Monday, 28 April 2014

How to Make Good Days

Today was a good day. Though you might have already guessed that. Bad days do not coincide with much more than me feeling miserable and burrowing from the world with a book in front of my nose and an inordinate amount of negativity and snark to anyone who brushes my metaphorical (and literal) shoulder. (Though I can't stand shoulder brushes on good days anyway).

What constituted my good day was, after the morning work/school chaos, getting the entire house to myself for the next three hours. Absolute heavenly bliss. The only sounds were the ones I chose to make. I got to finish reading the amazing Tom Stoppard play "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead" and then mull over the Meaning of Life while staring at the cracked paint ceiling (there is a whole universe of stories up there).  My wrist is finally healing to the point I can play mildly intense piano pieces and I ended up in musical flow which lasted for 45 minutes before I had lay on the ice and ibuprofen.

In short, I had a brilliant morning. And to anyone reading this, yes there was a point to me possibly boring you with all the things I did earlier today.

You're good sort of day might not have anything to do with existing in a quiet space where you get full control of the type and volume of sound produced, mine however, does. I've always wondered if my oddities/issues could be explained by various psychological labels, beyond that of an extreme Introvert but then again who's to say I even have problems? Maybe I am just a nasty grump who gets irritated by people easily and finds touchy/loud children to be especially upsetting? At least, that is how people who occupy a significant portion of my life see it. Thereby I continue my process of believing myself to be an abnormal and potentially bad person who doesn't get to have tidy psychological explanations for drastic mood swings and extreme sensitivity.

Maybe you have or do feel the same? Maybe?

Well, regardless of where you are on the spectrum of what society deems normal, what society labels as abnormal and what society labels as just unpleasant individuals who cannot get along with others, I did want to share how I am working on making Good days out of my larger portion of Bad days.

A Bad day for me? 

Cue a blare of little kid television shows, the bass to all other sounds. Over that, lays the shrieking/shouting of two year olds and a four year old. Now add an augmented melody of any person trying to stop or tame that chaos. The drum beat of this symphony of chaos comes in the form of the general noises of shutting doors, cupboards, dishwaters, dryers, talking, cat meowing, or stair-stomping that comes from having nine other people under one roof. Add the piccolo solos of other people practicing their music or blasting from their computers/iPods, and there I am; hiding in my room at every interval to escape it. (And that's not even really Bad, just an everyday one).

Well, except for the constant interruption of being yelled at to let out a cat, crying downstairs somewhere, to watch little children inside or out, to deal with whatever issue is not getting resolved, or to come help with whatever current cleaning project needs to be done (because spring cleaning doesn't end until winter, and then you get winter cleaning).

A Bad Day: A bit like this endlessly repetitious and overwhelming image of ivy. Except less pretty.
Alright. Fine. So it doesn't seem half so bad as I read it back here on my laptop, however, at least to me it's all together too loud and too busy. Like headache inducing extremely.

Give me a tidy list of things to be done, or very direct orders, and I'll happily do them around other people. Ask me to navigate the same things without a tidy list and in direct fire of the chaos of nine other individuals; not happening. I'm going to hide in my room. 

I'm still horrible at the whole, making those Bad days good, or trying really, really hard to keep the Good days good. (The post-naptime, pre-dinner time is probably the most difficult time of the day, aside from attempting to wake up in the morning). Nonetheless, as the overused saying goes, nothing and no-one is perfect. If it was, we'd all be in a play, following a predetermined plot line that allows us nothing but heads, no matter how many times we flip the coin. Cheers to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern for that new perspective (Reference). And even then, in a play, we have utterly no control, and thus, that is why, despite having Bad days, at least we have the power to make them better ones.

So what do I do to make my Bad days better or keep my Good days, happy?

I go through a series of steps; starting with one or all of the following four options throughout the day. Call them my coping mechanisms.

1) I imagine. A lot. Sometimes I'm wandering through a thick forest with fog pinpricked by shafts of sun. Other times I'm floating through the sky in a hot air balloon or dirrigble. Because everything is better with steampunk. Sometimes I'll imagine my characters and think about what they might do next. Other times I just have to imagine little dancing numbers and do something mundane like counting in French.

2) I hum a random melody in my head or it's really bad, I'll sing under my breath.

3) If I'm near proper music, I'll turn it on. If I'm doing it to drown out other noise it'll usually fall some category of epic, metal, or steampunk; though I never quite drown out the other noises otherwise, I'd give myself a headache. If I'm doing it to fall asleep however, the music will probably be a soundtrack or Baroque/Romantic piano music.

