Whites in Knight Satin never-ending the reach – 10th March 2021

I highlighted these quotes as I was reading, as they struck me for some reason. Now as I sit and reflect on them I sometimes wonder exactly what it was that stood out and if it’s not obvious I guess that the truth I saw in these words is not as deep as I thought. Quotes that remain obvious for their inclusion would seem to highlight a deeper belief I have about the world.

Extracts from White Nights (Dostoyevsky)

…you’re sorry that the ephemeral beauty has faded so rapidly, so irretrievably, that is flashed so deceptively and pointlessly before your eyes – you’re sorry, for you didn’t even have time to fall in love with her…

When I was a teenager or twenty-something I would often look at people in the distance and try to see through their eyes at that moment in time and wonder what they were experiencing in their head. Could I jump, movie-like, from this life experience into a totally new one? Would it be better? Did I feel an urge to escape my own life?

Other times I would see a pretty girl and pretend to fall in love in that moment, hear her breath leave her mouth as I softly kissed her neck, then live a lifetime together in blissful happiness. In an instant these thoughts would disappear back behind other inane thoughts I might have. But, for that brief moment, I lived entire lives.

…moments like this are so rare in my existence that I must repeat them again and again in my thoughts.

These are happy thoughts and memories and as I’ve gotten older I realise they are not as rare as I thought. The more I have been writing and remembering, the big transformative negative events have given way to the smaller transformative positive ones. And as there have been less negative events in the last decade or two I feel like I must be getting somewhere. Repeating thoughts of positive memories must surely have the equal opposite benefit of continued negative ones. This could be a valid use of the word exponential.

…deep down the queer fish really means well.

Just call me ‘the queer fish’.

At any moment, I see more clearly than ever before that I’ve wasted my best years.

Everyone must feel this to some degree. It’s kind of relative. I wish I was as wise as I am now when I was a teenager. I’m envious of those who seem to have a level head at that age, yet also jealous of those crazy mad dogs charging into everything without thought and getting away with it. I consider everything that happened to me has gotten me to where I am now. Ok, I’m not as fit and healthy as when I was a teenager but inside I don’t feel any different, especially when it comes to the possibilities….I feel much more capable now, capable of learning new things and persisting. Though falling off a skateboard aged 40 taught me some things are probably too late to take up.

In the end, you feel that your much-vaunted, inexhaustible fantasy is growing tired, debilitated, exhausted, because you’re bound to grow out of your old ideals; they’re smashed to splinters and turn to dust, and if you have no other life, you have no choice but to keep rebuilding your dreams from the splinters and dust, But the heart longs for something different!

I’m not sure why I specifically highlighted this but it is giving me several ideas. Those ‘much-vaunted inexhaustible fantasies’ smashed; due to maturity, due to change, due to circumstance. I think I’ve been quite flexible in this regard and been able to accept changes and moving on as they happened. ‘Rebuilding your dreams’… is nothing to be afraid of.

I was struck by a passage in Sam McPheeters book ‘Mutations’ where he says he suddenly changed from going to see shows many times a week to not being interested in seeing live music at all – like a switch that went off for him. My circumstances in 2013 suddenly meant that I could no longer afford (or choose to afford) going to shows after about 8 years of being out every weekend. I missed the thrill and the camaraderie, meeting friends, frenzied noise and the joys of working together but ultimately I easily accepted this new situation. Perhaps because I had a higher goal at the time – to move myself to Thailand.

‘Grow out of your ideals’….this, I feel, is something that didn’t change for me. I still carry the same ideals – even useless ones. I am an idealist more than a realist. It’s a source of personal unhappiness but by itself a virtue.

‘But the heart longs for something different’…the grass is always greener. I’m learning now to be satisfied. My brain is not switched off to new ideas and possibilities and I don’t wish to become an old man stuck in his ways but I am learning to relax into a peaceful rhythm of life, sitting in my own comfortable space within a beautiful house with a beautiful garden, in a strange otherworld of a foreign country and in the comfort of my own mind. This is what I wanted, this is what I got, so now I must enjoy the reward.

