Updated: Jun 14, 2020
Over the last few days I've been pondering what to write next. Also I have been attempting to rest the old brain, because I know full well the amount of work that lays ahead of me for the upcoming masters post grad. However this morning I decided that I had to write this blog. It's been festering for some time, and I recalled a conversation months ago where a friend suggested that he couldn't write, because he had writers block. "thats fine" said I "write about writers block" And I find myself this morning at the emotive equivalent of writers block. So here is a Stubbornly optimistic blog about the diligence of of a depressive optimist. All my life I have wondered "how does that work?" and at various times between the ages of 5- 45 I've turned that question towards lego sets, bicycles, engines, eco systems, people, politics and passion. It's these last 4 that have concerned my life since '97, ever since I realised that people create their own virtual "eco systems", which of course we call politics, passion, principles, networks, friend groups, and all manner of other things, and I have to admit that on occasion my life long interest in "how things work" when applied to people leaves me thoroughly demoralised, disgruntled and yes depressed. Greta Thunberg, a young girl schooling grown people in positions of power on the larger implications of our collective impact on our planet, and the seemingly baffling intransigence to our culpability on that front is staggering. Trump, and Johnson, two shining examples of how shit floats to the top of some of our eco systems, stand in solidarity with the wealthy and un principled, breaking every rule and convention they deem nessersary to bring about their vision of a future. That future being one where Greta Thunberg's are not heard, and everyone "knows their place". Theirs of course being at the top.
Still more the issues faced by LGBT individuals around the world, and people using twisted versions of our greatest assets, accumulated knowledge and science, the ability to enquire into our own nature, to at best disenfranchise or at worst kill, those who live or love in a way that they deem unworthy. Then of course there is my love of philosophy, and it has been said that philosophy can make you depressed, not least because it throws up yet more complexity and seemingly un-penetrable questions, with few definitive answers. And finally there's my own lived reality. Formerly a Soldier, and professional with a career that although not a shining example of high flying arrow straight success, did afford me some considerable fiscal and social capital for a time. Now very much diss enabled with little of either. There are times when my past and present selves and their situations collide in my head and the resultant explosion of what I must unsatisfactorily describe as anger at the ethical injustices is extremely unpleasant. It was one small but significant collision last night that prompted this blog, whilst at an LGBT (SOGI) fund raiser, and the question of international's representation was raised, in various places including Iraq. Immediately on unexpectedly hearing the word, I was back, in uniform, another time, another place, and yes another face. Was I really there? or was that a dream? I mean here I am sat in a pub in newcastle and I'm back at the COB in Basra airport, dust, Desert DPM, and Duty. Don't misunderstand me here. I loved my job, and although many of us had political reservations, service is just that, so we went. Nor is this a "bombs and bullets" PTSD story. But given how much I was willing give the forces and how much I did give, up to their betrayal, at moments like that I cannot help but wonder, what was it all for? So this morning, as I am sat typing, I am acutely aware that I'm in a dark place, and at time when life is putting such opportunity before me! Academic success and perhaps monetary ability is just out of reach ahead and all I need to do is keep going, not give up, and advance confidently in the direction of my dreams in order to attain what was once already mine. A life with purpose. But there is this niggling question. "why?" Humanity is stubbornly stupid, for all the reasons I've outlined above, and as I have said before Stubbornly Optimistic is an affirmation to have faith in the ability and potential of people and humanity, despite their repeated, successful and constant attempts to provide evidence to the contrary. Why bother? No one cares. They, all these other people, like me just want to be able to buy shit, go places, and do things that make them feel good. who was it that said: "We buy things we cannot afford with money we don't have to impress people we dont like, to get the job we dont want, to get money we dont need" which we then use to buy things we cannot afford.... and so on. Of course depression has it own narrative, no less subjective than happiness or contentment. Oh contentment, the anathema to change and innovation. "I'm all right so why do things need to change just cos others ain't, thats their problem" Depression is waking up at 0530 having gone to be at 0130 and getting up .. whilst thinking oh shit I'm awake again, and here comes another empty day where I can do nothing, be no one and achieve nowt. It is wanting to listen to music but being unable bear the twee, sickening lyrics all about happy shit and relationship crap. Searching your music library for songs that make you feel worse but validate your anger at a world that refuses to see you. It's searching through your DVD collection for a film you haven't seen knowing you have watched em all, and choosing none. It's feeling like you're less than you could have been and endlessly being confronted with images from the world at large of that person you might have become. Again another quote, though I dunno who by, "hell is meeting the person you would have become if only you'd made better choices" In one of my podcasts it was said that the opposite of depression is not happiness, but vitality. And I can't agree more, depression is a thief. it will steal your time, interest, compassion, joy, and friends. It will reduce you to a level where even a kind word and hug from someone unexpectedly results in tears. An endless, inescapable game of snakes and ladders that your sick of and don't want to play. laughing at you as you slide down the snake for the umpteenth time, arriving at the bottom of a ladder you've climbed before and now have to climb again, But what to do? George Lucas suggested to us that our focus determined our reality, and this is true, at least from a certain point of view. A stoic resolve and acceptance of the mental weather can help the voyage pass more smoothly, until one reaches calmer mental waters, In my case you write a blog, this one. Honest & candid and yes depressing. I remain optimistic that you dear reader will see my intent here. To create a catharsis for self, whilst recording a resource for those who struggle such that they may know they are not alone. Simultaneously taking a depressive day and making it useful, whilst turning my greatest annoyance into something positive. Knowledge. Thereby circumventing the depressive process, because "I AM NOT GOING TO GIVE UP"
I said I "was" a soldier. but I AM a veteran. What does that mean? It means I have experience of just how far I can push me. It means I've seen places, and experienced situations and emotions that thankfully many civilians never will. It means I know just how tenacious my character is, Cycling. That thing that I credit with saving my sanity when I returned to the north east, a prematurely birthed veteran. If you've ever watch the pro racers you'll see the climbers usually say that the winner at the top is the one who can "suffer most". I know how much I can suffer to get shit done.
When one cannot effect change in the now, and if one is stuck in that situation for any protracted length of time, it all to easy to fall into the "I cant do that " mentality. But although I may have ended up here as a result of the choices I've made in life. Those choices also gave me access to experiences that have made me into a person who KNOWS they can overcome. and who refuses to give up.
Others may come to these realisations in their own way, through whatever means, be they real or artificial. but the effort, focus and due diligence is the same. To know your limits you have to find them. For many they remain untestable by reality, so they do what they can to discover what they must.
Not so in my case. Is that ego? or self assurance? I'd probably say the latter which in itself might confirm the former, but either case leads to faith in one's proven ability. In this case, ability to write a blog as the sun comes up and you climb a metaphorical ladder out of the darker reaches of your mind, towards a brighter self.
All the best,