4) If the above fail, or I know it's going to be a bad day that isn't going to turn sunny any time soon, I'll wear ear plugs for the day (and still manage to hear everything going on anyway, but it's less headache inducing).

To actually make the Bad day a better one, along with the coping mechanisms, you need to find and hold on to the things which will make you happy. For me, as you probably have guessed, those things that make me happy revolve around a lot of solo time. I might do things such as:

1) Writing and finishing something in a short period of time (like writing prompts or these blog posts).

2) Grabbing a fanfiction prompt from Tumblr and writing, or reading what someone else wrote.

3) Editing the multiple year backload of photographs, fiddling with Photoshop and perusing DeviantArt.

4) Going for a walk or going to the gym.

5) Eating chocolate.

You'll notice with those five things, I did not include lliterary reading, writing longer works, poetry, watching movies, tv series or anything that I need to give my full, uninterrupted attention without impulsively shouting at the person/thing interrupting my flow. Those above things are short, shallow or silly  (in the case of the fanfiction or chocolate) but give instant, quick gratification that later help in self-reminders (or sign-posts as I like to call them) when I find myself labelling the day as one of my "Bad" ones because of all my negative lash-outs and how people respond to me in turn. Instantly, the "Bad" day, looks brighter and I try to hold in any further irritation.

It doesn't always work. A lot of the time it doesn't. Lately, I've really failed at not having Bad days, but I put it down to the rhythm and schedule I got used to in the past two months, being turned sideways by my mom taking on a gardening job. Meanwhile I still remain an unemployed creative person who really should just leave for England to live for a while, as I've been wanting to; without planning things to the tiniest detail for once.

So in that, and those lists (of sorts), all I can say about how to make Good days, comes from a character in a movie who has since become my Good day avatar with her catch-phrase of "just keep swimming, swimming, swimming." In other words, carry on wayward child of the universe, keep trekking, get through the day, but make sure you don't miss the sign-posts telling you how long you have to travel, the places you could go, or what's coming up ahead.

Also, sometimes, all you have to do is step outside, take a deep breath, bend down and touch your toes (or at least do the latter bit if the weather's bad).

In the end. Making Good days is all about noticing the sign-posts the universe makes for you and making a few of your own (like eating a bar of chocolate).

Currently snacking on dark chocolate with almonds.

Sunday, 27 April 2014

Walking the Edges (How to Make an Impact?)

"When you come to the edge of all that you know, you must believe one of two things: either there will be ground to stand on, or you will be given wings to fly."
O.R. Melling (The Summer King (The Chronicles of Faerie, #2))

I believe in faeries. Do you?

I also believe we forge our own fates. Do you?

There are two parts to today's post: Part one is a bit of forward looking as I stumbled across an interesting mixed list of people recently released by TIMES. Found here. Part two is a lot of past nostaliga, in the form of a childhood which contained a lot of faeries and very little to do with locating a source of monetary income that had more purpose than showing me a lot of numbers in my bank account.

While I was browsing GoodReads for a quote to use today I got a google alert about an article from the TIMES about the 100 Most Influential People of 2014, so I checked it out.

It's a fascinated browse through pop-singers and politicians. Actors and activists.

I was shocked at some, in total agreement with those I knew, inspired by many and interested to discover others.

I haven't a clue what the TIMES uses as a bar by which to compare, contrast and weed through to these 100 individuals but whatever the case may be, it made me think about how I want to form my future. Currently it's all a bit of a cloud of stuff; tangled as I am with far too many creative endeavours (a friends recently convinced me to compile my personal encyclopedia into a wiki which is no small feat) in addition to being required to function as a useful member of my family, since I am back living with them.

Since there were many individuals to admire on the list I'll just focus on the two similar and yet, opposing figures who stood out to me in the same professional area which I wish to enter. Authors.

John Green. Have you heard of him?

His most recent novel: The Fault in Our Stars, is coming out as a movie this summer, though he has authored numerous books before that one. He is also one half of the famous brother duo on Youtube known as the Vlogbrothers who started up a group called the Nerdfighers. The Nerdfighers maxim is "Don't Forget to Be Awesome" and ultimately is all about being empowered and empowering others.

I have yet to read John Green's novels but the vlogs he and his brother do are hugely inspiring and I will leave it at that, otherwise I'll never get around to the rest of my post points. You can check out their channel here if your interested: Vlogbrothers Channel.

The other author who I stumbled across as I randomly clicked some of the 100 individuals who I could not recognize via their thumbnail portrait was Donna Tartt. Do you know her? I didn't. Still don't really, seeing as I just discovered her a couple hours ago.

