Trust

The downfall of all relationships fundamentally, is lack of trust or unrequited trust. Are any of us to blame to not trust someone else with ourselves when we are most exposed? Throughout human history and our own personal histories, there are a plethora of examples to why trusting someone is a stupid idea. Most recently an example that sticks out in my mind is Michelle Carter convincing her vulnerable boyfriend to kill himself. Let’s look at the bigger picture and take a look at Jeremy Corbyn who alluded to quashing student debt only to U-turn on breakfast television. It’s the constant battle between committing to people or person versus self-serving desires. In the case of Jeremy Corbyn, it’s saving his own skin and, in the case of Michelle Carter it’s quite probably an underlying control issue with a splash of psychopathy.

You can’t enter a relationship or elevate a relationship without first trusting someone but doing that you have to be accepting of the fact that trust is not unbreakable. I know someone who is wrestling with the words ‘love’ and ‘trust’ because they are both not mutually exclusive but intrinsically connected as ‘love’ can’t flourish without a solid foundation of ‘trust’. Personally, every time they say it, it makes me cringe and roll my eyes because the very concept of love is in itself, a fallacy created by romantic poets and perpetuated by greetings card companies. Unfortunately, until you can work out at least one of those concepts and whether you buy into it for the object of your affection, there can be no foundation.

As someone who spends their time as the beleaguered side-character in someone else’s movie, I find myself spending most of my time now, clearing up the shit made by words like ‘trust’ and ‘love’ or both. What I find is that people don’t understand that you can’t trust someone else until you start to trust yourself – look at me go, like RuPaul – with the things you expect of others. Yet, maybe there’s people out there who need someone to lean on to be able to begin to trust themselves with even the smallest things like making sure they haven’t lost their phone or are wearing trousers before they leave the house. Personally, I don’t see that as a good start to any relationship, romantic or otherwise, because that’s just parenting plain and simple. As I’ve said before, I’m not a fan of children yet more and more it’s like the world is just an enormous play group. Everyone is just scrabbling about for the best pens in the box and desperately trying to pair up with someone to hold hands with because that’s how it works in fucking Disney movies. Then, the dream of magic carpet rides collapses when you find out that the kid you’re holding hands with has secretly been helping themselves to your favourite crayons.

It’s an unfortunate shit sandwich that we all need to accept to both spare ourselves and my nights awake going around in circles with people. Most of the time, trust isn’t based in truth but irrationality and the pedestal we put others on rather than the lines we set for ourselves. Fundamentally, now and always, to prevent constant repeats of history, we need to first set our own standards of trust and – fuck it – love to hold others and ourselves to the mark. Obviously, it’d be easier for humans to be inherently trustworthy and self-less creatures in the first place, but that’s just wishful thinking.

Trust

‘Family, In Italics’

Once again, the family – notice italics, obviously courtesy of mafia movies and for the gratuitous nod to Dan Harmon’s Community -, seems to be fractal. By family, I’m referring to my old group of friends from back home and being the natural alarmist that I am, the slightest shift in status quo has sent me into a bit of an unwarranted panic. It’s not like they haven’t or we haven’t argued or fought in the past but now, as we all drift into our own lives, I worry that perhaps that each fight is the last. Growing up in an Italian family (definitely not a family), where grudges are held onto for dear life like footholds in free-climbing, it seems to be my curse to notice the changing winds. In all fairness, it’s probable my recent avoidance of their birthdays isn’t helping.

It was always going to be a natural part of life to lose touch with friends from school and sixth form and happens all the time. Just today I was talking to someone who is only in contact with one person who went to their college back home which is something that seems somewhat alien to me. Obviously, there were people I didn’t like and haven’t bothered speaking to since leaving home and there are people I’m still unsure about nine years on within the family. We all bonded over things like Community – which by the way, is a comedy institution –  but the cracks in the foundations could and can never be fixed up. Yet, even though these people sometimes infuriate and irritate me, the troubled waters make me very fucking uneasy indeed.

Maybe it’s time I realise the unfortunate fact of life that so many have come to understand that most friends don’t stay friends forever. Hell, even Justice League Unlimited was cancelled which I’m still bitter about some eleven years on. While that insert may seem random, the point is that example, like the eventual death of what I have come to know as, The Group, is totally out of my control and will finally kill my childhood; much like Warner Bros. Animation did all those years ago. Yet, we’ve all got to grow up at some point, I get that, and I’ll just have to be happy with Ben Affleck rather than Kevin Conroy as Batman.

