Ways the World Could Be A Better Place For INFPs

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INFPs should have their own island. There, I said it, but it’s true: I sincerely believe that placing all INFPs on a particular island somewhere, preferably a place abundant in fresh springs and fruits, would be a good idea. So much of the world is industrialised these days, cities filled with bustling and busy people, that the entire planet has almost become a place difficult for INFPs to live on. A quiet island somewhere, a quiet retreat, dotted with clusters of libraries and crawling with cats, would be the perfect place for INFPs to live and flourish, for endless golden days.

Basic universal income should be introduced, whereby everyone is given just enough to live on—the barest minimum—so that way, artistic and creative people, as INFPs often are, can chase their dreams of becoming artists and writers without getting worried they’ll end up on the streets. Introducing a basic universal income will take the stress of money out of life for INFPs, who want very little in terms of material goods, and give us the time and opportunity to flourish in our own quiet and simple ways, without the threat of homelessness or unemployment hanging over us everyday simply because of the way we are—introverted daydreamers aren’t very hot on the job market—or our career aspirations.

The world would be a better place for INFPs if INFPs actually had their own “group” and “leader”, the way some political parties have their own leaders. Working together as  a team, we could advocate  for things for INFPs, such as the construction of quieter libraries, or a lack of discrimination towards introverted daydreamers when it comes to jobs. It would be almost like having your own family, except the famiy would be made up of thousands of other people who are INFPs but strangers, a kind of support network that I imagine would surely be very useful and comforting for many INFPs living in the world today.

Another good idea, as an alternative to the island, is to set up lots of INFP centres around the place, in every country on the globe. These would be safe havens for INFPS, filled with books, cats and other INFPs, for INFPs to go to when their home or work life in the modern world is getting unbearable (as it often does). Entry would require the applicant to fill in a Myers-Brigg test and have it turn out to be INFP, as well as the gauging of the prospective applicant’s personality  by various members of the faculty, and free food and water would be provided, just enough for a person to live on, and here INFPs, in the company of other dreamers, and plenty of books, movies and animals, pillows and dreamcatchers and comfort, would be able to rewind and recover. Everyone needs a refuge, and I can imagine little more perfect than official refuges for INFPs all over the world.

Another Dreamer’s Rambling

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These days I can’t help feeling a little bored and disillusioned with life. It’s hard to explain exactly why this melancholy has fallen upon me, but I feel almost as though reality has nothing very exciting to offer anymore. I can see my life mapped out before me, very clearly–a lot of studying, followed by working, then perhaps meeting someone and starting my own family, going on holidays if I can save up for them and spending time with family and friends—and it just doesn’t seem the least  bit novel or interesting. Reality is bland, as bland as the world you see before you at the very moment, and perhaps this particular dreamer is being too ungrateful—after all, reality still has many wonderful things to offer, think of the wonders of nature!—but that is the way I feel at the moment, and that, I believe, is the way things will stay.

Everything seems like a game to me, with money the social lubricant. All of society is set up like some immense game, with investments in particular things, like stocks or education, leading to increases in money, which leads to increases in pleasures, like nice food or holidays, bigger houses and better cars. Very shallow and materialistic, if you ask me, and also very isolating; I don’t know about you, but there’s something about modern society that feels very lonely, as if people, in their cars, on their way to work, or driven by some force to be separate from one another. This “game-like” quality to society was one of the reasons I got so depressed a while back—I felt like I couldn’t play the game at all, because  I was such an introverted daydreamer that no jobs were suited to me, and I couldn’t succeed as a writer—though thankfully I am no over that and once more feel myself to be capable of being a productive member of society. So this dreamer will play the game, if only for a chance to gain at some happiness.

I can’t imagine finding someone, though, and by “someone”, yes, I do mean a significant other. Sometimes, to reassure myself, I remind myself that there are 7 billion people on the planet for a reason, so that even the most introverted and awkward of people certainly eventually find a mate. Still, it is hard to imagine someone entering my life in that particular way, if you know what I mean, something so entirely foreign and strange about it. I’m so accustomed to life revolving around my mother and brother that I can’t envision another person entering the scene, penetrating the defences of my heart, and becoming enfolded into my life. As a child, I longed for the typical marriage, for the perfect white wedding and my Prince in Charming, but now that I’ve grown older, my view on love and romance as changed, become more realistic, and all I hope for is someone who is reasonably good-looking, has a job and life of his own, and is kind. Even the idea of someone expressing interest in me is  unbelievable, to the point where if someone actually did show an interest in me,  I think I could feel as though reality had warped out of shape for a split second, gone awry.

