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Andey Fellowes

SJW – Some Jaundiced Words

 

The topics included under the umbrella of “social justice” have come up a lot in our house lately. From the Netflix show “Dear White People” to the discussion of “Gender Neutral” terms and other similar things regarding feminist-friendly terms. When Rosa and I were talking about it, we came back to a point that I think is really relevant to the issue at hand. Lemme share it. As always, if you like it or hate it, let me know. Interested to hear your thoughts.

[Disclaimer: I’m not having a go. I’m passionately looking at as many of the facts as I’ve seen. Know a fact I missed? Have your say. Gods, don’t let me be wrong.]

So, yeah. You can’t win an argument. Point blank, cannot be done. As soon as a conversation or debate becomes an argument, nobody is getting anywhere. It’s an issue of self-preservation. As soon as your identity, your view of who you are, or your “thing” come under fire, you don’t want to listen anymore. That’s just how it happens.

I think we’ve learned loads of our ideas on how to “Change The World™” from our fucking pets. Like, if a dog doesn’t like another dog, it barks. If a cat wants to show the others in the colony that they are the king or queen then they assert their dominance with a bit of a fight and some overwhelming behaviour that makes their position clear. And, if a dog had a weak baby or you take a kitten away from its mother too early, they fucking eat them.

8d40689b8e9de380cc231063886ae61cHumans aren’t like that though. We are a social species. We don’t respond like that. If we have a weak baby that won’t be much like anybody else, we love it anyway. We take it as our mission to give that kid the best life possible. Whatever their condition, whether they’ll be disabled for their whole life or whether they’ll not last a few years… We take that on, we rise to the challenge and we make it work.

That’s how we respond to the underdog/cat. We see them and we’re like “Awh so cute” and we lift them up and help them out.

Now imagine I’m a white male and someone comes at me like “White privilege nur”, they’re doing a number of terrible things if what they want is to get their point across, be heard and see some actual change.

First of all, they’ve made something that is clearly representative of me (from their point of view) a bad thing and therefore, I’m immediately going to get defensive. Preservation of self, right? They’ve also managed to make this thing – this trait/label/observation – the underdog/cat. And that means, because we’re not actually like dogs or cat – because we want the other members of our species to survive because, for us, that means we survive – we get all “awh, don’t be mean” about it and we try – even if that issue doesn’t directly apply to us – to find a way that it’s “not as bad as all that”.

Is this post stressing you out?

Here’s a mountain to help with that.

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Nice right?

Anyway, back to it.

Same with “don’t use that word it offends me” (get offended then, I don’t care) and stuff like that. The whole, let’s try to make other people change the words they use thing is actually pretty mad when you think about the fact that the words we use are a consequence of our state of mind and our values. LINGUISTIC CHANGE IS NOT CHANGE. IF IT LASTS & IS NOT THE RESULT OF WORD POLICING, LINGUISTIC CHANGE IS A CONSEQUENCE OF CHANGE. We’ve got this obsession with focusing on the symptom when the cause is so much more interesting; of focusing on the problem when the solution is right there.

There seems to be an as yet undeciphered formula which, when applied, would give somebody the ability to make someone else see things the way they see things. I haven’t cracked it yet. As I say, undeciphered. Probably won’t bother though. I do have a sense that some part of it relates very closely to not attacking the person you want to influence though…

Getting all worked up over the words people use is just a waste of time. Just like getting all worked up over how people act is a waste of time. WORDS ARE A CONSEQUENCE OF STATE OF MIND. ACTIONS ARE A CONSEQUENCE OF STATE OF MIND. If you’re not thinking for yourself, you live out your life like your parents did. With the same bias and prejudice. If we start thinking for ourselves then we do things differently. But at no point will getting wound up about what someone else is doing actually change what they’re doing.

Changing someone else is about the most loobycrust waste of time anybody can ever indulge in. What people really need is to be listened to. That’s why we shout over each other in arguments. Duh. It’s also like… that quote… I can’t remember where I heard it. It was in a series. Tell if you know. “There’s one problem with trying to change the world: Everybody else.”

JUST BECAUSE IT MAKES SENSE DOESN’T MEAN IT MATTERS.

At the end of the day, I think it’s not a question as to who is right. I don’t think any of us are as much as we all think we are and unless you’re into the idea of some supreme sense of moral justice that may/may not/should/shouldn’t guide our actions… Then well… I think, really, the issue isn’t one of feminism or racial prejudice or gender this or that (or whatever in between)…

I think the issue is that we’re still learning how to be around each other. HUMANS ARE SO ADVANCED BUT WE HAVEN’T LEARNED HOW TO CO-EXIST. LOL. If I had it my way, I’d make sure that everybody with a strong opinion about anything first had some knowledge of the anatomy of an argument. There’s no “Oh, I see what you mean. Fair enough. I was wrong. Sorry for being a total wanky cunt bollock. I didn’t mean it. You’re so wise and I was a stupid bumhole for thinking I was right.” organ.

Yeah, before we start getting all up in arms about how each other are wrong, shouldn’t we learn how to be around each other despite our opinions? Philosophy students, go.

[Disclaimer #2: I know this whole post is an oxymoron. But hey, I need to breathe.]

Yes, the words are yellow because their liver is failing.

Turning In A New Direction

In a society – a culture – where having an opinion is about as valuable as gold used to be, I find myself frequently without one. Or, at least, one I deem worth voicing. That’s why I write here so rarely now. It’s why I never liked Twitter, I just don’t have enough interesting thoughts often enough to warrant a social media app dedicated to voicing them.

The irony that I’m writing about how I haven’t got anything to say hasn’t escaped me. But bear with it. It might just go somewhere yet. We’ll see.

For such a long time, this blog was a way to chart my “spiritual journey” – a phrase which at various points has meant different things. Whether the blog was charting how convinced I was of my latest philosophical squeeze or of some psychological quip I’d come up with, it was always me documenting where I was at at that time. That’s still the same now. Only, the thing I noticed recently, when my wife – Rosa – and I sat down to talk about our Lifebook  (a thing that my Dad has been telling us about – it’s good, I recommend it) is that there is so little that spirituality and personal development as a field of study/interest has to offer me now.

