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Insomnia. She's an evil mistress. I thought I had succeeded in abolishing these debilitating bouts of sleeplessness that had haunted me in the past. I thought I had finally gotten myself in to a normal routine where sleep was not something I both desperately craved and feared at the same time. However, this turned out not to be the case.

She returned a few nights ago.

Good old insomnia.

I lay there for hours and hours on end recalling all the tricks of the trade that you can utilise in an attempt to try and quiet a restless mind. I counted. I meditated. I tried to empty my brain of all thoughts. I got up and paced frantically around the room. I tried to read a book. I tried to listen to music but alas the concept of sweet slumber appeared to be nothing more than a fallacy. I guess the one good thing about not being able to sleep is that it frees up some time to do some work. So last night in the small hours, I tackled doing some editing work. For the most part, it served useful despite the fact that I was still anxiously cursing my body for not allowing me to sleep during the process. I'm always asking for more hours in the day but I would also like to sleep.
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It's become my new motto, 'take the plunge.'

I've been saying it every day recently as a reminder to myself that I have to throw myself into the day. I have been far too passive of late, letting things happen to me or waiting in the background. By telling myself to 'take the plunge' I allow myself to become immersed in the day. I dive in to it and deal with what needs to be dealt with as it comes. I'm aware that I spend far too much time worrying about what could be. It's wasted energy. By taking the plunge, I live in the moment and the results can be surprising.
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It's a strange feeling when you come to the realisation that nothing will ever be the same again. We might think things are constant, we might even indulge in the same fruitless activities day in and day out with the preconception that it's ALWAYS THE SAME. But it's not. Somewhere, clock hands are turning, seasons are making their small changes daily, cells die and replicate. They are all making their subtle changes. As are we.

As I sit here on a cold Sunday in July, listening to the rain which hasn't ceased all day and Beach House's 'Apple Orchard' on repeat, I realise that I'm clambering to hold on to the things I've lost. Those seemingly endless hours of youth where adulthood felt as though it was an alien life-form living in a far off galaxy.

This was the moment the mild epiphany (if you can really call it that) occurred.

And you will have to forgive me for indulging in one or two clich├ęs here, but sometimes they convey the idea in the simplest manner. Why spend time looking backwards when it has no use anymore? The past is the place we have come from but it sure isn't where we are going (unless time travel is discovered to be a reality). It's like being stuck in mud and you're facing the wrong way. You are not able to see any of the opportunities in front of you because you're fixed in one position, looking in the wrong damned direction!

I guess, I am a creature of habit and there's a certain security in looking at the past. It can't have any immediate effect on you. It's all over and done with and all you have to show for it is are a few fragmented memories, a bunch of scratches and scars and a little/infinite knowledge firing its way around inside of your skull. We may have collected all these things from the past and carry them around with us on a daily basis but there is no point in utilising them only to study how they were obtained back in the past and they may not even serve any purpose in the years ahead. However, one thing's for sure, the things coming at you, from this illusive concept we know as 'the future' sure can.
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I will be frank.

- There are days when you don't wake up because you haven't slept all night.

- You've lost track of what day/month/year it is and all you can feel is a sense of dread as you try to systematically recall what day it was yesterday.

- You wonder if the thud in your chest is caused by your heart beating or your soul trying to escape.

- You find yourself going through the motions despite not knowing how you got from point A to point B because you were internally scolding yourself for not sleeping last night. This is then proceeded by you being mad at yourself for 'self-scolding' because you know it can't be helped.

- You successfully manage to make it out of the door and you wonder 'now what?' and 'is this it?' The best questions seem to consist of two or three words. Each word resembling an injection of antifreeze, a piano falling on your head, a second lost.

- You try to conclude whether you are 'wasting time' or 'losing time' and what the difference is between the two.

- You realise that these were some of the thoughts plaguing your bed the previous night so you try to distract yourself.

- You read a newspaper but each story takes you from one horror to the next and you scour the pages attempting to find something they call 'good news' but you're suddenly at the obituaries and it all seems crystal clear now.
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Breaking out of the habit is the hardest thing you can do. Leaving the comfort and safety of what you already know is not an easy feat. But this is the only way to truly live; to drink up the new and open your arms to opportunities before they perish on the vine. Grow wise and be cautious but walk on that ledge and immerse yourself in the sights. The bright, bright lights and the biting breeze. The raw freedom that comes with taking a risk.

