Monday, September 17, 2012

Reasons you should be selfish (when it comes to your own heart)

It was Dear Sugar who wrote, sometimes you have to be brave enough to break your own heart.

That means a lot of different things, for whatever situation you might be in, but it always means the same thing - saying no. No to the toxic relationship you know won't work, no to the friend that always brings you down, no to the poisonous habits of comparison, narcissism or ruthless competition. No to the things that will leave you eating your body weight in nutella and wallowing in self-loathing. The bad relationships, the people or things or habits in your life that are the equivalent of emotional cutting.

There's value in deciding your own emotional health and general well being outweighs the desire to satisfy some self-destructive vacuum. There's value in cutting ties and burning bridges (the ones that are going to collapse of their own accord anyway). Not everything needs to be set alight, but sometimes you gotta do a little back burning. Not everybody is good for you. Not everything is worth your time. There are precious things worthy of your suffering. You have to break your own heart, sometimes.

Not that it's easy. We're all a little masochistic, and I think everybody's 'been there'. To that place where you can't let go.. of people that took a special place in your life but for whatever reason have been relegated to the outskirts, that are out-laws in your little circle of trust, that don't get a seat at your future.

I'm a bit of a sucker for sentimentality and approval. On the other hand, it feels insanely liberating not to be at the mercy of a black hole of emotional drainage. That's why it's a tough gig. It's cognitive dissonance. Logically we know. Emotionally, we don't care. Doing things that press on our hearts in millions of tiny little ways. Like insisting on keeping in touch with your ex even though it's pointless and takes away that 'one step forward'. Or prior to keeping in touch with an ex, the being man enough to euthanise your own relationship. It's the goodbye to things that keep you paralysed, the burning of the bridge that always leads to nowhere. That's the big, brave part. The necessary part.

You just have to pick up a match and start the bonfire. And then just chuck in all of the self-destruction. No more unnecessary bad days, no more self-inflicted sufferings, no more pity parties as a consequence of That Thing or That Person or That Voice in Your Head/Life that shouldn't be there anymore.

Growing up Catholic, I know all about the interwoven threads of suffering and life. But I'm not about replaying painful dramas just for kicks. If you've learned, and you know better, just say no.. to The Bad Things. Instead, do the Better thing. Choose yourself. Be selfish. Be a bad ass. Break your own heart. You'll thank yourself for it.

When the world is full of small armies full of like-minded people who will just get you and ideas that will blow your mind and experiences that will build you up in ways you've never imagined - why waste your time?

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Here's what I know

Here's the biggest kept secret that nobody knows: No matter how old you are or how much outer appearances may project, nobody has their shit together. Not a clue. And everybody is secretly wondering if somebody else is suspecting them, everybody is waiting to be caught out on the fact that life is one big ad-hoc act, an improv stunt that lasts for longer than you expect it to.

Just about everybody in my family is going through some sort of vocational crisis. I helped my dad write his resume and cover letter the other day, talked to my mum about her change in work load, laughed at my brother for being on the verge of post grad and pushed my little sis in discovering possible channels post-highschool that aren't a University Arts Degree (I can say that because I've got two of 'em!).

No matter what age you are, how accomplished you may seem, how long or impressive your resume is, who really knows what they're doing? Or what they want to be doing?  Or that what they think they want to be doing is what they will actually be doing?

It comforts me to know that my twenties are set to be, and already have been, a series of wanderings. With an average of seven predicted job changes, the decade of the twenties is prime time for self-indulgent voyages into bizarre jobs and anecdotal adventures. Beyond that, however, I never thought that the wandering would continue. Not really.

When the biological clock starts ticking or I get tired of couch-surfing and eating migoreng for dinner, I will grow up and the never-ending fountain of possibilities will dry up. I'll spend my thirties secretly pining for my twenties while pretending I'm OK with burping babies and having 2 weeks of vacation at a year. I resigned myself to this idea that at age 29, I would hang up my Native-American-Head-Dress-Party-Hat and call it a decade.

But if people are still chop and changing in their fifties, this idea is a little shot to pieces. When I was seven and people asked me what I wanted to do, I thought I would know at seventeen, at seventeen, I thought I would know at Twenty-two. I'm twenty-two and have direction, but it's liable to change and to be honest I really still have no idea. Change and having no clue, both states of being of which I'm a little addicted to.

So here's the thing, it's too early to call but I probably will have no idea what I'm doing at thirty, at forty, at fifty and well into the wrinkled, cane-stick stage beyond that. But it's comforting, and exciting. God, I am a change addict. But there it is, the fun part. The not knowing, the never knowing.

Monday, September 3, 2012

In defence of caring

The world doesn't need another bleeding heart, but here I am anyway.

I suffer from soap-box syndrome and an overdose of idealism. I get into arguments, I get all arked up, my blood runs hot and quick when I read headlines that scream Stop The Boats or hear people talk about Queue Jumpers or watch a whole conversation revolve around Us Versus Them. When what I'm really angry about is rhetoric, what I'm mad about is opinion, what I'm shaking my head and stamping my feet and internally combusting over is values.

There is no famine of issues in the world, no drought of wars, no cease fire of reasons to feel angry, torn and helpless at life's bitter injustices. All you have to do is tune into a news bulletin, pick up a book, rent a movie or a documentary and it's there. Sex slavery, poverty, war, natural disasters, mass murder, take your pick.

There are endless cliches about westerners and all of us here in the first world, being changed, being heart broken, being shattered and devastated and moved to action by children too skinny to be real, stories too sharply horrifying to have taken place. A friend of mine went to Cambodia and saw ever briefly a collage of a country, shredded by war and being haphazardly pieced together. Another friend, a young medical student travelled to East Africa where familiar images, swarms of large-eyed children with finger-sized-wrists became smooth flesh and warm, pulsating blood.

And then you come back home, stumped and mute. Where to from here? Back to hot showers and $4.00 coffees, complaints about the accent of our prime minister or the latest reality TV show disaster on Channel 10. Back to vietnamese rolls and fleeting gossip, tedious facebook updates and a knee jerk reaction to everything that used to be.

Why do we go through this and why do we care? What is the point of walking a corridor you know can steal away your comfort and open secret doors you'd prefer sealed shut? Because one more bleeding heart is one less clenched fist. Because we're born human, are people, first and foremost. Because you can't come face to face with another persons humanity and not be moved.

Which is why there are not for profits and social enterprises popping up on every corner, like the dot com boom in silicon valley, the bleeding hearts are setting up shop trying to appease first-world guilt and make sense of past experience. These approaches have issues in and of themselves, and development experts have a lot to say about amateurs with good intentions trying to save the "poor brown people". But it starts here, with the glass wall shattering so you can step on through to the other side.

I am speaking about the reason we shouldn't shy away from caring about shit that is real. I've stood through enough rolled eyes and 'yeah, yeahs' to know that I'm not the first bleeding heart and I won't be the last. People care, and that's inherently a good thing. It's not enough, but it's where is starts.