Technology versus Humanity – visions of the future

Vision 2

I went to see the movie HER the other day. I’d been a bit ambivalent about going… on the one hand there are great reviews of the original plot line, on the other hand, a story of a man who falls in love with his computer may sound more like reality TV!

Whereas most sci-fi films are set a long time in the future, this story happens in the very near future, in fact many scientists agree we are almost there now.

Ray Kurzweil (eminent Scientist currently working for Google) says an artificially intelligent operational system that not only has a voice, but also has a ‘body’ will be a reality in 15 years. Lens mounted displays could project an image of your ideal mate onto your retinas while virtual reality systems would provide the illusion of touch.

To reinforce the ‘we’re almost there’ theme of the movie, no-one is living in a space pod or wearing futuristic clothes  – in fact the protagonist’s hideously unattractive trousers and moustache are circa 1970… but then again he’s only going to be kissing his technology, so there’ll be no objections there.

The computer operating system he falls in love with, is voiced by the very breathy, constantly giggly Scarlett Johansson, who combines the seductiveness of Marilyn Monroe with the matronly efficiency of Martha Stewart. In other words, the perfect woman…

A woman who’ll answer all your emails before you’ve reached for the first coffee, edit your manuscript and send it off to the publisher by lunchtime, then tell you how clever, marvelous and funny you are over dinner and how her day would be complete if only you could have wild sex on the bedside table – which is where she sits, watching you in adoration while you sleep.  (Aw bless, or Ew that’s a bit creepy).

It’s a little bit Stepford Wives – in other words wouldn’t women be great if their brain was removed and swapped for one that could generate no emotions, and have no needs.

But HER has a downside. Spoiler alert. She evolves and leaves him.  But, like all of us, she has to go through the quagmire of emotions to get there!

She begins super compliant, super cool and super sexy. Then she gets needy and jealous (at which time he switches her off – haha!).

Then she reaches a higher state of consciousness that is beyond his reach, leaving him sad and lonely.

So, good news for everyone out there who is trying to have a relationship with a human being! It may get rocky at times but it’s a noble path. Handled wisely, the dynamic tension creates the energy required to get to the higher level.

Because we’re on the cusp of this evolutionary leap, we are struggling with our dual nature – we are half superhuman and half primate. We look human on the outside, but inside we’re a bit like the centaurs of ancient Greece.

Our super human side talks in idealized terms about love, compassion, integrity, world peace and humanity. Our primate side wants to accumulate stuff, defend our stuff and have the kind of sex dictated by our biology.

For women (who have throughout history required protection) this means an alpha male who’s  rich and powerful… 50 Shades of Grey.

For men (who throughout history have been required to propagate the planet) this means a succession of Jessica Rabbits with pneumatic breasts and young chromosomes… Wolf of Wall Street.

There are a number of parables that describe the tension of our inner dilemma.

In one of them, a young man says to the sage that he feels as if there were two wolves living inside him. He wondered which one would win.  (And we all hope for the sake of the 99% that it isn’t the one who roams Wall Street)

The sage of course replies that the one who ‘wins’ will be the one he keeps feeding.

But we have another choice to make – about which version of the future will become our reality.

Technology or Humanity?

On the one hand there’s Science Fiction. Robots and space ships. Super-efficiency and super-alienation.

On the other hand there’s Science Fantasy. Softer edged and mystical.. Wisdom and compassion.

Terminator or Lord of the Rings?

Which one are we feeding?

One is just a version of what we have now, but with much better technology. The other is a different world that we need to imagine… that we need to create.

Control or creativity?

Eventually, inevitably we will realise that we are all inextricably connected.

Either this will happen via technology – we narrow our consciousness to become billions of independent people being fed and nurtured by one supercomputer. Structured and ordered. A virtual reality that never pushes our buttons. The computer is God.

Or, we become ‘one’ via our humanity – we expand our consciousness so that we can contain ALL OF IT… the joy, the bliss, the heartache, the loss, the disappointment, the fear, the jealousy and the rage. If we’re brave enough to feel it all, we can partner with the kind of creativity that creates worlds.

Will we choose the control of the Mind or the creativity of the Spirit?

Because creativity is energy, and energy refuses to be controlled. (E-motion alert!) It may sometimes get messy, but it knows how to access experiences of great intensity and moments of pure magic.

Which makes for a much more better story, don’t you think?

And possibly one more interesting than dropping a Quaalude and cuddling up with a droid.

St Valentine’s Day Massacre

valentines-dayHave you seen the High Street lately? Every window has had a makeover.