This is how life should be.

Shatter your preconceptions and never assume anything. Never take anything for granted and love like it will never last. Because it never will. Celebrate the small things and take time to look up at the stars and the sun and the moon because the answers come when we tilt our heads upwards. Connect your feet to the ground and walk wherever you can. Make that connection between your body and the land, like it was always meant to be. Be outside and live outside of yourself. The truth will come to you that way. Stretch away anything that holds you back and learn to let things go.

That is how it needs to be.
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'Give me life. Give me pain. Give me myself again.' - "Little Earthquakes" - Tori Amos (1991)

'I'm so happy because today I've found my friends. They're in my head.' - "Lithium" - Nirvana (1991)


This won't be another tirade about managing to make it to the end of the day. Nor will it be an excessive list on survival tips. Instead, this will be about waking up each day and knowing that you're still alive and functioning... Barely. However we'll choose to focus on the operative word here: 'functioning'. From this point, it's uphill. A rucksack ladened with enough bricks to build a small house is firmly strapped to your back. Your feet are covered in red-hot weeping wounds which are sandpapered down to the bone by a pair of uncomfortable shoes. Your chest is caught in a pulsating death-grip by a python the size of a swimming pool and you can barely make out where you are going through bleary eyes.

But you're alive, you made it to this point and you tell yourself that you can get through it. One day at a time, one hour at a time, one minute at a time and hell, if needs be, one second at a time. Sometimes you stumble and sometimes you can't find the words. Those are the bad days. When the words won't come and you end up resembling an inarticulate ventriloquist dummy and wonder if people notice. You know that they notice.

It's like you're caught in perpetual exorcism with yourself trying to free your mind from those entities that clog and perverse the functions of a normal, healthy brain. 'But that's okay' you tell yourself. What 'doesn't kill you makes you stronger,' right? It's about feeding yourself moments of hope. It's about having the shield up when those arrows come at you from all directions. It's about allowing yourself to run away even if it's in your mind and finding those moments to appreciate a spectacle such as a setting sun or a blinking star.

Sometimes that's all you need.

It's not easy when people expect more from you especially at the point where you feel a little bit triumphant because you've managed to make it through the day without completely losing it. Yet of course they don't see that. You know it's not their fault and you have to suppress the ideas of screaming at them how proud you are that you made it this far. That something that might seem mundane and down-right easy to them is not always that easy for the rest of us. Cut us some slack.

There's a quote from Plutarch that I often think about, 'what we achieve inwardly will change outer reality'. It's a simple concept and yet it's probably one of the most difficult theories to adopt in our everyday life, especially when our instincts may default to pressing the big ol' 'self destruct' button with a furious temper. It starts from within. We have to learn to make friends with those demons and then politely show them the door. Banish the free-fleeting thoughts about what other people might think and look after ourselves. It may sound selfish and self absorbed but battles can not be won when we are still waging war with ourselves.
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It must be because I am a Libra. Indecisive and eternally seeking balance in everything I do. When the truth is, the scales will always tip one way or another. The concept of the perfect balance is merely a mirage. We juggle our daily lives as best as possible and the more organised individuals may even be able to plan and juggle the events of the next few days or weeks. And then life decides to throw you a curve ball. A huge whacking asteroid-sized curve-ball that is coming straight at you full force. You suddenly find that you are now no longer juggling those elements, you're sheltering yourself from being pelted by them.

Those of us that are better equipped may just open up their arms and embrace the collision and deal with damage-control later on. Others may have refined the use of the elegant side-step approach and manage to avoid the majority of the debris. There is a third type, the ones that stay catatonically frozen in fear; desperately hoping that the laws of gravity will suddenly change and the impending damage caused by these falling parts is inevitably spared. The chances of this happening are relatively slim.

