I’M NOT LIKE THE REST

As I have entered the part of my life where I am reluctantly now ticking the “35-49” age box, (and for those of you who don’t know how old I REALLY am – I have been 27 for 9 consecutive years now…) I have realised something.

The older I get, the more I realise how little I actually know about anything.

I know nothing about nothing.

Which is a bit of a lie of course.

I know a lot about a lot.

I’ve had a stack of different life experiences to draw upon.

I listened to a talk by the late philosopher Allan Watts the other day titled, “The Value Of The Psychotic Experience”.

He used the analogy of seeing a bunch of fighter jets flying in the sky.

He asked the question, that if one of the jets breaks away from the rest, who is it that is going in the right direction?

That’s a very interesting question.

Those that do not follow the pack, are often deemed as “crazy”.

But why?

Why is it that if we do not go along with what everyone else is doing, are we labelled as being completely mad?

And a more important question to ask – how do we know who, or what is right?

Is the one that has broken away from the pack crazy?

How would we know?

From my own experiences (and obviously, that’s all that I have to draw upon), I can only offer up this question.

What is right for you?

What if, by following that proverbially less traveled road, we discover that that’s the sane path?

So many of us are so afraid to break away from the pack.

Because it’s weird.

Because it’s lonely.

Because there is often no clear path mapped out for us.

Because we are so afraid of what other people might think of us.

Having come through the other side of having broken away from what was expected from me, I can offer up this advice.

Yes.

It is weird to NOT DO what everyone else does. But it’s even more weird to DO what everyone else does.

Especially if everything within your being is pleading with you to go in the other direction.

Yes.

It is ABSOLUTELY lonely to go off in the direction that no one else is going. You are going to be ostracised. I will tell you that right now.

It’s impossibly isolating at times to honour what you are silently, but powerfully being drawn towards.

But it’s when you have to ask yourself that confronting question – what really matters?

What is more important?

What other people think of you?

Or what you think of yourself?

In the end, we are the only ones that truly have to live with ourselves. We are the ones that need to be able to sleep soundly at night. We are the only ones that truly know what peace feels like for us.

Yes.

There really is no clear path mapped out for any of us.

Particularly when we have been convinced that the only true path is that of everyone else’s.

Said who?

Who made up that rule?

Who created that path?

I am here to tell you that it is a total load of crap.

You do what’s right for you.

Because in the end, everyone is only looking out for themselves.

Everyone has an agenda.

Yes – even you.

And finally…

Yes.

We are totally afraid of what other people will think of us.

Because we are human beings, as spiritually evolved as we would have ourselves believe that we are above all of that shit.

The reality of it all is this:

We can only ever validate the image of our ourselves, through the recognition of another.

We are constantly being reflected though the eyes of something external to ourselves.

Like Allan Watts also philosophically quotes – we cannot kiss our own lips.

We cannot bite our own teeth.

We cannot taste our own tongue.

Yet, we also cannot ignore our intuition on account of our own vanity.

We cannot discard what it is that we feel, purely because it doesn’t resonate with another.

From my own personal experiences throughout my 27 years *cough*, I have come to recognise that whilst I am painfully aware that I know nothing, and like everyone else I do often rely upon the validation of another, I do know how I feel.

And if something doesn’t feel good, I have to set it down.

I cannot be weighted down for the sake of what other people may think of me.

Because I will be dragged into the depths of someone else’s reality, that may well be my version of hell.

I have to have the humility to understand that whilst I might not know a thing, I know what makes me feel good. And what makes me feel bad.

And if it’s contrary to what is “expected” of me?

Hey – that’s the price I pay for peace.

So today, I ask you to look at who you think you are on account of what others tell you that you should be.

At who you know that you really are, deep within your centre.

And take a chance.

Who are you REALLY?

Just like that fighter jet that broke away from the rest of them.

You can only go with what feels right for you.

And who’s to say what’s right or wrong – except for what you feel that’s right for you.

Because we will never truly know who is right or wrong unless we have the courage to go with our gut, and break away from the pack.

All that matters is what is right for ourselves.
So what message do I want to drive home with this article?

If it doesn’t feel good, be brave enough to let go of the fear of how you may appear to others.

Understand that we are all different.

Let go of your ego.

Let go of the fear.

And accept this one thing:

“I’m not like the rest”.

