Writing; addiction or outlet?

By the time I figured out what that phrase meant, it had already passed its shelf life. An idealist at heart with bucket loads of naïveté, I expected to go out into the world and save it from itself. Initially, I misinterpreted the phrase to mean “love the outcome of what you do” and I give credence to the fact that for most people who do what they do for the money, this is exactly right.

For a mind bordering on solipsism, money and fame become repulsive but also an undeniable part of reality. As disillusionment takes its toll, one wonders where the fallacy ends and it never seems to. For a world that can’t be saved by an individual, what is an individual to do? Be an unwavering individual.

With billions of minds on this planet, each seemingly in competition for a few “good” jobs here and there (thanks globalization). What do I have to offer that I know would be a win-win situation for an organisation and I? My mind went over my hobbies and interests (I did try to find a job that would allow me to sleep in the early hours of the morning and wake up late evening but I didn’t really want to be a DJ). It seemed clear and obvious after that. I would have to become a writer.

Shortening a long story, I found myself in an interview for a writing internship in an organisation that seems to be doing exactly the kind of work I myself would like to do. What were the odds? This is where the happily ever after is supposed to come in, the screen fades to black and we walk out of the cinema. But there I was, with the internship that I wanted. What now? I spent a week trying to calculate all the consequences of all my possible decisions and fussed about my deliverables. I focused on everything my mind could lay its tentacles on and because of this, I missed the details. I froze, petrified in light of getting what I wanted. The thaw might be slow but I know it will be steady.

Writing will be my first consciously developed addiction.

And so, my first fable…

 

The Top of the food chain

 

Sometimes, when the moon is full and the stars are twinkling, all the different animals in the ocean are allowed to talk to each other. They sing and they dance, sharing stories of the different reefs and gyres.

One night, however, while the animals were socialising, a great net appeared from the surface of the ocean and scooped up all the little tuna, some turtles, dolphins and other sea creatures before closing up and rising back to the surface slowly. The animals screamed and cried. They tried everything to get out of the net but none of them had teeth sharp enough to cut through the net.

Meanderingly, Shark swam up to see what all the commotion was about. The animals begged Shark to bite the net for them but he laughed as he swam away.

“I’m at the top of the food chain” Shark thought to himself. “Why would I waste my time helping the animals?”

Many moons later, after all the animals had observed and timed the appearance of the net that had taken their friends and family, they began to gather again and share their stories at a safe depth. One night, they saw Shark swimming close to where the net was scheduled to appear and they tried to warn him. Shark prided himself as being the most fearsome fish in the ocean so he ignored them and promptly got scooped up by the great net.

Unfortunately, because Shark was the only one caught, the net was so light that it rose back to the surface before any of the other fish could help him. In that moment, Shark knew that despite his sharp teeth and his ability to scare other animals, he was not at the top of the food chain.

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Psychology festival of learning

It’s been difficult to come up with material for this blog…which I think is understandable, given the nature of what I’d planned for this blog. Addiction is never easy to admit to, much less talk about jovially and I applaud the people who can. I’ve had a few that I can’t own up to quite yet but once in a while I reach a point where I simply have to let it go and then it becomes something I can own and live through and thrive because of it. One such addiction has been more focused on the brain, I’m addicted to figuring out what I am and I still feel ashamed about it sometimes but I think it’s time to let go of that shame and own it.

I decided to feed my addiction by allowing the good nature of the Universe to lead me to good people who understand that this world needs more carers and their lives become a vote for exactly that. Because of this, I got to attend what I thought would be a blaring affair of amplified instruction on something slightly related to psychology but watered down for the masses (my pessimism has no place to go so I’m taking care of him until he gets back on his feet). This event turned out to be quite the intimate affair. As I walked in, bracing my ears for the onslaught of speakers, I was serenaded toward the entrance by what can only be described as an enchantress. Her singing lulled me into a state of sweet compliance and this continued all through the night. My perspective was changing, coming all this way might actually have been worth. (They had really good food you guys, like, I’m vegetarian so I know good food when I taste it hey, just saying)

