A Ripple from Before

One of the greatest opportunities I have ever been afforded, was the very first step in my career. I was yet to graduate from Uni, with no experience in my field, voluntary or otherwise, and I had applied for a head office job as a customer service attendant.

What I thought I had was zero to none in chances of breaking through, not in the job I had applied for anyway. What I was given was a chance. A chance to be out of my depth and to learn quickly or sink. It was a job that should have been 2 or 3 years too senior for me. I felt like I had skipped the queue.

Recently, I found myself thinking about this. I mean, I regularly look back on my career, but I had never truly took the time to appreciate that it someone stuck their neck out, and rolled the dice. Somebody said I was worth the risk.

Which led me to this week, when I did something I should have done a long time ago. I thanked that person. You see, for a matter of circumstances, I only ever worked for that risk taker for a period of weeks. And then they weren’t there, not for the rest of my time with that company.

During my reflection, it occurred to me that often in life, we don’t get the chance to look back on someone else’s actions which have affected us so much, and get the chance to approach them so much later. So I felt obliged to say my piece and recognise the ripple they have had in my life.

It was somewhat cathartic. Almost laying to rest that part of my life, once and for all. Who knows whether I’ll have that chance ever again. But I hope that my message has just as strong an effect on them, as they did on me.

Guise.

Advertisements

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.

Day Dreaming

Gazing out upon a setting summer sky, 

Shades of gold uncherished by the human eye;

Streaking clouds in lines, 

Washed upon the abyss like the sea’s shore. 


A fascination from early teens,

An inspiration,

A creative means;

I’ve lived a life gazing upon heavens floor. 

Memories shared with those dear,

Imagining life in pillows imperfect. 

A face, a shape, a song and story,

Meaning undefined, in simple glory. 


Even though the shades of gold, the pillows billowing and stories untold;

Despite the fact that science holds,

A meaning for this sight is known,

The clouds and sky remain in mind,

A sight and song, dearly I hold. 

Journey to the Centre of My Writing 

Inspiration is a fickle,  inconvenient bitch. It comes when you can’t use it, and is a hide-and-seek champion when you go looking for it.

It has been elusive in my life, as I’ve pursued it, to use it. to fuel my mind as I dip and dodge writer’s block. I’ve always relied on inspiration for content. Maybe it is the euphoric release when you complete something fueled purely by raw inspiration, versus forcing it through solely with motivation and/or the guilt of wasting talent. maybe it is laziness, or perhaps it’s even a willingness to embrace easier distractions. I’d hate to believe it’s the latter, but internally it strikes a chord. let’s come back to that…

There have always been two clear factors to my writing, or capacity to do so

  • Inspiration – this is like that first mouthful of soft-drink on a hot, Australian summer day after spending hours out in the sun. It is the smell of freshly ground coffee, or the shiver of a cool breeze as you gaze upon the stars in the countryside. maybe even the first GTL after a long week at work. Unrefined, unaltered, unquestioned fuel, combusting efficiently without expending barely any energy.
  • Motivation – the drive, the chase, or the reason. It is the hunger that pushes you to achieve a goal. It is the self-control to just sit and do, whether that be to write or otherwise.

And so, the question looms, “Why is inspiration so important?”. Does one require the other, or may they exist exclusively of the other? I suppose the answer must be yes. I may write with either just inspiration or just motivation, however,  the products of each should be inexplicably different. A piece without inspiration will exist, but like without heart. It will read factually but be missing the emotional connection that the writer can tie into text and paper. A piece without motivation will exist, but may be missing coherency, simplicity, or a clearly defined point. So with this exists the duality of writing. Inspiration and motivation is my formula. If I could bottle it, I would.

I’ve spent my life chasing inspiration and struggling with motivation. Lighting a fire under inspiration is something I’ve always left up to chance, and conveniently hidden behind when I’ve lacked the self-control to remain motivated. It has been easier to succumb to easier distractions, than to try and build a fire, and patiently sit by it as the flames grow and the meat reaches well-done.

With this I pledge to myself to spend as much energy as possible to beat distractions. To overcome fear of acceptance, of failure and of judgement.

I hope this piece continues to light my fire, or perhaps is the spark to yours. That this cathartic self-dialogue serves some greater purpose, to pay it forward, as a wise man has done for me.

Guise 

Speak Up

When did society start breeding them? When did we decide it is okay to nurture a lack of social skills and inability to speak in front of even the smallest gatherings? I’m curious as to whether it’s a lack of confidence, fear of judgement or simply too many people taking the easy way out by reading unconsciously from a script of paper. Our politicians do it, so why shouldn’t we?

On first instinct, we look at the internet and the online presence of human beings as detracting from the primal skill of public speaking. An increased time spent engaging computer screens against that spent interacting with physical specimens has, by no doubt, affected the our social skills as humans. We lose the freedom of buying time in between responses, effectively diminishing our ability to think rapidly and spontaneously. Most of us with an inkling of common sense can see this, and yet we continue to dedicate greater lengths of time to our digital presence.

