I’ve been ill for the best part of the last fortnight. As a result, I’ve spent a lot of time watching movies. I haven’t written anything in quite sometime, beyond my #startright memes that is. And to me, those don’t really count. Mainly, because they’re not a balm for me like writing poetry is. I don’t feel like I’m releasing a great deal of myself at all. I never realised I was seeking any sort of release until the movie I watched two days ago, Batman Begins. I can’t begin to count the number of times I’ve seen it, but there’s a line in it that always, always gets me: “Why do we fall?” I did what I always do, thought about it a great deal. Then this piece was born:
Sometimes We Fall
Sometimes we fall.
Sometimes we trip.
Sometimes the fear takes over,
And we give in to our baser nature.
Sometimes we fall.
Sometimes we forget.
Sometimes we forget that we are stronger.
Sometimes we forget what came before.
So, sometimes we fall.
We forget, we repeat.
We repeat mistakes that should never be repeated.
Sometimes we fall.
Sometimes we’re silent too long,
We forget to speak.
Sometimes we crawl too long,
We forget to stand.
Sometimes we fall.
Sometimes we don’t realise we have fallen,
as we wallow.
Sometimes we fall.
Sometimes we fall.
This is our lot.
Sometimes we hurt.
This is our lot too.
Sometimes we fall.
But, we must not be defeated.
Sometimes we fall.
But we cannot stay lost.
We all fall at some point.
It’s part of our humanity.
And yes, we all hurt sometimes.
This is life.
Another truth that we ca never deny…
Yet, must we rise.
The thing with following your dreams. The thing we never document when we encourage people to strive for and pursue their excellence, is the pain that comes with it. When we document the journey, we want the world to see our triumphs and we post our pictures online with smiley faces, living a tremendously joyous existence. We proclaim, we hashtag, that we are “#livingthedream” and we tweet about the people we’ve met, the places we’ve gone, and the many wonderful things we may have done. Somehow we happen to miss out the heartache, tears and the loneliness that can come with it.
While all that we share is no lie, those who read, or look at these pictures always forget that this is only a part of the whole story. A truth nevertheless. I am reminded of a movie called ‘Just Married’ that starred Ashton Kutcher and Brittany Murphy. The lead man (played by Kutcher) was being advised by his father about marriage. He pointed to pictures in a photo album, and he spoke of those joyous moments. Here’s the quote from that scene:
“Some days your mother and me loved each other. Other days we had to work at it. You never see the hard days in a photo album… but those are the ones that get you from one happy snapshot to the next.”
I am caused to think on the quote above. A while ago I wrote a blog about making it a year in Berlin. I’ve had a number of months that were more than a little difficult. These are not documented in pictures, or with tweets, or even Facebook updates. In time to come, I will look back over many of these tweets and status updates and think on all I lived through between those pictures. When I look at those tweets or pictures, I will remember vividly the difficult times, without need of documented words or pictures. I will remember the tears that came during the absent updates. I will remember the fears and loneliness only too easily. So why, oh why do I need to document them physically? Their emotional toll is clear for me to see.
A close friend of mine messaged me a while ago, having read my blog post ‘Letter To A Friend‘ and I found myself touched by her message.
The message was simple:
“I just wanted to tell you that whatever happens, don’t lose hope….Even when/if you lose yourself…Even when/if nothing means anything anymore. I know you know this, but I still wanted to let you know.”
This is part of what helps me to continue moving on when things get difficult, as they tend to do.
