Saturday 28 April 2012

Slightly on the random side....

The ever-elusive season of Spring is still fighting for dominance over Winter. I hope it hurries. Its time to be able to go out of the house without bundling up and struggling to stay warm! Now don’t get me wrong, I’m the first to admit that come the insane heat of summer I am going to be complaining about how bloody hot it is, but I really like Spring a great deal more than I like winter. Summer could do with some moderation, especially as I don’t have air conditioning. And last Summer I was nearly baked alive, so I’m kind of hoping we have a summer which is more moderate in temperature. Especially so it’s easier and more comfortable to wear gear. But enough about weather patterns.

On many occasions, I have spoken about the fickle-ness of people on the internet, and obviously that’s never going to change. The internet provides people with a safe-haven – a layer of protection for themselves, where they can be, or pretend to be, anything, anyone they want to be. The problem with this is that many people do not seem to build true relationships with people, and both parties end up being disappointed in the end. And, at the end of it, the three personal key words I keep harping on come back into place.

Honestly, integrity and respect. In recent weeks, I have run into quite a few people who lack those three core principals. This becomes frustrating and, quite frankly adds to the frustration I have with ‘society’. I also think the annoyance is because you really can’t have one of those principals without the other. I mean, let’s face it, if I respect you, then I am going to be honest, and follow through on what we’ve spoken about, and so on.

I have a great deal of respect for many of the people I know. I respect their opinions, even if they are different from mine, and I respect their life experiences. I gain knowledge from their experiences, and of all the things that we can possess, the one thing they truly cannot take away from us is Knowledge.

And Knowledge is power. Knowledge is what makes ‘great’ men Great. It’s the reason we remember the names of people such as Plato and Aristotle, many centuries after they have passed on. And we should strive to gain knowledge every day. Learn something new, no matter how inconsequential it may seem at the time. The application of knowledge is what we call Wisdom.

I have been fortunate in many regards. I have had many people with many different experiences I have met over the years. I have gained knowledge of many things (some of which I must admit, I wish I hadn’t learned), but that knowledge has helped me, on more than one occasion to offer guidance and support to those in times of need. I find that many people turn to me for that guidance and I have to admit I enjoy the feeling of being able to help someone else through a tough time.

So go out and learn something today. Go and get to know someone new. Take the time and interact with someone, and learn about life from someone else’s experiences. You never know when that knowledge is going to come in handy to save a life – possibly even yours.

I know today’s blog is rambling a little and seems rather disjointed in some ways – it may be that I simply need more coffee. But these things float around in my head sometimes, and just need to be put down in black and white and posted somewhere for someone to read.

Speaking of postings…. Is anyone paying attention? The webpage is in danger of being closed down, as it comes up for renewal this coming month. If you can donate – no matter how small an amount, please do so. Every cent helps.

Saturday 14 April 2012

Baby Steps and Leaps of Faith

Leaps of faith sometimes need to start with baby steps. Frankly, I’m a little tired of walking in circles, which seem to continuously pull me back in and keep me stagnant and unable to move ahead. If you are confused, that’s a good thing. It may mean you are paying attention.

Sometimes, it’s really hard being seemingly isolated and cut off from the world by geography. It can be a lonely existence, and it can be incredibly frustrating. I moved to Canada some 12 years ago now, and whilst many good things have occurred in that time, in hindsight, many more bad or negative things have occurred.
I have had the feeling for some time now that I just don’t fit in around here. I am speaking about my physical location, not my cyber world. People seem different here – their value of friendship and their focus on building those lasting relationships seems almost completely non-existent. It’s the reason for my recent post about friendships.

Im a pretty sociable guy, and love to spend time with people in social environments. I enjoy the company of others, for laughter, discussion, debate and camaraderie. I enjoy having people around me and being their support and having them for support. But I have recently been made painfully aware that those in my physical proximity do not share the high value I place in friendships with me. A number of recent incidents have proven this, time and again, and it really makes my heart sink. I have wondered if this is a ’North American’ thing or if it’s just this area In particular.

