How to (Pretend) to be a Human.

I just read through, well attempted to read through – an entire list of things that make up what it means to be the ‘Modern Man’.

Well it should go without saying that it made me violently sick…after all, lists of that kind can only ever be restrictive and judgmental…sort of like; “this is the way you should do things and if you do anything else then you are a massive knob head who no one could possibly ever love.” That’s all I hear anyway – there’s just something off about it, something not quite right. I don’t get why people believe there is a fixed way to behave; what a drearily dull place it would be if we were all just dragging ourselves around humming the same tune and exchanging pleasantries until one day we are in the ground.

Which is why I am creating my own set of principles in which we can all live by as semi-functioning humans…I know, I know – there’s a glaring hypocrisy in all of this, but think of it like religion: mine is completely 100% correct, and all others are a steaming pile of shit. Hmm…did I just compare myself to Jesus? Well, perhaps. That’s for you to decide, although I don’t have a beard which may be a drawback…every good messiah needs a beard. Dammit. Fell at the first hurdle…urgh – but still yes, listen to what I have to say (please). 

ANYWAY. So,  every good human needs to keep a few things in mind as they go about their business otherwise he/she will likely be burned at the stake or cast out into the wilderness and banished from the office kingdom. Thankfully I have the scoop on what these criteria are, so you have no reason to worry. The chances of the aforementioned happening to you are now a lot slimmer*…you’re welcome. 

1.) Every human needs to be able to pretend to be a “Good Loser” – (whatever that is…)

Good Job GIF

Remember that life is about loss – we lose our child-like fascination, we lose our hope, we lose our hair, and then we lose our marbles…so you sure as hell better get used to losing. Consequently mastering sentences such as “Oh that’s great.”, “I’m so happy for you.”, or “You are absolutely amazing!” when you lose, or someone else achieves something, is vital for your survival…bonus points are awarded if you do it without a sarcastic tone or aggressive bestial snarl…advanced humans will also master the art of refraining from puncturing the winner’s tires, or throwing a brick through their window (although it is understood this is rather difficult to avoid at times). 

2.) Every human needs to pretend to only have community-approved obsessions:

Weirdo GIF

For some unknown reason some obsessions are deemed okay, and others are thought of as psychopathic…and often verge on the criminal side of things. For example if you announce you are “obsessed” with Game of Thrones, or with collecting fridge magnets – you may be thought of as pretty typical, or at worst quirky. However if you were to cheerfully let people know that you like catching, skinning and disemboweling vermin around your city, and occasionally attempt botched  Frankenstien-esque experiments on them…you are suddenly branded as a “weirdo”. It’s a strange world, and one I don’t particularly understand – but sadly that’s reality: some obsessions are okay, and some aren’t. You can check if your obsession is regarded as peculiar by practicing on strangers in the street…just walk up and let them know – if they run away as soon as you start talking, then it’s probably best to keep that one to yourself.

3.) Every human should pretend the internet is a bad thing:

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This is one that baffles researchers everywhere but again appears to be a trend that cannot be shaken…despite the clear evidence that the internet is absolutely fantastic, most humans enjoy divulging the conclusion that they hate Facebook, or that they are sick of Twitter, or that Wikipedia is awful…usually this is told across some form of social media which only creates even more confusion. So even though you likely spend a tremendous deal of time watching great YouTube videos, or you learn something new everyday thanks to Google, or you never have to leave the house to buy stuff because of a whole host of online stores…it is best that you claim everything to the contrary. The most typical lines are; “I hate Instagram – why do I want to see people’s food? I don’t care if they starve or not.”, “I absolutely hate getting music for free, why can’t we just pay for the album which only has one good song on, like the good old days?!” and my personal favourite – “if it wasn’t for the internet, I would have written 400 best selling novels by now!” 