In more recent past, I attended my sister’s wedding in the UK. I am happy to tell you I was beyond proud. I was asked a few days before I left Berlin, if I would cry at the wedding, I of course proclaimed that there was little chance of this happening. I am far from ashamed to tell you I cried as I watched her walking down the aisle. It has been many a year since I last shed a tear, so I didn’t anticipate it. But, seeing her walking down the aisle, with tears pouring down her face was too much for me. Later at the reception, I had cause to tear up once again when the time for the first dance came along. I recollect querying what they would be dancing to, my sister’s response was that it’s a surprise. I presumed twas a surprise for the audience, so I was happy to wait and see. They took to the dancefloor and the song began. I remember all too well, recognising the guitar intro, but uncertain as to the song itself, then the voice…and it was my voice! My song Weathervane, was the song they used for their first dance. I was beyond surprised! I looked to my other sister, in utter shock. I couldn’t believe it. Both were singing along. I hugged her and wept like I haven’t wept in forever, as she told me
‘Never doubt yourself. Ever’
The reason I share this? In time to come, as you go about pursuing your unknown end, you will go through what can only be called trying times. These are a part of our lot. I see them as almost a necessity. These help us to decide exactly how much we want whatever it is we are chasing. Whatever this unknown end may be, the trying times are an essential part of the journey. It is at this point that we ask ourselves if we really want this thing we seek. These trying times have the ability to break many. You have to ensure you are not one of those many. Reach back to something that will help to sustain you. For me, hearing my song at my sister’s wedding, for her first dance to boot, will stick in my mind for many a year. For me, this is a huge achievement. I intend to achieve more in my little life, but I’m uncertain that anything else I do will top that. Hold to the ‘little’ achievements. Let these encourage you as you move forward. I have come to learn that everything I want won’t come all at once. It may seem an obvious thing to many. But if you’re anything like me when it comes to dreams, you want it all at once. And you want it now. And with every little setback, we wish to curl up and die. But you always get back up, you will always keep going, because you simply have to seek the unknown end.
I sort of retreated into myself for the last few months. Whenever that happens, after a while I try to pull myself out by reading some of my old stuff. I found a poem I wrote in 2007:
It’s not an easy thing,
looking back on your own life.
Sometimes you see nothing but trouble and strife.
I’ve seen a little too much for my own mind.
I’ve hardly seen any in the mind of some younger.
So, I look back at my life and wonder;
What can I give?
How can I share with you the life I chose to live?
Was it circumstance or was it choice?
That causes me sometimes to raise my voice.
“I’d like to teach the world to sing.”
It’s a fine sentiment I do agree.
But what song would I teach to everyone,
so they could always dance with glee?
Should I show them what makes me laugh,
and hope that they laugh too?
Or should I show them what made me cry,
so they turn away from view?
This world is a hard place to live.
With many hard lessons to teach.
Sometimes we lose the lesson,
it’s just beyond our reach.
But here’s what I’d love to teach,
to each and everyone.
No matter what you face in this world,
it’s not stronger than you.
You stand up tall and face your foe,
even if it turns out just to be you.
Learn to laugh and smile and sing,
no matter what life brings.
Remember to extend your helping hand to others,
even when you have fallen short.
Always do this even though sometimes you don’t feel you ought.
For you help not them when you reach out your hand,
you help your own heart to cease to reprimand.
This is what causes me to laugh when I should cry.
This is what causes me to sing when I should wail.
This is what brings my smile to greet you when we meet.
For when you smile back, I feel the world is at my feet!
Saturday marked exactly a year since I moved to Berlin, so I figured I should write an update of some sort.
On the 1st of August 2014, I hopped on a one way flight out of Heathrow, and was met in Berlin by two friends of mine, Sandra and Christina. Scared out of my mind and thoroughly excited, we jumped in a taxi, which took me to my new home in Schoneberg. New sights and new experiences awaited.
Having left a job to begin life as a freelance musician, the adventure was twofold. New country, new career direction. A year later and I’m beginning to get a hang of things in this strange new world. The first few months were spent living off my savings. I spent an inordinate amount of time sitting in the local park, reading and soaking up sun. I had no clue as to how to tap into the vast musicians’ network that Berlin is home to. Especially being as horrendous at networking as I am! I went to a few meetup events and attended a particular event at a karaoke place. There I met a young lady who told me of her uncle who is a drummer here, and she could put us together. I chatted with him and he gave me a plethora of names of people to get in contact with. I messaged them all via facebook and a few responded. Once that was done, I joined this vast world of musicians based here. I performed every week at a club that was based in Charlottenburg, Jagger. Said club has since closed down. (Nothing to do with me, I promise!)
