Monday, 24 January 2011

Forfeit...

'We forfeit three-quarters of ourselves in order to be like other people'


Schopenhauer.


How true for me, I feel the need to consistently compare myself, my life, my beliefs to others as a measure of how well I am doing....why?!....because I'm human.

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Check Out for the day....please?

Yes, I would like to 'Put it away and check out for the day' please, not because this day is particularly bad- I mean, it is the most glorious of the 7 days of the week....a Sunday, a day of rest, a day off work, a day that has the word 'sun' in it, so what could be bad about it?

It's not the day itself, nothing particularly horrendous or challenging or difficult has happened but ' I ' have happened. I have woken up with the most terrible, unexplained, unforeseen, inexplicable, STINKER of a mood . I have no conscious reason for such a mood, it has just appeared out of nowhere and landed on the most inconvenient of days and turned this bright, promise-filled Sunday into a grey and dismal affair, a day best to be forgotten.

Perhaps my subconscious knows what's really going on but as of yet it has not been so kind to inform my conscious which adds to my bad mood because said bad mood seems completely pointless and unfounded. Especially, as it has been such a long time since I was in the dreaded 'bad mood', I had been doing so well at blind optimism, bright and cheery persona was almost becoming a believable character trait in me- people had been starting to describe me as 'smiley' and 'positive', and then the bad mood to end all bad moods hit. Now I feel like I have undone all that hard work and reverted back to my moody ways. Incidently and completely going off tangent, there is definitely something going on in the dark, dpeths of my subconscious if my recent vivacious and coherent dreams are anything to go by after months of nothing but dreamless sleep.

So yes I would like to 'put away' my bad mood into a black box and check out of this day into another where I can smile and relax and enjoy the passing of time instead of resenting it for no good reason. Wouldn't it be lovely to just flitter back and forth from this day to that, visiting the good ones and avoiding the bad?

Anyway, after cringing at myself as I snapped with irritation at my poor mum's chit-chat and mannerisms for the 100th time today I decided I must do something to pull myself out of this bad mood before I dragged everyone around me into a similarly depressed black hole. The something I decided to do was a bracing run along the beach, surely this would be the way to dispel these negative feelings, 'Yes' I concluded that a run would be the thing to uplift me.... wrong, oh how wrong I was.

My mum kindly said she would drop me and my dog (Pooka) off at the beach, however, when dropping me off she parked on yellow lines so what followed was a rushed and harrowing exit from the car; clutched delicately in my hand I had a dog lead (attached to Pooka), poop bag, i-pod, extremely large headphones and mobile. So there I was clutching these many items with my mum stressing that i better get out quick as there were cars behind her waiting to get by and then I realised I needed to take my fleece off, which can only be likened to a sheep, else die of heat on my run. So with cars beeping impatiently behind I struggled to get my fleece off as quickly as possible complete with many items still in my hands and because I was rushing this of course took longer, stress levels hitting about 5 out of 10 by now.

With fleece now recklessly abandoned on the back seat, I opened the car door, out rushed dog at the speed of light with me attached holding the other end of the lead, immediately there was a deathly clattering noise as everything in my hands fell to the floor, phone in pieces. The putting together of which was greatly encumbered by my gloved hands which were too busy holding everything else hence, the sensible thing  of taking the gloves off was not an option. Meanwhile, my mum was shouting at me to shut the car door which had been forgotten in the exiting struggle and so was wide open stopping her from departing and ending the furious beeping of the cars trapped behind.

Within the next few steps as I fought to align large, inconvenient headphones on my head, Pooka decided to poop (and pooka doesn't just poo nicely and politely in one spot....no... she zig-zags from one spot to another all the while expelling the brown stuff) which caused further chaos as hands still full of items had to untie the plastic bag, pick up poo and hold the lead with pooka pulling strongly in the opposite direction whilst I too, bent over in a shuffling position, had to zig zag from one spot to another following her. Relieved and thinking this ordeal must nearly be over, I chucked the poop bag in the bin and strode purposefully down towards the beach and turned to my i-pod for musical inspiration when I realised the large, inconvenient headphones had a large clump of wire sticking out from them and out from my head, so now my state of looking like a complete idiot was confirmed.

