Read All About It

Apologies for the radio silence. To say things are hectic is lowballing it. From August 1st I will not be working for 3 months. Put simply, I’m exhausted. Emotionally, psychologically, spiritually even. Some days I dread walking into the building, to a job I once loved.

My inspiration is gone. I am very good at what I do, but now I do it mechanically. I’ve become obsessed with making sure my guys can waltz into any position they want. I want my brother and mother and sister and now nephew to be proud of me. I feel responsible for all those I know who cannot work, who can’t defy the demons and limitations forced upon them. I don’t want to die the way my father did; but everything I’m doing holds a mirror up to him.

He cared about his guys but couldn’t bridge the divide when it came to his family. I didn’t really know him at the end, but my impression was always that we withdrew to the point of implosion. Pushing with some vision of an ideal that couldn’t help but crumble.

The consensus is my stepping away is a good decision. One of my guys is taking over from me, and my faith in her is unbound. I have faith in so many people, but deny it to myself. She tells me that its time for me to start thinking about myself.

Part of me is afraid I’m putting a bullet in my career. At least I know that I’ve been judged on my performance, rather than any machinations or schmoozing, and I haven’t been found wanting. Yet again, I’m not engaged in any way I’d describe as healthy. Given the panic attacks, manic freakouts, paranoia, forgetfulness, suicidality, and seizures; I could easily be signed off on medical. I want to take a sabbatical because I don’t want to be a victim. I don’t want the company to pay for me while I’m not working. Sitting at home playing video games would consume most of my time, because I would assume the role of a patient.

‘The self is not something one finds, it is something one creates’. A great many debates can coalescence around words like that. Thomas Szasz said many things, but this stuck with me. Remaining passive, a victim of bastard luck and circumstance, rather than asserting your moral right to exist on your own terms. I can’t always get my head around the principles of the Mad Pride movement; but I engage with the notion that “We” have the right to our own cultural identity. That we’re bound by similar threads and so have a right to highlight and explore the potential therein. I’m kooky enough to think like a Mutant, to want what the X-Men have, because their stories help me quantify my experience of my life and the world we all share.

The immortal Christopher Hitchens described how his father claimed his service during the Second World War constituted ‘the only time he knew what he was doing”. I’ve always felt that about the Clinic. 13 years ago; a teen who nearly sheared his spine leaping from a bridge. Once I could limp from the orthopaedic ward I was transported to a place where I was surrounded by people who understood, one way or another. We talked and we ate together. We played music and made art together. No topic was off limits, because if you can’t share in your darkest hours then all you’ll ever know are shadows.

While we’re dropping names and paraphrasing, I’ll recall something Brody Dalle said in an interview with The Face about 4000 years ago. Her interviewer lightheartedly called her insane. Dalle retorted: ‘sometimes I feel like the most sane person in the world.’ If you’ve ever been in any positions like mine, you’ll get where she was coming from. I don’t want to pontificate or stake a claim to some hidden truth or grand narrative. I’ll say that when you’ve cut down to the bone, the meat and the seed and the rot of it all gives you some perspective.

I have a little time to assess and recreate. I’m going to travel a little, often on a whim I hope, because spontaneity is something I’ve defied. I want to see things, I want to attempt adventures and meet new people. And reconnect with those I’ve missed, for one reason or another. I want to write and I hope you’ll find something worth reading. Because I want an audience; ego does come into it of course, but also because I’ve been told I might have something to say. And, I hope, it’ll prompt people to say something back.

I want to leave y’all with something for now. It says a lot. Some art bleeds from the edge between inspiration, emotion, power and truth. Art like this:

 

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Tobago – Signal

And so to you, my last night on the island of Tobago. My apologies for any typos you may encounter herein – been drinking the local brew, Carib, solidly for the last few hours. I also spent 230 TTD on a single shot of Johnnie Walker Blue. I am very proud of myself.

The ocean’s a little rough this side of the Atlantic tonight. Got a lot of crashing waves, rolling beneath an astonishingly beautiful array of stars. I want to call this view ‘heartbreaking’, because its beauty touches you in places there may not even be names for. ‘Heartbreaking’ isn’t appropriate at all however, because this view is one of those things which reminds you how wonderful this world can be.

