Let’s Be Boats

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This year I have started to get back into sailing.

Actually, that’s somewhat of a fib… as it makes it sound as though I used to sail all the time.  I didn’t.  I went on a couple of school trips to a place called Calshot, near to Southampton, during which I complained about the rain and getting wet (!), and concocted various reasons to excuse myself from activity so that I could instead sit and gossip from the sidelines with my friend Hutch, who felt the same way I did.

Back then, I had nowhere near the same amount of enthusiasm for nature and the outdoors that I do now.  Nowadays, there’s not much that gets my adrenaline rushing more than being completely exposed to the elements, even vulnerable to them.  The idea of being on a boat in the middle of a rainstorm, with saltwater splashing into my face, is actually quite appealing to me, hence why I was keen to get back into the hobby I never had, especially living so close to a sea I seldom otherwise… see (sorry).

Out on the boat the other day, I realised that sailing is a hobby which gives me thrills and energy, and really does “put the wind in my sails”.  I then thought about that expression a lot.  We use it all the time, and we know what it means, but I don’t think I ever quite had the same appreciation for it that I do now.

When the wind hits a sail at the correct angle, a boat moves forward with much aplomb, crushing the incoming waves with ease.  What’s impressive about this is that the wind is, of course, a natural force.  The movement of the boat does not come at the press of a button, but a set of natural conditions to which you have to work your sail accordingly in order to get the most from it.  Get your boat facing the right way, and tighten the sail to the right extent, and off you go.  Nature takes care of the rest, and movement becomes effortless.

And perhaps that’s what everything we do in life should be like.  All of those natural things that fuel us – passion, interests, hobbies, talents – those are our winds, those are what can get us moving along on an exciting ride, but only so long as we are facing the right way, and have set ourselves up correctly.  Wind against a flapping, neglected sail won’t do much at all, in the same way that you’re unlikely to do anything thrilling with your interests if you don’t align all the other relevant conditions, like the time and place to execute them, and the way to execute them.  Take care of those, and nature will do the rest.  Things will move.

If we can align things so that we can feel the wind in our sails more often, then who knows what adventures we’ll have…

Song of the Day:  Benji Hughes – Baby, It’s Your Life!

“Have fun with your life”.  Well said, Benji.

 

 

 

The Freedom of Wanting Less

Not so long ago, if I were to have had a week off work I would have felt as though not using it to travel abroad would render it a missed opportunity.  Free time is finite, after all, and so it made sense to put any big ol’ block of it towards journeying further afield.  There’s only so far you can travel during a weekend, so your Annual Leave is what supplies you with that infrequent option to go to those exotic places beyond, and if you want to make the most of life, you need to capitalise on those opportunities.

That was very much the logic of my twenties; before the mortgages and the taxes and the service charges and the insurance premiums and ALL OF THOSE OTHER MISERABLE SOUNDING WORDS that do – regrettably – take a hold of you, enter your daily vernacular.  I knew that buying a property would hinder my ability to live the same kind of lifestyle as I had been able to enjoy previously, and though it filled me with slight trepidation, I knew that it had to be done.  I love my parents very much; but in life one needs- above all else – to be able to live independently; and whilst they allowed me a lot of privacy and we always got on, I needed my own kitchen where I could produce my own dinners, burn my own spuds, and replenish my own bin-bags.  I have absolutely needed the mental struggle of getting used to living alone, and the freedom to paint my living-room wall bright green; and my parents needed their guest-bedroom back and the additional space in their fridge.

I don’t have a lot of disposable income these days; I don’t know many people who do.  Just being alive is incredibly expensive; and when you’re trying to afford all of those boring fundamentals like water and gas on a single salary  – as well as trying to sustain the more emotional of the human needs, like a decent social life – you have no option but to carefully consider the destination of each pound you spend.  You want to make the monthly payslip stretch as far as it can possibly go without having to miss out on the activities that fill you with joy; and much of this is about sacrifice.  You learn to cut back on luxuries like eating out, (“spending twenty quid on something you just shit out the following day”, as a like-minded friend so eloquently put it as we rejoiced our financial epiphanies in unison during a recent car-ride) because you know you’d rather put the money towards a train-ticket to visit a friend.  You learn to see beyond the brand-names and realise that Tesco’s own coconut rice tastes just as good as Mr Ben’s.  You almost encroach Narnia whilst digging out those long-forgotten old clothes at the back of the wardrobe which probably suit you better now anyway, because they at least make you look younger.  Aldi becomes a deity; because if honey-roast peanuts cost you an arm and a leg in Waitrose, then there they’ll cost you a fingernail clipping.  And you do adore the occasional ramekin of some good old honey-roast.