Until July, which is when my course starts, I won’t have much to do–and finding a part-time job, for this particular introverted dreamer, has not been the easiest of things–so I’ll probably be posting one blog post a day, simply because I have so much spare time, and because my fiction writing crawls along at a snail pace, at the rate of a page a day, to stave off boredom. So I’m definitely back for good, though I’m not too sure how I am going to fill the next four months. I’m thinking of doing some volunteering, or perhaps visiting the library a little more often than I already do, to borrow books to read, and seeing as I have nothing else to do a little housework. It’s still not much, though, and I’m afraid of my depressive episode returning if I stay at home for too long doing nothing very much. C’est la vie.

What This INFP Has Been Up To

 

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So it’s been a while since I’ve posted or written anything on this blog, but there has been good reason for it. For the last half year or so, I descended into a period I like to call “productive depression”. I was most definitely depressed, because I had all the symptoms—low mood, lethargy, complete lack of interest in activities, etc.—but at the same time, I was still able to write snippets here and there of my own fiction, so the entire period of time I was away wasn’t entirely wasted.

Finally, after a hospital stay for suicidal thoughts, I am completely free of my depression and have returned to the blogosphere, to continue writing my thoughts and sharing with the internet my own, little life. So what, exactly, have I been up to, apart from moping about and trying not to kill myself? Well, I completed an 8,000 word children’s book, which I have already sent in to a publisher, but I don’t even have my fingers crossed for it because I have very little hope my horrible little book will be published. It just won’t happen, I can feel it, but at the very least I did something during my depressive episode, at least I did practice my writing a little bit.

Because of anxiety and depression, I had to leave school early, which means that I have needed to quickly find some way of gaining education that would lead to employment, because, suffice to say, this particular INFP has realized that her dream of becoming a writer, at least for now, will certainly not put food on the table; so in July this year, I will be enrolling in an Aged Care course that will allow me to take care of elderly people in a residential setting, helping them with tasks such as showering, eating, toileting and the like. It is not the most glamorous of jobs, but it will put food on the table, and even INFPs need to be realistic sooner or later when it comes to earning money; and after a while, if I want, I can transition into nursing by doing a Diploma of Nursing and then going on to do a Bachelor of Nursing, and becoming a Division 1 Nurse, So, basically, I will work in the aged care industry or go on to become a nurse, and do my writing on the side, as a sort of hobby, because the publishing industry is a very hard nut to crack, and I just don’t think my writing ability or the quality of my work is good enough to get published yet.

It’s not the most ideal path—I mean, I’m not too sure if INFPs are completely cut out for working with elderly people, I am a very caring person and I certainly would like taking care of and conversing with old people, but there is the small matter of dealing with difficult elderly people, who might have dementia or behavioural issues, that I am rather concerned about, simply because, like a typical INFP, I am terrible at dealing with aggression of any kind. However one needs to put food on the table, and this is the best educational option suited to my temperament that I have at the moment, especially since it will be a long time, if ever, before my writing pays for necessities like food and rent, so I’m sticking with it for now.

Anything else? Oh, yes. I cut my hair. Yes, that’s right: during my depressive episode, I cut all my hair off, until I practically looked like a man. Well, no, I still look like a woman, but it does, in my opinion, look very ugly; I feel exactly like a shorn sheep, bedraggled and naked. All my long, silky, beautiful black hair I cut off, because I was so depressed and felt like doing something earth-shattering and immense to snap myself out of my depressive state at the time, and now it will take forever to grow back. It’s a small and insignificant thing, perhaps, to the people around me, but to me, it’s enormous and horrible, and I feel almost as though I will never be beautiful again. It’ll take two years, at the very least, for it to grow back to shoulder-length, because my hair is very thick and grows very slowly, and in the meantime, I am miserable and morose whenever I look into a mirror.

As for my writing—well, this INFP is having very mixed feelings at the moment about her writing. Almost every INFP I know likes writing, and I am no different, but to make a career out of it, especially in fiction writing (in particular, fantasy, the genre I like to write in) is something very difficult to do indeed. My problem at the moment is that while I might have brilliant flashes of inspiration, I find it very difficult to flesh them out into proper books, with proper characters and things that happen; more often than not, whenever I try to write fiction, I just start off with a great idea that peters out into nothing, because I don’t have the ability or the writing skills to truly turn a seed of an idea into a flourishing beanstalk of a book. It’s very aggravating, and something that makes me feel as though I will never become a writer, never be published, because ideas without execution are nothing, little less than leaves on the wind. So this particular INFP is getting a bit more realistic about her airy-fairy dreams, and going into aged care instead—sometimes, the real world will break your heart, because unfortunately, banks are stronger and more powerful than castles in the air.