4.) Every human should pretend they never ever see difference, because no one is different:

Copy GIF

Yes we look different, yes we live in different places, yes we have been brought up in different cultures, yes we speak different languages, and yes we are blatantly different…but listen to me clearly; we are not different. Say it with me…“WE ARE NOT DIFFERENT.” Well done, great job – now say it with a more confident tone, you don’t sound like you believe it.

And you must, it is paramount to every human remaining in good favor. To suggest otherwise is to face the firing squad. Even if you embrace difference as a clear positive thing, in which we can all come together as a global community and learn from one another – you are still considered to be an enormous prick who doesn’t deserve friends. You are boxing people in, and it’s rude to put people in boxes (it’s cramped and there is poor lighting). 

5.) Every human should pretend their current job was always their dream job:

Ken GIF

Do you remember when you were a lot younger and you dreamed of the adult days which would be whiled away without rules, and limitations…where every day would be filled with aspirations waiting to be met, and ambitions waiting to be embraced…where you would spend the morning eating your weight in bacon, but still looking amazing, and then spend the afternoon rapping your latest hot single to thousands of adoring fans…possibly in the evening you may fit in a stand up show if you can be bothered to drag yourself away from your hot tub…yeah? Sounds great, right!?

WELL NO IT DOES NOT – THAT WAS A TRICK QUESTION, IT SOUNDS DREADFUL.

What you actually find as you grow from a smaller more positive human to a larger and more miserable version of a human, is that all of that was an illusion and you didn’t ever want it in the first place; and that coincidentally what you really wanted was to take calls from angry old ladies, get screamed at by a moron boss, and spend every morning weeping. So please at least pretend to tow the line…keep it on the low if you are doing anything that brings colour to your life, and certainly don’t openly wish for something more…apart from winning the lottery, people are allowed to do that apparently…

Done GIF

So there you have it, you are looking more like a regular human already! I can sense the dissatisfaction in your attitude, the redness in your eyes, and the look of desperation in your furrowed brow! Great job! Go forth and repress yourself!

*you could still be burned at the stake, sent out in exile, or find yourself friend-less – Storytime with John offers no guarantees. 

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A Caged Bird (Poem)

{I see myself, but it doesn’t look like me,

I see myself – but what should I be?

Yes, what should I be? And what should I become?

Be a dreamer – or achiever – you can only pick one.}

Ohhh, you want the bullet train to fame my boy?”

No, no, no! Just the mega bus away from plain and tame, would be a joy!

Well fucking stop that thought.”

Nothing good happens here.”

Oh, you’re into the arts? HA, HA, HA, must be a queer!”

Fuck off to London if that’s what you want – but know this,

we all think you’re an absolute cunt.”

{I want to think outside the box,

but I don’t have the keys to this cage,

I try every possibility in the locks,

that get rusty with age.}

HA! You don’t know about life! We struggle and strive, 9 to 5 that we hate, but we can barely survive, we buy things that we don’t want with credit we can’t pay, we turn on the television – it’s shit – but we watch anyway, we can’t wait for retirement, man that’ll be the day! We‘ll get to sit on our arse till we’re dead – ahh, bliss, don’t ya say?”

{I can see this for myself, but it doesn’t look like me,

I can see this for myself, but it’s something I don’t want to be.

