quiet time…

There’s that faint glow slowly stretching out across the sky that heralds the arrival of a new day. It’s just finished raining. Not a pelting downpour, but rather the slow, unhurried rain that soaks the ground and settles the dust. It’s got that fresh smell.

A bird is going about its morning ritual of calls and whistles. Apart from the bird song, the rhythmic thump of water drops in the downpipe, and the distant white noise of the ocean, the world is quiet…and that’s just how I like it.

I relish the solitude that early mornings provide. It’s like a warm blanket you can wrap yourself up in and just enjoy the quietness of your own thoughts. Not that my thinking is quiet. It’s my personality to think ideas through, examine the life I’m living, and contemplate the deepest thoughts of life, the universe and everything. 

The temptation is there to log on though. It would be so easy to just pick up the phone, hit that icon, and lose myself in the stream of images and updates that occurred overnight. Some days, the pull of the feed is unavoidable, others, it’s easy to stay away. Today is one of those ‘stay away’ days. I will ignore the phone. I will ignore the perfect photos lined up one after another in my Instagram feed. I will ignore the updates of Facebook and Twitter. I will stay disconnected in order to be connected later as the family stirs from their sleep. 

But for now, my mind remains clear of congestion. Clear of distraction. It’s just me and the bird in the world…at least for the moment anyway.

twenty two takes on life


1. Don’t Argue With Stupid People.

You get nowhere. It’s like playing scrabble with a dog, no matter how well you play, the dog will end up shitting on the board and walking away like he won anyway.

2. Eat The Damn Cake.

Yes I know that eating right and exercise is important for your health, but if you are in the vicinity of a cake or delicious bite of something, just eat it.

3. Working Is A Part Of Life, Not The Entirety Of Life.

Unless you adore what you do for a living and it is your pasison and life’s mission, take a deep breath and don’t take it all so seriously. At the end of the day, a job is to pay the bills and have pocket money to go and enjoy yourself when you’re not working. Unless you are genuinely passionate about your career, don’t sweat it. Don’t break your back worrying about a job that would replace you within a week if you dropped dead.

4. Don’t Take Anything Seriously, Seriously.

Unless you are performing open heart surgery or have the cure for cancer in your back pocket, lighten the fuck up. No matter what your job is, ask yourself if it will matter in 100 years? If not, giggle and let it go. The world won’t stop spinning if you miss a deadline or make a mistake. Breathe. It’s all good.

5. Ignorance Is A Choice.

Yes. It’s 2018. There is no excuse for ignorance or stupidity when we have more information on our phones than a public library. If you don’t understand something, research it. Pick up a book, scan the internet, question everything, especially the news. Be curious, ask questions and most of all, don’t be lazy. Educate yourself so the world can be full of kinder, more worldly individuals who know what they are talking about.

6. Laugh At Every Chance You Get.

Nothing beats a good belly laugh. Plus, it’s also extremely healthy. Laugh as often as you can. This goes straight back to the not taking anything seriously thing. Giggle more. It works wonders for the soul.

7. Get A Hobby.

The past year I have picked up the pen again (well, not the pen per se, but the keyboard anyway) and begun writing again. I’m attempting (slowly) to learn Italian, set a goal of reading a book a fortnight (mainly legal thrillers by John Grisham and captivating tales from Jeffrey Archer) and I’ve started thinking of ways to get some exercise in at least three times a week. Each year older I start realising how quickly time goes and how many amazing things are at my disposal to learn or try.

8. Read The News, Then Read It Again, And Then Research Some More.

Don’t take anything at face value. Just because the news tells you one thing, don’t take it as gospel. These news shows are run by multibillionaire white men and corporations with agendas. Don’t take it at face value. Look in to things. Read as much as you can and become your own private investigator for the truth. Just because a news show says something, doesn’t make it fact.

9. Read More.

Nothing opens up the heart and mind more than a good book. The excuse of not having enough time to read doesn’t cut it. Instead of watching an hour of Netflix, take an hour to open a good book. It’s good for the soul. Trust me.

10. Get A Pet.

YASSSSSSS. Get a dog. Then get another dog. And watch your garden be destroyed and things get eaten that really don’t fall into the category of food. In all seriousness though, dogs are extremely good for your health. They reduce stress and anxiety, boost happiness and are wonderful snuggle buddies. Adopt don’t shop! There are plenty of rescue animals in need of good homes.