And money is something I cannot live without at the moment. I am turning 20 this year, and have very little money to my name, and still live with my single mother, who works as a cleaner and doesn’t earn very much at all. What’s more, what I’ve discovered with writing is that I can’t pursue it full-time, because whenever I write for too long, I get stuck, and the characters and the descriptions of the world start to go nowhere. Basically, my optimum level of writing, I’ve found, is a page of words a day, if I want to keep myself from getting bored with my own writing, and at that pace, I end up turning out short, mediocre childrens’ fantasy books. Not a good omen for a future in the publishing industry, I can tell you that. So in order to earn money I’ve had to be more realistic; even dreamers, after all, need to eat. I’ll be writing more posts soon—I’ve returned for good this time—especially about romance, and my own loneliness as a young INFP who has never so much as dabbled in the world of love—so keep tuned. I hope everyone is well, and has been doing much better than I have been.

Why Do I Write?

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Sometimes, I feel as though the only reason I write is because a lot of the time, I get lonely, and very bored, and writing is one of the best balms for both such ailments.

Characters, for instance when you are lost in their worlds and troubles, help you feel less alone, even if only temporarily (and isn’t that the case with people in real life, as well? Even if you were to snuggle up close to someone, your cheek pressed to theirs, and spend the entire night whispering your thoughts to them, your minds would still remain separate, and always would be). With writing, you also have the freedom—the luxury—to make the lives’ of your characters and the world they inhabit as interesting and fascinating as you want it to be, limited only by your imagination, and live vicariously through them to boot. In short, while others turn to drink, sex, gambling or other addictions to stave off their boredom and loneliness, I turn to writing, to the opium of fantasy and the drug of the imagination, even though, just like drugs and alcohol, it isn’t able to completely fill the empty spaces inside my heart.

Here’s something they don’t really tell you when you’re kid: the truth is, life is mostly made up of boredom, loneliness, pain and confusion. Much of life is dark, and dreary. Thus, to make things less terrible, to cope with this horrible reality, we tell each other stories, or tell ourselves stories—and that’s where the entertainment business, ranging from movies to books, comes in. Like scared, little animals huddling around a campfire, with darkness lurking around us, we tell each other tales to keep each other warm, and distract ourselves from the vast emptiness of the world, the wolves lurking in the woods beyond the flames.

I have quite a few “comfort” fantasies up my sleeve, which I take out when I am in particular need of a good fix. Most of my comfort fantasies are exciting and romantic tales, where I find myself stranded somewhere with a bunch of brave adventurers, one of whom is particularly dashing and handsome. Together, we venture across the lands, helping one another out of tight spots, sleeping in hammocks and camping under bridges. At the end of our journey, I fall in love, and together, the dashing and handsome fellow and I ride off into the sunset—well, we ride off towards the library, to live out the rest of our days amongst books and cats, in conjugal happiness. These days, though, even the prospect of falling in love, of “finding someone” is starting to grow lacklustre. You see, even if I do find someone, the loneliness, pain, boredom, sadness and confusion will still be there. I don’t think those feelings are anything a single person can eradicate. Yet I use romance as an escape, anyway, as I am sure millions of men and women all over the world do, because it is a fantasy that fits in so neatly with my idealism and my deep desire to be loved. Were I to find myself in a relationship with someone in real life, I am certain, after a while, things would begin to feel quite boring and normal again. That’s why I like books, you see—once you get bored of reading one, you can just cast it aside and pick up another and dive into that one, whereas if you practice the same method with people you are considered a douchebag and will probably, if you’re as desperate to do the “right” thing as I am, die of guilt.

In my teenage years, I used to long to look into a pair of eyes that would look back at me with understanding, and empathy. I have given up on that possibility; most of the eyes I look into these days are rather dead, and hold no kinship. Instead, I have learned to seek kinship and solace from dead people. Now, it’s not what you think—I promise you I’m not scurrying to the nearest graveyard at night and digging up corpses and asking them to love me or anything. No, what I mean by that is, I have realised that sometimes the people one might have got along very well with unfortunately have a habit of existing some years before one’s time. Like Sylvia Plath, for instance. Just by reading her writing, I can tell we are kindred spirits, that she, introverted and creative, depressive and tormented, would have been a very good companion to have in my more darker moments. But she’s dead. She’s dead. She killed herself, in fact. So the only thing I can take solace from are the pieces of her she left behind—her words. And then there are others, like Emily Dickinson, or Emily Bronte, these odd, solitary, introverted women, whose hearts were full of such great feeling, whose voices have only remained because they preserved them in words—why, they’re my best of friends, you know. Through their words, they have reached out to me beyond the confines of space and time, reached out and touched my heart, and whispered into my ears, “You are not alone.” They may be dead, but they still matter a great deal to me, and that, I think, is why writing, and books, are the closest thing humans have to pure magic.

