Your coffee contemplation today:

“In a mutually interdependent world, none of us has absolute control over everything we choose to do. You are either being influenced by others or exerting influence simply by being who you are.”

I think it’s a curious exercise to reflect on who you’re being influenced by and who you’re influencing without even realising it.

Can you ever really have an original thought? Or is everything a remix? And if so, how can you use that to boost your creativity?

Hat tip

Here we go, back in the game after a week’s worth of holiday. I need to unpack my time away, but the quick story is, we did a week-long camping tour, changing campsites every few days.

We started off in Skegness, then headed north to the North York Moors for a few days, then headed east from there to the Yorkshire Dales for 3 nights before heading south and home just ahead of the nightmare Bank Holiday traffic.

The highlight for me was the time spent in the Yorkshire Dales. We stumbled upon a great campsite just above Bolton Abbey. We were surrounded by rolling hills and cows.

One of my favourite things about camping is waking up at dawn to watch the sunrise (on the days it wasn’t raining or overcast (and there were a few)). I usually read in the mornings, but on this trip, I mostly just watched the sun come up while slowly sipping my coffee and doing some deep thinking and reflecting.

That tends to happen when I reach another birthday (I turned 51 on this trip). Instead of making New Year’s Resolutions in January, I think it’s more appropriate to make New Year resolutions on your birthdate, it is after all your true “new” year.

I got to thinking about how I want 51 to be different from 50. The truth is I didn’t have huge revelations, just a refining of previous themes like getting obsessive about physical fitness again. While I do workout most days, it’s usually only for about an hour, which is better than nothing, but when you consider the rest of my day is pretty much spent on my ass staring a screen, an hour doesn’t cut it.

I want to adopt some of Mark Sission’s Primal Blueprint ideas which are based on the Palaeolithic rules of living 10,000 years ago which is basically:

1. Eat lots of animals, insects, and plants.

2. Move around a lot at a slow pace.

3. Lift heavy things (hehe my favourite thing to do)

4. Run really fast every once in a while (I’ll struggle with this given that my knee is kaput at the moment)

5. Get lots of sleep (I’ll have to incorporate napping to make this happen considering I only sleep about 5 hours night).

6. Play.

7. Get some sunlight every day (speaking of which, I better hurry up and get out of this Starbucks and catch some rays before I head back to the office).

8. Avoid trauma.

9. Avoid poisonous things.

10. Use your mind.

The basic goal, as Mark sums it up, is to be healthy, energetic, happy, lean, strong, bright, and productive.

Worthy goals for sure.

Time out in nature reminded me of how much I miss being out amongst the mountains and trees. I don’t get out in the wilds anywhere near the amount I used to do. I cite work as the negative influence, but that wouldn’t be a fair assessment. I’m the real culprit for not making the time to take to the hills. So my commitment this birth year is to embrace nature with a stronger faith.

Once upon a time, my outings were focused purely on the physical. How far could I push myself? How fast could I climb? Then for a time, it was spiritual. I’d go to the mountains to disappear into myself and become one with Nature. And now, I’m returning with the intention of exploring natural history and perhaps even a little transcendentalism.

So these are just a few of the things I want to do with year 51.

 

I had to come down off the crest of the hill. It was getting dark and the hounds would soon be released. The speckled purple shadows behind me lengthened.

A dog howls, it’s not dark yet. I lengthen my stride.

I could hear my brother now, he would be talking about tanks and how their treads tear up the European mud in the Fall. The boy is obsessed with mud. I’ve known him to strip totally naked and go lie down in a mud puddle for hours.

More grainy pictures flood my mind.

I remember there was a gun, small caliber. We didn’t dare talk about it. My sister captured every five minutes of my panic. I was wearing dark blue pajamas and hopping around on one foot.

If you get caught…

All eyes on me, the faces peer from the shadows, leaning in to get a closer look, I notice faces from my past. Uncle Pete, who raced swan boats on the Boston Common. My cousin Sibyl, who, wanting to know what it was like to a kiss a boy, kissed me instead, pretending she was teaching me how to kiss a girl. My aunt Faith used to masturbate to Christian Rock. All you could hear from her room was Jesus, oh God, Jesus.

She sat with someone else on the carousel that night. I wanted to ask her about her red painted fingernails and the French beans she was so fond of eating when it rained, but the brass sprinklers caused a distraction, getting everybody wet. Your loss, I said. My gain, you pervert, she said back. I didn’t know what to do with that.

I stood up and went to the window. I’m only trying to help, I said.

Why don’t we have our last meal together? Forget all this talk about families and travels and girlfriends and pointed daggers. Your physical body soothes me. Eyes like Orange Crush, with hair too match.

A vague mist floats in. heads nod.

Every girl I’ve ever met became my tormentor. Over the years, I learned to bare their torment stoically, which led to orgasmic dreams, a small price to pay for middle-class privilege.

I should take another happy pill and forget about her.

At breakfast, they took away my donuts.

 

WB: Of course you’re mad. Why do you think they’ve gone through such lengths to confine you to the back pages of the Internet. If your ideas got out and went viral, it would be the death of nations.

SC: And so what, the people have a right to know, a right to decide for themselves.

WB: Please, don’t be so naive.

