Accepting Stories

It no longer surprises me when I meet someone and instantly think “Yep, I want to get to know you better.” It’s also no longer surprising to me how often this happens.

There’s a common saying about luck: luck has to find you before it can bless you. The more chances you give it to find you, the more times it does. The more I actively look for and take chances, the luckier I am.
It doesn’t stop me thinking I’m useless with people and will never get with the sort of people I’m worth.
I’m reading another self-help book, and this one seems decent. It was recommended to me by my counselor. It’s called “The Happiness Trap” and it makes a shit ton of sense.
I won’t go into too much detail – that’s what the book is for – but something that’s resonating with me is the view that our thoughts are just reactions. Our thoughts are just stories and words reacting to the stimulation around us. They are not the truth. They do not predict the future. And they aren’t always helpful.
Because I have the thought that I’m useless with people, I try hard when it comes to people I like. I obsess over their reactions and play with infinite ideas for dates and jokes and sex. It’s all a waste of time and energy.
Because – in all my arrogant humility – I know I’m good. I know I’m worth it. And that’s a helpful thought.
I received a letter from my father the other day. It made me so angry. It took me a while to realise that, actually, it only made me feel so angry. Realising that stole all the energy from my anger and allowed me to look at what was causing it.
This letter is the second time he’s ever told me he’s proud of me.
The first time was at my school’s final ball. At that stage in my life, I didn’t like wearing nice clothes, believed sex was for marriage and thought dancing was stupid. I’d been feeling my then girlfriend’s pussy and arguing with myself whether marriage required a church or not. I was also dressed in the most ludicrously-fitted suit to ever drape a body. I didn’t want to go to the stupid ball and listen to stupid speeches by stupid jocks about the stupid friends they’d made at the stupid school, and I definitely didn’t want to do any stupid dancing: I wanted to stay at the hotel and make out.
My girlfriend decided that sex was only for marriage and vanished herself to the bathroom. My father’s impeccable timing led to him knocking at the door to help me with my tie – school taught me nothing other than how to climb trees.
I was quite distracted. My mind was in a large amount of “what the [non-offensive swear-word]?”. I felt queasy and guilty and lost and horny and my father pulled me into a bear hug and with a tear-filled voice whispered “I’m so proud of you.”
It was about then that I started to realise I didn’t give a fuck.
I didn’t tell him this. I awkwardly hugged him back and said thanks. I noticed he was crying. It was the second time I’d ever seen him cry. The first was when his father died. We’d loaded the wood-shrouded body into the car together. We turned and my gran was stumbling out of the church, her face wrenched into a grimace of grief as the boot door hid her soulmate’s body. I looked at her face through my soaking tears and all I could think was “she looks hilarious.”
I wanted to laugh. I wanted to burst out laughing at the sheer stupidity of it all. Behind me, I heard what sounded like my dad laughing. I turned in horrid wonder, a grin spinning onto my face, but he was crying.
I realise something about my father: to him, family is everything.
It’s not to me.
I hate this seven-page letter. I can’t write anymore.
——
And that’s not a helpful thought. I wrote everything above five days ago. This post has been sitting on my screen since then, reminding me I need to write. It just hurts so much. So I kept reading the book.
It offered some new ideas.
Driving analogies work best for me.
Taking a corner at speed requires a subliminal balance of traction and angle. The better the angle, the less correction, the less traction needed. The less traction, the less resistance, the higher the speed.
It’s all pointless if you enter the corner backwards.
The state of your car before the corner is vital. It must be steady, balanced, perfectly paced and perfectly lined. The better the entry, the less fiddling in the corner, the faster the exit.
To better myself, I need to accept who I am now. I cannot move through the next corner successfully without being at peace with all the things inside me.
It feels like I came out of the last corner correcting crazily, feet blurring in a panic on unresponsive pedals as I saw at the wheel. I’m still not back in control, I’m still gripless and lost but I have time. The next few corners look simple and unmentionable. I don’t know what comes next, but I have the time to accept me before it comes.

Autumn Dyes

Chef was nice. I’m talking about a movie by the way. A movie about a chef, surprisingly. It has the worst starting dialogue in a movie ever. I was considering falling asleep when I heard it. Then it ended. So I stayed awake.

I was glad.

It is – quite simply – the story of a chef who quits his job to do what he loves. And that’s pretty much it. There was no conflict. There was no critical point. It was simply the story of someone who gave not a shit about money, did what they loved and accepted help from those who offered. It was the story of being genuine.

It was the absolute perfect antithesis to a tumultuous weekend.

Nothing in particular went wrong. There were just things. Little, insignificant, immemorable moments that – on the face – seemed positively average, yet added up to a desecrating anger.

Anger is often described as a fire, as something hot that burns or smoulders. It feels more like a stone to me. A sharp, heavy boulder that weighs everything down. I scream and pound it with all the energy I possess in a futile attempt to budge it and it simply remains, holding me down. Immovable.

For the last month, it’s been ever present. And every time a stress or complication adds to this ginormous weight I flail uselessly against it, daring it to stay, begging it to move, crying for it to disintegrate. It simply remains.

And I don’t know what happened last night. But something in that simple movie chipped a little sliver off that mountain and it dipped¬†infinitesimally in weight. It was just that little bit lighter. Something cracked, something fell and I suddenly realised that, actually, it’s going to be ok.