Since 2010-2012 when I began to progressively take spirituality and personal development more seriously as a field of study (up until about 3 months or so ago, fading out in intensity much like it once came on), it was about all I thought about day and night. I had breaks, of course, where I’d play video games intensely, or get really into other things. But from about 2011/2012 until December 2016, 9 times out of 10, spirituality and personal development was on my mind all day every day. So, I’ve more or less done my 10,000 hours.

As I was talking to Rosa about this area of life, I realised that there was essentially nothing that those areas – in the the way I thinking about them and approaching them before – could possibly offer me now. So, instead of writing down any visions or goals that would lead me to another new level of enlightenment or whatever, I just wrote “My personal development and spirituality are honed to a tee, to such a point where I no longer need to concern myself with the semantics or daily up-keep of that part of my life. My spiritual values are so deeply ingrained in me that they are second nature – if not first – and so I can carry on as I am without much of a second thought about how this area should be. So, I carry on like I am, undisturbed, and enjoy myself in the way that I am now, knowing that I am supported in whatever way I am and need nothing to be close to the Gods/God.”

Quite freeing that. It’s possibly the most natural next step after realising that helping people isn’t as important to me as it once was. I think for a long time I gained my sense of importance/significance in the world through being a “helper” or a “fixer” whereas now, that’s not the case. Now, my entire focus has shifted. I’m more concerned about my home-life, the relationships I have with the people I love, how my wife and I can tweak the little things in our life together to live a quality of life even better than we are experience now and more than all of that, I think I’m most concerned with beauty.

Not beauty in the arty-farty modernist way but beauty in the eye of the beholder. I am fascinated by it. I think, in a way, it’s been a vein that has run through my entire interest in psychology and spirituality, why people do what they do as well as music, film and so on. To me, the human capacity to feel and endure the most intense and agonising emotions and come out the other end of it, is incredible. I won’t say it’s the most incredible thing ever or anything like that. Like I said, in the eye of the beholder.

Odd things move me, I think. Independent films made for art rather than for money (Clouds of Sils Maria, Like Crazy), music that manages to encapsulate such a mood that I can’t help but be moved by it (Jeremy Soule’s “TES IV: Oblivion” soundtrack – specifically the explore and public tracks, Chance Thomas’s Theme for Rohan for the Lord of the Rings Online MMORPG, Bon Iver’s latest album 22 A Million).

When I watched Sils, my mind was bent in a way I hadn’t felt before. It was so odd, so captivating, so… inherently real and true to life. The same, I’d say, is true of Like Crazy. The way it was done – with only 50 odd pages of notes and no script to speak of – made it all the more heart-wrenchingly immersive. Jeremy Soule’s work on both Oblivion and Skyrim have been two collections of music that have been the soundtrack to not only those games but to my life since I first discovered Oblivion in 2009/2010. Easily my favourite composer of all time. Bon Iver’s albums – all of them – have such a special way with me and can portray a feeling that is so human and yet so transcendent of personal circumstance that it speaks to not only me but so many others across the world. That’s truly incredible. And Chance Thomas’s Theme for Rohan is the piece that really brought all of this into focus for me.

Side note: Music like the Oblivion soundtrack and Bon Iver’s 22 A Million have the capacity to evoke tears in me, and have done so. Yet, each of these particular pieces of art mentioned above (among many more) are in themselves so moving for me that I can’t do them justice with words.

It was when I heard Chance Thomas’s Theme for Rohan that I had a moment of… dawning… In a way. I listened to it multiple times on the night it hit me. I had heard it before but that night it caught me in a different way. I listened to it in my headphones several times and then played it out loud to Rosa. And it was then that it sort of hit me: “In all my life, I think, all I’ve ever wanted to do is to be able to create something as beautiful as this.” And, retrospectively, I think that that’s what I have been trying to do. In writing here, in making videos, in ranting on Facebook, in writing folk music or trance music, through teaching and through coaching and so on… In all that, I think, what I’ve been trying to do has been to create something so beautiful that I am moved to tears.

But that’s one of those things, isn’t it, that I don’t think you can do just once? Would it ever be enough to create something that beautiful just once? I mean, in a way, we would all be blessed if we were able to do that just once in a lifetime. To be able to create something so moving would be a gift, surely. But if I could do it once, I would want to keep doing it, I think. That idea has a certain pull for me. So much so that, in the time of my life I’m in at the moment – the time wherein I’m leaving off from the spiritual and personal development business and looking for a new direction to turn in – I’ve turned to music again.

After studying music at college for (almost) 3 years and after growing up around musical people, it’s always been there for me as a “thing”. Picking up guitar at the age of… 12/13 I think… meant that I was able to channel some sense of music that I had into actual musical pieces. Most of which were shite at first, but that’s learning for you. And, after I moved here to Mexico and had to leave my music stuff behind because I couldn’t afford to get it on the plane with me, I barely wrote or played save for the odd tune on Rosa’s nylon string beginners guitar. Nevertheless, I’ve recently turned my hand to writing music again. But not folk music or trance music this time.

This time, I’ve begun to write orchestral music. Music for video games first and foremost and other short film pieces online secondarily. If you want to hear any of that, you can click here to see my portfolio/site. I think, it’s a quest of sorts, for that beauty that captivates me. To be able to understand it, to be able to know how it works and how to create it.

And in all these mediums of expression that we have available to us in our modern society – Facebook, blogs and so on – I’ve been hard-pressed to find anything that has really brought me to the place that film or music has brought me to. And, personally, I feel that comes down to the fact that so much of our media today is centred around export. Export of thoughts, export of ideas, export of personality, identity and individuality. Yet, it’s all of those things within a prescribed framework. So many of us are unique within a specific prescribed framework of what is “normal”. If you’re a teenage girl with drawn-on eyebrows, outlined lips in a push-up bra mouthing off to your parents, you’re normal. But if you’re all of that but you’ve pulled off your fingernails and you draw them on as well, you’re not normal.

And we’re supposed to have opinions about that. But I think, in my “journey” through the spiritual and personal development fields, I’ve become so disillusioned with the minutia and so acclimatised to feelings that are not just superficial momentary flings of feelings like, oh look at that cute dog or look that cat didn’t make that jump, that I’ve ended up looking for more. I’ve been looking for something that fills me up, something that moves me so intimately that I am amazed by my capacity as a human to feel that. And so, I’ve turned once again to music.

