Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Kittens, Arsenal, Spiders, Onions and Tell me something I don’t know…

You, me and every single human out there are competitive, to the core and by our very nature. This competitiveness is a constant and we use it daily without ever realising it. When you’re having a conversation, say in work at break time and you end up in a debate about Football where you and a workmate are arguing about an issue. You think you’re right and he thinks he’s right so the two of you begin using examples and making points which you believe will strengthen your respective arguments. This is a competition and in situations such as this were there are other people listening it becomes even more important to both of you that you win the argument because of the social aspects of our nature and our built in need to be liked and respected.

This seemingly meaningless argument about nothing important has deep meaning for each individual because the principle of competition transcends the importance of the matter in question, it is about the integrity of those involved. When a kitten plays with a ball of wool people sigh and comment on how cute it is but the kitten is in training, it is a hunter and it is actually practicing how to hunt, each strike on an inanimate object is a way for it to coordinate the use of it’s paws, a way for it to begin to formulate how it will use these weapons when it hunts in the future. The kitten doesn’t know or think about this, it’s pure instinct and we humans are not much different, the principles are the same, arguments are practice for sometime in the future when we may be faced by psychological challenges but just like the kitten the event is as yet vague to say the least, it will at some point catch a random bird in an undefined hedge. The exact bird and the place are not important what is important is that it can use its skills to the best of it’s ability and that’s why it practices just as you practice in unimportant arguments to hone your skills as a master of debate.

We have a deep seated need to excel in all endeavours we undertake, a need to be successful in our lives. Since our lives are all so different the ways in which we achieve success are equally diverse. For a chief executive coordinating how a meeting goes in order to win a lucrative contract for their company would be an example of success and for a heroin addict scoring the next hit to get through the night is an achievement but the issue is not the exact nature of what each individual has done it is the simple principle that they have done brilliantly in their respective fields. Principles, always remember, principles, I cannot stress the importance of principles they tie together seemingly unrelated incidents. We think in a very singular and immediate way and often lose the importance of the lowest common denominators in daily situations.

You compete with your peers on a daily basis, we all do. Think of life as a war. Your friends and family are your allies and anyone who challenges you is the enemy. People who don’t know about World War II may not realise that Hitler and Stalin actually had a Non-Aggression pact which lasted from August 1939 until June 1941 and it only ended when Germany invaded Russia. Your friends today may not be your friends tomorrow, people fall out all the time it seems to be a trait in the modern age. Microcosm/Macrocosm, everything no matter how big or microscopic operates under the very same set of rules and conditions. It may often seem like I am going wildly from subject to subject but if you keep in mind the principles I keep talking about you'll begin to see patterns that transcend how you assume the importance of any given thing. Gabriele Veneziano has an amazing quantum theory whereby he believes everything, people, events, everything in the universe is connected and in effect everything effects everything no matter how big or small we are all part of the same system and therefore are all linked.

Using the kitten analogy again the kitten has it’s paws and claws to hunt while you have your voice and your knowledge to win arguments. Can you see how that works? In order to understand how this all fits together you must think outside the accepted notions of thought. Your head is programmed by instinct to be on the look out for differences, all our brains work this way, so you will naturally draw clear distinctions between yourself and the kitten and fail to see the underlying similarities between the two. Many people who do not understand what I am saying will automatically say to themselves “How am I like a kitten?” and that just proves my point exactly they cannot see the principles that make the two things the same on a deeper level than the very obvious differences.

When a person exclaims “Who does she think she is?” What exactly are they saying? Again the exact thing that “she” has done is not important, this is much more about the person who has done the exclaiming! You need to be mindful of my reasons for omitting the event here. If I were to give a scenario with precise parameters you would be sucked into the personal aspects of the story and find yourself siding with either the exclaimer or the person they are talking about whereas when I simply say that someone has said “Who does she think she is?” the focus is kept on the individual in question for the sake of this example. When someone makes a statement such as this it appears they are talking about another person and they are but they are also giving away so much about themselves.