Whilst this was all going on there was of course many people strolling past (laughing) paying witness to my embarrassing ordeal. 'Nevermind', I thought I'll soon be out on the beach away from them and their amused eyes but I was to provide more amusement for them.... for as I descended the steps down to the beach, I had failed to notice that the steps were covered in a thick, slimy green moss so of course I slipped and fell dramtically and unceremoniously with a loud wham onto my backside, soaking and covering my derierre in a fine green slime.

By now I was ready to punch somebody, anger was pulsating through my veins, hot devastated tears were brimming and I had had ENOUGH. I have never run off so quickly in my life, I wanted to be away from the prying eyes, away from the angry thoughts pressing down on me so I ran and I ran and I ran away from it all, I felt no tiredness only angry adrenalin pushing me on, I just kept running and slowly I felt the anger subside a little and the world seemed to be correcting itself a little and I felt my bad mood slipping away a little.

Then a truly needed thought arrived sedately in my head, perhaps if you had been in a good mood today all of that ordeal would never had happened perhaps it has just been proved to you all day that negativity attracts negative things to happen to you and positivity attracts good things to happen to you. After all, in recent days I have strived to be positive and in all those days good things have happened, I have enjoyed them and then the one day I wake up negative and can't change that I have had a horrible day which I have hated from start to end. Being in a 'bad mood' does nothing good, only makes the world seem a hostile place and rubs off on everyone around you and starts a downward spiral. So looking at the positive of today I have learnt something that I needed to learn, positive thinking really does attract good things to you, negative only repels everything and everyone.

Back to the events of today, I did not fully feel in a good mood again until I got home, crawled under the cocoon of my duvet, lay in the dark on my own and listened to this song very loudly....


 Elliott Smith, 'The Enemy is You'
You got your head turned around 
Walking upside down
Through the sunken dream
Through the crushing crowd
You don't know what it means 
Because you're a broken machine
You won't lisp it out
You're dressing up your man
It's all second hand
It's all hindsight
You don't understand
It's just an empty scene
It's still an empty scheme
You want to block it out
But I know what I'm going to do 
With this big doubt
I'm going to make it go away
When you go walking out in 
The rose city
Without a fucking clue
With an attitude
Knowing what you need
What you will not do
The enemy is you
You beat up on yourself 
Because there ain't no one else
Who feels quite as good 
To put straight through hell
You know yourself well
You know what you're about
Just want to block it out
Well, I know what I'm going to do 
With this big doubt
I'm going to hide my face away
Block it out
Well, I know what I'm going to do 
With this big doubt
I'm going to make it go away



Listening to this song I realised, that really, most of the time my greatest enemy is myself I already know I am my own biggest critic and that I beat myself up for acting and thinking in certain ways, my greatest enemy is me especially when I let a pointless bad mood ruin a day. I realised that the bad mood could partly be because of a 'big doubt' I have about a decision that is going to be made tomorrow. A decision that is beyond my control now and a decision that could change which way my life goes, which could set me down one path as opposed to another. I didn't think I was too worried about it, I thought that I was prepared to graciously accept either answer as what is meant to be and pursue either way whole-heartedly but it seems I am worried but I now know whatever happens tomorrow I must be positive about it and make 'the big doubt' about myself, that rears it's ugly head every now and then, go away once and for all.

Monday, 17 January 2011

A very obvious 'Farewell'.


Image from- http://www.freehandmusic.com/sheet-music/symphony-no-45-in-f-sharp-minor-farewell-265905

Today I cam across a funny little story from 1772 which made me smile for its opposition to the powerful and downright 'up yours' attitude which many would love to put in practice in their own way today.

So.....(if you are sitting comfortably?!) there was once a Prince called Nickolaus, he was such a powerful and rich prince that he demanded that music should be played for him whenever and wherever he desired it (the world would be a better place if this was commonplace for everyone but alas we are mere peasants). Thus, he called upon the most famed musician in Europe to come and live in his palace and play beautiful masterpieces whenever he, the fickle, prince wanted.

Along came Haydn, the most revered, musical genius in the land. He gladly accepted the prestigious role and lived 24 hours a day, 7 days a week in the Prince's sumptuous, summer palace at 'Eszterhauser' ready to make any of the Prince's musical whims and desires come true. The Prince often asked Haydn for a number of musical pieces to be written at noon and expected them to be ready to perform later that evening. As you can see, he was a tough and unforgiving master who expected perfection and would settle for nothing less. After all, he was the greatest prince in the land who could have whatever he wanted.