Yes, there’s what I should be, and what I want to become,

I don’t want to cut my roots…I just want to grow: till my days are done.}

~~~

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What is a Quarter-Life Crisis?

There’s much talk of ‘The Quarter Life Crisis’ nowadays…which seems to have toppled talk of ‘The Mid-Life Crisis’; a phrase I remember hearing a lot more of as a child in the 90s, on occasions when grown ups were behaving strangely and actually having fun – and when people who should know better were seemingly refusing to “act their age”. For instance if a man traded in his people carrier for a sports car he was essentially bordering on a nervous break down, or if a woman divorced a horrid specimen after many unhappy years she was considered an unstable wreck, or if a quiet balding office worker married his pet goat and began a passionate love affair he was somehow “weird”…well no more. That sort of rhetoric has been well and truly left behind and in its place a “you only live once” motto plaque has been welded down for the foreseeable future.

Yolo GIF

Loathe that phrase…but I can’t deny it’s cultural implications.

I am sure like most people you are happy to see such a positive switch; after all the true crisis is that we will all be in the ground soon enough (sorry for reminding you)…so why not dye your hair, get a tattoo, or go skydiving? What the hell does it really matter in the scheme of things? It’s just a way to get more out of life’s short flickering flame after all…not so much as a denouncement of adulthood, but rather as an opposition to a life of repetitive boredom…which unfortunately appears to be synonymous with that old bland chestnut which is “growing up”…

You see in my eyes therein lies the problem, and subsequently where the rise of ‘The Quarter Life Crisis’ is rooted…it’s a clash between the old and the new, the free and the hideously boring monotony, the ice cream for breakfast and the olives on your pizza. It’s a trade off between the old ideals of childhood and the established (but thankfully changing) fundamental stipulations of what it is to be an adult. Because of these clashes it is only natural to freak out and scream “I DON’T WANT THIS!”, when the realization sets in that being a grown up isn’t just bouncing around spending money, doing things, and eating carbohydrates for every meal…although for some that is pretty much it. Not naming names. But…erm…yeah.

Lazy GIF

Not me mind you…not even once – oh no…

But this sort of inward nervousness isn’t a new concept, and most certainly isn’t true of only the present batch of disenchanted twenty-somethings. Far from it. One of my favourite authors Bret Easton Ellis has spoken extensively on the subject, stating it was the ammunition for a lot of his early work…here are a few of his alarmingly relatable words in an interview a few years back:

“A lot of it had to do with my frustration with having to become an adult and what it meant to be an adult male in American society. I didn’t want to be one, because all it was about was status. Consumerist success was really the embodiment of what it meant to be a cool guy—money, trophy girlfriends, nice clothes, and cool cars. It all seemed extremely shallow to me. Yet at the same time you have an urge to conform. You want to be part of the group. You don’t want to be shunned.”

And that’s what it is, this battle…this struggle…this inner-wrestling of two completely opposing worlds. Which side wins however – is largely up to you. As negative as this whole ‘Quarter-Life Crisis’ can be, I think it is helpful in molding yourself a platform on which you can continue to develop and prosper. It’s about reevaluating who you are, and where you want to go. It’s about saying which things you feel comfortable with dropping, and which things you will never let go of (such as watching Spongebob, or enjoying every side of the Marvel world) – this is your life, and you should never have to change when you don’t want to. Don’t be guilt-tripped into losing your identity just because you’re being falsely labelled as a “man-child”“kidult”, or whatever other dumb phrase the jealous masses will spew out…

After all a life of freedom, mobility, and sugary snacks is surely the dream…and you very well may be living it…so if so; keep on truckin’ – OH, LOOK OUT! IT’S BEHIND YOU!

Responsibility GIF

YOU’LL NEVER CATCH ME AAAALLLLIIIIVE!

Get out there and live your life, don’t worry about what other people say and what other people expect from you. However it’s certain a vague plan can’t hurt; it will provide clarity and purpose to the route you are taking towards your future, and will somewhat diminish those “what the hell am I doing with my life?!” feelings. Even if it’s as simple as: “attempt to make world’s largest cheese sandwich” at least you are remaining true to your character, and with it aiming to fulfill your deepest dreams and ambitions. That’s what it is all about after all.

