A Fresh Start!

*Pictured above: a happy Richard (that’s me, just to clarify – I refer to myself in third person after my Gap Yah) at Hobbiton, New Zealand.

Well.

How do you start a blog once again that you haven’t put any effort or input into for the past year? With difficulty.

I need a clean slate. Something fresh to start on. Yet for that, my life actually has to have a heading, something to aim for.

I just spent ten amazing months of my life travelling and working, meeting fantastic people, and gazing upon spectacular sights. Now I’m back home, not travelling, not meeting people, and not seeing sights. It’s certainly a change.

People (you know, the new people you meet travelling) say that travelling is addictive, and when you’re not actually living a life like they are, you can’t really accept these words as a possibility. But now that I’m back, I’ve realised that they are entirely right.

Don’t get me wrong. Being home is wonderful. Seeing family and friends after almost an entire year of being apart is marvellous. Plus, having my own room (and own bed), alongside having a kitchen I don’t need to share with thirty other people is equally wonderful.

Yet, there is definitely something missing.

Not that I like being a cheesy, predictable guy but I’ve changed travelling. Hopefully not in a bad way (for one thing, I haven’t come back from my travels saying “Gap Yah”… except then, and earlier (if you haven’t seen the video, please go watch it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eKFjWR7X5dU), and secondly I don’t manage to connect everything I say with what I did whilst away)), but I have most definitely changed.

For one thing, I’ve been inspired to be more independent. Which is why living at home with family is a strange experience. Though, I haven’t seen them much as I was home for three days then my mum, step-dad and sister left for France. I’m well loved, you see.

I think the reason for a post entitled “A Fresh Start” is partially due to the fact I just finished the novel “How to Build a Girl” by Caitlin Moran. Not that I really want my life to be drawn in comparison to hers (those who have read it will understand), but it does get you thinking. It’s a semi-autobiography, and the narrator re-creates her image several times during the novel, ranging from a goth, to a prolific writer, to a raging sex-demon… You can see my point. Still a good book, though.

Not that I really have any desire to re-sculpt myself (after all, I have spent nineteen years of my life getting to this point!) but my life does lack motivation at the moment, something I intend to change. There are two ways I want to do this: find a job, and finish my own novel.

A job should be simple. Apply and wait. Go to trials, amaze with my amazing talents, get hired, worked. Tada! Truth be told, the job is more to stave off boredom than an actual necessity to have one at this point (after all, as I have discovered after my Gap Yah (and again), not paying for food or accommodation saved you a FUCK-LOAD of money).

In terms of finishing my novel, things are going… slowly. It’s my own idea, and it is taking shape, just it’s taking a while. I’d say I’m about a third way through of the first draft. The issue is that my motivation is at an all-time low, and even the smallest writers’ block seems to influence my hand to move the mouse/cursor to hover over the X in the top-right hand corner of the screen and left-click. Usually I manage a sentence then decide that’s enough. This needs sorting.

Moving away from life plans, I have just looked back over my old posts on here, and have realised how much (and how little) I’ve changed since writing them. For one thing, I like to think my writing is slightly more engaging now. Secondly, most of my views remain the same (for instance: I am still obsessed with Lord of the Rings and Pugs; I still strongly detest smoking; and Fantasy is still my escapism). I think this is a good thing.

I think I’ll wrap up there and take a break from writing (perhaps I’ll go write some of my novel?! No, don’t be silly). My intention is to get this up and running regularly again. We’ll see how that goes.

Following Religion, Comes Death

I like to tell myself that I am not afraid of death. I think that part of me believes that as well. Yet this nagging sensation, hidden deep within me, tells me that I have tricked myself into believing this. I want to believe it so badly, that I have lied to myself, so cleverly, so convincingly, that part of me has started to perceive that I am unafraid. That what comes After is not something to be afraid of.

What comes after is a question I have forever questioned, ever since I was first confronted with death. This first time, must’ve been when my Grandmother died. I was young then – five, maybe six years old. I think I was too young to truly feel the emotions you’re meant to: shock, sorrow, anger, even manic feelings.

I was still too young when it came to her funeral. I was sat in church, listening to the priest rattle on. But I wasn’t really listening. I was a child, more intent on the people around me. And they were all crying. And I wasn’t.