And now I find myself in a rather emotionally precarious position. I have ties here that have kept me bound close, but I have found myself feeling trapped, isolated and, quite frankly, miserable. And past experiences have added to that in ways I don’t care to describe. Besides the complete deficit of a viable job market here, and being faced with personal milestones of age, perhaps I have the strength left to try something, and indeed somewhere, new.

Going back to South Africa is not really an option for me. Its entirely a different country now to when I left it 12 years ago, and I have watched with dismay the struggles of friends of mine who have returned there from abroad after years of absence. And so I have been looking at other locales and countries, and, most specifically, the United Kingdom. This is an attractive draw in many ways, it’s always been one of the few places in the world I have felt I wanted to see – and perhaps settle in. I would already have a fairly large sized social structure (between ex-pat South Africans and the myriad of British people I know), and has a much more active cultural job market than I have seen in Canada (or North America for that matter) which, as many of you know, is my trade.

But then I started a correspondence with someone on the other side of Canada. Suddenly something was stirred down in me that wasn’t just gas. Suddenly I started seeing images of my ideal home life again. Clear images, different from the ones which I found totally destroyed and decimated last year, which have sparked a semblance of hope for me. I can picture myself in my idea of bliss at home again, and it’s truly encouraging.

But it has some downsides too. Firstly – my incredible amount of fear and trepidation of being hurt again like I was last year. The pain of that still haunts me, and still terrifies me. And the idea of opening up my heart as it is want to do is really scary. And yet the heart seems to do as it pleases and the mind be damned. My heart is being pulled and drawn as it often is to someone far from me.

Other drawbacks include, but are not limited to, leaving behind and breaking the ties that have held me here for so long, as well as the prospect of trying, yet again, to completely re-establish myself in yet another entirely new environment. For those of you who have never left your home town, state or, for that matter country, may not have a clue as to how incredibly difficult that can be. And it truly is – leaving behind a myriad of people you know you will never see again… ever.

And so here I am at that junction again. Facing the possibility of moving across the country to what I see as a future – which, while not clearly defined and laid out in stone, appears, for all intents and purposes, to be my best option. Going where I have never been before and hoping and praying that it is a good decision.
Now before you panic – I’m not a total fool. I haven’t already packed my bags and sold off most of my assets (meager as they are), although that is possibly on the horizon, nor have I purchased a one way ticket. My plan is to first visit there and spend some time with this person and see how we gel in person. I honestly don’t see us having much issue, but past experiences have proven me wrong. So  my baby steps are starting here. A few weeks visit in the next few months, and then depending on the outcome of  that,  returning home to take a leap of faith and relocate.

It’s ironic that I find myself again prepared to do this for someone. Last year, I would have given  up everything to be with someone, who turned out not to want me, nor prepared to have a go at making it work. My heart is fully torn because of that. It is now leading me down that path again – taking me back to that preparedness to give up everything to spend (hopefully) the rest of my life with someone I have not yet even met.

I have to remind myself that leaps of faith are what has brought about the progress of man through the ages. Some have gone against the established norms in their beliefs that what they are doing is right, others have boldly gone where no man has gone before. It’s scary, its unknown – but that’s why it’s called faith, isn’t it?

Tuesday 10 April 2012

HMS Friendship

I know I am not perfect. Really, I do. I mean sometimes, I’m close, I know, but I not perfect and I don’t do the right thing or say the right thing all the time. I also wear my heart on my sleeve. And perhaps it’s the way I was raised, and the environment in which I was raised, but the people I find around me now consistently disappoint me. Now, let me qualify that statement. There are a select few to which this does not apply. Generally, you know who you are.

I have always been the person others can rely on as friend. I am the one that people can call 24/7 in a crunch and know that I am there for them. I support people I barely know – or have never met in person - on a constant basis. I am reliable, honest, and consistent in my support of those people who I care about as friends.

