Friday, 8 February 2013

Believe me, nothing is trivial . . .

"I AM NOT A DOORMAT" . . . Or am I?

Let's get real and raw for a few paragraphs. What is one of my biggest personal weaknesses? I guess I'm what is referred to as a 'soft touch'. I have a tendency to care too much, often for little or any reward. I vehemently believe no-one should give to receive. I know many do; I'm aware many have hidden agendas, some times innocent ones, some times not so innocent. If I'm completely honest with myself (and anyone whom happens to stumble upon this blog), I've probably not been entirely innocent where intent is concerned 100% of the time in the past (although it's likely done unconsciously moreover consciously), being as I'm as susceptible to the human condition as much as the next person. I have a longing to feel loved and cared for, especially by people I hold in high regard. However, I am aware of this indiscretion, this fatal human flaw, and I at least try to kick my emotions back into kilter when I become aware of it.

What can I say as to why I am, the way I am, which is potentially a door mat for people that are of the 'Give 'em an inch, they'll take a mile!' type? I suppose there are several explanations, upbringing being one (my Mum was a very giving and compassionate woman and instilled that within me), another is I feel sensitive to other people's pain and the human condition as a whole. I've always felt this way, even as a young child. I suppose you could also suggest it's due to the amount of struggle and pain I've endured myself, but then, who hasn't - right? All I know is; some times I wish I could stop caring so much, because the emotion that derives from it all makes me feel vulnerable, raw, some times pain and I worry about losing control of my emotions/becoming irrational – And I'm all about the rationality.

It all beggars the question: Would we all do well to be a little more selfish, and put ourselves first more often? The conclusion I've come to several times in the past is this – Isn't that exactly one of the biggest problems in the world today? This 'Every man for himself' attitude that seems evermore rampant as the years pass by. I see it everywhere I turn; reality TV shows, magazines, music, the workplace, the queue at the supermarket . . . everywhere. Surely, if we all showed a little more compassion for each other, eventually it would all even out and we'd all have our needs efficiently met? I know . . .  a very naive dream, but a girl can dream, can't she?

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I want to bring attention to something Michael Jackson said during one of his interviews with the journalist (hack) Martin Bashir in 2004. It's something that I believe is related to what I've been talking about in this post, and it's something that resonates with me:

"The family bond has been broken, it's an outcry for attention. Why are kids going to school with guns?"
Michael: “People don't even eat with their fathers anymore, or their mothers ... The family bond has been broken, it's an outcry for attention. Why are kids going to school with guns? They would not ... they want to be touched, they want to be held, but they [the parents] are busy off on their day job and they leave them at home on the computer and they just doing all kinds of crazy stuff. And that's destroying our bond. We need to bond again, that's very important, Martin."

Martin: "Why does it mean so much to you?"

Jackson: "I'm just very sensitive to their pain and I am very sensitive to the family, the human condition, you know. On that subject, it means a lot to me and I want to help. Whatever I can to help that you know, it's like I said before and I'll say it a million times, I'm not afraid to say it. If there were no children on this earth, if someone announced all kids were dead, I would jump off the balcony immediately, I'm done, I'm done."

While Michael's music first drew my attention to him (when I was much younger), once I came to learn more about 'the man' behind the music, the more I realised we shared a fair amount in common in relation to our views on humanity and much else. Could it be argued that Michael was rather on the money here? That is to say, that if people expressed love and compassion for their fellow human beings more often, there would a lot less bad in the world? I think he was on to something, maybe like me - naively. Humans will always be prone to irrational fears after all, which can rule our actions if not kept an eye on. Fear is the root of all evil, they say. Also, a little green dude much smarter than I once famously uttered, “Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.”