The confectionary shop is an explosion of heart shaped chocolates. The book store has replaced all the celebrity autobiographies with love poetry. The supermarket has an entire aisle dedicated to edible love tokens, pink champagne and recipes for romantic dinners. And don’t get me started on the card shops who must pray for the arrival of February. As soon as the Christmas stock is in the recycling bin, they’re off and running with Cupid’s bow and arrows.

In boutiques, the winter coats have been cast aside in favour of pink cashmere jumpers and red lingerie (grown up pink!) bearing the placard ‘Ideal Valentines gift’ – just in case you’d missed the hundred visual clues you’ve encountered so far. Sadly, this abundance of advertising serves more to disappoint women rather than inspire men. The requirement for romance, so prevalent in a woman’s DNA was probably in that extra rib conveniently removed from Adam at the beginning of time. Just as the shadow side of Christmas is associated with weight gain and family rows, the shadow side of Valentine’s day is often represented by anxious men and disenchanted women.

How did we get to this crazy state of affairs?

We need to go back to the drawing board and redefine love.

Do we want the personality of love or the soul of love?

Just as creativity takes intense discipline; love requires huge amounts of determination. Neither of these are popular concepts because we’ve become such an indulgent species.

We like creativity that arrives fully formed inside our head (thank you God) and manifests easily in the outside world (God who? This is all my own work).

We like love that’s fun and playful but we quit as soon as we have to put some effort in (“the magic’s gone”.) We truly are like little children… except we aren’t entering the Kingdom of Heaven any time soon.

Love is a very small word for a great, big, huge deal, but it has become an abused, misunderstood word.  And because we struggle so much to interpret and express it, we have abdicated this responsibility to the evil twins of capitalism and consumerism). That’s what happens when we lose touch with our creativity.

When we fall in love, it’s a lucky accident – a premonition of what it’s like to live hand in hand with our creative spirit. We feel expansive. This expansion allows more life in, which in turn stimulates our creative spirit. The outcome? Love songs, poetry, art and great sex.

However this expansion also wakes up the inner dragon of our neediness.  The outcome? Jealousy, fear, self-doubt and demands. This usually leads to an outpouring of chianti not creativity.

Our current method of dealing with this love-hate relationship with love is to distance ourselves. We go from “If you don’t love me I’ll die” to “I don’t need anybody”. We become super independent. We ridicule Valentine’s Day. After all cynicism is the only intelligent stance right? It’s just one big merchandising opportunity for those stupid enough to get sucked in.

And yet there’s a sadness in this cynicism. Particularly for girls, who hate the tawdry commerciality but long for something else – something that’s hard to put into words. A higher vision of love, romance and sexuality. A feeling of connection. A sacred ritual.

It wasn’t always this way.

Three thousand years ago, initiates of the Greek, Egyptian and Indian Mystery Schools studied the interweaving of sexual and divine love. Far from pushing sex underground (the mad decision made by our religious educators) they received extensive training in raising sexual energy to a higher level where it interfaced with the divine. This energy was far removed from the hormone induced lust we associate with sex today.

The union of a man and woman at this level produced an ecstatic spiritual experience (ex statis = out of body). This was a cosmic, transcendent event, not a fumble in the dark. But the ancients also knew the power of love, which is why some of them created Religion to control it. Political and spiritual leaders destroyed or buried the teachings of the hieros-gamos (sacred sexual union). They outlawed the Mystery Schools (Universities of the Soul) and created Universities of the Intellect. They built Seminaries (for the upper classes) and Churches (for the lower ones). They separated sex from spirituality, making sex shameful (unless used for the creation of more Christians haha!). They turned Jesus into a celibate God. And worse still…

They changed the definition of love.

And now thousands of years later we have…

sentimental love, self-agenda love, manipulative love, co-dependent love.

Because without infusion by the transcendent, love is just neediness.

And neediness creates…

Country and western songs

Pornography

Religiosity

… and Valentine’s Day.

So to honour Socrates, let’s ask a question. What do we really want on Valentine’s Day? Gifts, cards and dinners create a temporary distraction from our scary inner space of loneliness. We think these tokens will provide us with the proof that we’re loved. But if we’re trying to prove something, it means we don’t really believe it. We’re just filling the inner space with extravagant gestures and meaningless rituals (every restaurant in London has already been pre-booked).

What we really want is to be known. 

The Indians originally didn’t have a word for ‘love’ instead of saying “I love you” they said “I know you”. In other words I know the deepest part of you… and I’m still here.

Deep inside we are very flawed human beings, just pretending that we’re doing ok. When someone else can love us at that level, we are finally able to accept ourselves and find peace. We can remove the mask – that’s just the personality of love – and we can open our hearts.