11. Sometimes People Lie To You.  It Sucks.

Yes.  Sometimes the people you never in a bazillion years thought would lie to  you, will do just that. I had an experience in recently with a friend that completely shifted my entire outlook on people in general. Sadly, some of the people you think you know are far from what you think.  It sucks, yes, but once you acknowledge it, it slowly stops hurting. You can move on with your life when you realise that sometimes a wake-up call is all you need to realise that you’re better off without certain people in your life. And that’s totally ok.

12. Log Off. Often.

The age of social media is WONDERFUL for so many reasons. Keeping in contact with people, viewing beautiful content, learning things with a click and the hours and hours of streamable content are all fantastic reasons to use social media. But on the flip side, it can also be an information overload and I highly advise switching off, taking a break and leaving your phone somewhere away from you for a few hours. It can’t be healthy getting a constant stream of negative news 24/7. So unplug. Those cute puppy pics will be there when you get back.

13. Exercise.

I know, I know, YUCK. Exercise isn’t the most fun of activities, and I am the first to admit that.  In fact, I’m fond of saying “I only run when chased”. But it’s completely and utterly true… Just a 40 minute walk around the lake near my house 3 times a week has improved my mood ten fold. I’ve suffered with depression, and anxiety for years, but exercise allows me to completely refresh and enjoy the day on a belly full of endorphins. Do it for the feeling you get, not to achieve some unattainable body (which as much as I would love to have one, is not going to make me a Men’s Health cover model).

14. Journal.

I’ve started writing a journal of sorts. Not every day, but a couple of times a week.  I use it to gain some perspective on things that are happening in my life. Plus, studies have shown that journalling is really healthy for the mind and soul. Grab a notebook and get doodling.

15. Take Photos.

If taking selfies is your thing, go for it.  If taking pictures of trees, animals or the sunset gets you going, snap away. Taking photos is therapeutic for a number of reasons, but most of all it’s a lovely way to document your life with things to look back on. Use the camera on your phone, because most of the time, it’s sitting idly in your pocket.

16. Never Think You Know It All.

Question everything. Stay curious. Look into things and don’t dismiss stuff you know nothing about. Not only is it a really ugly personality trait, it gets you nowhere in life. Opening your mind and heart is a surefire way of experiencing life in all its’ beauty.

17. Go After What You Want In Life.

Jim Carey did a graduation speech about his father who never went after his dreams because he wanted to do the ‘safe thing’. Have a ‘stable’ career that would provide for his family. From memory, his father failed and lost everything in his ‘stable’ career. The moral being that if you are going to fail at something, at least let it be something you love, because the fact is it is just as possible to fail at something you hate. Give it a go. Life is too short to not go after what you want.

18. Get Over Yourself.

This is just a reminder to get over yourself, have a giggle and realise that just because you may have a fancy car, a nice suit or well manicured hands means absolutely sweet F.A.  Being a good person, showing kindness, empathy and caring about the planet and human beings as a whole is what counts in my book. Just be a good person. It’s that simple.

19. Tell Your Loved Ones You Love Them And Don’t Go To Bed Angry.

Pretty self explanatory this one, but all the same, something to remember constantly. Life is far too short to go to bed angry at someone. Throw away silly arguments and tell the people you care about how you feel.

20. Screw What People Think Of You.

I mean it. Who cares what someone else thinks of you? That’s their stuff. How they perceive you and how they feel about you is none of your business. Water off a ducks’ back. Let it go.

21. Try Not To Worry So Much.

I know. Easier said than done, but sometimes it helps to take a step back, take a deep breath in and ask a few key questions: Can I do anything to change the current situation? If yes, do it. If not, let it go. Breathe through it and remember all we ever have is right in this moment.

22. Life is what you make it, but most of all it’s about love.

Love, family, friends and making memories is the most important thing in life. Every year on this earth I realise more and more how utterly stupid it is to worry about material things. Now, I’m not saying you shouldn’t enjoy material stuff whatsoever, but it shouldn’t be what you go after in life. Nobody ever gets to the end of their life clutching on to their Chanel bag. The things that matter are the people you love and the memories you make.

So go for a walk, take in the view, have a laugh and breathe in every moment of every day. It’s all we ever have.

advocate personality

ADVOCATE PERSONALITY (INFJ, -A/-T)

The Advocate personality type is very rare, making up less than one percent of the population, but they nonetheless leave their mark on the world. As members of the Diplomat Role group, Advocates have an inborn sense of idealism and morality, but what sets them apart is that they are not idle dreamers, but people capable of taking concrete steps to realize their goals and make a lasting positive impact.

introduction…

“Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the western spiral arm of the Galaxy lies a small unregarded yellow sun.