Anyway, what stood out for me, between her and John Green was that she has been much quieter on the front of notoriety and being recognizable via a single image as many of these 100 figures were. (Not all, but many). Also, she has only published three novels, having a decade sitting between each, and during this period, the individual who wrote the tribute to her on TIMES, suggested Donna used that time to become her characters she would get so deeply immersed in them which is, in my opinion, the act of a true artist, speaking not just from a surface level, but an experiential heart level. That is not to say anything other authors, like John Green, or my favourite and highly prolific author, Terry Pratchett, are any less artistic, it's just that her's is perhaps a more sedate art that resembles a stroll along one of the foggy beaches of North Vancouver Island rather than the vibrant flash of culture and art found in the Grand Bazaar of Istanbul.

All that said, it made me think about who I am and the sort of impact I want to leave. Will I do what I am most passionate about and disregard all my other interests for the sake of succeeding in one area or will I dabble in multiple things and remain rather mundane and just another blip on the radar of human births and deaths. Like John Green, Donna Tartt, my university friends pursuing creative writing degrees and getting their scripts made into plays, or any other person I happen to know and admire, so I have what it takes to be anything more than a rambler in a corner?

So I sat with my faeries (and this is where Part two comes into play).

If you give a faerie a book. She'll ask you to read it outloud. If you read the book outloud, she'll ask you for...

I sat with my faeries. Outside. In a grassy corner supported by a rock wall on one side and cedar bushes on the other. I closed my eyes, soaking in the juice of sunlight and thought back to the days when the grass was a great jungle, when under the birch tree was a great forest and the only thing I, the faeries or my fellow adventurers were concerned with was exploring new lands, running a lot and imagining what those places looked like.

As I said at the beginning; sadly, those sorts of imaginings do little for the reality we live in which requires much more than a strong imagination to create the right order of pixellated numbers on your computer screen which determine whether you are broke, in poverty, comfortable or a rolling billionaire. How much should I worry about that though over doing one of my creative pursuits, like writing?

In reality, if I want to go much of anywhere, like with anything, you have to put in the same amount of effort and time you hope to get out in rewards. Or, at least, that is what we are always told. I'm not convinced that is true, at least not anymore. Not when grabbing information and expressing ourselves can occur in a couple clicks. On the other hand, that also inspires a lot of laziness and desire for things to happen *now* which tend to also only get augmented when you view lists like TIMES 100 Most Influential People of 2014 and you come across individuals who are not just ten, twenty, thirty years old than you, but a mere five.

And so I return to my faeries. Being faeries, there would often be a lot of imagining around flying; soaring through the blue sky, bouncing of bulbous clouds and zipping over the deep greens of the lawns below. In those times there was never any thought, any fear really, of falling, of crashing to the ground and ending in a horrific splatter of guts and forgotten bones. Unfortunately it's much easier to exist in the land of the imaginary than it is to face reality; even when it is literally screaming at you in the face, in the form of the general noise that occupies large families.

I was told 2014 would be an amazing year for me. So far it's turning into a lot of backpedaling and doing things which are keeping me stuck in someone else's chosen lifestyle rather than my own. Really, me be stuck on this edge is my own choice. I've said before, there is always a choice. I could up and leave and live homeless. Whether it is fear, or a ridiculous amount of rationality stopping me, who knows.

Regardless of what was said to me, I personally made resolutions on New Years (like most people). I hoped to actually complete them this year. Whether or not that remains to be seen, comes down to two things. The second half of this year and whether or not I'll try flying again, like I did with my faeries as a child and do what I am most passionate about, regardless of how long it takes.

Loitering in corners and walking sideways through edges.

Friday, 25 April 2014

Returning to the Corner

Time and again, I return to my corner. I may venture out for a time, but in this incredibly fast, loud and hectic world, people like myself don't last long. (For now, the jury is out on whether or not there is help for me in that area).

Faced with people coming, going, giggling, deep voiced chatter, yelling instructions, commands and discipling all in the same breath; music or t.v. blaring  to the beat of the dishwasher, dryer, the refridgerator or desktop computer and one wonders why life hasn't driven you under the dirt yet.

Quess what? Like an overheated computer, it's time to shut down.

Bring on the other worlds. Bring the chaos that only goes to my imagination.

It's time to sit quietly in my corner.

This is all just to say real life is dragging me under a lot lately which is leaving less and less energy to come up with anything remotely insightful, let alone creative for the few who actually read this. That said, this is part of my shut down therapy in that it does take me to another world through the expression of my own thoughts.

