The Blue Sky Tag

I’ve been nominated for an award by delightful writer The Otherhood of One, it’s well worth checking out her blog if you’ve got some time…

I won’t do the nominating other people thing, because I know what busy bees you all are. Instead, here are the questions The Otherhood put to me, and they are gooduns, so if any of you feel like joining in, then I’d love to hear what you have to say.

  1. Name one life event that dramatically altered your life…
  2. Dreams: do you have them or chase them?
  3. What is your “favorite” feeling/emotion?
  4. Soon, we as a species may be colonizing in space.  Would you prefer to remain here on Earth, or go exploring with the pioneers?
  5. What other creative pursuits do you enjoy besides writing/blogging?
  6. Movies are expensive if you go to the theater.  What kind of movie are you most likely willing to pay for to see – drama, comedy, sci-fi/fantasy, docu-drama, etc?
  7. What animal “speaks” to you most these days?  (Can be wild or domesticated, real or imaginary.)
  8. Would you prefer to be happy, fulfilled or content in life?
  9. Are you any, or all, of the above?  Or none?
  10. If your “future” self could reveal one detail about what’s ahead for you, what would you want to know?
  11. What one thing would you like to tell those of us reading this post today

 

Name one life event that dramatically altered your life

Moving to Mexico in 2001. It was done in the most haphazard way possible. I went with someone I barely knew, we had almost no money, and no planned job or any contacts. I bought the cheapest tickets in Mexico that I could find (returns to Cancun) and then we spent the next month moving from place to place trying to find work. We finally settled in Mexico City, which is an intense, creative, polluted, brilliant, complex, hyperactive, scary explosion of a city. I think what I learnt from the whole experience was how it’s possible to do seemingly impossible things with a little cunning and a lot of blind stupidity. The person I went with that I barely knew ended up my best friend and we still live together, so that was also pretty important.

Dreams: do you have them or chase them?

Both. I’m definitely a dreamer, but I like the chase too. I have a sneaking suspicion that if I ever caught up with my dreams and they came true, I wouldn’t like it and I would then be stuck for something new to do, but the chances are that won’t happen, so I’m not worrying.

What is your “favourite” feeling/emotion?

Euphoria. I get it quite often, that feeling of Yes! This is it! This is the best idea ever! Unfortunately, while the feeling may be great, the actual ideas are often nonsense and the intensity of the feeling is no reflection on quality; there have been a few I’ve liked though.

Soon, we as a species may be colonizing in space. Would you prefer to remain here on Earth, or go exploring with the pioneers?

I’m fine here, I think. There are so, so many places on this planet that we’ve barely started on that I desperately want to see – the bottom of the sea, deep underground, further inside particles – I’d rather concentrate on them before I move off to outer space. I also have this feeling that going to outer space wouldn’t be as brilliant as it should be; I think it might be more like a cruise, where you spend ages trapped inside a big ship just waiting to get somewhere far away and when you do land you’re very restricted and can’t properly explore. If I could have a little buggy ship that I zip around the star systems in, that would be fun; but still, most other planets are likely to be less filled with bizarre life than our oceans.

What other creative pursuits do you enjoy besides writing/blogging?

 

I draw and paint, and my work partly involves putting plants together in a way that is hopefully beautiful.

Movies are expensive if you go to the theater. What kind of movie are you most likely willing to pay for to see – drama, comedy, sci-fi/fantasy, docu-drama, etc?

I don’t know what my perfect genre would be, but I thought Dr Strange was fun, if a bit nonsensical. (I loved the buildings collapsing in on themselves, but what happened to all the people inside? Wouldn’t they be crushed?) And I really enjoyed Trainspotting 2, although it was sad. I like films that give me a sense of bigness, like looking out at a horizon beneath a huge sky.

What animal “speaks” to you most these days? (Can be wild or domesticated, real or imaginary.)

Hmm, not sure. Birds chat to me quite a lot, but they’re quite repetitive. Me and various small many-legged pests often have a few words, although rarely friendly ones. It’s getting to that time of year when nature likes to invade; so birds start nesting in my plant pots, tiny frogs start appearing everywhere and we keep having to chase ducks outside.

Would you prefer to be happy, fulfilled or content in life?

And

Are you any, or all, of the above? Or none?

