7 things I want to do before I die

The beginning of the new year’s made me think about a few things. Well, that’s not unusual; I’m always thinking. πŸ˜‰ But particularly I’ve been thinking about some of the things that I’d like to achieve in my life. Recently I’ve decided to have a look at my priorities, so I thought making a list of some of those things might be a good place to start.

It’s just a short list; I plan to add something new each year so it stays fresh. They’re things I’d like to be able to look back on in later years, things that would make me feel I’d achieved something and could remember with fondness. I wonder how many would be on your list?

7) Learn to dance.
I’m a terrible dancer. I always feel self-conscious and awkward. A large part of that is I’m very sensitive to noise, so being near loud music is difficult. But I’d love to be able to dance; to dance with my wife at our reception would be something I’d remember for the rest of my life. Of course, first I’d need a wife…

6) Spend time on every continent.
I’ve always wanted to see more of the world. Over the next 10 years I hope to see more of Europe and the Americas and it’s my dream to see the Pyramids. Eventually I hope I’ll be able to spend some time on each continent. Antarctica will be the difficult one, if you believe Al Gore.

5) Make a pilgrimage.
I’m not sure where I’d like to go yet but making a journey I’d remember for the rest of my life is something I’d love to do. Jerusalem would be one possibility, or tracing Rome’s history… probably what appeals to me the most is tracing Darwin’s route through the GalΓ‘pagos.

4) Sleep under the stars.
This is probably the easiest one to do but one day I’d love to get out of Sydney and spend several nights under the stars. You can barely see the stars at night here and the sky is never clear; I imagine being away from the city, the darkness would be beautiful.

3) Listen to someone’s life.
I’ve always liked the idea of a speaker for the dead, to use Orson Scott Card’s term, someone who would learn and speak about a life honestly. One day I hope to listen to someone tell me their story, to truly get the chance to know them… and then if someone wanted to know about them after they had passed, to share it so they would live on.

2) See John Williams and Howard Shore in concert.
I talk about music a lot, but I’m actually more interested in classical music than I am pop music. I write to it and I think movie scores are the closest thing we have to the great compositions of the past. For me John Williams’ score for Star Wars and Howard Shore’s for The Lord of the Rings are the greatest scores ever written (Miklos Rozsa’s Ben-Hur a close third). I’d love to hear both performed live, given the opportunity.

1) See all 4 Grand slams.
Tennis tragic that I am I’d love to see Wimbledon, the Australian, French and US Opens live. I haven’t been to the Aus Open in Melbourne yet but I hope to go next year; if things work out well, that might be when Federer overtakes Sampras’ record. Hopefully I’ll be able to see the others too at some stage. Maybe I’ll be able to see Agassi’s and Graf’s daughter win Wimbledon. πŸ™‚

Is happiness a state of mind?

You know, one of these days I’m actually going to finish a post when I mean to. Recently I’ve got into the habit of starting posts and not finishing them… I’m not sure why, there’s nothing particularly wrong with them. I just don’t feel like posting them and they get put aside.

I started doing it again with this post; I started writing it on Boxing Day and only got back to it today. I needed a couple of days to clear my mind anyway, so it wasn’t a bad thing… it’s just annoying and feels too much like writer’s block to me. I have enough of that in my life already, thanks.

Anyway, I’ve found myself thinking about happiness a lot lately. What started it was when I had dinner with my parents on Christmas day. A funny thing happened. It was just the three of us as we’re never that fussed about having a big Christmas. A couple of hours before we were going to eat, my mother decided to use the good china and we spent about ten minutes trying to find the good glasses to go with them. I think they must have vanished into the Twilight Zone because we couldn’t find them, so we settled for some champagne glasses instead.

I don’t drink much, so it was just ginger ale and it probably would have been easier to have drunk it out of the bottle. But it seemed like a nice idea, so I went along with it. My mistake. I’m halfway through the meal – a nice salad; we can’t imagine a roast on a hot day – and start to take a sip. Except I can’t. The glass won’t go past my nose.

I’ve never thought of myself as having a particularly large nose, but I must have as I just couldn’t get the glass past it. Maybe my nose was broken when that sandbag hit me ten years ago; maybe I’ve been telling too many lies like Pinocchio. Either way, it wasn’t working and tipping my head back didn’t help. I had a decision to make; either admit defeat (ha!) and get a different glass, or work out some other way.