Orbiting this at a distance of roughly ninety-two million miles is an utterly insignificant little blue green planet whose ape- descended life forms are so amazingly primitive that they still think digital watches are a pretty neat idea.

This planet has – or rather had – a problem, which was this: most of the people on it were unhappy for pretty much of the time. Many solutions were suggested for this problem, but most of these were largely concerned with the movements of small green pieces of paper, which is odd because on the whole it wasn’t the small green pieces of paper that were unhappy.

And so the problem remained; lots of the people were mean, and most of them were miserable, even the ones with digital watches.

Many were increasingly of the opinion that they’d all made a big mistake in coming down from the trees in the first place. And some said that even the trees had been a bad move, and that no one should ever have left the oceans.”

The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy by Douglas Adams.

Hemingway’s Tower

An Original Short Story by Phillip Darwen

“I’m sorry?” 

He turned away from the window to face the voice that had snapped him out of his daydream.

“I was just asking if this is your first time traveling with us.”

The woman before him was smiling. She had the kind of smile that was instantly disarming and you couldn’t help but be relaxed by it. The eyes had the same effect. Totally open with a disarming sparkle. Dressed in a neat burgundy uniform, she was the perfect representative to be on hand to greet travelers as they arrived and departed.

“Oh, no. Well, that is to say, it’s my first time since my first time. So technically my second time. But my first time going all the way.” he sheepishly replied.

“Would you mind if I see your boarding pass sir?” she asked.

“Sorry, of course.” he replied as he handed over the thin slip of card.

He let his eyes wander down her face as she scanned his boarding pass. She had that flawless complexion and classic bone structure that would have classed her as beautiful no matter what part of the world she was in. His eyes settled on her name badge. Paige Andrews, Client Services. She entered the credentials of the boarding pass into her tablet and handed it back.

“Thank you Mr Pryce. Sorry, Doctor Pryce. Everything is in order.”  She smiled that same disarming smile. “We should be boarding in about fifteen minutes and departure is right on schedule. The weather today is near perfect so you should have an amazing view. Please let me know if I can assist you with anything further, otherwise I shall see you on board.”

“Thank you.” he stammered as she walked away to welcome a group of travelers that had just entered the departure lounge.

As he surveyed the room and took in the various other people that would be on the flight, Dr Theodore Pryce couldn’t help but feel amazed that he was actually standing here and preparing to board what would be the most amazing trip he had ever taken. Theodore hated to use the term tourist, but that’s exactly how he felt. It was like he was a child of nine or ten on his first trip into a big city. Of course, he was no longer a child. Those years were just a distant memory, but at the age of sixty four, those memories were still vivid in his mind.

Theodore wandered the few steps back over to the expansive glazed wall that dominated the side of the departure lounge. A panoramic vista of arid desert stretched as far as he could see and he couldn’t help but bring his camera to his eye and capture that view in full HD splendor.

He wanted to take a photo looking up as well, but the deep shade structures overhead prevented it. 

Turning back, Theodore looked over the gaggle of passengers now clogging the departure lounge. A mix of people from different parts of the country had now found themselves in close quarters as they waited to get on board. Being a professor of anthropology, Theodore always found it interesting to observe people as they went about their individual daily rituals of life. 

There were a few tour groups huddled together with a mix mash of luggage all unified by the same bold yellow stickers and name badges that said in bright cheery letters ‘Hello, My Name Is…’.  Mingled between them were the families trying to maintain order over their excited children, the couples standing either engaged in hushed conversation or stoic silence, and the lone travelers lost in their own worlds of music piped through headphones that clung to their ears. Everyone had their own rituals, their own ways of dealing with the pressures of travel. Once on board however, those rituals would dissipate as they relaxed into their respective seats and waited for the first beverage service to begin.

Theodore was once again snapped out of his thoughts and observations by the sharp tone of the intercom announcing that boarding was about to begin.

He gathered up his battered case, secured his swinging camera, and proceeded to join the cacophony of travelers as they made their way through the gate and into the cabin.

To say that the cabin was spacious would be an understatement. With large panoramic windows, a high curved ceiling, and spacious seating, the cabin resembled a first class lounge on a cruise ship. Theodore took his assigned seat and stowed his case. As other passengers got settled, the chaos of boarding settled into a low murmur of conversation as the flight attendants did their rounds helping those in need.

