Poem: Present/Future

Writing

 

We only have the present.

Regardless of what we want in our futures,

It is the ‘now’ which takes all of the credit.

 

Living in the moment,

An experience unknown to many.

We disown it in exchange for a chance to oneday own a moment, 

Which is nothing more than merely a ‘maybe’.

 

Hope is one thing.

Oblivion another.

Do you look in the mirror and see yourself for who you are?

Or always strive to be somebody better?

 

Are We Truly Selfish Or Kind?

Writing

Altruism – “Having or showing an unselfish concern for the welfare of others.”

Do you think you’re a nice person? And by this, self-validation in the form of saying “thank you” to the cashier and “hello” to your neighbor I’m afraid doesn’t quite cut it.

This question springs to my mind in light of a recent conversation I had with a work colleague, as a previous psychology student he divulged in a mixture of both his past successful and failing science experiments within the field.

One which stood out had to be the case where he intended to a stage a robbery, not by using actors or people who were atleast aware of actions to be taken upon them. Oh no, he was aiming to use the element of surprise and stage robberies on innocent ill-prepared passer-bys. The psychology experiment wasn’t to analyse jumpscare reactions, it was in his words to put to test the behaviors of the witnessing bystanders. In other words, would someone come to the rescue of the person who has just been robbed? Thereby testing to what extent people exhibit altruism. Do you think you would go to their rescue in the example above?

Whether you would or not, or whether anyone would  for that matter, the experiment never came to fruition, no surprises as to why. One sniff downwind that one of the school’s students aimed to scare the sh*t out of members of the public and the study was shutdown. Who wants a pass in psychology when it comes at the cost of being passed a 10 year jail sentence for manslaughter because the test subject suffered a heart attack?

As I digested the story of his scientific setback, it got me thinking – are we really as kind as we like to think?

Moving away from human beings for just a moment, I recently came across this video of altruism being exhibited in the bird species – the African grey parrot.

Here you can see that although bird one does not receive a treat for indirectly facilitating in the passing of a token to the human hand by passing it to the bird that does, it still chooses to continue the action despite no reward. A selfless act if you ask me! And likewise, when the birds switched places, the same was shown, they continued to help get the token to the human hand even when they themselves were not rewarded with food and the other bird was:

Courtesy of The Scientist

So where am I going with this? Well, if birds have the capacity for selflessness, then so should humans, right? Afterall, we live in a society, there is a need to be social, to create bonds and work co-cooperatively, so surely it’s in our best interests to look out for eachother, no?

So why might we want to help eachother?

Neuroscience? –  The reward centers in the brain are activated when we carry out an altruistic act [source: Hinterthuer].

But isn’t this in itself a selfish thing? I help you because it makes me feel better?

Survival technique – Cooperative Breeding? – offspring receive care not only from their parents, but also from additional group members, often called helpers. As Burkart suggests in Psypost: “When our hominin ancestors began to raise their offspring cooperatively, they laid the foundation for both our altruism and our exceptional cognition.”

So perhaps deep down helping others really means helping ourselves.

 

I Thought I Was Going Blind

Writing

Sitting at my desk in the office yesterday morning, everything was just peachy (or so I thought). Despite my eyelids occasionally closing over due to boredom, for the rare moments I decided to forcefully will them open, I could see as clear as day.

 

But for some reason or other I decided to wink at my morning array of spreadsheets and in doing so came to the stark realisation that my vision in my left eye was completely blurry.

 

 My vision through my right eye only was fine, through both eyes combined  it was fine, yet when solely using my left eye to look at the screen I was met with a blurred mess. It was as if someone had just poked my cornea with a vaseline blobbed finger and then proceeded to hold my head over a spoiled scrabble board. 

 

Feeling like I was about to give the game up on my sight I started panicking. Quietly. With the blurriness becoming progressively stronger I speedily sent my manager an email emphasising that my vision was weakening and that I needed to go to the opticians straight away. So sprinting into the store in an unshakeable panic I begged for an immediate eye test. My fear was less about my actual eye health to be honest and more about the condition of my brain. The earliest eye test to my dismay was to be a one hour wait. 

 

Advised to head to A&E if it got worse, I  instead chose to wait it out. Waiting out the time felt like a lifetime. Back to the opticians an hour later and I’m getting air shot into my eye and asked if I could read outloud a love letter that had been etched onto the back of a postage stamp. 

