And this is a long post.
A good, no a great friend of mine just passed his 50th birthday. Just being relative of course as that was coming up to two years ago. He often comments on my not letting things get me down too much. I am of course very happy to hear this.
I am now sitting here reflecting that this comment creates an image of his own being somewhat down on life’s moment.
Christmas is a seriously depressing season for many. Is it a ‘season?’ With the continually stretching dates with which Christmas goods are displayed and Yuletide cheer is projected within all forms of media, yes. It qualifies as a season in itself.
Within winter there is another season.
I’m not sure of Vivaldi‘s take on this. Feel free to ask him?
Ah, considering my next paragraph that is not the best of my suggestions. Better still feel even freer to tell me what you think.
I was once told that Christmas is the period of year in which suicide rates are at their highest.
I do not like the line preceding yet I’ll leave it for comparison.
It would surely be, more connected to the people dying, losing loved ones and in any way affected to write, . . more people commit suicide . .
‘Suicide rates’ is well, a statistical reference. It takes the person out of the situation. Words should be chosen carefully. They are a great tool and a weapon of mighty destructive potential.
I shudder a little and shake my head, at least metaphorically when I hear somebody refer to the dead as, somebody we ‘lost’. I always want to ask if they ever found them again! It’s a choice of words and sticks and stones can break bones but names should never hurt? If you read this and think I’m an insensitive four letter fuck wit who doesn’t know …. My mother died of cancer when I was thirteen. My father suffered from clinically diagnosed depression and made a couple of attempts to cry for help when cutting his wrists before silently sliding away with an overdose. Did he mean to? Your guess is as good as any.
The statistics apparently, according to all the research that I have skimmed through, do not back up this belief. If I found anything of significance it is from a credible New Scientist Journal showing an increase in the number of suicides after the New Year. When all the parties die down? (Not the best of unintentional puns. Noticed when editing yet left.) When people go back to their daily being? When the fear of over spending, over indebtedness, over eating, obesity, over indulgent drunkenness and an alcohol dependency? All reasons, given reason can get too great?
My friend was born on December the 24th. He is a private chef. He has been a chef since his teens. This is what he has always done. He creates some incredible gastronomical productions. (Or does he produce creations? Both..)
It is, for each family and anybody catering for anybody a busy time of year. It is at it’s very busiest for those catering for the stars who can afford; where each meal is a banquet. Where each has to be planned, critiqued, approved, bought for, prepared, presented..
He works seven days a week, for months on end. And in this busiest of times comes Christmas. No Christmas off. No family time. No part in any of the nice end of the festive cracker. Then, with no time to sit among the people that make him feel of value and wallow in a moments self indulgence he has his birthday. What a time to say, hey guys hang on a minute I know that you are all with your families and some of you (like me) have a whole sled load of work to do. Let’s all pause and let me celebrate me being me, me knowing you. .
Some of us find that easier than others. Each year, on my birthday, I want to thank all of the people who have played a part in my year, my life.
Last year (this year) was different but that’s for another post. The update post, like many, partly written. It’s the small part that is in draft and like this one, there are so many tangents. Moving back, back awaaayyy from the tangent!
Where were we?
My friend: Working too much, too many hours, too many consecutive days. Too many of all of the above away from home, in a foreign land where the social circle changes each year so not really knowing anybody.
There we are another avenue in Tangent town, the level, depth with which we know the people we share ‘our’ worlds with. Is it knowing them or them knowing us that allows us our self-image creation? Do we create our self-image or do our perceptions of others opinions? WHO are those others? How well do we really know them and them us and around we go. In Switzerland I am Johnny. This is my preferred version of my name. In the UK I rest just John. It’s a simple example but how much do we change dependant on the environment? Our ability to paint a new picture? How much is real and how much paint?
All focus on work and a possible five-minute superficial chat with a random girl behind the local bar if he finishes early enough. With no immediate family and no greater purpose beyond, beyond doing what you have to do to earn the next; drink at the bar? You can truly love your work. It can be extremely creative and expressive. Like all things in nature, nature needs a balance.