Now I know I have been through a lot in recent months, and most of those of you who follow my blog will know that last year sucked royally for me. And the first thing one does in a time of crisis is reach out to ones friends. Now you need to understand that when I grew up, while we were taught independence, we were also taught the value of integrity and friendship. And ‘back where I come from’ friends are there for one another in good and bad times. We rely on our social structure – and support one another because no-one is an island.

I was accused of relying on my friends too much by someone I cared about and it truly hurt. I was very taken aback. It then sunk in. Many of the people I am now in contact with who grew up in a totally different mindset from mine back home, don’t have friends they can rely on. Their friends are not reliable, consistent or, often honest. They have grown up selfish, and not used to creating a strong family of friends. (It should be noted here that I am generalizing, and if this doesn’t apply to you – then calm down – it doesn’t apply to you).

When I speak with my friends, it’s like we spoke the day before although months may have passed. And when my phone rings at 2am and they can’t sleep because of pain, or because of a nightmare, or some stress in their lives – it’s not a hassle to me. It’s not too much to deal with. They aren’t ‘needy’. To me, it’s an HONOUR to be able to give of my time, body and heart to care for my friends. And I’ve been fortunate to have been given the opportunity to save life by being there for my friends on more than one occasion.

So this is why I am shocked at how some ‘friends’ conduct themselves. Firstly – the person who didn’t think I should rely on my friends so much, and others who feel the same, I would have to say I pity. Because that shows that in their past, their friends have been fickle and unreliable, and that is truly a terrible thing.

Secondly - I hear so often from people I chat to that they ‘don’t have any friends’ – and I can truly see what they mean. There are countless of those cutesy quotes flying around the web. Things like “A Friend will bail you out of jail, a good friend will be sitting next to you saying ‘Man we fucked up’ “ etc. I could quote them all and this blog will never end. The truth of the matter though, is that many of us don’t have friends - TRUE friends.

And sometimes being a true friend means taking the time to simply say hello, and ask how someone is. And knowing them well enough to know that sometimes when they say “I’m fine” that they really are not. And being their support and showing that you care. The tiniest gesture of friendship can honestly make the world of difference to someone who is going through something they may not wish to share openly.

I am fortunate because I have some who I truly consider my chosen family. How do I distinguish between those ‘family’ friends and those who are simply acquaintances? I can talk to my family about ANYTHING – no subject is taboo – regardless of their personal feelings on the subject – they will hear me out and offer advice and perspective. They will listen when it’s the middle of the night and I can’t sleep. They will be there when I need to hear a friendly voice or vent to someone. They are there when I want to tell someone how awesome my day was. They are the ones who check in and ask how I’m doing, no matter how busy and full their lives are. THOSE are real friends.

And it’s kinda funny. I love them because they are true friends…. just like me.

Sunday 1 April 2012

Not the best of days.

OK – So I admit it. I get traumatized by nightmares. It doesn’t happen often, although recently they have been more frequent.

This morning I woke up in the middle of one, sweating, tears running down my face and in absolute agony, brief flashes of the dream still foremost in my mind, and my heart racing. Everything was so real and tactile – and – physically painful.

Thank god a good friend was around at 7ish this morning – and managed to calm me down and talk me through it – but – I remain totally unsettled by this vision. The images are still flashing in front of my eyes, and even as I write this, I feel my heart-rate increasing.

You have to understand – I usually do not remember my dreams, nor do I actually usually remember dreaming at all. So when I have dreams such as this they completely unsettle me. My whole day has been off kilter, being overshadowed by the ghosts in my head. Sometimes I hate how my mind works. I can be cruel and inhumane, and this mornings’ dream was a prime example of that cruelty.

I’m not going to go into details – as It is I’m trying to push them from my mind – but they unsettle me greatly. I wonder if they are my own fears? Or perhaps the product of some supernatural fore-warning? Maybe it’s just a product of my sub conscious looking too far into things that aren’t there? No matter which it is or turns out to be – its disturbing, and I am left wondering if there is something fundamentally wrong with  me – or if parts of me are damaged beyond repair. So today, I’m not ok.
Inside my head is a mess, but my smile doesn’t show that.