My Eyes Are Wide Open

Hey there,

I feel like there’s something I need to write, but I don’t know what it is. I don’t know how to go about approaching it, it feels so indefinable. How do you play a chord on a guitar with no strings – that sort of thing.

I guess the crux of my point is that my eyes are wide open. I’m not blind to what’s happening, it’s just difficult sometimes to focus. Focus. Focus.

Focus on what I’m trying to say, even. I need to keep my priorities straight in my head. The task ahead is going to require every bit of my attention, I can’t afford to slip up now, I am walking a tightrope. I’m running along the edge of a blade. One misstep, and it’s over.

That’s hyperbole, of course. I know it isn’t all over. I should know – it’s never really over. Not really. No matter how bad things are, there are always ways to rebuild and to make things right again. Bad people don’t stay bad forever, and the people we idolize can betray us. Nothing is fixed. My success isn’t a fixed point in time, and neither is my failure. With the information and agency available to me, I can cause the outcome I want to happen. It’s all about the actuation now, not the ideation.

I can’t afford to get myself lost now. I’m hurtling forward faster than I thought possible – looking backwards is pointless. I can only do what I have to do: charge forwards into the unknown. I haven’t got a back-up plan. I have no safety measures. This is the end of the road. There’s no grey area here, not like the other times I’ve had to make a decision of such colossal consequence. It’s a binary: sink, or swim. Feast, or famine. Do, or die.

I guess I don’t really have much of a choice anymore. I sold that away in exchange for a single attempt. I have fifty-pence in my pocket, and one life. If I fail, it’s game over.

Just like so many things now, I know how this is going to go. But this time, my eyes are wide open.

Whatever happens, happens.

 

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Bonfire of Dreams

Hey there.

I don’t know why I feel so calm about it. About how soon everything is going to change. About how I have only a few short months to make my future certain. I can’t afford to let fatigue take hold now, but I’m so tired. Unbelievably exhausted. It’s been years of damn near constant tests and forms and essays and mocks and revision. If I said that a part of me doesn’t want to give up and do anything else, I’d be lying to you. A part of me is questioning whether this is even worth it any more – but, I know it’s too late to ask that. I’m too far in already. 

I’m exhausted beyond belief, and I want to give in. A sick part of me wants to throw it all away. But I can’t. I’ve come too far now. I’ve already committed myself to my own ambitions. If I quit now, I’d set a precedent to myself that cowardice is acceptable. I already did that before. I won’t do that again. I need to leave here. 

I’ve been here for over eighteen years. A change is long overdue, at this point. I’ve done everything I want to do in this city. I’ve grow up here, this city has made me who I am right now – but it won’t ever make me who I want to be. If I give in, I condemn myself to being trapped here. The city that swallows up the lost and the broken and the dregs. This isn’t a city for a man to make a living or a name for himself, or at least not a decent one. The idea of living and dying within the same ten mile radius sounds horrifying to me. Why would I ever want to, when there’s the entire world out there?

I know, rationally, that my life may not go how I want it to go, but if I don’t at least struggle to make my dreams and ambitions a reality, then they’ll never come true. So long as I struggle and push on, there is a glimmer of hope that I might one day find what I’m searching for. 

I know that the way ahead isn’t clear. For the longest time, this has been the endgame. This has been the victory, but I know that isn’t true. This is just unlocking the door to a whole new, more arduous path. And I know that, for the most part, I’ll have to face the future alone. At least for a while. Fuck the lone wolf attitude. Being a lone wolf is an excuse for the immature and those unwilling to attempt to reach out of their self-condemned isolation. Being a lone wolf is for the coward that can’t handle pushing the boundaries of isolation and run the risk of external rejection. I can’t let myself close off like that, to shut the world out. That’s not what this is about. Isolation is an armour. You can retreat to isolation at times, but to purposefully shut out the world is to admit weakness. That you can’t handle the idea of someone rejecting your ego, or risk opening up to others.