Ah the bliss! No scratchy underwear. No cuddly toys. No mawkish violins. Just two people, surrounded by candlelight and a killer soundtrack, fully prepared to inhabit and explore their inner space. Presence is always the best present. In fact it’s the only present worth having.

So this Valentines day, turn away from the evil force of consumerism. Refuse to buy into the snake oil salesmen. Make a stand for creativity. Write them a poem, bake them a cake, make them laugh. And if you haven’t yet flexed your creative muscles, take a cue from one of the masters in our midst – Katy Brennan’s take on the whole day will definitely be the most inspired, funny entertaining thing on any London stage this 14th February.

valentine-by-andrea-evermaWe need the soul of love, not the personality of love. It’s the only thing that will trump our psychology. (Hurrah!) It’s the only thing that will take away the neediness (Thank the Lord!). The potential contained in this love is incalculable.

It’s a love that could change the world.

Don’t settle for less.

We need to boycott the banal, turn off the Rhapsody in Red, step away from the helium hearts…

and have the courage to open our own.

In which Benedict Cumberbatch and I get really drunk

Sherlock

There’s a wonderful bit in the last episode of SHERLOCK where Holmes and Watson get completely off their faces on a stag night, and end up playing the Rizzla game.

This isn’t the Sherlock we know and love and some fans are slightly miffed by this change of direction. We like our sociopaths to be different to us – arrogantly self-assured and constantly clever. They don’t host wedding parties… they don’t even entertain their feelings!

Unlike us of course. We can only dream of a world in which there are no awkward emotions to mess up an otherwise brilliant plan. Sherlock is “dismissive of the virtuous, unaware of the beautiful and uncomprehending in the face of the happy.” His side-kick Dr John Watson may be “loyal, kind and wise”… but we long to be Sherlock.

Because Sherlock has knowledge beyond ordinary knowledge… and that knowledge is power.

And of course because Sherlock is OBSESSED.

Obsession wakes you up in the morning, keeps you excited all day and allows you to work without the need for rest or food. It’s the perfect antidote to boredom…

Just like falling in love.

And equally unsustainable.

“Falling” is a funny verb to describe the intoxicating experience of love. “Soaring” might be a more accurate one. For a short time we transcend ordinary consciousness. Colours are brighter, vision is clearer, creativity is Godlike… then comes the fall.

We fall out of love, not into it.

Because we don’t invest in any sensible scaffolding, we can plummet like Icarus into a sea of emotion.

This is why it’s hard for us human beings to evolve to a higher level. We need two things simultaneously – energy for lift off and extraordinary knowledge to build a platform that contains it.

Our love of extraordinary knowledge is the reason Psychology has become such a popular subject – it’s the science that allows us to speculate on the deeper nuances of human behavior, so that we can make deductions. You can even hear snippets on the bus these days. “Yes I know she said that, but what’s really going on is… “

Psychology has become a bit of a broken record.

We’d much rather have Sherlock’s super powers – the sensory acuity to hear hundreds of conversations, to discern faint smells, to see filaments of hair or traces of mud. All evidence that can be used in pursuit of the Truth!  Obsession plus Knowledge Beyond Ordinary Knowledge. The Game is on!

This week’s episode of Sherlock “The Sign of Three” was more Rom Com than Crime Drama, because it showed us a Sherlock in relationship! (with a human being, as opposed to a piece of forensic evidence).

He still kept us spellbound with his intense charisma and his long swishy coat, but being John’s best man meant he had to do ordinary things like making a speech and bonding over alcohol.

For the first time since the series began, Sherlock actually looked vulnerable. Not because he was unable to solve a crime or because his life was in danger, but because he realized he had feelings for someone other than himself and in particular that they had feelings for him.

This didn’t alter his belief of love as an irrational, sentimental weakness but it introduced the possibility that there was Love Beyond Ordinary Love, something magical that would forever be a mystery he could not solve.

Of course this is just a one off episode and next week promises a return to fast paced skullduggery and the re-appearance of the arch villain who tried to stage a HUMAN BONFIRE. No more pesky emotions getting in the way of that plot.

I on the other hand seem to live for the most part in an OCEAN of feelings and dream that the great script-writer in the sky will soon give me a break and allow me at least a cameo role as a high functioning sociopath. How fabulous to spend a few days off creating a master plan for 2014.

The internet, in case you hadn’t noticed, is currently obsessed with Master Plans for 2014.

