Thought For You

For me personally, the last two weeks have been a quietly controlled spell of manic activity in the bigger scheme of things. For a while, I have been locked down in a world of woe, wondering what tomorrow will hold and when the inevitable is going to happen.

It is never a pleasant feeling, knowing that you are headed for a world of pain, and there is nothing that you can do to avoid it, side step it, or even really prepare yourself for it. These are facts of life, nature in all of its cruel splendour, the things we have no control over, pain, sadness and sorrow that there is no words for, no proper way to describe, no real effective means of communication.

What is lovely about being busy is the fact that my mind has little time to ponder these circumstances. I have thrived over the last two weeks, not only from the personal fulfilment of a long time desire, but also from the satisfaction of feeling productive, needed, back in control of something. It may sound stupid, but being able to make decisions, being allowed to make a contribution, being involved as a working part of the dynamic is a strangely rewarding and liberating feeling.

In some ways I am ashamed to admit these words. Regret that I feel this way. Feel bad that I like to feel alive and part of something that I can influence, control and manage. The feelings of uselessness are abated  the frustration of having to sit and watch, unable to change the course of nature is soul destroying and only depresses the mind, body and spirit. There is only so much that one person can handle, and when we are faced with things we cannot affect, we are not only completely out of control of destiny, but also out of control of our feelings and abilities to deal with what is happening around us, this is when we find ourselves at our lowest. This is when we are vulnerable, exposed, out of our comfort zone, alone!

I know what tomorrow holds for me. Maybe not in the physical sense of tomorrow, the day after today, but I know what is coming in my near future, and as I struggle to prepare myself for this eventuality  I have begun to realise that I am totally incapable of preparing myself. I do not have the skills or the experience to know how I am going to handle the things I will have to face. I know not, where I will find the strength to do the things I will have to do. I cannot begin to plan for it, do not want to face it, cannot accept that it is necessary.

Yet, this is my lot. This is the reality of my situation, and so be it. I begin to understand too, that while I am not in a place or frame of mind to really be able to cope with these things, I am in some ways starting to plan for these times. While focusing my mind on things to keep my busy right now is in keeping with my trend of burying my head in the sand and pretending I do not have to deal with these things, in so many ways the things I am engaging in right now are the foundations of my preparation for life beyond my current situation in life.

Networks and friendships I am forging with people who understand, care, love without condition and share without expectation are the corner blocks of setting up a life line, a safety cord that I can reach out and hold in the dark times ahead. There is a sense of relief in knowing that someone, anyone will be there. Loneliness is a curse that no one wishes to meet. It is one that far too many of us live with, accept and embrace. It is a bitter pill that swallows us! I don’t want to feel alone, and I know that you don’t want to feel its embrace either, so when a simple post card drops through my letter box, the person that took the time to write it can never know how special the words scrawled across the white surface mean to me.

When a short and simple message pops up in my message box saying here is a random hug for you, on a day I was just thinking about you, the writer of that message can never truly know how much the words enclosed in that missive sent through the marvel of the internet really means to me.

The cheerful banter in a chat room, the laughs we share on skype… The stories that I manage to get lost in, the encouragement through comments, feedback, conversation….. It all adds up. And I don’t think we really give full credit to the power of these simple actions we undertake on a day to day basis. You are reading this thinking, “heck, maybe he is right,” or maybe you are not, but did you stop and realise while you are reading this, just how special YOU really are?

No? Well take it from me, in my eyes each one of you that make the effort to be a friend are so much more than you allow yourself credit for. It is people like you that make the world spin. You give life meaning, bring a sense of purpose to survival, and without realising it give value to the things, relationships, actions we each undertake, that we become a part of, that we live for daily.

Those things that have kept me busy for the last two weeks, gave me cause to sit and think to myself today while I was working. Yes they kept me active, they thrilled me and involved me and made me feel productive and useful. However, they also gave me a reason to reflect on how much I value the contact that I have with people. People like you reading. Many of you will interact with me in some way, simple and brief as it is, it is appreciated  You may be reading and have never spoken with me before, yet what I say rings true in your own mind, and mirrors itself on your own experiences. Who knows, maybe in reading this blog you will for the first time reach out and say hello, to me or someone else important.

