Friday, 30 January 2009

Be creative

I would like to say that I came it with the following comment, but I'd be lying. It's from the Brahma Kumaris people at 'Inner Space', a spiritual organisation encouraging positive change. And as abstract and esoteric as the quote may appear, it makes a lot of sense to me. All you've got to do is ground it in the real world. Anyway, here it is:

"Be Creative: Every day is an opportunity to be creative - the canvas is your mind, the brushes and colours are your thoughts and feelings, the panorama is your story, the complete picture is a work of art called, 'my life'. Be careful what you put on the canvas of your mind today - it matters. "

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Here we go again

It may be a statement of the bleeding obvious but the world is in a bit of a funk at the moment. “Billions wiped off stock markets” cry the pretty commonplace tabloid headlines, along with the swill of recession, property crash, job loss, credit crunch noise being thrown at us. So where does that leave us? Well, not in the best of states at present, to be honest. But without wanting to belittle the state of the world as the doomsayers see it, we’re back in the yin and yang again. Good follows bad follows good - all part of the rejuvenation process. Picture back to 12th September 2001. This was the day after the planes flew into the twin towers, when you’d had time to digest what you’d seen on the screen ad infinitum the day before and in so doing created an unimaginable new reality for the world. Most of us on that day believed the world had changed forever. And to be fair it has. But that doesn’t mean that getting on with living necessarily has. I’m sure we’ve all had millions of reasons to laugh, to cry, to be angry, to be hopeful, to be thankful, to be human since then. That’s not to say that the events weren’t horrendous and haven’t left their mark, but the reality is we’ve all got on with what we had to get on with. Same as they did during WW2 or the Great Depression or any number of times in history when things looked really damn crappy. Things are going to be pretty painful for quite a few people for quite some time, and I hate pain as much as the next man. But tomorrow, as they say, is another day. It always is.

What the Dickens?

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times; it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness; it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity; it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness; it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair; we had everything before us, we had nothing before us; we were all going directly to Heaven, we were all going the other way." Charles Dickens, 'A Tale of Two Cities'. Yep, what a couple of years we've been living in. That's yin and yang for you.

Sunday, 25 January 2009

Days like these

There are days that I’m in the zone. Everything I touch turns to 24-carat nice ones. And then there are those other days. Days that you stay in bed when you know it’s a glorious day outside. Days when you should be celebrating but you find yourself moaning, groaning about some little pithy thing. Days when you should be taking on the world but instead live in your emotional cesspit. Hey, that’s cool. Some days it works, sometimes it doesn’t. I like to think that it's only natural to have up days and down days especially when you forget what you are all about. When I remember who I am then it’s just gravy. None of the rest matters so much. Does that happen a lot? Not enough. Regardless, everyday is a special day. You’re alive. You’re in the game!!!

Age is more than just a number...

I was flicking through a mag a while back and I fell upon a page that had the map of the world. Plonked in various parts of various continents were numbers. 80, 68, 72, 64…. These numbers symbolised the state of our world we were born into. In reality, the numbers denoted life expectancy rates across the industrialised, developing and severely struggling world. And so when I saw the number 39 typed into a little corner of West Africa, it got me thinking. We, trappings and all, really don’t fully appreciate where we are, how we are – what could have been on the toss of the celestial coin. Sure we all have problems - big ones, small ones, real ones, petty ones. But at least we're starting from a different start line. Those exposed to the world of the 39 certainly didn’t choose it. That could have been any one of us. But for the grace of God go I. Once in a while we’ve got to remember to be grateful for what we’ve got.

Thursday, 22 January 2009

Just chatting

I hate doing presentations. Can’t abide the things. Do I have to do them ever? Oh, yes. At least one or two a month. Do I get better? Hell, no. Actually, that’s not entirely true. When I allow myself to remember that I hate them and can’t do them, I actually relax a fair bit. It’s one of those, “I’m rubbish – well that’s cool” kind of times. And in those moments I turn out being really kind of good. Odd but true. I forget there are people watching that may or may not be judging me, that my boss may take a view of me, that my work may come across as shoddy. You see, while I hate doing the damn things, I absolutely love, love, love being centre of attention. I’m an exhibitionist. Everyone says I am. The life and soul of the party. An extrovert. And yet when it comes to doing pithy old presentations, I forget myself, turn into a blithering, throat-straggled wreck. My very nature is not to take myself too seriously, and here I am taking myself way too seriously. I guess anyone that gets into my kind of state is forgetting themselves a bit, forgetting what they are all about. Because all it really is is chatting about stuff, which we all do every day all the time. And are you yourself or is the presentation really, really that important? Maybe the answer is “yes”, but for me most of the time it’s just my ego talking - way too much and way too loudly. So for my next presentation I will make that extra effort to remember the real me again and tell my ego to take a running jump. Easier said than done, I know, but it’s worth a shot. Now, why didn’t I write this piece this morning before my presentation?!!

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Today's the day

It's Inauguration Day for the 44th President of the United States of America. I'm just one small observer amongst the many millions or billions around the world acknowledging an historic and quite amazing day in the life of the US. Thousands upon thousands of words have been written on the subject by far more learned and sophisticated individuals than myself. And in a way I'm not sure what added value that my input could provide. All I can really say is that I feel truly blessed to be around to see such a day in my life time. Future generations may not truly understand the magnitude of President-elect Barack Obama's achievement. But previous generations that found hope through civil rights symbols such as Martin Luther King or Rosa Parks will fully appreciate the sacrifices that many individuals had to take simply for the right to equality. One man's dream has become another man's reality. Even if this current period of the coming together of peoples, races and ideologies is just fleeting, the US now realises the possibilities. For all the ills in this world, today at least we can say "well done America".

