I was as appalled as anybody to hear about the bombings that took place along the finish line to the Boston marathon yesterday afternoon that has (so far) claimed the lives of three people, including an eight year old boy, as well as injuring over 170 others, a number of them seriously.
While learning about the event through my Twitter stream I noticed a number of people questioning humanity and civilisation, which I believe we all do when focused acts of violence occur, whether an act of terrorism, rape, or any other seemingly motiveless display in which a human being takes away life from another.
But this isn’t the big picture. In fact, this doesn’t represent humanity and civilisation in the slightest, not in the twenty-first century.
Yesterday I noticed a tweet that had been retweeted by somebody I follow simply stating “If anyone figures out what the fuck is wrong with people, let me know.” I feel this is entirely the wrong question to ask.
When was the last time you met somebody at a party, spent several days with them, or even lived with them (and enjoyed doing so), but didn’t add them to Facebook?
Can you remember the time you enjoyed with them? Chances are the idea you have in your head, if not wholly accurate, is a much better picture of events than you would be imagining if you had exchanged Facebook details and you now find yourself reading their vague, banal updates about nothing in particular day in day out.
I’m not a big fan, or user of Facebook. On Facebook you’re either friends with somebody or you’re not. You either see nothing of a particular person ever again, or you’re treated to the whole of their lives played out in front of you over a creepy expanding timeline.
When was the last time you felt really tired, but you desperately wanted to finish something before going to bed?
I won’t even go as far as to say something ‘had’ to be done before you slept; you simply wanted to finish it and get it out of the way before the day was out so you could start afresh on something new in the morning.
We give in to our tiredness way too often. I love my sleep, and I’ve written about sleep a number of times over the last three years, and though I don’t fully align myself with the “Only sleep when you’re tired” philosophy, I totally see the benefits of laying down to sleep once you start to feel your head lop to one side, narrowly avoiding a nearby wall or table.
With that said, I’m approaching this from a discipline standpoint. We have much more discipline than any of us could possibly imagine, but it needs to be built up for us to fully take advantage of it’s power.
Last month my feed was filled with posts by people listing their goals and plans for the new year. They were pretty interesting, and I was more than happy to read a lot of them, even stealing a couple of ideas here and there to adapt for my own needs.
I didn’t write one of these posts however. I considered it, and I did write one a couple of years ago, but I didn’t get much out of it. Though at the time I was very enthusiastic about it, and a couple of goals on the list were completed (at least to some extent), despite what I may have written at the time, it wasn’t a hugely successful experiment for me.
Last year I had no goals, though not on purpose. The start of last year was so hectic as I spent the first two weeks of the year working out what the hell I was going to do with my life (having quit my job with no backup plan on new years eve), and the following two weeks were so rushed and full of goodbyes as I left my job and planned to leave for Spain at the start of February, that the idea of making any goals outside of a relatively safe transition from London to Granada didn’t even cross my mind.
Time is a complicated thing. We’ll often talk about how we’re going to spend our time, how we don’t have enough time, or how we arrived at an appointment half an hour early and have to waste time beforehand.
In all three of these examples we’re looking at time in a different way, and all three of these views could belong to any of us, all on the very same day.
Two years ago I wrote how time is our only real currency, something I still believe entirely in the context of the post. More than just that though, time is something that is going to happen regardless. There are no surprises when it comes to time. Contrary to popular belief, you can’t spend time, waste time, or try to stretch time out.
Everything we experience in our lives passes through that little thing we call our mind, and the idea of time is little more than what we choose to focus our mind on in the present.
Last week I wrote about how I was about to jump on a plane to start a new adventure in Valencia, Spain. And I did – and I left within four days.
I had nothing against the city in particular, it just wasn’t for me. From originally being ecstatic to be there when I first arrived, I quickly realised it saw to none of my current needs at this time.
It was too big, too difficult (and expensive) to get around, the beach – though warm (22°C in January is a dream for a pale Brit such as myself) was significantly less impressive in person than it had looked in photos, and the atmosphere of the city was severely out of line with that I wanted for myself; a quiet place to settle down for six months and write like hell.
If staying out partying every night until vodka is running through your veins and your head can barely hold itself up is for you (and there’s no judgement here, it most definitely was for me several years ago) then Valencia may just be your perfect city right now.
For me however, I made the decision to leave.
Now, a week later, I’ve moved into an apartment in Córdoba, Andalusia, approx. one thousand kilometres south-west of Valencia.
I can’t describe how good it felt to cross the border back into Andalusia. This is the first time I’ve been here since I left Granada at the end of July last year, and to be back among the friendly, but hard-as-fuck to understand Andalusian people, the beautiful Moorish architecture, and the small city atmosphere feels like the city is seeing to all of my current needs already.
Eleven months ago I took a running jump at an aircraft, narrowly avoiding the engines before finding myself in the crushing conditions that only a budget airline can provide, with a smile on my face and a single backpack stored in the overhead locker.
But I’ve talked about Granada so much over the past twelve months you’ve probably already set up a spam filter tasked with deleting anything I ever write that features the name of this beautiful city, so I’ll move on.
In 48 hours I’ll be wandering the streets of Valencia with that very same backpack on my back, heroically in search of a coffee and tostada to slowly consume while I take in my new surroundings.
And it begins.
For somebody who harps on annoyingly about productivity as much as I do, I’m insanely good at procrastinating.
We all say this of course, followed by a laugh about how lazy we all are; but seriously, if I have one thing I need to do I will do everything else in the world, over a course of days, weeks even, in order to avoiding doing what I need to do.
I’m not sure why this is, so I won’t throw out profound reasoning for the sake of shovelling some sexy, articulate advice down your throat, but I do think it may have something to do with a fear of the thing you need to do due to it being fairly undefined (and therefore, a fear of the unknown).
While going through my most recent spell of looking at what I needed to do, followed by sixteen games of Bejeweled, four Instagram refreshes, and a quick check on the news, in between these distractions I noticed I was working on something that I didn’t need to work on at that moment, but it did need to get done.
It wasn’t the ‘one thing’ I needed to be getting on with, but it was something I needed to do. Though my ordering was dramatically off, at least while I was procrastinating I was still getting something worthwhile done, something that I would have needed to do after my ‘one thing’ anyway.