I remember turning round to my cousin – merely a month older than me – to check if he was crying. If I should be crying. I can’t even recall if he was. I just remember I wasn’t. Saved by my child-like innocence.

I don’t remember my mum actually telling that my Grandmother had died. That is a benefit of being an innocent child. Your mind blocks out all the horrors that you experienced. My only memory of seeing my Grandmother in a state of near death, was when we visited her in hospital. I think she was asleep, or was on some heavy drug. I can’t even remember what she died from – I think it was cancer.

Either way, that is my only memory. I have few other memories of my Grandmother truth be told. My abiding memory is one where she taught me about etiquette. As a kid, I was always in a world of fantasy (nothing has changed). I suppose most kids were, but still. I had a plastic Zorro sword, one which I carried everywhere. One time, my grandmother asked to see the sword, so I handed it to her. She shook her head, taking the sword as she did and gripping the handle.

“You should never hand someone a blade with the sharp end pointing towards you.”

So she turned it back round, and gave it to me, handle first.

And you know what? I have never forgotten that lesson. I always hand people sharp objects blade first, be it a kitchen knife or a screwdriver or whatever. Handle first.

Yet then she was gone, with only pictures there to remind me of what she looked like. And I never remember feeling sad. Sure, I felt sad once I came to grips with the concept of death. But never before. Never when it mattered most. When I should’ve been mourning.

It was like this when my parents got divorced. I was nine at the time, possibly ten. I remember walking into my dad, sitting on the end of the bed, crying, with my mum stood up. My mum said that she was no longer happy and wasn’t laughing as much with him. I don’t remember feeling anything. Perhaps I was too young to. Spared those emotions by my age.

But my sister. My sister was at the age where children just start to understand how the world works. Love, death, all those sensations that I was yet to fully understand – to appreciate. She was almost two years older than me and must’ve been upset for weeks.

Later on, I was told that she wasn’t only upset at my parents, wasn’t only upset that the divorce, or the world, but was upset by me. By my lack of emotion. Perhaps, in some ways, she was jealous. Jealous that I had been spared the pain and suffering that comes with a broken family.

I never remember feeling upset about it. They both moved on. A few months of mourning for my dad, but soon he was happy. It didn’t affect my life, save for that I now visited London every four weeks for the weekend.

Now I’m at the age where death and loss would affect me. Reading Pet Semetary (Stephen King) got me thinking about death. I had a neighbour – not quite a friend, but someone who I was close to – who died when I was in year nine (around the age of thirteen). He was about six himself and he died of meningitis. That I remember being distraught about. Longest day of school I remember, constantly close to tears.

I wasn’t even close to him. I had played with him maybe twice. Yet it hit me: that death can come snatch people away at any moment.

When my thoughts turn to this, my mind becomes depressed and sullen in itself. It starts to think what if. What if my mum died? Or my dad? Or even my sister? And I feel the emotions rise up, the emotions I should’ve felt when I was young, when my grandmother died.

Then I snap myself out of it, realising there is no need to think about it.

But what comes after?

When my grandmother died, I did not know what came after. I had been told before – whether it was at school or family, I do not know – that there is nothing after death. Nothing. Just nothing. Blackness so absolute that nothing can exist. But, as a child, I could not imagine there being nothing. Children have so much life, so much energy, that the idea of everything stopping is far too foreign to them.

Even now, I do not know what comes after. No one does. But what people believe is key. My belief? I do not believe in God, therefore I cannot rightly believe that heaven or hell exist. As comforting as the idea of heaven is, I cannot bring myself to believe in it. Yet I do not believe there is nothing after death, either.

The idea of reincarnation fascinates me. Coming back to life with no memory of previous life sounds plausible. I do not know if I believe that a good previous life leads to reincarnation of good fortune, or vice versa, but I think I could believe that we are in a never-ending cycle of life – always forgetting; never remembering. That could be plausible.

But you see, could. Could is the word that makes all the difference. Anything could be, but nothing is known. Nothing is certain. And so I carry on guessing, never sticking with a belief, for the more I think about them, the less likely they seem.

That is the point though: life after death is something no one can report upon. It is a myth about what happens next, much like the story of Christ. Belief, much like religion, is what keeps the idea alive.