 

What were the results? 

 

Following an array of tests, I was put out of my misery as the optometrist declared that my eyes and corresponding vessels were all healthy. 

 

So what was causing the blurriness? And why was it only in one eye? 

 

The glasses. 😦

 

The bloody things which were meant to better my eyesight ironically played a crucial part in its deterioration. 

 

It’s because of the following explanation that I urge you to ensure that you get your eyes tested frequently and make sure your prescription is the most accurate  and updated one tailored for your sight. 

 

It starts with the fact that no two eyes are ever going to be the same strength, and for me my right eye is stronger than my left. So in theory I would need different lens strengths in my glasses, with each lens being specifically made for each eye. What happened in this situation was that this was not the case. Instead, the lens magnification which best suited my stronger right eye was placed into both the left and right eye section of the glasses. As a result my left eye was being put under constant strain every time I wore my glasses, to the point where the muscles were overworking so much it resulted in what felt like a remaining partial blindness in the left eye. 

 

Examples to describe giving the wrong glasses may be along the lines of:

 

-Giving chocolate to a dog. It poisons them. 

-Pouring salt on a slug. It does them no favours

-Giving someone a chocolate teapot. It’s useless. 

 

The bottom line is the glasses were not helping my eyes, they were hindering them, hence not fulfilling their purpose!

 

So Now I’m met with the choice of either not wearing glasses at all while I’m doing computer work or paying between £39 – £69 per pair (I have two pairs with these incorrectly fitted lenses). Do you think they should pay for the lens change? Or should I?

 

**This frightful momentary state of panic made me appreciate how complex we are as humans. It made me realise how important it is to look after yourself. We are human beings, made up of such complex biology. It’s astonishing how every cell in our bodies serves a purpose. And how easy it is for part of this harmony to be abruptly thrown out of sync.

 

Take care of yourself!

What’s Your Biggest Pet Peeve(s)?

Writing

This thought infiltrated my mind with the waft of a ‘ploughman’s lunch’ on the train during my early morning commute to work today. For anyone unfamiliar with this term ‘ploughman’s lunch’, you’ve lived a very sheltered childhood, a very lucky childhood. It’s basically a cheese (sewage) and pickle sandwich, and the scent and sight of it makes my skin crawl. 

 

Today my attention was brought to a rather ravenous commuter munching on his sandwich like he was attending the last supper. Which I found particularly revolting in itself, no hand sanitizer + grotty train = hepatitis by mid-afternoon. But little did I know the levels of grossness this guy would sink to had no limits. Once he finished (thank God), he proceeded to throw the sandwich foil on the ground and started picking his nose rather aggressively. I turned my head away in a knee-jerk reaction to this, but like we all do, when someone is doing something abnormally gross we have to keep peering back. Like, whenever we chop garlic and then can smell it on our fingers for days, we keep checking our fingers daily to see if the smell remains, don’t you do that? I peer down the train carriage at him as he digs for gold, my brow furrows even deeper the more he digs into his flared nostrils. Repulsive! Thank goodness I got off at the next stop, I can only fear what he would’ve done next!

 

It got me thinking, what’s your biggest pet peeve? For me the list is never ending but to save time I’ll have to go with these top 3 in no particular order :

 

  1. Loud talkers
  2. People who smack with their mouths while eating
  3. Queue jumpers

 

Let’s see what some countries voted as their top pet peeves courtesy of Forbes:

 

  • Americans get more irritated than other nationals by co-workers taking others’ food from the office refrigerator.
  • Brazilians are the most annoyed of any national group by excessive gossiping.
  • Germans are annoyed by dirty common areas (the community microwave or refrigerator) more than the rest of the world.
  • Indians react more negatively to irritating mobile phone ringtones.
  • Japanese are more peeved by office pranks than others.

 

Relate to any of the above?

An Evening Lit By Candlelight

Writing

It’s been a hot minute (I hate that term) since I’ve written anything mildly conducive to that of an Individual with half a brain cell..

I don’t know why but lately I’ve found it difficult being organised, finding time to post anything. I’ve found it difficult feeling fulfilled. So much so that I’ve perhaps exchanged the time dedicated to blogging to doing ‘other things ‘ which may have promise of filling this void of unfulfillment.

So last week I told myself I would try some new things. But one thing I didn’t expect to do was

Grieve. In public.