Whatever it is that prompts us to take an action, make an effort, touch a life, it is our humanity and our need to be seen and to feel needed and wanted and accepted that allows each and every one of us to add value to each others lives. I am much like you, much like the person next to you, much others dotted in over 7 billion places across this globe of ours. We are all essentially the same, thoughtful, vulnerable, curious, mysterious, unique, interesting, judgemental….

I could carry on using words into eternity  but at the bottom line of things, we all have to accept that we are no better than the richest or the poorest, the most arrogant or most humble, most knowledgeable or most severely disabled among us. I am NO better than you because of what I do or who I am, and the same goes for you. When we overcome this perception of ourselves and our fellow man, maybe we can begin to understand how special we are, and what level of potential each of us holds. We can change the world by touching people, we can reach out and fill that void of loneliness, fear and pending hurt. We can all make a difference to someone’s life, circumstances and sense of self worth, and is that not something worth trying to do?

For today, I am grateful that I have reached out here, and made friends. Friendships that I treasure, relationships that grow with every day. I say this kind of thing often, and will continue to do so, as I really do believe the things I have said before, right now, and will say in my future are true, important and real. You are Special, today, tomorrow, forever.

Thought for today – “Butterflies do not know the colour of their wings, but human eyes marvel at their beauty. Likewise you cannot see how good you are, but others see and know that you are special.” Author Unknown

Song for today – Feeling the Moment by Feeder

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The Value of True Friendship

This is a funny old world in terms of friendships, relationships and how we interact with people. I have found over time that my outlook on life, and how I value my friendships has changed so remarkably in the last few years, maybe as a result of doing a bit of growing up myself.

Traditionally I have always been terrified that allowing myself to ‘grow up’ or become more mature would make me boring. I guess in my limited view on the world, once you got to thirty or something, you automatically became old fashioned, boring or too sophisticated to have fun.

Well I’m thirty nine now, so been in my thirties for quite a while, and I’ve come to realise that being thirty does not make me any less weird or crazy than I really ever was. The biggest change is that my body can’t keep up with what my mind wants to do, and as a result I am frequently at an internal battle to get more out of myself.

Another thing that I have come to realise is that once you get over that hurdle of accepting that age is not the be all and end all of life, you actually begin to realise that older people are indeed a lot more fun than I’d ever given them credit for. Yes they have so much more life experience and are more willing to er on the side of caution, but this is not because of boredom  it is more to do with them wanting to help us avoid pain or hurt in the long run, or simply avoid it for themselves.

We don’t give the older generation the consideration or credit they deserve sometimes, and I have been massively guilty of this in my time. It is sad to think that it has taken all this time for me to realise this. I have written a couple of times on my blog about age and how the golden glow of youth is so treasured and sort after, and I think that much of the world chases after that image of perfection and eternal youth. I know that personally I never really wanted to grow up. Foolishly, I always wanted to consider myself young at heart, and I figured that this meant being young in life, but sadly I have grown up, and aged and gotten older and wiser. I now realise that I can remain young at heart without having to associate with the young, and still be able to enjoy myself without the fixation on youth.

As a matter of fact, I am beginning to learn that without the fickleness of the young, relationships, friendships and communication is a whole lot simpler, more sustainable, and has a loyalty and stability that I am wholly unaccustomed too. Friendships up to date have existed around a bristle of selfishness, uncertainty and an egotistical climb to the top of the ladder. Don’t get me wrong, friendship is friendship, and I have wonderful memories, and some amazing mates, but I do believe that while most friendships have a certain degree of selflessness, and an awful lot of selfishness, there comes a time in your life when this balance swings in the opposite direction, and you begin to realise just how important and precious friendship really is.

We all use these words; “I love my friends, I couldn’t live without them!” Yup, even I have been one to say something similar. “You can never have enough friends!” The cliché statements about friendship are endless, and while there is some truth in the words, the majority of it is a hollow expression of what we want the world to believe we mean, but fail to act out. As I reflect on friendships I’ve had in the past, I can’t help but face the fact that I’ve been guilty of failing to be a true friend. I’ve always had a selfish streak, expecting people to stay in touch with me, always chasing the next big fix, forgetting about the people that maybe need a quiet word, or a simple hello. The worst thing is realising that there were people who were that kind of friend to me, and have fallen by the wayside as I surged onwards on my selfish quest for self fulfilment or something I never really found.