I will admit however to leaning heavily on pre-existing creations such as books, t.v. shows, movies or manga.

Then again, there is great power in other medias, particularly television series. They give us models by which we can base our own similar experiences off of, or models of experiences we have never had before that open our eyes to new perspectives, places and opinions. No, that's nothing really new, I am sure you all recognized why you watch certain t.v. shows and the value that exists in them. (Except for reality t.v., I really cannot understand the point of watching a fake reality, at least fiction has greater messages and purposes behind it, and a psychologist agrees with me, as much as that counts. (See the article on TheMarySue here).

Can you list off all the shows/movies/books which have influenced you or which have led you to communities, friendships and new experiences. I realized mine's not actually that large but I am very passionate about those few.

Anyway, this all brings me to wonder, as I am tempted to say imagination is a far better place to exist than reality...

How much imagination is too much? 

When you say the word "imagination" the following words and phrases are conjured: fiction, fantasy, lack of logic, things that don't really exist, things that aren't possible etc...

The problem with all that lies in belief however; after all, the word "impossible" breaks down to actually say "I'm possible." Also, saying something doesn't exist is somewhat abitrary because that thing just might exist in the next year or twenty years from now. Plus, all those more intagible things like unicorns, or faeries, or spirits leaks into the same realm of general spiritual, or dare I say, organized religions. Not to mention, in order to stay motivated when you are working toward achieving something you have to have some level of self-belief that you will succeed, otherwise you'd stay in bed all day.

Perhaps I am dragging the word and idea of imagination way out of proportion and the story-based context it is generally used in but then again, as someone who is, in my word, an occupational imaginist (ie: someone who strives to see people, places, things and situations in unique ways in order to glean something new), this is right up my alley.

If anyone is, at all, reading this, I encourage you to leave your personal definition and thoughts on imagination in the comments as I have an ongoing wiki project devoted to collecting as many possible definitions of words as I can gather and input.

You might call the project yet another angle by which I hope to reveal to people that we are all creative beings because of our different ways of seeing and responding to the world.

Whether something is too bright, too loud or too fast, that bathwater of yours is at the premium temperature for a long relaxing soak, or the sun is hitting the rock just right to give you great photos, once you've climbed your way up, we all have our own corners in this world and it's high time we started properly celebrating it.

By all means, celebrate the pre-existing wonders of human creativity (after this I am going to laugh my self silly with A Bit of Fry and Laurie) but remember that your bones are creative in their own unique way too. Maybe you have multiple areas of creativity and you're uniqueness might come through combining them, I combine my love of photography with writing through this blog for example, or maybe you just have one area, so go, find other like-minded individuals, learn lots and as an old childhood t.v. character used to say:

"Take chances, make mistakes and get messy." (Mrs Frizzle of Magic School Bus fame).

What's your brand of imagination?

Note: Life is as hectic as implied at the beginning of this post, thus I'll probably be falling back on posting every other day, or at least three times a week for the next couple months.

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

How to Be at Peace ( or Locating Road-trip Signposts of Life)

There is a reason I am the Introvert in the Corner, (beyond the fact it feeds my human desire of mystery and spookiness). The reason is that singular human ideal, and eternal desire, for peace. 

How do you define peace?

Here's a few of my definitions. Know the first is the most serious and true, while the rest are me poking fun at the term and the bemoaning lack of it in general life, to the tragic lack in the world.

1. State in which the individual, or individuals, is in a constant flow mindset.

2. Period of time in which an individual or individuals can hear themselves think.

3. A state which the world has never unanimously reached in all of human history.

4. State which will only be reached at the end of conscious thought.

Did any of those match with your definition? 

If more of us could be as peaceful as a cat in the sun, society would probably stop. And that, that is okay.

In my four definitions alone, despite varying levels of sarcasm or truth, there were a few key concepts which kept appearing. These were; a state of mind and the lack of argumentative chatter, either in your own head, or out-loud and between multiple people or groups. Namely, peace cannot be achieved without reaching a state of mind in which there is a lack of thought. Sound like anything? Yeah, that's the prime state most people strive to achieve through the typical method and style of meditation. 

So, how do you find that state anyway? If you check out Google there's over 115,000,000 hits geared toward things like "The 8 Things You Must Give Up to Find Peace" or "Why You're Not at Peace Yet."

Thing is, these are all about finding peace and frankly, most of them make me feel pretty incompetent because I have not "discovered" that One True Solution yet. (Or, I am just plain incompetent and therefore do not have the skills to find peace). Either way, finding peace doesn't do much for an individual's happiness and, well, sense of inner peace.

