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Life

Comfortable in my own Skin

I decided about an hour ago that it might be a good idea to update my profile photo everywhere – to better reflect what I have looked like for the last six months or so. It struck me while posting it that something unexpected has happened in recent times – I have become more-or-less comfortable in my own skin. In my thoughts too. Things haven’t always been this way.

When I was young, I was always the gawky kid that didn’t quite fit in. I found it difficult to make friends, and then difficult to maintain friendships. I thought about things too much – I still do – and worried about perceptions of actions and words by those around me.

I wouldn’t say I’ve started to care less about what other people think – I think perhaps I’ve just become a little more confident that my view or outlook is ok – that I’m not a lunatic or monster. If somebody else wants to have an agenda, or a mission, that’s up to them – we don’t have to share opinions, ideals, or world-views. Differences are almost always what make people interesting, and a chance to learn from. I suppose the only problem with that is the most vocal are often the most resistant to other points of view.

It doesn’t help that historically I have sat on the fence about so many things.

For years if questioned about my religious beliefs, I would say I was agnostic – because I didn’t want to hurt anybody’s feelings. These days when questioned, I will freely admit that I have no faith or belief in any sort of higher power. That’s not the same as atheism – by the same logic that you can’t prove the existence of a higher power, you can’t disprove it either. Just because you haven’t observed something yet doesn’t mean it’s not there.

A few months ago I probably lost a few friends while defending J K Rowling’s defence of women’s rights, in the face of an opinionated mob weaponising social media against her. When a public response against such attacks on social media was then signed by several hundred of the foremost writers and thinkers of our time, I will admit to exhaling somewhat.

A similar situation happened about a month after the COVID19 pandemic had swept the world. For a time our prime minister was in hospital, being treated for the virus, and the people were behind him. Then slowly but surely, all manner of keyboard warriors and armchair experts started weighing in on every decision, both past and present. I commented about it on Facebook, and spent an afternoon defending even the thought that I might defend our government. Somebody I used to work with eventually saw my point, and commented “see that’s the thing – you’re a nice person – you’re calm, objective, and reasonable – so you expect others to be too”. There were no more comments after that.

Stepping away from blogging over the last few months has caused quite a bit of reflection – about why I write, what I write, and who I write for. Although I have often stated that I write for myself, if you know any sort of audience is out there, it obviously influences you to an extent. I’ve begun to wonder if I now care less about that audience too – not in a bad way – but it’s difficult to express why.

Maybe it’s a realisation that everybody has their own story – their own journey – and it’s not about worrying what others think – it’s more about being true to yourself, and affording others the chance to do the same.

Categories
Life

Rings, Rabbits, and Flying

I’m not entirely sure where this post is going to go. It’s three minutes until midnight on Sunday night, and you find me sitting in the dark of the junk room, typing like mad at the desktop computer, because I should really be in bed already.

I just spent the last couple of hours watching a wonderful video onYouTube with my other half – a Zoom meeting between the Lord of the Rings cast members organised by Josh Gad (you might know him as Olaf, the snowman, in Frozen). While in lockdown he’s been organising cast reunions of iconic movies, and last week was the turn of the Lord of the Rings.

It was so lovely to see the cast back together again, sharing stories of their time on set together, and reminiscing. I won’t ruin it too much for you – just go look up “One Zoom to Rule Them All” on YouTube.

In other news, I watched the movie “Jojo Rabbit” last night, and it’s been on my mind ever since. If you’ve not seen it, please – just do it. I’m amazed that it was ever made, to be honest – given that a US studio signed off on it. I posted on Facebook about it, and wondered if the studio just didn’t understand the message (you’ll realise what I mean when you figure out which studio paid for it, and their political leanings).

I think perhaps the biggest shame about Jojo Rabbit is that the people who most need to see it and realise it’s about them won’t understand or realise – which almost perfectly explains why America is in freefall at the moment.

Anyway. That got a bit heavy and judgemental.

I’ve been playing with the flight simulator some more, and my respect for airline pilots goes up each time I play with it. I’ve progressed on to a very realistic recreation of the Boeing 737. Tonight I “flew” from London to Groningen, and nearly killed all the passengers after missing some air conditioning switches during the pre-takeoff checklist. Thankfully the plane informed me via a violent klaxon while cruising at 20,000 feet.

I’m still not sure how real-world pilots handle the workload. Perhaps they don’t spend time looking for switches and buttons though – perhaps they’ve learned where they are, what they do, and why they are pressing them.

I really need to go to bed now.

This was a late night blog post on behalf of the “writing a blog post in ten minutes because you feel like you should” party.

Categories
Life

Saturday Morning

Yesterday evening I posted something vaguely political on Facebook, and almost immediately regretted it – not because of the subject matter of my post – because of the mob mentality of many of those that responded.

Why do so many people only see the world from their perspective? Why do so few people consider the bigger picture? It almost seemed that many had been bottling up personal frustrations about anything and everything, and had been looking for an opportunity to vent bile.

Although I managed to halt most of the idiocy, and open a few people’s eyes, I can safely say that I never want to become a politician. Imagine what it must be like – where you balance the advice of expert analysis to make life changing decisions, and no matter what you do, a proportion of those effected will suddenly become much more qualified than the career scientists, economists, biologists, or whoever else about whatever decision you have made.

Anyway.

It’s Saturday morning. I’m holed up in the study, tapping away on the keyboard of the twenty year old iMac, writing this into a text editor most people have not seen for a decade. After saving the words I will copy them over to a file share on the Raspberry Pi, and then check them into a Git repository on the internet. From there I will be able to grab them on the PC across the room, and pollute the world wide web with them.

It sounds insane, but it stops me from becoming distracted mid-sentence, opening a browser tab, and jumping down some rabbit hole or other. I know I’m my own worst enemy.

Yesterday I got out of the house for a few hours with our youngest daughter, and went for a walk in the sunshine (read: baking furnace in the sky). We walked over a nearby hill that looks out over town, and then out along the river and back – about twelve kilometres or so. Along the way we saw geese, cows, and all manner of idiotic people disregarding social distancing rules. There seems to be a link with money and idiocy – the 1% that own the river-side houses seemed to be taking no notice at all of any of the guidance – with friends visiting, children playing in huge groups – you end up having to compartmentalise them in your head, and try to take no notice.

I find myself compartmentalising a lot recently.

Today is a quiet day. The washing machine is running, the sun is shining, my middle daughter is continuing to paint miniature soldiers, and I’m hoping to watch the SpaceX launch later. In a little while I’ll call my parents to see how they are doing, and then the day is my own. I’m thinking a video game, or a book.

We all know I’ll just end up down an internet rabbit hole, don’t we.