What will we truly treasure when we are lying on our death beds? The Rolls we (maybe) bought? The beach house in Miami? It seems to me that at that moment the things that will really matter will not be 'things', they will be people, and ultimately (I'm sorry to be cliché): Love. I don't necessarily mean romantic love, although there is that too, but a whole myriad of love and the forms it can take. Our lovers/partners, yes, but also our family and friends. The people that have not only been by our sides during our highs, but also through our resounding soul-crushing lows. I put it to you, that these are the people that truly matter. People who have appreciated our worth and have been loyal to us. Unfortunately, some times it can take something very terrible to happen for us to realise that we may have taken for granted someone important in our lives. As an example, this happened to me when my Mum was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer in 2001. Quite often we are so preoccupied with chasing the people that don't appreciate nor value us, that we some times take for granted the ones that do.

“Little things used to mean so much to Shelly. I used to think they were kind of . . . trivial. Believe me, nothing is trivial."

There is a quote from an ad-libbed scene from one of my favourite comic book movie adaptations, The Crow, that seems to tie-in well with everything I have mentioned here. The character Eric Draven, whom has been brought back from the dead to avenge the brutal rape and murder of his fiancée, Shelly (and himself), is speaking to the police officer who has been tasked with investigating their murders. He had this to say of his late fiancée:
“Little things used to mean so much to Shelly. I used to think they were kind of . . . trivial. Believe me, nothing is trivial.”
That quote cements for me what a smart man Brandon Lee clearly was. Often I think we become so embroiled in our own lives and yes, maybe in our selfishness, that we forget what the seemingly trivial 'little' things can mean to someone else. For example, just taking a moment out of our days to send a quick text to a friend to say “Hey, how are you doing today?” seems pretty trivial, right? How much of a positive impact could something as small as that have on someone? I can only really speak for myself here with any degree of certainty, but I can say this; it means A LOT to me. Why? Because it shows you care enough about me to remember me, and to take the time out of your day to ask me how I am. Little gestures like that can make my day, and I'd hazard a guess I'm not alone with that.

So as Michael was always saying, it's all about the L.O.V.E. So, I'll leave you with some friendly advice, from someone who cares (that would be me):
  • Try not take for granted the people that make an effort to be part of our lives
  • Spend less time chasing the people who don't make an effort
  • Show a little more compassion and understanding for your fellow man
  • Be kind - To others and to yourselves

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Dream things that never were, and say - why not?

"Some men see things as they are and say why. I dream things that never were and say why not?" - George Bernard Shaw 
This post goes out to every person that lays awake in your bed at night worrying over
people's opinions of you. If you've ever been outcast, ridiculed, taunted and abused for
being a little different to the 'norm', I want you to consider what I'm about to say for a

Ask yourself how many people that have gone down in our history as being the greatest
of all time have followed convention? Did they recoil when they met resistance or did they
stand up for their beliefs? If you have enough belief in yourself and your convictions,
eventually the majority of (rational) people will come to respect you; even if they don't necessarily agree with you all of the time.

Your short term unhappiness is little price to pay for ultimately your long term happiness, which I believe largely comes from finding inner peace. And honestly, can anyone truly be happy when they are merely living to please other people? In order to grow as people, we all must face adversity and some times pain. Without the negatives, would we ever truly appreciate the positives?

Don't allow yourself to live a mediocre life. Live a life you can be proud of.

I would like to close this post with the song 'HIStory' by Michael Jackson, which I feel is very befitting to the subject matter. Michael was a very intelligent, self-educated and well read man; more than most people ever realised or gave him credit for.

He got kicked in the back
He say that he needed that
He hot willed in the face
Keep daring to motivate
He say one day you will see
His place in world history
He dares to be recognized
The fires deep in his eyes

How many victims must there be
Slaughtered in vain across the land
And how many struggles must there be
Before we choose to live the prophet's plan

Every day create your history
Every path you take you're leaving your legacy
Every soldier dies in his glory
Every legend tells of conquest and liberty

Don't let no one get you down
Keep movin' on higher ground
Keep flying until
You are the king of the hill
No force of nature can break
Your will to self motivate
She say this face that you see
Is destined for history

How many people have to cry
The song of pain and grief across the land
And how many children have to die
Before we stand to lend a healing hand
Everybody sing...