But, even with the extremes of beauty – which are really not readily available on social media because most of it’s just distracting nonsense – I don’t find myself with opinions. Or at least not ones that do the subject matter justice anyway. And that’s because, despite the value of opinions being so high in our society right now, having something to say is not nearly as substantial a quality or thing as the capacity to listen. And not to just listen with your ears but to listen deeply – to really pay attention to what’s going on in a given moment.

Where I might before have now gone into a thing about how most things people do are either an act of love or a cry for help and when someone’s being a twat then they’re in pain and we should be compassionate blah blah, I won’t do that now really. (That would suffice anyway, what I put there). What I’m getting at here, I think, is that the capacity to really notice the things that do garner my attention has been my through-way to actually finding a new direction in my life at point where I actually had no idea what I wanted to be doing and quite frankly could have become distressed by that fact.

That capacity to listen deeply to the music I was hearing and the films I was watching was the thing that gave me the insight into myself necessary to turn my hand once again to music and towards (hopefully) one day reaching a point where I am able to create something so beautiful that it moves me to tears.

Out of the Mud(?)

With the solstice here and the new year on-coming, Rosa and I have agreed to prepare some stories of our cultures to share with the other in our new years celebration. The plan is, drink home-brewed mead and tell stories. I’m looking forward to it. And in an effort to provide something more than what I already knew and had likely already shared with her, I decided to dig into my culture’s history a wee bit more. I wanted stories. I wanted tales and legends of great heros and paths crossed with gods.

When I was researching the old Norse history – with which my culture is in some way intertwined – I found lots of stories and incredible tales which were all (thankfully) preserved more or less as they were told at the time. For the history of England and the British isles, there wasn’t so much readily available. I had to dig deeper. Once you get past the impressively difficult to read Mabinogion (old Welsh literature), there’s not much to find that’s on show. And, let’s be honest, the Mabinogion was tainted by the astute for the era but generally narrow view of the noble who translated it.

So I had to get to work. And I managed to turned over quite a bit in the end. I’m glad about that. I won’t divulge too much of what I’ve found because Rosa reads this blog and I don’t want to give away any spoilers for our story-telling sesh. What I really want to put across here is two-fold, I think.

First, I’d say that it’s a shame that there is so little of the cultural and religious history of my culture available. That’s partly due to it being oral tradition and partly due to the spreading of Christianity – a thing which is many ways has been more of a scourge than a force for good. Though, as Rosa pointed out, it did stop human sacrifice with one final hurrah.

Second, I’d like to point towards the fact that as I’m learning more and more about this I find curiosities… Things like the stories of the lorry that got stuck in a bog during WWII when they tried to build this fort on the island of Anglesey. As far as I know, it got stuck on this chain which they then used to pull the lorry from the bog with. The chain was a slave chain, with larger links to hold the slaves in custody. The impulse is to shrink away at the mention of slaves. But I would bring forward the reminder that slavery itself was only abolished in 1838. 178 years ago.

And, we all know that slaves across the world in the more recent eras where slavery was prevalent were in fact, people from other countries and traditions. So we had this thing that other types of people weren’t as good as us just because they were born on a different bit of rock and dirt sticking out of a different bit of the same vast body of water which – may I also bring to the forefront of thought – is capable of drowning each one of us equally effectively should be spend long enough submerged in it.

The reason I think this is significant is that, you know, above all the clever things we, as a species, pat ourselves on the back for, we are still barely out of the mud. For all the money we’ve made and innovative discoveries we’ve made, we are still barely out of the mud. We have so many ideas in our heads and we’ve done so many things yet as a species now we are so barely out of the mud.

And I think the acknowledgement of that may just help with any pervasive arrogance should we actually accept it.

To Have Our Personal Genius Evoked

Obscure, it seems, the altogether two-faced notion that we will never truly hear the music written by the greatest composers of our time and before. The notes once put to paper by Beethoven after he lost his hearing is a story we all know by now. The mention of it is no surprise, perhaps, in the context of the sense I get when I consider the composers who wrote the pieces now closest to my heart before we could record them actually playing from the page.

Are the pieces written by these great composers truly the pieces that are closest to my heart? What is the piece itself? Is it the notes on the page? The set tempo of the piece? Or is it the particular expression that one arrangement or one performer of the piece gives it? Is it that moment where one conductor guides the orchestra to speed over a certain note while one slows down?

It is, to my mind, apparent that each version of the music produced as a result of reading from the page – for example – Debussy’s Sonata for Cello & Piano: I Prologue, is infused with a different facet of the emotion implied by the notes and evoked upon hearing them. And so, if one musician arranges the piece to fit better their preference or playing style then we would hear that musician’s rendition of it. And, subtler then, the minor inflections and involuntary alterations another musician might make even if attempting to produce a performance as close to Debussy’s original vision as possible.

The twinge of a pain not felt since first love when the notes come together in a certain way to bring that feeling to the surface may be the reason we – conscious or not – connect with the piece and yet this and all other things affect the way we hear the piece when it is performed by another person. And their rendition will always go through their filter of emotion and perception as much as a minor muscle spasm from an injury suffered when falling from our bike as a child might affect the way we would play a certain coupling of notes if we were to take to a piano and perform the piece for ourselves.

And so, then, to listen to a piece performed by arguably the greatest composers of days gone by in exactly the way their creators would have intended is, in itself, impossible. All we have are, in comparison, pale imitations and try-hard replicas. Each notably significantly more beautiful than what is being shovelled through music studios en masse today but still not, in exact form and sound, entirely what was intended. And though we are never to truly hear the great Debussy’s Sonata for Cello & Piano: I Prologue, the brilliant Bach’s Bouree in E Minor or the genius Chopin’s heart-achingly beautiful Prelude in E Minor, we will always – for as long as we look after the world well enough – have written copies of their original works to interpret for years to come.

