Defying definition: you will be who you want to be

I am full of the urgent sense that I have wasted a significant portion of my life by adhering slavishly to some self-perpetrated definition of WHO I AM.

Three pieces of data contribute to this conclusion, all fairly similar, all overriding my lifelong conviction that I am inherently “unsporty” to put it lightly. “Physically inept”. “Permanently unfit”. You get the idea.

Where did I get this idea from? This idea that I, a perfectly able-bodied and well-fed human, should somehow be unable to perform certain physical activities, such as jogging?

One cannot be certain, but I lay some blame at the door of school PE classes, where one is assigned an ability label from an early age and developed (or dragged along) accordingly. I spent almost my entire school career comfortably languishing in the bottom set for PE, until 1 awful year when I was 15, and was forced to join the top set due to timetabling challenges (the school’s timetable, not my times tables – these were sh*t hot at the time). I had developed an aversion to balls, hated sweating, and was terrible at throwing, catching, running … there was a general lack of coordination. This didn’t make me unhappy, in fact I was quite contented with my lot – after all, one couldn’t be good at everything, and I was just a non-sporty sort of person.

Don’t worry, this isn’t a rant, I have nothing bad to say about my education – I am more frustrated at MYSELF for consigning myself to a label. WHY? Why could I only be 1 type of person?

I now declare all such labelling to be utter bollocks.

Let us examine the evidence:

  1. I can climb a smooth metal pole with my hands and feet, and hang upside down by the back of 1 knee.
  2. I have learnt to throw and catch a frisbee.
    1. This may not sound impressive, but by God it is. Compared with my previous standards, it is astounding
  3. I ran 10km this year.
    1. I purchased trainers for myself, for the first time in my life.
    2. I trained, like some kind of sporty person, semi-regularly.
    3. I then ran the London 10K Race. Unbelievable.
    4. Until this year, I had only carried out 2 (short) jogs (under duress) since 2004 (which were horrific by the way).
    5. I called my parents the night before the race, and my mother begged me not to do it, for fear that I would fall down unconscious in exhaustion. Needless to say, I ignored her, and have lived to tell the tale.

When talking about running with a new colleague, who assured me that THEY could never run and that they were very different to me, I suddenly realised that THEY had labelled me as SPORTY in their head. I was different to them, because I was SPORTY. Through a few jogs in the park, I had re-written my identity.

That’s not all. I have registered to run another 10K next year, where I will aim to beat my previous time.

FURTHERMORE, I have signed up to my first Half-marathon. 

Jesus. Maybe I’ll become a marathon runner and end up wiry thin with no toenails. An ultramarathon runner. A TRIATHLON ATHLETE (this would require more work – I currently cannot swim or cycle).

It’s like I placed blinkers on myself, and locked myself in an imaginary cage – and am now amazed to climb out and realise I am free. I feel like I can do anything, ANYTHING! All I need to do is just bloody do it.

My mantra for years has been “KNOW THYSELF” and this underpins my constant navel-gazing and self-analysis.

Now I question the wisdom of that command. Perhaps it should be revised to “GAIN A WORKABLE UNDERSTANDING OF YOUR CURRENT STATE AND HABITS, BEARING IN MIND IT HAS CHANGED FROM YOUR LAST STATUS CHECK, AND IS LIKELY TO CHANGE AGAIN IN UNFORESEEABLE WAYS, AND TAKE ACTION WHERE APPROPRIATE TO DIRECT CHANGES TO YOUR PREFERENCE.”

If I doubted before whether I can become awesome, I now do not. I will be as awesome as I allow myself to be.

The competitive martyrdom of client services: the modern-day butler

Very good sir, and might I also wash your socks whilst preparing those presentation slides for you? No no, please don’t worry, I had no plans this evening and indeed I shall not be sleeping, for I know how much you rely on me. Well rest assured, I have it all in hand, you can trust in me.

Perhaps this is a poorly judged blog post, but the significance of the term “client services” is dawning on me with a terrible clarity.

I find myself consistently leaping to every whim of every client, regardless of whether I agree with the reasoning behind it, regardless of my own priorities and physical needs, and bashfully apologising to friends and family for prioritising a stranger over them yet again. Have I become the modern-day butler? Or worse, slave?

What is the psychology behind this? I find my own behaviour contemptible and gross. Do I regard my client’s needs as higher or equivalent to my own? Is their work my work? Is their life my life? Or am I, like Nancy from Oliver!, willing to put up with anything “as long as he neeeeds meeeee”?

I realise now that I am not that special type, the motherly nurturing martyr, who gains pleasure and self-fulfillment from simply “helping others”, irrespective of who that object of help might be.

Such selflessness is evident in the office, as workers strive to provide everything that is requested as fast as they can, and wear the dark circles under their eyes as a badge of honour. Colleagues talk about “helping clients out” but I want to shout that they are simply giving away a product for free. We are not angels that guard over impoverished innocent children, we are merchants who sell a product (our time) to a shrewd customer – what we do is not charity, at least it shouldn’t be.

I feel bitter and angry at the assumption that my time is worth less than anyone else’s.

My life on this Earth is short, and I shall be damned if I give it for free to anyone who I have not chosen to. I love my friends and my family, and it will be they, not a paying stranger, who look after me when I am sick and poor, and it is about time I started treating them as who they are – the most important people in my life.

