A Kate Tempest quote

…a feeling that someone had called to him from a long way away. He found himself there in that illusive waking moment before reality catches up. He could have been anywhere, at any time in his life.

 

The Bricks that Built the Houses by Kate Tempest

Memory of affirmation and the power it has to shape a lifetime

I’m not suggesting that this one isolated incident created my life, but when I was five, older girls down my street put on a magic show for the younger kids. It was quite a beautiful thing to do, looking back at it, and it brought everyone together.
Halfway through their magic show they tasked us (the younger kids) with a competition: who could draw the best picture of their garage (where the magic show was happening). I drew their typical British 1970’s grey-bricked garage, at the end of their driveway, with the yellow garage door and I remember thinking at the time that it was quite simple so there was probably something I wasn’t doing right and I might not win.
It turns out that not only did I have better hand-eye coordination than the only other kid who actually drew their garage, but that I was probably smarter as well, since most kids just drew something else completely and didn’t hear/understand/care about their fairly simple instructions. But I won a small bag of chalky sweets, like Refreshers, or Love Hearts, or Palma Violets. They were delicious and I was extremely proud.
I remember going into my back garden afterwards and sitting up on the top of the slide with a beaming feeling.

Neither of my parents were particularly artistically inclined, yet I became highly art-focussed. I got an A at GCSE, and went on to study it at A-Level, and even now have four or five sketchbooks on the go. It was a huge part of what I just ended up being known for, growing up.

It has just made me realise how important the positive small things are in life, and there really are defining moments.

Is it sociopathic to want to be the sun? A re-building process for good but broken adults and the risks of arseholes

Is it sociopathic to want to be the sun? As Frederick Douglass is widely accredited as saying:

“‘It is easier to build strong children than fix broken men.”

Life can be a sequence of bruises as we bounce from situation to situation; but how do we keep shining as a positive person, rather than let ourselves be mired? Think of a negative person, how broken they look–as though poisoned, or how falsely upright they are in their indomitable appearance. It’s not something enlightened people would aspire to.

So assuming our original position is one of kindness and goodness, this is reminiscent of the sun. It is not a leap of imagination when one considers energy and radiance. One ought to be the sun: a measured giver of radiance, burning out one’s life force as is the way of all things, and not a tree: one tied into a complicated system of inputs and outputs, symbiosis and dependency. But in thinking this, worries arise of of the implications for such bombastic imagery. Is it ever a good idea to position oneself in any thinking, as the giver of life? Sounds dangerous and enormously egocentric. So taking any connotations of God or celestial power away we are left with the concept of a singular radiant entity of the sun and the implicated organic network of life in the tree.

There’s nothing wrong with self-betterance but at what point do we build ourselves into an ivory tower when resurfacing from strife because of self-defence in the face of arseholes around us? At what point do we become that which we loath because we can never fully control our environment and influences–especially from other people, say at work etc.? At what point do we become the indomitably upright in our self-defence during ‘life’, which by nature we cannot control? Our personality is a construct of thoughts and behaviours, and our thoughts and behaviours are a construct of our cognition and our personal histories. Our cognition and personal histories are impacted by those around us and our interactions and so we can never truly be ‘in control’. But what can we affect?

The aforementioned danger concerns the ivory-tower. When resurfacing from strife and in avoiding pain, but seeking improvement, there is a risk of creating a monster when trying to create a hero. Of course, sometimes it is not good to think in those terms at all, and instead just be; no hero; no monster. Change happens, life grows, one is not the architect but the house. Still, I think for some–especially for those rebuilding themselves after a storm of any intensity or duration–there needs to be at least a vague understanding of what it all looked like before, in order to rediscover the shape. Just being is just circling–round and round, on and on–for some. One would need fresh influence, not stale dead ends and self-deception.

So being the sun means giving out your life force, regardless. Not burning any brighter because you feel scared, not burning any less because you feel withdrawn. Not changing your approach to life because of arseholes, not being chameleonic and losing your own shape, not being dependent on other people being good for you to be good. Not being held hostage by yourself because you require something in return when you are being kind. Give out positivity, and do it regardless of how dull or malicious those around you are. Be okay regardless of whether you receive an apology. You do not lose anything: they do not suck out any more of you. You do not catch disease; you do not run out of water; you do not get entangled by climbers or get cut down. You radiate regardless, and you will radiate every day until you die and that’s a great thing. That’s life, at its best.

Exam result joys and blues

Life is long and opportunities do not end at 16, nor 18. Grades at school represent one facet of intelligence. You are not defined by the grades you get. If you did not get the grades – honestly – you are in good company. Some of the most interesting and intelligent people I know did not get particularly good grades at school. What’s more, in the real world you often see school-intelligent people just not ‘getting’ how business and people work. Successful entrepreneurs often buck the trend of education success = business success. There are a whole load of different ways that people with different kinds of ‘intelligence’ can succeed. Do you somehow just ‘know’ how to talk to people? Do you ‘get’ what makes a good party a good party? Can you quietly understand what’s actually happening in a given situation? Do you have a gift of making a child feel safe and empowered? None of those and countless other things require you to understand trigonometry…

What schooling success is changes too. With every generation we have some Government and/or Education Secretary who attempt to change everything in the name of their own legacy. The goalposts move within the period of time it takes us to start primary school and leave secondary/further education. How we are tested changes; how we form classes changes; what we should aspire to – educationally – changes. Nothing about school is as important as who you are as a person and how you come across. Nobody is restricted in making a good first impression. And for one’s first job, a good first impression is the thing to make.

So don’t despair or feel bad in anyway about what you read on a few pieces of paper and even if you don’t feel like the you’re the person you’d love to be – you have so much time! There are so many different ways to get to a place where you’d like to be. Think back to what you were like when you started your A Levels. That first day and those nerves and look at what you’ve learned, off your own back, about the world in that time. That’s two years. Life is a lot, lot longer than two years!