The fact of the matter is, all it will take is a rough night out to kick start an avalanche. We’ve already had three or so this year out of the five times we’ve all got together and to quote Ensign Kim of Star Trek: Voyager: ‘hull integrity is failing!’. This problem is definitely universal and a quite the gut punch. The nests we once knew are suddenly becoming too small for our lives and our dreams which is a reality no one takes into account until our bundle of twigs is an empty husk. Is it futile to try to keep everyone together, or is it just cruel to clip our wings for the sake of ourselves?

No matter what happens, based on all the slices of pizza I bought the family at break-times over the years, I better at least get an invite to a wedding or two. I sincerely believe that the world would be crushed under the sheer weight of all the passive aggression if not.

‘Family, In Italics’

A Vengeful Jack Russell

When stuck with a problem in our surroundings there have and always will be three options. They are: defiance, ignorance or apathy and finally, find pastures new. Unfortunately, all require some level of effort; even being ambivalent to it all since the problem will stick around like herpes and it’ll still kill the mood  – again, like herpes. I’m facing a problem right now and my fair adopted city of York seems like cross between a fish bowl and a prison cell. The company I used to keep has definitely come back to bite me in the arse like a vengeful Jack Russell.

The feeling of being totally trapped and spooked by shadows is something that’s universal through history and the uncomfortable air of it all marks the difference between existing and being allowed to live. That’s what it comes down to for me and perhaps others considering the unnecessary crushing cruelty of reality that seems to shit on you at every turn. It’s like reading an expensive academic textbook that has no good information in it, but you have to read it to make the most of your investment. Thinking about it, that analogy is a bit wishy-washy but the point stands. To make matters worse, in some cases, people who find themselves at the shit end of the stick will inadvertently create more problems for themselves trying to find that cure for their particular herpes, accidentally spreading it like peanut-butter in the shit sandwich of life.

A prime example of this is perhaps my own fuck up. In an attempt to ignore and be apathetic towards my situation, I’m realising that I have inadvertently alienated a good portion of the support network that I had which could have had helped me out of this grave that I’ve seemed to dug for myself. It’s probably too late to do anything about it and I’m going to have to take responsibility for that level of destruction. I can even trace back this whole situation to a poor decision back in October when I got myself into a relationship more toxic than the atmosphere on Venus. Self-realisation and responsibility for that is, in my opinion, a good first step and maybe that’s something for everyone to take away. Looking back and retracing your steps to the root of whatever problem is perhaps, the only true meaningful way of moving forward.

Admittedly, moving forward is always going to be an uphill battle where you’ll have shit raining from the heavens upon you but at least the first effort would have been made. Finding the motivation for the climb up the hill, or out of the grave, or whatever analogy you like is unfortunately, perhaps, the hardest part. Being miserable becomes habit and almost ritual, which is something you don’t learn about in those PSHE lessons in school. Thinking about it, maybe they did teach us but I couldn’t tell you the name of a single person who paid attention.

A Vengeful Jack Russell

Running

I missed a close friend’s birthday today. The excuse was being financially bankrupt yet perhaps the truth is that I’m more morally bankrupt as it wouldn’t have been a stretch to be there. It’s the second time in a month I’ve missed a birthday of a close friend for no reason at all other than perhaps selfishness or laziness or a fear of nostalgia. It’s also the second time the person has made efforts to make sure I was there. The party is ongoing right now and looking at Snapchat is like punching myself in a gut and I don’t know how I got here.

It makes me wonder do we lose touch with people by accident or accidentally on purpose? I mean I like these people and have a strange history with one of them but I find myself making less and less of an effort with them. It’s almost the same way people who promise to always remain friends after a relationship ends amicably (as rare or fictional as that may be) and they always drift apart despite good intentions. Still, I’m trying to work out how that applies to me considering it’s as almost as if I’m actively being apathetic. Which perhaps defeats the point of apathy entirely.