I’ve been thinking about this question all day, trying to work out exactly what the difference is and how I feel about them. These are my conclusions.

Happiness is more of a joyful excited feeling, while I think contentment is a peaceful acceptance in the mind. I guess fulfilled is achieving things you want to achieve (either personally or professionally) – but if there aren’t many things you actually want to achieve, then presumably you can feel permanently fulfilled.

I think contentment is a very nice idea, but my brain isn’t wired that way. The less my brain has to think about and the calmer life is, the more anxious and antsy I get. There have been very few delicious moments of total peace in my life, when I needed nothing, worried about nothing and felt blissfully peaceful; and those moments I had didn’t last for long. Given the option, I would have a contentment switch in my neck, so that I could experience a few pleasant hours once a week maybe – but then, would I ever want to switch it back?

I think I feel happy and fulfilled quite often, I love the sensation of my brain whirring away, so I tend to do creative things, learn whenever I can, have speculative rambles through my imagination or have ridiculous conversations about daft ideas. All those things make me happy. However, it’s a never-ending demand, so not exactly like filling something full, more like pouring stuff into a tube, while it pours out the bottom, so that the need is constant.

If your “future” self could reveal one detail about what’s ahead for you, what would you want to know?

I’d like to know if the book I wrote recently is going to get published, just so I know whether to keep making an effort.

What one thing would you like to tell those of us reading this post today?

Everything is going to be just fine, trust me; it may not feel like it at the moment, but it’ll all fall into place soon enough.

Questions to Ponder part 3

So continuing the questions to get you thinking, as purloined from Imgur. Previous questions here and here. I wanted to be less cantankerous with these ones, but they are still a little patronising, and let’s face it I am cantankerous, so there’s only so much I can do to avoid that. I’d love to hear your answers also!

  1. Why are you, you?
  1. Have you been the kind of friend you want as a friend?
  1. Which is worse, when a good friend moves away, or losing touch with a good friend who lives right near you?
  1. What are you most grateful for?
  1. Would you rather lose all of your old memories, or never be able to make new ones?
  1. Is it possible to know the truth without challenging it first?
  1. Has your greatest fear ever come true?
  1. Do you remember that time 5 years ago when you were extremely upset
  1. Does it really matter now?
  1. What is your happiest childhood memory?
  1. What makes it so special?

 

  1. Why are you, you?

A mixture of chance, effort and fuck ups.

  1. Have you been the kind of friend you want as a friend?

I’ve done my best, although I’m often crap. I’m way better than I used to be, but then my friends are way better too. I could have done with some kind of rule book.

  1. Which is worse, when a good friend moves away, or losing touch with a good friend who lives right near you?

I guess the second because it implies a rejection rather than circumstances beyond the friend’s control.

  1. What are you most grateful for?

My best friend. The ideas that fire up my head. Regaining my life after brain injury.

  1. Would you rather lose all of your old memories, or never be able to make new ones?

Lose the old memories, it would be heart-breaking, but I could make a new life. If I lost the ability to make new memories, then I wouldn’t be able to function in my current life, only to live in the past.

  1. Is it possible to know the truth without challenging it first?

I think our brains are wired to make us believe that we are forming Truths based on careful observation, but actually what we do is assume. Knowing that, I try to over-ride it, but I frequently fail. So, I guess what I’m saying is – we tend to think the answer to the question is no, but without realising, we act as if the answer is yes.

  1. Has your greatest fear ever come true?

Yes. The brain injury and all the surrounding illness was a load of great fears bundled into one. Having my IQ halved and my ability to look after myself lost, seeing my life pass me by without being able to actually live it; I think these things were some of my greatest fears. Now that that is over, I still get a panic it will all happen again – a bad day of being too exhausted is frightening – but I’m also aware that I got through that, I was still living and doing what I could, so I try and focus on that optimism.

  1. Do you remember that time 5 years ago when you were extremely upset?

Yes, vaguely.

  1. Does it really matter now?

I appreciate there are things that I fret over that aren’t important and I should just ditch them, and that is important to remember. However, I don’t tend to get properly emotional unless something is really wrong, or my brain chemistry is out of wack, either way there isn’t much of an option.

  1. What is your happiest childhood memory?

Creating stories and magical lands with my friends.