Oh how the benefit of hindsight is a curse. Hindsight is a wonderful teacher, and if we heed the lesson, and we can change. Yes I have waisted some cherished friendships. People who have moved on, yet at one time or another were right there at my side, and while I may never get that back again, I can learn to shift the balance towards being a true friend myself. As you grow up in life, you begin to understand that the world does not revolve around you. There are those that are delusional enough to believe this still, and for them I feel sorry, but for the vast majority of us, at some stage in our lives, we wake up to the fact that we need to give more than we receive to survive. This is the balance of true friendship.

For some, they will learn this lesson very quickly. Others, like myself, will take a while to get it. Whatever the time line, we all come to the realisation one day that we are not islands in the world. I see those that think they can survive on their own terms, and revel in their selfishness, and while I do not despise them, I only see myself in them, and realise that at some stage in the future, they will come to the hard realisation that their point of view, selfishness, and deluded understanding of true friendship is skewed.

So while in my past I have been foolish, I have come to learn that friendship can be very satisfying with people from every walk in life. I have met and continue to meet amazing people in my life and slowly I am learning so much about life, myself, and the world around me. The people I am lucky enough to consider my friends are teaching me that sharing is a wonderful thing, that life has many facets, and that learning to accept who I am and what I am to the people that see me, is all part of being alive. There is true value in a strong relationship, and not every friendship is based on some form of attraction. There are many assets in the people around us, and each has their own special gem, a quality that makes them stand out from the crowd. It is taking time to see beyond what I need from a relationship that has allowed me to realise that I have so much to give. I can be a good friend, I can share, I can make a difference with a simple hello, or a kind word spoken on a bad day. To those that have taken the time to befriend me and show, teach and encourage me, thank you. You will never truly know the full impact you have had on my life, and continue to have every day.

Thought for today – “Trust is like a mirror. You can fix it if it is broken, but you will always see the crack in its reflection.” – Lady Gaga

Song for today – Here In Your Arms by Hellogoodbye  

Never Feel Alone

I love to keep busy. It makes the days race by, and all of a sudden, look, it is Saturday, and I am left wondering to myself where the hell did the last week go?

The plus side of being a busy bee is that your mind is occupied and you get to spend lots of time doing fun things that recently you have not really been given the opportunity to enjoy. But then with every up side, there is a down side too, and while I have really enjoyed being as busy as I have this week, I have also missed kind of having my finger on the button so to speak.

Does anyone else suffer life withdrawl symptoms?  No? Ok, I’ll shut up now! :P

lol. So you are all reading this thinking ‘God Rob’s gone mad!’ and to be honest you wouldn’t be far wrong. Life recently has been such a wild roller coaster of up hill and down hill, bored to distraction one moment and rushed into a manic frenzy the next. I do kind of feel like a tornado has swept through my life and left me very uncertain of where the heck I landed.

Learning that life has moments of chaos and that we are actually quite adept at sorting it out, adapting and getting on with it is often an amazing feat that i pause to marvel at. Humankind has got to be the most adaptable creature on the planet, and the age old saying of “We’ll make a plan” rings as true today as it ever has. Sometimes they are botch plans, temporary fixes, a patchwork to get us through the moment. Other times they are organisational wonders, detailed plans that involve hours of preparation  loads of operational skill, and produce amazing results.

Thing thing that I always find amusing about this random approach to our circumstances, is how often we are as unsuccessful as we are in getting the results we wanted in the first place. Failure is an ever present part of the plot, the uncertain and unpredictable result, much the same as a roll of the dice. Yet this doesn’t seem to phase us as people. We just plough on, pick up the pieces of our failure and find another way. I love that about the human endeavour.

Watch a small child. They set their mind on an eventual goal, and learn through experience how to go from where they stand, to the mind blowing feeling of achievement that success brings to us. It is this desire to win, this overwhelming burden to get it right, be the best, find a way, that makes us special people. So even in the chaos of random activity, the pressures of our daily lives, we still manage to find a way.

