The Promise

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They sat on the Terrace and many of the fishermen made fun of the old man and he was not angry. Others, of the older fishermen, looked at him and were sad. But they did not show it and they spoke politely about the current and the depths they had drifted their lines at and the steady good weather and of what they had seen. The successful fishermen of that day were already in and had butchered their marlin out and carried them laid full length across two planks, with two men staggering at the end of each plank, to the fish house where they waited for the ice truck to carry them to the market in Havana. Those who had caught sharks had taken them to the shark factory on the other side of the cove where they were hoisted on a block and tackle, their livers removed, their fins cut off and their hides skinned out and their flesh cut into strips for salting.

When the wind was in the east a smell came across the harbour from the shark factory; but today there was only the faint edge of the odour because the wind had backed into the north and then dropped off and it was pleasant and sunny on the Terrace.

 

I have no marlin waiting to be butchered.

More than forty years have floated by since my visit to the library and my borrowing of the book. Hemingway’s tome never returned to its place on the shelf, taking up residence on mine instead. It still sits there and so does the scent of that brave fish that fought and died.

The sharks have been fattened over the last four decades. Each of my dawns are always followed by failure. I must be getting good at this. In truth, I hate failing. The only thing I hate more than failure is accepting failure; not trying to do battle with the thing that throws scorn. That’s why I keep on trying. I get up in the morning and climb into my skiff and set out for the most promising of vacant sea that I can dream of, and then I cast the bait.

My bait is myself.

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I cast myself into the empty blue and pray that something will bite. I pray to a God that I no longer believe in. I pray to a sea that is ungiving. I pray to whatever governs chance and opportunity and I pray to the stray readers who drift past my words.

I pray that this last launching will not bring sharks.

 

 

Trying To Make Sense

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I wanted to be Jesus. Come forth, Brian. The stubborn bugger wouldn’t move; he was in a mood with me.

“I’m sorry,” I whispered so that my mum wouldn’t hear me.

I wasn’t really sorry about what I was apologising for but I was sorry that he managed to die before we had properly worked it through. You see, we had argued some months prior to this and had only recently, grudgingly shrugged of the disagreement. And disagreement it certainly was. As our arguments went, this was top by a long score. Every single family factor was brought to the table and every last piece was served in ballistic fashion.

Caroline had started sitting forward in her chair as I spoke. She was avidly listening but her stance had changed from counsellor to interested participant. She had become the audience and would occasionally stop me to ask for explanation of events and back-stories. Back-stories, I had in abundance.

My dad was born the second youngest of a family of twelve. He had ten brothers and one older sister. By the time he was ten, his father had left the family in search of work. He never returned so it fell upon his mother to bring up the sons. The daughter had married and moved into her own home. At the age of twelve, my dad had to go around to his elder sister’s house with a note. The note informed her that their mother had died suddenly. Norah, the sister, was obliged to take the other siblings under her wing. I gather that she did so with a stoic quality that was common of that age. The war had just ended so there were a lot of people in similar circumstances. War had taken many fathers in the field of

combat whilst enemy bombings had taken a significant number of those who remained at home. A brave new world was at hand and the ones who faced it did so with uncertainty and trepidation. Nevertheless, the worst was over.

I have stories that he told me about his childhood but there aren’t many. I know that a bomb once landed in their back garden after a raid. They discovered it the next morning and put ashes over the offending intruder until the right authority came to deal with it. Ashes? Odd choice.

So the years that followed were growing up years. He was a bit of a dare-devil and a tearaway. He played rugby to a decent standard. He told me of a brief relationship he had with a married woman and about the ensuing fight he had with her husband. In fact, he had two fights: one with the husband and the husband’s mate in which my dad was beaten up and one when he hunted down his cowardly assailant some months later and gave him a return beating. I was proud of that part of him. After the war he went to technical college even though he had passed his 11 plus. He was bright, gregarious and sharp as a knife.

“You sound as if you’re proud of your father.”

“I suppose it does. But…” I had to stop and think. “But actually, I often think that I never knew him.”

I’ve noticed with myself in the last couple of years that I have drawn further within the older I get. My wife has noticed it as well. She has told me that I never talk about anything.

“Why do you think that is?”

“What’s the point? It doesn’t solve anything. Nobody notices. It’s like the stuff that people say after a sudden death, make the most of every second because we never know when it’s our turn. The thing is that it is always going to come around, our time. Somebody has just died since I’ve said that. Seize the day! What I want to know is how we are supposed to seize it. What are we supposed to be seizing?”

