musings

This I Know

I was talking to a good friend recently, and we were discussing our reasons for blogging and how they’ve evolved and changed. When I first started writing online, my posts were terribly boring and even more terribly written. I must have been about seventeen years old, and in high school, LiveJournal was the coolest thing in the world. It didn’t matter that your entries were as fun and exciting as getting a dart in the eye and finding a phone bill attached to the end, all the cool kids were doing it* and subsequently, I wrote about everything and anything. Fastforward a bit, and a couple of years ago I decided to start blogging “properly”. I started having Ideas and wanted to Share Them With The World (a dangerous combination), and discovered that the way to get them out there was to learn the valuable skill of networking.

Primarily, at the time, I wanted to write about my journey toward getting over anxiety – I had this desperate desire to reach anyone who’d ever felt similarly, and band together in some sort of invisible army, penning my fears, hopes, dreams, defeats and tiny victories and hoping that somewhere I might reach someone, and maybe, if I was lucky, inspire them to break free too. It was probably one of the best things I ever did, but as blogging made the transition from occasional visitor to permanent resident in my life, my reasons for writing began to change. It became a platform upon which to share my opinions, my thoughts and ideas; to stand up for myself, for my beliefs, and for others; to explore new ideas and gain new insights, to share my biggest struggles and learn new ways of living and dealing with things, and to chronicle all the thoughts, goals, feelings and everyday goings-on that are my life right now. As of late, my blog has become a sort of window into my head – I may not be the most vocal of people in real life, but I feel if someone lands themselves in my little corner of the internet, they’ll get to know the real me. Words I may not pipe into everyday conversation I can feel free to pour onto the page (no wonder most of us here are introverts), and these entries serve as a continual reflection of who I really am. So in that spirit, today I’m taking a leaf out of a fellow blogger’s book, and using a wonderfully honest post of hers as inspiration. It’s about Things I Know.

I know that I’m probably the most emotional person you’ll ever meet, and will invest every fibre of my heart into friendships and relationships. I know this puts me at the highest possible risk for getting crushed, but I also know that if I don’t, I’ll feel like I’m living half a life.  I know I’ve made mistakes in the past, but I also know I’ve done a lot of reflection, and I know that harping on about and reacting negatively to things that have already happened isn’t going to change them. I know I’m a work in progress – I know I need to break habits like overanalysing things, assuming the worst, and worrying about things beyond my control. I know that with enough practice and determination, I’ll get there. I know that every opportunity must be seized.

I know that I will always be an INFJ, Doctor Who will always be the greatest show in the world, and that green will always be my favourite colour. I know that curry in England is better than curry anywhere else in the world (rumour has it, including India), I know that I could happily live on coffee, bacon and lemon meringue pie forever, I know that the world would be slightly better without cherry-flavoured things, and I know that anything is better covered in salt. I know that without fail, a heartfelt hug, eating avocado with a spoon, inescapable laughter or a dog’s head sticking out of a moving car window will make anything better. I know that good things come to those who wait, but I also know that life is too short, and that we all have the power to turn it all around the very moment we decide to, and sometimes, the only time is now.

I know this planet is full of incredible beauty as well as incredible horror, and that I just happened to land on it. I know if I had three wishes, I would want to save the world, take away all the pain of those I love, and wish for more wishes, and only then would I be a little more selfish with them. 🙂 I know I want to travel, walk down streets thousands of years old, see impossible sights, soak up every soaring sunset and really look at, study, and fall in love with the canopy of stars that blankets our little world, knowing I’m seeing something billions and billions of years old. I know that the galaxy is big enough and wonderful enough to call God, and I know that now, I will never believe something that doesn’t make one hundred percent sense to me personally. I know I will always seek, question, and do my best to locate and figure out the truth.

I know that pain and sadness are inevitable, that loved ones could be stolen away at any moment, and that our time on this Earth is finite and ever diminishing. But I know that for the rest of my life, I am determined to make the most of every single moment, choose love over hate, future over past, present over future, and love as hard as I possibly can. I know how lucky I am to have people to love, and be loved in return. I know we are never given more than we can handle. As much as I like to think otherwise, I know that honesty may not always be the best policy, and that sometimes kindness is a higher priority.  I know that understanding is infinitely more difficult sometimes than proving yourself right, but I know one hundred percent that it’s always more important.

I know that dreams might not always be attainable, but I also know that just having them gives the opportunity for great adventures and great stories. I know I’m not perfect, but I’m finally at a place where I know my worth. I know that soulmates aren’t a quantifiable science, but I know with all my heart that whatever your definition, that they exist. I know that I’m too hard on myself and that nobody sees all the flaws I do, and I know that life’s too short to worry about things that we all lose in the end. I know one should never give up hope. I know that laughter and brilliant moments should be cherished forever.  I know that pyjamas are better as weekend clothes than they are to wear in actual bed, and I know that sometimes, style really is more important than comfort.  🙂

I know that my thirst for learning and passion and adventure will never be quenched, and I know how lucky I am to be able to go wherever I want, or to find whatever information I want at the click of a button. I know that this world would be better with more love and more education, and a focus more on unity than on difference. I know that I will always be infatuated with the English language, with literature, and I know that great minds will live forever through their words, which I collect and stash away like the finest of treasure. I know that being able to speak and tell stories and be heard is a gift that shouldn’t be taken for granted. I know that what’s popular isn’t a reflection of the best the human race has to offer, but that the human race offers wonderful things if you know where to look. I know I will never watch American soap operas and I know I will be a BBC girl until I die. I know that sometimes nothing can make you feel more alive than jumping around passionately with someone hand in hand to  brilliant live music. I know that life is better with a cat in it.

