Goodbye

Cliché surrounds making yourself happy: the ‘do it because you’re the only person that matters’ type ethic is used to fill blank walls with similar sounding quotes, and appears meaningless and almost laughable that somebody needs a daily reminder to make themselves happy. That’s what it’s about, isn’t it? The pursuit of happiness. That’s what counts, and what matters. Whichever method you find tranquillity in pursuing this ongoing journey towards finding fulfilment, satisfaction and contentedness, you physically cannot let anybody tell you otherwise. If you do, it ceases to be an individual journey, and ruins the ethic entirely, however cliché, it must be individual.

It starts with a ‘lightbulb’ type epiphany: you’re sitting in a car doing 140mph on the German-autobahn and somebody in the seat next to you tells you that they don’t care about a life changing decision you’ve made, or you’re wandering through a field and stepping over a small brook, and the wind which rushes through you shifts your mentality, or you’re deep in the metropolis, surrounded by people following a similar pursuit (however many of those metropolis dwellers confuse money for happiness) and you look up at the skyscrapers and realise it’s futile. It does not matter where you are when you gain this certain light, but what matters is that it usually occurs at a critical juncture in your life, at a crossroads when you’re looking around and observing, trying to make a snap decision which exact route to take.

Scarily, it is individual, so intimate and personal that you fail quite to put into words just how this scene or scenario has made you feel and changed your entire outlook as a result. It’s been a long time coming but hits you as a wave of rushing cold water, soothing and refreshing, but cold nonetheless. You realise there are certain aspects of your current life that you have to change and other avenues that you have to pursue, deciding in an impromptu fashion to take a small cobbled street to the left of you in the hope that it’s quicker to get where you’re heading.

As you pierce the shell of an egg with your two thumbs in order to crack it, you don’t think about the shell being torn apart and ripped in two. Instead, you think about the bright yellow yolk inside, moulded into the white about to trickle into your pan of melting butter. Indeed, as you slowly start to cook your egg, and grind some peppercorns on top, place the bread in the toaster, you realise that the splitting of the shell was necessary to accomplish this. Similarly, coming to a realisation that there may be certain people or things in your life which at the moment seem vital to who you are, but to get where you want to be, may become a hindrance is a difficult thing to comprehend. It cracks your outer skin slightly, and slowly makes its way down to your core, perhaps even influencing your important decisions.

This is the danger with an individual pursuit like happiness; you must, to a certain extent, dwell on the equal amount of loss and sadness before you experience any type of meaningful gain, and it remains an impossible task, to know what’s right. Putting into words such an intimate walk of life risks being so wrong, so far away from the reality of it, and what is happening in another person’s soul. That is the beautiful intricacy of the human spectrum, there is as much Individual struggle as collective struggle. Perhaps that is the reason why many people choose to laugh at a constant reminder that you have to do something to make yourself happy; seeing such words which have been unexperienced cracks their shell slightly, only insignificantly, it is a mere dent on their exterior, nothing has quite penetrated their being yet. Without realisation and comprehension, however difficult, what hope can there be of action?

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All Of The People

There’s a monotony to the trudging, simultaneous marching that echoes throughout rush hour. Everybody seems the same, affected by the very same problem that confronts us all. Time. The name rush hour is given quite appropriately, but it should not only reflects the feeling of an hour and a half when people are leaving work, but the very nature of city life itself.

Every part of the day, every minute and insignificant detail of city life is a barrage to be first, be slightly better, gain something that somebody else doesn’t have. The subtly smug and satisfied eyes of a businessman as the doors close on the underground train you needed to catch, as you’re left waiting on the platform, the piercing into your eyes stays with you for a minute of two. You think to yourself, was that look really necessary? Probably not. But, on further reflection, you realise that the businessman probably needed greater levels of subtle satisfaction than yourself, he will get to his connection on time, and be able to travel for an hour to spend just another hour with his family before a similar state of affairs occurs the next day. And the next, and the next.

It’s as isolating as it is interesting and fun, and the rush does manage to seduce you, not with its glamour, because it’s far from glamourous. It manages to addict you with a few simple things, the adrenaline and the longing for more, once you’ve moved into a busy life of routine, of pushing, few acts of politeness and selflessness. It evolves into something wholly self-centred, a rush and a period of your life which ingrains negativity into your being, a cynicism and pessimism that you justify as realism. You often hear, ‘yes, I know how the world works’. Perhaps, it would be more appropriate to rephrase and suggest that you know how a world works.

