Permission to Pursue the Dopest of Dreams

Permission

Sat around the dinner table this evening with friends, talking about life and our dreams, I was thinking about permission. Too often we hang fire on chasing after our dreams because we’re waiting on someone else to give us the permission to do so. Whether we’re conscious of it or not, we’re awaiting permission from parents, society, our peers or even ourselves.

There are two kinds of people. The first are those who are spoon-fed. The second are those who grab the bull by the horns. The former are those who do things the way things were done before them. Even if it doesn’t feel the best, they do what they feel they ought to be doing. It’s what everyone else is doing, therefore surely it’s the smartest choice…The latter are the people who don’t wait for someone to give them the permission to chase their dreams and do what calls to them. These are the people who instead commit to going after what they want – regardless of how difficult it is and how many ‘no’s’ they encounter along the way.

It seems the pattern is fairly consistent here. It doesn’t matter what the committed pioneer is pursuing. First, he tries and goes against societal expectations. He faces the ridicule of friends and family who are still stuck in old ways. This ridicule only stems from those who can’t imagine doing things any other way, or those who have tried and failed. He then faces self-doubt. ‘Why am I doing this to myself?’ he asks. And then, he wins. And it’s that win that feels more fulfilling to him than any amount of spoonfuls presented on a plate. This is because the meal he’s finally tasting is enriched with the most decadent and exotic flavours, far exceeding twice the quantity in slop.

This is metaphor heavy – I realise – but for someone who’s tasted the freedom of dream-chasing, any other life is a sure-fire path to starvation. It’s slop on the plate and a weevil-infested pantry in the mind.

We wonder why mental illness is at an all-time high. Loneliness and unfulfilled dreams permeating every ‘social’ circle. These brilliant minds are bored. They don’t believe in what they do and they’re craving the satiation – the satisfaction – of dreams come true. They’re craving the boomerang effect of vibrations just like the ones in their heart and soul bouncing back at them from a manifested existence that they want to be a part of. More so – that they want to create.

So if we’re all created equal. If each of us unique, with our own set of skills and strengths, why are only a few of us calling the shots? I call it a disease of awaiting permission unnecessarily. And it has quite simply got to stop.

There’s a formula for how the world works at the moment, and few who dare to go against the system and make an attempt at doing things differently. What would be the wider outcome if this became the way of the world? How would the system change?

Today’s food for thought.

Photo: Flickr

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You can’t fight fear with fear.

Kindness has a ricocheting effect in this world. Doing small things to make someone else’s day that little bit easier or brighter is like dropping a stone into a millpond and watching the ripples stretch out to all corners of that water body. Whether you realise it or not, you were probably prompted to help someone in the first place whilst operating out of a place of appreciation for a kindness that was bestowed upon you.

Remember now – more than ever – that the number of good people in the world vastly outweighs those whose desire it is to cause mayhem and destruction. And even these people aren’t bad. No person is born evil; we all encounter various hardships that mould us into the people we are. We can choose to face our inner demons head-on and heal ourselves, or spin out of control and inflict our pain on others. I look at those I encounter who belittle and bully others and instantly wonder what it is that made them that way; what childhood trauma they experienced. It helps to soften my tendency to mark someone as a ‘write off’.

You can choose to operate out of a place of love or a place of fear; the former results in kindness, compassion, appreciation and peace; the latter results in panic, aggression, and inner torture. You can kill fear with love – as difficult as that can be in a practical sense for many of us. You can’t kill fear with fear. You can’t fight fire with fire.

That’s a really important message to get across. A good example of this is the Million Mask March that has occurred on Bonfire Night for the past few years. Hiding behind a mask and creating destruction all in the name of ‘fighting against the man’ does nothing but make ‘the man’ feel a greater sense of urgency to inflict control upon the people.  It also skews the perception of those people who aren’t ‘the man’ but also aren’t the protesters more strongly in favour of ‘the man’, which really isn’t in their best interest long-term.