That said, how about creating peace? 

Once again, I went to Google and entered: How to create peace. I got back over 462,000,000 hits and results such as "10 Ways to Bring Peace to the World" and "How to Live in Peace: 15 Steps." 

Interestingly, this time the results are significantly higher than "finding peace" which, for the very loose experimental purposes of my Google searches certainly gives more credit to the act of creating peace as a way to be at peace within and outside of oneself, rather than searching for it as if it was the lost City of Atlantis. 

Even so, I still find anything related to "do these steps and succeed!" plus ambiguous concepts and ideals to be highly dubious.

They way I see it, anything involving a series of steps should be something tangible, something at least one or more of your five senses can grab a hold of. As soon as you want to start delving into that sixth or seventh sense that relies on deeper connections to the self or the universe or whatever the flip you feel like labelling it, you cannot assign tidy steps. Rather, the process is more of an amorphous nebula that usually involves you constantly having to self-talk and screen all your thoughts or words that exit your mouth. A bit like trying to get over a regular old body image issues or a lack of self-esteem which doesn't even get near the challenges of getting over heavier issues that often require medication on top of your personal mind power.

Nevertheless, creating peace is certainly the more powerful and effective method of finding that inner bit of contentment because it involves you and you alone. No matter your circumstances, if you can find one thing, every day, to be happy about, then you are at least meandering down the path toward internally created peace. 

What next? How do we go frome here? I'm lost. I'm confused. I'm wandering...(Do you ever say those things?)

Sometimes I entreat the tangible bits of the Universe for help but really, they are just my spirit in another voice.

I refuse to be the sort of blog that posts lists of legitimate "How-to's" (parodies, by nature of the name, are not) or "10 Steps to...". As much as I adore how logical and simplistic they make things seem, they only do that for a day or maybe a week, and then the colour fades and I realize life is a lot more complicated then 10 Tidy Steps. That said, what I can offer is myself and my own, insignificant thoughts that next to no one will ever read. What's the point of writing something if no one is going to read or engage with it? (Says the voice in my head, do you have a voice like that?). Well, I write here because I hope one day to engage with people through this blog, I hope to actually be able to offer something of use to people but for now, I am just learning. 

But, at least, even as I am learning, I am doing something. Maybe it has zero impact and no one will remember it but at least I am doing it because it was something I wanted to do. I know plenty of people, you probably do too, who always wanted to do something but they find excuses not to. I was like that all through university and I look back on the past five years and feel I wasted them because I spent the time, when I not in class, studying or doing homework, just reading books, practicing hours on hours of piano, watching t.v. shows, I'd explore the town I was in, be a causal photographer and occasionally do something with a friend or two. I would do writing here and there but never with publication or contests in mind. Sure they were all things I chose to do, and therefore, wanted to do on some level, but as ultimately I want to be a published author so why wouldn't I logically be writing and trying to get published as soon as possible? Rather than frittering away time on musical achievements, photography or reading what someone else wrote?

I look at people in university now and realize most of them, if they want to be writers, they are writing, they are a part of the university news groups, magazines or podcasts. I hid away, fearful and pretending I was at peace. 

The Duality Girl. Peace on the Surface. She who Ripples Unhappily Beneath.

So here I am now, coming at this particular combination of thoughts as someone now back home, sorting out my feet before I head off for good, after five years of university. Last time I was living at home (high school) my family was busy and much larger than the maximum average of four with seven under one roof. In the past five years it has turned into ten, with three of them under age four. As an individual who already found her family overwhelming and loud, five years previous, the environment makes me feel an even greater lack of peace than ever.

Not to mention I am unsure of where I am going next and therefore I am constantly at odds with the world, taking my insecurities out on everything in the range of two centimeters to my vision and voice. Like anyone, no matter what your situation is, I want to be at peace. Which in other words, harking back to my definitions, simply means I want to live in the moment, or, be living in flow. 

How in the world is that possible? Often I roll in thoughts like the following: "most people have it a million times worse, stop being so self-centered, buck up and do what you're told because you are too lazy to know what you are going to do next." Or, "stop saying that, everything is relative. Just breathe, relax, trust and enjoy. You'll be going overseas soon and will never have to deal with these other things again."

When faced with a sea of trouble, all you can do is float. If you can do that, you're one better than a rock. They sink.