You'll notice how I mentioned that the better equipped individuals are the ones who embrace the downfall. They don't mind the cuts and the bruises caused by all the pre-juggled life shrapnel because they know that there will be plasters and splints to help repair the damage later on. Life is messy. It's complicated and downright difficult. It's also surprising, unpredictable and beautiful. Some of us have mastered the technique of keeping things going when that curve-ball is coming at you faster than a chased gazelle. These are the lucky ones, the rare breed. They can even keep a smile going at the same time and these are the true heroes, the life warriors. The ones that I have much to learn from. For now I will have to learn to ride the wave, endure the impending impact and try my hardest to make informed decisions and maybe, just maybe keep a smile on my face.
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The world comes at you a little differently when you're tired. It seeks to get under your skin and whisper in your ear clambering seed-sized phrases of regret, of washed-up lies and misguided flakes of advice. It will proceed to pin you firmly against the wall and take a balled-up fist to you whilst you try your best to recite a prayer you remember learning in school. The fatigue seeps through each and every muscle and you know that it will do no good to fight back. So you take each hit as best as you can.
One - for the time you stayed up all night trying to find the words to say that you're not as strong as you might believe.
Two - for the day when you wandered the streets relinquishing the thoughts of stepping out into a busy road.
Three - for the time you drank yourself into an abyss and awoke to find yourself in a strangers bed.

Four, five, six.

You take them all and you swallow each association and you turn them into hard little stones that will forever reside within your physical body. They are part of you now and those stitched-in wishes that you created on your eighteenth birthday have now fallen to the wayside. You remind yourself that it is okay. You're tired, the world is coming at you this way because you're just a little weaker today. Nothing is permanent and this too will fade away as you learn to stop counting the hits.
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Everything always looks different at 3 a.m in the morning. The walls seem larger and the soft glow from the lamp casts a different shadow than it did only a few hours previously. Floorboards creak with a less furious tone, as though exhausted with the constant footfall as you pace backwards and forwards trying to squeeze that last thought from your brain so that you can finally rest in peace. Food tastes better. Music sounds much more profound, you can pick out the tones of a singular instrument and allow it to communicate another message. Another language. Muscles ache and the sharp edges blur. We count the many times that we've been here before. It's almost like visiting an old friend.
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It's so easy to come undone. I need to carry some old string on me at all times so as soon as I start to unfold, I can tie it all back up again. Secure it with a double knot and hope it holds until at least the end of the day. I'm talking figuratively of course, I've not contracted a pesky disease that causes body parts to fall off on random occasions. That would be suitably annoying, of course, but I talk more about those events or situations that push us to our limits and cause us to re-evaluate the direction of the way we live our lives.

Personally it can be one little thing that sets me on the path of 'unfolding', so being punched in the face by a couple of bad days is enough to make me want to retreat and build myself a life living in the woods. See, I did say it doesn't take much. A few years ago, I probably would have done just that but I now have to remind myself that what might seem like a 'big deal' at this present moment will mean absolutely nothing the following week and by next week it will not even be a blip on my radar. It is difficult to always remember that, especially when caught up in the moment and all you can think about is either setting off on a murderous rampage or taking to the streets singing protest songs whilst simultaneously hacking off your own body parts and throwing them at passer-bys. What can I say, I have a thing for symbolism. Seriously though, don't sweat the small stuff. It's not worth it. Save it for the big stuff and when that big stuff happens, remind yourself that it won't always be this way. Things change, time passes by and we all know what happens in the last chapter in the Book of Life. We have to remind ourselves to focus on the good stuff and there's always at least something remotely positive to cling to and better yet, attempt to create some good stuff. The perfect distraction. It's not easy. In fact it's down-right tough but it's not impossible. And it beats hacking off your own limbs.

