Thursday, November 27, 2014

Who do you want to be?

This is a post I've wanted to get out for a while, however I fear it won't capture all I wish to say, it's been a hard subject for me and I don't quite know why.

I don't feel like I fit in, this isn't the reality of my situation, just my twisted perception of reality. This lead me to question why I feel like I HAVE to fit in, which in turn asked a bigger question than "How do I fit in?" it is "Who do I want to be?" Because, how can I know where to fit in, if I don't know who I fit in with?

Despite appearances, I don't know how to fit in, but I kinda know how to be myself, and as I write this I ask myself "Do I know how to be the BEST I can be?" and the answer is: "Not yet." So, how do I find out how to be the best of myself?

Well... I've had this quote in my head for months, ever since I heard it and it's been festering in my mind and it's perfect for helping me figure out who I am.

"It's hard to talk about the importance of an imaginary hero, but heroes are important. Heroes tell us something about ourselves. History books tell us who we used to be, documentaries tell us who we are now, but heroes tell us who we want to be... And a lot of our heroes depress me.

But when they made this particular hero they didn't give him a gun they gave him a screwdriver to fix things. They didn't give him a tank or a warship or an x wing fighter, they gave him a call box from which you can call for help. And they didn't give him a superpower or pointy ears or a heat ray they gave him an extra heart. They gave him two hearts.

And that's an extraordinary thing, there will never come a time when we don't need a hero like The Doctor."

This is absolute genius because it is absolutely true in my mind, our heroes influence us, they define us, my heroes are not the conventional heroes I was ever expected to aspire to. Most of my heroes are either long dead or are fictional.

So, in no particular order, here are three of my heroes:

Mad cap engineer who developed alternating current, radio, radar and so much more. When Westinghouse (the guy who paid royalties to Tesla) almost went bankrupt Tesla famously tore up the contract and told Westinghouse to keep using his inventions, making him not just an amazingly accomplished scientist, but also one of the nicest guys ever.

Another creative genius, but his vision was to entertain the world and teach us that we are actually not much different from each other, no really, watch Fraggle Rock, it's all about being tolerant and learning how to live with each other. He brought joy to millions and he also advanced modern puppets so far and his work lead the way for some amazing developments on screen.

I can only sum the nature of this hero with this quote:

The Doctor: "What's the point of having two hearts if you can't be forgiving once in a while?"

And a transcript from the episode "Dark Water".

Clara: "You're going to help me?"

The Doctor: "Well, why wouldn't I help you?"

Clara: "Cos of what I just did! I..."

The Doctor: "You betrayed me. You betrayed my trust. You betrayed our friendship. You betrayed everything I ever stood for. YOU LET ME DOWN!"

Clara: "Then why are you helping me?"

The Doctor: "Why?"

Slight pause.

The Doctor: "Do you think I care for you so little that betraying me would make a difference?"

When I combine these characters and historical figures I get an idea of who I am and who it is I aspire to be. Examining the people I look up to, the first two real heroes are misunderstood creative geniuses, now, I'm not claiming that I am, I'm just saying I aspire to be creative and smart, I'm not satisfied with the way things are and want to change that which is in my power to do so.

When I look into fiction and look at the totally unrealistic possibilities, I don't want to be super strong, or a mind reader, what connected with me more than Wolverine or SpiderMan ever could, was one man, angry, but so massively full of compassion that he forgave his friend instantly.

That is what I aspire to, to forgive so easily and so freely. That takes some courage, and that demonstrates such extraordinary humanity. I don't know if I'll ever react like that, but I'd certainly WANT to be able to react like that.

The remarkable thing was that when I learned who I wanted to be, I stopped caring about how to fit in. I became far more consumed with how to be the best of who I am. I am seeing the dynamic of the relationships I have change and become and that's interesting because as I become more of the person I want to be, the more fulfilling the nature of the relationships I have with the people that are in my life.

So, heroes help us learn about who we aspire to be, perhaps this is why Christ came and gave us an example. First Peter 2:21-25 (Cos you know, the Message is a bit weird with verses):

This is the kind of life you've been invited into, the kind of life Christ lived. He suffered everything that came his way so you would know that it could be done, and also how to do it, step-by-step.