So, why do I write? To cure, if only temporarily, my loneliness and boredom. But there is another, bigger reason why I spend so much time alone, spending hours slaving away, painstakingly putting down words on paper about people who do not exist and who live in worlds that do not exist: and that is to cure the boredom and loneliness of other people who read my words, some of whom might even read them long after I, myself, am dead. Adrift on the seas of life, we send out our messages in bottles, hoping some of them might reach other ships—and they do. They do. And that somehow makes the effort of sailing the seas, braving the storms and the waves, entirely worth it.

A Little Ramble

Well, I was going to come up with some snazzy thing to write about for today’s blog post, but inspiration seems to have taken a dive into the proverbial garbage bin (what do you mean there’s no such thing as a proverbial garbage bin?) so I decided to just spill some of the most recent thoughts that have been running through my mind, just for the heck of it.

You know, for the longest time I swore I would never have any biological children, and even if the urge were to come upon me to have messy little people running around my legs around the house (that’s presuming I’ll even be able to afford a house at sometime in the near future) I would adopt instead of having to go through the complicated and painful business of childbirth. After all, there are indeed quite a lot of children without mothers and fathers in this world, and this, coupled with the problem of overpopulation, makes adoption the most logical, intelligent and humane choice.

But then I got to thinking, and realised that perhaps childbirth and adoptions were two entirely different kettles of fish. I think there is something in the connection a mother feels with her own child, one she gave birth to, that is absent from the connection a woman has with an adopted kid, no matter how much she might love the child. I don’t know what it is. Maybe it’s hormones. Maybe something else. All I knew was, at the end of that bit of pondering, I realised I did actually want to have my own children one day, even if at this point in my life the very thought of being in a relationships seems a laughable impossibility.

Which then got me thinking about other relationships, and so forth. I’ve realised that the best way to determine whether a relationship is any good for you is whether it feels good. A lot of people, when they form bonds with other people, don’t take into consideration whether the other party makes them feel very happy and comfortable, which is why a lot of people end up in bad relationships. Instead, they form bonds for the wrong reasons—such as looks or status—or for unconscious reasons, such as in an attempt to replicate a relationship they had with a parent so as to, on a subconscious level, obtain the love of their mother and father they never received as a child. Good relationships, no matter how short the duration—an exchange with a cashier at the grocery store is a relationship, brief though it may be—make you feel good, and therefore if someone doesn’t make you feel good and happy, then maybe you should question whether you should let them remain in your life or allow their opinions and attitudes to affect you.

When it comes to relationships, you should never settle. This was a lesson I learned the hard way. For many years, I spent time around people I didn’t like and didn’t care about, ignoring the feeling of “wrongness” inside my gut whenever I was around them, smiling when I didn’t want to smile, talking when I didn’t want to talk, and, in the end, those relationships trailed off into nothing. What I learned from that very dark period of my life was this: it is better to be alone than to be in bad company. Take it from me. Being surrounded by the wrong people can honestly make you feel like you’re dying a very slow and painful death, the blood gushing from your mouth and eyes in red tides, while no-one around you seems to notice. Not a nice feeling. Not at all.

Something else I have been pondering a great deal about recently is the small matter of loneliness. All my life, I’ve struggled with loneliness, and it has only been in recent times that I’ve had a good look at this dark little portion of my soul and tried to come to terms with it. And I think I finally have. Accepted loneliness, that is. Accepted it, good and proper. In the past, I never really did. Whenever I got lonely, I would just let it eat away at me on the inside, like rats chewing away at my guts. But the thing is, loneliness is one’s only lifelong companion, from birth to death, and so the only way to deal with it is to accept it, and try find a way to happy in spite of it. That’s the way I see it, at least.

You know what’s something I’ve always thought was rather strange? The fact that there are such an awful lot of people on this planet even while relationships are so very gnarly and tangled things. I mean, how do people even manage to get together, and get close and intimate enough as two human beings to produce children? Is there some unseen and very powerful mechanism which allows the human species to continue, or are we only surviving because a billions of people over the course of history have decided they like sex a very great deal and think children will provide more meaning to their life? It’s the most puzzling thing, and it’s something I haven’t exactly figured out yet—though I’ll be sure to tell you when I do.

The Traumatic Life Of Idealists

 

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Being an idealist in this world is a bit like being able to see unicorns popping out of rubbish bins and from behind walls which no-one else seems to notice. A lot of the time, even when you’re down in the dumps, you go around with a big smile on your heart because unicorns are appearing and grinning at you from everywhere, but because only you can see them people either think you’re crazy or refer to you as a “dreamer”–and in condescending rather than complimentary tones.

