Sunday, 28 October 2012

Error 404 - plot not found

"You're only as old as you feel", they say. If that's true I guess I must be about seventy. OK, chronologically I'm 41, but I feel old.
When I sit down in a comfy chair an involuntary "ahh" escapes. Standing up again is accompanied by an "ooh!". Getting out of bed in the morning is a symphony of grunts, groans and assorted clicking and cracking noises from various joints. If they were to sample me in the morning and overlay a drum 'n' bass loop they'd have an instant number one hit.
The seemingly endless supply of energy I enjoyed in my youth is a distant memory.
Ten years ago, running up three flights of stairs at work would hardly be noticed. Now I have to sit down to recover.
My mind feels like a clock spring that's unwinding, losing tension, slowing down. If you could take a Pentium4 processor out of a computer and replace it with a Pentium2, that's pretty much where I feel I'm at. Grumpiness and the amount of mistakes I make are increasing and some days I really believe I'm losing the plot. Sometimes in stressful situations my thought/speech interface completely crashes.
I look at my son now and realise how far I've fallen. Alright, so his bedroom smells like a badger's armpit in the morning but that's a standard teenage boy thing, like the requirement for military grade deodorant and excessive tissue consumption. When he falls down he seems to bounce right back up (albeit with a carefully measured amount of drama), and his mind appears to be pin-sharp provided that the subject material is of interest to him. He also has such a relaxed way with the girls that he's never going to have a problem in that department, whereas at that age I was a total goofball who thought girls were some kind of alien species.
In many ways I see my son as my 'Ghost of Christmas past', and I see my father as my "Ghost of Christmas future".
Now that really is a worrying thought......

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Make muddy footprints, not stress.

A few years ago, during one of our many holidays in North Yorkshire, we stayed in a log cabin that was perched on the top of a hill looking down into a valley with the North York Moors Railway running along the bottom. It was surrounded by trees, and situated a couple of hundred yards from the farmhouse that belonged to the cabin owners. When there you really got a sense of relaxation; like the rest of the world had disappeared. After a day exploring the moors we'd sit out on the veranda until late with a nice bottle of Rioja, watching the bats flitting around. Just sitting, chatting about nothing important and being at peace with the surroundings. Our own personal heaven.
I look around now and wonder how many people take time to appreciate the world around them. The natural world that is, not the shiny man-made Gucci and Ferrari one. Whether you're religious or not, whether you believe in creation, evolution, or something else, the planet we populate truly is a wonderful place that gets spoiled by only one thing. Man.
There are those who always strive towards the next 'thing' or constantly seek improvement, whether that be personal or material and it remains a mystery to me what drives these people.

Take a man that has a huge five bedroom detached house in a 'desirable' postcode with his-and-hers Mercedes on the drive, a pool, 2.4 children and a designer labradoodle called Fifi. To provide all this though, this man has to leave the house at 6AM, sit (if he's lucky) on a packed train to London to do some high-powered-yet-ultimately-meaningless job, and returning home so late that all he has time for is to eat his dinner, say goodnight to the 2.4 children, and flop on the sofa completely shattered with a large glass of scotch. He's too tired for sex, but that's OK because the wife spent the morning shagging the gardener. He's heading for an early grave in order to provide a life that he never sees.Why?

Someone will say "I have to do this job because I need to make the payments on my new car."
I'll ask "What made you get the new car?", to which the reply is "I need it to get to work."
Excuse me? You're working to pay for a car that you need to get to work so you can pay for a car that you need......... oh for heaven's sake.... WAKE UP!

I honestly feel that there are so many people out there who really need to take a moment to step back and truly examine their lives. Taking a long walk in the countryside will always be infinitely more relaxing and uplifting than traipsing round some glitzy shopping precinct in search of the latest iWant, even if you do get wet and occasionally have to scrape dog shit off your shoe. Spending time with your kids and knowing them as people is more important than meeting with the MD to discuss future product placement in the 20-40 year-olds-with-too-much-money-and-not-enough-brain sector.
The world is (mostly) a wonderful place with so much to enjoy. But people need to make time to enjoy it, otherwise why exist at all?