What is happening is the person making the statement obviously thinks the other person is not doing as well as they may look as though they are doing. So the statement itself is meant to show whoever it’s being said to exactly that, it is in effect being used to take the integrity of the person being spoken about down and in so doing the person doing the exclaiming is making themselves look slightly better by making the people who the statement is directed at focus on negative aspects of the target.

Here’s something you are sure to have said recently: “Tell me something I don’t know!” I hear people saying this all the time, I say it quite a lot myself although now I have become aware of it I am more mindful of it and try to stop myself from saying it. It is very similar to the earlier statement “Who do they think they are?” In the very second that you make that statement you are trying to reinforce a sense that you know what you’re talking about to the people you are making the statement to. It is often said in a patronising tone for best effect. Humans are inquisitive and they want to know things so the more you know the better right? If you know a lot people will like you because they can learn from you. That’s what our whole lives are, a knowledge quest, it is the very essence of humanity to learn as much as we possibly can that is why thinking you know everything is not good because you will stop learning. Often this statement can be used in a joking sense but there are no jokes with us everything we do is carried out for some reason or another even though we are often unaware why exactly we are doing things, it’s like the kitten playing with the wool, practice and we’re doing it constantly.

These seemingly simple scenarios took a lot of explaining just now because I was breaking the whole thing down in a very concise fashion and highlighting the in and outs of it as I went along. It is not half as complicated as it seems. These things happen daily and are easily read when they do happen. Difficulties in how situations are perceived arise because we become emotionally tied to people and therefore our perception of events can become one sided and this is where we must be careful. We can make bad decisions due to the fact that we sometimes defend people we love even when they may be in the wrong just because we feel that that’s what we’re supposed to do.

Sometimes as well we can be in bad form for whatever reason, you will notice I keep doing that, I keep making the reasons nondescript and with good cause. I am trying to highlight not what makes us tick but the actual tick itself. When things happen we tend to focus on them when we should actually be focusing on what they have done to us and how they have effected us. The events themselves are not significant the important factors are that we have reacted to them and that leads me very smoothly onto a real asset, mind over matter.

Ever heard about mind over matter? When we hear that term we no doubt have visions of Jedi tricks, being able to move stuff with your thoughts and making ourselves float in the air! Pure fiction of course but mind over matter is very real just not in the those terms, it’s a discipline which is more subtle than telekinesis. I have used mind over matter and it worked. As I have stated though it is a discipline and it takes you to be mindful of your thoughts in order to teach yourself how to use it to your advantage.

During the last six years I have become very self aware. It was a necessity for me to come to the conclusion that I needed to know myself, I was in very real danger, my very abrupt up bringing and living my life always on the edge of myself nearly killed me and that is not an exaggeration. I won’t go into details here but all you need know is that my whole life was just a series of emotional shocks which I never looked at so I never got a chance to come to terms with them and the result was that by the time I reached my early thirties I broke down completely and could not function properly for sometime.

While precise events and how it all played out are crucial it will do me no good to explain them here the only reason why I mentioned it is so it will be clear how I came to the conclusion that I either had to change how I was living or I would die young. It is also important to state that I deserve no credit for what I have done it was not as simple as waking up one morning making a decision and everything’s alright thereafter it was a life or death scenario so any decisions I did make were made on a level much deeper than that which I have immediate control over. When you face death something takes over inside of you, some deep instinct that changes the way you see things and forces you to go the opposite direction to the one you were headed towards. This could be the same that same thing that some people choose to call God or still others say is their dead relatives guiding them. From a personal point of view I don’t know what it was, I still don’t know what it is, I only know that it’s very real and the world I see today is very different from the one I looked upon back then because my attitude and perspective have been changed.