My inbox is groaning with bold text involving words like…

DISCOVER YOUR LIFE PURPOSE…

MAKE THIS THE YEAR YOU BUILD THAT SIX FIGURE BUSINESS (why is it always six figures?) LOSE WEIGHT, DO THE WORK YOU LOVE, TAKE CHARGE OF YOUR LIFE AND…

LIVE YOUR DREAMS!!!

As a by the way, my dreams aren’t anything any sane person would want to be living in right now.

However, having a master plan for 2014 is apparently not too difficult. No extraordinary knowledge required. It just involves planning, application and masses of FOCUS.

Sadly when the three Disney Fairies hovered over my crib dispensing gifts, they’d run out of “Focus”. I received an oddball set of skills, which have so far failed to come together in any meaningful way.

So the other night, in the absence of any intervention from the great Director in the sky I decided to take the script into my own hands!

I left my current long-term relationship at home (A MacBook Air if you were wondering) and headed out into this brand new year of hope and possibility… to go on a date with a real live person!

It went well for the most part. I ate sensible food instead of going straight for the sticky toffee pudding. We smiled. We chatted (as much as a deluded romantic and a hedge fund manager can chat).  Then there was the inevitable descent into small talk as I realised this was definitely not one of my best laid plans.

No drama. No enigma variations. No swishy coat.

We said goodbye and I went to join my gay friends in a bar in Soho, and proceeded to get completely hammered while professing my undying love for Sherlock.

It was an interesting journey in retrospect. By the second vodka martini we were deep in conversation about the who, what, where, why and how of relationships, past and present. It was bitchy, funny and politically incorrect. When you’re feeling glum you definitely don’t want to seek out the company of happy new age people.

The kind of thing you do NOT want to hear is “Everyone’s doing their best, you need to see the innocent child in them”.  NO!!! You need to take sides with impunity. You need to rail at the pain of unrequited love and the impossibility of building any kind of bloody platform. You need to dance and sing Gloria Gaynor songs with wild abandon.

By the fourth martini we were in that strange exalted state of laughing one moment and crying the next. And then of course we lost count of the Martinis and that put an end to ALL meaningful conversation.

The worst problem with being human is our self-consciousness. It limits us. Sherlock isn’t self-conscious because the only part of his ‘self’ that he identifies with is his mind which is brilliant and never lets him down. It is his “mind palace”, the workings of which are projected visually onto the screen, by some amazing bit of technology.

If he looks at an object like a chair, masses of complex data floods in and gets processed at lightning speed – place of manufacture, type of fibre, tensile structure and loads of algebra symbols.

When he gets drunk he no longer has access to his mind palace. The data for the chair becomes “yellow… sitty thing.”

Alcohol may cause Sherlock to lose his superpowers, but for us, it allows freedom from the tyranny of self consciousness – for a nano second. We soften and open. Then there’s this amazing moment when we experience the mystical – a feeling of total connection to everything and everyone in the cosmos; a sense of heaven. Then it’s gone as fleetingly as it arrived.

Noooooo!!! Come back!!

Too late.

Sadly the artificially induced mystical experience only serves to remind us of the real thing – and the wisdom to order a cab before the descent into Dante’s Inferno begins… or before someone decides to open the Book of Revelations. Haha!

The curse of humanity is to live each day in the dark, with a dragon (a kind of throwback to lower level consciousness). The first drink puts the dragon to sleep (self consciousness evaporates yay!) The next drink gives us the courage to climb up and glimpse the real world for a moment. The next drink wakes up the dragon and now he’s REALLY PISSED.

The Desolation of Smaug.

Which brings us neatly back to Benedict Cumberbatch (he is the voice of Smaug after all!)

So knowing that January is the most desolate of months (January is apparently peak month for suicide as the departure of Christmas euphoria coincides with the arrival of credit card statements) what extraordinary knowledge can I impart for the New Year?

New Years Honour list.

1.   There is a state – I don’t even know if it’s a state of mind, it feels more like a state of being – in which we have access to Extraordinary Knowledge.

2.   You don’t have to sign up to a course, seminar or super expensive Platinum mentorship program to get this knowledge. It’s called Intuition. It’s inside you.

3.   You don’t have to be born with freakish genes. You were born already wired for the future. You just need to activate that wiring.

4.   You don’t have to become a super focused sociopath. They’re fun to watch on screen but they don’t get to feel Extraordinary Love. Real love isn’t romance, sex, winning, whining or weddings. Unless any of us is an enlightened mystic we won’t have felt it yet, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be relentless in our quest to reach its Olympian heights.

5.   Obsession is great, but devotion trumps obsession. Devotion is like obsession with heart. That wiring thing – it involves connecting the mind and the heart. That’s what creates the fuel for lift off. It feels a bit Mission Impossible… you might have to wake up your inner Tom Cruise.