And while, no, we will never quite hear them as they were intended, we do have these innately ingenious works recorded in some form. And in that sense, we will be able to take these incredibly provocative works and recreate them, infused with our own feelings and emotions. And in this sense, while the extent of the subtleties of the genius of these great musicians in lost to a degree, the bulk of that brilliance lives on. And it falls to us, the creative minds of the modern era, to listen and reinterpret these pieces. Listening to the music closely so as to be sensitive to the profound nuances that remain hidden in trajectory and prose, we give ourselves the opportunity to access a deeper sense of creativity and wisdom that presides within each and every one of us. In such a way, these pieces of art allow us to access deeper and more valuable parts of ourselves and, in just existing, they invite us to call upon the genius which may have, until putting our fingers to strings or keys, remained dormant and waiting.

If we allow it, I believe all art can inspire us in such a way.

Clouds. Drifting. Past.

It’s an odd thing; time and what it does to us. Anyone who says that time is not moving in a cyclical fashion is not paying attention, I have to say. It’s surreal and yet sort of entirely obvious when you think about it. I’m sitting here waiting for water to boil so that I can make some tea. That in itself is odd. I am, after all, from England and living in Mexico.

Growing up, I was never one for hot drinks. Literally, my family know not to bother offering me one. I’m always one for water. But here, as the seasons change and winter descends upon us, the stark sensation of coldness ripples through my bones as it has done each year prior. No radiators here. No central heating. It’s all stone-age blankets and jumpers. Blankets, jumpers and hot drinks.

It’s funny though how now, when I’m so far away from the U.K, where tea is such a favourite, I’m only now really appreciating it for what it is. Only now am I taking comfort in the simplest of joys: a taste of home. But then, of course, last year it was chocolate made in the U.K that got me all tear-y eyed.

But it’s how we all come full-circle that astonishes me. It’s like, we grow up with these influences around us and we absorb them. Then we rebel for 10-20 years and then – if we’re lucky – we start to see their wisdom before we die. That’s the way of it now, at least. Us younger lot think we know best and we’ve forgotten that our elders are exactly that. And we’ve forgotten that they’ve been about for longer than us. I mean, okay the world was a different place when they were younger and a lot of what they learned is more or less outdated now. There are, however, some massive staples that remain valid and applicable.

Growing up, I was around a mixed bag of outlooks. From my grandparents on both sides of the family with their own perspectives on matters with which I found myself agreeing on a few minor things and largely disagreeing with everything else. Then, naturally, my parents were my biggest influence in the developing of my world-view. Growing up and experiencing all the things I experienced (which I won’t bother going into much more now as I don’t think there’s much of a benefit to that), landed me with a very… what you might call… “liberal” perspective. I saw things in a way I deemed “fair” and “just”. And by and large, I would say that now I agree somewhat with a decent handful of what I once thought to be true.

I find though, as each year passes (particularly in this year just ending now), that as I become (perhaps) jaded and (maybe) more mature in my ripe old age (23), I agree more and more with my grandparents on the things that inform my life decisions. Simple things like “Don’t buy it if you don’t have money for it. Earn the money first, then buy it.” have always made sense for me and are only now really being applied. But I think more than agreeing with my grandparents (and I have to say that they cannot be blamed for me), I find myself coming full-circle with myself.

Growing up – as for a lot of kids with Aspergers – I was always very matter of fact and would “take no prisoners” (as I wrote on my ‘About’ page before I really swallowed what it meant and then started to enjoy it a bit more). Also, given that I didn’t get Windows Service Pack Social Skills & People Perception with my factory install, I was quite naive, hopeful and easy gulled into believing all sorts of nonsense. Enter slide-show of me thinking every new idea I discovered was “it” and was the solution to everything, including but not limited to lazy Buddhism, new age, law of attraction, half-baked Taoism and so on.

So I sort of went from being this kid who was all hopeful and didn’t quite get life or people to being someone who learned good information and thought he knew it all. Thing is, now, I’ve been beaten around the head so many time by all of this stuff. I’ve been bashed against the wall so many times by believing in something that sounded good in theory but in the end was hollow (to put it kindly) in practice. So much so that I’m bruised and grazed and scarred from it all so much. And what happens when you get burned by fire enough times? So, I’ve learned now, I think. Or at least… I feel like I’ve learned something. Something along the lines of, “Don’t bother.”

It’s odd though, spirituality and personal development have been such integral parts of my life for as long as I’ve been alive. They’ve been around me and part of me for as long as I’ve been me. And only now am I at the point where I… sort of… don’t feel like I need to use them to be happy… I feel like I don’t need to think about spirituality or personal development stuff to be me, or be complete or make sense of the world. It’s all still in there/here of course. It’s all still sort of knocking about inside my head but its not significant for me any more. It’s not exciting or important any more.

It’s like how I’ve sort of stopped bothering trying to make the world a better place with any deliberate action other than just existing. It’s like how I’ve stopped trying to help people. I’ve come to realise that if taking action to make the world a better place is what occurs naturally for you and it’s what fills your heart up… If it’s what sets your soul on fire then that’s what you should be doing. But if it’s not, then it’s insane to try and make yourself do it just because you think is right. And… well, people change.

I was in this state where helping people really used to fill me up… Or, well, I think I thought it did… But now, that doesn’t really any more. Not all the time any way. Like, if I see someone upset or something then I sometimes want to help. But more times I want to see them help themselves. I want to see people seek answers to their own problems. I want to see people employ their own resources and get out there and make a change for themselves. That’s what I do for me. I listen to myself, my deeper inner sense of who I am and what I need, and I do my best to live from that place. Sometimes I fuck up. Well all do, I’m no exception to that. But for me, what’s really useful and what’s really actually worth it is getting up off of my arse and doing something.

As far as I can tell, we live in cultures – so many different cultures (micro and macro) – that are all built on one foundation… They’re all reliant on a singular baseline. Comfort. Convenience. Since the industrial revolution, I think, this has been the case. Or at least, that’s when it started and it’s been exponentially so since then.

I was watching an interview with Olivier Assayas and Kristen Stewart today. Olivier was the writer and director for one of my new favourite films “Clouds of Sils Maria” and Kristen Stewart was one of the main characters in the film. (Watching interviews for as many hours in the day and night as possible is one of my “special interests” at the moment. I love to see people getting passionate and insightful about what they love doing. It’s perfect for me). One of the things Kristen said in the interview was that Olivier never answers her questions.