Maybe we should use this example first and foremost, before we look to humans and imaginary time travelling aliens to inspire us. Perhaps we needed to have an example to look up to and to get our inspiration from.

Anyone with me?

Thursday, November 13, 2014

The attitude of isolation (Part 4): Welcome to the masquerade...

Before I start my friend Rebekah wrote a blog post and I read it the eve of posting this and I think it's awesome and you should so totally read it! It also borders on what I want to talk about here, to a degree anyway. She talks about loneliness and how we hide and I'm guilty of hiding myself, it's time to stop...

I have wrote up a few of my experiences and what I've learned from them, but unless you see me frequently you will have no idea who I am. How rude of me to not introduce myself!

I'm Neil, I'm a nerd. I'm (mostly) left handed, and have a proven INTJ personality type. I'm kinda English, kinda Scottish and kinda Russian. I like badgers, soup and heavy metal music.

See, you're getting to know me already.

Except you aren't, it's just information.

I'm in total control of the information I give out, and as such, the information was specially crafted to be just enough to inform you and make you feel like I was being open and honest, but it just was not quite enough to actually give you the ability to make any firm conclusions about me.

I'm quite skilled in manipulation like that. I swear I only use my powers for good, well, if not good, certainly not evil! Well... Not until "the machine" is finished anyway...

See, I did it again, I crafted (I won't say funny though) a-designed-to-be-amusing little comment intended to put up a barrier between us to stop you getting too close by making you feel like you are.

The reality is I wear a mask and it's like one of those mirror/window things you see in police shows, very much like one in fact, let me explain.

These devices are not what they appear, the magic of glass on one side a mirror on the other. Except it's not, it's just glass, regular two way glass. The trick is one room is brightly lit while the other is in darkness. The light in the brightly lit room reflects off the bright white walls and reflects off the glass causing a mirror effect. You see, if you turned the light on in the dark room that "mirror" would very quickly reveal the illuminated darkness and the suspect can see who is identifying them.

My mask isn't a mask, it's just a piece of glass, the outside shines bright and I keep the inside in darkness so that no one can see into me.

When you are developing as a young person, you need to stretch and grow into who you are. I didn't have that luxury. I had to retreat into a dark little corner of myself, put up the glass and let others reflection of themselves be what they thought I was.

It worked... Too well.

There was a fundamental issue with this, it assumed that people on the other side of the glass were a threat to me. For a time this was certainly true, but it isn't any more, or at least I'm statistically less likely to find someone actively out to try and hurt me these days. Yet the glass remained in place. It was safe, comfortable, even. The thing is, while I could now see wonderful people and situations on the other side of my glass, I couldn't interact with it and they had no idea who or what was on my side of the glass.

I had two things I needed to do, I had to light up my darkness and break down my glass, not exactly an easy thing to do. After all, this is a coping mechanism I've had for years, so long in fact I can't remember not having it.

From my point of view illuminating the darkness is the easiest element and the place to start. I begun to do this by looking through into what felt like another world, one I could see, but not feel, a world that I wanted to be a part of and revealing my presence seemed like a good way to introduce myself. 

So I begun to let myself be known and I found out that the more I revealed, the more people seemed to like me. For example it has been pointed out to be that I have a very dry tone/sense of sarcasm and a flair for being overly dramatic, especially when I re-tell the stories that happened to me. Observational evidence (and outright statements by others) affirm that this combination seems to generally be regarded as "amusing".

So under the surface I appear to have a sense of humour, one that is seemingly socially acceptable, but rare enough that it has some punch. I didn't actually realise any of this until I let myself be known and opened up to other people. 

I had a choice, listen to the voice in my head, the one that says I'm not worth knowing or that others are only being polite or I can listen to my friends who feedback and contradict what I think about myself.

I could pick many examples where this has been true over and over, but I don't yet feel comfortable doing so. I'm still a work in progress, I hope you understand.

The fact of the matter is though as I have begun to open up and show myself to others I am learning that the more I open up the more I feel safe without having to hide in my darkness.

And now that I'm comfortable with being in the light I have to then attempt the harder part. Fully and unreservedly engaging with the wider world. It's an ongoing learning experience, but I'm slowly learning what I need to do...

... And it's much better on the other side of the glass.