My take on this is unique of course all of us have had different lives and experiences but as I continually keep saying you are just like everyone else we have more similarities than differences, many, many more but because we are focusing on the differences so much we are making them seem more important than they really are. Most of what we see as differences really are differences but you have to ask yourself at some point how superficial are the differences you’re seeing. We tend to focus on image quite a lot and also pick up on character traits in people and we use those aspects to compare people and thus draw conclusions as to how different things are, as to how different people are. This is a very shallow way of seeing the world and since the modern world is very shallow we behave accordingly. There is no shame in this, if we have not been taught something how could we possibly know about it?

What happened to me personally was that I had to change everything so I moved to Belfast and got away from a very volatile situation in Craigavon. I began to look at myself and how I was working, I had started doing this before hand but it really intensified and I stopped drinking. I got to a point where I was able to stop drinking for prolonged periods and be OK with it, like it wasn’t a struggle not to drink and life went on as normal. I also became aware of how we work and how things effect us, all of us, this notion that people are all different is rubbish but we accentuate differences between people because of our own built in insecurities.

I was studying a lot and I found something, a statement, “Do two things everyday that you don’t want to do.” This could mean anything of course but it doesn’t necessarily mean that if you hate doing the dishes you have to do them it could be simple things like walking instead of getting the bus or talking to someone who you didn’t really like that much and I started to do these things. Gradually I started to look at the statement in a new light “Don’t do things that you really want to do.” I began using these daily and found them very useful. Various things would happen for instance I would get into the odd situation where someone would be talking to me and I really didn’t like the person very much. Ordinarily when this sort of thing would happen I would just give short answers for a while and find a way to leave but I began actually starting to listen to and converse with these people and I found they were not as bad as I thought, in reality I wasn’t thinking very much I was allowing base instincts to lead me to be completely ignorant of them.

I started doing things on purpose. If I was being served in a shop I would look at the person maintaining full eye contact as they gave me my change and smile as I said thank you and they would smile back. I was walking across the Albert Bridge one day and I happened to take my mints out of my pocket just as this guy was coming towards so I stopped and offered him one. He stopped and looked at me in a very odd way, took one then walked off saying “strange” to himself. These are just many of the small ways in which I was trying to improve the way my world operates and I really did begin feeling better, still do.

The incident with the onions though was amazing. I had been looking at things I disliked, trivial things that for whatever reason made me wretch. Three had been long standing. Arsenal, Spiders and Onions. I began thinking about spiders and seriously saying to myself “They’re harmless, you’re thinking irrationally.” So I got a spider and let in crawl up and down my arms for a good ten minutes. I did it in a very premeditated way and it worked. I thought about it a lot before eventually doing it so I had more or less gotten my mind used to the idea that I would have to do it and it wasn’t that bad, I am sure the fucker took a shit on my hand though!

The onions though that one surprised me. Ever since I was very young I have despised onions, raw onions especially. I remember one incident when I got a takeaway delivery and I specifically asked for no onions but they been put in, raw, covered with gravy and peas so I couldn’t see them and when I tasted and crunched one I was physically sick. When something gets you to your very stomach it is another level of dislike, it is not just a thought anymore it is actually having an adverse physical effect. Over time though I was thinking about onions and asking myself things like “Why do you hate them so much?” “Are they really that bad?” I was doing this for quite a few weeks when something happened very unexpectedly. I was at a comedy night at The Pavilion on The Ormeau Road in the summer of 2010. It was a nice night so I decided to walk home. I bought a Kebab on chips and was going to keep it until I got home but I realised it would get cold so I opened it to begin eating it. There were Onions all over the top of it, big raw fuckers in long strands and chunks, had this been a year or so previous I would have boked right then but in a matter of seconds I decided that I was going to eat the onions, every one of them before I ate anything else. While I was doing it I was thinking to myself, this isn’t that bad and to be honest it wasn’t but I had been preparing myself for weeks.

So what does this mean? It may seem trivial to many people but it proves that mind over matter works. I actively used it to dispel my irrational fear of Spiders and Onions. As for Arsenal, dirty Gooner bastards, ya couldn’t love them if ya reared them, that’s one hatred I haven’t even thought of changing,
got to have some out let for my anger. Peace and love always…

Séamus

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