Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Flying home for Christmas


I always seem to keep saying the same things, maybe I haven't got anything new to say. This isn't dictated by a need to spread some kind of diatribe though, other than believe in yourself and strive to get better.

I'm currently staring down the barrel of learning a new, albeit similar, set of responsibilities for a new job doing a different thing for the same people. It's that odd period when the train crosses different tracks and there's inevitably much squeaking and sparking of metal on metal.

It's harder than normal though this week, massively so if I must be brutally honest. It's hard to explain just where to begin. It's never about me. If it was I'd want to do something where people could see what I looked like. It's about making sure that someone who has put their life into the last 8 weeks gets my full and undivided attention for 15 minutes. It doesn't sound a lot when you put it like that, but I'm always so full of fatigue when I'm done. It takes forever to sleep right and somehow even longer to wake up easily.



It was like a sea of noise and lights as far as I could see; nothing but elation soaked thoroughly in a frantic fanaticism. A slowly moving mass of humanity that took the air from my lungs as it rose to a cacophony that I really wasn't ready for.

Just a few days later I taught 4 people in a small warm room, overlooking a grey townscape. I wandered round that room for hours, helping my learners move closer towards their own individual goals and pursuits. I looked yearnfully into the distance as a plane slowly cut a path between the clouds, on the start of some fantastic adventure.

You forget why you do this somehow but then when you help someone and make a difference it all becomes real.

These two sides of my professional life are seemingly at other ends of any kind of spectrum, if one exists, but in many ways they're similar.

In both jobs I'm there to make sure that people are justly rewarded for their hard work and preparation.

I constantly spend my own time developing each craft to further increase just how effective I can be.

More importantly I never want to stop learning, and trying to get better and if you hit that point then it's time to answer those questions you've probably had for a while.

There's one thing my 9-5 will never be though, and that's able to give unbelievable dreams the opportunity to take flight and lodge themselves firmly in my memories.

Tales to be told in a warm drawing room as the winter cold is banished by hot drinks and warm hearts.

This doesn't end with me and it doesn't end with you.

Take care
Speak soon
Dzięki jeszcze raz

Ben


Monday, 27 October 2014

Save the World, Get the Girl

It's a very idealistic set of circumstances isn't it?

You're 509 times more likely to win the lottery than you are find one person out of the 7.125 billion people there are on this rock. 

Yet I knew right from the start and, despite my best efforts to mess it up, there was no way we weren't going to end up together. I knew we'd end up buying a house and I knew we'd get married. 

The only thing that scares me, is that none of this scares me. 

Isn't this whole thing surreal though? I mean really. Does nobody ever look at these kind of things, crunch a few numbers and realise that the odds of finding someone perfect are minute at best? 

It's a good job that nobody does that kind of thing or maybe nobody would ever take a risk on anyone. But then, none of this has ever felt like any kind of risk. It's been one amazing adventure after another and I find myself happier and more motivated than ever, because I've got no idea whatsoever about what will come next. 

I guess all I need to know is that I've made the single most important decision of my entire life, and knocked it clean out of the park; so far out of the park in fact that there's no telling where it landed, or if it ever will. 

Everything is exciting now. Every single little thing. I've never come back from a holiday before and been happy and content but this was perfect. The time away was amazing but being home is glorious beyond belief. 

I guess what I'm trying to say is the fact that you get one shot at this whole puzzle. The longer you spend wondering, the shorter you spend experiencing. 

These truly are glorious days and the best part is, I get that they are. I won't look back and remember a time before x,y and z because I'm thankful every single morning when I wake up that I've got another day to share.

Take care, speak soon.
I'll be the one with the smile.
Ben 

Friday, 5 September 2014

Breathing



I ran as if my life depended on it, even though in reality it didn't.

Anything could have happened at that point as I traversed the contented and the confused; sprinting forward hoping to meet the approving glance of the desk bound. I hurtled faster and faster with not a care for what I looked like, as the numbers seemed to increase in a way that was too illogical for me to comprehend.

As I grew tired with each step that passed, I was driven by a sense of the truly intangible. There was something making me carry on, something else driving my feet below me and pushing my breathing back a little bit every time there was chance.

I rounded the corner and slammed my papers on the desk in a manner that was quite more dramatic than needed, but I didn't care. I couldn't focus on anything but the numbers and the times. Somehow, it was ok now, but at that split second I couldn't tell you how or why.

THURSDAY

A horde of malcontents and not enough time to make them all happy. There wouldn't be enough time even if there was nothing else to do. There's only so many times you can paper over a crack with a slightly ironic word of recommendation.

