How Many Fingers Am I Holding Up?

On either side of your body, starting somewhere(hopefully) by your shoulders are a set of bones which you most likely know as your arms.  At the ends of your arms, are five pointy collections of bones which you will probably refer to as your fingers.  If you do, you are wrong.  Not wrong as in incorrect, but wrong is absolutely, unequivocally, unquestionably entirely NOT RIGHT.  It is quite possible that I have never ever met you.  It is likely that I have never even seen a photograph of  either one of your limbs.  Yet somehow, I can say with utter certainty that you have absolutely no idea about what is happening at the ends of either of your arms.

Picture the scene – it’s a crap day.  It is raining, the sky is greyer than a monk’s underpants.  It is lunchtime at a Primary School.  There are dozens of children filling a miserable concrete playground with enough kinetic energy to propel a small rodent to Saturn.  Two young boys get in an argument about a bench.  Although some other kids see parts of it, nobody sees all of it.  When the kids go home that evening the first boy tells his Mum that he was bullied.  The second boy tells his Dad that he got in a fight.  Nobody saw either boy strike the other, yet there were many witnesses to the first boy pushing the second.  Was it a fight?  Was it bullying?  Who was the winner?  Who was the victim?  How is possible that two small children that cannot possibly grasp the concept of advantageous lying  somehow do?  What if the first child is an only child?  What if the second child has two big brothers?  Who was right?  Who was wrong?

There are three conclusion we can draw from the tale of the two boys.  The first is that there is no such thing as a single truth.  The truth is pliable to the facts which weigh upon it.  The second is that our truth changes shape to accommodate any information we gain access to.  There isn’t such a thing as a certain truth, a pure truth that can never ever change.  The third is that a snapshot of a moment is so extremely misleading that only a fool would believe that they are privy to the whole story when they have only caught a glimpse of the truth.  If these conclusions are indeed valid why is it that so many people share images that have no other purpose than to shock, often alongside a hastily assembled slogan intended to draw a sense of guilt for a single event that took place within the myriad of  atrocities that are being carried out in the countless number of active war zones around the world?  Are we really that much more foolish online than in the real world?

There is an easy way to test this.  Extend your arms in front of you.  Now extend your fingers.  Now count them.  How many fingers are you holding up?  The answer dear friends, is eight.  And you can’t argue with that.  After all, it’s reality, isn’t it?

Vertigo Vertigoing Vertigone

Have you ever noticed how the truly arrogant souls amongst us do not suffer from vertigo?  It’s a miracle of science, or perhaps the omnipotent omnipresent deity that nobody who isn’t mental has ever met.  I’m quite amazed that they can see anything but darkness, considering their heads are so far up their own arses that they can taste yesterdays dinner.

You may be wondering what’s got my goat.  Nothing.  I don’t have a goat.  What I do have is a chip on my shoulder.  But then I’ve always been a messy eater.  Truly I am angry.  I hardly notice the difference anymore because I feel exactly the same way every single day.  I am angry at what our world has become, about what people have become and most of all I am angry about the way in which we admire others.

To borrow a phrase from another writer, we are the Pepsi generation.  The generation of brands before bands, of product before integrity, we have fully embraced the concept of manyana to match the death of human ambition.  And yet still we raise people up on pedestals and worship at their feet.  All the while we are waiting for them to fall. When they do, we cause a stampede as we run over their bodies, each footfall carefully aimed and we tear at their carcasses without every stopping to ask ourselves what the fuck are we doing?  Never once do we ask ourselves why we need heroes?  Deep down we know that by proving that our heroes are fallible, we somehow excuse our own shortcomings.  That if someone more intelligent, attractive and/or richer than you can’t resist stumbling down the local park and performing sex acts on homeless vagrants how could anyone expect you to?  If some middle-aged actor can’t turn down a big mac, how could you?  If some talented musician ends their own life because they were unhappy, how unhappy must you be with your lot in life.

We embrace weakness.  We celebrate it.  It comforts us, and wraps us in a warm blanket of our own shortcomings, where we can lay immobile without ever feeling the compulsion to try.  We have become obsessed with protecting our children from failure.  Failure has become a dirty word, one which we all do our level best to avoid.  And we are all well aware of what the best strategy is,  after all, how could anyone fail at anything, if they never ever try…

Ignorance Is Bliss

thefreedictionary.com defines ignorance as ‘The condition of being uneducated, unaware, or uninformed’  As the children of the information age, it’s pretty bloody difficult to be all three.  Yet some of us inevitably are.  And mostly it has one root cause.  Plain stupidity.

This may well be the understatement of the decade, but war habitually brings out the arsehole in people.  I am not talking about the people out on the killing fields, instead I am talking about those sitting home behind their computer screens that like to frequently enlighten the masses by sharing their opinion on which side holds the moral high ground.  It both amuses me and infuriates as me as I can not think of a better way to demonstrate how fucking stupid a person can be.  A war involves two groups firing bullets and projectiles in an effort to kill each other.  In a sense it is legislated murder.  Murder is in all cultures, the most abhorrent sin you can commit.  Any set of circumstances which involves a human trying to murder another human is devoid of moral high ground.  There is no right side.

Another example, which I have also touched upon in my post entitled ‘Ignorami’, is the belief in objective reporting.  It does not exist in the journalistic stratosphere.  It also affects business and scientific reports, product and film reviews and even your friends opinions about you.  It is only possible to be truly objective about an issue if you really don’t care about it.  The reality is that we only accept this when it suits us.

