Monday, 6 February 2012

What happens next?

A year ago I predicted that this very summer would be the hottest one to date. I guess saying my prediction was a little off would be a huge understatement. Anyway, the mercury finally rose above thirty degrees on Sunday, so dad and I decided to hit the beach (having first jumped onto coastalwatch to carefully examine the surfcams).

Bungan beach was pumping out some beautiful waves off the point – and before long I found myself feeling out of place amongst a pack of at least twenty surfers. For some reason it’s hard to be aggressive and win the fight for a wave when you’re on a bodyboard. Anyway, I managed to catch one of the biggest ones of the day and was cruising across the face of it until a surfer dropped in on me. As we collided and simultaneously plunged into the whitewash, I did my best to protect my face and brace myself for the impact of his fibre-glass surfboard. It felt like the force of the wave kept me under for a long time, and I began to think – what happens next? Countless times before I’ve seen surfers and bodyboarders alike get incredibly angry and explosive towards the person that just ruined their wave. I’ve heard many four-letter words thrown around out there and they’re never ‘love’. Surely enough I felt the bitterness growing in my heart as I resurfaced and looked up at the surfer. I felt like glaring, or at least shaking my head...but I didn’t. I guess I realised that it was something so insignificant, and something that I just needed to accept and forget about.

What’s the point of being bitter over such a small issue? People get annoyed about so many things these days, some that I understand and some that I don’t. Isn’t it weird that one thing that gets a person fired up might not even bother someone else? It’s no secret that a fair few people in post-modern society have a tendency to lean towards individual gain. Often you can predict what’s going to happen next in certain situations – this person is going to be very disappointed, or very upset. Isn’t it a great feeling when you get it completely wrong? When they simply say ‘it’s okay’ or ‘that’s life’? I’ve come to understand that in MOST circumstances, we’re able to stop for a moment and ask ourselves, ‘what happens next?’ We could be angry...or spiteful...but also forgiving and understanding when someone hurts us. Everyone is human, so everyone makes mistakes. Lately I’ve realised how stupid I am for getting annoyed at certain things that mean nothing in the long run. How different would life be if we constantly halted and thought about the consequences of our actions?

I was watching Mr Bean a while ago and at one point in the movie he is led to believe that the rude finger is actually a welcoming gesture. Man I love that scene. After watching it, I told one of my good mates that we should start a revolution and change the middle finger’s meaning to ‘hello’. Of course, that was never going to work. However, what if we didn't take it to heart when someone flipped us off? Every time someone on the football field swears at me or abuses my teammates, I feel like saying that words are only words, and there’s no validity in what you yell out of anger at someone you don’t truly know. What if we had the type of attitude that didn’t retaliate at all? I don’t think it’s a sign of weakness, but rather, of strength. To not care about what other people think or the little mannerisms that have the potential to be frustrating as hell. I’m not talking about a superior attitude – where pride gets the better of us and we constantly yearn for a moral victory. I’m talking about acceptance. We have time to think – and that’s enough to get over the heat of the moment (or avoid saying something we’ll regret).

Wouldn’t it be cool if we carried an attitude of acceptance into every sphere of our lives? Alanis Morissette wrote a song called ‘Ironic’, which details some of the ironies many people face. I’ve grown to accept the fact that bad things can happen to good people. There are so many imperfections in this world, and that’s part of the reason why I love it.

For every bad situation I’ve been in, someone’s been through something worse. It’s the biggest cliché ever, but I’m just grateful to be alive.

At the end of the day, we generally have a say in what happens next. Our words have the power of life and death. I could list a thousand things that annoy me, but I think I could also eradicate over half of them with some simple self-evaluation and logic. That's definitely something worth thinking about. 

Quote Bank: “Life has a funny way of sneaking up on you when you think everything’s okay and everything’s going right. And life has a funny way of helping you out when you think everything’s gone wrong and everything blows up in your face.” – Alanis Morissette 

Thursday, 2 February 2012

The Bottleneck

As a little guy I used to always wake up at 6am on a Sunday morning and plant myself in front of the TV until it was time to go to church. Needless to say, I didn’t usually get much out of those early sessions which were filled with music videos and shows like ‘Martin Morning’, ‘Jimmy Neutron’ and ‘Blue Water High’. However, the decision to change the channel one day proved to be of great benefit to my mental health – in other words, a show came on with a plotline that was seared into my memory a whole 10 years ago, and it still remains there today. It was an animated version of a story called ‘The Bottleneck’ written by the one and only Hans Christian Andersen. I loved it so much that I used to write it out daily.

To sum it up, it’s basically a recount of a champagne bottle’s life. Some of you are probably thinking that I’m a bit weird, and you’re not wrong...but the messages within the story are very relevant to the human condition.

Isn’t it funny that we can find so much in common with a character that is well and truly fabricated? Art is so powerful in that sense. It can create a world which seems unbelievably real, and a personality that shares our exact mannerisms and even thoughts. Sometimes the meaning these art forms generate is far more than what was initially intended, but that doesn’t matter. The important thing is that a staged character’s downfall or a staged character’s decision to get up could be enough to push us over the edge and catalyse change in our own lives.

Andersen’s tale concludes in cyclical fashion, and yet the ending bears two key differences: time has passed and the characters have changed.

Life consists of a bunch of cycles, as I’ve briefly mentioned in a previous blog. We get up in the morning and we go to sleep at night. We work throughout the week and we unwind on the weekends.  My question is: how many of us are stuck in a cycle that we don’t want to be in? More importantly, how many of us are stuck in the same cycles that we were in a year or two ago? Time changes, but sometimes we don’t. I think one of the problems is that we base too much on what we cannot control.  We throw our emotions on other people. We throw our emotions on the weather bureau. When it rains outside, it often rains inside.

Ultimately, what is it going to take to break the bonds and open a new door?

We often cry out for change but we never put ourselves in the position for change to be outworked. We want a new cycle, but we sit in our old cycle and wonder why nothing’s happening.

I think it’s about persevering. Making a decision and sticking with it.

Andersen’s story begins and ends with the finding of purpose (the bottle starts as a celebratory item at a wedding and finishes as a container for a bird to drink from). Whether you read this or not...whether you know me or not, I hope you find your purpose. I have so much faith in people. I don’t believe we were born to live a mundane life filled with the same routines and the same ups and downs.

We have plenty of time to right our wrongs...and that’s why I treasure those rare moments in life where a movie or fictional story reminds us of that very fact. 

Quote Bank: "Spend all your time waiting for that second chance, for a break that would make it okay. There's always some reason to feel not good enough, and it's hard at the end of the day. I need some distraction, oh, beautiful release. Memories seep from my veins. Let me be empty, oh, and weightless, and maybe I'll find some peace tonight." - Sarah Mclachlan