Ways to stay in touch. Ways to let those who matter, know that they are important. Ways to stay healthy, and fed and watered. Ways to keep our finger on the pulse. So yeah, I guess I am just saying that despite the fact that we dip in and out of the focus of our friends and acquaintances  it does not make us any less special, needed or important. We may from time to time feel a little isolated, lonely or forgotten, but reading between the lines, we realise that there are times we all just don’t have the time we wish we had. It is probably just at that moment that the people you miss need to hear that you are there, alive, well and thinking of them. A simple message, a word of encouragement, a smile on a highly pressured day. These are all things we need, cherish and desire, so make a little effort and remember that those around us have just as much on their plate as we do on our own. Together we are the ones that make the difference in our world. :hug:

Thought for today – “How far that little candle throws his beams! So shines a good deed in our weary world.” – William Shakespeare

Song for today – Girls and Boys by Blur

What defines Love?

There is one thing in each of our lives that affects us in some fashion regardless of how we might try to avoid it, fail to understand it, or seek to find it.

It can be illusive, it can be mystifying, it can be frustrating, it can creep up on you unexpected. It amazes us, it brings us great happiness and unbearable heart ache. This wonderful, powerful, thing is not a person, it’s not physical, it’s certainly not something you’ll see or meet, yet it lives in each of us, can be very physically expressed, and you see it on peoples faces every day and meet it every time you find two people in love.

Love. Only four letters. Such a simple word, but one of the most complex emotions know to man. It is something we all crave, something we need, a feeling we require almost as much as we need food or water to live.

Yet as much as we need it, it is not something common to find. It is something we mistake too easily, a feeling we share too freely, an emotion we abuse, take for granted and lose far too much. It’s something that when we have it we are blissfully happily, and when we find ourselves without it experience feelings of loneliness that makes life quite unbearable.

What is it about love that makes it such a domineering emotion for mankind? Why do we need it so?

I think if we were all to list our personal reason for its importance in our lives, it would be interesting to see the different levels that love impacts our lives on every level. I also think that we’d do well to see the variety of reasons that we present for its importance as part of the reason for its complexity. You see, everyone views love through different eyes. We all have different expectations, our needs, insecurities, dependencies, curios traits, funny habits and a whole list of other factors of each persons personality that makes love one of the biggest things of our lives.

Some would say that you only have one shot at true love. Others would argue that you can find love anywhere if you look hard enough. I believe that a lot of people hide behind the word for a variety of selfish reasons. Some will tell you that real love arrives when you find your soul mate, and yet more would try convince you that love is all about learning to love.

But what is it about love? I mean come on…. What is all the fuss about?

The truth? We are not designed to survive without it. A human man, a woman, a child…. We cannot survive without love.

As a child we learn love through the expression of those around us. Mainly from our parents, but in some cases from others that show us time, care about us, and makes us feel warm, safe and special. We learn to feel comfortable in love. It brings us happiness, acceptance, safety, companionship and possibly most importantly gives us a sense of identity. Knowing someone cares that much for us kindles a fire within us. It’s these feelings that drive us. We all want to feel them at every level of our lives, especially from our peers, from our friends, from the people we like, the people we choose to spend time with. Without these feelings where would we be?

Love can be expressed in many ways, but which ever way we receive it, there is something about it that is special for each one of us, and these are the feelings we crave the most. So next time your thinking about love, just stop and ask yourself what it is that makes love special for you. I think you’ll find it’s not an easy question to answer, but taking a moment to try understand it gives us a completely new appreciation for it.

Thought for today – “You can close your eyes to the things you don’t want to see, but you can’t close your heart to the things you don’t want to feel.” – Johnny Depp

Song for today – Caribbean Blue by Enya

You Get Out Of It What You Bother To Put In

It is a basic principle of life really. Whatever effort you put into something is what you reap in reward. There are a million different sayings that reflect it, its something we are taught to understand from a young age, and it is a lesson in life that we put into practice every single day we wake up.

Yet we never seem to do it quite well enough!

How often do we put everything we have into everything that we do? If we did, we’d be physically exhausted by the end of the day, but then again I can’t help but wonder if this lack of enthusiasm is part of our downfall as a race. See I reckon that man can evolve in reverse as well as evolve for the better. It would only stand to reason that we could devolve as a result of some of the advancements that mankind have made in our lives.