So very slowly I started to slide down in my chair. I was able to angle the glass more and eventually the drink started to tip out. Of course by this time my parents were in absolute hysterics and I’m busy studying them, trying to work out which was to blame for my humongous nose. Strangely they’re both quite normal. I guess the gene must have skipped a generation. πŸ˜•

Later on I thought about it and I realised that, in a strange way, it was a nice experience. I mean, yes, I was being stubborn, but I didn’t feel embarrassed or stupid; I was with family and it’s been a while since we’d laughed like that. Even now when I think about it, it still gives me a happy feeling and that’s something I’ll remember for a long time.

Happiness is a strange thing, isn’t it? It’s something that can feel so different; contentment and peace can give us one kind of happiness, intense joy another. The way we each experience happiness is different, as is what makes us happy. Something I find funny – a show like Seinfeld or Friends – might be annoying to someone else; likewise some of us might go through our lives without showing much emotion, but might still feel peaceful and content. Happiness is so hard to define, but plays such an important part in our lives.

What I’ve been wondering recently is, do I feel happy in my life? Am I a happy person? If I’m being honest then I’d have to say I’m not sure. Most of the time I’m probably not; I like to laugh (and make people laugh) and try not to take things too seriously, but I consider things carefully and that’s my natural response. At the same time I’m not unhappy or sad either. I actually think I’m at peace most of the time. Happiness or sadness is an emotional response for me; I’m neither all the time, I’m just going about my day.

I think a lot of people confuse being “positive” with being “happy”. Being positive is a way of looking at life; being happy is an emotional response which comes from your mindset. You can choose to be positive, but usually something happens that makes you happy. I’ve heard people say they’re positive and so they’re happy, but I’m not so sure. For a lot of people having a positive mindset is a great thing; it lets you look to the future and it’s helped sportspeople and people in everyday life. But I’ve met several people who I’ve thought are so positive that they’re miserable. They work so hard at creating their outlook that they bring everyone down, including themselves; their relations with their families and friends are strained and though they’re positive, they never seem particularly happy… they always want more.

I think having a positive outlook in life is more likely to make us happy, but doesn’t mean we will be happy. And I suppose that’s why I’ve been thinking about this. I’ve been reading some articles recently that indicate if you’re happier, you’ll be healthier too. One study found that “happy” subjects were one-third less likely to develop a cold, while another found that people who thought in happier and more positive ways were more likely to increase their longevity by an average of 10 years.

If that’s right then there’s a definite reason to want to be happier. And so maybe I should make more of an effort to be happier and not let things bother me… although again I don’t feel like I’m unhappy or particularly negative. I’m content with who I am and think I’m a fairly realistic person. Plus isn’t the whole idea of what makes us happy all relative? I’m writing a new poem at the moment and like a lot of my poetry, it’s quite melancholic… some people might find it depressing but even though it’s sad, it makes me happy because it’s something I want to write. I think the key to happiness is respecting yourself, and in that way I’m at peace.

I wonder what you think? Does being happy make us healthy? Is happiness a state of mind? I’d be interested to find out, and I wish you all peace and happiness in the new year. πŸ™‚

A sound of thunder

It’s interesting where we get inspiration for posts, isn’t it? At some stage everybody gets blogger’s block; there might be an infinite number of ideas for posts but something has to grab us in just the right way to spark that inspiration, and we have to recognise it when we see it as well. For me blogging is about mood; if I don’t feel something in a topic then no number of hours hammering away at the keyboard will help me get through it. But if I feel like I have something to say (often inspired by something I’ve seen or read), it makes all the difference.

Muse wrote an interesting post a few days ago about “being of service”. The post looks at the way many spiritual and religious teachings include being of service to others as an important part of their doctrines. I found Muse’s point of view very interesting and I agree; we all want to help people less fortunate than us, but to do that we have to be in a place where we’re able to, and often that comes from how we think about ourselves. That may not sound particularly altruistic but it’s true; when we’re obligated to do something, we’re much less likely to feel charitable, and it becomes simpler to look at someone less fortunate as being lesser in many other ways.

There were some interesting comments after the post, particularly from Muse and Dovelove, and what I found interesting again was I didn’t – couldn’t – disagree with what they said. I admire their points of view greatly and though our thinking differed on some points, I think for the most part we came to similar outcomes. I find it fascinating to think that you can arrive at a viewpoint through so many different ways; that the journey you make can mean something different to each of us, but the outcome unite us. The human mind is an amazing thing.