Unfortunately for you, I have no stunning remedies or step by step instructions. Go search Google if you want those sort of things. Instead, what I have to offer is a hand, and this voice, just to say, we are all in this world together. We are all seeking to create peace within ourselves. I am just the Introvert in the Corner, but at least I have found my Corner and I am working every moment of every day to make it a meaningful one that brings me peace within myself and to others who I come in contact with. (Even if the people who come in contact with me never remember).

Quietly in the Corner. Always.

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Quotitarian Quiffery (or: Life and the Universe though Terry Pratchett)

Due to this thing called Life which does tend to fly through you rather than with you. Like a regular old aeroplane, I missed my usual Thursday quote muse. Not that there is much of a problem with missing it seeing as Time just sits there until you do something with it. Though just sitting there tends to make it melt a too quick. Sort of like leaving your ice cream cone on a table. Ice cream and tables are a bad combination. Stick them together for even two seconds and you'll still find yourself having to frenetically lap up the drippy bits.

This is a wall. It is built of bits from other walls. The Question: Is it an original wall or just a lazy one?

Anyway, I've corraled Time with some velcro-strapped Semtex just to keep things interesting. I'm actually supposed to piling up the desserts for Easter tomorrow. Whoever decided Easter required desserts is probably trying to sell you something and frankly I cannot see the point of it. (Well, that part at least). I can and love the part of Easter which involves solving a series of elaborate riddles in order to locate the years stash of chocolate eggs.

Easter is one of those events which can be aptly summed up by the following genius:

"The trouble with having an open mind, of course, is that people will insist on coming along and trying to put things in it."
Terry Pratchett (Diggers (Bromeliad Trilogy, #2))

Whether it is how one is supposed to celebrate the events listed on your mass produced calendar (if you roll that way), or if it is what events your are even supposed to celebrate, the entire point of humanity seems to be a race to make the bathwater of the brain overflow with ideas and thoughts that are not actually your own. How do you know you even have your own thoughts? They are so influenced and effected by your surroundings, the people, the place and the things in it. Plus those people, the place and the things have all had influence from other sources as well. So really, your brain is a bathtub in which all sorts of scented bubble soaps are dumped, in attempt to create another individual who can carry on a certain idea or concept. That way, of course, the originator doesn't have to be alone. Right? Well, that's just me trying to find a positive reason behind the exploitation that drived 99.9% of everything in this society.

Before these pillars. A building existed. Orginally, of course.

 Then again, some format of bathwater is needed and no one can survive as an entirely blank slate simply because humans also happen to be descended from animals who do not necessarily think before they act. Which is why the classic snap trap with some sort of tasty food beneath it, will always work, unless you're dealing with a cat. They have opinions. And schedules. Don't Ever, Ever, mess them up. They are masters at the death-ray glare. So, perhaps it is okay to be influenced because it's going to happen, unless you have decomposed into dirt and by that point you're probably just weasling around greedy roots that are trying to squish you to some alternative form of death that only dirt can have. That said, once influenced, humans stop at nothing to poke things. It's hilarious to think about, I mean, who cannot laugh at a phrase like this:

The Doctor: "...there's something that doesn't make sense. Let's go poke it with a stick." (Doctor Who S5.7).

If you didn't at least chuckle there must be something wrong with you and I suggest you check in with your local automaton shop and request an upgrade in your humour lobes. Then again, poking things with sticks is also highly dangerous for the indivduals involved in the poking and, if you want to get dark, the individuals or things being poked could also be at risk. Don't go pressing any Big Red Buttons unless you are absolutely certain of the consequences. The great Terry Pratchett agrees with me these counts.

"Some humans would do anything to see if it was possible to do it. If you put a large switch in some cave somewhere, with a sign on it saying 'End-of-the-World Switch. PLEASE DO NOT TOUCH', the paint wouldn't even have time to dry."
Terry Pratchett (Thief of Time (Discworld, #26))

Well, he mostly agrees. On the things that should count, like that people have an insatiable curiousity and regardless of the apocalyptic, planet-blowing-up consequences, 9.99999 times out of 10, humans will race to the finish line of "Who Can Poke That Thing First" and proceed to cause problems for the Universe. Then again, he prefers switches over buttons and that I cannot quite agree with, after all, what's more inviting? A giant red button you could dramatically pump your fist down on or a switch that you could twig up and down with a pinky?

Spot the Moon. It's been the Big Button in the Sky since humanity's post-ape days.