Me personally, I do nothing most days. Unable to work (Update post in draft) and being fed by the Swiss social system. That is hardly the balance I was alluding to is it?
Nothing, like too much of one thing limits creative rapport. With time on my hands I should find my own. Spend more time at my lap top exploring words that I love to use in the effort to use more of them in a better way.
(Now that would be a reasonable example of a balance. More, in a wider variety, with more tuned meaning giving a better sound to more appropriate words way. Leading to more direct? Better described, better summarised.. sentences? Less can be more?)
Yet the feeling of need of contact takes me to Starbucks and three coffee’s, 20 chf later my pockets empty, my resolve not to buy ….. my need to involve myself, my inability not to say, fuck it and go with the moment? Or a need for material comforts? I’ll go now, to a bar and buy a glass of wine to drink slowly whilst I read my book. Amongst others, no need to talk.
Life lived by each day as it arrives is a freeing notion. Life lived too poor to put any plan past being more frugal, involving myself less with the life of any others, even and especially hamburgers, glasses of wine or Starbuck’s coffee‘s amongst strangers. That is a lifestyle of the frivolous and a habit that I am straining to break out of. Breaking a habit that I do not wish to is simply depressing.
I cheer myself up with the clear understanding of others in far worse situations and know that for me it could be far worse. When all morality fails I take a crutch and depress myself through apathy, nonchalance and any effort to excuse myself.
What difference for my friend who works all the hours all the days? He can afford the drink and to talk or not, to spend his free ‘moments’ spending. So the difference? He participates a bit more – if you consider the opportunity of free time frequency curve. His participation is a more involved quality level? He’s paying for it. Yet there is less of it. Less in quantity giving less opportunity for quality exposure? How free is it? Free to me at what cost?
There are always others who need. I spend time passing many on the street. I stop and talk and I give something as much as I can and show some value I hope. For there for the grace of God go I. If you are always at work you do not have this exposure and ‘charity begins at home’ is a phrase that had to originate (as a defensive remark) from somebody working their butt off not feeling that they were in receipt of quite enough to feel secure?
So my friend gives. To his sister, to me! To any of his friends in need and to every lady who flutters her eyelids? Amongst others needs are our own. That is not (as it intentionally appears) a comment on his needs and ladies. What is giving and receiving all about?
Usefulness, value, worth, a role, doing the right thing….self justification in our existence. Our individual self-image..?
Being us, the individual. That same self-image doesn’t make it selfish.
We do not go through this whole discussion as here, examining our values, excusing our inabilities, justifying our actions before deciding what to do in a situation.
Our learning creates habits, ways of being, these are or become our values. At many points our intrinsic values can be challenged by the world around us. If there is not enough challenge from the world, do we challenge our own? Do our habitual ways become deeper ingrained?
Where are we going here? Where is he in his seasonal slide to a low point? Thirty plus years of habits. A knock in life, a n other (spacing intentional) relationship gone wrong, an event such as losing your driving licence that seriously effects your daily habits called life. What does it take to slip down on to a low?
These things bring questions and sometimes these questions necessitate change. Most often we cling to our habits. Mine is red wine (there are others but that one is the socially questionable.) I like red wine. A glass takes the edge off of the feelings of uncertainty. Two glasses and I no longer worry, in my moment, about having enough money to pay my bills or eat. Three glasses and I’m hungry, wanting to offer company for my feel good taste buds. A glass of wine can easily cost 7 chf. Even more than a Starbuck’s coffee. So I justify a ten or twelve franc bottle. I’m saving money! Then the bottle has gone. I’m tired now, not tired enough to sleep but moving towards there, if only there was some more wine. Hunger floods and ebbs..worry about the money that I’ve spent doesn’t come until after I’ve slept. I’m not drunken and aggressive. (I have been and that, yet again is another tangent turning onto a wide avenue.) I’m mellow, numbed and guarded from the reality that returns after sleep.