Ultimately it becomes quite liberating.  You realise that many of the things you thought you needed in life you actually don’t, and that by cutting back on those things, you have more financial and mental freedom to focus on the important things: spending time with people you care about.  Sharing fun experiences together.  Just talking.  Moments which invigorate your spirit and soul don’t actually need to cost you much at all, and you can get so much more satisfaction from those than you could an over-priced perfume, or a – let’s be honest here – completely pointless cocktail served in a thimble that makes you pull a face after one sip.  There’s nothing wrong with indulging in a little bit of luxury every now and again; but it’s not something you need to spend your life chasing.

During my latest spell of Annual Leave, I realised I didn’t actually want to go anywhere like I may have wanted to before, even if I had been able to afford to.  All I wanted, was to stay at home and use the free time during the days to make the most of the sweet, humble little town I live in.  To cycle along the river and slip over in the mud.  To walk along the cobbled streets and listen to my favourite songs.  To make small-talk with strangers and pat their little yappy dogs with silly names (no offense to Olive’s owner).  To sit at the duck-pond where I used to go with my Grandad when I was a little girl, and reflect upon the magic of life and time.  I realised that whilst things haven’t felt especially easy in recent months; I don’t actually need as much as I sometimes think I do.

When I think to some of the occasions in my life in which I have felt particularly sad; it has often been because there was something I wanted but was struggling to get: a change in my life of some sort, to move out, a nicer set of teeth, for somebody to like me back, to be better at something… it’s actually of very little surprise that in Buddhism, desire is seen to be the root-cause of suffering.  To want can be – and is –  a great source of direction that should never be dismissed without considering the reasons why; but feeling sad about things you don’t have is a negative energy that won’t help in changing things.  In fact, it will only serve as a further resistance to the possibility of that change.  In an instance of exceptional timing, I came across this quote and it seemed to slot in perfectly with many of the things I have been thinking about recently:

“When you love what you have, you have everything you need”

There is definitely an exciting freedom to be gained; and new, energising lease of life to enjoy, from wanting less, and appreciating more.

Song of the DayWeezer – Byzantine

Weezer are one of my all-time favourite bands; I love the fact that their new album coincided with my week off.  This is such an upbeat song and I love the lyric within, “it’s only complicated if you want it to be”.  Damn straight.

A Lesson from Cats

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Insta: @sophiekemz

Several weeks ago, I started to think about what our social media news feeds may look like if cats were to use it.

And then I acknowledged – not for the first, second, third… or even hundredth time – that I am slightly strange.  I am fine with this.

But it made me start questioning a great number of things.  If cats had the capability to manage a social media page, do we think they’d do it in the same fashion as humans?

Would they apply filters, maybe a set of human ears and lips?  Would they upload photos of a bowl of Whiskas and attach hash-tags like #foodporn, or check-in from next door’s shed?

Would they celebrate life’s major milestones with a status update for their fellow felines:  caught first mouse, had first kitten, neutered?

“In a relationship with: Muffin from number 32”

I thought about this for several minutes, then concluded that I don’t think they would.

I think one of things I like most about cats, is that they don’t really give a toss.  They just live life in the exact way they want, and there is something quite blissful about such nonchalance.

Cats do whatever they feel, and most of the time that means sleeping on whatever comfortable surface they can find, or going out for an explore.  They just live in their own little cat-world and have no real idea of anything that’s going on around them; yet they’re savvy enough to know when there’s a remote chance of getting something to nibble on.  They know exactly what they want from life, and have their priorities in check accordingly.