Then again that really is entirely up to the Kettle of Esthetics. Which (conveniently) leads me into another point regarding the Limbs of Human Thought-Processes which are just asking to be tickled to a metaphorical death. See, esthetics, being basically how pretty something is to an indvidual's eyesight, leads right back to that whole idea about individual choice. Just how much of your esthetic choices are truly your own? Probably nil. Tragic thought isn't it? That none of your thoughts are probably originally yours. Even if you were raised by wolves and lived like a hermit in the middle of the tundra you will still be influenced by that lifestyle. And wolves. So perhaps the idea of not having a single one of your own unique thoughts is okay. Because everyone and everything is sitting in the same boat (minus any tigers).

I finally got around to watching The Lego Movie recently and it rather deftly deals with ideas of originality, the freedom of the individual to create and what happens when you are influenced to create certain things in a certain way. But I'll not go into here as I'm attempting to focus on Terry Pratchett in this particular ramble. Though even with Terry Pratchett you could spend hours to years analysing his works because of the piquant universal insights he has wrapped in a genius fantasy world of endless humour. Sadly it is because of that particular choice of wrapping paper that universities have yet to add him onto any reading lists.

Then again, in a hundred years Terry Pratchett might very well end up on a reading list, after all, Jane Austen and Dickens were considered to be the sort of leisure reading done by young girls or working class individuals lacking in morality or intellect. Nowadays anyone who reads those two are considered almost as high-nosed as anyone who as actually read (and I mean cover to cover with no skimming) James Joyce's Ulysseys for example. Though anyone who hasn't and still says they have are about as worse as the depth of Mariana's Trench, which is to say, deeply worse. 

The day a cat treats you like a Freshly Laundered Pile, you're probably famous. They don't associate with grass-stains.

In a messy bow-tie of all my musings around these scant few Terry Pratchett gems I entreat you to keep your eyes always moving. When you are trekking through whatever dusty, muddy or tidy concrete sidewalk you happen to be currently on, don't just look at the path so you can skip the cracks or the roots, make sure you avoid other people moving in other directions, or branches, branches are violent. They'll poke out your eyes. If you aren't looking first. Be aware the things you celebrate are largely a mass social construct devised primarily to eat holes in your wallet and make them less about stuff and more about imagination. Make up stories to explain why you do things that have nothing to do with bunnies or baskets or even the religions you follow. Try making up your own personal mythology. Make sure to do a taste test, like baking cookies, you cannot bake your own mythology without making sure it tastes good to you first. Once you've done so, add this mythology to whatever else existed first, whether it was related to bunnies and baskets or your particular religion.

Guess what you've just done? You've created something new. Sure, it might still sit the the trappings many other people follow, but there will be parts personalized for just you. That's how you can keep an open mind and still poke things with sticks without causing too much of a baking soda and vinegar explosion. It's as simple as that stereotyped science project. Except now, maybe instead of placing that mixture in a volcano you've dropped it down cardboard toiletpaper tubes and have it aimed at your bath tub. After all, in the words of Terry Pratchett (through the voice of Death):    

"Death: Human beings make life so interesting. Do you know, that in a universe so full of wonders, they have managed to invent boredom."
Terry Pratchett (Hogfather (Discworld, #20))

Don't fall prey to boredom. Keep that life interesting. Keep creating. Though in case of boredom, know this:

"A good bookshop is just a genteel Black Hole that knows how to read."
Terry Pratchett (Guards! Guards! (Discworld, #8))
Also this: 
"He'd been wrong, there was a light at the end of the tunnel, and it was a flamethrower."
Terry Pratchett (Mort (Discworld, #4))

And don't forget: 

"Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colors. And the people there see you differently, too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving." 
Terry Pratchett (A Hat Full of Sky (Discworld, #32))
Tickling away Time. And sort of, but not really, apologizing for the conveyor-belt of quotes that are meant to provide pithy insight into things like missing socks and broken pencils.
P.S: As an admirer of Terry Pratchett's genius I also follow his environmental consciousness regarding the use of the English language. In other sentences, that is all just to say: 
"This [post] was written using 100% recycled words."
Terry Pratchett (Wyrd Sisters (Discworld, #6))

Wednesday, 16 April 2014


Seeing as this blog is as much to give me an outlet to practice non-fiction based writing as it is to hopefully provide vaguely useful insight for anyone reading, I really dislike missing more than a day or two at a time. That said, today is a rumination on a word which centers around much of what I do and much of what distracts me from what I do. (Or rather, what I personally believe I should be doing).

Cheers, for procrastination. Double cheer for you if the procrastination is the million other things you have to do to keep networking with people, keep your house liveable and individuals physically in your life, happy.

Look! A daffodil!

