Precedent

Decisions made before we get there are tough to swallow.

That’s why all kids burn their fingers on the stove. They weren’t there when it was decided it was too hot to touch, even though the information was relayed to them sincerely.

Telling somebody, “We decided giving you Y would be better than giving you X” is pointless because we didn’t give them a chance to consider the alternative.

Something isn’t better than nothing if you didn’t realize you were getting nothing to begin with.

And what might seem like the best of both worlds could turn out to be the worst of both for the person who wasn’t involved in the conversation.

It’s safer not to assume otherwise.

 

What a Ride

Did you hear the one about the woman who fell in love with a rollercoaster?

It wasn’t a joke.

Maybe there is some security in knowing that a rollercoaster will never look at other rollercoasters or try to rub rails with them.

Maybe there’s some comfort in knowing that a rollercoaster will always be there; colourful, well-oiled, steadfast, and reliable.

Maybe it’s the taboo thrill of the safety bar closing around your chest, locking you in a PVC-scented embrace.

Maybe it’s the tickle of the cold steel brushing against the hairs on your arms. Or the loss of orientation, and the screaming as things go rapidly downhill.

I’m not sure what has to happen to a person to make them fall in love with a rollercoaster, but let’s assume it isn’t great.

It is pretty cool that despite that hurt, the human heart will always find something to love, even if the brain is too scared to let it be another human. 

Excuse me while I hug my guitar.

 

Who said it?

Most people don’t speak for themselves.

It’s not that we can’t. It’s just easier to trot off someone else’s line. And just as easy to drop it if it doesn’t fit.

We see something in the news that sounds good and seems to align with what we believe, so we start repeating it. That’s just human.

The danger is when this happens unconsciously. When those alien thoughts trickle into our brain and start to pool without our noticing.

Then something comes out of our mouth that we don’t recognize. Something that surprises us. 

And we think, “Whose line is that?”

Because that sure as hell wasn’t me.

 

Mind the Grass

Humans sure love a patch of grass.

Maybe it’s because we were born on the savannahs and emigrated to the river banks, where grasses tend to grow.

Or it could be because the human eye perceives more shades of green than any other colour, and grass has every single one.

Grass is such an important part of human culture that we even have a few cliches about it.

Yes, the grass is always greener. But have you ever actually watched grass grow?

Sure, it’s not exactly a white knuckle thrill. But it’s not boring either. 

Checking in every day. Tempting the grass to grow this way or that. A little snip here. A seed or two there. 

Tending grass — or any plant — while it grows is one of the most interesting and fulfilling things we can do with our time.

Watching grass grow: not half as dull as watching paint dry!

But then again, I’m no Picasso.

 

Hot Stuff

Do you know those people that you see pretty frequently but always seem to avoid actually making contact with you?

It’s never someone we really know, but maybe we see them at the store or in the street or the park pretty often.

They have a sneaky look, never meet your eye when you turn to look, and always seem to be doing something else. 

It’s because they fancy the pants off you.

They can’t even look at you without getting a tingly crotch.

Every time they see you coming, their stomach leaps into their throat and starts making weird noises, and they have to look away because they can’t breathe

I thought you should know, in case you worried it was something else.

 

Rhythm of the Feet

It’s funny how things we hate often become part of our personality.

For better or worse.

Running, or anything faster than a brisk walk, was never very appealing; the last resort to catch a train.

It didn’t seem very dignified, especially how I was doing it. I didn’t go very far or fast and did get very sweaty, which was embarrassing. But over the last six years, running has become part of my life.

Starting a run is never easy. But something magical happens about a mile in, when your body has finally accepted that you’re not going to stop.

Rhythm.

The rhythm of your heart pounding gently and the sigh of your lungs sucking long, deep bagfuls of air; arms swinging almost of their own accord, all to the gentle metronome of your feet hitting the ground.

Everything becomes part of that movement, that directed dance.

Head up, putting one foot in front of the other again and again and again just to go where we want a little faster. And by sheer force of will, doing it longer than any other animal on the planet.

Nothing could be more human than that.

 

Beverageless

There’s something about a beverage that makes it easier to talk.