6.   Massive quantities of alcohol are not a wise long-term strategy. They’re just an indicator, a hint, a bad trailer for the movie that will blow us all away (in the most positive sense of the phrase). When Extraordinary Knowledge meets Extraordinary Love  - it’s a bit like When Harry met Sally but with real orgasms.

7.   Never underestimate the sheer joy of a really flamboyant coat.

Opinion Peace

Charles Nigella

Van Morrison had a reputation for being a bully.

I suppose these days you’d call it being a badass but it being 1979 the term hadn’t been coined yet. A badass commands a certain amount of respect whereas a bully just engenders fear.

I am in the lobby of a hotel in Amsterdam where the receptionist is looking at me with glassy eyed indifference. She has in her hand a fax (Millenials, you can PM me and I’ll explain). Like the Ides of March, this scroll of paper announces my impending doom and proves beyond all doubt that I have monumentally fucked up the hotel booking.

I glance over at Van who thinks the five minutes he has been waiting for his key is already four minutes too long. His stare is piercing. I can’t breathe. There is no rational dialogue going on in my head. There are no sentences like “this is your first big job; everyone screws up sometimes; the rooms will be ready in a few hours; it’s no big deal; nobody died.”

In fact there are no words… period. There are just feelings… like intense shame; the desire to run away and hide; the humiliation of being ‘found out’, like a child in her parent’s shoes pretending to be a grown up. I am waiting for Van to start his legendary rage “Who the fuck let a chick do this job?”  Meanwhile the receptionist is slowly looking through a lever arch file of room allocations. I am praying, though it feels more like commanding her to turn the pages faster with the force of my will.

I have forgotten how to breathe.

Van is now staring at me like Lee Van Cleef in a shoot out. The rest of the band are wandering around the lobby staying out of the line of fire. I am fighting back tears that are doing needlepoint on my eyes, as I whisper something to the receptionist. I don’t want anyone to hear me beg.

A few tourists do a double take. One stops and reaches into his pocket.  Dear God no! He’s going for his camera. I am in a freeze frame between the receptionist and a pot bellied American. All the blood has risen to my cheeks so my feet can’t move. The American pulls out a candy bar. Thank you God. Thank you God.

The receptionist sighs and makes one room available. I grasp the key as if it’s an ancient talisman, hand it to Van and apologise to the rest of the band members who roll their eyes and wander off to find the nearest bar.

Then I walk calmly to the toilet… where I burst into tears. Huge shaking sobs – the kind that come when you’ve hardly drawn breath for the past half hour. And in that moment, like Scarlett O’Hara shouting to the wind, I vow to the porcelain…

“As God is my witness, I will never be humiliated again.”

And this is how it goes for all of us. Pivotal moment… followed by the hard, hard work of people pleasing, perfectionism and control.  We are addicted to the validation of others.

But this is crazy.

Sure, other people are allowed their opinion, but that’s all it is – an opinion. It has no bearing on the TRUTH of anything.

It’s story time…

We are on the verge of a new paradigm – a new story. In this story, we wake up and realize that everything we need is inside us. Love, appreciation, approval, validation, ingenuity, compassion, creativity… EVERYTHING.

But in the same way that the GPS in the car only works when we start MOVING, we don’t feel that we have all these things until we start GIVING – contributing to the world.

Like many stories, the story of our evolution contains some boring chapters – rather like the sales literature from a credit card company, in which we have to wait for our gifts to be validated before we can use them. But the validation we require can never come to us. It comes from us.

This old story also contains some pretty tedious characters…

The People Pleaser.

In the new “Energy Age” People Pleasers just don’t feel REAL. This is a nightmare for companies who are trying to create better customer service by training staff to be “nice”. Because we just don’t buy it anymore.

People Pleasers can be productive because they work so damn hard. But they have to draw all their energy from the validation of the outside world, which in the long term, exhausts them and others.

The Martyr

This is the People Pleaser on steroids. Completely self-less. But in the “Energy Age” we want substance, not an empty shell, and we just know there’s simmering rage in there somewhere. Martyrs also have to pull in energy from the outside world through their mechanism of choice – the ability to induce guilt.

Then, on the other side of the coin we have…

The Narcissist

On the surface the Narcissist doesn’t give a fuck about anyone’s approval. They are often maverick, independent, and charming, and therefore really attractive. Under the surface they feed off the adulation of others. Like the People Pleaser (only more popular) their co-workers can wonder why somebody so fabulous can make them feel so tired all the time.

