pitches/proposals :: 1 (on a whim: nothing back yet)
work completed :: 6 copywriting jobs / 2 hours of teaching (low on work, high on preparation)
hours of Dutch learning :: 0. Ha! Pappa kak!
books being read :: 1. I finished Amsterdam, just in time, and it was a glorious book. Now I’m focusing on The How of Happiness.
happiness score #1 :: 5.58. Out of 6. I’ve been working out.
physical exercise :: tennis. Twice. I love it. I hope to find tennis players in Amsterdam. And badminton players. And a room to stretch. That’s all I need.
metaphysical exercise :: Nothing. Without a morning routine, I am hopeless.
routine adhesion :: 15%
bags of clothes donated :: 7
pairs of footwear donated :: 6
tears shed over various short films :: 306ml
skins shed :: 1 (metaphorical)
guitar strings replaced :: 6
days left to Amsterdam :: 4
week 20/52 overall rating :: 9/10. What’s not to love?
This week I really enjoyed walking – around Peckham mostly, and Camberwell – and looking. Looking hard, mind you. Intently, but casual, up, down and in people’s eyes. I was trying to feel it, London, consciously and deliberately. So that I remember.
For in four days’ time, I’ll be on my way to Holland.
I hope it goes well.
This week I spent some of Wednesday and Thursday sorting through old words I’ve been hanging on to for many years and my god, they were miserable. I threw the vast majority away and let me tell you, it felt pretty good to be free of them.
There’s a song by The The that has the following lines: ‘You’ve been reading some old letters. You smile and think how much you’ve changed.’
I do smile.
I found two printed sheets from July 1999 that I’ve scanned because I want to remember how sad and lost I was, because I’m fairly confident I will never be that sad and lost again, and I don’t want to forget it entirely, because it’s good to know where you came from. I was really miserable. Here’s an extract in which I address myself…
Jesus. I didn’t really know how far I’d come till I read that. God. Sad little fucker. But it was around then – probably just a month or two later – that I decided to go and live in Italy, which was definitely, in so many ways, the start of a whole new life for me.
It’s just occurred to me that the video at the top of this post and that bit of writing from the past could not actually be more different.
Seventeen years ago I was wallowing in misery and feeling sad and alone and inexplicably unhappy – although I decided there was an explanation: the infinite solitude of human existence.
That video on the other hand is probably the most powerful five minutes of film I’ve ever seen. And that too seems initially inexplicable – the tears start falling seemingly out of nowhere, the moment the profundity of the emotion of strangers silently meeting hits you. But of course that too is perfectly explicable: we are all connected. That Amnesty video makes that beautifully abundantly clear.
I feel like the person that’s about to start a new life in Amsterdam is a completely different person to the one who was about to start a new life in Bologna. My perspective on human existence has changed a great deal over the past few years and – if I may be frank for a moment – it has transformed me.
And what I’ve learned is that, it’s a choice. Whether you see humanity – in all of its seven-billion-headed insanity – as something cold, antagonistic and separate from you, or whether you feel it deep within you, and are comforted. It’s a choice. Depression aside – and I remind myself regularly how grateful I am that so far I’ve yet to suffer from depression – happiness, or a feeling of belonging and having value, which I reckon is probably what happiness is, is a choice.
I’ll be in John the Unicorn from 7.30 tomorrow evening, celebrating everything. Come along if you’ve a mind to.
Have a great weekend.