You have to live the moment, no matter the pain, the boredom, the monotony or the demons. Being alive is awesome; I just shift focus to see it. I am full of hope, not because I reckon I have the answer but because I believe that there is an answer.
There is one troubling conundrum. Why bother sharing these thoughts? What business is it of mine? Who am I to be concerned about others? Let them sort out their own route to happiness. It should be no interest of mine, unless this is about me trying vicariously to resolve or avoid my problems. People are happy enough, what they don’t need is to be patronized by a hypocrite telling them how much more they could get from life. The choices are there for all to see. Many people have been taught or have witnessed other ways of living, it’s just they choose to live life their way, not follow some anachronistic code. It has its merits fair enough and maybe they’ll get around to it but in their time. For now they are busy being a success. There is a convention that successful people have fun and are seen to be having fun. Fun people are popular ergo they must be interesting. The social pressures to follow the fun people are impressive so people spend their time convincing each other they are having fun. All the photos show laughing pleasure seekers – they must be having fun! I admit that there are great ways of having fun; playing peeka boo with a child, throwing a ball, charades, dancing or doing that flexibility test with a broom handle (sounds kinky). I am less convinced that some of the way adults choose to have fun is all that enjoyable, especially when the outcomes are so often stress, hangovers and illness. Why am I bothered? Because it would be selfish not to at least let it be known that the alternatives could be considerably more rewarding. And I am not convinced people really understand the alternatives.
That has to be self-indulgent arrogance, seeking to alleviate people of their ignorance. Am I not aligning myself up with those pious do-good members of society so full of self-righteous indignation? The kind of people who get fussy about the antics of Russell Brand and Jonathon Ross. No way! I reckon those high-principled sanctimonious bigots need more help than the rest of us. In fact the ‘Dear Feedback I am so frightfully insulted of Bexley Heath’ form an unpleasant mob. They bay for the resignation of any who would dare offend their precious ears by uttering a public profanity whilst beating their wives, cheating their husbands and neglecting their neighbours. These same people use their money to encourage the media to fill their newspapers and screens with more and more salacious voyeurism that justifies their pathetic lives. The truth is that we are all in desperate need of help. We need to get on the path that rides rough shod over all the nonsense that causes us stress, frustrations, anger, envy and bitterness towards the Russell Brands of life. It is a good feeling to share this truth but it isn’t that comforting knowing that you may not like it and may choose to infer that dear old Adrian has taken leave of his senses. It doesn’t necessarily win friends, ho hum. It’s like going for that 8 mile run. It would be far easier to remain in the dreamy world of bed with the woman I love, it would be too easy to get on the net and continue that intriguing dialogue, read up on the latest news or take a hot bath. Instead I abandon comfort to drag my sorry butt out into the fresh morning air. Fighting the urge to take the path of least resistance and occasionally failing. It’s not fun. It is though necessary. Sport reminds me that doing the right thing is rarely easy, often tough but always rewarding.
The world is desperate to shield us from our mortality. The alexia of youth is found through beauty treatments, escape from it all holidays to fulfill our dreams and desires, alcoholic beverages help us feel and look sexy and interesting, cigarettes provide strength of character and charm, sexy cars that prove you are charismatic, virile and successful. All these things are deigned to find us a comfortable passage through a troubled life. Wealthy executive, with superb educations and sharp minds know our weaknesses and use them to line their deep pockets with cash from our shallow ones. People buy the fantasy because the route of sacrifice, giving and humility is tough and ugly. Why wait for rewards when there is so much available now? I can have it all; credit, sex, drugs, rock and roll, fun and all the trimmings. This is, of course, extortionate abuse of the ignorant. The bells, whistles and the convenience have mesmerized us. “Thoughtless, greedy, gullible, idle, poorly educated and niaive people, exploiting each other to fuel the furnace of conspicuous consumerism” (my quote). Some retire to their ordered life in their leafy Surrey village, taking skiing holidays in the Alps and Summer breaks in the Dordogne. Meanwhile the others, ordinary common sense folk, spice up their miserable Godless lives by borrowing money to fly to overcrowded, overrated, cheap and cheerful parts of the globe to have fun in a drunken stupor. And ironically by the time they arrive the well heeled have moved on for the seclusion and respectable company that their wealth affords them. If you don’t like my characterization then that’s because it’s you and me folks and we are all off to hell in a handcart.
When I witness my peers displaying the same habits we shared when young; trying desperately to show their youthful vitality by partying hard, committing their very being to success, throwing their heart, soul and life into reaching their goal, I wonder what is going on. In their conversations I detect sugar glazed cynicism and despondency. Am I missing the happiness or is it simply not there? Now here’s the paradox because while witnessing misery I find myself enjoying a life full of hope, love and meaning. It seems unfair. I have done nothing to deserve being in such a privileged place. The only thing I can really do is let people know that every breath is a gift. Many people have told me that running a marathon is too great a commitment. They admire those that do and part of them would like to run. I have learned though if you start your training gradually, carefully and thoughtfully, if you believe and persevere, not only do you run the race but you also complete the race. It’s a great way to discover just how amazing your life is. When all is said and done- It’s all about Love.