A Blogging Award and me mumbling on

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The lovely and inspiring Lynne Fisher has nominated me for an award, thank you Lynne! Below, I’ve answered the 11 questions she set me;  and then below that I’ve set 11 of my own that I’d love you (yes YOU) to answer. I’m not going to nominate anyone specific, but it would be great if any of you you felt inspired add your four penneth in the comments.

1.What do you feel is your greatest personal accomplishment?

I guess the thing I’m proudest of, that makes me happiest right now, is just that I am living life in the way that I want: doing a job I care about, spending my free time on things that are important to me, and friends only with people I love and respect.

2. What makes you feel joyful?

Writing, painting, time with people I care about, joking or connecting with just about anyone, walking fast with music playing, driving when the road is clear, when my job goes well, sushi, ice cream, gooey cake.

3.What makes you angry?

Cruelty and bullying, when people use intimidation to win an argument or get their way. On the more trivial side: my laptop has the CD drawer open button on the side just where I hold it to pick it up, so the CD drawer keeps on opening needlessly.

4.What is one law you could change if you could?

I’d legalise all drugs, but control the most dangerous ones – which I believe to be crack, heroin, coke, cigarettes and alcohol. I appreciate this would cause some ructions.

5.Where is your favourite place in the world to be?

The rainforest! The constant chirruping and calling sounds, the bizarre bugs, fungi and plants, the rain, the stars; the urgent clash and competition of life – so much energy, determination and innovation. I lived in one for a while, miss it constantly and visit whenever I can, but I’m a wuss these days and find the heat a struggle and the isolation a bit disturbing. I work with tropical plants to calm the need to go back.

6.What is it about your ‘favourite’ coffee shop that makes it your favourite?

I’m from the past, I’m afraid, and coffee shops don’t interest me. I like coffee and I like cake, so if someone takes me to a coffee shop and gives me these things I am happy, but the actual building I forget as soon as I leave.

7.If your house was on fire (God, forbid) what five objects/items would you just have to save?

Assuming all people get out? My laptop (annoying CD drawer and all), the art/writing project I’m working on, I guess some shoes and a coat would be useful. I have a load of photos/old diaries I would be heartbroken to leave, but it would take a few trips to get them out of the flat, so probably best to leave them.

8.Who would you prefer to play you in a movie?

I think, nobody famous. A homely, unknown actress with a spark in her eye and a sarcastic tone to her voice.

9.What are your strengths?

No idea really. I always try to do the right thing, until I forget or get distracted by cake. I’m good at arguing, although I suspect some would see that as a flaw. I don’t flinch when a cockroach runs up my arm (useful in my job). I have no interest in shoes (some definitely see that as a flaw.)

10.What do you wish you were better at?

Not getting lost, swimming, singing, knowing when to stay quiet, martial arts, tying knots, baking, remembering names, parallel parking, not panicking, paying attention, remembering birthdays.

11.What is the most valuable thing you’ve learned about blogging?

That you don’t blog in a vacuum, it’s more fun to connect with people than to just splurge out your thoughts and hope someone’s reading. And people on here are just surprisingly lovely.

My 11 questions for anyone who fancies answering them:

  1. When was the last time you laughed? What at?
  2. What’s the weather like where you are? How does it affect you? (In the UK we’re having a heatwave, everyone is half dead)
  3. What thoughts keep you awake at night?
  4. What conversations do you avoid?
  5. If you were invisible for a week, what would you do?
  6. What’s the oddest thing you’ve ever seen? (Things on the internet don’t count)
  7. If you could live the life of any character in a novel, who would it be?
  8. When do you feel most alive?
  9. You can have a penfriend from any time in history, who would it be? What kind of letters would you write?
  10. Do you ever feel like you haven’t a clue what you’re doing and you’re about to be found out? What makes you feel like that?
  11. Would you like your home country to introduce basic income (everybody gets paid enough to live on whether they work or not)? How would it change your life?

 

I’ve nearly finished the first draft of rewriting my book, so hopefully I’ll start blogging properly again soon. I’ve missed being on here, and many of you out there, I hope you are all doing great and life is beautiful. Even if you don’t feel in the mood to answer my questions, I’d love to just hear how you’re doing. 🙂

 

 

Questions to Ponder – Final

Questions…yada yada…all very profound and thoughtful…tum te tum…really figured out some meaningful things all about mememe….ta-de-da-de-ta…be great to hear your answers too…dooby-dooby-doo…

  1. If you knew that everyone you know was going to die tomorrow, who would you visit today?
  2. Would you be willing to reduce your life expectancy by 10 years to become extremely attractive or famous?
  3. What is the difference between being alive and truly living?
  4. When is it time to stop calculating risk and rewards, and just go ahead and do what you know is right?
  5. If we learn from our mistakes, why are we always so afraid to make a mistake?
  6. What would you do differently if you knew nobody would judge you?
  7. When was the last time you noticed the sound of your own breathing?
  8. What do you love?
  9. Have any of your recent actions openly expressed this love?
  10. In 5 years from now, will you remember what you did yesterday? What about the day before that? Or the day before that?