And it’s actually very traumatic. Honestly, it is. Because there’s so much beauty in the world around you, and you really wish others could see it, even just a glimpse of it, but even when you point it out to them they don’t, or they sort of go “Mhm, yes, very pretty,” then secretly think to themselves that you are a very strange person for gushing over clouds and flowers or caterpillars. And it’s not traumatic to be an idealist only because you tend to find beauty where others do not—it’s also traumatic because since everything exists in such a beautiful bubble in your imagination, when anything in reality fails to live up to your extremely high expectations (we’re talking up-to-the-moon high here) the disappointment often feels as crushing as a million tons of bricks falling in a huge cascade onto your chest. And because nothing can completely live up to our imaginations, not even ourselves, we live in a state of perpetual disappointment, glancing back and forth unhappily from the picture in the magazine of the perfect life to the ruinous, haphazard heap of our actual life.

Can you imagine what it would be like to never be happy, to have your heartbroken almost every second by the realities which face you? That is what it is to be an idealist. The only way we cope is by escaping into fiction, into stories in books and inside our own heads, layering over reality a much more aesthetically pleasing picture so our hearts don’t wither and die. I mean, everything is disappointing, in so many ways. Take people, for instance. People are immensely disappointing. They tend to be professional disappointers. It doesn’t matter where you live or who you are—sooner or later, somewhere down the line, a person is going to disappoint you, and make you want to slam your face into a brick wall and groan. But for idealists, people are especially disappointing. From afar, they always seem so lovely and wondrous, especially when we haven’t seen them for a while and are secretly in love with them (or, at least, in love with who we think they are). But the moment we get up close and actually get a good, proper look at the person, untainted by any of airy-fairy daydreams, we just sort of frown quietly inside our hearts and think to ourselves, “Hm. I thought you’d be more pleasant. And interesting. Instead, I kind of actually don’t really even like you. In fact, I think I kind of loathe you.” And then we usually exit from their lives, without them ever realizing what it was they had done wrong to make us shy away from them like that. And the thing is, they didn’t do anything wrong. Not in the least. They were just unlucky enough to be the object of our affection, and transmuted by our imaginations into a dazzling creature no person alive, and perhaps even dead, could possibly live up to.

In my experience, it is better by far to keep things at arm’s length. That way, they stay pretty and pure. Why do you think so many idealists enjoy reading so much? Because fantasy, or fiction, is never up close and in your face the way reality or people can be. As it is imaginary, it will always exist at a remove from ourselves. And that is what idealists ultimately adore doing: viewing things from afar, and daydreaming about their wonderfulness, their beauty, without ever letting reality’s ugly fingers stain or mess it up. The heart of every idealist, if they have been living for a while on this planet, is very much broken, and cannot be put back together again. Instead, the more life shows us its ugly and imperfect side, its impersonal and dull side, the side without magic, without hope, without beauty, the more we retreat, like turtles, into our minds and our imaginations, where we can spin castles in the sky even as the house we are actually standing in comes crashing down around our ears.

A Dreamer’s Ideal Society

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I think our societies speckled all over the globe are not doing very well at the moment, and therefore, as a member of the human species, I would like to propose a few small changes. I have been working on these for quite some time, and I hope you will like them—and perhaps, if you find them especially agreeable, you would consider mailing this little piece of mine to whatever leader governs your society wherever you live, just on the off chance they might consider implementing some of my, um, little changes. Right-o, then. Let’s begin.

I think, in every city, every country, great, enormous libraries should be built every couple of streets down the block, filled with books, every book imaginable. And inside those libraries there should be bedrooms, with locks, where people can stay and read in private, and sleep, and other rooms where they can mingle and eat together, and read, spending the rest of the time, in the moments between when they’re reading, pursuing their interests, like writing or hopscotch, or singing.

Behind each of the libraries there should be large farms, the kind with paddocks and grass, and vegetable patches, where enough food is grown and produced to feed everyone who lives in the library. Everyone pitches in to help with the growing and gathering of food, and with tending to the farm animals, as well as preparing the meals. Water can be drawn from nearby wells, drilled deep into the ground, and collected in special tanks when it rains, and a lake or two nearby, filled with very pure and clean water (because all cars will have been banned, and people walk everywhere to go to places) can be used for washing one’s clothes and swimming and bathing. Cats are to be mandatory fixtures in such a library, padding in and out between the shelves and dozing on very large, red armchairs.

In such a society, one based around the library itself, a sort of literary nexus, there is no need for money, as everything, from duties to clothes to utilities, will be shared, and people spend their days reading, filling their little brains up with knowledge and fun, and engaged in activities such as writing more books, which will help the community, or cooking or cleaning, or inventing things to make life easier and more interesting. Solar panels adorn the roofs of the libraries, providing for all electricity and energy needs (yes, the people will use electric stoves, so no trees need be cut down). To communicate with people living in other library-communes, pigeons shall be used, because it is much more fun and interesting to get a message attached to a pigeon’s legs rather than receive it through the internet, or a postbox. Children will play, lambs will frolic across the grasses, butterflies will flit and flutter, and when the suns ets, everyone either tucks into bed, with books in their laps, or gathers around to toast marshmallows and sing songs under the sun, with their loved ones all around them, experiencing every moment of life with happiness and joy.