So many of the problems which our civilisation has faced have been brought about by one idiotic idea, absolute truth.  The idea that there is only one truth out there which is correct.  One God, one explanation, one reality.    The fact is that our belief in an absolute truth frequently exposes us as lunatics.  Truth is only ever subjective, truth is only formed following an assessment of what you know, and you never know everything about anything.

In essence what I am trying to say to you is that in my opinion, one of the greatest causes of ignorance is a lack of common sense.  I am nor better educated, more aware or better informed than the vast majority of the people on this planet.  Nor am I completely objective, nor am I writing the absolute truth.  After all, I have an agenda.  I want every person on the planet to think more.

An L Plate of Humility

The acquisition of knowledge is meant to be something magnificent.  The very fact that our brains are able to learn is something which sets us apart from the multitude of creatures which we share this planet with.  Despite this very fact, learning can be terrifically stressful and damn right painful for some.

Learning as an adult male can be impossible for some, as it requires the learner to leave their own sense of self-importance at the door and put their complete faith in an entrusted stranger.  Having been that stranger for so many years, it feels peculiar to find myself on the other side of the fence.

The reason for these thoughts is the fact that I am learning to drive at the age of thirty-one.  I have never been interested in cars or driving.  To be honest, I am still indifferent to all cars except the one I am in.  What does interest me is human experience and so far this experience has been fun.

Believe it or not;  learning does not have to be dull.  Between the inevitable stalling the car and the numerous other traffic violations that I have already committed, I have nearly convinced my instructor to grow a moustache, that old people have no purpose and that I nearly know how to drive.  I have learned that driving instructors do not like it when you scream ‘we are going to die’ when entering a roundabout, that when you are instructed to depress the clutch it doesn’t require demoralising words directed at the pedal and that when you are instructed to go straight on, it requires a road underneath your wheels.

Trusting a complete stranger is so much easier when you have absolutely no idea what you are doing.  Initially it was a terrifying ordeal.  I was so stressed behind the wheel that my instructor was convinced that I was suffering from rigor mortis.  I needed to find a way to calm myself down.  After some thinking I realised that I hadn’t just left my self-importance by the door but that I had also left my self.  At the moment I was at a crossroads, literally.  I was sitting in the driver’s seat, before a pedestrian crossing.  I snapped out of my daydream and saw what I could only perceive as a sign from God.  A nun was crossing the road.  Before you ask, I didn’t gun the engine as I am a mature adult man.  Instead I beeped the horn, leaned out of the window and shouted ‘Penguin’ and instantaneously the tension was gone.

I learned something valuable that day.  Stress, tension, fear or whatever you wish to call it can appear when you try too hard and that  it is possible to put your faith in someone else as long as it doesn’t change you.  Now I am calmer on the road I feel happy when I drive.  In other words I am learning and enjoying every minute of it.  And that, in my opinion, is the key to self-improvement.

Unleash Your Inner Wildebeest

I, Scott Andrews, liver of 31 earth circles have never read a self-help book.  Furthermore my self is entirely unhelped.

Recently I went to see the doctor about it.  I said ‘doctor I don’t what know to do, my self is entirely unhelped.’ He looked at me sadly and shook his head.  After about a minute he spoke – ‘Mr Andrews you clearly need to unleash the inner you’.

There was only one thing holding me back.  Deep down, I knew that I had absolutely no idea how to unleash my inner me.  I headed straight to my local book shop to be confronted my an enormous shelf full of titles such as ‘How to Win Friends & Influence People’, ‘Awaken the Giant Within’, ‘How to Write a Best-Selling Self-Help Book’, ‘Humped Me, Dumped Me’, ‘How to Lose Weight in Only 7 Shits’ and ‘How to Stop Wanking off Tramps’.  Unfortunately for me they didn’t have a book entitled ‘Unleash the Inner You’.  In my time of great need, self-help books had failed me.  It was down to me to help my self.

There is only one place people go nowadays when they are in need of help, to the electronic superhighway.  I went home and switched on my computer.  And then I asked the Goddess of knowledge in the 21st century, Google,  ‘how does one go about unleashing one’s inner self ?’  She didn’t let me down, the joyous gatekeeper of all things wise.  According to her, the only way to unleash the inner me is to listen to it.

For the last three days I have sat in my underpants waiting for my inner me to speak.  I now suspect that my inner me is actually a Buddhist monk that has taken a vow of silence.

I have started to worry that I don’t have an inner me as my self has been entirely unhelped for so long.  Or maybe my inner me and my outer me have fallen out.  The trouble is that I am certain that there is no way to release my inner wildebeest until they get back on speaking terms.  Perhaps I could persuade one of them to apologise?

If this experience has taught me anything at all, it’s the fact that people with inner and outer me’s are mental.  It’s yet another example of how fucked up our world is.  A hundred years ago people who listened to the voices in their heads were called lunatics.  Nowadays they are merely unleashing their inner selves.  And yet no one out there seems to care about the plight of these inner selves.  It’s as if no one has realised that the reason they are called inner is because they belong on the inside, much the same as a sea-horse belongs in the sea, and a piss head belongs in a pool of his own piss.  There is nothing left for me to do, I’m off to email Bono.