The negotiation of the earlier start/earlier finish policy had served me well and before too long the taxi was whisking me away to where I needed to be. It wasn't until I sat with a cup of tea at the aiport that I realised there was a problem.

Not a big problem you understand, just a slight delay.

This wouldn't have been an issue on any other day but the domino effect of connections is magnified by more than just the simple sum of its parts. We're talking twenty minutes, not even enough time for a good sandwich if we're truthful, but more than long enough to derail my jaunt.

I'd already checked in for a seat close to the front, simply so I could dive off the plane and get the bus to another terminal and make my connection. No drama, never any drama.

The flight itself was uneventful, save for a quite spectacular cookie and cup of tea combination, but upon landing I heard the news that I was dreading.

"We're going to have to get off the plane at the rear entrance and wait for the bus to arrive because of problems at this end."

It was ten past nine and I wasn't even in the building, or on the bus, or anywhere near where I needed to be.

As I scrambled off the plane I got to the front of the line for the bus just as the sign went up. I'd missed it. Sitting near the front had seemingly been my undoing as I waited for yet another carriage to take me somewhere I'd have to only get back from.

Everything was going through my mind at this point. A million different what ifs and whys were all populating my every thought, as I willed the bus to drive faster than safely required. I don't know what the worst part was of it all. I didn't want to be stranded but more than that I didn't want to let people down.

I sprinted off the bus and round a network of corridors and tunnels that seemed to last forever. It's the kind of place that you'd get lost in on an old videogame, probably looking for some kind of key or elixir. I rounded the final corner just as the bus to the required terminal was pulling in, which was a blessing in itself.

I hurtled over the ramp and dived to the seat closest to the door but nothing happened. I guess I'd watched too much Indiana Jones and was waiting for the driver to nod at me before pushing the pedal to the floor in a series of breakneck scrapes. It never happened that way, despite how long I stared at my watch and the screen depicting the animated couple.

Movement at last.

Creaking back towards the place I'd just come from, the turns and curves of this concrete oppression seeming even more unnecessary on the second run.

I didn't have chance to say thanks or bye or I'm sorry for looking like such a moody prick the entire trip, I needed to leave and leave quickly. I sprinted up the stairs before dashing headlong into security. There was a queue, of course there was a queue, it was 9:35 on a Thursday night I thought to myself sarcastically. I didn't have time to wait and I shouted over the first person in a uniform I laid eyes on.

I couldn't talk for some reason, my words wouldn't order themselves into coherence. I showed him my printed itinerary and he nodded. My bag was fine, no problems there but I had to once again remove my watch, belt et all for what felt like the hundredth time before scampering through the gate and trying to see where the next phase of this seemingly futile quest would take me.

The security man shouted "Good Luck" in a loud voice as I left him behind, clutching my bag like a newborn animal, cradling it to my chest as I put my head down and ran with all I had left.

I'd checked in online for my second and third flights as I was waiting for my first but a quick look up at the board nearly stopped me dead.

FINAL CALL - GATE CLOSING

I had to run, there was nothing left to do but run. One foot flatly in front of the other as I hurtled down the corridor towards my goal, a black speck in the distance. It didn't seem to be getting any closer. As time ticked on I felt the world close in around me, pulling suffocating skies down around my face.

I had to make it.
I had to make it.
It was 21:41.
Surely I couldn't make it?
Would I make it?


Well I wouldn't miss this for the world.

It's only falling when your mind tells you it's not flying.

Thanks to those involved, especially Paul Dollery who negotiated me down through hysteria like a lighthouse keeper, missing every jutting rock and concealed danger on the way.

Promise me you'll all say hello next time.

We'll talk about videogames, old music, old technology, old times, football from the 90s, fights, kung fu movies, people we knew, people we are, times we've spent and times we've got to come.

We'll laugh about how crazy this all is because it's all we've got to hold on to somehow.


Speak soon
Ben




Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Metamorphosis

Change is a part of everything, maybe that's why we're so scared.

I've been thinking a lot recently about the upcoming months. The inevitable schedule of sleepless nights and hot drinks on cold days that will follow. The days when nothing moves apart from everything and I'm wrapped up by a patchwork of clouds and daydreams.

I'm aware of everything but long for the days those fellow adventurers are by my side, tackling the truly extraordinary in an everyday way. If you're part of this then you truly understand this. I can't help but smile, sometimes tear up a little bit, whenever I drift away somewhere. It's always made special by the people who I share it with. You'll have no idea how much any of this means, nobody will.

