Wednesday, 8 January 2014

That second article I promised

I'll get back to food soon, definitely. But this close to Christmas, it hurts even to think of it so I'm avoiding the topic, and pretending that it can be ignored indefinitely. So bear with me for a few days until I've finished sweating out all that turkey and the chocolate coins have all been finished, and I will get back to the topic in hand.

In my previous, slightly apologetic post, I mentioned my dislike for New Years Resolutions and promised two articles that had prompted me to post, both of which were much more inspiring than a change in date.

The second can be found here, and was linked by a friend of mine on Facebook. It's a long read, and is deliberately confrontational at times, but I think that's awfully fun. If I agreed with everything that I saw on the internet, I would probably read it marginally less often, after all, and probably get more stuff done - which is what the article is talking about.

Not that the internet, specifically, stops me from doing things, but it certainly doesn't help. The central idea is summed up in a quote that I probably made up, but I'm sure I heard somewhere: many people talk about being something, but so few people talk about doing something. When I watch things like X Factor (not that I do, obviously, but I do read a number of Facebook posts that reconfirm that it's a Bad Thing), you hear people talking about how they want to be a singer. But you don't become a singer by thinking about being a singer, you become that by singing. A lot. You don't become anything without doing that thing. A lot.

This resonated with me because I'm so guilty of it. I have decided over the last couple of years that I have wanted to be:

  • a writer
  • a sailing skipper
  • a full time musician
  • a marketing person
  • a live music promoter
  • a cooking instructor
  • a football coach
  • a project manager
  • a website designer
  • a business man
  • a journalist
  • an academic
But the important fact is that I haven't done any of those things, I've wanted to be those things. The idea of being a writer is a lovely one, but do you know how many words I have written since this blog was last published in September 2012? 

Not zero, but it might as well have been. I am not a writer because I do not write.

Time to change that? I think so. After all, this post is 445 words long, which is more than my output for the whole of 2013, so that's a start.

Thursday, 2 January 2014

Has it really been that long?

Well, yes. Since September 2012 to be precise.

Which is a bit embarrassing really. What is more embarrassing is that I'm writing this on the 2nd January, because that makes it look a bit like a New Years Resolution. Which it isn't. Categorically. No sirree. And now I have found a link to back up my aversion to them.

The real reason is that, sometimes, the internet can be a real delight. Most of the time it's frankly bullshit - lots of cats and selfies, as far as I can make out - but at other times the technology of social media allows you to see something that, while it might not change your life in the way that it intends to, makes you think: "Yes, that's rather good, actually."

I've seen two of these posts in recent months. The first, sadly, I can't find, but its central message has stayed with me, which is telling in itself. It referred to the writer's friend who used to send him postcards from holiday, which didn't have any writing on them. Apart from the address of course, it's not magic, and this is a physical postcard we're talking about. The writer used to get annoyed with his friend who didn't bother to compose any words for him, until the realisation hit that it really didn't matter. It didn't matter because the important thing was the sending of the postcard, not what was written on it. The message of the blank postcard is "I am thinking about you, and you are important enough to me for thoughts of you to provoke action to let you know that I am thinking about you".

There's always a problem in getting in contact with old friends, a feeling that you've got nothing to say. But you know what? When you call one of those people-about-whom-you-have-a-nagging-feeling-you-should-talk-to, you don't need to have anything to say. Because the minute they pick up your call, or read your postcard, they are delighted to hear from you, and that energy will be enough to carry you through any awkwardness there might be. (This entire hypothesis does rely on the idea that you are in fact not an arsehole, and that you haven't alienated people entirely. If that's the case, write a letter that says "I'm sorry", send it to them and expect nothing in return.)

I've actually applied this in recent weeks. I've called people who I haven't spoken to for years, and send people texts telling them I'm thinking about them - not because I'm conducting some kind of self improvement experiment, but because I have been thinking about them, and I felt moved to let them know. And it's been brilliant. I have laughed, caught up on news, commiserated, been recommended music and films, and made plans.

That's got to be worth a text, hasn't it? So go on, tell one person today that you're thinking about them.

And the other post that motivated me to write? Well, I'll tell you all about that in the next installment, which hopefully won't take quite so long.