I know exactly why I highlighted this yet I think I only agree the first clause of this sentence. I have some very vivid memories of certain places that contributed to a great passionate love that sticks with me to this day. It was a very special time that I hope I can put into words one day. I would often revisit those places, searching for that brief passion within me, ultimately knowing that it won’t be found again. I have accepted that and even feel happier without that high, because those kinds of highs were always followed by lows, whether the following week, month, year or decade. I am much more at peace these days. I do still wish I was more mature at the time. I would’ve hurt less people, including myself.

It has been a sad, drizzly day, without relief – just like my future senility. I am oppressed by strange thoughts and dark sensations; throngs of vague questions obsess me, but I have neither the strength nor the desire to cope with them.

“…just like my future senility’ made me chuckle. What about my current senility? Although not this day, I am often oppressed by throngs of vague questions. Some days I love them and others I don’t have the strength for them. On those days I usually accept the situation and watch TV. I am trying to be kind to myself, waiting on my future senility.

…our own unhappiness makes us more sensitive to the unhappiness of others.

I can feel this deeply sometimes and the effort to take other people out of their funk may help my own depression yet the advice I can give others is much more difficult to follow myself. This is a common experience for most people and I have tried to practice talking less and trying to find other ways to pick people up. This is particularly interesting when there’s little point in talking to ESL students or friends as they don’t have the vocabulary to understand anyway. Cultural differences often stand in the way too. I don’t want to come across as being some kind of expert or having the right way but can only try to offer suggestions.

Tell me, why aren’t we all like brothers? Why does even the best person hold something from another?

What a crazy world it would be if we never held anything back. All truths were told. There must be science fiction stories about this. A utopia or a place where humans completely destroyed each other? This concept is too huge for my tiny little brain right now. Is it even worth thinking about?

Naval Ravikant suggested that asking the question ‘what is the meaning of life’ is pointless, at least in the purpose of producing an answer, but the process of trying to answer the question will still provide worthwhile results.

…we won’t resent for long a wound inflicted by those we love..

I’m reminded of a recent time when a friend offered me advice along with the statement that “I’m only saying this because I love and care about you.” I forget what the advice was now but considered this statement. I took it at face value at the time though also felt a little strange about it – what was the real purpose of the statement?

A few months later and for one reason or another I had done something to upset this friend and now they no longer talk with me. Of course, I could have behaved better though it’s not exactly clear to me what it was that triggered this change in friendship status. Then I thought back to this statement and I realised that it was said without sincerity. It was said just to make them feel good.

Now, that’s ok. Because I’m sure I do this all the time. But I try not to. I want to be completely sincere (or obviously insincere – that’s the English in me again!). I would be a terrible poker player – I cannot hide my feelings on my face and I don’t care to learn.

As to those I love, all wounds are forgiven but I also don’t spread my love so deep and far. Maybe I should. But I’m afraid. What am I really afraid of?

Now I’m getting to vague questions that I may not have the strength to contemplate.

Brain dump

Take it easy. No need to push real hard, just do something – every little bit helps.

You are a student and a teacher. Clearer mind this morning – not so much in it.

No other prisoner shall enter and get through – 16th February 2021

Finish ab workout and yoga stretching – feels good, a little tired – less than seven hours sleep – dump thoughts and meditate.
What thoughts now? With pain in hand thoughts are difficult – when trying to meditate thoughts come easy.
Sat by the river with George yesterday – not much time tho but was pleasant, talked about how different countries have different cultures. When it comes to community, family and sharing things. I mostly recall the sunlight on the river.
Anyway highlighted some of our differences in behaviour which we all have to accept and understand – sometimes forgive.

Gratitude Journal

I am so happy and grateful to our neighbour’s dog Tangmo who came to visit yesterday morning before I went to work. He was running around full of energy and ran away from Tigger. I tried to get him to follow me out so I could close the gate but he kept running back inside. It made me smile for the whole day.