They’ll just sit blissfully in the sun, legs akimbo, eyes closed in contentment as they feel the rays beating against their paws, until they feel – from several yards – the flutter of a bird.  Then they’ll exhibit more movement within the next five seconds than in the five hours preceding them.  Pounce!

And then, after all the excitement of this, they’ll give themselves a good lick and go back to what they were doing: sunbathing in a garden which to them represents an entire world, with owners who represent its entire population.

I think there’s a lesson we can learn from cats.

Song of the Day:  Aztec Camera – Salvation

I’m struggling to understand how it’s taken me 33 years to appreciate ’80’s Scottish new-wave band Aztec Camera.  This is a beautiful piece of music; a nice one to stroll along in the park to, watching as the aeroplanes scar the dusky skies overhead.

Cooking Up Another Year

When you think about it, a calendar year is a bit like a casserole.  The end product contains a lot of ingredients and some of them stand out more than others.  There are some you like, and some you don’t, but you include those anyway because you understand that they’re a staple part of the dish.

Especially on the first couple of occasions, you will always start out with some kind of recipe, an ideal list of what the dish is going to include, but in reality your weights and measurements of each individual ingredient might be all over the place.  Your scales might be broken and Tesco might be out of onions (if you don’t believe this can happen, come to my local Tesco, and walk back out with twenty five per cent of your shopping list unchecked due to the sparsity of the shelves).  You may have no choice but to purchase some alternative ingredients instead.  They’re not what you intended but… you’re up for seeing how they go.  Why not.

When you finally get round to tasting your casserole there’ll be times when you mainly taste the dumpling (yum!), and other times when you might only be able to taste the tinned tomatoes (yuck).  If the latter happens, you’ll probably change your recipe and quantities accordingly, because you don’t want that happening again.  It’s the same thing when it gets to this time of year and you reflect back on the previous twelve months.  Some themes and events will stand out more than others.

Personally, I’m not a massive fan of recipes.  I find them useful in providing a bit of direction at first, but struggle to keep in tandem with them after the first couple of steps.  Maybe that’s why each time I cook the same dish it turns out different, and perhaps in a funny sort of way it’s not far apart from the subliminal reasoning behind why I’ve slowly learnt not to create too much in the way of specific, tangible goals for any New Year.

For all I know right now, 2019 could turn out to be the best year yet, or it could be the worst one.  A lot of that will be in my control (‘energies’ and ‘chakras’ and all that modern day jazz music) but a lot of it also won’t (reality, shit luck, the weather, one’s monthly cycle creating emotional havoc and – dare I mention a topic I loathe to ever mention on this site but – British politics).

Sometimes I suppose the best thing to do is understand and embrace this in advance, maybe stockpile some additional seasoning just in case, and prepare the taste-buds for some brand new flavours…

Song of the Day:  Boogie Belgique – Memory

Latest offering from continental masters of innovative electro-swing music.  This nice, chilled piece is perfect for Winter evenings.

 

Flashback to Old Photography #NoFilter

“…And here she is again, pictured with a friend who was unfortunately blinking at the time”

It was sometime in the late 1990’s and my mother was showing some photographs of my sister to my grandma (who was looking progressively bored with every photo that passed through her hands, bless her).

I’m not sure why, but the comment really made me chuckle – perhaps because of the way it was so politely put – and on those rare occasions when we pull out the old and dusty family albums, I still smile when I see that photo.  “‘Unfortunately blinking’. Heh heh.”

Not so long ago, imperfect photos like this were the norm.  The quality of our prints depended highly on a myriad of different things, including having the optimum levels of natural light, sufficient power left in the camera batteries, and whether or not our eyes could hold their own against flashes of extremely bright, whirring light.

There were no options to review, delete and re-take if you hadn’t quite been ready for the photo or if your hair looked a mess, and certainly no way of applying a filter to conceal a rash or wrinkles.  Your choices were a lot more limited, and with an allowance for around only 36 photos on each roll of film, you had to be a lot more restrained on how many you took.  Serial-snapping was not a thing unless you were extremely rich, which certainly wasn’t the case for those of us restricted only to pocket-money funds to buy the various means required to take photos.