Kristen will come to Olivier during shooting and ask him a question about her character or a line or something like that and Olivir will always reply with a question, “What do you think?” For me, that was brilliant. I mean, obviously it’s outstanding in the sense that 1. he wants to see the interpretation Kristen has in mind for the character/line/whatever and he wants to allow her creative freedom to flourish there and 2. he really trusts Kristen with his creation. Not easy for a creative person, I can honestly say. Especially when you’re a total control freak like I am a bit.

But I think that captures the essence of what I want to get across here really. To find yourself or to have a life that you’re happy with/proud of or to have anything worth having, you’ve sort of got to find your own way to it… In my ever-shifting view of things, I’m always arriving somewhere new – that place might be totally new or it might be the same place I was before only now I’m seeing it in a new way…

It reminds me of something a friend of mine said to me. I was at college with him years back – towards the end of which experience my long tangent through spirituality was start to take shape – and he was going through a bit of a crisis. He was quite heavily into drugs and would be obnoxious and foul to the people around him. The initial response for a lot of people would be to go in and give support and sort of try and help or get through to him in some way. I just washed my hands of him after he was rude to me once. I just told him to sort himself out and then didn’t bother with him for a bit. He’s alright now. Or, well, better than he was. He won’t mind me saying that. I say all sorts of stuff to him – usually with the sole intention of winding him up and/or shaking him up for my own amusement.

Anyway, that was years back. A few months ago, I posted something on the almighty social network Book of Faces and he just commented “this is exactly the same thing you were saying years ago, Andey.” and I was like: “Shit. Yeah it is.” Bearing in mind I’d gone through what I deemed to be a total transformation and dissolution of my “false-self” and all that mumbo-jumbo. And here I was with the same opinion I had had years earlier.

My question was, of course, was it the same opinion? Or was it a new version of the same opinion, revisited and now cast in something more like iron rather than drafted haphazardly in clay? Well, I think it was the second once. Because, after all, things seem to go in cycles. And, as Mark Twain (I think) once said… “History doesn’t repeat itself. But it rhymes.”

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Look at this cat

I had a pleasant surprise today. Not the sort that jumps out from behind the sofa and makes you shat yourself after a week of constipation and not the kind that you say you like but you actually don’t. It was odd. It’s the sort of thing that happens where you’ve got this one idea in your mind about how things will pan out – like, based on no evidence whatsoever you generate and subsequently get obsessively anxiously attached to your idea of the way you think things will pan out when the given circumstances present themselves. That was where I was at earlier this week and up until this morning when the surprise came I maintained my position.

Being from England and living here in Mexico, to talk to friends and family I have to use Skype. This morning on a video call to a family member (whom I’ll not name for his own privacy because he’s funny like that and told me not to write about him for some reason), the conversation was more candid and honest than most of the conversations you or I might be used to when we’re talking with the regular human folk of the planet. (As opposed to when you’re reading this post writing by the king of oddball alien toons).

We talked about how I’ve recently come to a lull in my interest in and enthusiasm for most things – a cup that is rarely past mid-way full, if I’m totally honest. We spoke a little bit about how various spiritual principles and ideas are, for me at least, largely a waste of time and effort these days. We talked about how when people talk about “vibrational frequencies” it’s really useful because it gives you a heads up on who to avoid. And when the conversation was about half an hour to closing point, I got nervous and brave simultaneously when I heard that little voice inside of me saying “Go on, say it. See what happens.”

This particular family member is incredibly loving and supportive of me, my life and the choices I make. They are always there for me when I need them and do their best to give me what they feel I need to the best of their ability. Yet, for some reason, I had it in my projecting little head that they would react to what I was about to say in the same way that I reacted when someone first said it to me.

Let’s backtrack a wee bit. Let’s go back 2 years. Two years ago, I’m living in a 6×6 utility room in my Mum’s house for reasons I’ve explained before on this blog and for reasons which I feel are quite heavily enunciated by what I’ll go on to say in a moment. So, I’m living in this little room with a washing machine for a bedside table. The room is about 6×6 and I’m a bit taller than 6ft so it’s fairly cramped in there. I’m staying up until 8am every night to talk to my then girlfriend (now wife) Rosa over Skype (thank fuck for Skype, eh?) and as a result of this habit of staying up until 8am most nights on skype, I then sleep until 2/3pm in the afternoon. At the time I was also eating only burritos – prepared by myself – every single day for dinner in an attempt to get myself in “vibrational alignment” with Rosa whom I wanted to meet. Remember what I said about using “vibrational frequency” as a way to tell who to avoid? Yeah, I was in the Top 10 of “one to avoid” back then.

So, picture it. 20 year old man-boy measuring a little over 6ft, living in a 6×6 room, eating the same meal every day almost religiously and staying up until 8am every night to speak to his girlfriend on Skype. A tad eccentric, right? Right. Then chuck that with a life time of come-and-go friendships, severely lacking social skills, social anxiety, addictive tendencies and a notoriety in the family as someone who “takes no prisons”. My poor mum, bless her, was beside herself with the state of my life. This is a woman who I can affectionately call a very busy, very social and highly productive human but she saw what I was calling my life at the time and didn’t know how to feel about it.

I was mostly happy with my little routines. I would wake up just before my sisters came home from school, eat some Marmite on toast, play a bit of playstation, write a blog post or work on my novel or something like that and then come about 8pm give or take I’d be ready at Skype, fully equipped with a stack of burritos in hand (usually three or four – sometimes five) and then spend all night chatting away to the love of my life. I couldn’t complain, it wasn’t a difficult life really. Well, aside from the fact that I felt like a part of me was withering away due to the lack of exposure to the sun which wasn’t made easier by the already cloudy days of England. And aside from the fact that I would breakdown periodically about how I wanted nothing more than to be with Rosa and get out of the little room I had grown so accustomed to. Oh and aside from the fact that I tore up my o-ring every single time I went for a shit because my stools were like fucking rock-sausages thanks to all those beany-burritos.