Perhaps I’m overthinking it and I’m just another cliché being protectionist and cagey with all that feelings bullshit and I’m too scared to look back. To look back and to go to these gatherings and make an effort would be to be confronted by the fact that I need these people as over the eight years I’ve known them they’ve become more family than friends. Obviously, it’s a dysfunctional and somewhat incestuous family like the cast of The Brady Bunch but family none the less. As I type these words I feel a reeling sense of nausea at this uncharacteristic exposé yet maybe my own very raw nerve is just damn typical.

Running from things that didn’t happen or did happen is incredibly tiring and I’m low on the number of excuses to throw around, maybe we all are. Yet for the first time in my life and perhaps, this is the same for everyone else, to stop is more difficult than keep moving. Hell, I moved one-hundred miles north to a place where I don’t know anyone just to prove a point to myself that I could. Now, I’m sat here alone in a shell of a house rather than actually enjoying myself with people I care about because I’m far too chicken shit to confront those goddamn roads not taken or those I did. Or perhaps it’s more than that and it’s a level of unwanted exposure being around people who know what I’m going to say before I say it.

Our entire society is driven towards moving on whether it be from a relationship or being turned down by an employer. It’s all about looking forward rather than back because constant self-analyses and mental exploration of what-ifs would drive anyone insane. I’m being driven insane right now and every time I sit down and think about the good old days that I failed to recognise and appreciate at the time. Yet maybe I and every other person with this uncomfortable feeling should grow some fucking balls and get that train to the birthday party.

Running

Making Friends

I got talking for the first time with a new housemate who perhaps, I should have gotten to know better before I moved in with him. He’s five years older than me and the oldest in the house and strangely I got along better with him than perhaps I thought I would or so far, how I have been with housemates my own age. What he said made a lot of sense to me, in that being you never know who people truly are until you have to live with them in a student house. For the first time in a while, I was pleasantly surprised. I’m not sure whether it was that he was genuinely good conversation or that the lack of reliable internet or company that made his presence that much more meaningful – despite this being the second conversation we’ve actually had in person.

The hours of conversation have made me think about what we all expect from life and that ours differ so dramatically considering like me, he is going into his second year of university yet at twenty-four. He was speaking to me about children and how he’d like to settle down in ten years and start a family with a wife, a few kids and a white picket fence. Naturally, this made me think about my future as a family man and the thought of doing the school-run makes me want to hang myself. Yet despite fundamental differences in our envisions for the future, I’m feeling once again a sense of déjà vu: finding common ground amongst the things we both say ‘what the fuck’ at. This common theme with how I seem to bond with people makes me wonder if this is how we as humans, generally connect with people.

I know it’s strange since in the 21st Century we typically see and hear through various forms that love (whatever the fuck that means) brings us together whether it be to find common ground on political issues or humanitarian issues. Is the reality of it all far more cynical? I’m not particularly bothered if so, considering a good complain about people I don’t like or the current state of the political climate is becoming a pastime for me. Perhaps that is the greatest downfall of the modern world – our core belief that love will win the day and singing songs in unison at charity gigs will unite us all forever more. I’m not disputing the feel-good-factor and the buzz from those sorts of things but I don’t suppose the light bulb was invented because we loved candle. Complaining about things and being united in our shared annoyance or how put out we are has led to some of the greatest human advancements. Whinging about horses and how it takes too long to get from place to place led to the combustion engine and in turn, complaining about pollution has led to the UK banning the sale of diesel and petrol cars from 2040.

True, not all our advancements have come from healthy complaining considering a level of unhealthy complaining has led to many a war or skirmish stemming from the very fundamental line: ‘I don’t like that they believe in something different to us’. In a world of expanding atheism and nihilism that phrase is changing quickly to: ‘I don’t like that they believe’. Perhaps that’s a completely other rabbit hole to fall down some other time but my point is, whether we accept it or not, the foundation of human cooperation is based on bitching about things.

I for one, have never made a friend on holiday with a conversation not starting with a moan about the lack of available sun loungers or that the salad is off. Maybe this is just me and once again, I’m over generalising by a few thousand miles but today is a testament to the theory and I’d like to say, I’ve made a new friend.

Hooray for bitching.