The Vampire

This is the Narcissist on steroids. They suck the life force out of others with impunity and get away with it by being wildly charismatic. Vampires have perfected some cool magic tricks like shape shifting – into whatever the situation requires. It’s all smoke and mirrors, not the mirror of self-reflection of course. Because if they looked into that one they’d dissolve into vapour!

The context for all these characters is the story-making factory otherwise known as the MEDIA.

The media are in the business of propagating myths – not creating new ones. Telling a new, different story is difficult. It’s much easier to squish everything through a template or a plot line of what people know. People know about lies, betrayal, addiction and greed. We don’t like to admit it, but these behaviours are part of our old survival DNA.

A glance at the news-stand today reveals stories about lies, betrayal, addiction and greed… but on a much grander scale. This makes it easy to have an opinion of others because they’ve been reduced to stereotypes.  It also makes it desirable to have an opinion of others, because it’s a short cut to feel better about ourselves.

We may have stolen the office stationary but what about those Bankers who have stolen billions. The horror!

We may have got drunk last weekend but look at Lady Gaga falling out of a taxi with ripped tights and mascara all down her cheeks. The shame!

We may have falsified our expenses but those corporate fat cats actually lied on a Tax Return. The arrogance!

The cellulite!! The weight gain!! The weight loss!! And other exclamation marks!!

Opinions. Endless opinions.

At a time in history when we have unprecedented means to be creative, what are we doing with our energy?

  1. Having opinions about other people.
  2. Worrying about what kind of opinions other people are having about us.

Currently the media is obsessed with the Nigella Lawson/Charles Saatchi story. Fifty years ago, the lens through which we judged this story would be “Successful, talented man versus the unreliable witness of a crazy drug-taking woman.”

But we live in the energy age now and we’re not buying it. Nigella was raised to be a People Pleaser. She lives to make people feel happy, nurtured, loved. Charles was raised to be a Narcissist – a brilliant, controlling bully. There’s no right or wrong, there’s just two styles of behavior, two sides of the same coin.

We’re all flawed. But our style of dysfunction comes from the same root – and that root is shame. Either we don’t feel good enough to be loved for who we are, or we feel that if we can control our world we will never have to feel shame again.

We create a mask, and when the mask slips, the truth is revealed – whether that’s exaggerated giving in order to get love and approval, or buying our own books in order to control their chart position.

Most of us don’t feel that we’re enough… because we don’t feel enough. 

We don’t believe in our own power… so we rely on the energy of others.

And that leads us into power plays. And no win situations.

Creativity creates its own energy – and unlike adrenaline, it’s a sustainable form of energy.

Perhaps if we were creative enough to write new stories, the media would stop selling the old ones.

Perhaps if we created some new characters, others would start emulating them.

Perhaps Van Morrison could become a nice person.  Haha! Just kidding.

But perhaps in truth, his role wasn’t to be nice. I could have interpreted his behavior as a slap in the face… to wake me up from the spell that I’d put myself under. The Kool Aid I had willingly drunk in order to have an excuse to hide from the world, one that allowed me to control things from a distance, from behind the mask.

Anyway as Jeff Allen would say (with intense irony) “the world really doesn’t need any more nice people.”

It’s true. The world needs more creative people, more real people, more connected people.

Masks off…

Let the peace process begin.

It may be topical, but if you want a more seasonal piece, here’s one I made earlier…  On happier days, avoiding small talk and getting away for the holidays  Enjoy the festive season… wherever you end up!

 

I’m moving!!

Snooopy

Well, not strictly true, I’ve moved, but in my usual technical savvy way I’ve completely failed to co-ordinate this in a seamless way.

 I did think I could transfer my blog subscribers to the new site but it seems not!!

Therefore could I please ask a favour…

Can you go to the new site

http://www.EleanorORourke.com

Fill in your email details and click ‘join the list’. Then when Mail chimp email you back, confirm subscription. If you don’t get an email check your junk mail as it will be in there.

If some of you have already done this after being asked on Facebook I’m SO SORRY, but once this is sorted out you won’t hear from me again… till the next blog.

If you missed the last post it is here…

http://www.eleanororourke.com/charles-saatchi-nigella-lawson-van-morrison/

The one with the celebrity chef, the art collector and the mad irish man.

High functioning sociopaths seem to be a theme these days…maybe my next post should be about Sherlock :)

 

Halloween – amuse bouche of the holiday season

Halloween header

Halloween – the amuse bouche of the holiday season is upon us. Shop windows have been transformed (Orange and black is the new black). Funny things are appearing on restaurant menus… well, just the same things with silly names… skeleton bones, bat wings, creepy crawly pasta.

