Saturday, March 19, 2016

Blank Space

He sat there, just staring into the blank screen. He had been sitting for hours looking at it, and it was blank, just like his thoughts.
He knew he had to write something, it was the only thing he could do. But what? Nothing was coming out of his imagination. He knew he had to put something down, but what? There was nothing coming out of his head.
All of his life he had been able to sit, and put pen to paper, without a doubt. All of his life his head was full of ideas, waiting to burst out. For him, to write was second nature, was part of who he was. He had never had a doubt. But today for the first time, he could not do it, he could not execute the one thing he was born to do, write.
But what he was trying to write was just not coming out and he could not figure it out. For he was a person who could take a look at something, and bring it to life into a story.
But this time not even that, not even a simple story.
All of his life he had been able to just sit down and vomit onto paper what was on his head. And he had no technic. There were not complex roadmaps, post its all over a wall, spider-grams, mountains of notes, research of characters or places; no notes, no history, just one single thought turned into a story. In a way he was very relaxed in his approach, he always believed this was the way he should write. But something had changed and now he was stuck, there, in front of the screen, lost in his own space, a blank and empty space.
He continued to stare at the blank screen, the curser blinking continually as if saying “I’m ready to go”, it just kept blinking and winking at him. His hands did not move, they sat at each side of the computer keyboard; sitting still, with the occasional tap of his fingers, like playing a piano. His eyes would wink occasionally to moist, sometimes in perfect sync with the curser. Several times he had to scratch his left ear, he wasn’t sure if it was a genuine itch or a nervous tick, either way this had been the most repetitive action he had done since he had sat in front of the computer several hours ago.
He didn’t dare take his eyes of the screen, just in case an idea would come, he wanted to be ready to put it down. He was thirsty and could do with a glass of fresh water. However, getting up to such activity would distract him and take him away from the screen.
It had been several months since he had turn on the machine, he found a hundred and one reason not to turn it on, so now he had finally done it, he was not prepared to let it go just for a glass of water! He moist his lips and moved away from that thought, he need to focus back onto the blank screen.
The curser continues to blink and he continued to looked at it.
Another repetitive occasional action was to gently rub his index finger on the touch pad of his computer to keep the screen from falling a sleep. It was quite annoying and found it a real distraction. And every time he did this his mind would wonder somewhere else for a few seconds, it would take his thoughts away from the blank space in front of him.
In one of such moments, the distraction tempted him to go to the toilet, he hadn't been since he sat down to write. Though he didn’t suffer from a weak bladder, he was known to visit the toilet several times whilst writing. Mind you this was caused by the tremendous amount of drinks he would consume during a writing session, every from coffee to soft drinks to the occasional glass of wine, for inspiration purposes of course. Ah, yes, he could do with one of those now, may be it would help… But the thought of getting up and losing his concentration prevented him even from going to get a glass of water! It had been too long since he sat down to write and he was not going to give it up for a frivolous indulgence such as water or alcohol. Oh no, he would not let this happen so he just sat there staring at the blank space in his computer. He winked twice, tapped his fingers once and sat there waiting to put something down.  
Suddenly the bell rang, it was the door bell and someone was outside. “What should I do”, he asked himself, “should I answer or ignore it?” The bell rang again, this time followed by a knock on the door. “Unbelievable!” He thought “do people don’t know I’m trying to write?” A third attempt came, door bell, knock on the door and this time complemented by a “is there anyone at home?” “Is there anyone at home? Really? If there was they would have answer the first time! Why would someone go out of their way to knock three times thinking there is someone at home!” He paused, perplexed, and slightly aware of what he had just said to himself. And a fourth attempt came from a very persistent person outside his door.
Being highly critical of himself, he realised that his previous thought made no sense, here is what went thought his head; if someone outside was keen to talk to someone inside and for him to think that the person outside thought there was no one inside, this was incorrect as he was inside, and someone outside was trying to find if there was someone inside! This muddled up thought suddenly overwhelmed him and he rushed to the door and opened it only to find an empty space, the very insistent person outside had given up thinking there was someone inside and left.
And now he was standing there, staring at an empty space, not knowing what could have been so important that made a person knock four times loudly thinking there was someone inside!
Could It have been important? Or was it just someone trying to sell him something, or talk to him about something? I guess he would never know. Unless of course it was a matter of life and death in which case they would come back or try to contact him through other means.
He shut the door, walked back to his computer and sat in front of the blank screen. For ten seconds he watched the curser blink ten times, and on the eleven his hands lifted from the side and rested on the keyboard, and he began to write down his thoughts, thoughts of what had just happened.
After five hours, three cups of coffee, two diet cokes, several glasses of water, a half a bottle of wine and several visits to the toilet, he placed the final full stop in his story called “blank space” he looked at it, smile and realised that looking at a blank space is no way to get inspired to write, the stories waiting to be told are out there, somewhere, you just have to look for them.

He never found out who knocked on his door four times that day, but a small action lead to an extraordinary event told in a story that filled a blank space.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

You know you are getting old when…

Take life with a bit more happiness!

You know you are getting old when your arm cannot stretch any more for you to read the small print on the pills the doctor prescribed as you went to see him for several pains and aches you have. But this is just one of many ways you know you are getting old!