IS IT TRUE? IS IT KIND? IS IT NECESSARY?

I mentioned in my last post that I thrive upon routine.

One of my morning routines, is to read both news articles and blog posts from various sources online.

I love words.

I LOVE them.

I love the way that people are able to paint a story with their words.

I love the emotions that they evoke within me.

Sometimes those words evoke laughter.

Sometimes empathy.

Anger.

Injustice.

Inspiration.

Thoughtfulness.

Awe.

Joy.

I appreciate those words regardless of how they make me feel.

What is important to me, is that they MAKE me feel.

Another thing that I have added to my morning ritual, is reading the comments on these published articles.

Now one thing that I want to talk about in this article today, is negativity.

“Dislike”.

I was brought up that “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all”.

To me, this doesn’t mean that you sit back and allow yourself to be totally fucked over.

It means, that it’s nice to be nice.

In the digital age, we have the safety of hiding behind a computer / phone screen.

This gives us the confidence to sometimes be absolutely horrible to other people.

And I think it’s not only unnecessary, but often downright mean.

If you do not agree with someone else’s perspective on their own experiences; on the thought processes of another; on the way that someone else has chosen to live their life – does that make these other people wrong?

Or worse still – does it mean that they should be abused and ridiculed?

Absolutely not.

It may be wrong for YOU, but it doesn’t mean that it is wrong for THEM.

Why don’t we try to take things back to basics, and ask ourselves if we would have those same discussions with these people if we were in a physical setting.

Like, if we were sitting down in front of them having an actual debate.

Face to face.

In reality.

We claim that we want to celebrate diversity.

We pretend to encourage people to “follow their dreams”.

We act as though we want to give people the freedom of speech.

But do we really?

Do we really want people to have the ability to express whatever it is that they wish to express?

Or do we try to convince them that that’s what we want for them, just so we can have the opportunity to tear them down whenever they do bravely choose to wear their hearts on their sleeves?

Some of the comments that I have read on fellow writers articles are disgraceful.

And it makes me wonder – have we become a bunch of bullies?

Are we truly being authentic? Particularly if these are conversations that we only feel comfortable having behind the safety, and relative anonymity of a computer screen?

Is it bravery?

Or are we simply being an asshole?

Are we so disconnected from reality that we feel have the “right” to behave unkindly?

Sure, there are so many times that I don’t agree with what a lot of other people are writing about.

It’s a given.

We’re all different.

But I personally take the approach of agreeing to disagree.

I would never attack someone else for their opinion.

Because whatever it is that they are choosing to post about or publish, is their own personal opinion, based on their own personal experiences.

Its right for them. And that’s all that matters.

I often quote other writers within my own articles.

And today is no exception.

And today, I quote, Socrates.

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”

We often have no clue as to what has prompted someone to pour out their heart and soul, and be absolutely vulnerable in their musings on where life has taken them, or make them think or behave in a certain way.

And it doesn’t matter.

As the observer, it all comes back to having compassion.

And so many of us clearly have no idea of what compassion means.

“Sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others.”

And I will proudly admit that I possess the gift of compassion.

I am deeply sensitive.

I can walk into a room and pick up on the emotions of those that fill it.

And I know for myself, I wouldn’t be able to sleep at night knowing that I have hurt someone else at the expense of my own ego, entitlement, or self-righteousness.

So today, I would like to take this opportunity to openly express my dislike for this new “dislike” button that is soon to potentially be added to our options of how we choose to interact on the biggest social media site – “Facebook”.

I want you to stop and think for a moment, before you absentmindedly click what you think is a simple little button. I want you to be present, and to think about if what you are doing is “nice”.

And ask yourself this question, from the ancient philosopher, Socrates, before you go and respond to these people that have chosen to share their stories with you.

“Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary?”

SAME, SAME…BUT DIFFERENT…

I have a girlfriend that is currently living in Thailand.

I was speaking with her on the phone this evening.

And she said that sentence to me.

It’s something that the Thai’s are constantly saying.

And I am too.

“Same, same…but different…”

But what does it actually mean?

Well, it means different things to each of us.

I am a thinker.

As my readers are well aware.

And that comment this evening, got me thinking about those words.

One year, and one day ago, I had days earlier just attended one of my best friends weddings.

It was the second wedding I attended after having separating from my long marriage.