I know that I’m pro-choice, pro-freedom of speech, pro-equality, pro-gay marriage, and pro-doing what’s right. I know I should exercise more and eat more greens, make more time for sleep, drink more water and less port wine, but I also know that we only have one life. I know that few things bring me more joy and sense of accomplishment than writing a great piece of fiction, but I know that writing is a battle between you and a blank page, and that, as a favourite author once said, most often the blank page wins. I know that a home is better filled with ever-playing music and ever-shining fairy lights. I know that home is where the heart is, and that sometimes that can be in people more than places.

I know I don’t really fit into a social niche, but I know that by attaching labels, we cage ourselves in from everything that ever could be otherwise. I know that talk is inevitable, but in whatever form it comes, it means you’re not being boring. I know that the person I am today is an entirely different person than who I was five years ago, and I know that the person I will be in another five will probably be just as much a stranger, but I know that moving forward in life is a must, and that I will never stand in one place. Even if I don’t know where I’m going. I know I’m but a small speck on the surface of a planet that’s just as insignificant a part of the universe, but I know that even though all things pass, we can all have a giant impact in our time, and on those that surround us, as they can on us. I know that life’s a mystery, that it’s too vast and incredible and mysterious sometimes to take too seriously, and that I’m lucky just to have the adventure. And I know with absolute certainty that brevity will never be my forte. 🙂

How about you? What do you know at this moment in time?

*Definition of “cool” subject to interpretation; mine personally being people who occupied the physics room with me at lunchtime, examining the lyrics of the latest Decemberists tracks and drawing Star Trek comics on the whiteboard

Surfing on a Wave of Nostalgia for an Age Yet to Come

One of the biggest things I’m thankful for in this day and age is technology. While babysitting for a friend a couple of weeks ago, we were chatting as his wife was getting ready about how strange it is that we are getting to the point where people our age are now contributing to a new generation – one that will have access to technology from birth.  I remember, as a child, sitting next to the radio for hours (nothing’s changed there, then), cassette tape at the ready and my finger eagerly hovering over the play/record button, waiting for the chance to capture a favourite song. I remember when my parents brought home our first computer – I must have been about twelve or thirteen, and having absolutely no idea how web pages or e-mail worked. I remember a girl in my maths class being the first to get a CD burner, and being one of many kids who’d submit her a list of twenty songs… along with a five-dollar bill. I remember the days of Napster, and even though it took two hours to get a song, thinking it was the most amazing thing in the world. Don’t even get me started on the first time I was able to watch Doctor Who the same day it aired in the UK!  Heck, I remember how it felt three weeks ago when I got my first smart phone, being absolutely blown away by the fact that I could make my own ringtones, check Facebook, read blogs, watch videos, get directions and, best of all, stream live British radio which I could listen to on the go. It’s bizarre to think that my future children won’t experience any of these firsts – that they’ll have access to these things right from the get-go.

The reason this intrigued me was because recently, I found a collection of a whole load of television programmes I used to watch as a child. I burned them to a DVD, and set about introducing my husband to SuperTed, Gladiators and The Crystal Maze (why don’t game shows today involve adventure and strategy games against futuristic robots or in medieval dungeons??). When I first saw that these were even available, my husband said he hadn’t seen me as excited about anything as when I saw Sooty again, and I have to admit, I was ecstatic. 🙂 Now, I know I’m not the only one to cling to things that I enjoyed in my youth – parents across the world still play the records that were popular when they were young, grandparents do the same, and the mere mention of a popular eighties cartoon to many of my friends is almost enough to make them salivate. So what causes this phenomenon? Are we simply programmed to archive the memories of youth under a rose-tinted light?

I recently read about a study that came to the conclusion that “many 25-40 year olds don’t plan for the future because they prefer to reminisce about past times.” It showed the effect of nostalgia on current pop culture too, and the result is unmistakable: many movies, fashions, and music of late all have a significantly retro feel. Remakes of Star Trek took over the silver screen (huzzah!), children’s stories became box office hits, American Apparel lined high streets across the country with eighties-inspired gear like leggings, headbands and spandex, and the sound of new wave was born all over again. Now, as excellent as that all is, the more interesting question is that of why: why do the memories of a generation’s youth evoke such positive feelings – and why do we remember everything that filled it as being full of the best life had to offer? I think it probably has something to do with the fact that nostalgia, quite simply, makes us feel better.