The reality is, as alluring as the appeal of being a “lone wolf” is, when I think to some of my most complete moments, they haven’t been the ones I spent sequestered away, trying to act stoic and isolationist. They’ve come in the moments of human connection forged in the most unlikely of people. Speaking to the crying girl in the corridor, and making her smile. Talking to the boy that hated himself, and letting him see light again. Helping a stranger on the bus pick up his shopping. Talking to a fellow traveller during a bus delay about her life. Moments I risked the safety of isolation, and let myself be open to other people about who I am as a person. 

Of course, some people didn’t like who I was, or who I am, for various reasons, and that’s fine. Because they can. Hating me isn’t an incorrect opinion. It’s just an opinion. But I don’t live for the people that hate me. I don’t give all my best to those that hate me. I save the best parts of myself to those that accept me for what I am. And what I am to each person is slightly different, but they are all subtle reflections of who I really am. 

For years I always struggled with the question of whether or not I’m a good person, but now I’ve realised that’s a facile argument. The real world is more complicated that just good people and bad people. Some people may think I’m a bad person. Some may think I’m a good person. But all I am, is a person trying to do his best with the information and means available to him. I try, wherever possible, to reduce suffering and share joy. Sometimes I succeed, sometimes I fail. But what matters is that I keep trying, I keep struggling to be the best person I can be. Being a good person or a bad person isn’t a static definition. It’s a variable. People have different ideas about what good or bad are, and where the line gets draw differs from person to person. 

What matters is that I try, in and of myself, to be the best person I can be, and that I keep struggling to be a good person by my own definition. 

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Risk & Reward

Howdy folks. 

Today has been a damn good day. A damn good day. I’ve come to a bit of a breakthrough, a revelation even. There’s truth to it, the old phrase that Lady Luck favours the bold. I feel like so often during my younger years I was terrified of risk. So much I did was made to avoid risk, to play it safe. Push the envelope only so far, only push the bounds of what’s acceptable. Don’t do something too wild, too dangerous. 

But you know what? Fuck that.

I’m sick of playing it safe, I’m tired to the death of constantly double checking to make sure what I’m doing is optimal for my long term goals, that I have back up plans for all my back up plans. That every choice I make is rigorously distilled into the most effective, least risky, less fulfilling choice. 

That hesitation, that reticence to do the exceptional has been something holding me back. Being fettered with a safety net has prevented me from doing what I need to. What I’ve realised I need to do to feel alive: to play risky. 

To gamble on a single, glorious, fragile and utterly determined shot. To throw everything I’ve got into a single, dedicated effort to push forward like a blaze of fire into the unknown. Taking life by the fucking throat. To stop asking permission. Stop being so safe

Safety is crippling. Safe is stifling. Safe is toxic. 

I realised, some of my boldest, bravest, and most honest actions have been those I made without certainty. Without knowing all the odds and probabilities. I spent years of my life trying to make things safe and it was pointless. Totally pointless. So fuck it all. I’m going to take you by the fucking throat. I’m going to succeed or go down in a blaze of fire. 

I don’t need to know all the answers. I don’t need to have a backup plan. Hell, I don’t even need a plan. I want to stop thinking every single thing into a point where it becomes meaningless. Paralysis through analysis is all too real to me.

When I play guitar, this is also true. When I focus on hitting every single note perfectly, on making sure my vibrato is exactly in pitch and my tempo is exact, I stutter and stumble over basic licks and phrases. I lock up, freeze up. And when I don’t, my playing becomes mechanical, like a process of directions being executed by a machine. 

My best playing, though, comes from when I manage to lock that part of me away. When I stop caring, and start doing. The brilliance emerges when I stop stressing about getting results, and just fucking get them. When I feel the rhythm and the song in my soul and let it all out, when I go where the music carries me it becomes fluid, like a surging river. The music comes out effortlessly. I’m not thinking about which notes to play, about where I’m playing, which note to hit next, I just go Edith it go with it go with it. 