You’d have absolutely no idea how the shutter-clicks would manifest until a few weeks’ later, when you’d pick up your prints from Boots, take yourself home, make a cuppa and begin to sift through with eager anticipation, being careful not to let your biscuity fingers touch the gloss.

One thing you were always guaranteed was an element of surprise and a range of reactions as you sifted through.  Some photos would come out great, but a lot of others wouldn’t.  In every roll of film there’d be the token blinking shot, and the mouth wide open shot.  There’d also be the ‘tooclosetotheflashandnowihaveaseriouscaseofmassivemoonfacegoingon’ shot, and the shot where – for some reason – things became a little confused during development and you had either a set of bright squiggly lines running through the middle or just a completely black photo.  Or whatever the hell happened here:

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There wasn’t a lot you could do about the photos you didn’t like, or the ones you didn’t want anyone to see.  Even if you hid them away, there’d always be the danger posed by that person who would take a cheeky look through the negatives to identify those deemed inappropriate for public display.  You could always get some amusement out of that, if not by way of finding something embarrassing, but from the fact that even your most favourite people on earth generally looked pretty damn scary in the negatives:

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Jump forward twenty years or so, and technological advances mean we can all now have a gallery of personal photos made up of the kind of images we once thought we’d only ever see in glossy magazines.  Built-in filters, and drives that can hold thousands of photos, mean you can take a photo again and again until you feel it looks just right, and even if you don’t feel it get to that stage, you can edit it until it does The skill of a good photo is no longer about the person taking it, or even the subject matter, but the equipment being used, or so it seems.

It’s useful in many ways, yet so anticlimactic in others.  Insta-perfect picture after picture is nice for a while but there’s also something somewhat underwhelming about it, not to mention something quite sickly about the culture of vanity it has embedded into a society that used to be way better at laughing-off the permanent capture of its windswept hair or accidental gurn.  When did we start taking ourselves so seriously, and for what purpose?  I’m not sure I feel comfortable with the way it’s so easy to dismiss aesthetic imperfection these days.  I think that’s something far-better embraced, and appreciated.

I do miss looking through photo albums which – when you think about it – mirrored life itself – mixing the good, bad, messy, amusing, wonky, bizarre, the unintentional, and everything else within a combination of purely natural photos.

And I miss the suspense of not knowing what the photos would turn out like, finding one you love, and instantly being able to stick it up on the fridge door so that every time you reached for the milk, you manouevred the smiling wee face of great-grandma back and forth.

I miss the days when a ‘good photo’ was a result of chance, the ‘one shot’ that truly paid off despite unfavourable technology and too much sunlight.  They had more of an impact that way…

…Perhaps it’s time to buy a new-old camera, before I blink-and-miss the opportunity to…

Song of the Day: Sleepwalkers – Reasons to Give Up In You

Catchy pop-rock from Richmond, Virginia.  I fell in love with this track the very first time I heard it.  If you’re still looking for your Summer anthem for 2018 then here it is:

When Knowledge Isn’t Everything

I’m probably doing somebody I know and care about a great deal a lot of disservice in admitting this; but I can’t remember which one of them told me the most mind-blowing fact about our universe that I’ve ever heard:

“All of the light you see from the stars in the night-sky is thousands of years old”, said he or she, in a conversation probably influenced by a large carafe of wine and a ramekin of peanuts in a dimly-lit bar, “the stars you see tonight probably died many years ago, but because of how far away they are, they still look alive to us”.

The accuracy of the second part of that statement is prone to a lot of debate, usually by people with a greater vat of brain cells than I, who can rigorously punctuate each part of their explanations with the kind of knowledge you’d usually expect to find in a green-leather bound book with yellowing pages found on the bottom shelf of your local library.  (The book was probably written by somebody called Quentin H Pugh and first published in 1929.  It probably hasn’t been exposed to fresh air since 1931 and its main purpose today is residence for a small army of silverfish.)