A friend of mine lost her father earlier this year and invited me to attend a grieving event in London the Sunday just passed. I can’t deny that I was apprehensive to attend. I thought grief was an emotion shown only to your closest of family members, not strangers seated before a candlelit table, but as the experience taught me, sometimes strangers can offer a support of their own in a profound way.

Ofcourse hindsight is a beautiful thing, because prior to the event I was truly afraid incase it would leave me with an overbearing feeling of sadness. A selfish thing to say, I know. But there’s a reason why grieving events aren’t as popular as club nights, I’m sure we can all agree on this. At the same time I was fearful that I may not connect enough, and show a lacking depth of emotion.

Regardless of my internally antagonistic thoughts which churned almost as aggressively as the butterflies in my queasy stomach, I attended.

On arrival I had anticipated an event somewhat structured like that of an alcoholics anonymous session, yet it was far from that. Held in a room not big enough to swing a cat in, attached by a tiny corridor to the rest of the building which took the form of a boisterously bustling bar. Quite a dissimilar fit I thought as I was greeted at the door of this tiny corridor by the friendly faced event organiser. 

 

Entering the room as a latecomer, my friend and I sat in the remaining two chairs at a table already occupied by eight. All women, no men. Which was something quite resonating and sad in itself. I took a seat and looked around at the faces, and was met with a mixture of emotions, from sadness to restraint.

We took it in turn sharing stories of the people close to us who we had lost, I found it a bit too much at times to be honest. Without delving too deep, witnessing the tellings of stories of battles with long term illnesses and overdoses was a sobering experience. Sitting in this little room lit by candlelight, the soft glow emphasising the pained expressions of the women in attendance. The atmosphere was vulnerable and heavy and raw.

I came away from the evening thinking of how we all live in our own little bubbles and sometimes think that we are the only ones going through troubles, that dark times just aren’t as dark for others as they are for us. But that Sunday evening proved to me that this just isn’t the case. 

I’m not saying that it’s a good thing that you or I are not the only ones suffering in the world but what I am saying is that there’s a relatability and with this comes shared understanding and support if needed. If you are facing a challenging time in your life, chances are someone else is too. And what we find is talking outward about an issue is always healthier than internalizing it. 

I thought I would come out of the grieving event on a low and I did temporarily due to the nature of the event but on the whole I came away taking with me a sense that everyone has ups and downs in life and that support is there for you. You really aren’t alone. 

 

 

 

 

Poem: Time

Writing

 

Time.

Moving passed like 

Dew dripping from the leaves of

The waxiest cuticles.

My hands,

Gnarled, close tight,

Around the memories,

Uprooted by those of time.

 

Time,

A spectre of the night,

Time, invisible to the eye

Of even the most profound inspectors. 

I suspect.

Expecting time to wait for,

Any man.

Is like expecting a hug on

No man’s land.

 

Time,

And time again we

Try to cheat it’s nimble ways.

Like sacrificial lambs to the slaughter we,

Try to resort to cosmetics to

Bathe in youth’s fountain forever

 

Robots Are The New Songwriters – Is This Morally Right?

Writing

Warner Music Group’s newest addition to their ‘artist’ roster is that of an algorithm addict destined to make your newest jam, pretty much an alexa with an insatiable interest in generating sound while simultaneously reading your heart rate and circadian rhythm. Designed with the aim in mind to produce 20 albums this year, each containing frequencies which will help you in an array of areas of your life, from being more productive in work to reducing your anxiety:

It’s called ‘Endel’, it’s a sound app, it’s ‘Artificial Intelligence’.

Am I the only one who feels slightly uncomfortable with this? With the overall concept being that a robot will be making an album which makes us jump for joy in one track before crying ourselves to sleep with another. Not by using genuine experience, or raw emotion but instead through big data compilation and machine learning.

It’s one thing having electronics play a part in the music making process, we all know that wizkid producers with state of the art technology  open the doors to having the capability to produce unearthly sounds, afterall autotune is such a common element of music currently. With image taking precedence over singing talent (but I’ll save that topic for a rainy day). Back to the point. It’s one thing having a human use machines to assist the music making process but if you remove the human completely can we really call music art then? Will it not fall under ‘engineering’ or ‘technology’? And if so, would you find an issue with that?