Turning a new leaf, yet I am free – 24th June 2020

Slept for more than a day – day off school – sleep sleep sleep. Last night – couldn’t sleep. Now tired but have to get things sorted for Visa.

Also now have work to do at school – feels much better. George goes overboard in happiness sometimes – it feels like he’s not sincere but that is he is doing it on purpose to make himself and everyone else happy – so what’s wrong with that? I guess it’s the lack of sincerity but so what? Maybe he’s doing it just to show me that this reaction is the best way. Actually, during the time I felt this from George I didn’t really feel negative about the request (of having to do work) from school anyway. Even the lack of clarity didn’t bother me too much, though I did start to feel annoyance with the lack of communication due to the language barrier – re: they couldn’t accurately explain what it was they wanted. But anyway – I think we got there in the end and I got to work which was good

G.I. – Beyond/Public Stage – hard to turn off my mental jukebox. Cool, refreshing temperature this morning. Starting to get humid now – creatures creating noise in our garden – what is it? Investigate.

Gratitude Journal

I am so happy and grateful that I am well organised and can get everything done that needs to be done.

OK so he thinks he’s a human sometimes, I forgive everything when I look into his eyes – 17th June 2020

This lovely pup belongs to some workers at our school sometimes. He has a broken back and has to drag his back legs along the ground. He also can’t control his pee and poo. But he’s a happy dog still. The owner seemed to indicate it was himself who ran over the dog to cause its broken back though we may have missed something in translation. Either way, he seems to be taking reasonable care of him now. His coat is clean and healthy at least.

I would still like to buy him some wheels though.

Gratitude Journal

I am so happy and grateful for these lovely plants in our teacher’s room. They give a great feeling of welcoming and sharing and comfort.

9th Aug 2022 – picture now lost to time (digital lack of care!)

Brain dump

Mid-June, mid-year already, all plans changed but life remains mostly the same. Hüsker Dü – I Will Never Forget You – I don’t know why. Why Hüsker Dü – why do I know all these obscure songs that no one is really interested in these days? Never mind – it’s my life.

Cooler days – wet days, rain. Sticky still – first mini exercise in days got blood flowing, heart rate up, under 80 kg. Can I stay? Get rid of belly fat – still too much. Get a belly like Bruno but that guy has so much nervous energy.

Yesterday was amusing. Life Of Brian reference into Life Of George. Critique of religion. Reluctant Messiah. What is the truth? Does it even matter? JFK. UFO. Three-letter acronyms describe our world. Stupid world? Maybe.

I like it when your eyes get big – 9th June 2020

Tuesday 7 am – no workers yet, cancelled two days running. Sabai sabai. Just do a good job – a long lasting job.

Hot Snakes in head today. Mild-mannered Froburg, last night podcast – couldn’t get to sleep from tension in my legs – eventually, did – XOX – all Hot Snakes songs are great but sound the same

Why am I comfortable to sit cross-legged? It fucks my back but feels better at the time. Bruce, work today, visit bookshop – I love books – take another for Bruno.

Evidence – I am a believer in what can be known – not so much what isn’t known. Will argue with George over this for sure – but keep it good-natured.

What did I dream? I don’t recall. Talk with Andrew on Sunday – what about? What method – work it out. A Dinosaur Jr. riff – always different always the same – my head is full of musical trivia – nonsense – but so it is.

Finished my jigsaw – meditate on that. Observe. Sounds and light.

Gratitude Journal

I am so happy and grateful for all the people I have met in my life, good and bad, they made me into who I am.