Yet people are pretty unanimous about the first half of the statement.  Looking into the night sky is, indeed, like looking through a lens to the past.  Consider this: the light from the closest star to Earth (Alpha Centauri) takes four years to reach us, and that’s as quick as it gets!  By contrast, the light from the stars furthest away from us take thousands upon thousands – if not millions or billions – of years to reach us.  How crazy to think that whilst we can’t travel through time, we can effectively view different epochs of history in tandem with one another from the modern comfort of 21st century windows, all because of a bunch of science that the majority of us find difficult to truly understand.

In the past I have tried to engage with all that might have helped me understand all the what’s, why’s, how’s and when’s of everything there is to know about astronomy, but on each of those occasions my brain has switched off as soon as we started to transcend into the realms of Mathematics and other related gablurble.  Mrs Green’s GCSE Physics classes would have been the prime place to learn about things which I didn’t realise would interest me so much nearly twenty years later, but back then I gave up on trying to learn because all I really wanted to do was make hats out of paper-towels for everybody in the class – including Mrs Green – and call them ‘Moon Hats’.  The idea was that we could parade them in the corridors with all the cheap pride you might expect of pupils from the bottom set for Science; except I think the vast majority of them ended up in the bin.  (Moon Hats unanimously failed the generic teenage ‘Cool Test’, so I cancelled the patent application and gave up my dream of a career in fashion design.  I hope that, over the years, those toffee-nosed classmates have been able to find a way to cope with the guilt of this).

Trying to make me understand the rules of Science is like trying to  vacuum up a desert’s worth of sand in a pipette.  I just don’t get it; and if I were to even try it would only explode into a thundercloud of general mess and confusion that would rain havoc on all beneath it.  Yet, I am fascinated by the night sky, to the point where I’d even say that my ignorance and lack of knowledge only makes the whole concept even more exciting.

I’m pretty sure that if somebody was ever able to have the patience and tenacity to get me to understand the finer details of why the light from stars takes so long to reach our vision, it would no doubt satisfy the part of my brain which is hungry for knowledge, and possibly even make me feel vaguely intelligent for a moment or two.  On the other hand, I feel it would serve as something like a cold bowl of porridge to the part that enjoys being able to wonder, and imagine.  Like all magic, once you know how the trick works it’s never as entertaining again.

And then you can’t help but transfer that concept to the more emotional elements of life.  Many of us are so concerned by the idea of not being ‘in the know’.  We like to feel informed and aware because it helps us to feel in control of the things going on around us (or we just enjoy being nosy), and there’s a sense of safety and security in that control.

And that’s all well and good, for sure, but sometimes it can be just as gratifying not knowing or understanding why things are the way they are.  Finding answers isn’t always an easy task.  It can take a very long time, cause a lot of stress, feed you inconsequential information that doesn’t really make you feel any better at all, and not lead to anything of any real substance.  In fact, you can get so side-tracked by searching for answers that you forget what your question was in the first place, because the things you found out along the way multiplied it into a dozen more questions.

I have often been guilty of over-thinking which has lead to worrying and nothing has made this more apparent to me than a recent circumstance.  I know that this is perhaps my way of trying to gain control of a situation, by identifying possible risks and working out how to overcome them in advance.  It can be a really good tool at times, which has probably saved me from a lot of embarrassment and/or broken bones, but much like your favourite pencil it can go blunt and become useless if overused.  When I think back to how much time I’ve probably spent worrying about things that never came into fruition it’s hard not to feel frustrated with myself, so I’m actively trying harder now to stem some of these thoughts and only think about what I need to, when it presents itself to me.  Because if you think the scope and the science of astronomy is what makes light-years hard to comprehend, the human brain is even more complex and easier to get lost in.

And there’s actually something quite comforting about recognising that.  Something relaxing about just stepping back and letting nature and fate do whatever it is they need to do.  More time to enjoy the beauty, mystery and adventure of it all rather than expending all your energies on navigation.

When I look up at the stars I don’t want to think about a bunch of algebraic formula that will never make any sense to me.  I just want to think about how tonight’s light is a gift from the past, and how amazing and mysterious the Universe is for supplying something that on the surface of it sounds so impossible.  And that’s where I want to merrily leave that thought.