That is not to say people will spend their days in idleness—oh, no, certainly not. While each and every person is given plenty of recreational time, with which they are free to do as they please, provided their activities did not disturb or hurt other people or cause any harm or destruction, they are still obligated to work for the community by spending time exploiting their talents to the fullest, whether they lie in astronomy or finger puppetry. These libraries will, in essence, be bonanzas of creativity and imagination and thinking, where human potential, in its various forms, will be developed to their fullest against an idyllic, kitsch and pollution-free backdrop.

This might not seem altogether realistic enough to some of you, but I guarantee that, in many ways, it would be much better than the society we have today, where human potential is squandered by the hour as people are forced to work pointless jobs just to get some higher numbers in their bank account, and when the important people==the farmers, the plumbers, and so forth—get paid far less than the less important, and frankly unnecessary people, like CEOs of plastic toy companies and counsellors who charge you exorbitant hourly amounts just to hear you talk about yourself. In the meantime, I’ll keep this little model of mine tucked away in my heart, and one day, if society progresses enough, I will whip it out, for all to see and gaze upon, and everyone shall love and applaud my genius at coming up with such a scheme. Now, if you’ll excuse me—I have a couple more fantasies waiting for me to get back to them.

 

On The Nature Of Work

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It’s always the first step that is the hardest, the first word, the first act, the first step out the door, the first ring of the alarm bell in the morning. I don’t know what it is about starting things that human beings find so difficult, but it seems to be the way our brains are hardwired: at the prospect of imminent work, and therefore pain–because work, even work we love, is not always very fun (and sometimes even very painful)–some part of us, deep inside, closes up tightly like a Venus Flytrap, and refuses to cooperate.

The older I get (which is not very old, so far), the more I feel certain that the price of success is pain. If you want anything good in life, any sense of satisfaction, contentment or achievement, you have to work very hard for it. Bleed for it, even, and perhaps, while you’re at it, donate a kidney or two as well, just for good measure.

And sometimes, doing that–working hard–is a lot easier than you would imagine. For one thing, as I said at the start of this post, hard work is only hard when you are about to begin it. Once you ease into the flow of it, without allowing your mind to wander or any unnecessary thoughts to enter your head, it is actually not very difficult. It’s sort of like dipping yourself into the pool for the first time. When you first jump into the water, submerging yourself from head to foot, it’s so cold you could die; but gradually your body acclimatises itself to the temperature and in moments you’re swimming through the water wondering how the water could have felt so cold and painful only minutes ago. The same goes for hard work, for anything difficult, really. You want to climb a mountain, my dear? Why, just take the first step: that’s all there is to it.

Ultimately, what separates those who do very well in their fields, and those who bumble through their days, is that one group has figured out hard work and pain is nothing very much to be afraid of if it’s the kind that doesn’t kill you, while the other camp is so in love with comfort they don’t like the slightest bit of suffering, especially self-imposed suffering, to sully their lives. But without suffering, they will never be able to experience a true sense of accomplishment or fulfilment either, so I guess in the end it’s about whether you value the short-term or long-term payoff when it comes to life.

Most people are, at their core, lazy and indulgent. If given the chance to live a life of comfort and pleasure without having to lift a finger, they would grab at it in a flash, without a backward glance or even wiping their shoes on the welcome mat to their free mansion. Under the capitalist model of our society, however, many lazy people are forced to work in order to earn a living and keep a roof over their heads, so they usually end up either trying to find a ticket out by, say, marrying well and living at home to look after the children, or doing their best to wrangle for a job that pays reasonably well, but is not particularly difficult or stressful, and requires little thinking. Working at a cafe, for instance, provides for a straightforward and simple existence, whereas working as an architect, as someone who has to wrack their brains and design entire buildings, the level of mental energy, focus and ability required is much higher—which is why it pays better, too.