Maybe it’s just a British thing.

For almost every single situation where you might sit down and have a good natter, the Brits have a drink for it.

The pub is a mainstay of society. Walk into any home on that bickering brace of islands, and the first thing you’ll be offered is a drink most likely, a cup of tea.

Beverages lubricate even the most stubborn conversations. But I’ve noticed that drinking something while talking has become a nervous tick. There’s rarely an occasion these days where you’ll catch me beverageless in conversation.

Maybe that’s why my North American friends keep asking me to say, “bottle of water.”

 

 

Worth doing badly

 

Did you know there’s a Toe Wrestling World Championship?

That’s another weird side to humans.

Pick any activity — and I mean any — and there’s probably an International Federation and a World Cup. There’s definitely a World Record.

It’s our competitive nature. Nobody wants to be the slowest when the village gets attacked by a saber-tooth tiger.

Just add agriculture and wait 10,000 years, and you get the World’s Greatest Cherry-Pit Spitter. 

Of course, it’s important to try our best. But not everything has to be done to Olympic standard to be worth doing. And perfection is a poor excuse.

You can be awful at meditation or sudoku or singing and still enjoy them. And you can be terrible at picking up litter, running, giving to charity, or writing, and yet they’re still all worth doing.

Most things that are worth doing are still worth doing badly. And you’re never too bad to get better.

So, get out there and give it your worst shot.

 

Like that time

If you didn’t get the memo, here’s today’s agenda.

Today will be easy, like that test you thought you bombed but actually did pretty well on.

Today will be fun, like when you got chased and thought you weren’t going to get away but then you did.

Today will be interesting, like that weird show your friend forced you to watch that ended up being so good you binged the series later at home.

Today will be fast, like that unforgettable holiday that — after two weeks of — you were quite looking forward to coming home from.

Today is going to be quick, easy, and loud, like that time when…

Well, you get the idea.

 

Clichés Are Life

People who don’t like clichés are missing out.

Clichés were passed down over hundreds of thousands of years to communicate the oldest, most profound knowledge about being human. Caveman talk was probably 90% clichés and pickup lines. 

Clichés are unoriginal because they’re true.

This is the story of evil: Hurt people hurt people.

This is the story of happiness: Happy people help people.

This is the story of money: You can’t buy happiness.

This is the story of love: If you love it, let it go.

This is the story of heartbreak: It’s not you; it’s me.

This is the story of fate: Everything happens for a reason.

This is the story of revenge: An eye for an eye.

This is the story of fear: Curiosity killed the cat.

This is the story of envy: The grass is always greener.

This is the story of success: The early bird catches the worm.

This is the story of luck: Every dog has its day.

This is the story of patience: Good things come to those who wait.

Don’t let anyone tell you, “it’s just a cliché.” Clichés are the whispers of our ancestors; life lessons learned long ago.

It pays to listen.  

 

 

Stay Different

Yesterday, the greatest businessman alive wrote us a letter containing some sage words of advice.

And they’re not about how to time your pee breaks.

Ol’ Jeffo’s advice for success is simple: stay different.

The Universe is always trying to reclaim us for itself, to return us to equilibrium, to flatten us into our surroundings.

To make us ‘normal.’

Merely staying alive is a struggle because Life isn’t typical in this cold, vast, empty Universe.

Distinctiveness is what makes you and me different but also what brings us together. And our differences are worth fighting for, together. 

I’ll leave you with the words of the man who will take humanity to the stars

Be kind, be original, create more than you consume, and never, never, never let the universe smooth you into its surroundings.

 

 

Another dollar

What would you do for a dollar a day?

The phrase, “Another day, another dollar,” comes from a time when that was exactly how much a day of your life was worth — if you were lucky.

It was sung while slinging dirt out of the ancient Panamanian soil and hauling on salt-crusted ropes, hundreds of miles away from land.

It was grunted in the dark, forgotten slots of the mines and shouted between the thundering, crashing machines on the workshop floor.

And it’s sighed across cups of thick, lush coffee in sunlight-lanced kitchens as we crack our knuckles, wiggle our toes, and settle down for a few hours talking and typing.

