Friday, 31 August 2007

Considerations and Continuation

So for various reasons I'm not seeing Catriona and Sean tonight. Which is probably a good thing because tonight seems to be a night for long, slow thoughts. Quick, bright ones too, like how there's probably a market for restaurants selling good, fresh salads for businessmen and women in Central London, but really just long slow thoughts.

Because I think it's safe to say that I'm one of those people who only want what they can't have. But if you only want what you don't have and you don't want what you can have then maybe that's life's way of showing you that there's more than you can see to the world. That you're missing something fundament'l.

Alternatively, you don't appreciate what you're not willing to fight for. I'm wondering what there is in my life that I'm willing to fight for. What there is that I have fought for. I can only think of one thing and, although I was willing to fight to get it, I wasn't willing to fight again to keep it.

I've never really fought for anything. It's all just fallen into my lap, which makes me very lucky and very stupid.


Anyway really I'm trying to finish off last night's entry on creativity. Interestingly enough I ended up having a conversation with a friend at work about it today. We ended up discussing the difference between creativity, which requires a huge amount of mental focus, and creating, which requires little mental focus and is much more meditative.

Creativity is such a powerful thing. It drives us forward, as people, as a culture and as a race.

As a race it's what singles us out, more than anything else I think, from all the other animals out there. After all can you imagine the world if nobody had ever thought that the bright, hot, flickering thing could actually be quite useful if used in the right manner?

As a culture it's a much weirder one. We both value and hate it. So many things are valued as being traditional, or their ages are considered to be important: cheeses, wines, spirits, films, literature, cars. Not people so much though. Maybe because after a certain age they're considered to have seen and done enough that they're too experienced to make mistakes. It is, after all, nice to watch people make mistakes. Schadenfreude is a terrible thing.

As people though it drives us to achieve. Creativity and innovation are considered to help us go further than someone who plods along, following the rules. After all they're just boring.

I don't know. My well of long, slow thoughts seems to have dried up for the night.

Catching up and creativity


I bought a new book for this journal yesterday which means I spent all last night and all tonight copying the entries from one to another. This unfortunately means that my hand hurts, so this will probably be a short entry.

The real shame about this was that I really wanted to write an entry last night but couldn't face having to write it out twice. Hopefully I'll be able to finish anything I have to say off tomorrow evening, but part of me doubts it. I'm seeing Catriona and Sean, so chances are I'll be a bit drunk and a little tired.

The current hotel does, however, have a great restaurant - if a little quiet. Last night I was in there on my own for most of the night, and tonight I as one of only a few. I felt a little sorry for the (rather cute) waitress. She seemed very bored. But it was just what I needed. Some easy listening music, relaxed service, and nice food.

The restaurant also had a grand piano and after a couple of glasses of wine I felt like playing. Fortunately I managed to stop myself, mainly because I couldn't think what I would still be able to play after all these years.

That in turn got me thinking of when I last played (far too long ago) which in turn made me think of all the creative things I've done in my life. I have played piano, I have acted, sung and danced. I have written both poetry and prose, in my own hand and using calligraphy. I have sculpted, modeled and painted. I have rendered graphics. Programming is in itself pretty creative, but I can't remember the last time I was creative that wasn't for work or for an attractive woman. I can't remember the last time I was creative for me.

Most of my projects over the years have ended up on the dustbin of history unfinished, but a few of them have been completed. I'm proud of each and every one. Proud enough to have given most of them away at any rate.

Psychology says that creativity is a good way of dealing with depression. Of turning negative energy into positive energy. So I wonder if this is part of my dissatisfaction. A build up of negative emotion that previously I've just dealt with without realising.

I guess in its own way this journal could be considered creative, although personally I'd have to disagree since there's no creative feel to it. One of my favourite quotes is "Writing is easy. You only need to stare at a piece of blank paper until your forehead bleeds" by Douglas Adams and I think it perfectly sums up the feeling of creating new things. The continual struggle against nothingness.

Anyway, it's late and my hands hurting too badly, so maybe this is another idea I'll have to think about some more.

Sunday, 26 August 2007

Commitment and Considerings

So really at this stage I should start to lay down some goals. I mean I've covered where I'm coming from and I've added some structure, but really it's not much of anything unless you have something to aim for.

But then after 1 week I'm already starting to ignore my rules. No. 2 nearly went out the window. I was thinking of trying to write it at some point tomorrow. Probably on the train on the way home. But I managed to stop myself and write it now because I knew I wouldn't bother to write anything on the train on the way home.

The best I can say for No. 7 is I finally got my work email running. Admittedly that did involve a phone call I'd been putting off, so maybe that still counts, but it doesn't feel like it should count. Oh well, there's more to the month than this week.

I've failed horribly on No. 3 this week, I'm already planning on breaking No. 5 to polish it up a little and make it all make more sense (and in fact I have been doing that) and No. 6 is already falling into place. After all simply changing hotels every week doesn't count.

