Sunday, 27 July 2014

Confusion and Coffee

I often feel like an appropriate mix of comfortable conformism and antisocial complacent genius.

There is a constant struggle in my head around what I expect for myself and what I am not thoroughly convinced others want me to be. The latter is mostly imagined but it is still there. It doesn't make me change too much of who I am but more acts like a voice in my head that is unimpressed with my willingness to just give in and do as society tells me.

The thing is, I'm not really a bad arse or a rebel in any way. As a child and late in to my teens, I was the kind of girl who did what was expected of me. If my parents asked me to do something then I did it without question. I was a cluey kid and thought a lot about the world that I saw through fiction and no-fiction books. I did not however think much for myself.

The road was set out for me by my educated middle-class parents who I never for one moment doubted loved me dearly. First was primary school then high school and then a degree of my choosing. Something you could get a job in and that you enjoyed doing was the only real criteria I was given. I lived at home the whole time with my three square meals a day and all the comforts of my parents lifestyle.

I met my husband (now ex) outside a second year Discrete Maths class. He was geeky and kind. We talked about ideas and concepts and ideologies and literature and movies and music until we somehow got married 9 years later. In that almost-decade past, I did what was expected of me. Had the long term partner of equal intellect who loved me, two indoor pedigree cats that roamed our over-sized inner-city Canberra townhouse filled with expensive furniture and too much kitchenware. I threw lavish dinner parties with equivalent friends. I was friends with other couples with similar lives that validated my own. I wore an apron and baked. Enough said.

There are people I'm still friends with today who can vouch for the seemingly happy girl who had a pretty decent middle class life. I often wonder if they see me as the same type of person now as I was then or if they even saw me as happy. I thought I was happy. That I had everything a person could want.

Then it all went to shit.

My life fell apart through a series of inevitable miseries which I now see as a time of growth. Oh time, it is a friend and a brutal enemy. It helps you forget the pain but it gives you wrinkles. I'll accept the wrinkles as payment though.

The middle part (for those who didn't live through it with me on Facebook and Twitter) is a story for another time over several glasses of old Champagne that the waiter pours carefully so as not to waste a single drop.

The end part is now. Who I am now. What I am now. Those are not questions. There are solid answers. There are also solid uncertainties.

I have a good job that I love. Each morning I wake up enthusiastic about the coming workday. People joke that I am comfortable outside of my comfort zone and they are right. There is a comfortable thrill to the work I do but it is based in educated guesses and almost two decades of experience.

My ogre-like layered circle of friends are ordered and solid, if a little commutative. I am one of those lucky people who has a group of people who love me, despite knowing me. Some are so close that they will pick up the phone to me in tears or to me singing Pharrell or to me having butt dialled them because they are on speed dial and they won't hang up. Others interact with me at regular lunches or drinks or even via old fashioned Facebook stalking. Most don't live in the same town or country as me but those that do are people I can call on for mischief and adventures.

Then there is what I refer to as family. It isn't people I've given birth to. That really was never my thing. It is a Papua New Guinean definition of family. People who you are stuck with but actually like. That is my family. We support each other through everything. There is an unquestionable loyalty. I often joke that if my sister dislikes someone then I do to, without even having to have met them. We spend a lot of time laughing together. We don't really fight because we are grown ups. We know that even when one of us is being annoying that it is driven by love. That makes everything cool.

So I spend a lot of time on my own but a lot of time with people. I read and write a lot. I work a little too much. I spend so much time texting and talking on the phone that I had to sign up for the Optus Extreme User plan. But then I spend so much time in silence that a weekend day can pass and I've not spoken a single word. All of these contradictions are the sum of what makes me happy.

Maybe I am a hedonist or selfish or narcissistic or all the things that I worry about in my head. Things that people said in passing or that I heard in something they said. Maybe I am generous, loving and kind like my friends and family describe me as. Maybe I'm a little of all of them.

Either way, this makes me happy.

My life is not a series of adaptations. It is a series of conscious steps involving trying different sides of my life that has resulted in me being very happy and comfortable in a lifestyle that sometimes makes others uncomfortable. It is best to understand that I live each day to honour who I am and live my ethos. This makes me not just happy but content.

I often feel like an appropriate mix of comfortable conformism and antisocial complacent genius but I like that mix.

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Friendzones and Fury

This afternoon, a male friend told me that men and women can not be friends. He is a little upset about what he sees as me putting him in the friendzone. I don't know about all these stoopid rules. I have a lot of friends, male and female. We can all be friends IMHO. If we go through life assuming everyone of the preferred sex wants to bonk us then that would be just strange. Instead, I choose to have lovely friends and let life be what it is.