My ex-husbands family were present at this particular wedding.

And I was on my own.

Like always.

Old friends that I had since been estranged from equally both by choice, and circumstance, were also there.

In my near constant anxiety ridden state, I made sure I wore a beautiful dress, and showed up as the confident women I not only am, but also the one that I pretend that I am.

I got up and did a reading at the church.

Where I clumsily, and nervously stumbled, and tripped through my words.

Where I swallowed back tears.

Because I pretend to be much stronger than I allude to.

And I personally believe that so many of us do.

At the wedding reception, I made sure I spoke to the people that were a part of my life for twenty of my most important years.

With the help of a little “liquid courage” of course.

When I left the wedding that night, upon seeing my best friend and her new husband ride off into the sunset, I came home to my empty house.

To my reality.

I was no longer married.

I was going to bed by myself, yet again.

And I slipped into a momentary depression about what was now, my life.

A few days later – a year ago yesterday – I had a brain snap.

I drank two glasses of wine, and with my alcohol induced bravado, I booked a flight to Thailand to go and see my friend.

I remember her words to me as I contemplated whether or not I should go and visit her.

“What are you staying for?”

And my God, it’s hard to be brutally honest with yourself.

But then in my mind, I answered that question.

Nothing.

I had nothing to stay for.

There was nothing keeping me where I was. Nothing, except for me.

And isn’t that so often the case?

So I went ahead and booked a flight to leave just 4 days later.

When I arrived into Thailand, after having been there just 2 and a half months earlier, I had a realisation.

Everything was “same, same…but different…”

It was not that anything about the place that I was visiting was different.

In fact, it literally was, “same, same”.

It was ME that was different.

I had new eyes.

New experiences to draw upon.

New bravado to display.

I had a new vulnerability about me.

I was open to new experiences.

I was open to meeting new people.

It was then that I had the realisation that everything was now different.

Not on account of any of my surroundings having changed, but that it was ME who was different.

I was somehow more resilient.

Less naive. In a way.

More able to truly be “alone”.

Which is something that so many of us don’t know how to do.

So many of us don’t know how to truly be “alone”.

And I do not mean being lonely.

Because everyone experiences that.

It’s something totally different.

Loneliness is absolutely NOT the same as being alone.

Feeling lonely is very different to being alone.

I find it difficult to find the words to describe the difference between the two.

I guess it goes something like this.

I have felt truly lonely in my life at times.

It has come from a real, or imagined sense of abandonment.

That someone else is meant to be there to help us pick up the pieces.

And then our bubble is burst.

When we realise that we are not a child.

That no one is there to “make it all better”.

And then we feel lonely.

Knowing it is up to us to “sort it out”.

And it’s a place filled with loneliness.

Because its’s left to us to figure out how to deal with it.

And the recognition that all we truly have is ourselves.

But being alone?

That’s something completely different.

And something that a lot of us don’t know how to do.

So many of us don’t know how to be alone.

I can say that I both fortunately, and unfortunately know how to be alone.

And often times, I prefer my solitude to that of the company of another.

What does it mean to be alone?

To be comfortable in our own presence.

To know how to comfort ourselves.

To be grateful for what is.

To appreciate the silence.

To love ourselves so much that it doesn’t matter if there is someone else sharing our space.

I attach the video of my church reading at my #BFF’s wedding to this article.

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And I will also take the words of the reading that I read out that day, and make sense of it what I will.

Because that’s what we do.

We do our best to make sense of everything that is presented to us:

“Be ambitious for the higher gifts. And I am going to show you a way that is better than any of them.

If I have all the eloquence of men or of angels, but speak without love, I am simply a gong booming or a cymbal clashing. If I have the gift of prophecy, understanding all the mysteries there are, and knowing everything, and if I have faith in all its fullness, to move mountains, but without love, then I am nothing at all. If I give away all that I possess, piece by piece, and if I even let them take my body to burn it, but am without love, it will do me no good whatever.

Love is always patient and kind; it is never jealous;

Love is never boastful or conceited; it is never rude or selfish; it does not take offence, and is not resentful.

Love takes no pleasure in other people’s sins but delights in the truth; it is always ready to excuse, to trust, to hope, and to endure whatever comes.

Love does not come to an end.”

What do I make of this?

It says it all really.

That all I need is to be WITH love.

