Beginnings

Everything starts with a beginning, but this story starts with an end.

It wasn’t the end like the climactic end of a hollywood film, built up slowly over time and building to a crescendo of gunfire and explosions, when finally the big bad guy appears and the final fight occurs. Queue titles. The End.

This was a simple and common thing, it likely has happened to you many times, but it happened to me. This one was different though. The difference was that before this end there had been a new beginning, maybe more, maybe a rebirth.

When this end came it hit like an interplanetary comet, devastating all life on that planet unchangeably, forever. But like the largest of comets it also did something unexpected, and at first unnoticed by the planet’s population: the planet changed its orbit.

While this could have sent the planet into a wild spinning course of self destruction, ending trapped inside the pull of a galactic black hole, it simply adjusted the planet’s course by a single angstrom. Even minute changes cause effects that grow stronger over time, building until their impact cannot be contained.

That cosmic kick began the planet’s journey, slowly building momentum, breaking it free from a millennia long orbit, leading it away from its familiar solar centre, off into the vast unexplored universe beyond.

All ends start with a beginning, and all things come to an end. So let this be a record of this beginning, a journal of the footsteps taken along a new path. The path a long one, unknown to any map, difficult at times, at others heartwarming, but always moving forwards, ever towards the light. Forever Chasing The Sun.

Unknowns

Why do we fear the unknown?

Every path we take through life is littered with the unknown – from corners blocking our view of what lurks just beyond them to infinite cosmic musings as to why we are here on these seemingly unending paths. But why are many of these questions connected to a sense of dread, anxiety and trepidation when we are called to face them?

Currently my days are filled with more that is not known than at any other point in my life, and yes, this often fills my stomach with fear. Sometimes it manifests itself as a niggle, a tickle behind the brain, just enough to register but not enough to affect my judgement. At other times, it becomes a swirling mass of thoughts that spiral together into a maelstrom of indecision binding, chaining the body and mind to themselves, the keys stolen. It is these manifestations that I am focussed on. They have been an ever present restriction through my adult life and one that has led to a catalogue of heavy regrets, never to be forgotten.

The wisest of us say that fear is a positive energy that is here to serve us, keep us on the true path and reach our goals, so why do we often throw in the towel when it arrives?

If we were truly boxers parting the ropes and facing our opponent for the first time, we should feel fear as our opponents methods and tactics are unknown to us, only their want to end us is guaranteed. But like they are we not also a skilled brawler? Have we not trained as much as them to be here in this ring? Clenched our hands and pounded the sand until we bleed? Have we not studied the devastating combinations that are known to many but mastered by few and are we not in this ring to prove all this?

Yes, we all are boxers skilled in our chosen weight class, eager to progress, and ready to fight. So this is what we must do. The fear is simply there to make sure we are ready, a stop sign at a crossroads. Is now the right time to cross? The answer is ours to choose, not a time to look to others or to consider too deeply; just make our choice. Trust your instincts.

So this then is truly our fear of the unknown. It’s sitting in our corner, backs to the ropes with the coach’s face inches from ours screaming “Are you really ready to win?”. If we cannot bear our teeth, smash fist into palm and spit out the words “Ive already won”, then step down and regret nothing as clearly it was not the time.

Use your fear wisely, let it guide you but never consume you. Let it pass and save it for your next bout. For there will always be more, so prepare yourself, the next one may make you a star.

Put your dukes up, it’s time to get bloody.

Freedom

What does freedom feel like?

We are all free, each and every one of us. Perhaps not physically, emotionally or verbally but we are free inside ourselves. So why do we consider ourselves trapped so often? Why do we feel a need to plan an escape? Why feel the desire to tunnel under the barbed wire fences in our head and jump the motorbike over societies walls? Because we believe it so, and planning our escape pacifies us to never try and escape, for that is just the stuff of dreams.