The path to vague awesomeness is ill-defined

OK. Yes. I haven’t written for a while.

Am I still trying to get awesome?

Yes. In my mind.

Am I getting more awesome?

Not sure. Current state of despondency pollutes vision and wants to say no, but self-conscious conscience is heroically slapping the cheeks and saying “get a grip”.

The long and the short is, I’m not sure of what to do next.

I feel dissatisfied with my current state and direction.

This can be rationalised with theories on upbringing, societal pressures, age, hormones, last meal consumed, number of hours spent alone prior to evaluation, amount of sleep recently achieved (yes, achieved is the most appropriate verb) (readers who have offspring are rolling their [bloodshot] eyes, I know) and so on.

But that does not help improve the situation. I am dissatisfied.

“Well don’t just sit there moaning, do something about it!!!” – I hear you cry.

Yes fine, I am quite happy to, but what???

I met up with an old friend today, and had planned to go in with shining eyes and bouncy step, but almost immediately gave myself away as slumped and jaded.

It was Monday, I suppose.

Precipitating the end goal is my biggest problem – I don’t know what I want. This is a chronic disease. It may well be infectious. It may even be part of a wider pandemic. A seasonal one perhaps (every autumn, thou shalt suffer from sickness of the soul). I feel confidant that were I to identify what I want, getting it would be less of a issue (naive perhaps, but grant me my threadbare optimism).

I do not feel like a glorious warrior of light. I feel like a trudging dull-eyed troll, cynical and sneering.

I feel uninspired, and uninspiring.

Is this what happens to everyone?

Pink Envelopes of Joy

I think this is a great idea, but everyone else thinks I’m going to get arrested.

That’s right; it’s what it says on the tin.

Pink Envelopes of Joy are little messages of friendly encouragement or wisdom, posted to your doormat. Not particularly original or radical, but nice nonetheless. I hope.

Pink Envelopes of Joy

Go forth! My little messengers of YAY!

As part of generally becoming more awesome, I felt I should spread more happiness and this seemed like a good idea. There are only nine in circulation at the moment, but I have disassembled the tenth envelope that came in the pack to use as the template to clone more. The sacrificial lamb, or sheep, as such.

I say nine, two are still burning a hole in my coat pocket – I’ve been keeping them on me in case I come across opportune letterboxes, but it’s surprisingly difficult.

So where have I been dropping these cheery notes?

  • Houses, not flats
    I didn’t want to abandon them on the shared doormats of shared accommodation, in case everyone glances at it and no one picks it up.
  • Open spaces
    I’ve placed a couple in public spaces, in spots where I think someone might actually go so far as to open something not addressed to them.
  • On the person
    I did even consider slipping them into the open bags or pockets on the commute to work. I haven’t carried this out though, as it might be rather awkward if I’m caught pink-handed as it were. And the finder might feel somewhat violated if they discover a message on their person, evidencing a stranger’s hands inside their property.

The messages inside the cards range from snippets of poetry to quotes of sageliness.

  • I have been warned about careful wording for an unknown audience
    e.g., “DO IT. Today!” opened by a suicidal depressive.
  • I have been warned about breaking up marriages
    e.g., “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? Thou art more lovely and more temperate.” opened by a jealous husband.
  • I have also been warned about raising false hopes
    e.g., “I think you are BEE-YOO-TI-FUL.” opened by a lonely heart.

I have carefully considered these warnings. I still think the Pink Envelopes of Joy are a worthy project. Originally, I was going to leave a link to this blog on the back, but was advised that this was too self-promotional. As such, I sincerely hope they are bringing joy out there, and not chaos or death, but have no means of knowing. Ever.

What do you think? Good idea? Or weird creepiness? Look I discovered I can make a poll – vote below to check it works!

Moving house: poetic ode to the Northern Line

Goodbye Northern line!
Goodbye, goodbye!
Five years you’ve carried me,
And now I say goodbye.

Like a rough lover,
You swept me off my feet.
Lolita in your lap,
Kisses…not so sweet.

Branching fingers,
Bewildering, breaking,
Endlessly engineering,
Too oft forsaking.

I have wondered at your length,
I have explored your every zone.
By day I feel your rumble,
At night I hear you moan.

I wandered through your Woodside Park,
You cupped the Oval of my heart.
East Finchley was all air and light,
Tooting Bec has been alright.

With weary feet,
I trace your spine,
Each vertebra familiar,
On the Northern Line.

Goodbye my Cleopatra, 
My thunderous Nubian queen.
We’ll be on the move shortly,
And the signal ahead is green.

Next time our paths cross,
You’ll be no longer mine.
I’m off to greener pastures,
I’m off to the District Line.

Drum roll please: Lisa gets Wuthering awesome!

IT’S HERE!!!!

 

The final results of the Kate Bush Wuthering Heights homage filming day are here for your personal enjoyment.

 

Yes I agree I pull some unflattering faces – I need to work on that.

And yes, my lip syncing is a bit haphazard – I need to work on that too.

And yes alright, I clearly get a bit dizzy when twirling madly and lack some coordination – BUT I LOOK FLIPPIN’ AWESOME DAMMIT!!!!!!

 

Thanks so much to Joe and Jerome for their film-making awesomeness – I frankly can’t believe you gave up your time and talent to humour the witless whims of a batty Chinese lady and I love you deeply for it!

http://joebarrow.co.uk
http://www.funkytivi.com