As I sit here I feel the urge to write. I’m currently on a holiday from work. It’s nice. I’m currently on my fifth day. I’ve got another five days left. I’m enjoying the rest and relaxation. Turns out, I needed it more than I thought I did.
I have been doing my routine of trying to reinvent myself. I do that a lot. Especially when I get the time to reflect and immerse myself in introspection. I’m doing my “hiding away” and camouflaging myself. This usually means me abandoning social networks, uninstalling crap from my phone and everything else where I can control things.
After some research yesterday about the feelings of being overwhelmed and wanting to “disappear” from the social networks and real life it turns out that it’s part of the fight / flight mechanism that we have has humans. It makes a lot of sense. Hiding yourself away or running away from people in general is something that a lot of people feel. Personally it happens in a cycle which is going on currently.
I used to abstain from all the social networks as they are distracting and will make me feel like running away at some point in the future. This time I thought would be different but it’s not. Imagine trying to rebuild a profile over and over again every six months. It’ll be nice to really believe that this time will be the last time that a mass deletion of accounts will happen but I’m not convinced.
I’m sticking with Facebook but that’s only to keep in contact with my family.
I’ll be honest, this post is one of those posts that I just want to write.
I’ve been thinking a lot about how I use the internet and I’ve been re-evaluating it. I go through phases where I embrace the internet and every opportunity to share what I want on it. I then become overwhelmed by it. As humans we are complex and no matter how much we claim that we don’t care what people think about us, we do care. I don’t think about it much but there are times when I become aware of the fact that I’m trying to project a version of me to the world that doesn’t exist.
In simplistic terms I’m someone who likes my own company. My idea of happiness is being left alone. Modern culture confuses and annoys me yet I’m out there trying to pretend and care about what’s going on but that really isn’t the case.
I’ve had a weird 2018 so far. I’ve probably been the most ill I’ve been in ages and it’s given me the time to re-evaluate what is going on in my life. I’ve come to terms with the idea that I don’t have to do things. I’m a creative person and I feel urges to create stuff when I can but I’ve learned that it’s ok to not. There is a creation in non-creation. It’s fine to not do anything.
My cycle with the social networks have come to the point where I want to avoid them when I can. I’ve been using my mobile phone more than I’m happy with. I blame the likes of apps like Reddit, Facebook and Twitter. I embrace them then become overwhelmed by them. It’s a known cycle that I go through. It is what it is.
One of my new years resolutions was to write more. I have in my journal but not my blog. I’m a dope.
I haven’t been well again recently. I don’t know what it is but one of the side effects has been me having a very sore throat and losing my voice.
As far as I can remember I have never lost my voice before. I’ve never experienced it being painful to talk. So how can I feel better? By not talking.
I spent an entire day not talking and it was amazing. It’s strange how many times I nearly spoke but stopped myself. How often do we just chatter to ourselves? It’s crazy.
I have a new appreciation for silence. I always wanted to know if I could go long periods without speaking and I think that this might officially be the longest time I’ve gone without speaking. It’s been lovely. Idle chatter has not been with me all day. Only internally.
When people see me for the first time there are a few things that they notice. I’m quite tall, I wear glasses and I’m bald.
It doesn’t bother me that I’m bald. It’s in the genetics of my family thanks you my Grandfather. Both my brother and I have thinning hair and we’ve both decided to embrace it.
I used to be long haired with a ponytail. When I chopped it off I noticed that on top of my head, my hair was getting thin. As the years progressed it kept getting thinner. About six months ago, just after my 33rd birthday I was about to get in the shower when I had a proper look at the state of my hair. I could see my scalp. I thought “Sod it”, grabbed a razor and shaved it all off and I’ve not looked back. I thought I’d be self-conscious about it but I’m really not. In fact it made me feel more confident and in control.
I know that losing your hair can be a big deal for some men but I say “What does it matter?” When I’m joking around with people they’ll mention it and rather than getting touchy about it I’m like “And what?” When people make fun of me by calling me bald I don’t understand how I can get upset about it.
I sometimes notice other men with thinning hair and I can see them trying to cover it up and I feel a little bad for them that it obviously bothers them. I watch TV shows about men getting hair transplants or trying all kinds of expensive treatments to keep their hair for as long as they can but in reality, hair lose is part of getting older.
If you’re thinking about shaving your head, I would recommend just going for it when you’re off work for a week or two. After a couple of days it grows back. After a couple of weeks, you’ll already have hair covering your head. Don’t worry. It’s only hair.
One night I started feeling strange. I had a slightly raised temperature but I just put this down to the heating being on. I went to bed, had very disturbed night’s sleep with hella crazy dreams. I woke up the next morning still feeling hot but now nauseated. I didn’t feel well. I went to work, not really thinking much about it assuming that I’d feel better when I busied myself. Throughout that day I went through waves of feeling ill and I longed to get home to sit down and relax. When I finished work, I started walking home in the cold January air, shivering as I went.
