I stood there, water, cold, burning, lashing my face as I tried to take a picture. As I tried to capture the scene. As I struggled to square the circle of the reality with the virtual. I have replaced being in a place with documenting my experience of the place, and as such I am no longer there. I am so wet that the contact I make with my screen is no longer registering. I am standing under a waterfall.
I don’t know whether my ability to connect with the world I am in has diminished, or whether my desire to connect with a wider world has increased. Social media is a double edged sword, but what of the influence of the people around us? We cannot say that one is malignant and the other benign without an over simplification. I have experienced forces of good and evil from both origins.
I don’t honestly think that any two people should ever see any one thing the same way. I don’t think that it is beneficial to anyone. I like a tasty dessert, and I will eat it. I do not see this as a negative act on my part: I want to eat it, so I will. I do not always want to eat cheeses. It is, therefore, not an act of will or self-control on my part to eschew the cheese course. I simply do not feel the need for it.
We travel together as a group, and we are legion. Plans are made, and the million-headed hydra moves with a singular purpose. Then there is a momentary lapse of concentration, and the split begins to form. A case is made for the simplicity of separation, yet the space will still be shared. I do not know where to put myself, and I am not alone. I am too wedded to the first plan; I am riven.
My thoughts are my own free space: in there I can say anything I want, I can do anything I want, I can be anything I want. There are no consequences, and there is nobody there to tell me that I am getting it wrong. My life often feels like it is a succession of people telling me how wrong I keep on getting things. I should listen to them less; I should do what they say; I shouldn’t take it to heart.
Perspective is an odd thing. I find the security system employed at airports to be incredibly stressful. That should be uncontentious. I find it hard enough when I am on my own, but when I am with my nearest and dearest the anxiety becomes magnified. How do I explain to a four year old that we must stay together or we may be arrested? My feelings of stress are misunderstood as deliberate.
As I walked along the beach I wasn’t really there. I was writing. In my head I was collecting the notes I needed for a blog about the place I wasn’t fully connected with. My partner and our child running ahead of me, playing, calling me to join them. I stop to write down my thoughts, lest they be lost to the winds in a flurry of black sand. I have captured a fragment, but missed an important moment.
My thoughts often run out of control, as I confront the situations I fear the most. I am a very angry man and some people – choose or happen to – push my buttons more than others. It’s a question of perspective I suppose. In my head they come to me with a mission of help, but do nothing but block the path. Obfuscation. My screams only serve to prove their points that I am unfit: an unperson.
If I do not know what you feel about a particular notion, or a particular idea, I will probably not ask you how you feel. That’s my loss, not your inability to share. I will definitely not manufacture your views based on my interpretation of your past views. That’s projection. I will not decide that you are my antagonist, simply because we have differed before. That is a zero sum game, built on untruth.
The stones underfoot hurt my toes; the mysterious contents of the lake dwell heavy on my puzzled mind. I long to be out of the water, but my child wants to frolic more. I had thought that the water would be fun, and that I would enjoy its freedom, but I am bound by it. Its sensations constrain me and haunt my thoughts. What possessed me to come in; what possesses me to dare to leave it?
I daydream about the future as I did in the past. I foresee glories which are predicated on actions I have yet to put in to motion; successes predicated on contacts and abilities I do not have, or which I reject. I know that I must push the button and step forward, but I feel only stasis. There is a scream, a call to action, but my attention is diverted by the dreams of our shared success. Crack on; now.
Success is not a product of success, just as much as failure will never be an indicator of future failure. A difference in perspectives does not mean that one view is correct, while the other cannot be. Life has never been as simple as that. We see things differently, but your inability to accept the fact that you may not hold all of the cards does not mean that I hold none of them. That is not cooperation.
I have a number of things to balance: I want to take a picture that will make people eat their hearts out with jealousy on social media; I want to be able to see, even though the low sun wants me to be blind; I want my child not to fall down this precipice and be cast on the scree, in to the milky green waters below. I prioritise: the picture is dull, my retinas burn, and my child wends her merry way.
The path forward is the path away from conformity to independence. I’m not sure if that is quite as universal as I currently claim that it is. Pleasing people is no use; it gets you nowhere but trampled underfoot. While collectivism may offer security, the path of individualism fills the chest with clean fresh air. That is not to say that either is without flaw. We need each other to survive, not to choke.
I have never skinned a cat, and I hope never to need to. A rabbit, I could manage, but not a cat. I understand that there are myriad methods of cat skinning, but there will always be someone just out of reach who is insistent that your method is incorrect. Back seat cat skinners abound. I find such voices infuriating; I fail to bite my tongue and hold my nerve. Yet again, I am the failure. Unperson.