Sunday, 1 June 2014

How I Learnt to Concentrate Again

Many years ago now, I went through a bout of clinical depression. That sickness killed my concentration span. I could not read more than one or two pages of any kind of book before feeling sleepy. As soon as I put the book down, I was alert again.

My concentration span was pathetic and not improving.

In October 2012, I watched a badly shot video of Joe Kraus from Google Ventures who introduced the idea of Gap Time and "Slow Tech" to me.

The basis of the idea is that we live in a world of constant distraction and that paired with our evolutionary tendency to respond to stimulus has resulted in us heightening that skill and reducing our concentration spans. Technology in particular has been a culprit in this decline.

His fix for this was to suggest that we take time to not be distracted. Down time for your brain. That meant not picking up my phone when I was sitting waiting for someone at a cafe; not turning on music or a podcast in all my down time; and simply letting my brain spend time background processing.

Since taking on board this approach and spending a lot of time not doing anything with my brain, my concentration span is quite amazing. After 6 months, I could read up to 200 pages without feeling drained or distracted. After 18 months, I can read a book cover to cover without pausing... at least when I have the time to do so.

For me, that is a quantification of how my mind has improved by taking the time to let it rest. Not watching TV or Facebooking but actually taking time to do nothing. Distraction is not a good thing, at least not at the rates we allow it in our lives.

Take some time to lie on the couch and stare at the ceiling or drive to work without the radio on. It will change you.

Thursday, 29 May 2014

Love Letters

I wrote you a love letter.

I pressed the delete key until my pointer finger tingled.

I miss you. That is all.

Saturday, 10 May 2014

Many Things

I've been through many things in my life.

It is true that there are many people who walk a simpler path and that I bring on certain situations upon myself.

It took me many years to work out why this might be the case. I looked to discrimination based on many of the minority groups I am in but that only explained the disadvantage. I looked to my choices to see if I was making bad ones on purpose. It wasn't a self destructive streak and years of therapy made me accept that.

Finally, I realised that things happen in my life because I choose to participate. I dive in to life head first. I fall in love. I take a chance. I change my situation to adopt an oppirtunity.

Some people die young and are not buried until they are old.

That will not be me.

I will not look towards the winter of my life with dread. I will not exist in the summer of my life and hope for moments of spring. No, each season will be the best that I can have and have the best of me that I can give.

Maybe that means I fall on my arse regularly but I also experience an overall level of happiness and contentment that a lot of people don't.

For now, I shall continue on this path. Yes, despite the downs. Always for the ups.

Saturday, 3 May 2014

A Happy Death



Book 12 of 2014 appears a month after the last book I read. Yes, I have been slack and not actually finishing anything I start.

In this case, A Happy Death is the last of  Camus' books for me to read. That is both saddening and a prompt to re-read those ones I love and that changed my life.

As usual, I'm left with too much to think about after finishing one of his books. There are so many lines that fit perfectly in to what is happening in my life and my own search for happiness in life, while I am unable to feel the connection of love that others so readily feel.

"He discovered the cruel paradox by which we always deceive ourselves twice about the people we love - first to their advantage, then to their disadvantage"

When I started this book, it felt too much like my favourite of his, The Outsider. However, it took a different path. Maybe one that was a lot more acceptable to readers when Camus was younger. The Outsider is still a better book but a different one.

The in-depth exploration of suicide (assisted or not) and self-imposed exile is something I connected to deeply. A need to rebel against everything you should do by destroying yourself is a hard subject to discuss and not scare people away with. Although he writes in a scattered way, the way Camus wields words will always make me listen and not allow me to put down his books.

You have to read something of his. This may not be the book but it is an insight in to the man, 100 years after his birth. Although, I adore everything he has ever written... I do worry what people may think of me for that :)

This may not be the Camus book you should start with but certainly one to read on your Algerian existentialist absurdism journey. At least it is on mine.

If that is too much for you, start by watching the Big Lebowski. At least you'll understand why I always sigh and say "obviously, you're not a golfer."

Should I read this? Yeah, it is short, perspicacious and beautiful. Like me.
What did I learn? “Yes, I'm happy, in human terms.”

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Reactions

I have learnt to forgive myself recently for being so sad, angry, happy and random. It was a situation I'd never been in, a place I never would have wandered myself and an ending that I would not have chosen.

So I dealt with it how I did. I will cope as best I can. And most importantly, I will be kind to myself because someone in this whole damn Universe has to be :)