However, one embarrassing day in Spring the prince went too far ....for once. Together with Haydn, he had an entire symphony orchestra housed at 'Eszterhauser', ready and raring to play at any given hour on any given day. Unfortunately, although, his palace was enormous -as you'd expect- with a total of 176 rooms, there just was not enough space to accommodate all of the orchestra's loving family. Hence, and most conveniently for the Prince, said family were kept at a safe distance miles away in 'Eisenstadt'.

The Spring of 1772, saw the Prince in an unforgiving, tiresome mood and he forbade the orchestra to take their usual Spring sojourn to visit their families. In an age that proceeded, 'Workers unions' and 'employee's rights' the orchestra had no power and no choice but to stay and play music for the increasingly tyrannical, 'Prince Nickolaus'.

However, all was not lost, for the hero of this tale, the fearless Haydn was on their side and realised the weight that Music and Art could have in an otherwise impossible situation. Using his genius, he started to write his fourty-fifth, aptly named 'Farewell' symphony, ready to play at the Prince's pleasure during the period of the orchestra's enforced entrapment at 'Eszterhauser'.

One evening, the Prince called to hear this new symphony that Haydn had been working on. The Prince settled himself into his throne-like chair in the resplendent ambiance of his concert hall at 'Eszterhauser'. In the centre of the front-row, amongst his friends and social equals, he listened closely and pleasantly to the first three movements, tapping his foot solemnly along with the pulsating rhythm. At last the fourth movement, 'Presto' arrived, driving his foot into a mad tapping frenzy, his mind slipped off into its own world of thoughts.

Suddenly, unexpectedly, the pace changed from the anticipated 'Presto' to the mournful 'Adagio' causing the Prince's attention to shift back to the sounds of the orchestra. A few bars into the Adagio section, outrage of all outrage!!.... one of the violinists stopped playing, snuffed out his glowing candle that had lit his music, threw his violin over his shoulder and quietly walked out of the door behind the orchestra staring transfixedly ahead, as if it was perfectly normal to do such a thing in the middle of a concert for one of the greatest Prince's that lived. The Prince gasped audibly unable to believe what his senses had just witnessed. The obstinacy of it was unheard of, how dare he, does he not know his place, it could be perceived as nothing less than a personal insult. 

But the Prince was to be further appalled, for it was no later than eight bars when the horn player and oboist carried out the same unspeakable ritual; out went the candle, instrument cast aside, discarded and then the final flourish of a stoic march through the back door without a backward glance. Intermittently, this was repeated again and again by each member of the orchestra, until there was just two muted violins left, one being played by Haydn himself and the other by the concertmaster 'Alosi Luigi Tomasini'.

Remarkably, as each member of the Orchestra had left the music of the final movement had continued being taken up and carried by the remaining instruments until it fell upon the last two violins. In other words, Haydn had purposefully written it that way, it was part of his musical imagination to instruct the musicians in the orchestra to leave at specific indicated moments without the point and musical direction of the piece being lost.

Finally, Haydn and Tomasini rose slowly, playing the final notes of the symphony as they turned and followed the rest of the orchestra out of the double doors behind them. We can only imagine the shocked silence that followed as stuffy courtiers hid secret smiles and knowing looks, as Prince Nickolaus' most public of humiliations was staged before their very eyes. It was musical defiance at its best and it worked. Prince Nickolaus uttered that 'he could take a hint' and immediately granted that all of his musicians could return to 'Eisenstadt' for the usual Spring break.

It goes to show Music and Art have the potential to utterly change perception, events, people, decisions and beliefs. It is a good story to have ready in reply for any 'academic' sorts (mainly those of a scientific or mathematical disposition, I realise this is a sweeping genrealisation) that scoff Music and Art are not really subjects at all, Music and Art peeeuf what good have they ever done, what a useless way to pass time etc. To me they are two of the most important things humans have, they transcend language, race, culture and their beauty can be universally appreciated in a way that nothing else can.