My mum, watching from the outside, wasn’t really sure what to make of it all and – I imagine – seeing her eldest boy in the position I was in wasn’t so easy for her. Well, I say “I imagine”, she has told me it wasn’t easy for her to see. Anyway, she started quietly talking to some people and asking questions about what was going on with me and seeing if there were some sort of answers that would in some way provide justification to the odd behaviour I was exhibiting.(Also, no I wasn’t working. I have never been able to actually function in a conventional workplace. At the time I’m talking about here, I couldn’t have told you why. That will be clear in a moment).

Skip to the end, one day my mum knocked on the utility room door and asked me to come and speak to her in the kitchen. Pushing my way through the door that would only open partially because of the stacked up bed quilts I had laid on the floor (my bed), I joined her in the kitchen. I sat at the breakfast bar while my mum emptied the dishwasher and proceeded to tell me that she thought I had something called Aspergers Syndrome. Not really knowing what it was – having only heard of it from a friend I had in college and that one scene in BBC’s Sherlock where Sherlock Holmes insists that he doesn’t have Aspergers (even though he does) and that he is instead a “high-functioning sociopath” – I fought her on it.

If you don’t know what Aspergers is, it’s basically high-functioning autism. It’s on the autistic spectrum but at the far end. What that means is that in many ways people will Aspergers act and speak just like everybody else (or “neuro-typicals”) with exceptions in terms of social prowess, cue taking, sometimes impulse regulation and a few other things. It’s a difficult thing to sum up without basically just saying “it’s autism but not super strong autism” so I think the best thing to say is that it’s basically that the Aspergers brain works a bit differently to the typical brain. Meaning, people with Aspergers see patterns where others don’t necessary; people with Aspergers don’t have the intuitive empathy that most people have – instead people with Aspergers have only the ability to interpret the base-line of social signals (for example, instead of knowing that someone is feeling depressed or lonely intuitively the Aspergers brain will only be able to intuitively interpret that that person isn’t okay or – in more severe cases – that something isn’t right without being able to place what isn’t right.)

It also has within it certain hallmarks of ADD/ADHD and certain learning disabilities although it isn’t itself a learning disability. Oh and most people with Aspergers have a higher than neuro-typical IQ and find themselves filling the gaps in their social etiquette and conduct base game patch by consciously acting and speaking in a certain way in order to appear neuro-typical and get by in the world. Some people with Aspergers are incredible at this, so much so that you’d never guess they have Aspergers.

See what I mean, hard to explain! It’s pretty complex. It’s not like depression where you can sum it up by saying “deep emotional pits of despair where the light of the sun fades to grey and everything seems bleaker than it probably should.” Oh, I just went on Google and it says that Aspergers is characterized by significant difficulties in social interaction and nonverbal communication, along with restricted and repetitive patterns of behavior and interests.” That’s the tip of the iceberg, Google, but it’s more concise that what I just tried to do, eh? Probably should’ve just Googled it in the first place.

Anyway, when my my mum told me that she thought I had Aspergers, I responded as most teens of the “New Age” movement likely would. To me, at the time, all conventions other than archaic ones were evil (more or less), so I got quite defensive and annoyed when mum brought it up. She pushed though and asked me to come to see the doctor with her to see what they’d say about it. I reluctantly agreed. She was right by the way. Listen to your mums kids. They know shit. And, usually – if they’re paying attention and not on their smartphones 24/7 – they know you.

So, today when I sat down on Skype with this family member of mine, the conversation came around to a moment where I felt this rippling, counter-intuitive urge to put myself in the potentially very vulnerable position of telling this person a bit about the fact that I have Aspergers and what it’s like. As I said earlier, I had already done a rather marvellous job of convincing myself that telling them that I have Aspergers would cause them to sort of judge me in the way that I judged the idea of having Aspergers when the idea was first presented to me.

The surprise was that their response was quite the opposite. Instead of judgements and close-downs, I got support and understanding. In fact, they said to me that it’s a gift and that I’m clearly the way I am for a reason. They said that I should use it to my advantage and just make sure that it doesn’t stop me growing.

Needless to say, I was like “Wow. Shit man. Das coo'”. So happy that that was the result. Especially since it was only really my immediate family like Rosa, my mum, sisters and stuff that knew before. I’ve not actually come out and talked about it at all since it first came into my life. And I think that maybe now it’s time to consider starting to do that a bit more. Who knows, maybe I know a few people with Aspergers that have been a bit afraid to speak up about it too! If that’s you, let me know. That’d be cool. Maybe we can chat, or like, sit in silence and misread each others vague inexpressive cues. Or take it in turns to rant about what we love. Either or works for me.

Also, did you see the cat?

Done With Spirituality.

Sitting here on the edge of my bed (because, y’know, sometimes you just can’t get comfy on the sofa) with the A/C blowing cold air at me and conveniently masking the sound of the obnoxiously loud music the neighbours are playing because today is Mexican Independence day. It’s a strange sort of holiday because it seems a lot like it’s more of an excuse for everyone to get pissed up, laugh at nothing and scream unintelligently at soul-shaking volumes than cause for any real introspection or reflection on the reason it’s even a holiday in the first place. But then, I guess that’s what most national holidays are for a lot of us. Doesn’t matter which country you’re in, it’s about the same. Get pissed up in the name of something you sort of care about (even though you care more about getting pissed up).

Over the last few months, I’ve been having this nagging feeling that I needed to get in contact with my grandparents (the ones on my Mum’s side – I talk with my grandparents on my Dad’s side once every two weeks). I’m not the sort of person to remember to contact people. I’m not actually the sort of person to think about people either. Things remind me of stuff and people. I don’t often sit in contemplation or consideration without worthy cause. That said, I emailed my grandparents – my Nan and Pap – and arranged to Skype them on Saturday. And I’m sitting here thinking about the things we usually talk about together. In all the years we’ve spent as grandson and grandparents, I think the thing we’ve talked about the most (and inherent within that statement is the assertion that it’s also the subject on which we’ve clashed the most) is religion.