As a child, I used to hate work, but that was because school didn’t exactly provide stimulating material in the first place. I had a wild imagination, and I loved reading, and doing sums while sitting inside in the classroom, with thirty other children, just didn’t cut it. My brain protested by giving up, choosing instead to daydream and doodle when I should have been concentrating in class. Even work you love, though, as I stated before, can become tiresome if you do it professionally. Many are the writers who, finding themselves relying on their ability to produce a set amount of high-quality words every day to keep a roof over their heads and food stocked in their fridge, come to the sudden realisation that their interests lie very much elsewhere. Being a professional is hard because it means you must do the work whether you want to or not, and most of the time you won’t want to. But you have to do it, anyway, because it’s your job, just as a person who is starving must seek out food–because if they didn’t, why, they’d starve. Just because someone works in a very “artsy” profession, like writing or design, does not mean their days are unstructured blobs filled with the kind of joy, fun and play only children get to experience. In fact, on the contrary, you’ll find that the more supposedly “creative” a job is, the more discipline, focus and hard work it requires. Some of the offices of designers and writers could give lawyers and bankers a run for their money.

A life lived well is a life spent doing work one finds meaningful, is passionate about, and is happy to devote hours of one’s time— your entire life, sometimes. More and more, I have come to the conclusion that the meaning of life is work, whether that work be helping to manufacture marshmallows as a factory hand, or writing books, or teaching children, or building houses or filtering water so it is clean enough for people to drink safely. At the end of your life, people will remember what you have done for them and the world, and nothing else—so make your work, and your life, count.

 

There’s Something Wrong–Something.

 

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I feel as though there has been a lot of darkness in society of late, or maybe it has always been there and I was too young and too naïve to notice it.

Either way, it’s there, and it’s not nice, and once again it is something I can’t quite exactly put into words; it’s more of a feeling, you see, than an actual thing I can point at and cry “O Therein lies the darkness!” So, fair warning, most of this post is probably not going to make much sense—not unless you’ve also felt an inkling of the same darkness I’m referring to. Or maybe the darkness is something that everyone in the world, on some level, is aware of, but not many people have decided to put up their hand and talk about it, or even let it surface to their conscious awareness. You’d be surprised at how often that happens in the world (and when it does, it generally almost always leaves so many of the more sensitive and intuitive pushed to the margins of society and dubbed the “boys who cried wolf”).

Let’s see. Not an easy thing to do, to put a general feeling of “wrongness” into words. It almost feels as though the world wakes up each day with its hat on the wrong way, or wearing its shoes on its hand and its gloves on its feet instead of the other way around. There’s just something not right, in the air—and this isn’t any conspiracy theory, mind, I don’t think, despite what scientists may vehemently claim, that the world is ending any time soon; I think the world will go on puttering away for some time yet, alone in the darkness of the universe, with this sense of wrongness clouding its every continent. It’s almost as if—as if we, as humans, have lost our way. Really lost it, I mean. In our modern world, things just don’t feel good.

For one thing, I’ve noticed over the years that people have become increasingly cruel, selfish and niggardly. Whereas kindness and joy and love were once the greatest virtues, now it seems people are more consumed by dark emotions, of envy and greed, of pride, and seem entirely focused on self-gratification. There just seems an awful lot of people these days who particularly enjoy hurting other people, or hating them, or feeling better than other people, wanting to push other people down, keep them in their place. It’s just this feeling of coldness, a lack of warmth, I’ve noticed on the rare occasions I mingle in general society as part of therapy, practise and to get a bit of exercise. Even the nice interactions are tainted by falseness—these days it seems people will only smile and treat you kindly if you are buying something from them, and sometimes not even then.

And there’s a hollowness to everything, as well, an emptiness behind people’s eyes, inside their hearts and minds. Most of them don’t particularly like their jobs, or find them boring, and then, when they come home, the only meaning they can often find in their lives is in television and good food and nice drinks and shopping. Of course, not everyone is like this—but a lot of them are. A lot of people seem to find their only gratification in life to come from holidays, physical pleasures and buying pretty goodies for themselves, and it seems to be so very empty a way to live, so very dead and dark.

I think what it really boils down to is a lack of authenticity. In developed nations, the heart, the core of society, is inauthentic; it’s all sugar and glitz and glamour, all smoke and mirrors, without any substance to it. It’s like living on air, or fairyfloss—you can do it for a while, and for the first couple of bites it may even be rather filling, but after a while, you soon get tired of it, and want for something more rich and nourishing, like a nice hearty stew. Our societies don’t have any—any soul to them, anymore, not like the way it was in the past, particularly in communal societies, where not only did people surround themselves with loving families and friends, they also spent their days employed in activities they enjoyed, like singing, dancing, telling stories, making art; and even the necessary “boring” activities, like collecting water or gathering and hunting food were actually quite enjoyable. Personally, I would much prefer being out in the sunshine, dipping a bucket into a well, or digging up vegetables from the ground, than sit inside, in a brightly-lit office, with an Excel spreadsheet on the screen before me.