So embrace your creativity, it makes you human and a unique human being at that and one day in a big or small way it could change the way things are. Haydn didn't know that 238 years later (yes I did use a calculator to work that out but then again I'm not a maths sort!) his act of creative defiance would transcend time and inspire me and make me smile that he got 'one up' on his social superiors.

Sunday, 16 January 2011

A Graveyard Reminder:


As I walked home from work the other day in the pouring rain, drops pounding off the pavement and me I became my most thoughtful as I always do by the stretch of road flanked on one side by a graveyard. It has all the stereotypical atmosphere traits expected of a graveyard. ...

'the road seems to get darker as you approach, withering trees frame the edges, moonlight shines and glints off the grey of the head stones, shadows seem to loom round every corner, the rain falls that bit harder and I never pass another person on the pavement which creates that isolated feeling that any good graveyard needs.


Together with the rain and the fact that it had been a hard week at work, the gloomy visage of the graveyard could have depressed me. Instead, it intrigued me and does every time, everyday on my walk home from work I am caused to turn my head to the left and take a good hard look at it as I walk by.

‘So this is where we will all end up one day, this is where you will be one day no matter what you do today, tomorrow or what you have already done, in this quiet mainly forgotten bit of land. And this could be a disparaging thought to have each day if I thought about it in that way. But actually for me its a boosting thought it reminds me life is short and will end one day perhaps many years down the line, perhaps tomorrow so there is a lot of meaningful things to do and achieve before then.

It reminds me that we all enter this world the same and leave the same so really the things in the middle don’t matter quite as much as I make them mean in my head. It is immaterial whether everyone else seems to be achieving more, accomplishing their goals, living the dream life with the top-notch job, buying the sprawling country mansion, having the ideal relationship with thousands of loving friends to witness it all. Because…. in the end these superficial outward displays of how successful we are mean nothing, it is what is underneath it all.

Underneath the top-notch job is there quality of life- time to enjoy and reflect upon this remarkable world that we live in, behind the sprawling country mansion is there always a close family there each day ready to support the other come what may? And… as long as the ideal couple show how loving they are on facebook to each other does it really matter that they fight most of the time they see each other, and are thousands of fickle ‘sort of’ friends worth one real one who will celebrate with you when you do something great and tell you when you are being an idiot?

Underneath all this, when all this must come to an end like it will one day will people be able to say they have done something worthwhile with their lives, that there were mainly happy, that they became the best possible person they could become because if not then surely all this material acquisition was/is worthless and for many that will only be realised when it’s too late?

This sounds bitter…its not meant to be, I’m sure there are many people in the world that have these kinds of outwardly perfect lives and do truly amazing/meaningful things and are truly happy. All I’m saying is I think we have our measure of success all wrong and this causes our perception of how people are truly feeling/doing to be wrong because we assume all must be well with them because look at their fantastic lives how could anything be wrong?! And vise versa we look at people with hardly anything, the homeless, the destitute, the poor and pity them because we think ‘their lives must be so hard and challenging’ but their lives are often richer in ways that have become irrelevant in out material-driven existence.

I admit I am often material driven when I shouldn’t be and it is something I often need to think about. I’m just glad this opportunity is presented to me 5 times a week when I walk home from work and I’m given a graveyard reminder that I am here to do more and to worry less because in the end none of the hardships from the day really matter. It is the long-term way I live my life that matters.

PS. I will try (if I do not look to Odd and disrespectful to the dead!) and get a photo of said graveyard at some point so you can see what I mean,


Thursday, 13 January 2011

A walk on a Sunday in January and 22 things about me.....

Last weekend I went for a walk with my parents and dog along the beach at sunset, very romantic. I have two things to say about it, one....it woke me up and two....it was the first time I properly tried out my fancy, alarmingly complicated camera that I got at Christmas complete with attached zoom lens that made me fell like some kind of Papparazzi, so yes it was most exciting. The photos are accompanied by 22 completely unrelated things about me, in other words I am afraid I did not have enough foresight to take photos that matched what I'm now saying about myself but photos always make things more interesting.....22 things, one for each year I have lived....


    1) I never read one book at a time and usually I have 6-20 books on the go at any one time. That way I can pick and choose what I read depending on what mood I am in. This could be described as 'fickle'.



