Train Lines and Trackwork

Picture life’s journey as a train ride. Often bumpy as the old, rusted rails take you through both familiar and foreign suburbs. On the odd occasion, you find yourself sitting stationery, waiting for the green light to proceed, or maybe you’re stuck at the station, raising your eyes to the rolling screen of train times, ruing the seemingly ridiculous “unscheduled trackwork” which has now seen you miss what you sought.

I like the way this metaphor captures the complexity of life with simplisity. Whilst there are many elements to life’s unwritten journey, visualising it with this common human experience, what is something of a daily journey for some of us, allows us to appreciate the experiences we are going through.

However, the challenge with this metaphor relies on the belief that we are completely subservient to the will and the way of the track, and I don’t believe this to be true. That is because we have moments in our life where we face choices other than to look out of the left or the right window. There are times, when we find detest in complacency and comfort in risk, that we choose to arise from our seat, alight from the train and board another, moving in a different direction.

I’ve reached one of those moments. One of those defining points in life when the whole trip changes, picking a train line I haven’t traversed before, excited for the new bumps, delays, and views.

Here’s hoping the train is running on time.

Guise.

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Fear of Loss and Life

My greatest fear in life is losing what I love, from my partner, my family, my friends, my mind, to even my life. For this reason, (perhaps even prior to this fear fully developing) I’ve learned to cherish what it is I have, to appreciate the people in my life and how fortunate I am to be in the world that I live in.

I think the greatest factor to this fear, is the lack of control I have in stopping loss. Death is inevitable and people do/say/believe things that we do not agree with. In all honesty, I am not what you would typically consider a control freak. Flexibility, open-mindedness, and empowerment of others are some of the traits that I am most proud of, but this fear and subsequent lack of control in avoiding this fear becoming reality comes from the realisation that life changes in an instant. It is devastating and destabilising. It forces us to adapt when all we want to do is stagnate.

If we look at one of the defining flaws to result from this fear, I now live a life which is as risk averse as possible. Decision making is tiresome, and opportunities become limited, all because of a fear that I may set in motion a ripple which inevitably causes me loss. And then I’ll only have myself to blame for ruining what I had.

Considering how short life is, as I really appreciate with ever-passing day, I want to make a committed effort to forgoing the fear, and remove risk (to a fair degree) from my regular decision making, and to just live.

I know that there is plenty to experience and learn when I let it go, now it’s a matter of making it more of a reality.

Guise.

Small Talk

Something that I’m definitely not good at is small talk. It makes me uncomfortable, feel stupid, and offers a hollow feeling in pretending to connect with someone. It’s safe to say, I do not like small talk.

There is, however, a form of conversation that I enjoy even less than that, and that is gossip. As soon as my brain registers that we the conversation has transitioned to gossip, I’m checked out. My consciousness goes to a subconscious place, hiding itself from the incoming discord of rumour, innuendo, unsubstantiated assumptions, and biased conceptions of past experiences.

Quite simply, I’m aware of the benefits of this primal form of human collaboration. A primordial connection to others through the discussion of a third party and their habits and idiosyncrasies. I understand that everyone of us use it to build relationships, and that it is a safe ground away from the taboo topics of small talk, but I am curious where my instinctual aversion of the topic has developed.

And I wonder, knowing that this form of communication and social bonding is important to us, why do we spend so much more time on this, than we do on the discussion of ideas, thoughts, opinions and innovations. Why are we happy to accept that the dealings of the Kardashians can make the nightly news, reaching a mass audience in an instant, but in order to hear the discussion of real world people’s ideologies and challenges, we have to resort to the niche corners of Reddit and the rest of the internet.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad that we have this ability to connect and share with other individuals in the same mindset as myself, but for how long. With the looming threat towards net neutrality in the United States, do not be fooled to think that won’t affect the rest of the globe.

So the question I leave you with today is, what have you done this week to discuss something bigger? What information have you absorbed from sources other than your mainstream news organisations, Facebook feeds, and radio advertisements.

If we hope for a population of individuals, thinking for themselves, challenging the decisions of our leaders constructively, and pressuring the major news articles to raise the quality of reporting and removal of bias, then that starts with each of us.

Guise.

A Moment Defined (Vol.1)

This time last year, I had just rejected an extension to my employment contract after two long years at the same company. It was a decision I didn’t make lightly. Although the work was frustrating and change seemed impossible there, it was a comfortable job with great benefits (not so much the remuneration).

When I came into the job, it was off the back of feeling like a failure leaving the job before. Caveat to this, I must mention that when I look back now, three years on, I no longer believe myself to have failed, rather I achieved as much as I could despite the barriers outside of my control.