However as a nice change I'm starting to find time to think again, and I mean to actually think. Not my normal round of obsessing over past events and how I should have dealt with them, nor my usual forced conversations that could occur in the future maybe possibly. Instead I've been spending my time on vague considerings and creative offerings.

For instance part of me has always wondered about the idea of just going away. Packing up shop and escaping somewhere completely new with a new life that has no connection to anything I know. A new country with no way for anyone to contact me, not friends or family. But now I'm wondering why.

I mean part of it is a certain sense of disillusionment with the modern world. A feeling that life's gone sideways somewhere and ended up in a place that it shouldn't. Part of it is a need to evade responsibility, a burgeoning desire to be free of everything. There is a chunk there to do with something finally happening in my life. Something worth doing. The desire to wait and see how it'll all fall squarely into my lap.

But really I think it's more to do with a dissatisfaction with myself. The desire is not to be free of other people but to be free of the decisions that I make without thinking. I want to be considered responsible. I want to be dependable. It's a major part of who I am. But I also want peace and quiet. To be left alone to live my life.

I think it's probably one of my biggest conflicts, maybe even the root of my greater problems. I'm an exuberant introvert. A shy extrovert. I've never really questioned it before, if anything I've rejoiced in my ability to be both an introvert and an extrovert - sometimes at the same time. But maybe I need to look closer at that and pick one.

For instance it's not too much of a stretch to say I'm an introvert who uses extroversion to cry for help. Neither is it much of a stretch to say that I'm an extrovert who uses introversion to see if anyone really cares. I don't think either of those is true, not really, and that I actually I lie somewhere in between.

I think I need to think about this some more.

Saturday, 25 August 2007

The rules of the game and a new name


Any good game must have rules, and if going to a new place and reinventing yourself is anything then it must be considered a game. So:

1) All entries must be handwritten in a notebook.
For now it's one that I happened to have lying around, but I think I'll try and buy a new one so that it's all contained in one place that's solely for this diary/self-exploration.

2) At least one entry must be written per week.
No exceptions. If I miss one week then I'll end up missing two and before you know it I'll have given up and got nowhere.

3) I imagine there might be people out there who find this interesting, so I might as well make it a blog.
This'll mean copying it out by hand which sounds like a good use for a Sunday evening. Although I'll probably end up transferring it to my work laptop mid-week. We'll see. But I'll be posting every Sunday at the latest.

4) All entries shall be written in London.
Except this one which is being written in Letchworth. Steve has a job interview and we're on our way up to Manchester to meet some friends from the forum. So that had better be "All entries shall be written outside of Southampton."

5) Any differences between the blog and the handbook can only be to fix spelling and grammar errors.
No editing for clarity, brevity or taste. If write something late at night whilst drunk that I wouldn't normally want people to know about then I'll just have to live with it. Be warned.

6) No falling into a set routine.
Some routine is allowed, but I should never be in the situation of having had a "normal" week. Even if it's only walking around a new port of London on a Friday afternoon then that is all I should do.

7) Try to do something that makes me nervous/scared/wary each week, or maybe month.
It doesn't have to be big, or spectacular. It can be as simple as a phone call I don't want to make. But if I'm not challenged then how will I ever get anywhere? It can be a mental/emotional/physical or spiritual challenge, but it should be new in some way.

That should do for now. We'll see, but I think this list will grow as time goes on. It's only intended as a basic, generic unbreakable set to get me going. I'll probably have to create some guidelines or something for all the other stuff. We'll see.

In fact I might have an open rule per week. That might be fun. Like be a vegetarian or tee-total for a week. That kind of thing. In fact:

8) One entry per month should be about the year in total.
This is to make sure that I don't lose sight of my goals here and settle into a malformed rut. After all setting challenges can in itself be a challenge, and being different can end up being the norm if you let it.


Last night I went to a reunion for a production of The Tempest I did ten years ago. It was done as a musical and involved a group of about thirty 16- 20 year olds. I seem to recall there were about nine weeks between the decision to do it in a pub one night and the actual production. That included writing and learning all the songs (and then re-writing one of them when it turned out the actress couldn't actually sing). In those nine weeks we basically lived in each others pockets.

The weird thing is that I got nicknamed "Cammers" during the show, which I'd completely forgotten about. It made me think about how many names I've been called over the years, and how many of those names are linked to specific periods of my life. Apart fram my family I'm pretty much universally known as Cam now, but in the past I've had such varied names as "Smelly", "Cheesegrater", "Cazymodo", "Camel" and "Ginger haired freak" or "Ginger" for short. Hell, some of them I'm still known as in some cases. There's still a group of people online who know me as 'Shu (a group of people that I'm on my way to see now with Steve).

Anyway, I think for this period I'll start being Ron. I have no idea how long that'll last (although by the looks of it not long). The only other time I've consciously decidede what I'll be called was when I became "Cam" at the start of University. That was pretty easy to do since I was already vaguely called that beforehand. I also think I'll have to stay as Cam at work - it'll be too confusing to try and explain it to them otherwise.