I’m no psychological expert here, but my guess is that when our free time was unencumbered by chores, work, or bills, when we didn’t know anything of the world of world politics or international poverty, we had a happier and more carefree outlook on life – and that carefree outlook on life attaches itself to the memories of things that filled our youth, and thus we remember things perhaps more positively than they actually were. (Pulp’s Common People excluded – that song will remain epic regardless of generation!) According to that logic, when we re-watch a favourite childhood television programme or movie today and realise how dreadful it was (the Stargate film, anyone?), the disillusion should shatter, no? Apparently not. Today, even after watching the primitive eighties animation on YouTube, I get filled with a case of the warm fuzzies. Exposure to the things I watched while living the happy-go-lucky life of a child seems to evoke a sense of deja-vu of the mind, and consequently after said 5-minute cartoon, my thoughts are transported to a time when life was simpler and impressions were fresher  – and I end up feeling more positive.

It seems somewhat of a paradox that in the current technological age where a new model of iPad is out quicker than the entire lifespan of the Dreamcast, the Internet and range of ever-expanding TV channels are used widely to re-live experiences from the past. We watch all the programmes, films, and music videos we listened to when we were young, and the entertainment industry is capitalising on it, creating new versions of old favourites. We listen to a song we haven’t heard in twenty years and remember all the words, yet we can’t remember the phone number of someone we called last week. And the evolution of social networking sites have allowed us to get back in touch with people we knew ten or fifteen years ago – often, in the prime of our youth.

Yes, reliving things from the past can evoke positive emotions today. But on the flipside – if we remember things in a rosier hue than was perhaps real; do we run into the danger of stifling the possibility of new things, or worse, airbrushing our own personal history? If the entertainment industry is recycling old styles, shows, and trends, are we discouraging the potential for new ideas?  If the new wave and punk sounds of the late ’70s/early ’80s are being recycled twenty-five years later, then that bodes terribly for the future of music – in middle age, every radio station may be flooded with another wave of rap, auto-tune, and Ke-dollar sign-ha. By continually reminiscing about the “good old days”, is there ever going to be anything new? As well, the very essence of who we are as people is based on our accumulation of memories – if those memories are in fact distorted, then how can we look back on our life and say it was really what we think it was? Maybe I’m going off on too much of a sci-fi tangent, but the question fascinates me. I think it’s incresibly interesting how generation after generation latches onto the same period of their life and holds it in such high regard, and I’m interested to know why. Nostalgia can be a great thing – and though the consequences of reminiscence can evoke short-term positivity, I think there’s also a danger of overdoing retrospect. We may end up mentally re-writing our own existence, or hanging onto a rose-tinted past so tightly it suffocates any possibility of original thinking in the future.

What do you think? Why does each generation seem to latch onto the same period as “the good old days”? Are we conditioned to Photoshop our past to make us feel better in the present? And what effect is nostalgia going to have on the future of the entertainment industry? Lots of questions… I suppose I’m feeling rather pensive today. Pardon my ramble, but if you can’t do it on a personal blog, where can you… And bonus points for anyone who knows where the title of today’s post is from 🙂

Thoughts

OH MY GOSH IT’S SO COLD!! I don’t usually bitch about the weather ‘cause, well, I have better things to do, but when you walk to work… minus 43 is NOT fun… and I have been proudly sporting a full length snowsuit each morning this week and yes, I look like a total safety kid but goodness… England cannot come soon enough. lol

Two things have been on my mind a lot this week. Well, three. One: Alesha. My dear friend who I’m terribly worried about may have a new baby 10 days early and I’ve been thinking about her every day. I’ve never had a good friend have a baby before. It’s really exciting and I feel for her so much and I just can’t wait to see how she is and her new baby. Alesha if you get to read this know that I am thinking of you as you do!

Two: My own surgery. It’s on Monday and I’m gonna be on a solid diet of soup and silence for the next two weeks. Christmas isn’t going to be the most fun ever but it could be worse, and this way I don’t get to put on 20lbs from all the food. Which is a good thing 🙂

Three: There’s this little old man I’ve befriended at work in the last few months. He wrote an autobiography of his journey from India to the US and Canada and how he worked for the United Nations. I’ve been helping format his wife’s book (a cookery book) and he is just so sweet and I absolutely love him to bits. He’s 93, and he told me on Monday he only has 6 months left – he has cancer. I just started crying then and there because he still had a smile on his face because he’s “lived a good life” and wanted this book of his wife’s to be finished before he goes. He said I was like “his own granddaughter” and he said he didn’t know if he’d be here to make it to my wedding in July but wanted to give me a wedding gift now in case he doesn’t. He gave me $100 – and again I almost started crying! He said “don’t think after this project I’ll be finished with you, I will still see you” and today when he came to pick up his stuff, he asked my boss to call him the day after I get out of the hospital because “until then I will be very worried about you” and wants to know it went okay. I told him I’d get Tyler to call him as he’ll be with me that day. But honestly, I’ve been absolutely touched by meeting this wonderful person and it makes me so sad it had to be so late in his life. I hope so badly that he will make it past 6 months and way on, he’s such a kind, sweet, sprightly man and I’ll miss him terribly.

I guess there wasn’t a huge point to this post, just musing on recent events and life in general…