 

 

When you were younger did you ever have the feeling that you were headed for great things once you finished high school and headed off to university or into the world? Or did you feel like everyone else, but you, was headed for something great? And let me ask you this: at what point did you ‘jump track’ and realised after many years wasted, you were on the wrong track to begin with?

I got a chance to catch up with my friend Naomi on the phone today. It’s been an easy while since I last had any contact with her. Her face has cropped up from time to time on my social feeds, but that’s about it.  I like out of the blue calls like this. They’re interesting because you both have to fill in the gaps of time which causes you to reflect on what exactly you’ve been up to in the intervening time. 

Naomi is hardcore Gen X. She’s kind of on social, but not really into it. I think it’s FOMO, more than anything else’s, that spurs her on.

 Her go-to social is FB which, of course, according to marketing stats, is the place most Gen Xers hangout. My guess is FB reminds them of the old walled garden days of AOL. I have a love-hate relationship with the Face of Book. I much prefer Twitter, but if I want to reach people who fall in the same demographic as I do, then Facebook is the place to do that statistically. 

And just to be totally random with you, I bought one of these reusable Starbucks flasks…

the other day because I am determined to move more and Starbucks is the furthest coffee shop from where I work most weekdays. Gotta get those extra steps in, especially as I’m banned from my beloved weights. But we make do with what we have.

Oh, I didn’t get the all-clear from the doc today. Looks like my hand is being stubborn. For some reason, it keeps over granulating which isn’t allowing the wound to close up so it can get on with the business of healing.

I wrote a flash fiction piece this evening, but won’t post it yet until I’ve seen it in the light of day.

I enjoyed the process.

So Toni Morrison has passed on to the afterlife, wherever or whatever that is. Obama dropped a nice tribute tweet to her in a more eloquent way than I could do.

Obama, ever the great orator. Many were singing his praises as he stepped up and gave a presidential condolence to the people of El Paso, something our current chief doesn’t seem capable or willing to do. 

My memories of El Paso are from a distance as I looked across the New Mexican desert at the shimmering lights of El Paso. I used to dream about escaping my Ranger School misery and disappearing into the city.

My jaw seems to be continually on the floor in shock at the state of madness we find ourselves in these days. The Chinese curse is most apt – may you live in interesting times they said – and boy do we live in interesting times. The rise of populist governments has me shaking in my boots a little bit. Politically the world is becoming more dangerous. There’s too much ‘you’re either with us or against us’ rhetoric going on. People are becoming tribal again and squaring off for war.

My broken body is slowly on the mend. I limped a little less today. I’m off to the doc tomorrow to see about my hand. I doubt that she’ll clear me as one of the wound holes has not completely closed yet and is still leaking out. It’s been 3 1l2 weeks now, when will it end?

Broken though I maybe, I’m back in motion again, so that’s good. I’ve captured some good sunsets over the last two days out on my evening walks (my only form of exercise at the moment as the gym is off limits until I get the all-clear from the doc).

Fields of Southam
View from St James Church, Southam

I started reading the Alexander Hamilton biography that inspired the musical. Ron Chernow is a great storyteller.  I love narrative history books. They really bring the his-tory alive.  And Hamilton is such an interesting character. I’m looking forward to taking a deep dive into his life.

It’s amazing how much of life is routine.

I guess it has to be, otherwise we’d have chaos and chaos doesn’t make for good productivity and effeciency. Robert Spencer calls these routines power sinks as expressed by our habits – habits of being, habits of thinking, habits of doing, habits of feeling and habits of perceiving. But according to Spencer, these kinds of habits rob us of our power.

While they make our lives efficient, they also make our lives pretty dull.

If I compare my today with my yesterday, it’s pretty much the same. I drove the same route to and from work. And so far, I’ve sat at the same desk, done the same type of work, followed by a walk to Sainsbury’s for lunch at Starbucks. The variables – I had an egg sandwich instead of chicken, and a lemon-lime drink instead of a raspberry-blackcurrant drink. The coffee was the same in the same black thermos. I sat inside today instead of outside. Some of the people were different, some were the same (we’re creatures of habit after all and eat lunch more or less at the same time and there are only a handful of food options within walking distance of this office complex and industrial estate.

My thoughts were variations of the same handful of themes I think a lot about.

Perhaps I should start dicing again to breakup the monotony of my routines with randomness and chance.

Invite the gods of chaos into my life.

I felt a bit scrappy this morning along with an incredible urge to walk around naked. There must have been something in my coffee to trigger a primal reaction.

Having watched Hamilton over the weekend, I now have the soundtrack on repeat in Spotify. Particularly the lead track Alexander Hamilton, also My Shot, Ten Duel Commandments, and Non-stop.  I admire people like Hamilton – people who are driven to a fault. They know what they want and are willing to move heaven and earth to get it.

Me, I’m way too laid back for that. I’m more of the Jimmy Buffet type in Margaritaville wearing my flip-flops and strumming my six-string.

Years ago I stumbled across this statement and question: It’s your life, what are you going to do with? Today, I contemplated this. I’m only a few weeks away from my birthday and I was wondering what am I going to do with the rest of my life?

I had the good fortune to witness this sunset tonight:

I must make time for more of these.