 

My Answers

  1. If you knew that everyone you know was going to die tomorrow, who would you visit today?

My best friend. Family.

  1. Would you be willing to reduce your life expectancy by 10 years to become extremely attractive or famous?

I don’t think I want to be attractive, I see why it’s a nice idea and it would lead to opportunities, but I’m quite fond of my nonsense old face, and people who know me know it. As for famous, it would be useful, I might be able to make changes in the world – but realistically, I’m no better at fixing the problems of the world than anyone else, yet nothing gets fixed. And being famous looks fucking terrifying, like being in a car that’s skidding out of control while thousands of people look in at your stricken face and take photos. If I could trade those ten years for excellent health, constant energy, endless inspiration and maybe some money, then yep.

  1. What is the difference between being alive and truly living?

No idea. ‘Truly living’ seems like one of those judgement phrases people come up with to put down others for living all wrong. Life is tough, a lot of it is dull and difficult. Most of us will never be heroes, kings, film stars or geniuses. However, our lives are still relevant; contain love, laughter, learning and delight. So however we choose to do it, we are truly living.

  1. When is it time to stop calculating risk and rewards, and just go ahead and do what you know is right?

As a spontaneous person who has in the past repeatedly leapt into situations without calculating anything, I’m always doing what I think is a good idea at the time and then regretting it afterwards. Therefore I’m in a good position to know: ON THE WHOLE, CALCULATING RISKS, REWARDS AND OUTCOMES IS QUITE A GOOD THING. I’m not saying it’s good to spend so long calculating that you never actually do anything, but a certain amount of planning and contemplation is ideal. It’s what I try to do now.

  1. If we learn from our mistakes, why are we always so afraid to make a mistake?

Making a mistake feels horrible. The most extreme mistakes I’ve made have led to the most brilliant outcomes, but I’ve had to wade through a lot of badness first, so much so I could never knowingly walk into those mistakes. The small mistakes often don’t lead to learning anyway. The number of times I’ve accidentally kicked my laptop across the floor, or forgotten to lock the car, or accidentally said something rude to my boss – every time I tell myself never again, but I still do it.

  1. What would you do differently if you knew nobody would judge you?

Be more antisocial. Wash my hair less.

  1. When was the last time you noticed the sound of your own breathing?

I meditate, so I do this quite often. It’s a good thing to do though.

  1. What do you love?

People (both specific people and people in general), food, sleep, walking, writing, drawing, imagination, plants, studying. Not in that order.

  1. Have any of your recent actions openly expressed this love?

Yup. Not saying I appreciate all those things everyday, but most days and most things.

  1. In 5 years from now, will you remember what you did yesterday? What about the day before that? Or the day before that?

I guess this is a: Your life is ending one minute at a time! Live everyday day as if it’s your last! Are you living enough right now? ARE you? type question, and I object to those. There are usually a few exciting things going on in my life (exciting to me, that is, pretty much nobody gets excited about the same things I do) but if life is constantly exciting, filled with new experiences all the time, one big hyperactive adventure, then the following things happen:

  • You get stressed and exhausted and it’s impossible to really reflect on anything, you’re too busy experiencing.
  • You need to keep upping the stakes, because your boredom threshhold shrinks.
  • You keep zipping about from one place to another, so it’s difficult to form lasting relationships and the ones you have are based in excitement which means they can end up being shallow.
  • You don’t get to properly focus on one thing. Studying, being successful in a career, raising a family, writing a book – any possible major achievement in life takes time, and involves many days of repetitious boredom. This isn’t negative.
  • Because you are constantly focusing on the next big event/exciting adventure, it means you don’t get to appreciate the good, small and meaningful things in your life. In fact it causes you to remove and dismiss them.
  • Life just isn’t like that, boredom is a part of life; telling people that boredom is bad doesn’t enable people to instantly live exciting lives, just to feel that their perfectly normal lives are inadequate – which is a fucking tragedy.

Now over to you, what do you all think?