    2) For number 2, two things I cannot stand....being ignored and cowards. Two things I love...adventure and honesty.
    

    3) I'm excellent at starting things but rubbish at finishing them. Watch the future of this blog to see how true this is.


    4) Ultimately, I believe we are all here to do something (some goal/pinnacle/zenith of our being!) and that God knows what that is and he'll give us the opportunity to do it you just have to live your life to its best and be ready.


    5) I'm full of contradictions I don't always understand and I think that really everyone is a mixture of contradictions, nobody is black and white so people should be given the time to be understood.



    6) By now, at the ripe old age of 22, I am beginning to know the people i like, the kind of people that suit me and those that do not. In a complete contradiction (see point 5) I am trying to be less judgmental because maybe I don't know for sure which people are good for me and which are not. My friends interest me more than anyone and I have every confidence they will all do something extraordinary with their lives.


    7) One of my favourite acitivities is going for walks at night often very late in the pouring rain, chatting away with my boyfriend about nothing in particular. Incidently, he makes me silliest and laugh hardest and adds that sickly sweet sheen to life and so I don't think I could live without him just so you know.



    8) My favourite type of landscape is a deserted, wild and craggy beach with the wind howling around me so that I can feel that timeless, escapist quality that makes you feel alive and awake. Due to an abundance of such beaches, Ireland is my favourite country in the world that I have visited so far.


   9)  I find people the most fascinating thing in this world and could muse about them all day if given the chance.


   10) When (presumptive I know!) propsed to I expect nothing less than 'Angeles' by Elliott Smith being serenaded to me and played on the acoustic guitar. With the backdrop of a 'wild and rugged' beach at sunset- ahh idealised pictures of life that seem to unrealistically higher my expectations!


    11) I'm lucky enough to have an incredible family, being the youngest is the best, everyone looks after you and you get away with more. I have the most lovely and wonderful mum, dad, older sister and older brother and would be lost without them. On many occasions I would rather stay in with my mum and dad on a Saturday night than go out, sad I know but I don't care...

  
    12) I sometimes believe my dog 'Pooka' is my Guardian Angel in dog form because she arrived when I needed her most. (Actually the above photo is quite apt for what I'm saying here as that is indeed Pooka, did that on purpose....honestly.....)


        14) For me all the colour and vividness of life would be removed without music. I love listening to, playing and writing music, piano being the instrument I can play decently. However, a life ambition is to become expert at acoustic guitar. I'm not at all bitter I'm not talented enough at it to pursue it as a career.....not at all.....



   15)  I sometimes prefer animals to humans because they live life at its most simple and appreciate the  simple things. I will help animals as much as possible before my time is up here.



    16) I especially find people from by-gone eras fascinating (see point 9 for more about my fascination with people) which helps explain my absolute love and life passion for History and why it must be a major part of my future, ultimate life aims/dreams- to be a History professor and write- thats not too much to ask it it?? Keeping in the History theme, I once had a job where I had to sort through the papers and letters of patients from a Victorian Criminal Lunatic Asylum, which often reminded me of my mother's wise words 'there's a very fine line between madness and genius'.


    17) My favourite colour is teal/aqua/turquoise type colours, such colours against maroony purple is the most amazing combination. (See text colour!)I will have a room in my future house exhibiting these two colours. I generally love bright colours.


   18) I much prefer the outside to the inside, I am happiest in nature, watching the one thing that humans will never master unfurling around me.


    19) When I'm older I want to know about 'Art' and collect it so that it is everywhere you look in my house.


    20) I worry a lot about everything but i'm learning to do this less and it's pretty liberating.


    21) In recent years I have learnt to accept myself more and hope by my 'dotage' I accept myself completely- now that would be contentment.


   22) Conversations are everything, the in depth ones that you get lost in- there is nothing better. Even the worthless conversations that seem inconsequential can later be remembered and cause you to have that key thought you needed to have, because it makes sense now because you have experienced what you needed to experience since that conversation for it to make sense. Talking about making sense, I realise this point will make no sense to anyone else, apologies.


 23) I can't count....theres a fact about me I am terrible at maths. Looks like I counted the photos wrong so you get 23 points. So here is point 23.....I have a pot of yellow play-doh beside my bed which I play with every night before I go to sleep, good de-stressing tip and I like the smell.