Every day create your history
Every path you take you're leaving your legacy
Every soldier dies in his glory
Every legend tells of conquest and liberty
Every day create your history
Every page you turn you're writing your legacy
Every hero dreams of chivalry
Every child should sing together in harmony

All nations sing
Let's harmonize all around the world

How many victims must there be
Slaughtered in vain across the land
And how many children must we see
Before we learn to live as brothers
And create one family oh...

Every day create your history
Every path you take you're leaving your legacy
Every soldier dies in his glory
Every legend tells of conquest and liberty
Every day create your history
Every page you turn you're writing your legacy
Every hero dreams of chivalry
Every child should sing together in harmony

A soldier dies
A mother cries
The promised child shines in a baby's eyes
All nations sing
Let's harmonize all around the world

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Do We Ever Really Grow Up?

Hopefully, if you're over 18 years old you don't behave like this, but still . . .
Most of us wear many different hats. Today I've gone from marketing executive extraordinaire (cough) to domestic goddess to veterinarian and finally to the present hat of choice - vapid blogger. All within the space of two hours. This got me thinking about my view of adults as a child.

At a younger age most of us tended to look up to adults as if they were an entirely different species, super human/super heroes - if you will. Adults were capable of curing our ills, providing sustenance and being inexhaustible wells of pocket money (Where did it come from? Did we even think about that?). They could do cool 'grown-up' things like driving cars, have loads of keys on their key rings with actual uses for them (How cool is that?). And ultimately, adults could (seemingly) cope with all the things that appeared so terrifying and alien to us as children.

Here's the catch. When you turn 18/21 or at what ever age your particular culture deems you an adult, a fairy Godmother does not suddenly descend via bubble* in the manner of Glinda from the Wizard of Oz, casting a spell upon you which renders you now a fully functioning adult. No magic spell erases all that you were or are. You're still the same person you were yesterday. But now suddenly you're plunged into adulthood . . . without an Idiot's 'How-to' guide. Holy crap, where do we go from here? You begin to realise that the adults you looked up to, whom were the same age that you are right now, couldn't possibly have been the demigods you once thought they were. In fact, at this point you're likely starting to realise they were probably just as shit scared and confused as you are right at that moment.

Age is but a number. Just because you are X age does not mean you should behave in X manner, should not like (or should) like X, nor should you have achieved X. We all develop differently based upon a myriad of factors. Notably our individual personalities, life experiences and outlook. There are people that want to start families by the time they're 20. There are people at 30 that can't even comprehend starting a family, but maybe one day . . . There are people of vastly (or not so vastly) different ages that find an affinity with each; a matching of outlooks, tastes, experiences etc. This kind of companionship is perfectly acceptable between adults. Unfortunately sometimes society's archaic moral stance can be negative towards such relationships.

Of course, we are all subjected to the essence of time, which can sometimes influence and hasten decisions. By a slightly cruel twist of fate and evolution our hearts and minds don't always correlate with our biological clocks.

So, at what point do we 'grow up'? I put it to you that we may never, in fact, 'grow up' in what is the traditionally perceived way. With time, experience will make us wiser and more familiar with certain things. But really, are we all just scared children doing the best we can with the hand we have been dealt?

Pardon me while I depart to try complete a particularly tricky part on my Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Playstation 2 game . . .

*Sorry, I just had to get a Wicked reference in there somewhere.

Friday, 23 November 2012

Thoughts on 'Michael Jackson: The Magic and the Madness' by J. Randy Taraborrelli

I've been a fan of Michael Jackson's music and in awe of him as an entertainer from a young age, but it's only until very recently, as an adult - at 28 years old, that I've become interested in him as a person. At this particular time in my life, I have become curious to learn and read about the most influential and interesting people in history. For example: Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, Mother Teresa, Malcolm X, Winston Churchill and so on. Michael Jackson seemed like a logical choice when compiling my list. He was, it could be argued, the most influential and most successful entertainer that has ever lived, and a very curious character with a very unique life's journey.