Feeling trapped for most of a lifetime is an unhealthy state to exist in for anyone but that could easily describe my life up till now. Opportunities have been vast, choices endless, adventures limitless, yet few were taken and others remain as sour regrets.

My entrapment was mostly self inflicted but rarely chosen by my conscious mind. It has been caused by my ever fearful subconscious deciding protection the better route to take.

So often this was the norm: the safe straight route selected and followed, mind muttering to itself about all the benefits to doing so, slowly convincing it completely that there was no other option.

That is of course until I glance back for a moment to see where I have been, seeing where the other paths may have taken me and what sunny destinations they would have led to. So I take out my book, and regretfully write up another entry under the title “Here’s what you could have won”, then continue down my safe path, hoping for a new junction soon.

So if we are free yet trap ourselves, what need is there to do anything? Just be content in the way of things, just keep calm and carry on. However for some, when the mask of entrapment slips, the path becomes clear in an instant. A lighthouse on a rough sea, suggesting calmer waters lie ahead, a place to rest, a place to settle. At least for a while.

So now, knowing it was only our minds own rope holding us fast, we step forward without old fears and head held high, eyes fixed on the new horizon. Our steps are slow and awkward to start, old sea legs adjusting to this new path, but this is solid ground and the new earth feels welcoming beneath our feet.

Freedom feels like truth, like the unveiling of a new painting, the discovery of an old keepsake thought lost but mostly, it just feels like home. For some, they will live forever content in their bound life, enjoying it’s comforting restrictions that guide them without question. For those like us though, when freedom comes, we accept it wholly and without thought, letting it break free the anchors and setting sail once more for new lands. For in those uncharted waters there may be dragons or perhaps mermaids calling us to the depths, but without question there are untold adventures and treasures beyond imagination.

Set sail traveller, the wind is in your favour.

Habits

How do we change the habits of a lifetime?

Can a tin man, heart newly returned and full of fear, head packed with sawdust and clockwork gears, truly change? Or is it a return? A return to what he once was before the path he followed became overgrown and unclear, before the world changed him to fit its own means.

I am that tin man. My emotions have been squashed over years and my heart lost along the way, but I remained efficient and purposeful nontheless. For many years this was how life was and I didn’t know it wasn’t how life should be, it seemed right, but there was always something not there like a gap in a familiar skyline where a tower once stood.

It was only when, at one of my lowest points, a new sun appeared and what was missing came clear, the sun illuminating through years of darkness. The view was dazzling, terrifying, but as my eyes adjusted and heartbeat returned to my empty chest, its true beauty came clearly into view. I knew what needed to be done, and had no hesitation in taking those first life changing steps.

However, left unchallenged, the world around us will seep in to bend and shape us, glacially slow, until we are not quite who we once were. You still look like you, act like you, retain the same thoughts and dreams that you always have but you are not the same person you knew. You are the you that has fitted into the place you have remained in. The world rarely changes for us, we must change to fit the world, our new shape decreed by its whim like a tree forced to grow between rocks.

Changing shape means gaining or losing yet without choice and knowledge. These changes lie beyond our control and move us away from the self image inside, no matter how dear we hold it. What is gained or lost is not our decision and we may fight it at the start, but like frogs boiled slowly in water, the change comes unseen until it’s too late. Over time, the changes may appear to match our self image but it’s just circus mirrors, light adjusted by the eyes to soften the blow. Loss of control is often too hard a truth to accept easily.

But when we find a true mirror, one that ignores the outer shell and reflects back to us the soul inside, our old self and old ideals are reunited with what we’ve become. What we see is like an old photograph of a departed loved one: sorrow at the loss of something so dear, anger at our impotence to have prevented it but hope from the love we feel for the light they once held.

Having seen this reflection we are given two choices and choose we must. Either accept our fate, give up our once held ideals of self and become what the world has built for us; or fight back, screw our hands into fists and reshape the world around us, making room for the you inside.

I chose to fight.

Heart lit by the sun of my true self, fists bleeding and torn, I chose to fight.