Sheep Dressed Like Wolves -
A little while ago I wrote a blog post a while ago about my experiences with dementia. For two years now I have had what I describe as the tragic privilege of caring a couple of days a week for a friend of mine who has Lewy Body Dementia. This show is a re-purposing of that article.
I have been with my friend pretty much since he was finally given a diagnosis, and shared the pain in seeing him deteriorate over the months. I could write pages and pages on the subject and maybe one day I will. But today I want to concentrate on something that has underpinned my observations: the idea that behaviour does not just stand alone, but rather is an insight, or an expression of something that needs to be communicated from within.
Life can be heavy. The events that we encounter can weigh us down like bags of dried concrete. It can sometimes feel that there is no let up. One thing after another. It’s like each event triggers another, which in turn triggers a whole sequence that spirals out of control. It can feel like there is not much to laugh about.
But I experienced a thought tickle this morning as I waited for my coffee to brew. As I sighed and anticipated everything that was coming my way later on, I was prodded with the command: ‘just laugh’. I had to laugh. Not out of despair. Not at the situation. Not instead of the situation. But DESPITE the situation.
I am starting work on a new album, and I do so with trepidation After a strange moment in which the title and shades of concept came to me, I am attempting to work out what I do with it all. In this week’s podcast I unpack some of the reasons why I want to be more transparent throughout the process of creation than I have been with previous work.
Too often by the time I finish and release a big project I am bored of it and working on something new.
Søren Kierkegaard said that “life can only be understood backwards but it must be lived forwards”.
A theme has developed on the blog over the past year or so. A small pocket of the responses I get when I write about introversion and being introverted are very consistent.
They essentially go along the lines of ‘wow, he seems a bit self-absorbed, finding something to blame for a certain level of rudeness’.
I get something to this affect every time I write about it. Expected I guess, but it can also be slightly frustrating. To be fair it is not helped when some of the responses from those who DO identify with what I say use it as justification for certain somewhat rude actions and attitudes toward others.
But I know that there are many readers who need freeing from self-damning attitudes that say: ‘there is something wrong with me, I feel uncomfortable in certain social situations and I feel totally drained when I’m around others and making small talk for too long’ (and other things to that affect) etc.
It is penned into my diary to write the outline for the podcast at 6am, every Tuesday. I record it on Friday, and get it ready to publish the following Tuesday. This planning is great and works well. It means I have a few days to mull over and edit the ideas before recording them. Then after recording I have time to get the show notes and publishing side of things sorted before publishing.
But this week I discovered that I have had a small problem. It involves idea generation. Up until now I have sat down on the Tuesday morning with a cup of coffee in my hand and my laptop on my…well, lap, and I’ve selected a topic from my Evernote archives. Then I have proceeded to write a show outline from it.
This week however, I realised I had run out of ideas. Evernote was empty.
Fortunately (and ironically) this in itself was enough to spark material for the podcast. It has also triggered a slight structural reshuffle of the way I now go about the process of generating and developing ideas for the show. The new system is quite simple really and although it feels like a completely innovative breakthrough, it can be boiled down to just two words…
I have a restless feeling in my gut. I feel like I need to be doing something. It’s like there is a war going on inside my stomach, between unidentifiable armies taking turns to thrust bayonets into my organs and twist them into knots. I read more, I need to know more, I try to understand, to grow, to be better, to satisfy the gaping desire to be happy and successful. But the more I try the tighter the knots get. I make rash decisions grounded in nonsense and influenced by my acceptance of a culture that demands my instant gratification and satisfaction.
I am a slave to the thing I always believed kept me free.
We are pulled away from ourselves when we believe we CAN be satisfied. The pursuit of satisfying the desire to be satisfied is one of the most imprisoning tasks we give ourselves.
Things change, we adapt and new status quo’s are established. History is so often re-written in the light of behavioural change rather than as something responding to the needs and desires of those whom the change affects. This is something we have to be wary of because it is very easy to make believe that the world has been created in response to our needs rather than in order to create and manipulate our needs.
I’ll explain what I mean…
I was in the supermarket at about 10pm the other evening. There were a few of us there. ‘Ahh’, I thought, ‘it’s because of these people that this shop stays open so late’.
Then I looked at myself…
There is a bit of greenery at the top of town, it has a road and pavement surrounding it. There is a pathway that goes through the middle parallell to the road, and then at a right angle half way through the grassy bit the walkway turns towards the road to join the pavement again. No one ever walks on the paved walkway. We all walk over the grass diagonally, which is the shortest distance to cut the corner.
Periodically the council come along, fence off the worn away grass and plant new grass to replace it.
Where Should The Pathways Go?
It is something that reminds me of a blog post Derek Sivers wrote a while back. This is an exerpt from that:
A new green college campus was built, but one thing was still debated:
Where in the grass should we put the paved walkways?
Some felt the walkways should be around the edges, to leave the center green and untouched.
Some felt the walkways should cut diagonal, connecting all buildings to all buildings.
One professor had the winning idea: Don’t make any walkways this year. At the end of the year, look at where the grass is worn away, showing us where the students are walking. Then just pave those paths.
The only thing that counts when it comes to doing that thing you’ve been wanting or meaning to do, is to start. ‘That’ is much more important than ‘what’. If you want to be a writer then what you write about is not nearly as important as THAT you write. If you want to make music then what you play is secondary to the fact THAT you play. If you want to be a photographer then please, take some photos! Just start.
It might sound stupid and obvious but for most of us it’s not. We can get so hung up on what people will think of the content of the thing that we do, that we never even do the thing in the first place.
When you tell people what you do or what you ‘want to be’, do they ask you to perform it? I can’t tell you the number of times I hear the demand ‘sing something then’ when I tell people I’m a musician.
Another common one is ‘say something funny’ demanded of someone conveying interest in comedy (I was speaking to a friend about this one). Or you play instruments, ‘here’s a guitar/piano/tuba, play something’.
There is a horrible feeling in the pit of the stomach in response to this question. Fight or flight. What do I do? Change the subject? Ignore it until it goes away? Run away? I’m not prepared. I don’t want to perform, people are going to think I’m showing off, it’s going to look like I am desperate to be the centre of attention.
It’s the ultimate ‘do unto others as you would hate to have done unto you’.