The South African College of Applied Psychology(SACAP) hosted the Psychology Festival of Learning and held sessions, almost workshop like programs. I know my being got a real work out in those sessions. On the first night I attended, after gorging myself on the mini-quiches that were laid out buffet style, I panicked at the thought of falling asleep after my little meal but as it turned out, I didn’t have a chance to. The next two or so hours were dotted with short, 15 minute talks that reminded me of those refreshing bursts of spritzer on a hot Cape Town day. From the story of a local hospital(The Lentegeur Spring: Recovery and hope in a psychiatric institution) to conceptual tools aiding conscious change and inspiring us with the story of a man named Andreas Banetsi who saw the plight in his own community for psychological services and is pushing to meet that need with fierce determination. I mean the guy bought a bus and is using it to give people a safe environment to come to terms with their reality and live healthy lives, that’s hero material right there. That was an amazing night. The kicker was using Uber to get home, loved it!

Unfortunately, I couldn’t make it for the full day program on Friday…folks needed me. Forget the food though, the menu for that Friday program was a feast in itself. Anyway…I did sate my mind on Saturday. Also dripping with choice, Saturday gave me an Introduction to Mindfulness(pretty serendipitous if you ask me) and as a beginners guide to walking through a mini existential crisis was Knowing Ourselves as Such. The speakers, Mandy Johnson and Patrick Madden, made good use of the intimate atmosphere and got to know each participant on a personal level, which I feel is impressive, making 8 people(the participating audience) feel instantly at home and gently guide us through such a personal experience without any pressure or discomfort is no little feat. If the levels of sincerity and honesty in that building could be measured the readings would have set records for decades. I’ve never experienced my humanity with so many people in the same space and felt so accepted and whole.

My gushing will stop now, you know how it is when you get your first hit of what you know will be a long and prosperous addiction. You can’t stop thinking about it and I wish I wasn’t a “don’t kiss and tell” kind of guy but I am. Hell, I’ve bitten the apple on this one, probably with the same amount of fervor that Eve did those few years ago in the Garden.

The subconscious

With our advanced technology, our flights to the moon and back, exploring our solar system and observing long dead stars. With our certainties regarding God within religion and philosophies giving birth to entire civilizations. With our riches whether we deem those to be diamonds and fast cars or grandchildren and time to read some books. With everything we’ve achieved and everything we’ve fought for, human rights, land, freedom of speech, Kings, Queens, emperors and of course, religion. We still don’t know what on earth we’re doing here.

As I read more material and discover new ideologies I can only adapt my thinking as best as I can with the most recent and compelling new piece of information. Sometimes, I have an answer that I’m so certain of, I know I have to get everyone else to see it. Then it’s shattered or at least put aside by a new realization or experience. We don’t know who we are or what we are, we have ideas but they’re just ideas.

One idea that’s stuck around for a very long time is that we are One. We are a unit that has been divided and spread over time and space. This idea seems to make sense, everyone seems to think so. Sometimes one of those inspirational quotes actually get into my head and plays with my thoughts. The one that’s given me a new certainty was the saying “Everything around you is a reflection of yourself”

I’ll pause for a second and go back. I have to mention that through this journey I’ve been on, I’ve been getting to know myself. Getting to know my fears and loves. My desires and peeves. I’ve been getting to know my own mind basically. The thing is, the more I understand my mind, the more I pay attention to my subconscious, the more I understand the concept of oneness. This leads us back to the subconscious, we’ve been told that we’re all from the same consciousness. This piece of information is common knowledge. The only thing that separates us is the material world. If that’s the case, then essentially, each person you speak to is part of the same mind as you. A part of your mind that you don’t have direct access to. In each of us, that would be our subconscious. For a few hours I toyed with the idea of solipsism, I saw vehement arguments against it. Then I remembered that the imagination isn’t the subconscious. They’re very different concepts.

Another saying… “Everything in life is a lesson” …if you look at human existence from the perspective of a single entity, each and every single trial and tribulation has taught us something. As a single entity, we are complete in our experiences and abilities. As a single entity, we are, essentially, God.