There is a vast difference between understanding and being involved in a certain society thriving on individual and collective gain, to be the best that you can be, encouraged by advertising and peers alike, and being involved with something that makes you truly happy; a job or a path in life you have chosen not for money but for wellbeing. This attracts you in a different way, but a better way. Being involved with somebody’s experience so intimately due to your job or career and affecting their life positively, and most importantly unknowingly, is something that is invaluable, something that stock brokers and financiers cannot hope to put a price on. The way in which you share a smile with the businessman who glares at you infuriates him even more; you’ve chosen a wholly different life, where an underground ride is not a necessity but an experience. It’s okay, wait for the next train, inhale the dirt and grime and the experience, the array of emotion, ironically amongst the motionless and lifeless people of the city.

You wait with a smile which the businessman doesn’t understand, a calm and collected smirk, relaxed and carefree. A smile that only reveals itself when you have an empathy; you don’t care for two simple minutes, one hundred and twenty seconds, you’ll have plenty more of them. The smile is indeed a sadness for the businessman. His piercing glance haunts you slightly, the ice-cold emotion; an inhibition amongst the selfish people driven by a fear of time, and a lust for ruffling notes of paper with a number on them. It’s ironic, that his smug glance was a reflection of his jealousy towards you, that you’re more than happy to wait a little longer, that you fully understand there is little point in chasing something unchatchable, a virtual object you can never lay your hands on; it becomes the smaller and more insignificant details in this overwhelmingly detailed life which matter the most, the looks that people share with you and the laughter, rather than generalised, subjective manmade concepts you can’t place a hand on, and can’t feel deeply, swooping through your bones.

The Light, The Dark.

Upon reflection, there’s a beauty about being anonymous, and lost in a city, even though there’s a similar amount of inner crisis that ensues observing people moving so freely and knowingly. It is quite the paradox, and difficult to explain, but something that must be felt.

First and foremost, being totally alone and overwhelmed provides myself at least, with the opportunity to be precisely who I am. By this, I mean instances and occasions of human interaction, where your innermost personality can be shown by the way in which you deal with such a situation. For example, you’re late to work, marginally. Five minutes at the most, and you’re panicking. On the platform of the Underground, noticing the yellow writing on the display boards tick down.

Two minutes.

One minute.

Due.

Boarding the train ordinarily, you’re suddenly consumed by that subliminal yet constant ‘what am I actually doing here? No, really, what is it that I’m contributing, to myself (how is this helping me?) and to the world. In the great scheme of things, how is my journey going to change anything?’ The tube is a coffin of thoughts. You’re buried alive, with no phone signal, with only your thoughts for company unless you’re a lucky one. So, you’re bound to think of these types of questions, about what it is you’re doing. It’s a simple and almost meaningless question, perhaps even impossible to answer, but thinking about it isn’t necessarily going to change anything, but it may open up a few options.

Underpinning the journey is the grime. The subtle dirt around you that you’re aware of, which gets under your fingernails from the escalator and the almost fluorescent yellow handlebars as you hurtle down the pitch-black tubes filled with rats, and the feint hum of electricity. It’s somewhat surreal, that dirt and blackness can get under your skin, just as complex thoughts can be so intrusive into your body. You shrug it off. Wash your hands and your face at the toilet. Shit. Another thirty seconds to the journey time, and thirty pence to keep a cleaner in a job. Supposing that thirty pence hand-wash does indeed keep somebody’s job, it’s a worthwhile investment.

(What am I doing here?)

Trudging up the steps is a daily routine, the suited and booted rushing past you with their over exaggerated sense of self-importance. They’re earning themselves a lot of money, an incomprehensible amount. I suppose that’s what matters to them, and that’s good, isn’t it? But who knows, some of them could be on their way to a job interview, a meagre manager of a restaurant or hotel. You simply never know. The whole affair is anonymous. That’s what’s daunting about this type of place: the hidden millionaires, the hidden poor, the kind, religious, the hideous, murderers. They’re out there, but hidden. Then, there’s yourself. You’re simply earning a living, innocently comparing hand washing to the questions of life. How simple it is. C’est la vie.