“Dollars for days” is just what we do.

But at least I get to spend these days in my pyjamas.

And the coffee is better, too.

 

 

Fool thy neighbour

Humanity sure does some weird stuff. 

For as long as we’ve been scratching stories down in stone, we’ve put aside one day a year for playing harmless pranks. 

Worldwide. For millennia.

We just love seeing the look on other people’s faces when they think something terrible or wonderful has happened, but it hasn’t. 

Who doesn’t love a good letdown?

Maybe it’s just a good reminder that even in the most crushing disappointments, we can find a bit of light relief. 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s not really

Humans have extraordinary brains but they’re difficult to drive.

The problem is that our brain is so powerful — so good at imagining the various possible states of reality — that our body doesn’t realize it’s not real.

A few hundred years ago, some writer who fancied himself a philosopher pointed this out with the witty phrase, “My life has been filled with terrible misfortune; most of which never happened.”

We’ve all drifted into a dangerous thought and, before you know it, you’re there: heart pumping and mind racing, vividly day-dreaming the worst possible outcome as if it were happening right now.

But it’s not really happening.

It almost certainly never will.

And even if it does, worrying about it won’t help.

So you may as well think about something nice instead.

 

 

Art we lucky?

Art is an excellent example of humanity at its best.

We’re so lucky to have the luxury of sitting around and thinking of ways to make things pretty. To have time to spare to make a little mark on the Universe:

“I’m just gonna draw my mate killing this mammoth because it was legendary.”

Isn’t that the greatest gift?

It’s probably True that most of what we create comes from a need to be remembered, for our time on this bald, wet little planet to mean something. Our infinity projects.

But you know what’s better than looking at art?

Making it.

It doesn’t matter if nobody sees it. It doesn’t matter if it gets hung on the fridge. It’s the making it that really makes you feel.

That’s what art’s really about.

Hopefully, after you made your art you’ll want to show it to someone.

And they’ll be interested to see what you’ve made.

And maybe you’ll even inspire them to make their own little mark on the world.

That’s art.

 

Who’s too small?

One big issue we must all battle is that we start so small.

The problem isn’t quite that we’re small.

The problem is that we expect the world to get smaller as we grow, to start to make more sense and show where it will bend to our will.

But unfortunately, as our limbs expand, so do our horizons.

The world turns out to be an even bigger and busier and scarier place than we thought. And we feel smaller and less important than ever.

Which is a good place to start.

We are small and unimportant, little more than a mote of sand in the sea or a mosquito in the marshes. 

But put that dust mote into an oyster or that mosquito in a tent and you’ll quickly find out that nothing is ‘too small’ or ‘too big’ to make a difference.

Making a difference is about context and action.

Nothing else matters — least of all size.

Making is better

There’s a lot of money to be made in the world of Art.

There’s a lot of poverty to be made as well.

One of the travesties of our childhood is that if you weren’t ‘creative’ then you didn’t get to do creative stuff.

But being human is being creative. It’s not something for ‘creative people.’

People are creative but we get trapped into thinking that what matters is that other people pay for it.

I’m blessed that anyone reads this; I truly am.

But strangely, it wasn’t until I accepted nobody might read it that I was able to start writing it at all.

 

Nobody cares until everybody does

This week the internet introduced me to a guy called Kofi who made a great album a couple of years back. If you like good words and chill beats I highly recommend it.

The title track is a great little story about people and making art…

One cold night in Birmingham city center, Kofi stood on a corner rapping as the world walked by.

For hours he spat into the void but folks were too busy Christmas shopping to stop and listen. He knew they could hear and he was happy doing his thing so he kept on going. For hours.

Eventually one person stopped by to listen to him and before too long a large crowd formed. Because when you’re creating, Nobody Cares Until Everybody Does.

And I’ll bet Kofi will be making music long after people stop caring because that is what we do when we decide to create.

Thanks for being the first to stop by and listen.

I hope you stick around.

Nice glow

Wherever you are.

Whatever you want to call it.

There’s something within you that can light up the darkest place.

Even when no one can see it — and even when you forget it’s there — you carry that warm glow of love and kindness everywhere.

Don’t forget to share.