Sunday, 24 June 2012

The Distinctive Match

So how am I to say I am not you?
You’re clever, vegan, Tory. You are right
perhaps your frontal lobes are better used
but a bare ladies foot does not excite
my passions in the way yours seem to flare
and how on earth could you vote for that man
the Thatcher version of our Tony Blair?
Your sweet tooth drools for foods I think are bland.
My judgement on your casserole? Its Plain
Can I not tempt you with a fleshy pie?
I ponder on our differences. Its vain
To focus on divergences implied.
Perhaps beyond our clashing points of view
There lies a greater, deeper sense of truth.

Behind the brain what subtle charms inspire
the subjectivity of casual thought?
It is to greater levels I aspire
but my pre-governed actions prove my fraud.
We are indeed all wedged within the web
of animated chemicals in space
and time. So should my principled vignette
by neuro analysing be replaced?
It is so hard to be both man and moralist
When all these facts of life reduce you down
and God is but a retiring illusionist
in some transitory circus leaving town.
Our unrivalled babble in the silence
is optimism camouflaging science.

Friday, 22 June 2012

How does this gentle water really work?

How does this gentle water really work?
I mean, by swiftly arcing over limbs
Of foliage, or breathless teeming glints
of brown spontaneous depths, can sooth the hurt
I felt before I strode along your banks.

This river is my rambling confidant.
It filters out the minerals from the silt
As meditating, I fall on thoughts withheld
And pierce my vision through the surging sphinx
Until I, chance, discern my murky mind.

So soft, the babbling weep of lingering sound.
Bluebells lace the rimples of your brow
As I do tread the clefting of the plough
And know that something hallowed yokes the ground.
How does this gentle water really work?

I ask this as I mooch about the ark
And notice how the seasoned grain is me
With blood all spewing into tiny trees
that litter all my meaty bony garb.
This vain and timely life span is a lark.

And all this temporary discourse in the park
This aimless dynamo of secret fire
Baking every insight and desire
Lives beside this elemental spark.
How does this gentle water really work? 

Monday, 18 June 2012

Aspirations Expiry Date

Destiny has two ways of crushing us – by refusing our wishes and by fulfilling them.
Henri Frederic Amiel