Good luck, and kindly please stop freaking out: Cheers!

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Unwanted Room Mate

It’s a well recorded, and commonly recited sentiment – but you truly never know what sort of day a stranger on the street is having…of course our imagination fills in the huge gaping blanks, but that doesn’t mean we should trust these assessments – more often than not they are way off…

Like you may look at a berserk man storming down the street, and immediately come to the conclusion that he is a thug looking for old lady’s purses to steal, or children’s sandcastles to kick over. But who knows? He could very well be that, but it is also within the realms of possibility that he is just a regular Joe…and that he is simply having the worst day of his life. Perhaps his dog may have to be put down, perhaps there is a close relative who is terminally ill, or perhaps his girlfriend made him binge watch every single episode of Keeping Up With The Kardashians the night before. We can never know for sure…

Crazy People GIF

Or you may be pushed out of the way by a severe looking lady – who resembles Miss Trunchbull in every way (except sadly there’s no chocolate cake)…and yes, your automatic thought will be that she is rude and you ought to say something passive aggressive to her. But what if she too is having an awful day, or a series of awful days? She could be about to be evicted, or she may be on the verge of losing her job…or maybe she is being bullied by some weird snooty kid with magical powers. Again, you just never know..

So it’s nice, to be nice – as my Momma used to say. Just in case any of these things are true…or just in case this one-dimensional cartoonesque image we have of odd looking strangers is not exactly on the money! To throw myself in as an example – if you were to see me out in public last week you’d instinctively have thought something along the lines of “who is that attractive, young whipper-snapper?!” no…sorry, getting ahead of myself. You’d actually have wondered: “who is that strange man, and why is he so red and sweaty?!” Well friends, what you couldn’t have known is that I was enduring a horrendous trial that week…which will go down in history as “The Battle of the Grasshopper Room-Mate.”

Scared Draco GIF

You see on one unsuspecting Monday I was met with a grasshopper in my bathroom – he was perched on the windowsill and had gotten in through the small crack I allow for ventilation. I wrongly assumed it would just be a brief visit – that perhaps he would just be someone to chat with while I have my pee, and then he’d be on his way. However the next time I was in there he was all laid out on the floor, making himself comfortable….time, and time again he was just sat there, changing positions every now and again. Not saying a great deal, but making his presence felt…making toilet time a little bit more uncomfortable than usual – with those buggy staring accusing eyes of his.“I’M JUST TRYING TO WIPE SIR, LEAVE ME ALONE!”

So now you’re probably thinking, “well just get rid of the fella, evict him! Call the police even!” which is all well and good, except I am not a proper man who can do the whole cup and piece of paper trick – also I teach kindergarten and I’m trying to make a concerted effort not to nurture future serial killers so I impose a ‘let’s not kill living things’ policy…I try to practice what I preach, rather than being a hypocrite so here I am…

Bright Angel GIF

AND YES I EAT BURGERS, I KNOW, I KNOW – I JUST DON”T WANT TO DO THE EXECUTIONS MYSELF, OKAY!

Anyway, he was there. For days. So eventually I left my bathroom door wide open hoping he would just hop on out at some point so I could poop in peace… that perhaps he’d go under the bed – or any place else where he couldn’t be seen, or heard. We could cohabit. We could make this situation work, somehow…perhaps we’d have a day where we’d watch movies together and eat junk food – but otherwise we’d keep ourselves to ourselves for the sake of our own respective sanities. 

I’ll keep you posted on that. But this ongoing drama has undoubtedly taken a toll on me; so who knows what blustered and worrisome appearance I had on my stupid stressed out face on those days I was battling with my unwanted room mate…I was probably a bit more short with people, a little less good humoured. But I was going through something…and so are other people, probably.

Stressed Parks GIF

So let’s remember that, or at least try to – yeah?

Oh, and another thing before I go – does anyone have a spare room going? I’m asking for a friend…he’s clean and quiet – I’ll pay his first month’s rent. Shoot me an email if you do, would be greatly appreciated…

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How to be Happy.

Everyone wants to be happy, and to live a happy life. It’s somewhat of a sweeping generalisation, I know…but one which pretty much holds true across the board.