For a person in fear, recognising fear in others is a signal for interaction. They know how to deal with that and it is with aggression and manipulation. If a person in fear encounters a person ‘in love’ as it were, this throws them. As Gandhi said, “first they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win”. The person in fear does not think the person in love is of any threat…at first. Then, a slow stirring of some kind of inner uncomfortable begins and the only way that person in fear knows how to cope is to belittle the other. As this ‘uncomfortable’ grows they feel they must attack and consume it. Until finally they realise that this just isn’t possible.

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There is so much fear all around us right now. And let’s be honest – no one actually enjoys living amongst it. If you want it to stop, you must not succumb to a skewed perception of the people of this planet. The majority of humans are good and kind and want an easy, peaceful life. Don’t forget that. The next time you have an opportunity, be kind. The minute you do so, you are taking yourself to a better parallel universe.

Live a little

At the start of 2013 I was stuck in a bit of a rut; I felt as though I had very little sense of purpose or direction. It had been about 6 months since cutting ties with University and I was asking the universe with an anticlimactic sigh, ‘what now?’ I guess I had this idea that going to University was a sure fire route to greatness and that somehow those three years would culminate in a dream career. It’s not until you start cruising through your twenties that you realise that life doesn’t work that way.

University teaches you many things, but what you choose to study does not define who you are as an individual and certainly does not chain you to one path in life. Of course it’s a beautiful thing if you’re a switched on teenager and pick a course that benefits you in a long and fulfilling career afterwards, but for many of us, things don’t work out that way. The person you are when you walk away with your degree is very different to the person you were when you skipped in fresh-faced with eyes wide and dreamy. And again, the person you are after a couple years of employment  – or whatever else – post-university is vastly different again.

We are always growing and learning and finding new interests and paths we would like to pursue. And we are only inspired by these things as we gain experience in them. We must stop guilt-tripping ourselves for taking a path that is seemingly ‘completely unrelated’ to whatever degree we have. Whilst the subject material may not be the same, everything you do is related to that degree because you wouldn’t be the person you are now had you not studied it. So even if you feel frustrated that you are thousands of pounds in debt for studying something that it turns out a few years later isn’t your true calling, that’s OK. Unfortunately it is one of those things that you simply don’t learn until you’ve been through it. And this is why I am so against students having to pay for their education; you shouldn’t have that burden to carry around with you for years afterwards. You should feel free and weightless to pursue new things, should you want to.

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So when I was plodding along in that period of my life, feeling defeated and confused, I decided to take a pledge to do something new every day. It started out small, like cooking a new recipe or visiting somewhere that I’d not been before, but slowly built into bigger and bolder challenges like quitting my job and flying out to the United States. If there’s one thing I’ve learned as I’ve gotten older, it’s that your thoughts completely determine what is next for you in life. If you play victim to your current situation because you despise it, you will inevitably get more of the same, because what you focus on grows. If you put every waking thought into the place you want to be, however, you will move through the bad and into the good.

This process became a kind of addiction; never in a dangerous way of course, but rather an exhilarating one. I saw how much fun I was having experiencing all these new things and knew that it fuelled me. I thrive off of new sensory experiences of all kinds and love the process of learning about something new. Somewhere along the way in the past couple years I forgot about how much joy this challenge brought me, so I’ve decided to start Round 2. Today marks the 30 day countdown to my 25th birthday and so what better time to start? It’s healthy to scare yourself a little and edge out of that comfort zone that we too easily settle ourselves into. I dare you to join me; you might be surprised at the outcome.

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Hit the road, heart attack Jack

I hope one day in the not-so-distant-future we’ll look back and wonder how on Earth we ever let humans drive. I don’t sit here and write this in a frustrated frame of mind after being stuck in traffic; after all, I don’t own a car and travel by train on a daily basis. I’m expressing something that I frequently wonder in disbelief when I am on the roads in somebody else’s car.

I don’t deny that there are many great drivers out there, but even the most switched-on, road-savvy, experienced individual is not superhuman. We all could, theoretically, have a seizure or heart attack at any moment. Or our car could fail us in a time of need. And then there are those that decide to drive drunk or high or tired or whilst texting, hitting the road believing that they are exception to the law. Then there’s driving in weather conditions that you’re uncomfortable with, or God forbid a sudden flash flood that takes you by surprise (and washed away the car of a friend of mine one rainy evening). My point is that you can’t plan for everything and you certainly can’t trust everyone to make the wisest decision 100% of the time.

