Archive for June, 2017

Jun 27 2017

Some People Say Forgive And Forget…I Say Forget About Forgiving And Just Accept. And… Get The Hell Out Of Town.

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Truthfully, I’ve never been very good at closing the doors on the past. I’m a movie buff and Hollywood has taught me to always look for closure, that final moment where you can close that door for good, having all issues resolved and that particular plot point of your life completed.

But real life isn’t like that. You don’t get over the death of a loved one by fulfilling a dying wish. Instead, you stay filled with regret that you didn’t say goodbye. That childhood bully didn’t end up fat and alone. Instead, he’s doing really well for himself with a lovely family and a full head of hair. You don’t move past a bad break-up with an emotionally charged, drunken weekend away with friends. Instead, you see that person again in a bar the following week. You sleep together again a few weeks later. You get back together, realise it was a mistake, breakup all over again, sleep with their best friend, get kicked in the nuts by their sister… ahem, this one is running away from me. My point is, life isn’t like the movies – it’s far more complicated and rarely do we get the resolution we desire.

And I really struggle with that. I like the neat packages. I like my endings to be tied up with bows.

The tagline to my blog comes from my favourite film, Grosse Pointe Blank. It’s the movie’s closing lines – “Some people say forgive and forget…I say forget about forgiving and just accept. And… get the hell out of town.” I’ve always loved the lines but I’m not sure I ever really gave them much thought beyond, “that sounds cool”. I’ve always liked the idea of moving on though.

I’ve been hurt in the past and while it’s not easy to forget and even harder to forgive (I probably still haven’t forgiven many people for the wrongs that have befallen me), I’ve found it possible to just move on. I’ve stayed friends with exes that have hurt me. In most cases, we’re better as friends anyway.

When it comes to family, I’m not sure we have much choice but to move on. They’re a fixture in your life. You can choose to be angry at that awkward wall in your hallway or you can walk past it. That wall will always be there. Is it really worth eating yourself up about it?

So, I move on. These people stay in my life, for better or for worse. Closure doesn’t come and life just simply goes on.

But I’ve recently been thinking about the last part of my tagline – “And get the hell out of town”. In the movie, our heroes are having their version of a typical Hollywood ride off into the sunset, so I just accepted those words at their face value. But maybe there’s something to it. Maybe closure comes with distance.

Six months ago, I made a huge move. I left Ireland. I packed my bags and moved to Scotland, to Edinburgh. It has been life-changing. All of the fears I had about missing my life and my city proved unfounded. I quickly found a new life. I do miss my friends from back home, and I’ve been lucky that so many have visited and continue to visit, but I am making new friends here. Far more importantly, I seem to have left a huge amount of baggage back in Ireland. I have left behind some very negative relationships. I have left behind bad memories and empty gestures of contrition. I’ve closed the door on many parts of my life that have been open wounds for years. In short, I’ve found closure.

People, places, moments that stressed me out, made me cringe or worry or angry or sad – they’ve all fizzled away. They’re like stories from another lifetime now. And all it took was a short plane journey across the Irish sea.


I realise that this has been less of a cohesive article and more of a stream of consciousness, so thank you for reading. I’m trying my best to write regularly again and this old blog seems like a great place to start. Welcome to my new readers (the stats say there are a good few of you) and hi again to anyone who remembers the old days of my incessant ramblings.


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Jun 26 2017

The Importance Of Silence

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I have this recurring dream, a nightmare really. I’ve had it as long as I can remember. Actually, I have two recurring dreams that have stayed with me since I was a child, but I’ll address the second one another time. This one is about noise, confusion, claustrophobia, and overwhelming anxiety.

It sort of feels like a memory, but I think it’s been warped so much by time, repetition, other dreams, and other experiences that I can’t say for sure. But I’m a child. I’m around three or four years old and I’m sitting on a kitchen counter-top. My head fits neatly under the cupboard above me. I’m alone in the kitchen, but there are a number of people in the room next door – three, four, five. They’re shouting, arguing, screaming. Everyone is talking over one another, so I can’t discern any one voice, any topic, any sentence, any point. It gets louder and louder. I’m intensely closing my eyes, but the noise pounds against me. My heart races and I’m sweating. I try to close my eyes even more fiercely, but the shouting, the voices get stronger. It could be 500 people all shouting over everyone else now. I’m holding my hands against my ears, but it doesn’t help. I’m not crying – my eyes are so resolutely shut that it would be impossible. The anxiety is overwhelming. My head is throbbing, my heart is about to explode, I’m dizzy and can no longer feel the counter-top below me, the wall to my side, I can’t feel my hands, my legs, my body. I am composed of this noise now, this painful, incomprehensible screaming, shouting din.

I wake up.

For a few moments, I’m still dizzy. The noise is like a fading echo. I’m still filled with anxiety and I am flooded in fear. My heart still races and I’m usually dripping in sweat.

I don’t get this dream very often. Maybe once or twice a year. I know it occurs more in times of stress. In fact, in the greatest times of difficulty in my life, I experience the “dream” while awake. And that’s no fun at all.

I’ve never liked an over-abundance of noise. Whether that’s as a result of the dream or if the dream is a result of my hatred of the clatter, I’ll never be sure. But both the dream and my aversion to noise are so intertwined with my personality now that I don’t think the origin matters. What matters is my need for silence. Yes, in times of emotional stress, work stress, personal stress, it’s vital that I get away to a quiet space and allow myself time to find my centre. But it’s equally important to take a breather when I’m not under any great stress. I have come to realise that I need the silence to ensure the seeds of anxiety do not take root.