Each time I tell myself that I will stop drinking. I rationalise and return to my habitual crutch telling myself that it’s alright there are so many worse scenarios.
What will it take as a life change for me?
I have a good friend now in his second in-patient treatment attempt to clean him of addictions. I have never reached the stage of having the physical need of any substance (bar oxygen and water) to go through the day but again, there for the grace of God go I.
What will it take as a life change for me?
This post is not taking the exact direction that it set out to. Yet if you read this I have woken tomorrow and decided to keep it. Even finish and post it. It’s a quarter past three and I’m reaching tired. Not wine assisted. (Though I’ve drunk three glasses in the past nine hours. I allow this as a measure that I do not need.) I know it to be true. I do not need. But I’ll take that easier option when available.
I can walk unaided but if there is a crutch . .
What will it take as a life change?
Coincidentally? This time last year, when my friend lost his licence he wanted to kill himself. This conversation took place in his car.
I questioned the importance of that one thing, compared his feelings to the most serious break up he’d had that left him so much debt. To his previously failed business that again, left so much debt. To the struggles that he been through and come out the other side. His response was to want to drive off of a mountain road. It was all shit. Life was shit. There was no point to it.
It was easy. We could both go –
(I was suffering a broken heart at the time. That is a story that shows some in these pages, again it is a longer one. For another blog, when I find myself able to sit at this laptop long enough without wine or Starbuck’s visits.)
Yeah right, like Thelma and Louise I retorted wittily, not angrily but I pushed some with rational of what if we survive crippled, what if it just fucking hurts. That you understand is way more than just hurting. What if you regret it. What if there being nothing else and it being ‘all over’ actually isn’t as you or I think it might be? What if… What if.. If this is all we have isn’t it better than nothing? No matter how shit in a moment or a period. Twenty five years we have been friends and I know that we have laughed more than we have cried through those years.
We’re still here, still living.
But, what if..?
Now, this year, as that time turns its hands on the clock of seasonal feelings and I reflect on my friends low moments. I reflect on my own shit situation. I reflect on all that I can and all that can be, could be, should be, would be and isn’t. And I cannot sleep and I cannot get up in the morning and it’s now midday. What if?
It is easy to explore far lengthier than this blog post intends, the numerous avenues less attractive than the uphill struggle of positivity, leading to levels of depression. It is hard not to stare at this screen until nothing positive remains and I reach for a crutch that is not there.
But, what if..?
What if we changed it? What if it all simply changed?
Human beings have an ability to see colours. The colours of the spectrum. These that exist do so because we perceive them. I cannot allow this tangent to trail off into the realms of a remake of the Matrix yet, what if..
If we were to be driving off that mountain road and our destiny was set, scheduled for next Saturday? (Scheduled to disappear in snow till the Spring thaws.) What would we do if it was all over, if none of the bollocks mattered?
Isn’t it criminal that in this world of realistic abundance that our individual dreams, desires and good-ness is trapped within and only allowed out to play if we can afford it? Or if you find a way to change your values and the value of those ‘things’? This is a question I do not try to answer here. I have answers and they are as vivid as my dreams, in colours that do not yet exist. They swirl inside my head and haunt me, release me, imprison me. They make me, me as yours make you, you.
The second link above (>List<) is a link to a web site that I discovered just now. Where we are invited to share our lists and ‘find inspiration in the accomplishment of others’. How great if our accomplishment were to be ‘the accomplishment of others?’
So imagine if this were to be it. D-day set for next Saturday? Less than a week to say, fuck it let’s do it! A certain degree of chaos and anarchy comes to mind though give us, how long? Three months? Would that list be one of productive usefulness leaving a real legacy behind? Give us, forty years, wait somebody did. What happened to the dream, the list, the inability to forecast the long-term? What about today? What if the world will end next Saturday?
I wonder what would he do? What would you do? Why am I not doing?
What would this world be like if profit was that involvement in helping each of us and all of us do all that we dream of and then some more?