“Do you think they may mean that we should do what we really feel that we should do?”

Caroline was coaxing out more explanation.

“I think it’s just something that people say as a comforter. When somebody has died, we have a desire that it must make sense. We aren’t just born to die. We are supposed to be creatures that have a higher purpose. It’s supposed to have meaning. What if it was all just nonsense? What if every single thing that we do, every series of events that snake around us, everybody we have ever loved or even hated for that matter, are just accidents of chance. If that is the case, then we are all lost without even knowing it.”

“What do you think?”

She asked me this question probably aware that I didn’t have an answer. My mind was tumbling with newly sprouted hypothesis but there was nothing firm about it. Mental masturbation is what it was, creating questions and running down pathways, not to reach a climax of understanding but just to play around with the thoughts. The truth of it was that I liked this after-accident evaluation.

Part of me was dead and the rest was floating above the scene trying to make sense of it. Nevertheless, just the act of trying to make sense made sense.

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To Be Is To Do.

To Do Is To Be.

Do Be Do Be Do.

Cognito ergo sum.

 

Read After Burnout. com

Check the link:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/aw/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?k=read+after+burnout.+com

 

Richard The Third And CarPark Tickets

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In 2012, archaeologists and researchers began excavating beneath a carpark in Leicester, hoping to find Richard’s final resting place. The search captured the public’s imagination and the remains subsequently found were confirmed as those of Richard.

Researches are now not only able to calculate the true extent of his deformity, but are also able to determine the true extent of his extended-stay penalties.

 

I have never been one to  over stay my welcome. So, it was with renewed belief in the innate sporting abilities of my fellow-man, and child, that I resumed my day of supply teaching with Period 3 Year 9 BTEC Sport.

My initial feeling was that a combination of Year 9, BTEC, and Sport would not be a recipe for a peaceful session. I was wrong. Apart from three likely lads who were seated on the furthest reaches of the known classroom, everyone else appeared to be reasonable. In this part of the world, reasonable means not overtly swearing, not storming out of the classroom as a response to some perceived insult, or not going out of ones way to completely ignore the reasonable requests and instructions of the teacher.

The reasonable class had been left reasonably engaging work in the form of the ubiquitous Powerpoint with accompanying video. Praise Be! I was impressed with how a youngish PE teacher led them through the objectives of the lesson and the tasks that they were to perform. There was quite a nice take on looking at success criteria which I was impressed to see coming from a teacher of Physical Education who, presumably, had only recently graduated into his shorts.

“Now, kids. We’ll write the questions down first and then we will view the video, then we will answer the questions.”

Simples.

In this instance, simples it almost universally was.

It would have been a raging success if the three lads seated on the edge of the Gamma Quadrant had not decided to open up cupboards in their immediate vicinity and throw the contents, therein, at each other.

I said a number of words and shrugged my shoulders with stoic strength of character and I thought of poor old Richard The Third (we used to call him Richard The Turd because of Shakespeare’s bad press for him) and realised that spending an eternity beneath a carpark in Leicester would have meant that he never got to sample supply teaching.

I dismissed the class and immediately heard the sound of a fire-alarm.

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One of the Borg at the back of the room had set it off as a parting gesture.

Blessed Be The Borg! 

I Read This And Think You Should.

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Konstantin Lukin PHD

The Man Cave

Psychology Today

 

When you think of the term “self-care,” a woman in a bathrobe lighting candles and painting her toenails might come to mind. While this may seem amazing to some, most men would probably have different desires.

The truth is, men need to work especially hard to take charge of caring for themselves. After all, is there anything more manly than being independent in your ability to care for yourself, not just physically, but emotionally and tangibly?

We also need to change the way we think of “actualized manhood” in modern times. Instead of defining ourselves only in terms of work, productivity, and the overall “get” mentality, we must embrace other parts of ourselves that make us who we are and most importantly, make us happy.

So without further delay, here are five ways for the modern man to practice self-care.

1. Make time for yourself.

The first step to proper self-care is making time for it. It’s easy to get caught up in your daily routine and fall victim to the idea that you don’t need to reserve any kind of special time for yourself when there are other more important things to do, such as providing for your family. But making self-care a priority is essential. This is not to say that you need to devote half of your day to a yoga class and sipping tea; self-care can be practiced virtually anywhere, depending on what type you are engaging in. For example, maybe you really enjoy music, and can listen to your favorite album on your daily commute. Alternatively, maybe you know you feel better physically and mentally when you take a few hours a week to get to the gym. Making time for yourself isn’t selfish, it is necessary to being at your best, which inherently seeps into every other aspect of your life.