If a robot is evoking certain emotions in us when we listen to the sound frequencies it generates as a response to data based off of my internal functioning (heart rate, movements, temperature), it makes me question how will it be able to manipulate us emotionally further down the line? As the late Stephen Hawking highlighted that although AI may host beneficial impacts to us humans, the theoretical physicist also raised the point that artificial intelligence may also pose the threat of kickstarting the beginning of the the end of the human race if used incautiously.

I must stress, I’m not against AI, but I am cautious of it’s capability. My curiosity for its role to play in sound is sparked by my love for music. And perhaps, my disdain for it’s potential domination through the music industry stems from my subliminal believe that music is something innately human, it acted as a glue, binding our ancestors together as they danced at rituals and socials, it bonds us together today, whether sharing a feeling for heartbreak or one of pure ecstasy, music seems to be a vector to share what at its core makes us human – emotions. Do I really want to press a button on an app to release a frequency to calm my nerves or do I want to talk to a human face to face and get something off my chest?

 

Enough about my opinions, whether I agree with its motives or not, it sure is interesting, if you want to learn more about Endel, check it out here.

The Poetry of War

Writing

Below are two poems I have written which I may enter into an upcoming competition The competition challenges the writer to explore the concept of national identity, by responding to how it is portrayed in the works of WWII Poets.

I chose Timothy Corsellis’ poem – News Reel of Embarkation 

The antagonism between fighting for one’s country and fighting for one’s own life. You’re walking into battle without a care in the world, Corsellis relays the all too knowing realities of war, his wisdom – a bid to wipe the smiles off the young soldiers naive faces.

Timothy Corsellis’ poem questions how you can be so giddy heading off to war – pre-war feelings

My two poems in response to his, focus on post-war feelings – how you can be struck with trauma (post traumatic stress disorder), a loss of self-identity, a loss of home.

P(lay) T(oy) S(oldiers) D(addy)

I fought for my country,

I fought for my life.

I’m now at home in my country.

But I’m not at home in my mind.

 

I’m lost back out at battle,

I’m battling my inner demons everyday.

The war may be over to the outward eye,

Yet within me it never ends.

What is unfamiliar to you is home for me,

Hearing the tear of flesh,

As you wash your sheets.

Feeling the last breath of a friend on my cheek,

As your mouth feeds.

You can never see what I had to see.

All for a piece of metal, for a so-called identity.

 

The title itself reflects the innocence of a child, a child who looks up to their father for support and leadership, meanwhile the parent is suffering from PTSD – Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Hiding his pain from his child. From the world as best he can. 

 

VETERAN HOMELESSNESS

I HAVE A HOME,

IT’S 53 BELVEDERE RD,

IT HAS A BIG TREE OAK,

AND A BIG CHIMNEY THAT SMOKES.

 

MY CHILDREN, THEY PLAY IN THE GARDEN,

BEANEATH THE BIG OAK TREE,

MY WIFE, IS SUNBATHING EFFORTLESSLY,

AND IT IS THERE SHE WAITS FOR ME.

 

I DO ONEDAY, HOPE THAT I RETURN,

TO THE FAMILY I  LEFT BEHIND.

TO HAVE MET MY FATE AT THE END OF A BARREL,

MAY HAVE BEEN MY ONLY WAY TO FIND,

PEACE.

 

ATLEAST THAT WAS HOW I USE TO THINK,

WHEN I USE TO THINK AND FEEL.

NOW ALL I FEEL IS THE WET COLD GROUND,

AND THE CHALKY TASTE OF PILLS.

IT’S WEIRD HOW I FOUGHT FOR YOUR LIFE,

BUT YOU DON’T EVEN NOTICE MINE.

YOU WALK PASSED ME ON THE SIDE OF THE STREET.

MAYBE YOU JUST DON’T HAVE THE TIME.

 

So many of our veterans are suffering. The Mirror has reported that atleast 13,000 soldiers are left homeless after serving. Shouldn’t government funding go towards getting them off the street than on painting parks and leaf blowing?

The fact that the poem has no set rhythm between verses emphasises the disillusionment the war veteran is experiencing, lost flow reflects his sense of losing his family, his home and himself (his identity).

Poem order: normality – he had a home a sense of place, he went to war and lost himself, scarred by the trauma, on return he struggled to cope, he became a recluse, thought it better to end his life by overdose, but now doesn’t even have the effort for that. He is numb to any emotion. He sits on our street corners, we walk by not batting an eye for a man/woman who has in actual fact saved our lives. They’ve lost their identity, but haven’t we lost part of our own? Haven’t we as a society lost our morals?  