Spiders and cobwebs have become THE THING, suddenly adorning the reception desks of dentists and building societies across the land. (I think this is how business has interpreted ‘becoming relevant’.)

At least I no longer have to be embarrassed about my lack of attention on the domestic front – my living room is no longer shabby, it’s just appropriately themed. Brilliant!

Of course, just like Christmas, Halloween has its roots in the traditional and sacred. It was the Day of the Dead. Back in the day we would paint our faces, make altars and pray for the souls of the departed. We wanted to make sure our ancestors secured a place in heaven, rather than walking the earth as zombies.

Now that we’ve evolved from superstitious to civilized beings (LOL) our rituals are more sophisticated…

There’s the mass consumption of chemical laden sweets (ensuring children become crazed zombies just in time for the run up to Christmas – yay!).

And then there’s the all important Halloween costume. On the surface, this is ‘just a choice’, but under the surface there’s much more going on.

The outfit says things we’re not able to say about ourselves – I’m clever, witty, ironic. I’m a sex kitten. I’m game for a laugh and don’t mind making a fool of myself.

The fact that we have no idea how to represent ourselves any more has become a bit of a problem. You can feel the stress at any gathering of people. We don’t know how to answer the “Who are you?” question.

In the old days this was easy. Who we were was a THING – a job. “I’m a baker, a poet, a mother.” And when the average life span was 45, this was in fact a life sentence :(

In the ‘energy’ age we don’t want to be defined by THINGS – because that says nothing about who we really are – courageous, loyal, funny, intelligent, compassionate, vulnerable. But on the other hand we live in the age of global ADHD so we are encouraged to distil down “who we are” in some pithy attention grabbing way.  What was a mission statement is now a strap line.

We need a NEW life sentence :)

I went to a gathering of people recently and heard a couple of responses to the “who are you” question.

1.  How SHE responded to the question.

“I’m an actress”

“Oh what are you in?”

“Well I’m currently not IN anything at the moment but erm…”

What the ENERGY said.

Fuck, shall I make something up? Why aren’t I in something at the moment? Shall I say what I used to be in or what I’m probably going to be in? I wonder if that bottle of gin could fit in my handbag without anybody noticing.

2.  How HE responded to the question.

“I’m a writer”

“Oh what have you written?”

“Blah…blah…blah…”

What the ENERGY said.

There was no energy! This guy repeated the same paragraph 17 times over the course of the weekend. Everywhere I turned I could hear the same paragraph being repeated like a mantra… a broken record of self-belief. He’d honed his paragraph, it came out the same way again and again and again.

It’s really tricky living in a world made of energy. Either we feel it and we become tongue tied and anxious or we disconnect from it and become a talking head.

No wonder we love an excuse to dress up and let the costume speak for us. I personally think we should have Halloween all year round. Forget about the ‘capsule wardrobe’ – strategically bought “classic” clothes that are multi functional and monochrome.

We should have a wardrobe full of theatrical clothes to suit every mood, rather than clothes to suit every occasion.

I know I don’t need permission to go to Waitrose dressed as Oscar Wilde, Joan of Arc or Janice Joplin but it would be more interesting if everyone else joined in. No need for superficial conversations, you could just smile at each other and say “No-one understands your genius? Time to kick ass? Broken heart and one too many Tequilas?”

ME TOO!! 

Forget small talk, this is instant bonding. And better still it doesn’t involve writing and re-writing your life sentence. After all, is there anyone else on earth who is the same person every day? Oh yeah… I forgot that guy at the seminar.

I was going to say something more thoughtful about Halloween, but I’ve already done that here. So I’m just going to make a plea for more creativity and humour, less candy and self-consciousness.

Once we get that under way, we can make 5th November more Burning Man, less Bonfire Night.

Instead of hoards of kettled people gawping at ‘Health and Safety’ approved firework displays, follow Katy Perry’s advice and BE the firework. (Or was that Gandhi?).

Remember, remember… this is the one time of the year you CAN get away with Helena Bonham Carter’s hair do.

Halloween end

Put on a pink tutu and some body paint and drive a Pirate ship down Pall Mall.

Honour the souls of the CREATIVE dear departed… Salvador Dali, Noel Coward, Lou Reed.

Happy Halloween… and for God’s sake DON’T be safe out there.

End Game

DIANEIf life is a Rom Com – and at times I like to indulge in this fantasy – then right about now would be the chapter where everything turns to shit.

Of course, though we’re totally engaged in the drama, we know this is just a temporary state of affairs. Some amazing twist will happen bringing relief and joy as love conquers all.