Thinkstock/Getty Images
Source: Thinkstock/Getty Images

2. Engage with others.

Making time to engage with the people in your life that you care about, and that respect and love you is an important aspect of self-care. Maintaining meaningful relationships has been shown to positively influence mental health. Such relationships offer both the opportunity to share aspects of your own life, as well as escape from your day to day routine and do something out of the ordinary. Spending time maintaining and developing romantic relationships as well can increase both the vitality of the relationship, as well as your well-being, mood, and productivity.

3. Embrace health (both physical and mental).

Being cognizant of both your physical and mental health are pillars of self-care. From the basics—making yearly doctors’ appointments with both your primary care physician and specialists—to more daily tasks like checking in with yourself, your health needs to be a priority in your life. Psychologically, this might mean taking a few minutes before you go to sleep, or when you wake up in the morning, to take stock of how you’re feeling, and make plans to remedy any issues you may come upon. For example, are you feeling incredibly stressed out about work? Are you having a hard time turning of your brain to get a good night’s sleep? Are you engaging in unproductive worry? There are tangible steps to help each of these things, from mindfulness practices, to engaging with a mental health professional; staying on top of your mental as well as physical health can be nothing but beneficial in the long run.

Thinkstock/Getty Images
Source: Thinkstock/Getty Images

4. Find passion and connection.

Identifying and engaging with things that interest or spark passion in your life is another important aspect of self-care. For example, is there a particular magazine or newspaper that you enjoy reading articles from? Do you love watching professional soccer? Or is nature more what gets you going? Making time to engage in these activities, whatever they may be, is important to build into your schedule, even if in small increments. Knowing what brings you joy, and being proactive about practicing or engaging with these aspects of your life has been shown to increase well-being.

5. Know your burnout signs.

Taking note of when you are not feeling yourself can help you decide when self-care may be especially beneficial to avoiding burn out, or reaching a mental or physical state that would take you some time to recover from. For example, did you just get irrationally angry at someone on the subway who brushed against your arm? Or do you feel completely wiped out by the end of the day to the point that you can’t even speak to your wife or enjoy spending time with your children? Little signs like this, whether it be a short temper or exhaustion, that will of course be different for everyone, can help identify when it may be time for either a mental health day, or for those whose schedules do not allow that luxury, a half hour or so to yourself, doing something that you know helps you “reset.”

Self-care isn’t just an activity you can build into your daily life. It’s a mindset that we all should embody, involving putting ourselves first, and checking in with ourselves on a regular basis to help put our best foot forward in everything we do.

Stay Manly,

Dr. Lukin

The Last Ride…

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More than any other motorbike, Harley Davidson conjures up images of an easy-riding, non-conformist lifestyle. The term, Legend has been applied to it, not only from the company itself but from those who ride them; or aspire to ride them. 

Yesterday I tried to marry three things together, but I failed.

The story that I was writing was about a man who I know who discovered that his life was about to end prematurely; motor-neurone disease had taken root with out him realising. For a man who had incredible powers of endurance, as a long distance runner, this must have been a betrayal beyond belief.  Life has its little jokes, existential ironies that are played out in tragic dramas; on little stages.

We all die, but what is gained from this type of cosmic bullying beyond reaffirming the fact that life can suck? I suppose that the God that some people choose to believe in sees this as just another little reminder of his omnipotence and our inbuilt fragility.

“What’s the point?” I would say to that type of cosmic bully, “You’ve won, anyway.” 

I suppose the point is the same point that that type of god has been making for the whole of time; we are mayflies caught up in a dreadful eternity of summer promises.

So, what happened to my story?

When I woke up this morning, I made my usual trip to the Apple (man’s invention, not God’s) and looked at the reading figures for yesterday. The Last Ride hardly featured. My marriage of motorcycles, the Mother Road (Route 66), and a motor-neurone sufferer did not exist.

I went into the post and only the title remained. I checked some more without any luck. I scoured my drafts file, but that brought me no luck either.

The Last Ride had disappeared and it did not take much to connect that disappearance with the lesson that was taught at Babel, rendered to Prometheus, or writ large in the pages of Frankenstein.

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And yet there are times when we grow and think and wonder. We stray into that place where questions have to be asked. 

“Why am I here?”

“What is the meaning of it all?”

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“Where can I get a Harley Davidson from and where can I ride it?”