Travellers


Vulnerability is a beautiful thing. It empowers us to share, to feel freely, and find parts of ourselves in the mingling of others. Vulnerability keeps us open, provides as purpose.

But for weary travellers chasing the opportunity of The Unknown, we leave parts of ourselves behind every time we depart for the lonely road. Our new home is always temporary, one stop on a long journey of experience and sonder. Its beautiful, but also bittersweet.

Somewhere in my heart, I carry pieces of the people i crossed paths with; the essence of souls mingling, possibilities that could have been.


Superhuman


A few years ago, I knew what I wanted to do with all the certainty and energy of a teenager coming of age, discovering what it means to be alive.

I wanted to travel the world- to drift with ease wherever my heart takes me. I wanted to meet people at the drop of a hat, and find my way; fearless, unapologetic. I wanted to see the world through a lens that was not coloured by anxiety, by regret, or any shade of grey, and i wanted to leave my mark before i fade to credits.

But I'm no superman. Instead, I discovered a world that is not friendly to enthusiasm or diversity. Even harder to deal with, I discovered that I could not move through the world with the grace and emotional resilience my youthful self envisioned. I felt myself falling into the same emotional anti-patterns that plagued my early teenage years; the self-conscious, the helpless introspection, the walls closing in that grow harder and harder to break free of.

But I've done this a few times now. I see my young expectations are rather unrealistic; It takes time to settle, to meet people, and you don't have to be happy all the time. I realise that the things that matter to me take time to build, and I don't need to make myself worry if I have made no progress in a few weeks. The timeline of my life is measured in years not months.

I know I wanted it all and that was foolish, but thats okay. I'm not superhuman.


Destructive Tendencies


Humans are social creatures by nature, so it not surprising that too much of the opposite can send some of us into darker days. What should manifest as fleeting moments of loneliness instead spirals into serious depressive or anxious states, which can take some time to climb out of. Seems a tad counter-productive from an evolutionary perspective- a defect if you ask me.

I've always prided myself on being able to detect and avoid downward spirals of thoughts and emotions. But truth be told, pride is both foolish and a sin- pride clouds ones own vision with a smug smog that hides the inevitable imperfections in your perspective. Needless to say, I'm realising I'm not as good as I thought I was at stopping destructive thoughts.

Whole schools of thought have been built up around preventing these negative thought spirals. My favorite authors on the subject, M. Williams and D. Penmen, have written Mindfulness: A guide to finding peace in a frantic world, which guides the reader to understand these patterns and learn/practice techniques to overcome them.

“Overthinking ruins you. Ruins the situation, twists it around, makes you worry and just makes everything much worse than it actually is.” - Unknown

Following the mindfulness school of thought, I would like to think I am slowly observing my own destructive patterns, in the hope of avoiding them in the future.

So heres mine, in some rought chronological order:

  1. "Oh, I haven't spoke to anyone for a while, and there is nothing exciting planned for the near future". Cues mellow music
  2. Hmm something feels wrong. Why do I feel wrong?
  3. I feel wrong because of {Insert insecurity here}. SOMETHING IS MISSING.
  4. Omg im so lonely/sad/isolated
  5. Cue anxiety about meeting people, general gloominess, depeleting thoughts and negative re-enforcement
  6. Doesn't get out there to fix it due to pt. 5

The ramblings of an weary but optimistic twenty-something


It's my birthday in a few days. Wierd.

Queue the passage of time. Enter moment of introspection and reflection. Blog post? check.

Learnt heaps of new things at work and in my own projects. Felt lonely at some times, estatic at others. Met some new girls and said goodbye to others. Sure.

Its funny how familiar this gig is. In some ways, nothing has changed. From another perspective, everything has. Memories fading and feelings changing.

Me changing. How quaint.

I feel like I'm more mature this time round. Like my experiences of the last year, and my social successes over the last three months have taught me some unseeable truth. Like I finally feel comfortable with the lulls as much as the highs. Like I've finally tried enough and learned enough to settle into some stoic frame, the essence that I will be happy calling Tom.

I thought that last year too. Quaint, once again.

Despite this fallibility, the endless repetition, the moving goalposts ever out of reach, there is a peace. The peace is in looking back and watching yourself struggle on through, up and down, again and again.

The peace is knowing yourself, learning the hard way what you always knew but never felt; you will make it, it will be worth it, you will find happiness.


Lets try something a little bit different


Its really hard to stay in a happy state, whilst also having the emotional / physical energy to be social, be productive, get the girl etc.

I've heard from quite a few people now an interesting concept: setting your life on an upward spiral. Great read here, a summary of a good book here, and a more systems-oriented piece here.

An upward spiral is about continuously re-enforcing patterns, thoughts and emotions which are beneficial and help us grow. Whilst being a very agreeable concept, the challenge is bringing positivity to every facet of your present living, rather than keeping a balance or simply relying on blind optimism.

How am I going to do it? I'm going to go out and spend meaningful time with friends and family. I'm going to work towards tangible Things That Matter in my spare hours (fitness, exploring the world, persuit of love & happiness) and try and exclude a lot of my hobbies which, for the time being, are simply distractions.


Araitz


Burned into my memory, the sight of green eyes smiling at me in the moonlight streaming through her window. Her intoxicating smell filling my nostrils with sweetness. Her soft, tanned skin beneath my hands and face.

There is something about lying with your woman in her pyjamas that mellows the soul and puts everything into perspective. Those magical moments spent pressed up against another human being with nothing separating you. In the rising light of the morning, it is us against the world.

We talked about everything and nothing that mattered, and went from enthusiastic strangers to teary-eyed lovers saying goodbye.