That’s a bold load of letters for someone like me to hammer out. Or so I’m told. Or so I tell myself. I think I’m supposed to be some kind of cynical old fuck, but I don’t think my heart’s in it anymore. I’m a romantic at heart, always have been, but you slap enough damage onto something and it hardens. Deadens even, in the right/wrong places.

“Bipolar” is the term on all the medical documents. “Psychotic” is the ‘reclaimed term’ I’ve been using for a while. Now I’m leaning towards “Polarist”, but even that’s wrong. “Person” comes closest I imagine, but any term is riddled with inadequacies.

I refer to it as a ‘signal.’ Its always there in the background; my own private CMB. Its like a conversation you can’t quite listen to, a station you can’t pull from all the static. I love the term “Hall of Mirrors” – its one of my cyphers, riding high alongside Cause. HoM fits here, because anything I read in the sound of the waves or the whispers in these palm trees or the searing beauty of my stars is ultimately born from within me. Within you.

Reflected light is all we are.  Imprinting wants and desires, ideas and definitions and self-assigned certainties onto anything and anyone around us. Maybe it is all about me. From your perspective: you. Seeking something warm, something beautiful or good is ultimately a pursuit of what is better within us all. If we can find something to believe in, something which inspires or gives us reason to hope; then every one of us comes within reach of infinity.

 

Tobago – Magdalena

This is The Magdalena:

image

This is also the Magdalena:

I am only inside of one of these.

The Magdalena Grand Beach & Golf Resort nestles in Tobago’s Lowlands, looking out towards the Atlantic from Little Rocky Bay. By day you get a clear view of the island capital, Scarborough and at night a shimmering, near crystalline rendition of the same.

The image above is one of the many publicity stills you’ll find on Google images. I have my own images, including some night shots. Unfortunately my camera can’t transfer, my iPad doesn’t have a card slot and my phone’s Bluetooth isn’t a team player.

Not that it matters too much. Pictures can’t really convey what I’m seeing right now, and certainly these words won’t do any better. I’m on the balcony underneath more stars than I can ever remember seeing back home. Palm trees sway, lizards dash and dart between the bushes and the rhythmic, enduring tides keep their time.

What really catches my eye is the perfect dark stretching from the sand all the way to the horizon. Last night a full moon, low and yellow, hung over the water. A perfect reflection, moonlight slicing through the few clouds who dared stand to deny it. Beauty is something I’m fortunate to find in the everyday, but this was something else.

The resort’s moniker references the original Spanish name for the island, “La Magdalena.” Besides the obvious deference to the Holy Roman Empire, I’m told the Magdalena was also one of the ships in Columbus’ fleet. “Tobago” itself references “tobacco”, which was one of the island’s primary exports, especially under British rule. The resort is on the Lowlands Plantation Estate, and its not difficult to picture the harvest taking place where the PGA approved 18 hole golf course now resides.

Trinidad is where the action is apparently. This isn’t peak season, so many of the rooms are empty, and the current cliental is predominantly white (a mixture of Scandinavian, Germans, Americans , South Africans and us Brits as far as I can tell). Stages within the bars stand empty, but it’s not impossible that this place can shuffle towards jumping if it wants.

Older couples, affluent families, businessmen on conference/golfing jaunts. Its very much an enclave, putting distance and definite masonry between us and the Canaan village, which leads towards the airport and the beautiful Pigeon Point Heritage Park (which itself is very much secured).

It delivers. I can’t remember the last time I felt this relaxed. Unhurried, despite the ever-present CMB of my polarised mind. A disquiet I cannot shake despite the warmth of the people and the beauty of their home. I’m embarrassed when people call me ‘sir.’ I dislike having someone hop bells and carry luggage for me.

I can’t deny that this downtime has been needed, but my instinct is to get stuck in. Disappear into Scarborough and seek out the lesser measured angles. Follow my powerful desire to run into the ocean and swim towards this midnight sun.

Everyday distractions drift away, and new ideas are breaking the waves. I need to change or, more importantly, make changes.

The moon is rising again. On the horizon a cruise liner ferries souls towards a light I jealously consider to be mine. I made an offering to it earlier; carving “Grace” into the sand. A sigil representing beauty, for the stars to wonder at and the waves to carry out into the world.