Pugh and co can take their answers elsewhere...

Song of the Day:  Dreamgirl – Bollywood

Dream-pop from Kansas.  This is one of those amazing songs that you might feel a little indifferent to at first, but then you hear the inexplicable ‘it’, and the song is subsequently stuck on loop for a week or so.  The sort of rare song that makes you want to cry and smile all at once.   Enjoy.

Some More Little Things I Love…

A continuation of one of the posts I most enjoyed writing.

The welcome arrival of Spring always seems to make the little things stand out even more.  The first little shard of sunlight through the window reminds us of how much of an impact the weather has on our emotions, particularly when it immediately follows weeks of particularly grim weather.  That first glimpse of sunlight is just another one of those little things I love.

Along with these:

…watching re-runs of old British sitcoms and the warmth of the memories that the opening theme tunes and the canned laughter evoke:  Late ’80s/early ’90s decor – velvet sofas, fluffy carpets, and an array of unusual knick-knacks that clutter up the living room.  Marmite drizzled crumpets and Sunday evenings.  This particular sitcom was one of my favourites, and watching the theme tune brings it all back….

(used to giggle so much as a child at the bit where the maid both drops and catches the vase… would almost choke on my crumpet from laughter)

…Spontaneous adventures in good company: when you find yourself doing something with your day, that you hadn’t intended on doing, and it doesn’t even have to be anything costly!  A road trip to the beach.  A walk in the woods.  A cheeky takeaway…

…The moment when one of the few songs that you and each one of your friends absolutely loves comes on during a night out, and you all go mad with the excitement.  For my group of friends this is usually ‘Life’ by Des’Ree, or anything by the Vengaboys (but preferably ‘We Like to Party’.  Because we like to try and create a makeshift Vengabus using whatever chairs happen to be in the vicinity.  And yes, we are mostly all in our ‘dirty thirties’ with real life responsibilities and what have you…)

…When somebody who has clearly taken a shower in the last couple of hours brushes past you, and you get a fleeting scent of shower gel, and it makes everything around you suddenly feel fresh…

…Being a little bit lost somewhere in the great outdoors, but not having to care because you’ve not got to be back in time for anything in particular…

…The yellowy-brown Victorian brick so characteristic of Kent and its history.  My main mission in life is to end up in a house made of this brick.  I can’t explain it; it just makes me feel warm.  Like a brick in a kiln…

…Night-time drives when the roads are empty, the surroundings are ghostly (bar the bright lights of the BP garage), and the car rumbles with a heavy bass-line from the music you enjoy.  To me, this song is the epitome of a perfect night time drive:

…The first lunch out on a European city break in Summer.  Sat on a square sipping Coca Cola served from a frosted glass bottle.  The best tomato soup (with a swirl of fresh cream) served in a bowl you hope to never reach the bottom of, and maybe a naughty chocolate sundae with plenty of squirty cream too…

…Those moments when you literally do cry with laughter about something that has just happened or been said (in other words, not because of something staged on television or in theatre).  One of the best things about keeping a diary is that you record all these things permanently so that you can laugh at them all over again years later.  The other day I found myself recollecting a particularly lewd comment somebody made in class in 2003.  I cried with laughter all over again…

…Butterflies in your stomach.  For whatever reason.  And remembering that you just don’t know what amazing adventures you may be about to stumble upon, because nobody ever does, yet for every amazing thing that anybody in this world has ever done there was once a day when they didn’t know it would happen…

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(Herne Bay seafront, UK, April 2017)

The little things in life.  They really are the best.

 

Dusty Tapes

“Play”…

…An arrangement of sounds, not heard in years, return.  This time in full crescendo.

Background notes, that were never acknowledged back then – in those comparatively unpracticed ears – now dance around in the jubilant joy of finally being heard.

Maybe in a different setting, it’s just a cataclysm of nostalgic noise.  The kind that chews up the past and present and spits it out – full force – against the nearest pane, and leaves it there.

But once upon a time this same song was the soundtrack to the present tense of what would turn into a long-lasting memory:  A family holiday.  A day trip to the beach.  One random – otherwise non-descript – bus home from work, when you caught the first glimpse of that year’s sunshine reflecting from a rain-sodden rooftop.