While pondering on what to write an article about, it occurred to me that often the most profitable areas of enquiry are those that we find most difficult to begin. Those areas that make us uncomfortable, that sicken us, disgust us, frighten us or otherwise unnerve us to the degree that we turn away from our personal shadows , bolt the cellar door of the unconscious and go merrily skipping into the sunlight singing ‘I'm okay, you're okay tra la la.’ 
For some reason, that I hope to discover in writing this article, one such area for me appears to be the failure to fulfil our dreams. True I have dreams that have yet to be fulfilled and most likely never will be due to a lack of talent, opportunity or general ballsiness. What these dreams are is immaterial and writing about them would be introversion to the point of nausea inducing madness. 
It stands to reason that since most human beings are the same (minus the odd axe wielding psycho and Coldplay fan) and we all go through the same gamut of experiences from A to Z with a big dash of O, that therefore we all have dreams that are currently going and will ever go unfulfilled. 
What a sad predicament. But what do we ever hear of it? Surely such a personal tragedy must leave huge gaping war wounds in the psyche like some sort of Freudian trauma bomb?
This seems to be an area largely untouched by professional psychologists so maybe I, a balding, potbellied, perverted yet classically heroic figure of a man should have a quick poke and see what scurries out into the light of cold prose.
Our dreams reflect part of our general identity or chicken, egg, egg, chicken. Our dreams indeed find a place in our very heart, our very soul, that special part of us that Richard Dawkins would rightly identify as being a tangle of neurotransmitters in some sort of chemical gloop. In short they are part of the highest essence of who we hold ourselves to be, they are intricate to our self image and feature highly in our values in the present moment and our goals for the future. Try to imagine a future with no dreams, no hope and no golden sun of opportunity on the horizon and see what you are left with.
Another truth to consider is that we never truly can fulfil our dreams. Even those who seemingly have lived lives of amazing fulfilment have probably never scratched the surface of their wish pile and their actual dreams may not be the exceptional circumstances that they found themselves in. One man's Elvis is another man's Einstein.
 Plus our dreams may be so idiosyncratic as to be for ever unattainable in any medium. The wise man will tend to aim his arrow at the largest, vaguest target available in the hopes that wherever he hits will be adequate and he is already steeled to the fact that the bull's-eye is out of range.
The dreary aunt or god awful uncle who kneels down on arthritic knees and asks the precocious tyke “so what did you want to be when you grow up?” will often get some highfalutin answer, plucked from the highest spires of ambition, undiluted by the existential beige of existence in a way only children can manage. Even if they only say ‘Fireman’ they are tapping into their true source of joy and will probably, tragically, end up as some sexually frustrated, diabetic, desk clerk dreaming of rescuing wenches from fires whilst straightening a paperclip behind a cardboard desk in the middle of nowhere, Uttoxeter.
So we live in a world full of damaged ambitious people and unharmed dullards. Is it any wonder that millions turn to the sweet, lulling oblivion of the narcotic? Is it any wonder that one of the main causes of depression, mental imbalance, drunkenness, and unnatural idleness is a feeling of detachment from life, a feeling of profound sadness, a feeling of betraying your true identity?
I have done no case studies but I can base my assertions on the hundreds of everyday conversations that I have had with people from every walk of life. The most satisfied and stable of people are those who do what they love. Those who spend their time profitably mining the depths of their fancies.
Scars tend to build thicker skin. This is both a poetic metaphor and a fact of life. We have a need as a species to be challenged. Without the frightful lows there can be no dizzying highs. It is our weaknesses prodded and our tempers provoked that eventually brings out our strengths. If a man climbs a mountain in a single leap or with no loss of breath then there is no satisfaction at finally gaining the summit. Ah, but what if we never attain the summit? Or even the cafe at the first bus stop on the way to the mountain? Well then we must learn what has stopped us. We must confront our weaknesses; we must stare down our failure. It is in our failure that our greatest triumphs can be born. How many people will tell us this? Isn’t failure a thing to be feared and turned from in our culture? 
Old people will tell you that regret bites harder then failure. Indeed, in retrospect, our failures tend to lead to our best moments and it is the moments when we did not even dare fail that stand out as bleak and unfortunate. 
Life tends to be depicted as being like the seasons of the year. The spring of youth, the summer of adolescence, the autumn of middle age (known in the states as the fall of man) and a bleak winter of pensions before the second childhood of spring arises again.
Life is a rich tapestry and like any rich tapestry we are drawn to the loose ends, to the frayed corners. A painting of an ugly crone will attract more eyeballs then a pretty well-lit kitten. We are drawn to the wrong, the perverse, the ill fitting and gaudy like moths to blowtorches. 
Only the naive would wish for a life filled only with sweetness and light. So remember to not only expect the spice of failure and defeat but to welcome it into your life. Stories of your failures will elicit more free drinks and charity then stories of amazing acrobatics in the jungle of life.
Books of advice written by the unknowing for the un improvable, commonly known as self help books will give advice about achieving success, financial abundance, better erections, better mortgages and everything in between. For a wad of profit these wizards will offer to spring clean your lifestyle or at least give you a lump of tissue and point you in the direction of the sludge armed with inspiring advice such as ‘just go for it,’ ‘stress is bad,’ ‘find your inner child guru consultant blah blah blah.’ 
Grinning idiots will believe in the veracity of this advice and so chase ever distant and unprofitable concepts of success with little forethought of what they will do when they get there or whether the destination is worth the bumpy ride. 
Illusions are often worth destroying. In much the same way that sacred cows make the most wonderful farting sound when they burst. Our illusions comfort us and strangle us like a favourite childhood scarf trapped in a revolving door. 
Dreams are things that we think will give us something, fulfil some value we hold dear, improve our life but they are often ill thought out or held over from adolescence. No longer fit for purpose. Fulfilment is the feeling we get when we truly have something of value, when we have the maturity of knowing what truly matters in life and that we have achieved some measure of this thing and failure is, in the case of dreams a needed, deflating catastrophe. A bump to earth from those flying too close to the sun and in terms of fulfilment it is a signal that we need to prioritise our goals and find other sources of satisfaction. 
TV has a lot of blame attached to it. No, it probably doesn’t entice our young into committing acts of random depravity but it does hold great sway over the ambitions of many people. 
We all want praise, acknowledgement, affection and all the things we often think that fame will give us. Andy Warhols famous ‘fifteen minutes of fame’ has already changed to fifteen seconds of vague blasé dislike. People have different psychological needs and often they will seek the cure to their needs in false avenues such as TV stardom. 
Humbleness is a quality we have little use for anymore. It is hardly the sexiest of qualities and yet perhaps it is a good quality to foster within ourselves. Building inner qualities is a concept that harks back to the ancient Greeks more then the glut of self help literature of late and yet it does seem to be timeless advice that holds good.
‘To thine own self be true.’ Well, we may never discover our true selves, such a concept is flimsy at best but it is surely good advice to learn to love yourself for true qualities you posses. Find the best within yourself. Learn to love your flaws and embrace your failures. We are alive to be true. We are here and now to be here and now.

 On your journey through your life learn to smell the bullshit as well as the roses. They need each other. Whenever you step on a cowpat just think about beef burgers and smile.