And be ambitious for the higher gifts.

Whatever that means.

Because only then, am I “same, same…but different…”

IS THAT ALL THERE IS?

As I mentioned in my last article, lately I am a little obsessed with the late philosopher, Allan Watts.

I was listening to one of his many talks on youtube this afternoon.

The one I was listening to was about money, and what we would do with our lives if money were no object.

I believe it’s a really important question to ask ourselves.

So many of us get fooled into living a life that we really have no interest or enjoyment in living, in the desperate pursuit of money.

A lot of us settle for jobs we hate, relationships that make us miserable, and we live lives that are so far from what we truly desire.

I was so fascinated by his words, that I have written them below:

“What do you desire?

What makes you itch?

What sort of a situation would you like?

What would you like to do if money were no object?

How would you really enjoy spending your life?

Forget the money.

Because if you say that getting the money is the most important thing, you will spend your life completely wasting your time.

You’ll be doing things you don’t like doing, in order to go on living, that is to go on doing things you don’t like doing.

Which is stupid.

Better to have a short life that is full of what you like doing, than a long life spent in a miserable way.

And after all if you do really like what you’re doing, it doesn’t matter what it is. You can eventually become a master on it.

The only way to become a master of something is to be really with it. And then you’ll be able to get a good fee for whatever it is.

So don’t worry too much.

Somebody is interested in everything. Anything you can be interested in, you’ll find others will.

But it’s absolutely stupid to spend your time doing things you don’t like, in order to go on spending on things you don’t like, and doing things you don’t like, and to teach your children to follow on the same track.

See what we’re doing is we’re bringing up children, and educating them to live the same sort of lives we’re living. In order that they may justify themselves and find satisfaction in life by bringing up their children, to bring up their children, to do the same thing.

So it’s all wretch and no vomit.

It never gets there.

And therefore, it’s so important to consider this question “what do I desire?”

The love of money is the root of evil.

The difference between having a job, and having a vocation is that a job is some unpleasant work you do in order to make money, with the sole purpose of making money.

If you do a job with the sole purpose of making money, you are absurd.

Because if money becomes the goal; and it does if you work that way – you begin increasingly to confuse it with happiness. Or with pleasure.

Freedom means the freedom to make mistakes. The freedom to be a damn fool.”

I know personally, that I spent a really long time doing jobs I didn’t like.

All of my working life actually.

Half of my teens, all of my twenties, and half of my thirties.

And I worked really, really hard.

I can honestly say, that I have never enjoyed what I have done for work over those past two decades.

However, I admittedly did enjoy the money.

Money, absolutely, beyond the shadow of a doubt, became the ultimate goal.

And I most definitely confused that money with happiness, and pleasure.

Until I didn’t.

And it was then that I had a lightbulb (or hair brain) moment.

When I sat down, and asked myself the uncomfortable and somewhat confronting question – WHAT DO I DESIRE?

And the answer was that it was none of the things that I had gone about creating for myself.

Was I happy? Like, truly happy?

It’s ridiculously difficult to be completely honest with ourselves.

Seriously.

And it’s even harder to try to stop convincing ourselves that what we currently have, is all there is.

So, was I happy?

It is with that question, that I will now quote one of my favourite authors, Paulo Coelho:

“No one should ever ask themselves that: why am I unhappy? The question carries within it the virus that will destroy everything. If we ask that question, it means we want to find out what makes us happy. If what makes us happy is different from what we have now, then we must either change once and for all or stay as we are, feeling even more unhappy.”

In a lot of ways, that question does come with it, the virus that will destroy everything.

Because it is true.

That if you recognise that you are unhappy, then you must change once and for all.

Or stay as you are, feeling even more unhappy.

To quote the words of the character Tyler Durden, in Chuck Palahniuk’s book “Fight Club”:

“It’s only after we’ve lost everything, that we’re free to do anything”.

What are you willing to lose in order to be free to do anything?

What do you want?

Do you want freedom?

I know I do.

And I know to a lot of people, with my desire for freedom, I probably look like a “damn fool”.

But I am now free to do anything.

And that’s all that really matters.

Because I would hate to have to spend the rest of my years asking myself, “is that all there is?”

IT’S ALL BEAUTIFUL

I have gotten into the whole adult colouring-in book thing.

I try everything I possibly can to try to still my beautiful, and restless mind.