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Surprise, surprise, the movies get it wrong again...

How many times have you watched a film and thought 'Yeah right, like THAT would really happen'?
Quite often frankly. Personally I can't watch any film with a plane in it without at some point saying something like 'That's in the wrong place', 'That's a flap, not an aileron' or 'There's no access to the undercarriage from the cargo bay'. And let's face it, if sex was like it is in the movies none of us would bother to leave the house. Ever.
I'm wondering if they get it wrong with something else too. Any post-apocalyptic film I can think of is a vision of the world in the aftermath of some great disaster - nuclear war, virus outbreak, global flooding etc.
What if our apocalypse was to be somewhat different?
We know what happens to people when there's even the suggestion of a strike at a petrol refinery, so how will society react when the oil finally runs out? Or when the electricity infrastructure collapses?
The majority of people (in the developed world at least) simply couldn't cope without electricity. I know we can have generators or solar panels to deal with this but how many people are capable of rigging up such a system?
But this pales into insignificance compared with the fallout from oil shortages. As individuals most people are rational creatures but as a collective they're panicky idiots. Not necessarily without cause though. No oil, no fuel, no transport, no food in the shops, no work being done because most people don't live within walking distance of work, everything collapses. Fights and killings will ensue over whatever supplies are around and before you know it it's Mad Max time. Only without the V8s.
A pretty grim picture really, and a wholly depressing subject to think about.
But of course every cloud has a silver lining, because in post-apocalyptic England at least I won't have to get up at 6:15 every weekday morning and go to work.

Sunday, 7 October 2012

A strategy to survive life

The wife has come to the conclusion that there are three possible ways to deal with life outside the Zen temple of tranquility that is home:
1. Become an asshole like the rest of them,
2. Develop an immunity to it all and do your own thing whilst carefully avoiding conflict, or
3. Become a total recluse avoiding all possible contact with the outside world.

OK, last one first. Lets face it, as tempting as it may sometimes seem, being a hermit doesn't pay the bills. I have to go to work to earn the money to live and support my family, therefore dealing with the world is unfortunately a necessary evil.

Being an asshole like so many out there just goes against my very nature. I couldn't do it. If I treated people badly I'd torture myself with guilt. Besides if karma really exists, then I hope that eventually the world's assholes will get their comeuppance.

Which leaves developing an immunity to it all. So how can I do that? It sounds a bit far-fetched to me, but if I'm honest I'd have to say it's the most likely route.

First let's clarify the problem.
There is a growing number of people who are clearly out for themselves. They care only about what they want, and they're determined to achieve it no matter how many people they dump on or inconvenience or abuse along the way. On the road they're the Audi driving tailgating wankers who'll force you off the road if it means gaining 20 feet or half a second of roadspace. In a shop they'll push to the front in the mistaken belief they're more important than anyone else. On the street they're so wrapped up with their iphone that everyone has to get out of THEIR way or risk being trampled.These people are so vain and plastic, so desperate to conform to some bullshit ideal that any concept of having consideration of anyone but themselves is completely alien to them.

So how to deal with it? Well, clearly the gene pool is in need of a bit of a clean but that's hardly a realistic or morally ethical proposition. This leaves a personal change in mindset that enables you to allow other peoples negative behaviour to wash over you like water off a ducks back. I suppose this would require slipping into some sort of meditative state whenever you open the front door and step out into the world - one which still allows you full mental function and clarity to carry out tasks such as driving yet gives you a feeling of disconnection; mental armour if you like. A determination that no matter how objectionable or irrational another persons behaviour is, it bounces off you like bullets bounce off Superman.
Presumably practice is the only way to be able to do this effectively, so my task in the coming weeks, months, years, is to work on my mental armour until I can block out negative outside distractions, focus on an inner calm, and maybe I'll be better able to cope with the world around me instead of wanting to run away screaming.