As of yet, there is no form of transport that is 100% safe and reliable. But, of all of them, driving has got to be the worst. To give you some figures, in 2013, 1,713 people died in car crashes in the UK. Granted, this is lower than the 3,409 in 2000, but it’s still not good enough. And ASIRT report road traffic accidents as being the 9th leading cause of death! Of all the revolting bacterial infections and viruses, road accidents are number 9…

So for the people that want to argue, ‘Driving gives me a sense of freedom. I like to hit the road and go where I want.’ I say first of all, don’t preach to me about freedom! That may as well be my middle name. But I see an alternative looming on the horizon and think you’re remaining well within the box if you want to throw that argument at me.

What if there was an alternative that was totally reliable, frequent, convenient, safe, comfortable and environmentally-friendly. Would you still choose your car? I guess it depends on your priorities. Cars are indeed symbols of freedom, but with more and more of them on the road and an ever-increasing risk to your health, why not focus collectively on a better alternative? I often look at a beautiful place and try to tug on my most creative abstract brain cells and picture it without all the tarmac and four-wheeled fiends. Cars pollute our air with toxic fumes and noise, act as eyesores most of the time, are inefficient, expensive, lead to a waste of time (i.e. traffic) and pose a health risk.

I’m not preaching about getting rid of your car only to use buses and trains that aren’t good enough for your needs. I want you to realise that a car as we know it is NOT as good as it can get. That shouldn’t be the end point of our transport goals in this life. We complain about all the oil companies and how we want to save the planet, but continue to drive our cars around, supporting the oil companies and polluting our planet. Just imagine for a moment if everyone sacked off their cars and demanded that their governments devise plans for a better, more sustainable form of public transport. With developments like Elon Musk’s Hyperloop and Jacque Fresco’s Venus Project, along with Google Chauffer, it’s time we start thinking bigger and striving for better.

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The Daily Mail

The Daily Mail

Caffeinate, stimulate, hyperventilate, vegetate.

I’m fascinated by the pull of city life and also its implications to mental and physical health. What we see globally is the trend of young people moving into the city for work, where they remain until they decide they’ve had enough, pack up, and retire to the sticks for peace and tranquility – if they’re lucky. Of course there are exceptions, but I think it’s safe to say that en masse, this pattern occurs.

I want to throw technology into the mix here. Back in the day, before the smart phones, tablets, social media and selfies, there was a need for people to talk to one another and interact within this city environment. This didn’t make things so bad, right? Aside from the prices that people couldn’t afford to pay and the car fumes that clogged up their skin and lungs, cities were bustling hubs of life, culture and interaction.

Whilst this is still the case to a certain extent and there is an undeniable pull that makes me want to stay in Bristol and also visit many of the world’s cities, I can’t pretend that I don’t feel the eerie loneliness of living in a city where you’re pretty must on top of each other but without any interaction. I commute by train to work each day. I sit at the station either reading or listening to music and look around at everyone else on their phones and feel the irony of all these people in one place but no interaction amongst us.

Worse still, I look around me in a coffee shop or cafe and I see couples or friends sat together – one or both with their phone on the table – sending out the unspoken message of, ‘you’re important, but not quite as much as someone who might contact me through cyberspace’. At a time when we’re better connected to people across the world than ever, are we forgetting social decency and how to interact with each other in the flesh?

So combined with this fascination with the smartphone we have the rat race. I’m talking about the ‘career building’ bullshit that we force ourselves to sit through because we feel it is expected of us. We put ourselves entirely into someone elses judgement whilst applying for jobs, losing our power by handing a stranger a brief synopsis of our ideas and abilities and let them tell us how capable we are.

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We feel we must go out and get a good corporate job in order to be somebody and win at life. We feel we must leap over the hurdle of a title that is good enough and an income that is good enough and a house and car and 2 holidays a year that are good enough, so that when we converse with others we can stand there proudly and talk about how wonderful we are, only to really go home that night with the empty feeling that something just isn’t right. And worse still, that our life is flowing right by us like a river that we simply can’t keep up with.

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