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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Politically Incorrect

The revolution against political correctness is coming.

You can feel it building, can’t you. Generations of humans who have grown up in a world where everything they say and everything they do is scrutinised and polished for fear offending someone. They’ve passed through some of life’s most fragile and uncertain phases always conscious of the eggshells they step upon.

What we can feel is that has become tired, and a generation so aware of the eggshells is starting to choose to ignore the sensitivity once thrust upon them.

If we look at how the PC revolution came about, we see a culture at an extreme to the one we currently reside. A world where racism was casual and common, indigenous Australians were statutely considered flora and fauna, women were out of the home only physically, and the physical assault of homosexuals was a social activity. This was a world filled with abused majorities, not just minorities. Where mental health was unheard of and “soft”, and asking for help was completely misunderstood.

Considering where we’ve come from, the last 30-40 years of the PC revolution has been monumental for our society and balancing the field, to some degree.

What I see, though, is that as this mindset has developed, it’s almost over-developed, and people are becoming tired of being told they are a bad person for the way their mind and belief system works. This is not to say that these people aren’t wrong, this is not a commentary of the merits of conservative, or even non-left wing views. No, rather this is commentary of the movement which will see us change the way we talk about sensitive societal and cultural issues.

Hopefully that change means we, as a society, are in a place where we can have proper discussions of issues, without branding the opponent as ignorant, or preaching about how offended you are.

Here’s to a world of discussion, not eggshells.

Guise.

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.

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