A woman crying. She stops you dead in your tracks, forgetting all sense of time and awareness for everything going on around you; it’s as if Moses has parted the sea of people between you and the lady, and so you feel compelled to intervene; how you react and respond to this scenario. That is who you are. That is the important thing about being alone in a sea of people, an ocean of personality, love and lust, selfishness and selflessness.

Option one. Indeed, you’re unaware of this woman’s story, who she is, what series of events has brought her into your path, and too, what has made her tear. But, that does not stop you from going over, noticing her shiver and so handing over your coat entirely selflessly, draping the wool over her slender and pale shoulders. You demand to go for coffee, to make sure this woman that has been identified to you in an almost unworldly type of way is in control and okay. A somewhat bizarre surge of courage and uncertainty possesses your body. You’re unaware of whether you’ll be able to survive skipping a shift at work, but making sure another, fellow and normal human is surviving is surely more important?

Option two. You arrive for work on time, and the image of her tears caressing her face stay to haunt you for a little while, as if it’s a nightmare that you cannot do anything about. That’s the point. You haven’t helped her. You have been selfish, and so you must pay. An old cliché, what goes around comes around. You cannot live so fruitfully that you become disenfranchised with the humanness of people, with the raw emotion that death and sadness, happiness and birth provoke.

And so day to day, reaching the same spot, the top of the stairs with the slight whiff of real air and natural light, where you witnessed one of the most innate human actions which impacted you so profoundly, you can be reminded that is who you are. You choose not to act, when you could have. How you react to events independently signals who you are, in whichever scenario. It is not with friends, as you’ve grown accustomed to them, and a new type of normal has been created. It is entirely independently and individually that a type of meaning can be established.

Nuance

It’s the tiny, almost insignificant details about somebody, often overlooked, that make them who they are, that comprise their very-selves, their very being. It’s often taken for granted, even the way that they breathe as they’re falling asleep in your arms, the way their eyes glisten as they turn to face you, and look into your eyes. Everything seems to appear so naturally, develops so naturally that you take the little things for granted, when it’s those that should mean the most; the nuances comprising the love somebody feels, is honestly the most valuable thing to a person, when speaking of somebody else.

Walking through some fields, where only the two of you remain. They are the person that you feel most close to, even though you’re recollecting your family in the nothingness of the green grass which flows in the empty field. In contrast, in a sea of people, as you hold hands through the many of them, some of which turn to face you, there’s nobody else you’d rather be holding hands with, showing off, showing your love and affection towards that person. You feel comfortable and safe.

That level of affection doesn’t come easy, but it appears naturally and without warning; likewise, it seldom matters how long it took to unfurl, to present its true colours to the both of you. A deep and loving red encompasses you, the colour of love and a deep affection, rich red wine to which you’re easily addicted, a substance you can’t often be without. A colour where, it also signals warning. Stop. To take a risk, that is the most metaphorical way in which to view the colour red – a risk, with equal warning and danger, to its benefits. Do you pursue this total unknown, and risk being cut off and equally hurt? Or, do you take a risk and be optimistic that it could be the most perfect thing you could ever encounter?

There’s nothing which can make you decide, apart from your instinct. In any case, that’s what is the most important, your instinct. Because, along with that, comes your happiness; it doesn’t stem from other people, but from yourself, making the right or wrong decision, that’s the only way to pursue something which you know will be great, or indeed, deadly. The colour red. As passionate and royal as it is dangerous, an almost paradox, something which cannot be simple, composed of complexities and nuance, deep connotation and thought. A thousand meanings, all individual, all temporary, all real.

Wild Eyed

I suppose a lot can change in seven months. Potentially not so much about a town; a few more houses maybe, people coming and going, the usual. Yet, when it comes down to the linear change in that time, however quickly the days and hours go by, your perspective and the way you ultimately view things has changed the most. You’re still largely the same, your morals are still similar, your goals and ambitions perhaps too.

However, stepping off a train and entering a city which you’re more than aware will unlock vital-parts of who you are is bound to promote an almost surreal sense of ‘where the fuck am I? what the actual fuck am I doing here?’ Of course, you know that it will create some positivity and it will show itself to be the right direction for you, but the first time you step over the picturesque footbridge into the town, your need to be transported back to the place you’re most comfortable is at the forefront of your mind. Peering over the edge, forty feet down is the cold, but flowing river.