Monday, 19 January 2009

Trying out the edam

Many years ago, when my kid sister was about five years old she decided one day that she hated cheese. Absolutely hated the sight of it and couldn’t eat the stuff. This lasted for quite a while – about five years I think - until one day she tried it again. Suddenly she realised that she actually quite liked the stuff. The thing is, when she’d taken her very first bite of edam, she didn’t just bite into the yellowy cheesy bit. No, for some daft reason she bit into the red plasticy outer casing. As I was a huge fan of cheese I knew it was in my interests not to correct her, and instead enjoyed the benefits of her bogey food. I was thinking about this episode and how it kind of relates to real life still now. There are probably loads of “things”, whether that relates to situations or activities or memories, that are misshaped by first impressions. Sometimes we’ve got to realise that over time we change, the situation changes or, as in this case, we didn’t get it right in the first place. So I guess it’s time for me to go back and check out some of my own edam moments of the past.

Thursday, 15 January 2009

Dream on dreamer

American Idol. What a deliciously silly series. You could write a thesis on this thing - about what it says about aspirations in modern America, about the British pantomime villain, about the evolution (or not) of reality TV, about the nature of race relations etc etc etc. One thing I love about it are the initial auditions. Sure, you get your fair dose of crazies, outrageous attention seekers and those so down on their luck they think it’s their last chance. But what really intrigues me are the delusionally bad singers. They obviously provide a fair dose of the humour quotient for the early part of each season. But it’s the fact that they can actually have such a strong belief in their ‘talent’ that intrigues me. The fact that they have such belief and are so on the wrong page it shouldn’t be funny (though to the rest of us is). Back in the real world, there are a lot of us that are faced with tasks and challenges that we are so capable of doing but find that we don’t have one-tenth of the belief that some of these individuals have. It throws up the phrase: “We don’t see things as they are, we see things as we are.” Amen to that. I just wish I could bottle some of the stuff these guys have got drunk on. Then I too can become the next American Idol…

Monday, 12 January 2009

Making an omelette

I can’t remember how old I was or where I was but my mum, my aunt, my whatever, taught me how to make an omelette. A couple of eggs, some onions, some mushrooms, some salt and pepper. Bingo. That was it. For me. Then. Over the years I’ve tried out a few other versions – add the cheese, a few more spices, a bit of milk, or Tabasco. Which way is right? Every way is right. There’s more than one way to skin a cat (or make an omelette, so to speak). And for me it’s just like the huge mountain of seminars, books, tapes, gurus and the like geared towards creating a “better you”. One size does not necessarily fit all, in my view. As long as no harm is done to anyone, my mantra is “if it works, it works”. So thinking about any brand new fad, consider which one has worked for you in the past, and maybe tinker with it to make sure that it can work for you in the future. Sometimes you’ll have the taste for a cordon bleu omelette on a fancy plate with nice shiny cutlery. And sometimes it’s worth remembering it the way your mum used to make it.

Thursday, 8 January 2009

What’s in a name?

Well, I’d thought about calling this blog thing 'Street Guru'. Kind of snappy, I thought. But I also thought better of it. Okay, fair enough, I’m using it as my nom de plume but I didn’t think that I had earned the right to name the whole page in such a glorified manner. So I sought inspiration from a higher power: Burt Bacharach. I was muddling around my apartment and there it was – my ‘Anthology of Burt Bacharach’ songs. So he was the inspiration. Or strictly speaking Hal David, who never gets his dues really. Hal wrote the lyrics and Burt did the music. Let’s say Hal is the prose, Burt is the poetry . Truth be told, I had tried to use “What The World Needs Now” as the blog address but some other inspired individual had nabbed it. So it was left to that much covered song “Always Something There To Remind Me” instead.

Still, combined I think the two phrases actually work quite well together really, in a state-of-the-world-kind-of-way. In these trying times people certainly are reaching out for something, anything. Maybe all they're looking to do is simply to re-connect with this world. How do we do it? Go back to basics, I guess. Keep it simple and just look around. As kids we just knew that there was so many amazing things to discover that were sitting smack bang in front of us. We just need to remember how to see things like that again. And hopefully that's what I'm here for: "Always Something There To Remind Me."

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

What happens next?

In that time honoured tradition of attempting to guess what banana-skin of a moment is about to happen, I've finally got round to putting a few thoughts into words. Today, I'm taking it in baby steps - seeing what stream of consciousness flows through to my fingertips and onto the page. It's taken me a good year and a half of "umming" and "ahhing" to get to this point, only to realise that in actuality the process itself only took a few minutes really to get to this point ("this point" being this point in the paragraph or even this point in the overall initial thought - whichever angle you prefer). Anyway, today is a little bit of rambling just to pat myself on the back and to say "well done, you", before I dig a little deeper another time.

So what am I all about? Well, I'm just an average guy hoping to bring a little sunshine to the occasional overcast mood or confused situation in life. I'm the type of guy that has read the books, been on the courses, done a little mentoring and basically have been myself inspired or uplifted by a variety of experiences and exposures at different times and to varying degrees. The meaning of life? Dunno. I've stopped looking. I'm happy now to be discovering. And so that's where I'm coming from - throwing my hat into the ring to say "I've got an interesting and positive take on a few things", just like all of you out there can have.

Next time, I'll hopefully have some shape to my thinkings. Today, I'm just happy to ramble away like any kid at play oblivious to his or her surroundings. This is my new toy and I'm already loving it!