I do anything to try to create a sense of peace, in my insignificant little life.

I try to sleep before midnight when I can, as allegedly, the hours of sleep you get before midnight count as double.

And hey, I am at an age where beauty sleep REALLY counts.

I take multi-vitamins.

I eat un-processed foods where I can.

I try to avoid preservatives, junk food, and too much caffeine.

Caffeine, in addition to life in general, gives me anxiety.

I’m a stupidly, sensitive soul.

I feel everything deeply.

My gift.

My curse.

I frequent the gym daily, in attempt to release those endorphins which make us feel so much better.

I try to think positively whenever I feel the darkness overtaking my thoughts, and attempting to hold me hostage, and drag me kicking and screaming into a downward spiral.

I drink the juice of half a lemon in water each morning before I do anything else.

It’s meant to alkaline your digestive system.

I do oil-pulling every morning.

Which is where you put a teaspoon of coconut oil in your mouth, and swish it around for 20 minutes like a mouthwash.

It’s supposed to remove toxins from your body, bacteria from your mouth, and whiten your teeth in the process.

I try to create a routine for myself.

I personally thrive on routine.

I like it.

And I attempt to surround myself with people who support me.

Those that are my advocates.

Who like me, for me.

Because I’m all about whatever it takes to get you to where you need to go…

But back to that colouring-in book.

It’s meant to help you practice “mindfulness”.

What exactly is mindfulness?

According to Wikipedia:

“Mindfulness is the intentional, accepting and non-judgemental focus of one’s attention on the emotions, thoughts and sensations occurring in the present moment.”

In layman terms – it’s being present.

Living in the moment.

Not in the past.

Which is a state of regret.

Not in the future.

Which is a state of fear.

It’s also about being mindful.

And what is the definition of being mindful?

The dictionary definition is:

“Attentive, aware, or careful.”

And it got me thinking about us human beings.

About those three things that the definition of being “mindful” are.

Attentive.

Are you attentive to what surrounds you?

Are you paying attention to what you have in your life? Do you give your attention to what matters? Are you giving your full attention to what is in front of you? Is your attention directed towards what really matters?

Aware.

Are you aware of the things surrounding you?

Are you conscious to what is going on for you? How have you actively participated in creating the things that you are surrounded by? Are you aware that you are always sending out a powerful current into the universe? Are you aware of the energy that you possess? Of the immense power that has a ripple effect on everything else? Of the way that that every single action, has a reaction?

Careful.

Are you careful of what you do?

How the way you behave, and choose to act, affects those surrounding you? Are you careful in the way you present yourself to other people? Are you careful about the way that you care for yourself? Are you careful to be considerate of others? Or are you only considering yourself? Are you careful in the knowledge that you are a mirror? That your own image is reflected back through the eyes of others? What is it that you see?

Lately, I have become completely enamoured by the late philosopher, Allan Watts.

He’s the one person, who if he were still with us, would be on my list of those I’d have at a dinner party.

Him, and Elizabeth Gilbert.

But that’s a whole other post…

I googled a bunch of quotes from him as I wrote this article.

And the one that has struck a chord with me is this:

“For unless one is able to fully live in the present, the future is a hoax. There is no point whatever in making plans for a future which you will never able to enjoy. When plans mature, you will still be living for some future behind. You will be never, never be able to sit back with full contentment and say, “Now I’ve arrived”. Your entire education has deprived you of this capacity because it was preparing you for the future, instead of showing you how to be alive now”.

It’s that stupid “what if?” trap.

The “I’ll be happy when…” crap that we go on with.

Stop fucking everyone around.

Yourself included.

That “mindfulness colouring book” has taught me quite a lot.

It’s taught me to live in the “now”.

To concentrate on the task at hand.

To pay attention to the “detail”.

And the result of being present, being mindful, and being “in the now”?

I personally feel as though I have created something beautiful.

And that’s what we should all feel.

That our presence, adds beauty to what is.

Because it does.

So stop living in the past.

In an endless loop of regret.

Stop living in the future.

In a perpetual state of fear.

Understand that all we have, is this very moment.

And start being present in the now.

It’s all about being mindful of the “what is”.

Because there IS nothing else.

And “what is”?

It’s different and unique for all of us.

But trust me, it’s beautiful.

It’s all beautiful.