There's very few things that don't change in life, but the feelings when you walk through the door are one of them. I'll see you all real soon, I can't wait. It's been too long hasn't it? Way too long.

Take care
Ben



Saturday, 26 July 2014

Goes up like prices at Christmas



I signed up for this stop/start, on/off, stuck at the lights/flying down the motorway craziness.

That said, it doesn't get any easier though, some things never do. It's all first world problems if we're being honest though. Woe is me, my unbelievable second life is frighteningly addictive. When you weigh up that my first which mainly involves tea, toast, videogames, watching fights and hanging out with Vanille, you think I'd learn just to fucking shut up.

When did this become a thing is the question I asked myself when I woke up this morning. At what point did this adventure become something I stopped watching with the originals on a Sunday and transform into something that causes me to tick days off a calender like a petty offender?

I wish I had answers, but then I think we all wished we had answers. I guess we never truly know, and that's somehow equal parts frightening and empowering.

Imagine diving headfirst into a fast flowing river.

You'd have two choices.

You could claw with every fibre to pull back against that which was dragging you away from where you started. You may never know where you could have ended up but you'll always have the comfort of what you know and the shapes that remain the same.

If you throw yourself headfirst into the whirling uncertainty then the possibilities become endless. It's rolling a dice or spinning a wheel. The act of accepting the unknown that most of us really struggle with. It's that feeling in the pit of your stomach when it looks like all bets are off as your sure fire winner crumbles in the face of adversity.

When it works though, there's arguably no better feeling in the world; the juice is nearly always worth the squeeze.

I'm scared, but then we're all scared of something.
You may as well be scared of something that you know you've engineered yourself.

It's all going to get really busy in the next few weeks.
Come say hello won't you?
Take Care
Ben







Wednesday, 25 June 2014

On Buildings

Where does the life go, that drains through these old creaking windows; white paint jaded by the sunshine of past endeavours?

A place that felt so huge the first time I walked up the stairs now weighs heavily with the shadow of a different future.

A place where I learned so much about people, about life, about how I should spend my days.

A place where I pinned calenders up on a notice board in an office built for one but habited by two.

A place where I walked into on a Monday morning with heavy set eyes and left on Friday afternoon, with new ideas on how to make the changes I needed to make.

Lost in the snow, walking back through a blizzard, a grey colossus that faded into the recess of my mind when warm food and warm feelings grabbed me in from the tundra.

An open door to adventure, to receiving digital invitations to adventures in other lands, listening as I try to figure out yet more logistics about a brave new world.

When care and attention are no longer a priority, there remains a few scant reminders of days gone by, of days when people laughed and felt alive.

It's strange how buildings are more than buildings.


Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Stop

There's very few things that we really stop and look at any more.
 
We're constantly trying to catch up five minutes here or half an hour there, and for what? So we can find more things to fill our time with that we don't really need to be doing. We feel a sense of begrudging ownership to so many aspects of the everyday and the ordinary.

Sometimes it takes an image or a situation to make us sit and really think about things. 

One such situation occurred to me the other day at work as I scurried between rooms, trying to help out different people with very similar problems. 

We've recently been told about a relocation from our current office dwelling to a more modern and functional domicile. It makes sense in a lot of respects as this building really has seen much better days. Every door seems to creak and sigh like an aged relative with too many bad habits. Each piece of carpet wears the impressions of a million tantrums and celebrations; every office mistake, every pitch that fell short, every problem that was solved or merely postponed. 

In one of the more secluded rooms in the building there's something that I notice every time that I need to retreat there. 

A dead butterfly. 

It's been there for as long as I can remember that he/she has unknowingly shared in so many of my triumphs/downfalls.

The adventure that began with a simple message, the scolding that addressed my sometimes obvious lack of motivation and the first time I realised that I actually cared quite a lot about the people that I share this ancient space with.

This picture sums up everything I think about so many situations that occur. How close did we get to where we wanted to be before it was all taken away? How did we not realise that we'd done the hardest part? 

Maybe we did. 

Maybe the truth of the matter is that we didn't realise what we wanted, until we couldn't have it any more or until we'd lost the will to move forward.

This is all questions isn't it?
Even that was a question ironically and I didn't mean it to be.

One day we'll take stock of all of this and realise that our greatest victory came truly from pushing forward this entire time. The line may be on the next footstep or over the horizon but that's not really the most important thing. The important thing is that our feet never stop moving until the lights go out. 

Speak soon
Take care
Ben