I mean think about the car. It is a magnificent marvel of engineering yes, and god there are some amazingly beautiful models of car out there (personally I am rather fixated with the new, BMW 2012 Alpina B7. OMG sex on wheels!!!) but while it is a marvel of human ingenuity it stopped us from walking. When I moved to the UK I didn’t have enough money to have a car for the first two years. I learnt to rely on public transport and my two pins. I don’t think I’d ever walked so much in my life, but I was fit, healthy and loved it. Now I got a car, I’ve been able to travel to some amazing places, see some wonderful things, have the freedom to do what I want when I want, but I don’t walk anymore. :(

It’s the same with food. KFC. Jeesh I got a massive soft spot of the Colonel’s Chicken. But what with microwave meals, tinned food, pre cooked this, and ready made that, that fine tradition of growing what we eat, eating what we need, and enjoying all of it has kind of withered away. Fresh fruit salad! When was the last time I had a proper real fresh fruit salad. Yeah, I might have one now that has one or two fresh fruits in it, but so much of it is tinned. The last time I personally prepared a fully fresh fruit salad if I am totally honest was over 13 years ago in Africa, and that reality is pretty damn sad! :/

Once upon a time we built pyramids to honour our royalty. Now we build fountains that don’t work properly and are shrouded in controversy. The amazing thing was we built them without cranes and massive earth moving machinery. You gotta ask yourself, could we do the same thing today? Maybe if we had all those slaves and people to work on it ey! The sad reality lies I believe in that building a pyramid would be seen as far too much effort for securing the after life of some king or queen.

From the top going down, society has changed. Of course there is nothing wrong with that, and it is only fair to expect people to change as things have gotten easier, as man kind have made discovery after discovery to improve our lives and our understanding of the world we live in, but I cannot help but ponder if all this development is in man’s best interest.

Our planet has just gone over the 7 billion people mark. Over 100 thousand people will die in the world today, but over 300 thousand will be born. This year already we’ve lost 2,7 million hectares of green forest world wide, and we have 15,122 days left until the world runs out of oil. (source Worldometers) Is all the knowledge we gain the knowledge we really need? Does the interest of our planet really lie at the heart of our hunger for knowledge?

It is a humbling thought. When I look at the Worldometers page, it brings home in very real terms how little we have, and how foolishly we squander it. Maybe our greed or selfishness outstrips our design for life. We love our lives of luxury, don’t get me wrong, I am just as guilty of this as anyone else. I love my computers, and my electric fan, the car in my drive, and a mircowave meal when I’m too lazy too cook. I read about a community over the weekend who have decided to forsake the comforts of the world, and live what they describe as an organic lifestyle, surviving off the land in every way possible. I was kind of jealous of them in a way, but I don’t think i’d survive without my internet connection or laptop.

There is a movie out at the moment called 7 Days in Havana. Josh Hutcherson stars in it. I was trying to find out a bit about the movie, and watched an interview he did about the movie. In the interview he says that while he was on location in Havana he met with people who had so little in life, were so poor compared with standards he was accustomed too, and yet were so alive, vibrant and happy. It kind of struck me. We have all these things in our lives, yet are not content. If I asked myself, “Are You Happy”, I’d have to say no.

Maybe we’ve lost touch with reality. No, maybe I’ve lost touch with reality. Which brings me back to my original thought. We get out of life what we put into it. Maybe I’m putting emphasis on things that are not important, giving attention to stuff that could be put on the back burner, and not really putting enough into the things that bring happiness, contentment and fulfilment.

For the last few days I’ve struggled with paying attention to stuff. I’ve been mad at life and mad at the world. For various reasons, and stuff going on in my own mind, and its affected me, but I’ve come to the conclusion that you can either sit down and let life whip you, or you can get back up and give it everything and try make it. After all, like I said, you only get out of it what you put in.

Thought for today – “A man sooner or later discovers that he is the master gardener of his soul, the director of his life.” – James Allen

Song for today – I Won’t Give Up by Jason Mraz  

Perfection Is Overated

Our very cosmopolitan world is so driven by consumer focus and the image of perfection, that in many ways it is almost as if we have lost sight of our humanity. We want to be seen in the best, by the best, with the best. It is all about perception and what we can or can’t portray of ourselves to the world we live in.