Oh no, it’s starting again and time will bend – 28th May 2020

image: making videos for students working from home

Sat at my desk in amongst the clutter to make it easier on my back and wrists. Reminds me of an old online friend who had a blog called ‘atmydesk’ – I think her name was Sara – some connection with Nomeansno – was thinking about my tattoo this morning for some reason or was it a dream “of a 6-foot woman”– listening to Heavy Vegetable and things on the weekend but now I wake up with the songs in my head. I’m bad at writing quickly these days and arm is sore from pen holding. Sweating on the clutter just a fan today no Aircon temp is perfect just sweat when moving. Neck is creaking after the very short workout – just warmup really but got my body out of slumber neck is really bad these days “6-foot woman” is stuck now. Amy rearranged plants around the house Tigger rolling around in the grass last night – all the cats seem really chilled these days – makes me so happy. Is my mind already empty? Just replaced with Rob Crow’s music. Don’t remember any dream – slept well – want to sleep more but energised now after warmup workout – don’t push it doesn’t matter – don’t stress about George telling you the best way to do something – it’s just his advice on his experience – it’s not a judgement on you and you can do it the way that you want. Going to offer more help to teachers today. Do they like me? Are they scared of me? Am I not approachable? If I’m thinking about it then – even if I am not these things I can still do something to be more those things right? Put thinking cap on today for video. Gonna be another good day today – just you see.

Gratitude Journal

I am so happy and grateful for the cooler weather this morning. I felt more relaxed and happy.

You’re just eighteen, you’re heading off to war – 16th January 2020

What characteristics do you wish you had?

I have all the characteristics I need but need to work harder at these: perspective, social intelligence (understanding others), spirituality, and kindness. I am sometimes good at doing these things but often get wrapped up in myself too much instead. I would like to deal better emotionally with difficult situations. Sometimes I can’t control my feelings well enough. After some more consideration, social intelligence is the one I want to improve most. I can do this by going out and meeting more and different people – not just those within my own sphere of interest.

1st Jan 2023 – Three years later, and having been through much of that time with pandemic lockdowns and prohibitions I don’t think I consider social intelligence so highly anymore. It would be important if I was 20 years old again but over the last year or two, I’ve become much more comfortable with myself.
I can guess that George was the influence for me to try to engage more with other people in 2020, as I always saw him happy. However, I also discovered that trying to be like other people is not always the best approach, especially when feeling let down by them. What works for him doesn’t necessarily work for me.
I’m comfortable and happy with my tribe, I know who they are even though they are not close by. I can still work on improving social intelligence within that premise instead. I don’t need to spend time meeting new people just to practice this. I feel I have better ways to spend my time. I know other people enjoy doing it but it’s not for me.

How can you get those characteristics?

I already have these characteristics but just need to enhance them further. Bring them to the forefront of memory and practice them. Be conscious of them, In order to practice social intelligence, I need to stop pre-judging people and use come conversational techniques to find out more and quickly. This skill is something I have improved on but am not really comfortable with yet. Perhaps visualising and pretending beforehand would help? I could also read more about how to do this and watch some instructional videos.

Gratitude Journal

I am so happy and grateful to be able to have a small sleep-in this morning as it is teachers’ day. I’m writing this from my bed and can look out of the bedroom window at the blue sky and jungle mountains in the distance.

We want that attitude! – 2nd December 2019

After a great start to the weekend, things got a little more sober after Amy fell and hurt her face and hands. We were very quiet and recovering on Sunday.

Looking forward to coming back to school on Monday was brought to a sudden halt by discussions with the school and my agent about withholding two days of my pay for not attending the weekend seminar. I feel particularly aggrieved at this as it was not made clear to me that this would happen and it is not fair to withhold money for not attending an unpaid weekend of work. My agent blames the school and the school blames the agent. This is a very typical scenario here in Thailand and exactly the situation Amy warned me about.

But what to do now? Should I just accept the situation, stand up for myself further, walk away to something else (which may just end up with similar problems) or walk away from everything?

My learning shows that I should remain professional and unaffected emotionally by these types of situations but I still struggle with these things.

Gratitude Journal

I am so happy and grateful to have read some positive things today otherwise I might have felt completely terrible due to a situation that happened at school. I’ll catch up with George briefly as he often knows the right thing to say.

14th July 2022 – Looking for a photo to use for this post I found what seems to indicate that I went to the local hospital on the next day and got myself a medical certificate giving me a day off, as a fuck you to the school for not paying me!