As an unknown name, I obviously performed for free. I had to return to the UK in Sept to sell the last of my things. My keyboard being the most precious. I do miss it dearly. Though, I will eventually get myself a new one. I didn’t get my first paid gig till November. Since then, I have been working regularly with a group of people, performing at birthday parties, weddings etc, travelling around Germany. I have also twice performed in St Petersburg, Russia. And now that I seem to be settled with regards to events to pay the bills etc, I can start looking at forming my own band and writing my own material once again. I have thoroughly missed creating and I look forward to getting back to it.
I have since moved from Schoneberg, I now live in Friedrichshain. An area in the east of Berlin, where I find soooooo many internationals, it’s amazing.
I would love to tell you that it’s been all smooth sailing, but it hasn’t. It has been the most challenging time of my life to date. I was unaware of how safe my previous life was until I moved here. i.e knowing that every month I will have an income to pay bills etc. I have in essence, gone off in business by myself. My product, me. It’s a strange new world that I am yet to get a handle of. But if there is anything my life to date has taught me, it’s that I can do whatever it is I wish to do. No matter how strange or beyond me it may seem at first, the instant I decide I want to do it, it becomes possible.
One year done. Let’s see what the next year has in store. I remain scared and excited! 😉
So, to combat the fact that I hadn’t written a poem in an age (last was in October), I went to a nearby park to sit, think and see if I can reconnect with myself. In the end, I was able to write:
Letter To A Friend
When I feel down,
As I have for the past few months.
I pick up the pad you gave me,
And I read the words you left me.
You have much faith in me,
These days I can’t see why.
I often feel like a failure to myself
As well as to my loved ones.
Especially around certain times of the year.
I often wish I could see,
What you see, when you look at me.
I would love to draw strength from that
And know that there is much,
Or at least a little to claim pride in.
I look ahead, to see.
To see what lies before me, and the path is not clear.
I feel tis a narrow road and I must clear a path for myself.
I look to my past. To previous thoughts and readings,
I am reminded that David often had cause to encourage himself.
I have trouble trying to draw parallels with him.
Even as I did when I was a man of faith.
I hear words from my favourite tv characters,
The Doctor, Merlin, Sherlock et al
Yet, I could not presume to place myself among such exalted company.
Though, if I would seek greatness, is it not their kin I must look to?
Can I not draw parallels here?
Is it too late to try?
Am I unworthy?
Who is worthy, if I cannot be?
All is in my hands.
But where do I turn?
I feel like a rudderless ship. Adrift in a storm.
With no idea which way is my North.
I look around to seek out answers.
In times gone past, I was told,
Look to the hills, as from there comes my help.
But I am no longer that man.
Those words no longer belong to me.
They belong to another.
I know not who.
Many moons ago, I was told of a destiny that was mine.
Is it no longer for me?
The underlying sadness I felt, even as a man of faith.
Remains, tears and claws at me.
The tenet I hold in hand.
Do what your hands find to do.
This I continue to do.
I am not comfortable.
And this is fine.
If I was, I wouldn’t fight, I wouldn’t try.
But I know not what I am supposed to do.
My strength has never been born of myself.
Ever was it born from others.
As much as I hated it,
It would appear I was never truly independent.
And much have I hated that.
You were the strength I never knew I needed.
In truth, I’m not even sure I wanted.
I fought you.
Because I fear that is all I know.
For good or ill, this has been my help.
Who do I fight?
Where is the iron to sharpen me?
And so I am lost.
I’m sure that in time, I will find my way.
It is me afterall.
In the meantime, I shall wait.
Try to find direction again.
I shall wait.
Unfortunately, it won’t be patiently.
At the end of every year I write a new poem to usher in the new year. Last year, for the first time in a number of years, I neglected to do so. I shan’t do the same this year.