I’ve been thinking about Muse’s post for the last few days and it sparked something for me. I often say that a constant theme in my writing is the human impact of science on society; my work is hard to categorise into one genre because I’m more interested in the characters, the rest is just the setting. At the moment I’m going through a bit of a rough patch with it; I thought I was getting somewhere with Shards at last, but it turned out I was just shovelling shit from a sitting position. πŸ™‚ Well, maybe it’s not that bad, but I think I’ve worked out what the problem was, and Muse’s post helped. Something happens in Shards that’s difficult to remain objective about, but the success of the story hinges on it not seeming like extremism; the reader has to understand that sometimes people do good things for bad reasons, and bad things for good reasons.

What I’m trying to get at is that nothing is ever really black and white; you’re never just for us or against us, never just locked into one mindset. And for me that’s something I find myself facing every day. It’s there as I try to bring a character to life, but also in the decisions I make every day. When I answer someone’s question, or take on a burden, there’s a knock-on effect that sometimes can have more of an impact than the initial problem. Nothing’s ever black and white, and sometimes my strengths might actually weaken someone else, and I have to think about the consequences.

You know Bradbury’s story A Sound of Thunder, where a group of people travel back in time, but the death of a butterfly changes the future irreversibly? That’s kind of what I’m talking about. We act a lot more than we think about and we don’t always consider the consequences. And yet we each of us (myself especially) value being able to act on our instincts; we don’t like overthinking things because then we hesitate and we’re uncertain. There’s just as much danger in thinking about the consequences too much as not at all. So what’s the balance?

I think the answer is it has to feel natural. Whatever you say, or do, on some level you know there might be consequences, but you can’t let that stop you from speaking or acting either; otherwise you’re paralysed by fear. Someone might not like it or disagree with you, but that’s outside of your power to influence. We have to trust what we feel is right in a given situation – and most of the time, what we feel is right, is right.

I think that’s the problem I’ve been having with Shards; I’ve been letting the characters overthink the events, when really they need to trust in what they’re doing. Their decisions need to feel more natural. Sometimes good people do bad things for good reasons; it doesn’t have to be justified, just presented in a way that’s real, and hopefully it will be believable.

So thanks to Muse and Dove for their comments; you probably got something completely different from that post (and this one!) than I did, and that’s the nature of blogging, but you reminded me as well of how important instinct is and I’m grateful for that. And you might have helped me solve one of the biggest sticking points in my story too; for that I thank you again. My readers will too, all three of them! πŸ˜›

PS. If anyone’s wondering what happened to my post on personalities, I know I said I’d be doing that next in my last post, but I got distracted when I got back into writing again. So that’ll be my next post. Promise! πŸ˜‰

What Kind of Soul Are You?

You Are a Newborn Soul

You are tolerant, accepting, and willing to give anyone a chance. On the flip side, you’re easy to read and easily influenced by others. You have a fresh perspective on life, and you can be very creative. Noconformist and nontraditional, you’ve never met anyone who’s like you.

Inventve and artistic, you like to be a trendsetter. You have an upbeat spirit and you like almost everything. You make friends easily and often have long standing friendships. Implusive and trusting, you fall in love a little too easily.

Souls you are most compatible with: Bright Star Soul and Dreaming Soul

What Kind of Soul Are You?

I had a good post planned for today but unfortunately I haven’t been able to finish it yet. For some reason the WIFI decided to die on me earlier and I wasted three hours trying to get it back up. It’s still not working; I’ve had to discard it entirely and all that’s left no time for my post. So who’s up for a quiz instead? πŸ™‚

This actually ties in with my post for tomorrow as well, so I found my results interesting. I’d probably agree with most of it; I’m fairly creative and nonconformist, and I try to be open to different possibilities. Probably the only thing I’d disagree with is the falling in love too easily part, but of course I’d say that!

It’s interesting looking at how different types of people are more compatible with each other as well. I get on well with most people, but I form connections more with someone who is responsible and on my wavelength, even if we don’t always agree. I know other people tend to be more compatible with someone who is ambitious like them, or positive and optimistic. And someone who has a docile or introverted personality will often gravitate toward the opposite, to someone with strength who directs (even dominates) the relationship. Sometimes our matches aren’t always the healthiest ones, but we follow the same patterns; often it’s our nature and something we can’t change unless we’re aware of it.

Anyway, more on that tomorrow. πŸ˜‰ As for the quiz, apparently I’m a newborn soul; I wonder what kind of soul you are?