I exhale

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It is a truth universally acknowledged that if one blogs regularly, then about this time of year will come the obligatory post-holiday post. The frazzled mind allowed to relax. The importance of reconnecting with what matters in life. I have written a fair few myself (zum beispiel). This year, I thought I’d take a slightly different tack.

I am at the start of my holidays, not the end. Today (Saturday 26 August 2017) is the first day of two weeks off for me. Today I exhale. I have been so busy of late that I am very much looking forward to this break. Here are a few things that have inspired me this past week, kept me going on the home stretch towards my time off, towards exhalation.

Dawn will always follow

No matter what is happening to us, no matter how real or illusory our concerns, the cycle of time and season will not cease. Dawn will always follow the night.

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Stay on target

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“‘Social’ media: This is social interaction that isn’t really social. While Facebook and others frequently claim to offer connection, and do offer the appearance of it, the fact is a lot of social media is a simulation of real connection.”

David Byrne offers this definition of social media in an article entitled Eliminating the Human

I both agree and disagree. I think social media enables a new kind of social connection and interaction that must necessarily evolve from earlier forms. Social media is therefore both simulation and evolution of social connection and interaction. The friendships we can form or initiate through social media are as real as any others. 

Just one small example: This week I’ve been counting down to the holidays with my friends Gabriella Driver and Paul Taylor-Pitt, both of whom I met through social media, and each of whom I’ve only fleetingly met in real life. Gabriella and Paul both set off on their respective holidays one day before me. I hope you’re both having a wonderful time, and thank you for helping me get to my own break!

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Keep the quirk

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Your quirks are what make you so distinctly “you”. It is important always to accentuate the quirk.

“My career has been about protecting the quirk. And having to steadfastly protect the quirk of what I do.”

I love this statement on the vital importance of the quirk, from Mike Myers’ 2014 appearance on Marc Maron’s WTF podcast, to which I finally listened this week. 

Myers explains that his reputation for being – how can we put this? – somewhat difficult to work with is down to his refusal to compromise on the quirk. By way of example, Myers came close to abandoning the Wayne’s World film (his potential big cinematic break, based on a character and “world” he created and owned) over his studio insisting that Guns ‘N’ Roses replace Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody. Myers remained steadfast. There could be nothing but Queen in the world of Wayne. Myers was resolute that the quirk of the film was the world it created. He insists that it must be “an immaculate world”, or the quirk is gone.

School, it seems, actually is cool

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I am at peace with getting older and being entirely out of touch with owt hip. I was entirely at peace with my ignorance of the world of vlogging. But of all things, these past few weeks a vlogger who posts videos about nail varnish has become my new comedy idol. 

My wife introduced me to the wonderful work of smarter-than-your-average vlogger Cristine Rotenberg*. Posting as Simply Nailogical, Cristine celebrates nail polish (particularly of the holographic persuasion) and has simultaneously the smartest and daftest sense of humour. She is a highly qualified, intelligent person giving full voice to the silliest parts of her mind. The easiest way into her world is her Polish Mountain video.

Her latest video is inspirational. She urges her millions of viewers to take their education seriously. She puts her money where her mouth is, running a competition for one lucky winner to have Cristine pay their tuition fees for a year. Go Cristine!

When one fails in one’s mission statement

I exhale. It’s important to let go of one’s stress and workaday worries. Music is a good way to unwind. Yesterday, I came across the sad remnants of what was once a “Classical Chillout” CD. It had clearly so angered its owner as to move them to get rather… well… Game of Thrones about things. Just how spectacularly would a “Classical Chillout” CD need to fail in its remit as to drive its owner to such wanton destruction?

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Such rage against the inanimate fairs takes me back to the Dyson roadkill I spied on a south London street a few weeks back. Sensitive viewers look away now…

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I Exhale

I Exhale. A superb 2016 song by Underworld**. Like everything of theirs I’ve heard over the past 25 years or so, this is such a grower. The genius reveals itself over time. This was the first song I put on yesterday after putting away my work laptop for the upcoming fortnight.

What song sounds like freedom to you right now? I’d love to know.

FOOTNOTES

* I love the frequent theme in Cristine’s videos of Starbucks’ staff constantly misspelling her name on their cups. I can relate, as one who was once encupalated as “micheob”.

** This is the first song on Underworld’s excellent – and spectacularly titled – album Barbara Barbara, We Face A Shining Future. It is my contention that Underworld have a remarkable genius for titles. Exhibit B: Second Toughest In The Infants.

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