Making Friends

Synchronised Skydiving

When we are alone, do we invite disaster? Say if there was someone else with us at the time we make some decisions to tell us that’s the stupid one, would we be more likely to make the right one? For example, I think if someone was with me this morning, they would have told me to demand a refund when I was served a cold toffee latte. That’s on a minor scale but it could be said that being alone is both the best of times and worst of times – freedom yet free falling.

I’m not saying that group mentality is any better take the London Riots, that snowballed until it became an avalanche because of too many voices all harmonising in anger, rising quick and hot. It’s that one other person, that sole company, just to lean on is what we all fundamentally need. That person may change from time to time but in that time free-falling becomes synchronised skydiving. For many people, this comes in the form of marriage – which personally I don’t see any merit in – and for others it means having lots of friendships which amount to the support. The latter is, in my experience, an incredible fucking hassle.

You’ll find the people who choose to be alone just haven’t found someone to prop themselves up on or have and that other person isn’t one for propping.  It’s then people do seemingly strange things that most would raise an eyebrow at in 2017. Hobbies like trainspotting (literally, not shooting up in Scotland), journal keeping or collecting sex dolls. Speaking of which, aren’t those quite literally a last resort in the quest to find someone to lean on and someone to be intimate with? A physical manifestation of an imaginary friend which has the added bonus of that you can fuck them and perhaps, feel less self-loathing than you would if you had PornHub bookmarked in your internet browser. It’s become such a modern phenomenon that the industry is legitimately affecting UK legislation right now as there’s going to be a review, and rightly so, into having an import ban on child-like sex dolls which should be called robots more than anything these days considering how responsive they reportedly are. Hell, the fringe movement is becoming so technologically advanced that Channel 4 created a sci-fi series based around the controversy of customisable robotic partners becoming more popular than real ones. In that sense, is it true companionship and actual sex or is it just advanced masturbation?

That was a bit of a tangent but the point is that as humans, we’ve individually tried to find a herd for ourselves – and this is where I’m trying desperately not to sound like a shitty quote from any of seemingly endless Ice Age films. We’re not smarter together and perhaps not stronger either, but unity gives us a weird conviction and purpose. It’s the kind you can’t find on your own and even the lone ranger of the Great American Desert needs their horse.

On the other side of that of course, is that peace of being alone. Not particularly intrinsically reliant on one person and comfortable with the knowledge that one day there might be or won’t be. That’s where I am or so I think, I don’t know, ask me again tomorrow. Yet right now perhaps like millions of others in this weird blank space of self-devised solitude, it’s okay. While it’s not synchronised skydiving, it’s more like how Toy Story’s Buzz Lightyear put it: ‘falling with style’.  Still, like I said, ask me again tomorrow.

Synchronised Skydiving

An Education

The night I had last night was quite different and started out with a mistake on good old, toxic social media, to remind me of a series of mistakes made long ago. That being the kind that happens when two newly single people, both intoxicated do not stop themselves from doing a stupid thing that both will come grimace at the thought of. Since it happened, being able to remember, in a tipsy grumble, not saying no to the plied cider and the rest, has haunted me like a street not walked down. What if I had turned left and through my drunkenness regained that self-control to say no to what was happening and do the intelligent thing and sleep on the couch? Regret can do strange things for people. In my experience, it made looking in the mirror that more difficult for a while and gave me the skills to spot a train crash before it happens – sometimes. Yet, for others, the thought has become so sour, they must abstain from all accountability.

It’s the sobering effect after when it hits you. That feeling of regret in your gut the mixes with the guilt of being able to remember what happened in the first place. For hours I was there, staring into the darkness, unravelling the motives of the night. What was all the cider about? Was that a weird rebound for both of us? Could either have us actually stopped once the damn train had left the station?

We all deal with regret in different ways, some better than others. Whether we like it or not, regrets, the mistakes we made and how we deal with the consequences of them define us far better than the successes. The sad fact of life is that dwelling on the bad times is more educational than the good. It’s a big learning process that creates the foundations of what we define to be the good and the bad. To deny and deflect our regrets on to others teaches us nothing other than to avoid responsibility for ourselves and our own actions. It’s the reason I don’t believe it when people say ‘I have no regrets’. The roads not travelled define our lives more than the ones we take; does this make those regret-less creatures a blank space, or just another unruly student not willing to learn from the best teacher there is: life?

An Education