I love winter. If I could choose for every day to be one season, I’d choose the fractured skies and broken temperatures of winter. I’d choose stark trees and warm jackets and fires in the early dark. I’d choose the answer “Brr, cold” to the polite asking “how are you?”

But Autumn is my absolute favourite.That sensual little nip in the air, the abundance of sweating scarfs and the burning trees. It is beautiful because it is fleeting: everything is but a promise of what is to come. The scene before me will not repeat for a year. Tomorrow is completely different from today.

I know everything will be ok because today I stopped as I walked and stared at the burgundy fire that fed upon a tree. And though the dog pulled in the direction of tantalizing smells, though people hit the grass to walk past, I stayed and stared and I smiled. I hadn’t quite noticed it’s autumn. I hadn’t quite noticed the fleeting beauty around me. I hadn’t quite noticed just how lucky it is to be me.

$1000 flight

My car has an unsightly dent in its face.

It’s quite distinctive now. You can see people dismiss it the moment they see it – unless the lights are on. Pop up lights are fucking awesome.

I discovered recently that – for some unbeknownst reason – the value of a Mazda Astina has risen. Every other car I’ve been looking at has dropped over the last two months. The Astina has gone from an average $1400 to an average $1600.

I could fix my car and sell it for a resulting $1000. Which, as I discovered on Sunday night, is more than enough for a one way ticket to the UK, leaving next Wednesday.

I dislike stuff and clutter. Some of it is necessary. But, if I were to leave, I could sell it all fast. Easily. Not perhaps for an accurate value, but for something. Enough, totaled, for a base in the UK.

A fresh start. A new beginning. To no longer deal with all this crap. To simply say “This is no longer my problem, bye bye.”

To no longer have nights substituting crap games and bbw porn for intimacy and sleep. To no longer wake and long for sleep. To no longer spend evenings knowing one drink would calm me, but one drink won’t end. To no longer fall asleep, exhausted, with wet pillows and twisted blankets.

To spend days smiling, not hiding fears and worries and regrets and anger. To write without wrestling words away from their emotions. To work without calculating how much exactly I can actually use.

When told, Someone simply stated “Well go. You have nothing stopping you.”

But there is something stopping me: Me.

I can’t run away from problems.

Not simply because running away never works. Not simply because it’ll make bigger problems. Not simply because the easiest solution is seldom the best.

But because I couldn’t be me if I did.

To run away and “start afresh” would have one intention: finding myself. Losing myself in order to find me is rather circular and a waste of time. Ultimately, 5 years down the line, I’ll be in a similar situation facing similar problems with similar escapes. The only difference: It’ll be five years too late.

I’ve been told I’m “too soft”. I think I’ve been told that so many times it might make a good tattoo – strategically placed. I’m too soft, apparently, because I’ll keep taking shit from people and just deal with it. Or, try to. When there’s little but shit my way it becomes a bit difficult to deal with it all – one pile at a time please. It makes it hard to see sexy people too.

This is something I distinctly dislike about myself. And yet it’s been something that’s true of me for a little over 25 years. Every time I try to change it, it ends up rearing it’s head in another, sneaky way.

I realise now it’s because I can’t be me if I’m not…accepting? Perhaps that is a better phrase than “too soft”.

Happiness is often linked to selfishness – “You can’t be happy if you don’t look after yourself.” I completely agree with that – “me first” is an ideal required to be your best. I add to it though.

Instead of simply saying “Do what makes you happy”, I tell myself “Do what makes you happy without impairing others’ happiness.”

It switches the focus. Instead of an immediate, almost gratuitous, happiness, it looks at a long-term happiness – a happiness that supersedes the current time and plans for tomorrow.

A friend told me – and I’ve mentioned this before – that “you can’t find happiness. It doesn’t exist as a place or object. You need to make it. Create Happiness.”

Like any creative work, it doesn’t happen overnight. It isn’t easy. You don’t (or at least, I don’t) create a book by starting with a book.

I start with an idea. A story. The plan, the overview. A bit of research takes place, attempting to find places where I might encounter problems.

That’s the easy bit. There’s still no book.

Then the writing begins. At first it seems easy: x number of words? Simple. You just press 6x keys. At y keys an hour, that’ll only take 6x/y hours and then the book is done!

But no.

Because the words have to come from somewhere. They have to be carefully extracted from the contents of your thoughts, stripped of personal emotion and sewn into a volatile narrative.

And hell, that hurts. But finally, you’re done. There is a story, written down with your words. It’s wonderful. Masterful.

But just a draft.

Editing is worse. Editing is reading over your scars and deciding that they don’t add to the story, so they have to go. Editing is finding a scene that dripped down your face as you wrote and finding it lacking in emotion.

Editing is what finally makes a novel worth reading.

But you’re still not done.

There’s cover design, beta reading, publicising, re-editing, re-researching…it begins to feel like there is no such thing as an end. Bookshops, libraries and authors in Porsches prove otherwise.

But there is no ending to happiness. There is no point where you stop and say “Wow! I’m happy! I can’t stop now.”

You simply have to carry on.

The first step isn’t the easiest. The first step is looking at yourself and saying “Hey, I love you.With all your faults and idiosyncrasies. I think you’re awesome, just the way you are – and no one knows you better than me.”

And I can’t take that step with a $1000 ticket. I can’t take that step by running away. I take that step by stopping, turning, taking another blow on the cheek and knowing I’m going to be ok.

———

A post really worth reading: 30 things to  stop doing to yourself.

 

(Also: this has got to be the first post ever to mention bbws, cars, math and writing)