2014 has been a year of change for me. In January, I graduated from my Masters degree in Music Performance, with a fairly clear plan for the year. I was going to travel to Italy, as I had done during the summer for a few years. I had planned to spend a few months there, then possibly head to Ankara, Turkey for another few months. Italy fell through, and I had to change my plans. Halfway through the year, I moved to Berlin. I write this on Christmas eve and I’m sitting on my bed (I’ll type it up later)
It’s my first Christmas away from the UK in over two decades. Though I’ve spent the season on my own in years gone by. It feels quite different to be in a new country that I am yet to be able to call home. And as I prepare to celebrate my first Christmas away from home, I gain new respect for the many international students I have known over the years. I don’t know how you did. Though, I’m glad you did, and I am richer for knowing you.
As I sit here, I think on the future. For the last decade, I had followed a plan. I’ve come to the end of that and I have no plan now. And I’m not ashamed to tell you that it’s a scary place for me.
A new year beckons.
A new day begins.
As this new sun rises,
A new season begins with it.
A season of hope.
A season of joy.
A season of fulfilled dreams.
A season of new drive.
A season of new challenges.
Just like any other.
But a season with new determination.
So you need not run for cover.
As we open ours eyes.
To face this new day.
We think new thoughts.
We dream new dreams.
We see new faces.
To guide us on our way.
We step into new phases.
And in joy, our heads we lay.
Purpose must drive you.
And circumstance, not beguile you.
You need to be clear,
on who it is you are.
Be that one,
who believes in dreams.
Be that one,
who knows dreams can come true.
Lean not on excuse.
Don’t let fear stop you.
Negativity, you must refuse.
Else your tears proceed to drown you.
And when dark days come.
As they tend to do.
Reach deep inside,
To the strength in you.
Forget not, who you are.
Neglect not, your distant star.
Rather, stand firm for what you believe.
Reach far and you may yet receive.
Be brave and you’ll achieve.
Be true to you and in yourself believe.
As the new day begins,
see in it, a new hope.
See in it, a new chance.
And don’t be afraid.
Look back, to see where you’ve come from.
Then look forward, see where you’re going.
With a smile on your face, and hope in your heart.
Know that the future is indeed bright!
Happy New Year everyone! Make 2015 amazing! 🙂
Of late I’ve been thinking. In truth, I never seem to stop thinking. The thoughts lately are generally centered around dreams and having them come true, or otherwise. And the question is always ‘Do I Dare Dream?’
On my last day at Kingston International, as I was leaving the office, I said goodbye to a friend of mine. While doing so I confessed being rather afraid of the unknown next step. To which she responded “You’re not scared of anything”
Now, I’m thoroughly glad that I come across as fearless and full of confidence, even cocky to many I come across. To a friend that I trust, I have no qualms in confessing being daunted. I told her that I’d felt the same fear before many of my major life changes. I was quite afraid when I left my job and Vodafone on 05 to return to full time education. I was beyond scared when I stood for election to the post of President of the Kingston University Students’ Union, both times. And before leaving Kingston International, I was petrified. All that did not stop me from moving forward anyway. In truth, I hope it never stops me. I hope it continues to empower me. Every time I seek to take a step outside of that which I know to be me, there is fear. And the question is always ‘Do I Dare?’
I often get asked about my writing process, and how I write a song. What is your process? I’m often asked. As each song is different, I always try to look at it in retrospect and write from there.
This time around, as I’m in essence still writing the song, I will try to give you a more play by play description, if I can.
A few weeks ago at the end of a band rehearsal, the guitarist I’m currently working, started playing the beginnings of what he tells me is an old Brazilian song. The first 4 – 8 bars were some simply chords, played in arpeggio with a flattened fourth or fifth, giving it a very modal sound. I latched onto that with a simple melody and lyrics that came to me on the spot:
This is a new song.
That I’m writing right now
It’s a new melody
And it’s not quite the blues.
I told Joao (guitarist) that I didn’t want to hear the rest of the song, and just to let me use that beginning as a springboard for the rest. Walking down the road that night, I started singing it, adding to it, trying to let the melody flow by itself:
At the next rehearsal, we started working it. We started by listening to the above audio and going from there. In trying to find the rest of the song, I kept the first few lines and made stuff up to work with the chord progression that was being created. I added words as the melody was coming to me. The words were just filler, so that I could nail down the melody. Though, the chorus worked as it was, so I knew that was a keeper. I went away, worked on lyrics some more, to fit the melody. And by the end of our last rehearsal, this is what we had:
From the above you can see what we kept from the little audio snippet and what we threw out. There is still a little way to go, work things in properly. Some words I still wish to change, and I will allow those to come to me as and when. Tis just a little glimpse into what is sometimes my writing process. Sometimes, I bring a completed song to the band to work through. While other times, like with this song (still undecided whether to stick with ‘On My Mind’ or the original title of ‘New Song’) it starts with the tiniest bit (4-8 bars) and the song comes from there.
