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


Let Them Know They Matter

So it has been a tough couple of weeks for me which culminated in a bit of a disaster yesterday. Here is how it unfolds…

As a person I tend to be a pretty private person, but when I find I like someone I will open up pretty quickly, and hey I think we are all like that to a degree. You have to let the people you want to become close too, to see the real you. Sometimes slowly, but once in a while you do it a little faster than at other times.

Well, time and life has taught me that this is not always the best thing to do, coz once you start to let those walls down, you expose yourself to hurt, and people are fickle. They build impressions, make assumptions and guess an awful lot, and when things don’t pan out quite to what their expectations were, you find yourself carrying the can. Yep, you may assume from this that I’ve been disappointed, and the answer to that would be yes, but then haven’t we all at some point in our lives? So pick myself up, quit moaning and move on. Fair enough.

Now this is where I open myself up to share a little piece of me with those of you that bother to read. I could easily allow such an experience to sour my perception of the world. In 38 years of living it has happened enough times to make me fed up of having my feelings trashed at the feet of people that couldn’t care less, and yeah at times I just wanna scream. I wanna smash something, lash out and be nasty. What would I gain though?

We cannot change who we are! This is a fundamental fact of life. You may be able to alter little things, you might be able to harden your heart, but you are who you are, and you have to find a way to be happy living in your own skin. I can honestly say that this is not as easy as it may seem. Some people have a marvellous ability to appear happy all the time. Some of them really are happy, but for the vast majority of us we are smiling to the world to hide our scars, laughing with friends to fit in, and giving the impression of happiness to fool ourselves into believing that life isn’t so hard.

This is the thing. Life is tough, for me, for you, for any one of us. We look at the rich and famous and think they have it all, but reality knocks and truth is happiness isn’t found in wealth and fast cars, trendy clothes and expensive gifts. Sure money might make things a little more fun, but money can’t buy you the one thing that you really need to be happy.

Wanna know what I honestly believe that is?

Simple. People around you that honestly, truly, and without compromise love you. Happiness lies in the people that are there to pick you up when the chips are down. Happiness is being able to share with someone that listens as much as they speak. Happiness is knowing that you have someone that you can call any time you need them, be it 4am in the morning or 8pm at night.

They will cry with you, laugh with you, go shopping with you. They have the courage to tell you when you are being an idiot, they will tell you when you are heading for disaster and they will always be there to help you pick up the pieces. These are the things, no, hell no, these are the PEOPLE that you must learn to treasure, and if there is one thing that you have to do in life…. Tell them you love them. Tell it to them each and every day if you feel you must. Tell them how important they are, how special and unique they are, and how much they make your life worth living. Don’t assume these things are known! Tomorrow will come and it is always too late when the chance is stolen.

See this is the stark realisation that I came to this week. You may or may not know that I care full time for my mom who as an elderly woman has a fair few things wrong with her, so it is little wonder that at some time in the near future she will pass on to that special place where she will be happy and free from our worldly woes. But I shudder to think how I will deal with that day when it comes, and on Friday afternoon, I almost thought the day had come. My mom collapsed in my arms and lost consciousness for a period of time. My initial thoughts when she went down was that she had died in my arms, and while that may sound awfully dramatic and maybe a little over the top, when it happens to you one day, you will appreciate the fear, horror and alarm that suddenly courses through your veins and races through your mind.

I was sitting there on the floor, with her head on my lap on the phone to the ambulance people begging her not to die because I hadn’t told her how much I love her. Now in my case, I am a mummies boy. Probably why looking after my mom is actually quite a pleasure for me, and while it depresses the hell out of me to watch her slowly deteriorate, and I feel so useless sometimes to stop it, I do get an element of satisfaction out of being there for her just as she was for me once.

Now please, I know that every one of us has different circumstances, and some of us have had wonderful home lives and others have not. Some of us are close as families and others not, so please don’t feel that this post is trying to tell you to bridge gaps with your family or something. Your circumstances are your own, and you know them better than anyone, so will know what is right and what is wrong for you. But….. we all have someone special to us. A friend, a relative, a pastor, a partner. Who ever it is, don’t be stupid like me. Don’t just assume that they will know.

Heck obviously my mom knows that I love her right? She is my mom for crying out loud, it is fairly natural to expect that despite our differences and arguments and fall outs over the years, to expect that she knows I love her, but the truth is, when I was sat there with tears running down my cheeks looking at her pale body on the ground, all I wanted to do was tell her how much I loved her.

And this is the point I try to make today. People in life will let you down. People will hurt you, abuse you, tear you apart emotionally, but a small handful of very special people will be there for you every step of the way, and it is only right to let them know how much they really mean to you. It doesn’t have to be some big display of affection or a statement of intent. Simple words like, ‘Hey you are a really special person to me, and I love you.’ This is only my own humble opinion, but we need to let those special people know how important and loved they really are. It is for your own good as much as theirs, and heck it really ain’t that hard.

Hope that these words will encourage you to go away from here today and tell someone close that you care enough to tell them they are loved.

Thought for today “When you are up, your friends know who you are. When you are down, you know who your friends are!” – Brian Marijeni

Song for today – From a Distance by Bette Midler

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  

How much do you enjoy your life style?

Spontaneity is a spice that makes life interesting, unexpected, exciting and adventurous. Doing something on the spur of the moment means that there is seldom a set pattern for anything that you do spontaneously and the results that come from a lack of planning I find can often lead to some of life’s most special memories.

With many of my friends throughout life I have always tried to maintain a level of unplanned adventure. At some level, this unorganised approach to life and the things that we have done while living life, has meant that there is always an air of anticipation as to what will be our next big adventure.