The thing is I've never really liked the name Ron. I've always considered it to be normal and boring. Not at all in keeping with myself. I made the mistake of telling this to a few friends a couple of years ago and so they deliberately started calling mu Ron so that I'd get over it. Maybe it worked, I'm not sure, but mainly I think I'll start using it because it feels like something of a grown up name. Maybe it always did and that was the problem I had with it.

You see being the youngest of four I was in something of an odd position. Most of my formattive years were spent with people much older than me which meant I matured a lot faster to try and match their level (it was sub-concious and I failed horribly, but I tried). However as the youngest I was the one to be protected and looked after. I was the baby, which I guess I played up to. It leaves me in a weird position where I'm both very mature and yet at the same time very immature.

Living in a hotel and carrying a work laptop around with me I've started to feel, not my age as such, more what age I am. This was compounded when I randomly buped into a friend in London who asked me if I was in town "on business". My instant reaction was that being "on business" was a terribly grown up thing and that I'd been sent to London "with work". It was almost as if work was just a friend that I happen to be on holiday with.

Words shape our thoughts and our thoughts shape the words we use, and I think I was deliberately avoiding the term "on business" to try and pretend I was still younger than I actually am. But I am living in a hotel, I do have an expense account and I am away on business. I've clung to my immaturity because I like the sense of wonder and naivity I get from it. But wonder and naivity can still exist as a grown up, so I think it's time I did grow up, and that change needs some form and shape in my head. If I at least start to think of myself as Ron then I change the thoughts I have. This in turn changes the words I use and the actions I take.

Maybe it'll be a good thing, maybe it won't, but every change to the world starts with a change to yourself and every change to myself has started with a new name and a new sense of identity. And it's got to be better than whatever sense of identity "Cammers" would bring to me now!

A marvellous beginning and a magical ending.


Today I discovered that I'll be in London for over a year now. It feels like I should chart this journey, and journey it is, hence the creation of this blog. But I should explain first.

I have a great life in Southampton which I enjoy. But that's always been about the people and not the place. Southampton doesn't fit me. It honestly never has. I enjoy my time there, I like the place, but it's not me.

My time is spent seeing friends and using my computer. The gym took up time for a while, but there are gyms everywhere. I have nothing that really ties me to Southampton. To the south coast in fact. Not since my parents moved to Scotland a year ago anyway. Just a job and some friends. The majority of my time is spent on the computer and two months ago I wiped the entire thing. Everything gone in a second. Well, a Microsoft second so really it was about an hour or so. But whatever.

I saw Sam on saturday and she suggested it was fate, or a subconscious desire. I'm happy to accept either. All I know is that it probably needed to be done. Otherwise I'd never really be free of the the machine.

But now I find myself far from home, with not just one but two mobile phones and a laptop. I have no internet connection and I have no one to call. I am free of the modern world.
For five days a week anyway.


I've started to suspect that there is something wrong with me. Some flaw buried deep in my psyche. Not too long ago I was forced to accept that there is no such thing as magic. Obvious I know, but it was still something that I hadn't really accepted before. Even now I catch myself pretending and hoping that it's not true. It's a realisation that both depresses and enlivens me.

Because there are some truths that are buried so deep, and are so obvious to us, that we never really question them. We don't even really think about them. They are such a part of us that an entire section of our self, our inner being, is based upon them. So we can't refute them because to do so would be to refute ourselves.

But sometimes something happens. It may be huge and spectacular - a raging shower of fire and blood - or it might just be a tiny moment of introspection. It could be anywhere in between. But when it does happen it forces us to pull out one of those buried truths and take a long hard look.

If we're lucky that truth is still true. If we're less lucky it's nearly true, it just requires a bit of tweaking. If we're unlucky it's plain wrong, and a piece of our personality breaks free.

There's no such thing as magic. Such a simple lie, and yet so profound to me. So much of who I am was based upon it and I didn't even realise I fundamentally believed that magic existed. All around me if I could only see it.

At first I thought that was it, I just had to accept that and let me mind settle back into a new (hopefully better) place. Unfortunately it appears that it's worse than that. You see that's not the problem. It was a problem certainly, but not the problem.

I'm not the person that I want to be. Not yet anyway. I like the person I am, but it feels transitionary. A stepping stone between here and there. I just need to get there. I want to get there, I just don't know how. Or even where there is. I still don't. And that's the journey. That's what this year is going to be about. Getting there. Or somewhere close to it. Or even just on the way to it would do.

So here I am, cut lose from my life for long chunks of time, but still tied to it. Lost in my own mind and all the many personas I've created there (more on that another time) and yet grounded in reality by the very mundanity of my job. Alone in London and yet surrounded by people - friends, family and the faceless millions. No clear goals and no way to achieve them, but a thousand possibilities if I'm willing to risk it.

The Past is Prologue, let the play begin!