You see the river as yourself; upstream is where you’ve come from, meandering throughout your life, through towns and places, interacting with people and the environment alike. You remember all the faces of people that have made an impact upon you, and looking into the horizon, you understand how those important figures have impacted your present self, as you go to peer back down to where you are in the present. The water is unfamiliar, constantly changing, just as your mind is in a new place. Left or right? If you go left, will you go on to meet people who are entirely different to the people you may meet if you veer right? Will such a simple decision significantly impact your life? You do not know. You will never know. There’s beauty in that.

Crossing to the other side of the bridge, seeing the water travelling to its destination, an entirely different, and new sensation overcomes you. It’s like you’re over a millpond, beautifully tranquil, comforting, but not eerie. You’re standing at the edge of the jetty, the morning mist is gently hovering above the water, with the outline of the surrounding mountains peering through the gentle cloud. That’s what you imagine. Forty feet. That’s doable.

A surge of newly found confidence fulfils you, you aren’t who you used to be, this is you at your most you. There is nobody you have met yet, nobody to change you into a force of habit. Deciding to put it to the test is an extremely nerve-wracking concept. You decide to go. The forty feet dropped in a matter of milliseconds, and the thrill was second to none. The exhilarating sensation of a plane ever so gently leaving the ground is a similar feeling, a sense of adrenaline, the start of a journey looms.

You expect a splash of coldness, but water in Northern Europe when the leaves are a golden yellow will never be welcoming. What you receive is an overwhelming chill, but something you need regardless of the icy cold. If anything, it’s refreshing. Luckily, the current isn’t strong. Leisurely you can swim, but the most sensible thing is to get to the bank. You feel almost cleansed of the other side of the river, the past haunting and creeping behind you. You have delved into the new; experiences and interactions await. Letting go of the comfort, through deciding to go to a new city, a new culture and country, diving into the unknown is something completely necessary in your being, however hard it might be.

Sitting on the bank of the river, knowing you’ll slowly warm up serves as an excellent point in time to reflect on what has happened, as ever so clearly, you can see your metaphorical past, present and future in the form of a river flowing. You owe a great deal to the past, which has carried you to where you are now, through serenity and storm, challenges and success. A combination of all those things is where you need to be. Secondly, the bridge being crossed is the transition from old to knew, and a drastic decision has been made in order to accomplish that. You chose to jump. Weighed up all the options, of safety and security, of excitement with a mix of determination. The bridge reflects that, from one to the other, an image of transition and transportation, a vital element of the journey. And now, running your hands through the grass, turning your head downstream, with only the faintest glimmer of the horizon and future in your sights, you understand that drenched through and almost cleansed of everything that came before you, this is the place you need to be.

Onto the Next

Change is an inevitability, something which is planned, but can still leave us severely unprepared. To cease to exist; transforming from existence into non-existence is the greatest change of them all, and the most certain event in our seemingly short lives. Taking a step back from such melancholia, and accepting the small and no-less profound changes in one’s life is still valuable.

Physically shutting the door and being able to say ‘onto the next’ is precious. Indeed, it may hurt, there’s a comfortability about the way you can swoon about the scenario you’re in, completely at ease and if being totally honest, somewhat complacent. But the next challenge is always needed, and always welcomed. As hard as it initially seems, closing the door firmly shut, locking it and throwing away the key even, is certainly almost impossible when you feel so at home, but the opportunity should be embraced, and not taken at all lightly.

The cold waves rushed around our legs, the dreary and horrific November rain drenched us through, the sand sticking to our faces with the bitter wind lapping against our pink rosy cheeks and bright red ears. It was impossible, a time long ago, longing to be forgotten, but still present at the forefront of memory, peaking into the consciousness every now and then, a gentle reminder of the harshness felt and injustice suffered. All that time, it was there, the place you held dear, an oasis of stability and sincere comfort, of laughter and love, a welcomed contrast between the cold November.