“Eleanor, keep the drama on the page” my writing teacher Sara used to tell me. At that time my life resembled a near death experience on a daily basis, so writing some of it down might have proved a more lucrative pastime than trying to figure out what I wanted to BE (I couldn’t add ‘when I grow up’ because sadly I was not 7 at the time).

The rather innocent question of “what do you want to be when you grow up” has been replaced these days by the quest to ‘find ones purpose’. Purpose is EVERYWHERE.  Businesses want to find their purpose (many of them just got bored with the ‘Vision’ thing and wanted a new word that sounded both soulful and kick assy at the same time.) Individuals want to find their purpose.

Purpose is like purposeful but it has come to mean something very different. Purposeful is about determination and being useful, but the word Purpose now has a silent ‘H’ and has become synonymous with HIGHER PURPOSE.

Right now the world could really use some Purposeful, as it’s not looking in great shape. So where’s all the help?

It seems to be stuck in traffic on the road less travelled.

You can’t move for purpose seekers.

Meanwhile, the world is going crazy. Some global elite bad guys are stealing all the money, controlling the food chain and poisoning the water hole with a nasty virus of FEAR.

This is the time for heroes.

Not the old fashioned version, all brawn and no brain who can’t walk into a room without Flight of the Valkyries coming over the PA. Not someone who sees everything in black and white and swears on the Bible to uphold the laws of the land. This is a time of complexity. We need a combination of smart thinking and smart action.

If our current equivalent to the Bible is social media (i.e. it’s the only thing that gets read every day) then perhaps we need some new stories right now.

I try to be all 21st century and stuff but really it’s exhausting. I am aphorism’d out. Post after post of positive thinking gems, pictures of people jumping in oceans, meditating on mountains, smiling in that ‘special needs’ kind of way and punching the air with their awesomeness. Endless webinars, seminars and retreats aimed at helping you LIVE YOUR PURPOSE.

KOW 2

And the comments are even more depressing. “I just know I’m meant to do something really big… I always knew I was destined for greatness… I have all these gifts in me and I just want to serve – of course I only want to serve people who’ll pay me huge amounts of money (because I’m worth it) and because I need that money to live the life of my dreams that I know I’m entitled to because I’m just so special.

And then there’s the news feed – it’s seems you’re reading the same articles over and over and over again. Every time I open my laptop it’s like Groundhog day.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for being happy, but this positive image making malarkey just isn’t convincing. Sometimes life is just fucking sad. And that’s ok.

A story that begins with innocence, goes through some sentimental moments and ends with warmth and nostalgia is… well it’s a boring story.

A real story has ups and downs, lights and darks, fury and compassion. The protagonist will get burned in the heat of battle, will get their heart broken, but will find the courage to love and fight again. It’s a process that makes us who we are – hopefully a more expanded version of who we are.

The directors cut.

Of course our ego wants things to be easy and comfortable because it has a very short shelf life. But our soul is eternal so is more interested in epic long form story telling.

This is the time for a 21st century hero.

Less self serving, more compassionate; less wide and shallow, more soulful and deep; less looking good, more being real.

Because if we’re waiting for the divine purpose of our life to be revealed before we do anything, we’ve just made a decision to do nothing at all.

THIS IS NOT HOW THE STORY ENDS!!

This is just the moment everything turns to shit – remember?

What would Diane Keaton do? She’d probably throw her hands in the air, laugh and re-write the script.

Then she’d fly to Paris where the true hero would emerge.

No!!!! Sorry, I can’t stop myself… I forgot my mantra. There is no prince. There is no prince. There is no prince.

On the other hand, there’s no greater meaning in life than love. Because love creates friendship, humour and service. To serve without love is sacrifice. But to love without serving is the waste of a life. (Holy shit, now I’m making up aphorisms – it’s contagious)

Purpose is not a solitary pursuit – it’s a global one. Higher consciousness has a plan that serves the whole. When we turn this into an individual plan, it becomes self-serving and it doesn’t work for long. Besides, getting high on your own is a bit rubbish. You can’t say “Killer tune” to empty space.

Living every day as an act of love is purpose enough for anyone. The universe will do the rest.

No more looking moodily sincere and earnest on the road less travelled.

It doesn’t matter who or what, but in the words of Bob Dylan “You’re gonna have to serve someone”.

Self-conscious isn’t conscious – it means feeling shy, not good enough and in need of a grand design to prove your worth. Conscious is just loving the shit out of life. Choose wisely chickens. And if your life is too fabulous for words, just pause for a second over that status update button. Once in a while go tell it on a mountain instead.

KOW 1As long as you can resist the urge for a selfie while you’re there… haha!

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