  1. What makes it so special?

I got to create stories and magical lands with my friends.

Over to you folks…

Questions to Ponder

I found these questions on Imgur and they set me thinking. Although it may become obvious that the questions annoyed me a bit, they are useful for taking stock, working out if I am living how I want to live. I thought I’d share in case you too find them useful to think about. If you like, add your own thoughts in the comments, or even write a blog and link, depending on how the inspiration takes you. There are fifty of these questions, so I’m going to break them up a bit and post ten at a time.

The questions for today:

  1. How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are?
  2. Which is worse, failing or never trying?
  3. If life is so short, why do we do so many things we don’t like and like so many things we don’t do?
  4. When it’s all said and done, will you have said more than you’ve done?
  5. What is the one thing you’d most like to change about the world?
  6. If happiness was the national currency, what kind of work would make you rich?
  7. Are you doing what you believe in, or are you settling for what you are doing?
  8. If the average human life span was 40 years, how would you live your life differently?
  9. To what degree have you actually controlled the course your life has taken?
  10. Are you more worried about doing things right, or doing the right things?

 

  1. How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are?

I don’t entirely understand this, because I wouldn’t still be the age I am? If the question means How old do you feel? Then somewhere between nineteen and a thousand, I can feel like both. In most ways I’m less jaded than I was as a child, but I also feel ancient, haunted, inept and childish. The older I get, the more I don’t care about the number I am, but how well I can physically and mentally deal with situations.

  1. Which is worse, failing or never trying?

Failing is a short term horror, but something you have to go through to get to longer term wonder. Never trying is a short term comfort, but a lifetime of emptiness. I tend to go for trying and failing, because the emptiness has always scared me. However, I’ve known people for whom trying is permanently uncomfortable, they are happy in their lack of effort. I guess we each have to find what works best for us.

  1. If life is so short, why do we do so many things we don’t like and like so many things we don’t do?

Survival for the first one. Time for the second one.

  1. When it’s all said and done, will you have said more than you’ve done?

I’ll have done plenty of both. I have a rule: I only talk about something when I definitely intend to do it, and I only abandon this plan when a better plan comes along. Not saying I always follow this rule, there are plenty of good ideas I’ve abandoned due to laziness or fear, but laziness and fear have their uses also.

  1. What is the one thing you’d most like to change about the world?

I would like to shift emotion and reason so that they are in better proportion – individuals sometimes ruled by emotion to the point that they do terrible things, but most systems (ie government, corporate business, healthcare) seem to be so without empathy that they treat individuals terribly. So just a more evenly spread balance of the two.

  1. If happiness was the national currency, what kind of work would make you rich?

This is a complicated question. I believe that my job (gardener) keeps me sane, physically healthy and calm. The things that make me happy are writing, laughing with friends and eating, but if I did these things for eight hours a day, I wouldn’t be sane, physically healthy or calm. And probably not happy either. I also fear that if doing those things was a duty, I’d soon stop enjoying them. It’s probably an old-fashioned view, but I think we need difficulty, responsibility and boredom in our lives, if we got to do things we enjoyed all the time, it wouldn’t make us happy at all; we wouldn’t feel fulfilled because we wouldn’t be able to appreciate the good things we had.

  1. Are you doing what you believe in, or are you settling for what you are doing?

I think my job matters, but it has many flaws that annoy me – so in some ways I settle, while also doing what I believe in. Writing is the same, I love it (‘believe in it’ is an ambiguous phrase) but it is flawed. Life always has a few compromises.

  1. If the average human life span was 40 years, how would you live your life differently?

I would already be dead.

  1. To what degree have you actually controlled the course your life has taken?

Illness, injury, and disaster aside, I’ve made most of my choices. Often badly. I’ve never been good at doing what I’m supposed to be doing (and I’ve tried, I promise) so I’ve had to figure out my own way of doing things.

  1. Are you more worried about doing things right, or doing the right things?

I believe that both matter. My tendency is to focus on doing the ‘right thing’ while not paying attention to the details, and as a result I often fuck it all up and have to start over again, doing it properly. I know other people who get very bogged down in carrying out a task to perfection, while other tasks get neglected completely. I think this is one of those situations where you need a balance of the two ways of thinking.