 

The Bookworm In All Of Us

Writing

7 top books to unleash your creative potential

For alot of the time, being creative means being resilient. Baring your soul to the world can lead to many highs and lows. For this reason I have a few books up my sleeve which may help see you through any situation. In addition to some lighter reading ofcourse!

 

  1. The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A F*ck

As heart-warming as the title sounds, this book really does make you think about your priorities! We get wrapped up, worrying about the smallest things, this book helps you see what really matters i.e. the meaning behind your lyrics coming across rather than aiming for the perfect recording quality or getting your art to exhibition not worrying about how many people turn up to see it. Summary: Spend less time worrying about how others will perceive you and just release your creativity already!

  1. Steal Like An Artist

Dabbling around the idea of ‘originality’, that nothing is ever truly original. Yet the author Austin Kleon gets this message cross in such a friendly manner that you accept this without (much of) a fight! The point in case is that it’s not about creating the most unique art, yet instead, being as true to yourself as you can be. Summary: highlighting the necessity of being the individual when it comes to creativity through ten top tips definitely worth sticking on the fridge door..

  1. Creative Confidence

Flipping the idea of what a ‘creative person’ looks like on its head, this thought-provoking book, eloquently acknowledges that each one of us is infact creative. Some struggle to tap into their creativity but this by no means does not mean that they don’t have the ability to be creative. The authors  Tom Kelley and David Kelley act as the saving grace to anyone who is struggling to unleash their creative potential by sharing with us the principles and strategies which they hold dear. Summary: Lawyer, Painter, Accountant or Writer – we all have creativity, yet we all don’t know how to release this, well perhaps now you do.

  1. Bird By Bird

As offbeat as the title, the author Anne Lamott certainly likes to dance to the beat of her own drum in this go – to guide combining writing wisdom with self-help scenarios. I don’t know what’s more engaging, her writing style or what she’s actually writing about! Using her own words as a summary: “Writing and reading decrease our sense of isolation. ………. We are given a shot at dancing with, or at least clapping along with, the absurdity of life, instead of being squashed by it over and over again.”

  1. The Tenacity Of The Cockroach

Perhaps the best way to be creative is learn from the best. Stephen Thompson emphasises just that in his interviews with the likes of Gene Simmons and ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic. By reading this you will gain an insight into how some of the most creative minds think and how they built their careers in the creative world, so hopefully you can take inspiration from them and build yours too. Summary: biographical but not in the boring way!

  1. The Accidental Creative

Todd Henry provides both a witty and informative short novel ‘how to be brilliant at a moments notice’. We all take mental blocks and have days when we don’t perform at our best, so how can we put our creativity to use in the blink of an eye? Well, perhaps Henry will have the answers? Summary: Engaging food for thought.

  1. The Art of Work: A Proven Path to Discovering What You Were Meant to Do

Maybe you are at a stage where you know you want to follow a creative career, but aren’t exactly sure what in? Jeff Goins’ insightful read directs us down a path of self-discovery. He emphasises how bravery is essential in finding the creative career you are truly meant to follow. Summary: An eye-opening and inspirational read.

I hope these books don’t collect dust on your mantelpiece and atleast one of them brings some solace to your life. If not, keep searching for a book that does. Once you read that sentence which gives you that ‘aha’ moment, then you’re on the right track to releasing your true creative ability. You can do it!

**Please note this article is intended solely for ERIC Mag, and I will link to the article on their site if/when it becomes live.

2nd Place Poem – End Hunger UK – ‘A Closed Fist’

Writing

2nd place in the End Hunger UK poetry competition.

‘A Closed Fist’ –  a spin on the meaning to hurt someone. A closed fist can be a punch but it could also be inferred to as a hand that is not offering food and therefore hurting someone by starving them.

I wanted the poem to show how it’s essential to be kind to one another. Afterall you never know where someone might be in their life, or who they may become. And perhaps you may even find yourself needing their help oneday. The bigger picture is that we are humans we need food and we need to put ourselves in eachothers shoes more often, especially when it comes down to this essential element of life – to prevent starvation.

Listen to the Poem:

 

Closed fist verse 1closed fist verse 2