And now, here it is, being heard again.  The same notes now juxtaposed with something new.

Dusty tapes, polished notes.

[The inspiration for this piece came during a particularly wet, grey and windy 12 mile walk I did a couple of weeks ago.  I did it alone in order to gauge a true level of current fitness, and so had just my headphones for company walking round one of the most remote parts of the county.  I’m not sure why it was, but the music all sounded so fresh that day, almost like I was hearing my favourite tunes for the first time ever.  I loved it]

Song of the Day:  The Cribs – The New Fellas

In the spirit of the piece above I’m posting one of my all-time favourite songs as ‘Song of the Day’.  To me (and many may disagree) The Cribs were the flagship of  the UK indie scene when it peaked during the mid-00’s.  I would regard their music as the soundtrack to my three years studying in Lancaster, and when I listen to it I can feel it all again.  Those dark, freezing October evenings in the North, smoking through a pack of Benson & Hedges in my room, poring over a set of text with a highlighter pen.  Looking out the window and seeing people cooking in the kitchens of the next block.  Cheap cottage pie and garlic bread for dinner.

 

January-cycling

 

Propel

 

^No, we all know that’s not true all the time.  Some things are just rubbish dressed as…rubbish…, and no amount of positive thinking, green tea or vinyasa yoga can change that (though bacon frazzles… they might stand a chance).

But, if there’s one good thing about rubbish, it’s that a lot of it can be recycled into something better.  Something stronger.  Something unrecognisable from its previous form.

Exactly the same could be said for some of life’s most ‘rubbish’ experiences.

Yes they can be tiresome.  Difficult.  Emotionally draining; maybe heart-breaking.  There’s no quick fix, and they’re often unavoidable.

Sometimes you can work through life’s rubbish experiences in a matter of hours, but other times it might take weeks, months or years.  Maybe sometimes you can never recover from a rubbish experience completely, maybe you can only increase your ability to exist alongside it.

Now I’m no psychologist and so I can’t explain the science, but what I do find wonderful – despite the paragraph above – is that often, you can only work out what it is you really want by learning to identify what you don’t. This understanding usually comes as result of…you’ve guessed it… rubbish experiences.

(On a similar note if anybody is at a stage in life when they have no idea what they want to do for a career, like I was a decade ago, then you could do worse than read a book called, ‘I Could Do Anything If I Knew What it Was’ by Barbara Sher.  For one of the exercises she asks you to list everything you’d hate about a job, e.g repetition, office work etc.  You then write the antonyms on the other side of the page and – huzzah – from that second list you have a pretty good summary of the characteristics of the kind of jobs you should be looking at)

Sometimes it’s only through experiencing a problem or feeling sensitive to upset that you think about what could help.  What’s the opposite of this feeling?   What’s the pathway to that?

If you’re unhappy with your state of physical fitness but use this negativity to develop the drive needed to stick to a disciplined exercise regime which consequently makes you feel tonnes better, then that unhappiness was worth recycling.

If a relationship breaks down and – after crying in your cornflakes and hiding from the world for a month or two – you become determined to get back into the big wide world, only to meet some amazing new people you wouldn’t have had the chance to meet otherwise, then that heartbreak was worth having, and worth recycling.

If something suddenly happens to expose some vulnerabilities in some context of your life, then you’ll identify the areas which you can make stronger and so that stress becomes…. (take a wild guess why don’t you)… yep, worth recycling.

No, not all rubbish can be recycled, but so much of it can.

Song of the Day: Sidney Gish – I’m Filled With Steak, and Cannot Dance

I discovered this lady last week, on Spotify, and have been listening to her new album on repeat ever since.  Her genius lyrics and jazzy, upbeat tunes have had me bopping around in many a traffic jam this week and the craziest thing is she’s only 22!! I am so envious of her youth and talent!

There’s a lot of tracks Song of the Day-worthy, but because the album is brand new it doesn’t have much of a presence on YouTube yet.  I think this one wins on account of the title alone though.