When I give myself a backup plan, I give myself an out, a reason to not give it my all. When I have a week long time limit, I have no reason to actually dedicate myself to getting anything done; but when it’s due tomorrow, my back is against the wall and there is no alternative, that’s when I come to life. That’s the moment I rush forward and fucking do it. 

So I’m going to purposely play risky. Enough with the insurance policies and the back up plans and the safe choices. I’m going to push myself to the extremes, in order to force myself to be brilliant. I won’t have the safety, the leisure, the ease of being complacent. Of always going back to the safe old thing. To solve problems the same way. I will, by necessity, have to give it my all. 

I’m going to stop going with the brain, and start letting the heart and soul take a try at the controls. 

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V

Hello there, 

I’m back. 

No, really, I’m actually back. And guess what; I’m actually happy. 

This is not a drill, I am not bullshitting you. I am genuinely happy. 

For some context, let me explain what happened during the hiatus. 

As it turned out, the relationship was not what I had expected. I thought, for years, it would fix me. It would be some sort of panacea, and would fulfil me. Make me stop hating myself. Make the world better for me. This was not the case. It actually made me much worse, behind closed doors. I felt worse than I ever had when alone. I felt like I was awful, as though I wasn’t worthy of love or kindness. Like I didn’t matter, and that I was an embarrassment. That I had to act a certain way to be loved. Some of my most peaceful moments were the ones when I was alone. I felt as thought there was always a degree of loathing that was ever-present. It all precipitated in a breakup. 

The strange thing was, however, I wasn’t nearly as upset as I thought I’d be. I had one evening of feeling a bit bummed out, but it felt odd – I didn’t feel as though I had lost anything. If anything, I was annoyed that I had spent so much time pining after someone who, in the end, wasn’t worth it. 

That still left me with the problem of not being happy with myself. The self-loathing, the bitterness, the feeling of worthlessness. 

Sadly, I can’t quite relate exactly how things slotted together in my head, but I remember waking up one morning, and feeling okay. And then, as time went on, I felt better. I realised that the net impact I had in people was positive. I’m not a paragon of virtue, or an angel, but I’m a pretty good guy. When someone was crying in the corridor, I went over and helped them out. When someone dropped their bags, I went over and helped pick them up. I started to talk to my friends more, and realised that the ones that mattered, and where close to me, really didn’t see me the way I saw myself. 

I started to laugh more, smile more. 

I finally started to loosen up a little. Honestly, my anxiety has seemed to just…melt away. I’m not stressed go anymore, and I’m nowhere nears as concerned as I used to be by how other people view me. I like who I am, and those that agree with me are people I’d likely get along with. It isn’t worth trying to change the minds of people that already don’t like you, because their mind has already been made up. 

And as I started to worry less, I felt myself become more confident. I could look in a mirror and not feel like some ugly waste of space, the way I used to. I feel good about myself, about who I am. Honestly, the gym helped. I’m still pretty lithe, but I’m now lean instead of twig-like. 

I got university offers from everywhere I applied, with an interview still pending. I’ve been independent and scouted out different places, and have more or less decided where I want to go. I’m not worried about exams because I believe in my own ability. I have the potential to get where I want to be, it’s just a question of actuation. 

I feel satisfied, and fulfilled in and of myself. I’m actually happy. 

I’m also an adult now, technically. In a weird way, it feels different. I feel different. 

The kid that used to pine over some girl, and carried around so much self loathing and anxiety seems so far removed from who I am now. Obviously, my past has influenced who I am now, but it doesn’t define me. I’m just me, and I’m happy with that. Whatever happens, happens. 

Of course, this isn’t to say I’ll never feel sad ever again, or anything like that. It’s just that, when I feel sad in the future, it won’t be as big a thing as it used to be. It won’t hurt as deeply because I am fundamentally accepting and happy of who I am, even if others aren’t. 

So, I’m back. 

I don’t really know how this will work now, as I used to write here when I felt bad. I guess we’ll just see what happens. 

TRACK LIST A:

  • Gatsu by Susumu Hirasawa 

TRACK LIST B:

Space Lion by The Seatbelts

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