I mean unless you’re a homicidal maniac who enjoys other people’s pain and suffering – or a gym enthusiast vegan who enjoys the masochistic pleasure of seemingly making yourself suffer. In those cases I can’t relate at all – but those folks would probably tell you (as you strap them into a straight-jacket) that they derive pleasure from those senseless acts, and consequently are happy, or at least are making a distinct effort to attain happiness…however bizarre it may appear to us regular humanoids.

Happy, Happy GIF

So basically, I’m still right…sort of.

And while you may be less inclined to trust in a no-good bum writer like myself, you’ll probably hold more hope in my old pal, Socrates – despite the fact he didn’t ever come up with any clear-cut suggestions as to how to actually be happy. But whatever…

John are you seriously saying you’re better than Socrates? Your ego is completely off the charts, good sir.”

Well, no – I’m just pointing out that I have a bit of a method to happiness that seems to work for me – and all he ever did was ponder, and deal in vague outlines about self-examination and virtues as with most philosophers of his time. 

Hmm, he’s widely considered to have played a fundamental part in the growth of Western thinking…are you sure you’re not just jealous of his luscious beard? Because you can’t grow a proper one?”

Unfair, and mean – next question.

John you’re writing this yourself. Just stop if you’re going to be a baby about it – you’re coming across as a lunatic as it is. Also, we’re out of milk – get some next time you’re out please.”

You Talkin To Me GIF

Ahem, sorry about that. But I mean yeah, he was a smart bloke and all – so I’m not saying I wouldn’t have invited him to the pub every once in a while; he believed in the study of reason, the search of truth, and the admittance of our own ignorance, which all sounds dandy. But he had no ready answers, which I’m sure would get frustrating after the seventh or eighth pint. In fact I could imagine waiting for him to use the gents, and then darting out to another pub to find some more digestible truth there; probably revolving around sports, and a drunken take on world events. After all it’s usually the simple things, you know? And he sure did make it very hard work for people…

But the thing is happiness doesn’t have to be a cloudy pie in the sky sort of deal…in fact I think your pie should be right here, right now – with as many toppings and sauces as you please, and with no guilt over eating the last slice, ever. (Is this still just a metaphor? Way too into it!) 

Admittedly Socrates said something similar to this, when he stated we should actively pursue happiness through our actions and that it is in this exploration that we will expand our consciousness and become happier in the process…

Cool Cool Cool Cool GIF

….but as usual the most important element (the ‘how?!’) was neglected…perhaps he kept it in his beard, and only showed his closest friends…the selfish creature. But as I don’t have a beard, I will share my little pearl of wisdom in the hope that it can boost your overall happiness levels. It won’t quite have you doing a moonwalk on a rainbow (unless you mix my guidance with LSD – which you are welcome to try if you are over the age of eleven) but it should provide less misery, and a greater feeling of contentedness. 

So this is it, and it isn’t much really: 

But each and every year I try and better the last one…I try to put more into my passions, and more effort into my writing. I try to say “yes” to more opportunities, to take more trips, and to experience a wider range of what this wonderful earth has to offer. I try to keep in touch with family and old friends with more regularity, and try to tell those I love that I love them more often. Basically I try to be a better version of myself from top to bottom with every passing year…the keyword being “try”. 

Sometimes it doesn’t work out – sometimes life serves you up a poop sandwich, with an extra side of poop fries (instead of that delicious pie in the sky), but when it does you have to keep going… and keep trying. It’s as simple as that. Personally I’ve had a very difficult year so far for numerous reasons…but it has taken till now to shake myself free and remember that I need to keep up that pursuit of happiness (cheers Socrates, mate) – the future, and my subsequent happiness is in my own hands. 

Happy Hands GIF

So as you read this I am planning four different 2015 trips in four different countries…one which is a Christmas visit home (WOOOO!), I’m also editing down a new comedy video, and finally working on my dark humour novel again. I just need to send a nice email to my parents, and I’m golden!

But yeah, that’s it folks. Find the things that matter to you, the things that make you feel that warm fuzzy Teletubbies belly feeling, and then make steps to do them as often as possible. Happiness will follow. 

Whatever you do, don’t just accept misery…you deserve happiness, just the same as everyone. 

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