I’m so sick of being yelled at. The worst part about it is that there’s no respite or relief from it. Advertising is in every single direction we turn our eyes and ears, and it’s only getting louder. With more competition for our increasingly limited attention spans, advertising companies seem to have done away with the clever and would prefer to place themselves in front of us and scream noise at us.
I had a realisation recently about just how much this advertising was affecting my psyche. I had gotten so used to radio and TV ads just being a regular part of life, that I had forgotten they can quite simply be turned off. Turning it off consciously offers an almost immediate cognitive pressure release to our minds. I have physically felt that release from my cranium after deciding that the latest “warehouse closing down sale” was not critical information.
In a world where we rely on advertising revenue to stimulate many parts of our economy (I mean it basically keeps our radio stations in work, and our professional sports accessible to us) we have to remember our sanity. We have to remember that it’s okay to turn off some of these overwhelming senses, and be comfortable with the silence again.
When the loud noises get too much, take away their power. For you own sake.
Since the earliest of ages I’ve called myself a name. Something unique, and akin to a dying art in this modern Artificially Intelligent world. I’ve brandished myself with this word to separate from the crowd, to feel unique, to feel talented and to surprise others. That word is writer.
It’s a strange sort of behaviour. As writers, we self-indulgently talk about ourselves as if we are some special breed that experience life differently and more vividly and more intensely than anyone else, but the reality is that we are just another product of existence. We have been given words which allow us to speak these experiences, in the same way a musician or an artist has been bestowed in their own medium.
Looking at it through a wider scope, I guess this isn’t a trait of creative-types only. In all walks of life, people are writing their own paragraphs, in their words and actions, as to how they fit in this existence.
In a world where purpose and longevity are two innately difficult concepts to keep aligned, each day we change, or are perceived to change, in minuscule or major manners. But what we often forget to appreciate, is the bearing that we ourselves can have on the experience.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year. No, not the fat guy that supposedly breaks into our homes, watches when we’re sleeping, has done so for years and still has faced less charges than a Hollywood producer. No, I mean it’s the end of Spring in Australia, which means the start of the test cricket season in Australia.
A time of year which unites a population who hate each other for their winter footy allegiances, and a certain free to air TV channel earns three quarters of its ratings for the year. Radios dial in from the moment in the morning that we hit the office or the job site, and we celebrate inappropriately every time a visiting wicket falls.
Cricket brings something out in us down under. We’ve grown up with it from an early age so now we look forward to November when sport becomes a massive part of our culture.
Ignoring the fact that we live in security and our standard of life is significantly better off than half the global population, the cricket season is superficially exemplary of why we’re lucky as country. That we willing choose to put aside or forget about our immediate issues, and we escape. We escape to a cultural alternate reality and we enjoy the luxury that we have as a population.
We sit in nerves as our captain creeps to a score of 97, and lose ourselves in pride and euphoria as we watch him streak towards a match saving century. The sound of “come on!” becomes synonymous with an Australian bowler taking the first wicket of a test. And we sigh profanities when a batsman throws his wicket away cheaply.
This is us. This is Summer Cricket in Australia.
This involuntary timeline, filled with answers to questions we did not ask. A path which we may only view in hindsight, despite our attempts to illuminate the road ahead.
The journey is a long one, a trek we are not ready for. Nonetheless, we move. Step by step we propel forward, briefly glancing sideways as others pass us in all directions.
To proceed along this road, is to experience opportunity. To bask in the light of the stars and to feast upon the nourishment of our ancestors achievements, for to know this life, is to know the lives of those you’ve come before us. It coarses through our veins, and drives our inherent instincts.
Along this journey, we continue this process, writing history and learning lessons for the generations to come. Responsibility too great for our modern minds to fully appreciate. A responsibility, and a process, made all the more fulfilling to experience with another. Those we spend our days with, and those we spend our nights. Those around the corner, and those across the seas. That journey all the greater, when lived alongside others.
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.
I’ve previously shared my thoughts around the difference between equality and equity (The Myths of Equality), but I guess this is about one of those specific realities. A reality which says that despite all efforts to normalise their lives, sports stars and celebrities are different to you and me. The expectations, the scrutiny, the public presence, and the value they add to a large quantity of strangers lives. For this reason, we are not equal to that of a celebrity, sportstar, politicians, or other public figures.
There are benefits of this inequality and disadvantages, for both parties. Good and bad is a measure of perspective, it is simply a demonstration of opinion.
We forgive disgraced celebrities and sports stars because they offer something to our life. They provide art or entertainment, and help us escape from life’s daily challenges.
But there is a cost for this type of immunity, having every moment of consciousness scrutinised by the masses. A level of privacy comparable to a public gym change room.
Putting all that a little to the side, there is the final, more cynical approach to this imbalance between the ordinary and the famous… Money. And as we know, money talks.
The past few weeks have been a testing period for my mind. I’ve often felt in that time that my mind has been pulled in too many directions.
Needless to say it’s been exhausting, and I found myself in a bit of a mental slump. Which is why I find the timing of the universe and all its contents to be far too convenient to be coincidental, at least for the most part.
Right when I needed it, I was surprised by the beauty and humanity in people from the most obscure reaches of my life.
Colleagues who had gone above and beyond to get on board with trying to make the workplace a better place to be. Efforts which celebrated connection, these people committed hours of their own time to create various creative work of beauty. All in response to a simple call for creativity, these individuals shared an important part of themselves with us, and it was beautifully surprising.
So I sit here on this Sunday afternoon, buoyed with refreshed energy thanks to the efforts of these individuals, ready to do my own part with renewed vigour.
Life’s funny like that, and timing is always key.