Well, religion for them and spirituality for me – more or less. They are Jehovah’s Witnesses. I am not. In fact, you’d be hard pressed to catch me within a 5 mile radius of any Kingdom Hall unless I’m inside a car at full speed and the Kingdom Hall just happened to be on the way to wherever I’m going – and if we’re being honest here, that won’t be very often because I’m so seldom outside of the house these days that the only times I pass a Kingdom Hall is when I’m buying biscuits on the occasion that Rosa doesn’t pick them up for me.

Anyway, you get the point. They’re into that and I’m not. We’ve argued about it a lot. And I’m sitting here on the bed thinking about us chatting on Saturday and realising that where once spirituality was this huge part of my life, now it rarely crosses my mind as “spirituality the thing”. If I look back to 2011, spirituality was this massive part of the growing and learning me. I couldn’t get enough. Skip forward to 2013, I’m writing this blog, 60% brainwashed by a cult and ready to change the world. Skip forward again and I’ve dropped all the bullshit ideas I absorbed in the cult and from various other places (law of attraction, trying to be nice all the time, forcing myself to be a certain way and so on). And here I am today thinking more about developing my actual skills so that I can improve my life and improve the lives of my clients.

Where once I was obsessing over my “vibration” (dear god), now I’m thinking, “No one is coming to help me. Let’s do this thing.” Quite the change in attitude and I’m better off for it. The law of attraction is a very smooth way to royally fuck yourself into doing nothing if it’s not treated properly. And by “not treated properly” I mean that to treat it properly is to more often than not leave well enough alone and just get on with your life instead of faffing around with things you can’t see.

This has been a pretty mental evolution, to get to the point I’m at now. For ages I was into the whole thing and now, looking back at it all, I’m like “Oh god, save me from myself.” Herd mentality will get you and get you good when you’re a clueless 18 year old idiot.

I think, if it was Saturday now and I had my Nan on Skype in front of me and she asked me what I thought about God now… I’d have to think about what I’d say… I guess the truth would be: “I’ve had some sort of experience that makes me want to say that God exists. It makes me want to say that God exists as much as we do and more. But how I know that or what God is like or what I’m supposed to do with or about any of that… Well, I don’t really know and I don’t think I care that much any more. In short, I feel like God is real but more than that doesn’t concern me. Like, if what someone else thinks of me is none of my business then God is definitely none of my business.”

I know that a lot of religious people use the existence of some sort of god to make them be nice to people. I also know that it doesn’t always work as an incentive because, well, there’s loads of Catholics who do that confession thing where they tell their designated god-man about the things they’ve done wrong all the time. I could guess that if I was to say to my Nan what I said in the previous paragraph then her next question might be about my relationship with morality – in words to that effect.

If she did ask me that, I don’t really know what I’d say. I couldn’t be completely honest at that point. They don’t like swearing so I couldn’t say what I say to most people, which is, “Try not to be a cunt”. I feel like that pretty much covers it. I guess, to get my Nan and Pap on board with what I’m saying and have it be a proper chat rather than just another time when I get moaned at for using bad words, I would have to be a bit more articulate…

Either way, what’s most curious – and I reckon you’ve found yourself at a point that’s similar in your life – is that now everything that I deemed “spiritual” – like really really spiritual – is not just “life” (as my Dad once said to me that it is for him – instead of it being some big thing, it’s just how things are). And moreover, most of the “spiritual” stuff looks about as silly to a punk or a goth or something like that. All dressed up over the top of just you and then you just go about life pretending to be something only to still be you at the end of the day. And then you look back at all the stuff you used to do and what you used to be like and you go “oh god” and “hah, jesus fucking wow on a little chocolate biscuit” in equal parts.

I think more than being done with spirituality, I’m just done with most of the things that surround. The way people are, the things that are expected of you, the things you end up expecting of yourself. All that stuff. There’s a lot of shit out there. It’s all I can do to filter out as much of it as possible really.

Also, yes the title of this post was to make you click it. Sorry about that. No I’m not really done with spirituality, I just don’t bother with 90% of anything pertaining to it any more. I’d rather have a good time, coach and mentor people to do incredible things, learn about myself, lock my front door, play video games, eat and ignore pretty much everything else. Probably won’t last. That’s just where I’m at right now.

What about you?

When You Want It Enough, You Make It Happen

More and more I get the sense that life doesn’t happen to me. I get the sense that it happens for me, in a way. And I get the sense that it’s about me deciding how things are going to be and driving towards that with a burning passion – never taking less than 10/10 and never giving less than 11/10. I get the sense that the only reason things happen the way they do is because I have set things up in that way. If I’m not moving fast enough or hard enough towards what I’m driving towards then it’s because I haven’t got things set up optimally. And if I’m seeing the results I want, it’s because I’d paid attention, listened and applied myself.
 
Years ago, I would’ve cringed at how much that sounded like too much hard work. And now, I think back to my lazy “law of attraction will fix it all for me” attitude and I’m like, “lol, what an idiot.” To the point where I don’t even bother with the “law of attraction” as a thing any more. I just get connected with God as much as I can and I get connected with myself as much as I can. I look at my life and my blueprint for my life and go “if they’re not matching, how do I make them match” and then, as Neale Donald Walsh says “God says yes”. But honestly, I’m not thinking about anything other than my strategy and getting myself in the state that I need to be in to make tidal waves. Because if I’m not in that state, I make tiny little pointless ripples at best.

When you want it enough, you make it happen. When your pain is greater than your comfort, you get hungry.

 
Here I am now, 23, with my whole life leading to the point where I look at my life and know that no-one is coming to fix it for me. As much as it’s appealing to want some greater force to come and sort it all out, that never worked out for me. And I sort of get that it can work for other people. But that’s just the way things go. Some things are right for one person but terrible for another. Like dairy in the winter. Makes my eczema go mental. But others are fine with it.
 
I feel pretty blessed to be surrounded by the people in my life who have supported me and been able to hold their own when shit goes down for long enough to turn things around. That’s fucking inspiring. And, equally, I’m blessed to have those people around me who are honest and real enough to say “shit, I’m in over my head. I need to ask Andey about this.” when they hit a wall or a find themselves in a crazy shitstorm.
 