No matter what lies ahead, however great and splendid, however beautiful, comfortable and sincere, when all is considered, between almost perfect and safe, the bewildering and hurtful is still held so close that it is a reality amongst your bones, even if you wish it was a far distant remnant of the past. About change, this is what is the most peculiar. Indeed, you may be moving on from something so positive, but deeper down, there is something far more hurtful that you’re closing the door upon, life changing and horrific events which you’re glad to see the back of. The way it works however (whatever that mystical ‘it’ is) proposes that in order to close the bad, you must also close the good attached to it, so closely entwined. To move on, into the new, into the unknown, the comfort must be lost a little.

An Aura

An aura consumes you, it takes over your soul. It isn’t negative, it’s simply overwhelming and all-encompassing. Certain notes of the piano which just seem to ‘hit the spot’. A sequence of words in a completely illogical order that transpire into a profound, and deeply meaningful sentence. You stare out over a calm sea, standing on the edge of a headland, and all you can see is a small sailboat, gliding, being taken by the wind. The sudden sense of quiet you feel whilst trudging through untouched snow in the middle of the forest.

I cannot hope to explain to you what all of these scenes have in common, not precisely however. What I can tell you is this, they are all auras, the touch you cannot quite put a hand on, a feeling which you can’t shake off, not easily anyhow. Something which forces you to stop completely in your tracks and take a whole step back, sit on the floor, or stand in utter silence with outstretched arms, in awe of the whole scene. These are the moments which matter, and one’s which you must take hold of.

Putting these feelings into words is as difficult as holding air in the palm of your hands, trying to capture miniscule figments of dust and air particles in your hand. It’s impossible. Nevertheless, it’s a wave of feeling you must ride and embrace. Of course, it is extremely difficult to let the sudden sense of serenity take you surrounded by people. It’s not fitting. You must be entirely alone.

The sense I’m talking about isn’t as simple as bliss, or beauty. They are things which you can create, and easily observe. Simply go into an art gallery, you will see beauty around you, before you. Go out to dinner, somewhere nicer than usual. Your overindulgence will grant you a simple sense of bliss, but nothing more than that. Momentary sensations of sweetness, richness, smoothness, sharpness, all hit your taste buds at once. It lasts a matter of seconds, just like the sense you crave.  And still, despite the different flavours, the exquisite company and the overall wonder of the evening, there’s that sense of something missing, a sensation that you long for.

It’s peculiar, because it can be obtained in a form which is almost anti-climatic. You can certainly obtain this feeling materialistically, but, really, what good would it do? What would it achieve to say you’ve ‘made it’ because of the four-figure Rolex too heavy for your dainty wrist? Instead, it can be obtained almost spiritually, an internal harmony that becomes present as a result of various mechanisms of happiness…

The sunset you see before you will be the only sunset like that of its kind, just like every snow flake that gently lays itself upon your thinly woven, grandma-knitted gloves is individual. The contrast of romantic reds with the slightly obscure and deep oranges with the sea as you look on over the bay manages to induce the feeling that you crave, but in the most unusual fashion. The colours manage to seduce you to a point of despair. You reside yourself to the fact that nothing can get more beautiful than the way the pink sky is bound with the deep blue of the ocean. There it is. It overcomes you. Not as a caress that you deliver to a cat, it’s fur stroking in between your fingers, but it’s a sudden barrage, a tsunami, being hit by the full force of an atomic bomb.

A wave of spiritual contentedness passes through your body, swimming through your veins, filling you with a warmth that cannot be achieved by a £600,000 property in Hampshire, or a car worth a quarter of your yearly salary. You still think the same though. You’ve made it. Somehow, looking at this scene is not to dissimilar to being able to afford a wardrobe of Ralph Lauren. However, it is still oh so different. Beautifully different, challengingly introspective. No matter the clothes you wear or the business deals you manage to complete, there is a bigger picture. The entire spectrum of colour mystifies you so much so that you still have to check you’re on solid ground. The world manages to gift to you a moment of its beauty, and you have to stand, completely still and let it consume you.

The search for this type of contentedness is almost impossible on a day-to-day basis. It’s exactly that which makes it special, and so remarkable. You cannot find it, like you can find wealth and search for happiness through your significant other. Rather, this sense of beauty finds you, every once in a while, touches yourself to remind you that there is more out there than you can possibly hope to rationalise.

That’s why it flies over you in a figment, a fleeting moment of calmness. Not only would you fail to accept such constant serenity and happiness, but it would become normalised. What then, once happiness is normalised?