When I got home, I told my wife that I didn’t feel hungry yet so don’t worry about dinner, I laid on the sofa, grabbed a blanket and hoped to warm up and stop shivering. Well… I didn’t for a good while. I had ignored all the signs. I was ill. As a rule, I don’t get ill
To cut most of the attention seeking stuff out, I had got Norovirus and it was very unpleasant. I had to have time off work to rest and recuperate as the Norovirus ran it’s course. As I sat around for a few days I came to appreciate the act of doing nothing. Usually if I have spare time I will write, go on the internet or read a book but I just didn’t feel like it. Instead I just watched TV. A LOT of TV. In those three days I managed to watch a series of Black Mirror, Bojack Horseman, half a dozen documentaries and it was amazing. I have never been one to watch that much TV but now I was watching hours and hours a day of it.
True, I had all this time where I could be getting on with things. I could have used that time to be productive but instead I used the time to relax*. The sky didn’t fall in. If anything, nothing had changed. I learned a valuable lesson, it’s OK to do nothing**.
* To be fair, I had to relax, I was ill.
** Another lesson was that Norovirus is really unpleasant.
This probably won’t go anywhere but you can’t blame someone for trying. Basically, I want to start an online community for people to meditate together. How am I going to do this? A hashtag.
So what is the hashtag? It’s #MeditateWithMe. The idea is very simple. When you’re about to meditate, you use the hashtag and hopefully it might encourage someone else to meditate at the same time as you, somewhere else in the world. Who knows? You might make a friend or two on the way.
As with most things, meditation can be practiced alone but it’s better as part of a community. I have practiced meditation for years but the few times I’ve done it with other people it made it feel special. If like me, you live somewhere where there isn’t really a community of people to meditate with, the internet is the next best thing!
You can follow the hashtag on Facebook here and Twitter here.
I’ve made an image for it too. It’s public domain so go for gold sharing it or whatever:
A new year is upon us and so is the feeling of wanting to start fresh. What better way to start than by taking a deep breath?
How did that feel? Did you feel silly? Well don’t. We breathe all day, every day without even thinking about it. If we take a few minutes of our day to just focus on our breath we can feel the benefits.
There is a lot of things going on around us and it’s easy to get swept away with it. We are constantly bombarded with emails, tweets, Facebook updates, Whatsapp and texts and it’s making it more difficult to actually focus on anything. By focusing on inhaling and exhaling a few times a day, we can anchor ourselves to the core experience of existence.
This is meditation. Meditation when practiced everyday can reduce stress, anxiety and depression. It can also increase well-being, attention and creativity.
Bare bones meditation is simple and can be practiced wherever you can find a comfortable place to sit. Close you eyes and start breathing. When you inhale, count one. When you exhale, count two. Do this until you reach ten. Then start over. Your mind will drift off but that’s fine. When you notice, just start counting again. I’d recommend setting a timer as well. Personally I aim to practice meditation for ten minutes a day and have felt the benefits over the years that I’ve done it.
There are apps out there to help with meditation. A fantastic app is “Headspace“. I’ve used it for a while and it offers more than just meditation. It also helps directly with thoughts and feelings you have. (“Headspace” is a subscription based service and I feel awkward suggesting it but it is great! It offers guided meditations which are awesome.) There are also simple apps but don’t pay too much for them. At a base level, all you need is a timer.
There is a certain amount of stigma attached to meditation that needs to be shaken off. Not all of us who practice meditation are hippie-types, we don’t walk around barefoot with our heads in the clouds with a distant “far off look” in our eyes. Some do but it’s not a requirement.
Please give it a go. At least you can say you tried.
Did you know that there are other places online to buy stuff that isn’t Amazon? Well there are a host of places that exist, they pay their fair share of tax and they treat their staff like human beings. The downsides are that there isn’t as much on offer, sometimes it can cost more and can take longer to arrive but at least you know that you’re being more ethical.
A quick disclaimer though: I am not getting paid nor am I getting any remuneration for sharing the following links.
7digital is where you can go to get your digital music from. There are mobile phone apps too. Not as big as a selection as iTunes, Google Play and Amazon but still my preferred way of getting music.
The Wordery is where I pretty much exclusively buy books from. Sometimes they’re actually cheaper than places like Amazon and you also get a free bookmark with each purchase which comes in handy!
Hive is slightly different from other online stores. They give a percentage of each transaction to an independent shop on the high street. You can buy DVDs, Blurays, books, vinyl as well as a bunch of other stuff.
Did you know that Oxfam has an online shop where it sells stuff you can get in their charity shops? Could you get more ethical than actually supporting a charity through your purchases?
This isn’t a comprehensive list of online retailers who are more ethical than Amazon but it’s a start. I will keep updating this as I find more.