Her memory continues to fill my mind. Its little things; her gorgeous Spanish accent, Affectionate phrases, along with the way she plays with my hair or touches my face.

I like to think that everything happens for a reason- every little moment or person I meet has a part to play in my journey as I play a part in theirs.

For us lonely souls, there are reminders that there is love coming but just out of arms reach. Its a teaser, a signal to not give up hope. To fight with all the strength we can muster as we ride - broken and scarred but with high spirits - through the rapids of life.

Araitz, thank you for the gifts you have given me. Thank you for your sweetness and gentle touch. Thank you for those 11 hours that were arguably the best 11 hours of my life, and the many happy memories that followed.

Long lost nights

And an ache of lust

I can feel your touch

I will feed on us


Low tide sighs

And it's not enough

I would lace you up

I could taste your love


Echoes burn me in the night

My silence you're stealing

Since you taught me how to do it right

My heart has been bleeding


Begging to return the light (You taught me babe)

In the silence i'm kneeling (Now I crave someone)

You taught me how to do it right (Who feels the same)

My heart has been bleeding

-- Bigger than Love - Ian Bluestone


Sadness.


I lost all my riches, The diamonds in the mind.

It turns out that this was the best thing to ever happen to me.

Errors and glitches, What a way to find,

That such hurt could bring you greater peace of mind.


If you've ever lost every part of yourself,

If you've left your heart on a lonely avenue,

It will be only a matter of time,

Before your life comes through for you.

:))))


The End of Sonder


Sonder

n. the realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own—populated with their own ambitions, friends, routines, worries and inherited craziness—an epic story that continues invisibly around you like an anthill sprawling deep underground, with elaborate passageways to thousands of other lives that you’ll never know existed, in which you might appear only once, as an extra sipping coffee in the background, as a blur of traffic passing on the highway, as a lighted window at dusk.

- jkcreative

Why is it that every single decision or action I make, every fucking one, is tainted by the silent motive of my longings. A demon of silent desire and envy, {REDACTED}, hangs over me like eternal baggage, and brings a fading edge of hope everytime it shifts uncomfortably in its ride.

I don't remember when it started, it wasn't always like this. But at such stretches of memory closure escapes me. Somewhere, my essence decided that my life was given colour by something eternally out of reach.

I've been trapped ever since. My decisions are no longer truly mine, even on the days when I'm feeling too proud or happy to admit it. Instead, any possibility of satisfying my longings shifts my desires, and temporarily rewrites whole parts of my behavior. So much for be yourself.

I've done the internet searches. I've read the books. And yes - I seem to adore all those songs. But how can I {REDACTED}

Ironically, the perpetrator of all of this is me. Whilst the object of my decisions and desires is clearly driven in a single direction, I sabotage myself with my hobbies, music, youtube videos, and innane gaming. Why can't I dedicate as much effort towards happiness as I can towards my distractions?

So this is my contract with myself. If I have not made substantial improvements, by the 20th November 2016, I must aggressively pursue personal change to these ends to the detriment of other pursuits. This is not the start of something, it is merely a safety net - to avoid an end.

I need to change how I do things. I need to remember in every moment that I need to do something DIFFERENT to what I have always done.

No more can I stare idly at the world and admire its potential without adding to its possibilities. This is the end of sonder. Should I fail, I die.

Retrospective edit: This was a ... hard time in my life. I'm better now.


An update.


Its been a while.

My wonderful time at uni is coming to a close. The things I have learnt, the memories I've made and the people I've met are all fantastic. Now that I face my final semester, the remaining 6 months are colored with a tinge of finality and nostalgia. I'm going to miss it.

Career wise, things are going well too. While I am studying I.T, I have always had a keen interest in electronics and engineering. While interning at a software company, I saw an opportunity to move into a team developing new products - working on both the software and hardware sides. As this is something that interests me greatly, I took it. It is immensely challenging, but the work is very interesting and I am learning so much. Even better, I was offered a very flexible casual contract to continue my work following the internship, so I will continue working at this company. Exciting times.

I have long held the idea of moving out to be important next stage in my personal development. Working two days a week over an hour from home, AND juggling full time uni is no easy feat, so I am considering renting an apartment/studio somewhere in the city to reduce the complexity of some things. This is by no means a small mental barrier - but it would be a big step forward for me.

In terms of keeping myself organised, I have a number of things on my event horizon. As usual, this consists of a combination of self-development/organisational/work-related and personal projects:

  • Recycle old shirts that no longer fit me to reduce clutter in the amount of clothing I have
  • Throw out old socks / jackets
  • Find a rental property for the next 6 months - either on my own or with a flatmate (M.M)
  • Clean/consolidate my room, preferably putting the things worth keeping into boxes
  • Get all important toolchains working on my laptop - so I can work anywhere

Projects:

  • Panel creator cad program - for creating DXFs for laser cutting
  • PIC Web IDE - to make programming PIC micro controllers as easy as arduino
  • 145MHz Oscillator circuit and custom PCB - my first entry into the world of RF electronics
  • ESP8266 mesh network node - Building a mesh network using the popular wifi SoC. Each node will have a large battery and a solar panel.
  • Access Control System (ACS) for the BioFoundry bio-hackerspace - built using ESP8266s, electric door strikes, and relays.

Project wish list:

  • Generalised communications system (probably based off IRC) for a chat network or signalling in a distributed system.

  • Generalised plugin architecture for running code and gathering data in the field - for general infosec research.

  • RTL-SDR tool for finding and decoding data bursts in the 433Mhz range (for finding and decoding transmissions from arbitrary devices automatically).

As always, stay frosty.

-Tom