Be it trends on the catwalk, labels in the stores, the very latest tech gadgets, the most bling, the best car….
From our homes to the nails we have glued to our hands, it is all done in a quest to beautify ourselves, better our persona and come off as something more than what we really are? I can’t help but wonder a little how our value system has skewed so much.

Take any individual person and give him or her the time to show themselves for who they really are. I am sure that in the majority of the instances you’ll find that the person is a decent guy or girl. We all are made up of the same stuff. Emotions, insecurities, values, desires, passions, weaknesses, vulnerabilities. Hell the list is endless really. Every single one of us have these. We all fear rejection, whether you want to admit it or not. We all hate disappointment. Heck if we really want to be completely honest we are all horny buggers out to get as much out of life as we can, and truth be told more often than not we are pretty damn selfish about it too.

Yeah we fall in love, and share and reach out and touch others. Yes there are people that are better at it than others, but it is pretty simple when you consider the basics. We all want to be happy, accepted and cherished at some level in our lives.

So if it boils down to these simple truths then why the hell do we go and complicate it with all the extra baggage we add to our lives?

I mean I sat a couple of days ago and looked at over 5000 people wonder past me as I relaxed on the grass verge. I was struck by the efforts we make as humans to wear the best clothes, have the best gadgets, be seen in the best seats in the house or hanging with the right people, and I was struck by the lengths that we go to, to be a part of this wave of trendiness.

Does any of it make us a better person? Is the London Docklands worker in his smart suit and latest iPod any better than the Port Talbot Steel worker, or the Yorkshire Coal Miner or the Liverpool ship builder who is in a T shirt and Jeans with a cheap MP3 player if anything at all?

The reality…. take the time to get to know each one of them, not just the image they want the world to see, but the real person within, and they will all be the same. Good, genuine, decent people with huge things that they are covering up with this plastic screen of perfection that we hide behind.

I guess what I am learning at this point in my life is those Gucci designer glass you wear really aren’t all that important. That fab hair cut you needed a small mortgage to get, really wasn’t critical. The swanky car you drive or the million dollar home you live in, really doesn’t set you aside from the guy living on the street or the poor lady who walks ten miles to work because she can’t afford a bus ticket.

Looking like the best thing in the world does not make you the best thing in the world. It is who you are, your character, your compassion, your humanity that make you important. It is the small things that you can do to bring a smile to the face of a friend, or the words you can share with someone close when they need an ear to hear. It is the hugs you can give when the world needs a pick me up, or the smile you share that lets them know you are proud of them.

A parent understands this a little more than most. In most instances they have first hand experience of wanting more for someone else than themselves. They learn to be sensitive towards a child’s feelings, think first for their safety, plan for their success, take joy in their happiness and are the first to step up to comfort when the chips are down.

Is there not a lesson that we as a wider society can learn from this example? We see it going on around us all day every day. Love, unconditional, unselfish and genuine. It is a fine standard to cherish and to seek. It is an example we would to well to heed, and learn much from if we followed it more in our every day lives.

I owned a Jaguar once. Now I drive a little VW Golf. I prefer the golf, at least the top goes down. I guess what I am saying is that in life I am learning that having everything does not bring joy. Being in with the “in crowd” does not make you better. Being popular, recognised or special is not a sure route to happiness. You don’t have to be perfect to be great, you just have to be genuine.

Thought for today – “When a friend is in trouble, don’t annoy him by asking if there is anything you can do. Think up something appropriate and do it.” – Edgar Watson Howe

Song for today – Wings of a Butterfly by H.I.M.

Feel Loved – A Message For You Today.

How many times a day are you told that your special?

You know something, its not something we share with people very much. We pass each other, often as silent ships sailing through the night, never stopping to say how much we care, not taking the time to make our feelings known.

For most of us putting into words things that are difficult to utter is not easy. We are naturally shy creatures, wrapped up in learning to survive, understanding emotion, feelings, and striving to heal life’s hurts, and hide the scars.

It’s easy to keep our most private thoughts hidden. It’s too common to say nothing and regret later the things we never got to say.

So this day, if you have chosen to read this, please hear me say…. You may never speak to me. You may never know me. You may not hear me say these words, but they are true. They are from my heart, and they are just for you.

YOU  ARE  SPECIAL.  YOU  ARE  LOVED.   YOU  ARE  NEEDED.

Song for today – Welcome Home by Radical Face