I am not and never have been one of the 'crazed fan' types who put Michael on a pedestal, believing he could do no wrong. I believe if I did so, I'd have been a contributor to his premature demise. That is to say, ultimately I believe certain factors, which include the 'god' worshiping of and the propaganda by the tabloids to paint a picture of Michael as a 'freak', led to the dehumanisation of Michael Jackson and ultimately his death.

One of the biggest conclusions that J. Randy's book left me with, was that what Michael really needed was some 'tough love' from someone whom was unswayed by his status and wealth. For every person that told Michael 'no' there was a person that would say 'yes'. There was his family, of course, but unfortunately it would appear they had their own selfish agendas to control Michael for their own means. Thus, understandably, Michael pushed them further and further away. Then there was Lisa Marie Presley, probably the only person that could have potentially made a difference, and she did, for a time.

But I'm afraid the salvation of Michael evidently was impossible. If you didn't give Michael what he wanted, he'd find someone that did. Hell knows there's enough greedy and selfish people in the world as there are good ones.

When I began reading this book, I was skeptical, skeptical that the author was maybe just another 'tabloid junkie' writing more sensationalist and bias garbage. However, after completing around 30 pages I began to realise that maybe, just maybe, this author was doing his utmost to be objective and withholding his personal biases (if there were any).

Overall I found the book an interesting read. I'd suggest, however, taking everything that is stated as fact with a grain of salt. Unfortunately the real truth only Michael knew. God rest his soul.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Creative Compulsion

I think people of a similar creative persuasion know that being creative isn't a choice - it's a compulsion, an instinct. To deny it equates to insanity. I think that's what separates artists from the fame whores and reality TV stars. It's also part of the reason I am ever reluctant to participate in a TV talent show, even though some people incessantly encourage me to audition for the likes of X Factor.
 I personally want to create something I feel is brilliant and unique, which doesn't necessarily mean commercial (and big money for anyone). I feel like the whole world has gone back to front in recent years, or maybe it's always been like it. Didn't it used to be the case that being accomplished/a master in something was admired, then popularity naturally followed? Now it seems to me, that the popularity is the main goal and talent is a secondary factor. No doubt driven initially by big corporations wanting to make a quick buck. Because that sort of stuff is the most widely available, the general public are only exposed to that, thus expectations are lowered. And because big corporations are generally only interested in the bottom line, they then exclude funding artists that could be successful, because they don't think they will make them enough money?

I'm so sick of the increasing celebration of mediocrity. I can't vouch for the rest of the world, but it seems we love a bit of blandness in this country. What ever happened to innovation? Everyone wants to be the next [insert name]. How about crafting own identity? 

I think the public will always value quality, no matter what. It's just a shame a lot of it won't get heard by people, because we're all so busy scurrying around in our manic 21st century commercial lives. 

Of course, it is possible to be commercial and good, but it's only a lucky few that accomplish that unique mix. You've got to be be driven to the point of madness, or be mad to be successful, it would appear.

Poorly? Do Yourself In & Relive The System?

I genuinely pity people that don't have a grasp on how difficult it is for people with ongoing health difficulties of any kind. More over, I'm disgusted to learn some people think these people would be better off killing themselves and "Doing us a favour" to relief your taxes. Wow, what's it like to be a monster with no compassion for your fellow man? It would be karma for you to one day suffer, and have the same restrictions, difficulties and prejudices placed on you - then let's see what you think.

If people can help themselves, great, but if they need support to live a life close to 'normal' as possible, you want to deny them that? Stick them on food stamps, nothing more, so they have to suffer in poverty their whole lives? Does that really sound morally right to you? Also, counter-productive. I think the fact remains, those that want to help themselves in some way always will do so, and those that really don't want to will always find a way to play the system regardless.

So what do we have left? Those that need help suffering the worst. Millions of pounds in 'saved' tax money being fed back in, in a roundabout way to help the same people.

Why Be 'Normal'?

Observation - Why is it 'odd', 'boring' or 'annoying' that some people have interests in other things other than football or other interests that are more common? Especially when it's generally accepted as OK to be obsessed with the likes of football, but not with, say, theatre? Isn't it a little a small-minded and hypocritical to belittle people with different interests to you?