Truly, after all I’ve been through in my life, I am the person that can handle anything. I can, I do, and I will cope with anything the world throws at me. It’s my superpower. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy. I have built myself a mental toolkit to help me deal with any situation. Particularly in times of crisis, when everyone else is panicking and shouting and appointing blame, it’s like a switch flips in my head. I become very calm and very quiet. I slowly weigh up everything that’s happening and I immediately start finding solutions. I delegate. I put people to work and I calm those around me. Some people will require a warm shoulder, some people will require a sharp figurative slap to the face. Some situations need an immediate response, some a considered timely course of action. I know this is my strongest skill and it is rooted in silence. When everything else is in chaos, my mind is clear, calm and quiet.

Silence leads to self-reflection. Self-reflection leads to finding meaning. Meaning in things, meaning in situations, and meaning in life. Finding meaning is what makes us fully functioning humans, I think. Silence doesn’t have to mean a three day retreat in the mountains (although, that does sound lovely). It doesn’t even have to mean excluding yourself from people for hours on end. It could simply mean taking a ten minute bathroom break when out with friends in a noisy bar. It could mean a short walk or a long shower. In work, it can mean taking a walk around the site or a five minute moment of solitude in the server room (I am the only one with the key).

My working life can so often be a cacophony of phonecalls, requests from colleagues, questions from contractors, talks with my boss, email streams, document flows, endless piles of paperwork… too often, our culture assigns self-worth with productivity. And this is why people burn out. Solitude and silence allows us a break from the evil overlord of productivity. And while it may seem counter-intuitive, sometimes doing nothing enables us to do so much.

I suppose a truly balanced life is one where we do not forget the past, but don’t dwell on it; where we plan for the future, but don’t obsess over it; and where we live in the here and now, enjoying it with the knowledge of all that has come before and the hope for all that lies ahead of us. It a nice thought, but so very difficult to achieve. I love to think I live in the here and now, but then I start thinking about that really stupid, embarrassing thing I said to that girl when I was 17 years old. I start panicking that I won’t be able to afford the flights home for Christmas, the presents for everyone, the time off work, not to mention the worry of Simon’s visa issues… and calm. Living in the here and now is not frickin’ easy. I need my time-outs. I need silence to drown out all the little niggling voices in my head.

I don’t suffer that dream very often these days, but I know it’s there at the back of my head. I know the next bout of depression is only a bad rainy day away. I know a crashing, crumbling spell of anxiety is always ready to grab hold of my collar and drag me into the pit. But I know I can deal with it and I know I will get through it all. I take my moments of silence. I breathe. I smile. I appreciate everything I have right at this moment. And I get on with it. What more can any of us do?

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Jun 22 2017

Stop Looking At Your Fucking Mobile Phone

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I’m done with it. I’m done playing second fiddle to a piece of plastic. I’m done being the third wheel in a relationship where the Internet and its myriad of distractions are more important than me, a living, breathing, moderately interesting human man.

Stop looking at your fucking mobile phone.

Yes, I realise as I ever-so-rapidly careen towards 36, I have begun to embrace my Grumpy Old Man status a wee bit early, but I’ve had enough. I may not be as exciting as I once was, I may not be able to hold a candle to cutefurryblindkittensfallingover, I may not have the yaasss gurl sass of a pouting drag queen meme, and I may not be as riveting as that 56-new-message group chat that you simply must respond to right this second, but I am flesh and blood and sitting right in front of you. Get off your fucking phone!

Simon, my life, my darling, my future… yes, I am addressing you, but I am not only addressing you.

As I waited for my lift to work yesterday morning, I witnessed four people almost die because of a) complete stupidity, and b) their mobile phones. All four (two in their early twenties, one thirties, one forties) with right-angled necks walked passed me, crossed half-way across the street to the traffic island and, without pause, walked right out in front of a fast moving car. The walker in front was leading the group, unbeknownst to her I guess, and she was hit by the car. She was tapped by the car. She was lightly bumped by the car. Thankfully, it was a dry morning. Thankfully, the driver was wide awake. Thankfully, the brakes on the car were in tip-top working order. No one was hurt and I suspect the driver was more shocked than even the bumped group leader. I swear, one of the group didn’t even look up from her phone.

Minutes later, picked up and driving down London Road, I saw the group of four again. Yes, of course they were still buried in their phones. I don’t like to wish ill will, but if one of them fell over, I’d watch that fail video.

Look, I’m no innocent. I love my phone. I could not live without my phone. When I get that 10% battery warning, my heart skips a beat and all the meditation techniques in the world cannot quell my rising anxiety levels. But even I have come to realise that there is a time and a place. Walking the streets with eyes down and ne’er a thought for safety or self preservation – this is not the place. In the cinema, with your distracting glare likely to result in popcorn, chocolate, jellies or a loose chair to be thrown at your head – this is not the place. Over dinner, while drinking with friends, during a TV show, during a discussion about mobile phone usage – not the place, not the time, stop doing it!

And breathe.

In unrelated news, I just bought the new OnePlus 5 smartphone. Cannot wait to play with it.

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