It was a Thursday morning last, I think…
I sat on the dark wooden kitchen chair with it's tall back against the side wall of the kitchen, where the massive matching dining table sits.
I had my customary strong cup of Lavazza coffee fresh from the Italian stove top caffettiera, sitting on one of the colourful cup mats that I bought in Paris a couple of years ago.
You know the ones with the thin layer of cork on the underside, they stop your hot cup scorching the table. What do you call those things again? I can't remember…
Everything was quiet.
Except for that familiar symphony of high pitched tones singing in my ears as loud as a thunderstorm, and as subtle as a whisper.
I've been hearing them since I was a boy.
There are moments when they become really loud, amplified but never painful, like something is going to pop inside my head.
I used to think everyone could hear them. I asked my wife once could she hear things like that when it was quiet…
She looked at me like I was insane.
Someone tried to tell me once that I had tinnitus and I should get it checked out, dope. That's not at all what it is.
I'll figure it out someday.
The kitchen clock was clunking away in the background like a huge machine. You can't hear it usually, such is the noise and distraction that exists in a three kids and one dog household.
The January sun had just come up over the houses to the rear and was streaming it's early morning light in through the wide glass that covers most of the back wall of our house.
The sky was pretty much clear, although there was some thin early morning cloud that the sun hadn't burned through just yet. And maybe it wouldn't given how low the sun sits in the sky this time of year.
The cloud made the light hazy and milky, diffusing it out across the extent of it's own length. It was quite beautiful.
It was cold, and there was a light breeze making the clothes on the washing line move about gently.
This morning the windows were reflecting a unique pattern like Jesus fish on to the wall of the shed to the rear of the garden. It does that sometimes.
It makes me feel like we're minded, even though I'm not religious. I guess you don't need to be religious to realise that there is something bigger at work.
Time To Think
I take this alone time in the morning to think, and maybe not to think, although that can be a challenge when there's heavy shit on my mind.
When I was a kid I used to sit alone like this on my bed beside the window, having a smoke, dreaming up all kinds of shit. A 10 pack of Carroll's No.1's and a box of Maguire & Patterson's on the window ledge beside me.
I smoked Carroll's because my old man did. It meant I could cover my tracks.
I had learned how to use the natural path of the draught in my room to take the cigarette smoke out the window. I'd leave the bedroom door slightly ajar, open both windows and allow it do it's magic.
It was perfect, I never got caught.
Although my mother did find the handmade wooden hash pipe that I made out of the top of a Dosco brush handle when I was 15.
…I was very creative as a teenager.
Choosing To Be Alone
Everything moves so fast these days. There's always something to do and most of it is at the demand of another; Spouse, children, bosses, parents and so on.
Everyone is running around like crazy fulfilling other people's want needs and desires in the misaligned expectation that there's something good at the other end of it.
One task gets done and there's another waiting. Round and round we go doing things for others while convincing ourselves it's for us. Telling ourselves we'll be happier when we just get this out of the way.
We're trained to look at others expecting them to do stuff for us, to make us happy. We say to ourselves “I'll do this for you if you do that for me”.
We look at the few who make their own happiness paramount and call them selfish, when the truth is if we just took our focus off what others are doing and made our own happiness number one, the world would be a much better place.
Enjoy The Silence
Introverts, misfits and freaks spend time in their own head away from real life. They say “You think too much, you'll drive yourself crazy , you need to quit that craic”.
…As if they knew better.
After a life spent fulfilling the needs of others we come face to face the ultimate silence. The problem is most of us are not prepared for it because we didn't embrace it while we lived.
Being alone is frowned upon by most in society, it's seen as anti-social, like there's something wrong with you if you choose your own company over being with others.
Words like violence, break the silence, come crashing in, into my little world. Painful to me, pierce right through me, can't you understand, oh my little girl. – Martin Gore
There's nothing I enjoy more than being alone and I guess that many of you feel the same. There's no show to put on, no expectations to meet, no persona to cling to.
If you think about it, our personalities are in constant flux. We are never truly the same person with everyone. Well, very few of us anyway.
We constantly shift ourselves depending on who we are with. Different company evokes different versions of ourselves, it's quite insane actually.
But something stays constant, and when we are alone we connect to that. I believe the more we can connect to our fundamental self then the more genuine we can be in our lives.
The more consciously we can live, the happier we can be, the braver we can become instead of being on autopilot running around like idiots trying to please other people.
Doing It For Yourself
Last Thursday I took my drawing pad and pencils down from the shelf after a very very long time, dusted them off and started to draw.
I realised that while I was drawing there was absolutely nothing on my mind, zero. I was totally in the zone, drawing for no other reason than to draw.
I was not drawing for money, I was not drawing for a customer, I was not drawing for my wife. I was drawing for myself, being completely selfish.
The word “selfish” has a lot of negative connotations so you can choose a different word if you like, the point is we should be doing our thing for ourselves first.
If others can get joy from what we do then that's a bonus. The truth is when we do things for our own gratification others do get joy from it.
Here's what I've been working on, although not finished yet. I've about another week's work on the body.
Everything Is Alright
Everything's alright though, there's nothing to worry about ultimately. When I find myself in a difficult situation I always go back to this truth and whatever the problem is it seems to weigh less on my mind.
I've spent most of the last few years in my own company, figuring things out, finding my place. Because for a long long time I had been been doing things I didn't enjoy.
I've said “fuck this shit” a number of times over the last few years, and really meant it, each time getting a little bit freer.
You know, I reckon most of our problems are self created and 100% of the time there's someone else involved.
Our biggest challenge therefore is to do whatever makes us happy regardless of what other people think, and that's a big challenge given the momentum of how we live.
But I believe we have no choice if we are to be happy, and finding space to be alone is the single greatest thing we can do to build the courage to do so.
Yes, sometimes I forget, but I believe in my heart that we are not in this world to please other people.
How about you?
[box border=”full”]Would you like to share your own personal success story of breaking free from the standard model of life and work? I want to hear it! Submit your story right here.[/box]
[box type=”note” style=”rounded” border=”full”]I call my drawing #McGregor and it will be finished soon. I'll be making prints for you to buy if you like it, and the original will also be for sale. Check it out here.[/box]