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 I mean, okay the world was a different place when they were younger and a lot of what they learned is more or less outdated now.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.”