 

 

Questions to Ponder Part 3

I’m still working through the answers to some questions I found on Imgur here. They are a mixture of thoughtful and daft. Wordwitch got in ahead of me with this one, so here are some of her answers, which are interesting and funny as always. Anyone who wants to join in with their own answers is very welcome, either in the comments, or on your own blog if you fancy (feel free to add a link in the comments).

The Questions

  1. At what time in your recent past have you felt most passionate and alive?
  1. If not now, then when? If you haven’t achieved it yet, what do you have to lose?
  1. Have you ever been with someone, said nothing, and walked away feeling like you just had the best conversation ever?
  1. Why do religions that support love cause so many wars?
  1. Is it possible to know, without a doubt, what is good and what is evil?
  1. If you just won a million dollars, would you quit your job?
  1. Would you rather have less work to do, or more work you actually enjoy doing?
  1. Do you feel like you’ve lived this day a hundred times before?
  1. When was the last time you marched into the dark with only the soft glow of an idea you strongly believed in?

My Answers

  1. At what time in your recent past have you felt most passionate and alive?

This morning I was researching for a new project I’m working on, I don’t know about ‘most passionate and alive’, but somewhat thrilled and giddy.

  1. If not now, then when?

What?

If you haven’t achieved it yet, what do you have to lose?

Eh? I guess this is a motivating call to ‘just do it!’ I think I’m too contrary for those to work on me. I can motivate myself fine, but someone shouting encouragement at me will only inspire me to procrastinate with some cake and TV.

  1. Have you ever been with someone, said nothing, and walked away feeling like you just had the best conversation ever?

Sure. Once while on acid with a friend is one time I especially remember. We sat watching cranes building stuff, side by side in silence. I had the most profound experience thinking about life and how busy we all are; I felt that I had connected with this friend on a truly deep level despite the lack of words, that we were attuned, and that he must also have had also had the same realisations about life that I had had. Turned out later that he’d had a horrendous trip and had been beset by demons and doubt.

  1. Why do religions that support love cause so many wars?

Because belief causes emotion and that can be used to obliterate reason, and some people exploit that to make themselves feel important. Emotions are amazing and make life worthwhile, but they are also extremely dangerous because they feel like absolute truth without needing any evidence at all.

  1. Is it possible to know, without a doubt, what is good and what is evil?

No not without deluding yourself. I think if you remove doubt, then you are more likely to commit evil. Only by questioning yourself can you keep in check. People without doubt are appealing, but dangerous.

  1. If you just won a million dollars, would you quit your job?

Yep. Although after sashaying around the world a few times, I’d probably go back to doing my job again – but fewer hours.

  1. Would you rather have less work to do, or more work you actually enjoy doing?

I do enjoy my job. I’ve almost always done jobs I like, I don’t know if it’s luck or just because I’m so awful at sticking with things I don’t enjoy. I’ve always chosen enjoying my job over earning good money; as a result I’ve always been broke, which has its own problems. I think there’s pressure in society to achieve both – money AND job satisfaction – as if both are possible for most people, but I doubt they are, which makes questions like this seem a bit unfair. However, I would like to work less, just so I have time to do other stuff, like writing.

  1. Do you feel like you’ve lived this day a hundred times before?

No, generally, there is some repetition in my life, there needs to be a routine because constant change is also exhausting. However, there is usually something going on that suggests change is over the horizon, irons in the fire, seeds planted etc. I have a quiet fear of being stuck in a rut, so in the past when I found myself in one I flailed madly about until the rut was destroyed, usually along with all stability in my life. These days I try to shake things up by taking on a new creative endeavour or challenge, that seems a bit healthier.

  1. When was the last time you marched into the dark with only the soft glow of an idea you strongly believed in?

I do that all the time. It’s why I’m always bumping into things, stubbing my toe and then feeling beset with horror when I realise that the soft glow of my idea was actually the dim bulb of stupidity. It’s not something I’d give up  though, that rush of excitement when I think Yes! This is it! I know exactly what I have to do! It’s going to be amazing! is my favourite feeling in the world, even if it’s often wrong.

Now over to you… 🙂

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.

I Want to Introduce You to Victor

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Victor has been in my life now for over twenty years. Most of the time he has that look of quiet, patient dignity, occasionally it changes to a look of suppressed rage or weary indignation. Here he is looking natty and cool in a baseball cap. For twenty years I have kept him hidden away, a secret all mine. Now I think I need to share him with the world, I’m not sure what the world will do with him, but let’s find out.

This is Victor the Head. He will be back soon.