Reading glasses and aches and pains are things you get used to when you get old, but what’s hard to comprehend is when you walk into a store and everyone around you is at least 30 years younger than you! And the assistant looks like he has just taken off his Scool uniform and changed to serve you (which most probably he has!). This weekend I went out to the shops as most weekends and for the first time I became acutely aware of people being tremendously younger than me (not that I am that old by the way…).

And it is incredibly uncomfortable when you go into a shop which you think you can easily wear what they sell there but everyone buy and serving has just left school! I have always been aware of getting old and made claims that I will like to grow old gracefully (I started to shave my head 10 years ago when I first notice I was starting to look like and old Maths Profesor) and when I turned 45 I named it my “half way year” (meaning I would like to get to 90 healthily and happily) and I have never had an issue with my age. So why did I suddenly become so overwhelmed by all this young people around me? I think it’s because I know that soon, I will be hitting my fifties (two years to go) and I’ve now reached an age where I cannot longer pretend to be a teenager!

And don’t get me wrong, I am a believer that you are only as old as you think, I still stand by that, but it is inevitable that eventually you will look older than most people around you and that there are certain places that will be dominated by a generation younger than you. I will of course, not stop attending this places, and by all means I will not start frequenting old pensioners’ clubs, I just need to accept and realised that from now on everyone around me could look a lot younger than me! (I guess this is why some people spend millions on plastic surgery to make them look as if they never left their 20’s)

The secret to also staying young and feeling young (even if you don’t look it) is staying in tune with what is going on around us and keep up with all technological advances so you don’t ever sound like you parents when talking to a younger shop attendant as she says to you “let me get the iPad to check if they have stock on the other store” a what? In my days you would need to call them to know what they had!

There are plenty of advantages to getting old too! This weekend I saw in a retro shop a phone my mother had going for 160 pounds! I would have thrown the old thing to the bin yet now it retails for a ridiculous price. The older we get the more attractive and expensive we become!!

Yes let’s accept that age is a graceful way of getting old and as Helen Mirren said in her recent commercial for an anti- ageing cream campaign “it has take over 60 years to look this good” I will be joining a club called “the 49ners” which a friend of mine and I thought about, when we get to the age of 49 (this year for me) we will no longer celebrate further and stay 49 for the rest of our lives! In the words of Helen Mirren… “It has taken me 49 year to look and feel this bloody good, so I’m staying put”

Saturday, January 9, 2016

#Happy #2016 and may all your #wishes come true!

And we are off! 

2016 is here and the first few days are done! And I am sure your 2015 was waved goodbye with hundreds of farewell wishes and your 2016 was welcome with hundreds of good wishes and aspirations or as they are better know “New Year’s Resolutions!”

Some time ago I wrote a blog pointing out that my New Year’s resolution was to not do any more “New Years resolutions” but turn them into dreams which in term become our future realities. And if like me you want to achieve a lot in 2016, rather than calling them New Year’s resolutions call them your 2016 goals!

My son, only 14, became aware of this mystical tradition that has rule humans for hundreds of years (I’m not sure how many as I don’t know who came up with this but whoever invented New Years resolutions should be shot!) and incredibly, only at the age of 14 pointed out to me that it was crazy that people waited until the 31st December or 1st of January to do things they can do now, today, and he went further on to point out that you don’t need to wait to make things happened. I was ecstatic hearing this and of course agreed with him 110%!

During the festive season I took time to ponder on this. And it is incredible that many of our friends, work colleagues, family and strangers take the time to “wish you all the best for the new year” and “may all your dreams come true” through various forms of communication. One that sticks out nowadays is Facebook. Many people took the time to wish everyone all of the things they never wish for you the rest of the year and merrily inundated your Facebook feed with these post. And not wanting to sound like Scrooge (although those that know me well will know my views on the festive season) many of those well wishes were in some instances meaningless and well, seasonal. Have you ever heard of the old say “a puppy is not just for Christmas”? well I think this is a bit like this, here is my point:

Just like New Years resolutions which are seasonal and a waist of time as you should always set yourself goals throughout the year, we should not just post over the holiday season well wishes for everyone which again are meaningless and a waist of time and instead we should make an effort to keep in contact with all those people throughout the year and more importantly wish them health and happiness all of the time and not just once a year. Wouldn’t that be more meaningful and appreciative of people?

I really don’t want to say people should not celebrate Christmas, that’s not my point, like it is not too say you should not         have goals (call them New Years resolutions if you wish) but I would like to see people taking the time to check in on people more than once a year, drop them a note and wish them well in March, June and September. I would like to see people focus on goals more than once a year which become extreme and a burden, stopping people from following through with them but rather start a new goal in February, May, August and October or whenever you want to achieve something.

If you make a habit of these two things, checking in on people more than once a year and setting new goals whenever you want to achieve something, your life will take a different meaning. And remember that this will be less work than the marathon effort every year to send all those Christmas cards and making those commitments which are hard to follow.

Practicing this will make a habit and a habit becomes part of you and a life time commitment to stay in contact with friend and achieve your dreams!