I don’t have a solution, a candle to light and shine in the darkness that so pervades us these days. I don’t think anyone does. I think maybe things have gone too far, and people are in too deep, their minds already scrambled, their souls already emptied. You know there’s something most definitely wrong when you live in a world where the annual profits of Victoria Secret, a commercial juggernaut that sells fancy lingerie, is greater than the GDPs of some countries, and where people starve to death while others on the other side of the world gather to cheer, holler and watch eating competitions. We’re all dying of loneliness, we’re all very scared, and very unhappy, I think, but no-one is saying anything about it, so I guess we’ll all just go on pretending everything is fine, and wander around in the darkness with forced smiles on our faces.

 

I Refuse To Be A Grown-Up

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I don’t think I will ever grow up. It’s a nasty business, growing up, if you ask me, at least the kind of “growing up” society wants you to partake in. I don’t mind having to work during particular and set hours, as it provides a sense of order to life—that’s a nice aspect of growing up, even though most don’t seem too fond of it—provided one choose one’s work wisely. And I don’t mind having to do grown-up tasks, like visiting the Post Office, or cleaning or cooking, or having to tidy up oneself without being asked, and banks, I have found, can be grand and fascinating places. Every time I visit a bank, I find myself very amused—look! All these numbers, on these little screens and computers, all of it make-believe, like the way I used to buy things from my doll’s shop with pebbles, and everyone swallows it down and believes it to be as true as the ground and the sun and the sky! Yes, banks are very entertaining, I find. All those parts of being grown-up are quite tolerable. What I don’t like about being a grown-up is the requirement to become very proper, civilized, unimaginative and boring.

Not everyone turns out like that. Lots of grown-ups—mainly those who work in creative professions—remain child-like in their view of the world. After all, they do spend most of their working lives playing. But the majority of people, when they grow up, trade in their wonder, creativity and imagination for a job spent answering telephones and pushing papers about and signing things and entering numbers into computers. Now, I’ll tell you this: a child would find doing things like entering numbers into an Excel spreadsheet, or answering the telephone for a hotel, very entertaining—for the first two days or so. No child on the planet would be compelled, however, to engage in such tasks for up to forty hours a week, for years on end, not unless they were forcefully coerced. Why? Because such jobs and tasks are boring! And a lot of them, if you look at them closely, with a very keen and beady eye, are completely useless, too.

Receptions are needed might look very necessary, being as how they are needed to filter in calls for the institutions they work for, but I’ve found a lot of the time the very institutions they work for are not necessary, companies that manufacture unnecessary material goods which they then sell to people who don’t actually need the products, but simply want them because they believe buying things will make them happy. And of course receptions are needed for places like hospitals and suchlike; but if you were to do a bit of asking around you’d find that technology has reached the stage where it is perfectly feasible for there to be electronic, robotic and automatic receptionists to be instated in every institution around the world, only it hasn’t been done because someone somewhere has decided the population needs to be kept busy, and so many very boring jobs which could very well be automated are still done by people.

Another thing that is not so lovely about growing up is that if you have managed to remain a child at heart, then you will tend to find those who’ve already sold their souls to society and become boring, capitalist robots to be very draining to be around. There’s nothing in their eyes. If you look a child in the eye, you’ll always find something there, some brightness, some avidity or curiosity, some spark of playfulness and joy, that signals their soul is still intact, still fresh and beating. But if you look inside the eyes of a lot of these grown-ups who sit behind these desks all over the world, there’s nothing very much there, and to peer into them is to feel oneself standing on a barren wasteland, with a cold wind blowing in your face. And the more of these people you encounter, the more deeply alone you tend to feel—the way, I suppose, a living child walking amongst lifeless, dangling puppets might.

When you are a grown up, it suddenly becomes not proper to stop in your tracks and inspect a caterpillar as it inches across its leaf while spouting exclamations of delight. It is not proper to be curious about anything that isn’t related to your job, your studying, or your family. Children get excited and curious about everything. Questions whiz from their mouths like fireballs, and their eyes are always open wide, looking around, their lips curving into smiles, their whole selves opening up like flowers to the world swarming and shifting around them. The difference between an adult who has remained a child, and an adult who has slotted him or herself into the pigeonholes of society is that one has retained a sense of wonder regarding the world, a kind of delight regarding everything from the moon to butterflies, while the other probably doesn’t even remember the last they time they properly looked at the moon, and, if pressed to do so, would remark, “It’s just the moon,” and if a butterfly were to accidentally fly through the window into their house, try and whack it with a book, or shoo it back outside, rather than gaze upon its delicate beauty with reverence and awe.

Nuh-uh. You’re not turning me into one of those people. Over my dead body, I say. I’ll go on skipping through the leaves, and watching the pigeons, and being curious about everything from raisins to goggles, and let the “grown-ups” live their lives standing up to their knees in boring muck. Now, if you’ll excuse me—I have an imaginary friend to get back to.