My mother told me from a very early age that I was a free spirit and would never be tied down for very long to one place or one thing. My mother has proved a multitude of times through my life to be an uncanny judge of character, and I’ve always trusted her opinion when it comes to people. She seems to have an ability to see to the very essence of a person, and will tell you pretty quickly if someone is going to be a friend or foe.

Many of my friends have either learnt to adapt to my chaotic unpredictability or are very similar to me in this sense. In fact one person that I came to know in my life was so similar to me in this sense it was quite uncanny and many of the trips and things that Ashley and I got up to while we were close are still some of my fondest memories. From visiting London for the very first time, to walks along the beach at three am in the morning, we always managed to find something interesting to fill our time together.

I’d say that my fondest memory of an impromptu journey with Ashley was spent in the company of another close friend of mine called Liam. The three of us one night decided to drive to Pembroke Dock, get on the ferry to Rosslare in Ireland and spend the day travelling around Ireland, up to Dublin where we finally boarded the ferry to Hollyhead in Anglesea, and then driving through Wales home. I can say that the excitement of the trip, the thrill of exploring together and the fun of being away from the pressures of normal life made our day trip one of the most amazing day trips I can recall.

I remember as a youngster winning a White Water Rafting excursion down the Zambizi River with Fronteers River Rafting Company. It was a day trip for two, and so at the time my best mate Miguel and I packed our bags for the weekend, hired a flat, caught a bus to Bulawayo and the overnight train to Victoria Falls. On the train we shared a room with three Kiwi explorers who were travelling through Africa, and spent a wild night getting drunk and trading stories. The nest day we explored Victoria Falls and visited the Rain Forrest path that takes you along the length of the falls. It was low season so the water mist was not as intense as it can be. We were able to get right up to the edge of the cliff and sit watching the boiling pot churning up the water below us.

The next day was the birth of my addiction of water driven adrenaline rushes. Going down the Zambizi on a White Water River Raft has got to be one of the most amazing experiences I have ever had, and I was hooked almost from the first rapid we hit. Our guide was a Canadian lad who’d been working on the river for a couple of years and we had a fantastic day of adventure, adrenaline, excitement and pure enjoyment. I guess the worst part of that day was the climb out of the river gorge at the end of the day. 283 steps up the cliff was hell. But its amazing how nice an ice cold beer tastes after all that effort.

I recall one day while I was working up at the Timber Wholesale Centre Forrest in Nyanga in Zimbabwe, waking up and deciding that today was the day I was going to climb Mount Nyangani, the highest peak in the Chimanimani Mountain Range on the Western boarder of Zimbabwe. Bruno was visiting me for the weekend, and we managed to work each other up to a bit of a frenzy as we thought about what we should take and what we shouldn’t. Mount Nyangani has a reputation of mystery and intrigue, and many African people will not climb it as they believe it is possessed by evil spirits. We gathered a team of workers from the security team I was building at the estate, and set off in the Land Rover. When we got to the parking at the bottom of the mountain, it was a sunny Sunday morning, and we were excited to be undertaking the challenge. Five of us made the climb as one of the team remained with the jeep. It was not an easy climb I have to say, and when we approached the summit it became very misty and it felt we were walking in thick cloud. There were warning signs all the way along the track advising you to stay on the track. The foliage on top the mountain was stunted in growth and produced some of the weirdest shapes through the mist as we approached. We finally made it to the summit beacon, and stood screaming and howling in excitement at having achieved our goal. We had a bite to eat and then began the decent to the car. When we got there, we were discussing the climb with the member of the team that’d been at the car, and two things alarmed us. Firstly the member at the car has seen no cloud on the mountain at all during the day, and was certain that he’d seen us at the beacon, yet the climbing team had been unable to see anything but thick grey cloud at the beacon. The second mystery was while it seemed we’d only been climbing for a few hours, when we reached the car we discovered that it was late afternoon, and we’d been on the mountain most of the day.

There are dozens of trips that I could talk about in reality. Visiting John O’Groats in Scotland with Tom, or a weekend in Torque with Barbara visiting the Zoo. New York with Scott was an experience and a half. Six cities in one night with Tyke, Liam and Tyrone or Blackpool Pleasure beach were also great days out. Protesting outside No 10 Downing Street with Barbara and 1 Million Zimbabwean Voices was quite a big thing.

But spontaneity does not just have to exist in adventure or taking trips. It can be worked into your every day life. Pick up the phone to an old friend and spend some time chatting. Get up and go out for a meal or watch a movie. DO something extraordinary, or stop and help out someone that you would not normally take the time to help.

When I was younger I loved building models, and a few months ago I bought myself an airfix model. It was the first time in years that I’d spent some time building something that I enjoy looking at, and I thoroughly enjoyed the change, challenge and break away from the other things that I do on a normal basis. Learning to enjoy the time we have is about learning to be creative. We don’t always have the money to jump in the car and travel miles around the world exploring this magnificent country of ours. Yet it is just as easy to spend 15 minuets on the phone to your mates and organise a sadza party, or a wii night. When was the last time you had a good giggle playing Pictionary? In these times we must be creative in creating things to do. Our friendships should be stronger, our relationships closer, and together we should be able to create enough to do to keep our lives interesting, exciting and fun. The truth is that we spend so much time in high pressure environments, struggling to survive, striving to succeed, and burning the candle at both ends to keep up. So its time to be smart about our free time, and I for one am a strong supporter of being spontaneous and keeping it all interesting.