Our ability to write essays, blogs and share creative ideas have in no way been reduced because of the internet. If anything, creativity flows more fluidly for this reason. The lack of 25 sets of eyes no longer has to stand in the way of human expression. For this, many more ideas and thoughts are shared every day. But at what cost? How do we value our inherent ability to address the masses upon a stage? Where would culture and politics be if the great speakers in these fields had given into their fear of attention?

I see a trend, a negative spiral of acceptance for giving into ones fears. When society reinforces and allows for our youth to stand and fake their way through speeches and addresses, we are taking one giant cultural leap backwards. We are accepting mediocrity and encouraging social anxiety.

These words will not change our schools curriculum to promote better speaking skills. It will not encourage the masses to take on speaking coaches. No. All that these words can do is encourage. They can provide the encouragement to deny yourself from mediocrity, and look to address this issue in each of your lives. When we lose our ability to speak to one another, we are but bricks in a wall. Knowledge may be power, but language is mortality.

 

Guise

The Difference in 1%

We don’t speak out enough, us men. I don’t mean that in some kind of activist way; it’s more a realisation that our genetic thirst for knowledge and superiority often pushes us to accept the face value or the first opinion we hear, as being Gospel. Why? Well it’s with this fresh gossip that we seek out the nearest ear to unload the news, claiming our fame for “being-in-the-know”, a throwback perhaps, to our Neanderthal ancestors, and our desire to fulfil, in some small way, the traditional ‘provider’ role.

I remember when I was growing up that there was an unspoken duty for the ‘provider’ to make sacrifices. It was when sacrifices weren’t made, that it all seemed to go to shit. So, as men, we do as our provider did before us, and we make sacrifices, be it as simple as keeping the peace with silence.

I hear the women in uproar, “Women make just as many and larger sacrifices than what men do”. Too true ladies. I agree one hundred per cent, but this isn’t a competition, and I am only trying to make a point. I could never be misogynistic because the women in my life have had too much of a positive impact on me. The point I’m making will be clear soon enough, but for the meantime, let me highlight the significance of the “one per-cent-ers”. They are those processes and events which require barely any extra effort than the easier alternative, but slowly raise us to a better place.

A recent holiday away reminded me of the 1%. Wanting to avoid an overcrowding elevator, I turned to take the stairs instead. “You’ll fit, come on, jump in”. But I couldn’t bring myself to make myself and six others uncomfortable, just because walking three flights of stairs was the alternative.  “I’ll be fine; it will be good for me”. It was then that a relative proceeded to tell me about how he is such an advocate of the “one per-cent-ers”. It was then that the light bulb switched on, and I was reminded of what it was I was actually doing. I was exerting minimal extra energy, but contributing in a small, yet significant way to my overall health and attitude. That barely microscopic sensation of achievement. The one per-cent-er. And it made me think, ‘How many one per-cent-ers do I attempt on a daily basis?’ This is where I became aware of them, all the one per-cent-ers in my life that are available on a daily basis. Walking up escalators, saying ‘NO’ to the chocolate bar on your work break, listening to what an acquaintance has to say with intent and desire, reading a book or magazine on the train instead of listening to music or playing iPhone games. Or sitting down for ten minutes a day to slowly pursue what makes me truly happy. Writing. That’s why this has all come, a new channel to express and begin to fulfil a lifelong goal.

With an appreciation of the power of the one per-cent-er, we can understand ourselves better. Apply it to your work life, home life or love life. Look at all the little things you’ve missed or failed to see in the past. The new friend you’ve made by shooting a quick hello; the employee loyalty you’ve earned by showing a single grain of care; the tightened bond with your child by quickly empathising with their perception of reality. It is the one per-cent-er that makes all the difference in the end, and the entire journey greater throughout.

I suppose now would be the time to make my point, bring it all to a head and explain the lofty, unsubstantiated thesis I opened with.

As men, we don’t speak out enough. Perhaps the generic and preachy nature of this comment will leave me reeling at the missed opportunity to be inspirational, guiding and honest. But a whole bunch of one per-cent-ers has brought me to this point. Men don’t speak out enough, possibly out of indifference, but the most significant one per-cent-er I have seen between men and their partners is silence. It may be the case that I’m being too generic and assuming, but I’m talking from what I’ve seen, the ultimate assumption here is, we don’t ask “Why?” enough. Too often do we sit back and accept, afraid to question what we are told and what we assume.

So, I aim not to tell you there is something wrong with, to fix you or condemn you. I simply aim to challenge you, to urge you to take action two-fold. First, begin acknowledging the one per-cent-ers in your life. I want you to start looking for them, and challenging yourself with them. They make life so much sweeter and fulfilling. Second, start using “Why?” at least 30 times a day. Question anything. Whether it’s why we use a certain word or why we go to work day after day.

Eliminate the silence, and just add “Why?”