As the attendants spread themselves around the cabin in readiness to demonstrate the safety procedures, Theodore was delighted to see that a familiar face would be assigned to his section of the cabin. With that same disarming smile, Paige and her fellow attendants soon had the rapt attention of all the passengers, not least of which a very attentive professor in the front row.

Following the safety procedures, Paige’s sonorous voice broke the low murmur of the passengers chatter.

“Ladies and gentlemen, on behalf of the cabin crew I’d like to welcome you aboard and wish you all a very relaxing flight. We will be opening the viewing panels in a moment, but for the first few minutes of the journey we kindly request that you don’t wander too far from your seats until you become accustomed to the motion in the cabin.  Some have described the sensation as something akin to sea sickness, but please don’t be alarmed. The sensation will pass quickly. After that please feel free to move around the cabin.”

With the pleasantries in progress, a low hum permeated the cabin as the upper and lower viewing panels were uncovered. Theodore now had a stunning two hundred and seventy degree view stretching down to the ground and up to the sky. He had to fight back the urge to bring his camera out, after all, there would be plenty of opportunity during the flight.

Theodore reclined back and took in the tapering structure above him and smiled.

“If there is anything you need,” Paige continued “please do not hesitate to call on your attendant. As a matter of interest, our flight will take just ninety minutes and, with such clear conditions, you will have a truly wonderful view for the entire trip. We have received our clearance for departure and will be on our way in a few moments. Once again, I’d like to welcome you all aboard and wish you a pleasant journey.”

As Paige and her colleagues took their seats, the low hum increased slightly and the cabin began its vertical rise to geosynchronous orbit. In ninety minutes the magnetic friction drive would propel the cabin from ground level to Hemingway Station, 35,786 kilometers above the equator. Theodore let the gentle g-forces sink him deeper into his leather reclining chair as he watched the vista of the earth retreat beneath him. Looking up at the delicate taper of the cables extending into the blueness of the sky, Dr Theodore Pryce smiled.

This journey was only just beginning…

 

Across a crowded room…

An Original Piece by Phillip Darwen

She sat at the table with a quietness about her that was at total odds to the cacophony of noise around her. It was for this reason that my eyes were drawn to her. 

Amid the chaos and chatter of the restaurant was a table of two couples. Each had their meal in front of them and each was engaged in consuming their meal, but it was the way in which this woman held herself that caught my attention.  She wasn’t blindly eating away. She was measured in her eating. Each bite was purposeful. Each movement elegant.

She had a kind of Diane Keaton-esque quality. A frame of shoulder length greying straight hair that slightly tousled at the ends as it draped onto her shoulders. With streaks of varying shades of grey through black, with a peppering of white, the closest approximation was that of charcoal. 

Although she was certainly into her twilight years, her face did not reveal her age. Maybe she was in her seventies, but the lack of wrinkles presented as someone younger.

Her eyes were weary. Not heavy or tired exactly, but just weary. Perhaps her life had been hard. Perhaps she had seen things in her life that not many others had experienced. Her eyes had the look of a life well lived. Of a life appreciated. Behind a pair of black framed glasses, the eyes gave a glimpse into her soul. But it was a protected glimpse, as if the glasses were somehow able to conceal her true emotions at that time and in that place and would only allow those she chose to see beyond them.

I watched her eat. A bite brought to thin lips. No lipstick. Each fork contained just the right amount of food. Not piled high and quickly consumed. Her chewing was deliberate, as if each bite were to be her last. Without giving away any reaction, I could see that each mouthful was given its due consideration.

 

Her hands were thin yet graceful. Fingers clutching the cutlery gently yet firmly. Long and tapered, did she play piano? Was she an artist? I couldn’t help but wonder. She presented, for all intents and purposes, as a woman of quality. Of experience. Of refinement.

As I lay here writing this description, I can picture her in my mind as I saw her earlier. The greying hair, the glasses, the soulful and weary eyes. I had never thought of myself as a ‘people watcher’ and yet I found myself zoning out from the conversations at the table and focusing on this woman. It was at that moment that I had the sense that she was doing the exact same thing. I could tell that her mind had wandered away from the conversation of her companions. She appeared lost in thought. Her thoughts. Her memories. Thoughts that were withheld as private, known only to her. Memories lived a lifetime ago and remembered with a wistful longing of a life well lived.