It shouldn’t hurt to be alone

But it does.

I’ve been away from here for months – that probably makes me an arsehole. Sorry.

New job, blah blah, big personal life changes, blah de blah, but no excuses. The name of this blog is apt, no? 😉

I’m sitting here alone wondering how I got ‘here’ and where everything is leading, and what it all means, and why the f*ck I seem so fundamentally ill equipped to be in my own company.

How cliché, right?  – unadulterated navel gazing as the year ticker is about to click up.

happy new yearI’ve been lectured on the difference between loneliness and being alone, but I haven’t been able to separate the two very well. If you’ve cracked that, or even if you’re stymied like me, I’d appreciate hearing about it.

I’m decidedly not sorry at all for being alone. An AirAsia plane went down two days ago. Who the f*ck am I to feel sorry for myself?! So I’m not.

I’m just lonely. And confused by why I can’t seem to enjoy my own company.

Maybe it has something to do with a difficult childhood and genetics that have paved the way for a perfect storm of biochemical imbalance. But why should the act of being alone feel like taking an elevator down thirty two floors to the depression basement? Perhaps being alone could be a buoying and freeing experience? Like jumping off the roof of a building as in The Matrix and realising you’re okay? Maybe. I’ve felt moments of that, and gratitude for glorious independence from the weight of compromise and people pleasing.

Maybe the reason I suck at being alone has something to do with how much I suck at being with others.

I’m either a crazy workaholic with manic social calendar or sit sadly by myself in quiet and isolation, paralysed by some kind of fear I can’t quite put my finger on.

If I were Goldilocks I’d run back and forth between the icy cold and piping hot bowls ‘ouch ouching’ all the way instead of settling for the safer middling option.

goldilocks 3 bowlsWhy a person of extremes? Born into it perhaps. Molded by a life of extreme events. I crave the adrenaline and excitement and the counterpoint of solitude because I can’t sprint all of the time. But the solitude is often an uneasy break from life and is rarely for pleasure. The ‘safe’ option seems worse though – living in moderation seems to provoke greater anxiety and disquiet than all the terror of being alone.

Spiritual leaders, mental health experts, self-help gurus chant about the importance of ‘balance’ but I don’t know how to be alone only a little. I’m either with you or I’m not. I’m either in the company of others or I’m not. Dividing time equally has been an elusive accomplishment.

Maybe trading a life partner for independence (and possibly a chance at a ‘better’ relationship) is just running on a hamster wheel and whatever I do the chances for moments of joy will be the same depending on my capacity for gratitude.

hamster wheel

Maybe it’s supposed to hurt a lot to be alone. And it’s supposed to hurt a lot to be with others. Maybe that’s a fact of living to accept as the down payment on a chance at those fleeting moments of tender connection and sweet independence.

The real problem could be my low tolerance for the trade offs. An emotional greed for more ups than downs has created a false sense of entitlement.

So here’s a different kind of new year’s cheers –

Here’s to 2015, a year that will be lonely, and difficult, and painful, and fast paced, and exciting, and interconnected, and here’s to acceptance of its peaks and valleys as they are, rather than as I would wish them to be.

peaks and valleys

On procrastination

“Writing is 90% procrastination. It is a matter of doing everything you can to avoid writing, until it is about four in the morning and you reach the point where you have to write.” ~ Paul Rudnick

“Writing is 90% procrastination. It is a matter of doing everything you can to avoid writing, until it is about four in the morning and you reach the point where you have to write.” ~ Paul Rudnick

Awhile back I stumbled onto a quick fix that works quite well. You’ve likely heard of it, but have you applied it?

The secret?

Lower your standards and keep going.

If writing is about ego gratification you may be squirming at the prospect. Who wants to write sh*t for the sake of pen to paper?

I do, because I’ve learned that writing as practice and process is the foundation of quality writing.

So start scribbling shite on your pages, dear friends. Eventually you’ll polish some of those turds and find yourself with something pretty great.

Or you could do laundry, listen to music, reorganize the cupboards, read news, and all the while imagine what a great writer you’ll be… someday… when you finally start writing.

A writer writes. An egotist fantasises about the life of writing.

Which will you be?

Related post on procrastination

You know you’re old when staying up all night makes you feel old

fun at every ageBrilliant all nighter with friends, wine, and laughs. Today I’m bloody knackered. I managed to make it through the radio show, with the added challenge of tackling a new studio system. And now, despite looming deadlines, I feel dead to the world. How did I do this for several consecutive nights in my twenties?! While I rest my haggard old bones and nurse my ego, I remind myself of all the wisdom gained from those years of idiocy and experimentation. Sure, partying two nights in a row is now beyond me, but I know how to party well when I do make it out. 😉

The art of the email

I met someone the other week who writes f*cking brilliant emails. Consistently. I’m awed by such people. The delicate balance between coercive and charming often eludes me, and I come across as either too pushy or too passive (my attempt at softening). How do you approach the art of the email? As I try to finesse my style, I’m absorbing a diversity of approaches.

My typical email experience includes emotionally charged bashing at the keyboard for a bramble of a first draft, followed by a vigorous slashing of emotionally charged terms, and a generous splashing of positivity (without seeming insanely optimistic). Then there’s the beastly issue of the emoticon. To 🙂 or 😉 is the question. And f*ck me if I ever know the answer. In some contexts they seem damn near necessary to point out playful tone or to emphasize that I am indeed smiling despite forceful prose. But then there’s the voice telling me that they’re bloody cringeworthy and better left to adolescent sexting on kik.

emailDon’t even get me started on subject lines. I’ve probably lost days of my life writing and rewriting subject lines to compel the reader to open my message without coming across as alarmist, curt, or excessively wordy — apparently more than 50 characters and you’ve written yourself off!

Searching the interwebs for advice on crafting effective emails is variably useful. “Thanks, I do own a dictionary and have one at hand, and yes, I’ve spelled the person’s name correctly.” I’ve mastered the basics and am looking for the deeper secrets to ensure my readers feel valued whilst I come across as breezy (if you knew it had taken me 10 minutes to write and obsess over these three sentences, I would lose my cool factor).

Until I’ve mastered the art of the email…

when something’s really important, I just pick up the damn phone.

TGIF

happyMurphy’s law was in full effect this morning, but I’ve decided to not be a dick about it. Sure, things are going wrong. But it’s Friday! Here’s to accepting the disasters and finding joy (still alive, woowoo!) even when your house of cards is falling. Happy Friday, WordPress! Now time for a well-earned nap…

grumpy hopeful

grumpyhopefulI’m tired of hiding indoors shooting daggers at clouds, and am ready to burst forth into the orange glow of summer. I snapped this pic while taking an ‘outdoors break’ from work today. Maybe the photo was motivated by narcissism because I felt a kindred connection?

This rather large, ugly, brown bush has just a couple blooms, and hints of tender foliage, trying to ease their way through thorns for a glimpse of the sun. I stood there staring at it for a good few minutes — the plant masked in dull bark, and me in drab work clothes — both of us drinking in the fresh air. A plant and a person, grumpy hopeful, awaiting spring.