Whether it’s old friends or new friends, family or my wife, there are people around me that I’m so grateful to be in proximity with. These are the people who have helped me get to where I am now. And that (all of the above) is exactly where my starting point is this moment. It’s where I’m carrying on from as I keep moving forward, keep adjusting and making the right choices to set my life up in the way that works for me. Part of that, of course, is to work with Rosa to set our shared lives up in the way that is best for us. Which, naturally means that we are both learning a lot about ourselves and cutting the fat wherever necessary.
 
Speaking for myself primarily here, 80% of my energy is focused on increasing happiness and decreasing drama in my life. It’s what I’m all about. I’ve sort of got to that point now (coming on more and more over the past few years) where I have literally zero tolerance for drama. Problems, be gone. They’re useful to make life better and show me where there’s a leakage of energy or where the rigging is weak but that’s as far as it goes. Like… I see a bullshit, I kill a bullshit.
 
And it all means that I’m now building an awesome business that I can look at and be proud of. It means that, together with Rosa, I am able to change lives and see people growing in a way that they are facing their life like a dragon with fire in its belly. It means that I am helping people to make tidal waves in THEIR lives so that they can see THEIR vision realised. That’s what it’s all about. And that’s what keeps me up at night. That’s why I’m up at 7 six out of seven days of the week. That’s why I work my fingers to the bone to make Darshan Road what it needs to be. That’s why I don’t stop learning and growing and turning to face my own bullshit. And it’s why I’m relentless.

Don’t fear the man who is sad or angry. Don’t fear the man who’s scared or weary. Fear the man who’s fed up. Fear the man who’s hungry for more.

I am hungry. I am desperate to pulverise the useless, the pointless, the unnecessary, the wasteful. I am hungry for annihilating the dead weight, the draining and the unfulfilling. And I am forever ready to put in the hours and see the fruits of my labour.
 
About 6 months ago the hunger set in. My drive intensified. All my interest in the soft, the half-arsed, the unclear and the second-best ended. Then and there, it ended. And what I’m glad about is that it never cost me my compassion. It never cost me the depth to listen to someone, to hear them and know their pain. It never cost me the capacity to put my own shit aside and get outside of myself long enough to actually make a difference for someone. And here I am, running an international business with clients across the world, doing just that.
 
I’ve got to say, I’m grateful for grace for getting behind me. I’m grateful for the people who support me and Rosa for getting behind us. I’m grateful for Rosa for being so damn incredible and for being here with me every step of the way. And I’m grateful for myself. Without whom, none of this would be possible.
 
Onwards and upwards I say. That’s the only two directions I’m interested in. Who’s with me?

 

(I shared it on facebook and thought you’d get something out of it).

Visit DarshanRoad.Com here.

Mothers Will Change The World

When asked who will be able to change the world, the Dalai Lama answered, “the world will be saved by western women.” Surely not women like Hillary Clinton. But women who have connected with what it actually means to be a woman – rather than women to who have embodied enough masculinity to survive in a male dominated field (such as politics).

I’d take Lammy-D’s statement and raise him “the world will be changed by western mothers.” But hang on, ’cause I’m not just doing a shout out for mothers. I mean, I love my mum to bits but stay with me here. Because what I see is that the most effective resource for making a real difference in ourselves – and by extension, the world – in pain.

If we have pain, then we have the raw materials to create immense strength. It’s like the mineral ore you got out of the rocks that time when you were definitely a miner. (Because, we’re all miners at heart). When you have the raw ore, you’ve gotta do something with it before it’s actually useful. You need tools to turn ore into ingots.

You need tools to turn pain into strength.

The tools needed vary from person to person. Traditional psychology is one tool – the pickaxe, let’s say. Traditional psychology gets it out of the rock and onto the ground. Then, maybe some NLP techniques or some Buddhist-esque insights are the next tool. We can call those the shovel. They get the ore from the floor into your cart. The cart being your determination – the will to make the change.

Then you arrive at the smelter with your raw pain. You shovel the ore into the smelter (your process) and you set some coal (Consideration/mindfulness/empathy/understanding) ablaze. With the fire from the coal (compassion), you heat the furnace and begin the transformation (your process). And what comes out at the end is true strength. Solid and true. Yes I’m thinking about Skyrim with this metaphor. What of it?

If pain is the ultimate resource for strength, who’s got the most? Why the western mother, that’s who! And I hope that any mothers reading this will find themselves brave enough to admit that what I’m about to say directly references you. Or that you will remain comfortably seated in the idea that you’re the exception and thus enjoy this blog post as an exciting romp through Andey’s mind and nothing more. Either way, you’ll find that western mothers have just about the most pain inside them in the entirety of our society.

The pain of seeing their little ball of love grow up (regular mum stuff), the pain of not feeling good enough (regular human stuff), the pain of losing love and relationships (usually the case in the modern world with our modern way of doing love and relationships), the pain of being super anxious or controlling (usually one or the other, though both tend to feed each other), the pain of the loss of youth and beauty as you age (regular woman stuff because society says that you’re only valuable or worthy of love as long as you can excite sexual arousal in other humans – I know, it’s insane. I’m just making observations here. Don’t shoot the messenger. Don’t shoot the message either. It’s good paper. At least scribble over the words and use the other side for something that doesn’t cause a regressive emotional reaction where you act out your own pain).

What I’m saying, jokes aside, is that if the mothers in our modern society were able to face their pain for long enough to turn it into strength then we’d have a bunch of crazy strong determined xena-esque warrior women who would get shit done.

If we could all just get outside of ourselves for long enough to sort shit out, we’d notice that the pain we feel isn’t unique to us. It’s pain. Not “my pain” or “your pain”. It’s just “pain” and everyone feels that. Even animals feel that. And it’s the same in everyone. And if we were to actually get outside of ourselves for long enough to really see that the same pain in our heart is the same in everyone else’s then something would change in us. If we felt that – and I mean, truly felt it – we would really know what compassion feels like. And then the world would have to change. Because… Well when a strong, determined woman wants something… Watch out.

Props to women and mum’s everywhere. You’re awesome. Even if you’re still holding onto that pain, you’re awesome. So many of us are holding onto our pain still. It’s pretty normal, that. Loads of us aren’t quite ready to let go yet. Just know that when you do, you’ll move mountains. Or, give the mountain the silent treatment until it comes to you…

Keep it real,

Live, love and play.

Andey

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