So feeling like a failure, for the second time in two jobs, I started in a role I was barely qualified for. Responsible for more than I’d ever been responsible for before, unsure of my knowledge and capability, I was at a point doubting that I was ever capable of succeeding in my field. But over the space of 2 years, I had the leader that I needed. One who was willing to be strong at the right times, and trusted me to make mistakes and learn from them. 24 months of being empowered proved to be everything I needed. And so I reached a point where I could learn no more from that leader. We had reached the max of what could be achieved in that dynamic.

With that in tow, I turned down the extension. I left that employer with nowhere to go, but not empty-handed. I entered a difficult labour market with 2 years more experience and all the confidence that I could hold. I was employable, at the very least. But I wasn’t just looking for employment. i wanted somewhere that I could make a difference, somewhere that I could feel the culture just through the recruitment process, which had the right pieces of the puzzle in the right places.

But two months without a job and multiple interviews each week without finding that place hits that confidence like a sack of sh…eets.

Thankfully I found the place I was looking for shortly after that two month mark, and almost a year on, I’m still very happy and optimistic. But this is a short story of defining moments, and whilst there have been a number of defining moments in my life, today is appreciates this one.

Back yourself. Sometimes in life we need to jump into the dark and trust our instincts (based on fact). At times, hindsight will help us to regret these decisions, but even with that, we know we made the decision for the right reason.

Guise.

Sibling Separation

Separation appears to be the flavour of the month. 

It’s a strange human experience, to willingly watch normal become odd, routine become disruption. The ever changing reality of life means that we are often separated from friends, colleagues, family members, pets, familiar places and spaces. 

I say it is a strange experience, but if anything, with modern medicine at the level it is now, conflict being confined to far fewer countries, and rising property prices, we are actually separated from what is familiar far less than ever before in human history. 

But I think strange is still fair word for this experience, because for some, separation is good, for some it’s bad, and for most it’s often a balance between the two. 

It is strange to make decisions which removes us from familiarity, but we do so anyway. 

And so I think the emotion involved in separation is an example of the advanced nature of human consciousness. Our pets don’t feel any positive being separated from us, nor would they willingly separate themselves from this familiarity (assuming you’re not an abusive owner). 

But I digress.  

Happy House-warming. 

Guise. 

Decisions, Decisions…

I don’t enjoy being indecisive. In fact it sends me into a self-deprecating cycle of doubt and despair (pardon the melodrama).

It stems from an overarching fear of consequences and hindsight. A fear that at some point in the future I’ll be looking at this decision and think about how clear the answer should have been. 

Irrational yes, but we are not rational creatures. We act out in fits of rage, we curse the uncontrollables, and turn to jelly at the sight of rodents, spiders or snakes. So I’m comfortable being irrational in some parts of my life. 

This is a part of me that I am trying to address, but behaviour does not change overnight, it is a sustained effort over a long period of time. 

One of the worst parts of being indecisive, though, is just how exhausting it is. It isn’t easy playing out multiple decision trees in your head in short periods of time, trying to decide which path is of least damage and best value. 

In the meantime, I apologise for the untimely delay in any decisions that I may cause. 

Guise. 

Our Lives, they are’a Changin’

Even when it feels like our world is crashing down, we have a remarkable ability to persevere, to break through the barriers. We are but creatures of adaptation, but our ability to adjust is esoteric, it is a gift of the gods. 

I have a saying, and I’ve shared it with many people over the years and that is, “whether for the good or the bad, change is coming”. 

The reason this thought has stuck with me for so long, I think, is because it is realistic. It does not offer lofty promises of brighter times just around the corner, but it also does not dwell on the grim reality of an unfortunate or unpleasant situation. What it does do, is it acknowledges that like death and taxes, change is inevitable. 

Whether that change leads to better times, or whether it leads to worse, accepting that everything is temporary is cathartic. Whatever tomorrow brings, it will be different from today, and we will have different perceptions, different options, different solutions, and different risks. 

It is with this knowledge,  with this acceptance, that we can nurture our resilience. It teaches you to ride the good times high, and appreciate them when they are here. It teaches you to push, and to hold on when our experiences are low, when we are at our most tested. 

The contradiction in this thought is that sometimes though, we have to accept when we do not have the resilience to be resilient. This is not a shameful characteristic, nor one to hide away. It is these times that we find ourselves in our darkest holes, and we feel every grain of despair blow in our winds. These are the times to seek help. Take solace in knowing that change is inevitable. It’s just that sometimes we need to give that change a kick up backside. 

I wish you resilience and courage, from this day to the next. 

Guise.