As I write this just after 5.30am. I’ve been off work ill over the last few days and the joys of being ill mean I can be at my laptop now trying to write a blog. Of course, the good thing about being ill is the alone time and the time to think that I have. I remember writing a while ago about my my best songs/poetry coming from honesty. Well, I think I shall give that a try now with this blog entry. I generally don’t talk to people much about what’s going on in my mind. I think I shall use this blog for that. So I ask that you indulge me for a while, as I work through one or two things going through my mind.
It’s been over a month since my last written blog. I’ve been trying ever so hard over the least few weeks to write something, and on Facebook I even got friends to give me suggestions as to what I should write about. As I walked home from work about a fortnight ago, I started thinking about it. In trying to understand where I am now, I considered the last number of years and my progress.
As soon as I finished my undergrad degree, I started work as the President of the Students’ Union. The very day after that finished, I traveled to work in Italy for 4 months. On my return, also the very next day, I started studying for my Masters degree. Recently finished that and I haven’t started something else that’s quite as all encompassing as yet. I have a good job, I’m comfortable. And that’s the problem.
I’m itching for another project. Itching isn’t quite the right word. Desperately seeking else I drown in comfortable, might be a better description. One of the reasons I left the 9-5 life many years ago was the feeling that has recently returned to me. The living for the weekend, the ‘loss’ of creativity. The hunger for something beyond the monthly paycheck or the occasional gig with the band.
I like my job. I love meeting new people and doing what I can to help them. I love the people I work with. Everyday I tell them that the only other place I’ve worked at that mixes the same blend of insanity and professionalism is the Kingston University Students’ Union. It’s unlike any other office I’ve worked at prior to coming to Kingston. That’s one of the reasons that I wanted to work at the International Office in the first place. Despite that, it’s not enough. I’m glad I will only be there until the end of July. I don’t regret taking this job. In truth, I’m happy I did. It’s reminded me that the 9-5 life is so not for me. I managed it for almost 10 years before coming to Kingston, only because the jobs were mundane enough, that my mind could be elsewhere all the while. I wrote my book while at work and I dreamed dreams of grandiose achievements while there. 10 -15 years later, and I have managed to scale some of the heights I had my eyes set on.
While I have indeed have set some new dreams/targets for myself, my current life means I have nothing left of myself at the end of the day, to create. The part of me that creates seems to be blunted, and try as I may to ‘sharpen’ it, I come up with naught. Now, as I sit at my laptop, I can feel things percolating again inside this little cranium of mine and I remember that I used to do my best writing at night. When all around is still, the sky is dark and number of those walking the streets counts in the single digits. Once or twice I would take a walk around Surbiton at stupid o’clock and breathe in the air. Walk to the river and watch its calmness and come back home to create. I would know it was time to stop writing when it started to get light out. My aim now, is to find a way that my optimum hours of creativity can be used to create, instead of trying to sleep. And my weekends need to be used on more than just trying to relax and recuperate in time for the week to come. Which means that when this job is done at the end of July I need to grab the bull by its proverbial horns and hold on tight. A new project is beginning to form in my mind. And this is good. I hope this will quell the gnawing feeling of disquiet and dissatisfaction that has been plaguing me these last few months. And that gives me cause to smile at 06.53 on this Wednesday morning.
Syfy am always consists of Smallville, then Buffy. Smallville’s just finished. Buffy next, then sleep. I’ve decided I shall return to the office tomorrow. Things to do etc. So, until next time people, have a great day!
One of many videos from my time at the Forte Village Resort in Italy last year. Hope you enjoy.
I still can’t get round to starting that video blog.