Most procrastination is intentional however and therefore it is something which interests us enough that we take the time to fill ourselves up with that act. For me, its being very attached to the computer and the endless sources of information, particularly up and coming geek related news. Reading other blogs, ongoing webcomic and manga and chapters of whatever novel I am tearing through also fall under what I would call procrastination.  Thing is, I enjoy all of that because they afford me some source of new knowledge, whether it is how a favourite character or tense fictional situation is developing or what's the latest Marvel movie news or event of geek girl empowerment.

In short, this procrastination gives me amusement. I find dictionary definitions to be fascinating because they often allow for multiple interpretations of a single word. The ability to interpret is, of course, a writer's best friend. Particularly if you are designing a different society but are writing in English. Creating new meanings for regular old words is the best way to sneak in a different flavour.

Amusement: noun
1. anything that amuses; pastime; entertainment. 
2. the act of amusing.
3. the state of being amused; enjoyment.
What sticks out for me right now in that particular series of definitions are the words "pastime" and "entertainment." Amusement is not just mindless entertainment and procrastination, it is also an active pastime which usually ends with some sort of product created by the one engaging in said pastime. Thus, all those things I feel I "should" be doing, like slowly rebuilding my wrist muscules with increments of piano practice and ice, or all the short stories and subsequent contests and magazines I am aiming for, plus this blog (and other social media I use), or the music theory analysis I work through in preparation for an exam, or the exercise I do at the gym or hiking outdoors are all pastimes which should afford me the same level of amusement as the things which qualify as entertainment. 

Take a second here and think about your own pastimes and entertainments. 

This is where things get a bit tricky. 

Taking your pastimes and entertainments you have thought of, now compare them (unless you are faster then me and already did that). Would you say your pastimes give the same level of amusement as your entertainment? 

This was my conclusion: Some pastimes which require less time or effort definitely match the same level of amusement of entertainments. For a time. 

See the difference between the amusement of pastimes and entertainments really comes down to time. Pastimes take more effort and time (in general) but will provide a longer term stream of amusement than the seconds or minutes offered by a Youtube video, a movie, or a blog post (like this one). 
Does that mean you should feel guilty for engaging in the entertainment and not nose-diving a prodigy level of pastime practice from the second you wake up to the second you drop to sleep? 


Of course not. Again however, the intellectual understanding of this and the actual act of living it are two different beasts which bounce between the level of a goldfish and a cougar. 
Playing around with the fad of breaking words up to see other meanings within them, like "impossible" actually meaning "I'm possible" lead me to noticing a key word within that of "amusement." 


The Muse comes right from ancient Greek storytelling and has pervaded through Western literature since then as the personification of creativity, of ideas, of forming disconnected blobs into piquant expressions of the human condition (or something). 

The Falstaff of Greek comedy!
So every time you engage in something which provides "amusement" you are poking your personal Muse. So what? You are probably saying. Here I am, scrolling my favourite news site, or reading a magazine at the dentists office, just amusing myself on some level, how is that article on pygmy marmosets going to spark my creativity? 

You'll remember it on some level. Maybe it'll get a spot on the bookshelf or under the desk in your mind. It most likely will land in the rubbish bin. Regardless of whether or not a bit of entertainment amusement sparks something that second that sends you on a passionate search for ways to help the pygmy marmoset or you idly think its a funny name before moving on to an article on the engines of Formula One's, an impression will be left. 

Sort of like dust in the corner of your room or toothpaste spit on a mirror. It'll be there. It'll spark a story about small things or maybe a desire to learn more about the Amazon that leads to a trip and a book of jungle photography. Somehow, even the smallest, silliest bit of amusement will influence you. (I try to lean away from the negatives but yes, maybe bored scrolling through Youtube will put you off vlogs and instead you'll set up a podcast). 

So many theatres in Greece but so many people through time. Who sat there? Think of the conversations.

Whatever the outcome of your entertainment amusement, you will be influenced, positively or negatively and you're Muse will grow, just like it does when you intentionally stretch it with a pastime. 

Really, the bottom line is, as always, balance. You won't create some new business unless you put in effort but a t.v. show might have inspired the idea. Set aside the time you are half asleep for entertainment and the time you are most fired up and inspired for your pastimes. Though even then, there are always days when you have to slog through your pastime to get any creative juice out just remember the moon. Some weeks it is bright and full, or nearly so, and other weeks it is practically nonexistent. The same goes for how easy your creative output is every day. 

So, really, just set some goals, with some boxes of time and be mentally intentional with everything you do and you will always find a Muse waiting there for you. 

Happy creating!