I suppose one day I will find out what comes after life. But not for a while, if death is kind. No, not for a while.

Freedom.

“…and tell our enemies that they may take our lives, but they’ll never take OUR FREEDOM!”

It’s at this pivotal moment in life that I feel a deep connection with Mel Gibson’s Braveheart/William Wallace. Though I may not be facing down a gigantic army (nor am I Scottish/American or painted blue…), I still realise now that my freedom can no longer be repressed by “our enemies”.

Our enemies are, of course, known as school. That educational place that everybody has such fond memories of. That place which is known by all adolescences as a place of fear and punishment. And that place where parents send us to learn (or so they claim).

I feel a bit mean talking about school in such a derogatory fashion, as I do have some fond memories; such as the friendships that I made… Yeah, that’s actually all I can think of to support the role of school. I suppose if I had to be completely truthful, I would also say that yes, it did impart some knowledge and/or wisdom unto me. But I don’t like to give it credit for that.

However, I am now free! My exams are finished, and I never have to go back and face the trauma ever again. I mean, technically I finished about month ago, but it doesn’t feel like you’re fully free of school until you officially never have to enter the premises ever again. Which I hope I don’t… Unless I apply for University next year, which would be very upsetting.

Fairly sure most of my regular readers (the few that you are) know of my plans to fly off to New Zealand, through a company known as BUNAC (I should really find out what that stands for sometime soon). I’ll be out there for six months, possibly more, depending on whether or not I fall in love with the place. Of course I shall attempt to keep up my blog to the best of my ability, but I was debating starting a third blog (bit excessive, I know, but hey – I like to keep things separate). So yeah, keep an eye out for a link to that which will be focused upon my trip and adventures whilst on the other side of the world.

 

PS. The prospect of a Lord of the Rings tour totally isn’t what sparked my interest about going to New Zealand… Nope nope nope…

Life Plans (the Good and the Bad… And the Ugly)

There comes a time in everyone’s life where you evaluate everything that has happened to you prior to your deep contemplation. This ultimately leads you to assess what you plan on doing with your life. This then leads to one of two things: you either realise that your life has no plans and you begin to spiral down into a deep and dark state of panic where you sit down in the corner, curl yourself up into a ball, and begin to rock back and forwards with your thumb in your mouth.

Of course, the other more cheery outcome is that you know precisely what you want to do with your life, and you carry on with whatever mundane task you were performing before you became enveloped by the thoughts your evil mind conjures up.

Unfortunately, I am the former of the two outcomes, though not quite so dramatic. I have no idea what I want my future to hold for me. So it is for this reason, I have come up with two life plans: one which could plausibly be realistic, and the other which is a wild fantasy that is unlikely to ever happen. So, let us begin.

The Wild Plan

I miraculously become a famous, world-renowned writer/author, who becomes excessively rich. I would move to New Zealand, meet some model-worthy woman (who would have to be just as obsessed with Lord of the Rings as I am) and we would settle down together in a modest (maybe not so modest) house somewhere in New Zealand. After we have settled in, we adopt two pugs: one called Waffles, the other called Syrup. As for children, I have utterly no idea, as I haven’t really thought about it…

I think that roughly sums up my dream. Now onwards we go to mundane realism.

The Realistic Plan

I finish my A-levels, do averagely, and fly out to New Zealand for 6 months to work abroad (luckily for me, I actually am doing this next year). There, I will maintain a steady income, enjoy the work I do and make plenty of friends. After my 6 months of work, I would return home and get a job to tick over the rest of the year (which I hope would be quite easy to acquire after working abroad). At the end of year, I would choose between University (though I do not know what I would study) or moving away. If I chose to move away, I would go live in New Zealand again, possibly visiting one of the many friends I’d have made whilst working. I would settle down in a modest house (this time it actually would be modest) and live my life, interspersing it with work. Eventually, I would adopt two pugs: one called Waffles, the other called Syrup. With that, I end my plan. I do not know what would follow after this but I’m sure I would be relatively content with that life if I had it.

 

What about you guys? Any wild plans you have for your life, or do you intend on remaining sensible, and therefore sane? Let me know in a comment. 🙂