On Board

Apr. 23rd, 2015 11:00 am
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Sometimes we have to get off the train once in a while. Even if it's just for a day or two or longer. Sometimes we need to try and slow down the forward-motion and take a side-step. Before you know it, a year has passed or a decade has dissolved into a few faded memories and you've withered on the vine. There's no stopping the orbit or the changing seasons or the direction of the winds but we can choose the direction of the day. We pause, we breathe, we take in the view. We ground ourselves and get back on the train, whether it be 11am or 11pm, we take our ticket and we get on board.
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They chew you up and spit you out and you're left to face the rest on your own. So don't let them. It's often difficult to face the daily battles especially when the world is drained of any colour and all you can see is various tones of grey and the drizzle clings to your pale, clammy skin like unwanted kisses. But you have to dig out that old battered rain coat and wear it with pride. You've got to manufacture your own sunlight and you've got to learn how to pulverise that grey sky until it gives you a little colour. Even if it means beating the absolute shit out of it. It has to come at all costs. They might not know about the turmoil and they might not understand that the prospect of putting your shoes on and greeting the day comes with its own challenges. It isn't their fault. It takes a little time to solve the crossword puzzle especially when you are aren't given any clues. Three across: A bitter pill to swallow. Nine down: Another word for dusk. We're not machines, we're not programmed to react and respond in a particular way. If you hand me a pen I can't guarantee that I won't write a love note or an instruction manual on how to fool the world. Maybe I will just settle with a list of apologies or I will tell you about the time I hid under the bed for three hours too afraid to move. The ones who wait are the ones you should keep. Remember their names and remember their birthdays, the small details are often the most important. And if you can wait for someone else then they will remember your birthday too. It's all about the details, the simple things, the way we connect. And if we can apologise to the world and know that it's true, then let it be. Let it swallow you whole and rock you to sleep. Let it consume you even if it is just for one brief, sweet moment. They might not notice that you left the room but they sure will notice when you make your return. Don't forget their names. They won't forget yours.
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Let's generalise people for a few minutes shall we? I'd like to think that people can be lumped into three categories. These are, the Brain People, the Guts People and the Heart People. Before you start thinking that I am going off on some sort of zombie dietary preference scheme or listing a collection of new-found fraternity-led cult groups, let me clarify a little more.

There are certain people who behave a specific way in life, the Brain People like to think about decisions and actions before actually acting upon them. They like to analyse and cautiously weigh up the pros and cons. Then you have the Guts People who don't think about their actions or behaviour, they just go with it. And lastly, you have the Heart People who follow their instinct which may require a little bit of help from the top (the brain) and a little help from below (the guts) in order to proceed. Heart People are literally the middle ground people and this suits quite nicely, what with the heart located right between brain and guts, physically speaking.

I'm a Brain Person and I have to be honest, it's pretty damn infuriating. I mean, I love that I have the ability to think things through fully... It's pretty useful and all that, but boy do I hate overanalysing things! It is literally exhausting. It would be nice to experience one day as a Guts Person and proceed with reckless abandon. I could stick my two middle fingers up to the world and say 'fuck it, I'm doing it my way today.' Nevertheless, as a Brain Person, I am inclined to stop and think about that action before pursuing it. Talk about frustrating. I read an article not too long ago about how on average, we have about 50,000 to 70,000 thoughts a day. My first thought (no irony intended) was 'there is without no doubt more traffic in my brain than a measly 70,000 thought count. These researchers need to recruit more Brain People. Heart People seem to have the best of both worlds, with a little access to the brain and a little access to their guts they can move through life with relative ease. They can be happy that they made an informed decision and followed it through with the courage sparingly provided by their lower region. They can be blissfully at ease and without regret that they didn't miss out on an opportunity because they spent too much time thinking about the consequences and didn't have the guts to act upon it. They have the best of both worlds. The brain and guts are just too far apart, they don't have the magic power of the heart in order to be accessible to one another.

I am thinking that I may need to develop some sort of lobotomy procedure that prevents me from going over the 70,000 thought limit and in turn will hopefully cause me to metamorphosis into a Heart Person. However, this is going to require a lot of planning and a lot of thinking. Leave it with me, I'll let my brain chew upon it.
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I find myself residing here, in the mouth of the monster. Ready to be swallowed whole, ready to navigate the messy, acidic belly of the beast. Ready to be slowly digested, guts exposed, bones brittle and weathered. At least it is warm here. At least I am sheltered from the elements.
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We never really break old habits. We just learn ways to distract ourselves from them. If we dig deep enough or stop going against the grain, they will be found stored away in little boxes at the bottom of our souls.

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Not an Oracle

January 2016

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