Friday, 19 March 2010

Soul Searching on Planet Earth

Sunday 21st March is the second anniversary of “The Plastic Mancunian” blog, you know, that inane, weird and foolish drivel that escapes from my brain and somehow finds its way into cyberspace for all and sundry to read.

The blog started out as a nebulous pile of bullshit and now it has been refined into a more focussed kind of horseshit.

As strange as it seems, I have changed in that time too. Believe it or not I have become more mature.

“Oh yeah,” I hear you cry. “Didn’t you recently write about sick and sordid things that have happened to you and other people? Didn’t you come up with a fictional “confession” that was pure gobbledygook? How is that “becoming mature? You’re a middle-aged git – you should already BE mature.”

Well let me tell you how I have matured – a little at least.

I recently wrote about procrastination and how useless I am at concentrating on necessary tasks, or even doing something that I want to do, like write a book. As a result of that post I started to examine myself.

I don’t mean that I stripped off naked, stood in front of the mirror with a magnifying glass scrutinising all of my numerous physical flaws. I have no desire to examine myself in that much detail I can assure you – I scare very easily.

What I mean is, I did a little soul searching; I kind of stepped deep into my own mind and took a look at where I was going, what I wanted to do and how I was going to achieve it.

Don’t worry – I didn’t turn into a bizarre kind of spiritual freak. I simply asked myself a few questions, opened a couple of creaky old boxes in my subconscious mind and let the contents fly around a bit to get some air.

It’s a weird thing, exploring your soul and in many ways its fascinating examining what you have achieved, where you are now and what you intend to do in the future. It’s also a little disappointing.

I can imagine what you are thinking; “AARRGGGHHHH!!!! He’s having a mid-life crisis!!”

I promise you I’m not – I had that several years ago and paid the price with a divorce.

What I mean is that although I have led a reasonable life, I think I could have done things in a different and probably better way. That said, it is not necessarily a bad thing. I am quite proud of some of the things I’ve done – even the stupid things – and I wouldn’t be the person I am today had I not made mistakes.

Looking at my life now, I am a very happy chap. Sure, I give the impression that I am a grumpy middle-aged troll with my opinionated rants about what is wrong with the world but overall I am quite content with life. There are things that make me unhappy, notably the rat race and the inexorable journey through working life, but despite that I now try to direct myself towards the positive things in life.

And believe me, life really is wonderful.

However, as fantastic as life can be, there are still ways in which I can improve the journey and make myself even happier in future. Such was my aim when I wrote the post about procrastination ( which you can read here)

As I wrote that post, I realised, in a sense, that I was holding myself back a little and finding excuses to simply not do what I wanted to do. Hence I declared war on this negative aspect of my existence.

And, surprisingly, it has yielded positive results, albeit slowly.

After a failed attempt at writing a non-fiction book I decided to scrap that idea. I wrote around 6000 words and when I read it back I wasn’t particularly impressed. It was directionless and unfocussed and I couldn’t justify continuing it. After all, if I don’t like it, I wouldn’t expect anybody else to like it either.

So I thought I would have another go at a novel.

Progress has been slow (mainly because I am being too much of a perfectionist) but I am now almost 9000 words into it. My head is buzzing with the plot at the moment and I am slowly but surely chipping away – more so than any previous attempt at writing a novel. I simply need to sit down and write the bloody thing. In a sense this is where procrastination is fighting back. That and the fact that I am busy at work and end up being on call too much.

I didn’t say it was going to be easy.

I remain positive and enthusiastic and I am prevailing in the war. Moreover, other aspects of my life are improving too.

Mrs PM surprised me last month when I talked to her about it; she said “Yes – I have noticed that you seen more driven in these past months – and you are happier too.”.

That was good enough for me.

Of course, I still rant and rave, act like an idiotic child, say and do stupid things – that is part of me and it won’t change.

I don’t want it to change.

But what of “The Plastic Mancunian”?

The blog has opened new doors and without it I wouldn’t have embarked upon exploring my own soul. I wouldn’t have done so without it. When I start writing about the weird thoughts in my brain, I actually enjoy it – even the utter bilge that doesn’t make it to the blog itself.

It has become part of my life and it will remain so. I have no intention of giving it up.

Furthermore I have decided that I am going to publish my two travelogues online in blog form, in due course.

The first one records a trip to China. In 1999, Mrs PM and I embarked on a two week trip to that immense country, armed with fear and enthusiasm (the fear came from me) and I wrote a very amateurish “warts and all” account of our adventure, mainly because I wanted to remember it all. I called it “The China Chronicles”.

The second records a trip to Hong Kong, Australia and Singapore from 2005, with Mrs PM and her mum and partner. I foolishly called it “Koala Kebabs” and it was meant as a gift for Mrs PM’s mum’s 60th birthday (which was why we were going in the first place), so it is more like a diary than a travelogue.

I will of course post a link for anybody with a morbid curiosity who wants to read my attempts at being a poor version of Bill Bryson.

Moreover, I am going to start travelogue number three later this year; we are visiting the west coast of Canada and America for two weeks in May with Mrs PM’s father – so that will be fun.

So, what of me, after this little bit of soul searching?

My goals are still the same:

To win the lottery, quit the day job and travel the world write about my experiences.

To continue to drive Mrs PM up the wall with rock music in the hope that she succumbs and embraces it.

And to continue to be just the way I am but this time with the added bonus of standing triumphant over the bloodied corpse of procrastination.

And, most importantly of all, to remain happy!

Thanks again for reading the blog (even if this is the first time you have stumbled upon the crap I write) and I hope you come back to read it again.




bingkee said...

I wish you in your soul-searching journey. May you find true peace and joy despite whatever circumstances. That no matter what happens, you are not going to be afraid and worried.

Ranting is fine but we should never magnify it to the point that we lost our sight to see the very good things in our life that we should always be grateful every day---simple things like our life, our health, the food that we eat, our jobs, etc.

Soul searching is easy when you look at yourself honestly and accept your flaws and seek knowledge that will lead you to the one thing that will give you the answer to what is really the meaning of your life. I don't know about your faith, or your spiritual orientation but as for me, I've discovered it when I was 20 years old that only one thing I want to arrive at---eternal life. (I'm grateful that my husband is also sharing my commitment to God) That means seeking God and the knowledge of His wisdom. I'm not pushing down my faith in you, but this is my testimony. Only in the Word of God (the Bible) that I found "the manual in life"----everything is in there. If we just believe first without asking for its explanation, then it beomes alive. I see God because I believe first. God does not work the way if we ask Him to appear without believing first. In the world, people believe because they see but God is not from our world , He appears only when we believe. I learned that in my spiritual walk, that we were not created to take up space in this world but to contribute to it. When we die, all our power, fame and achievements are nothing because we become dust again ....from dust we came to this world and we leave this world in dust too.
The soul is not well-fed if there's no true peace and bliss. Bliss is not happiness. Happiness is from the word "happening"---meaning it only happens temporarily on happenings. Joy or bliss is experienced no matter what the situation/condition is.
One can never be satisfied within his soul if he does not know how what happens to his soul after death. Me, I know...I will be in heaven with my God. I will forever seek him and He will be with me for the rest of my life till I'm with him----my soul is always nourished because of the bliss , peace and love I have found in my Creator that even if I fall He will lift me up, forgive me, comfort me and prosper me. His way is the only way for me and my family.

Kelly said...

When I first left New Zealand in 2000 for my three year OE, I diligently kept a hand written travel journal on A4 paper, of all the cool places I visited and glued in photos and brochures and bits and pieces of interest. When I got home I had it all spiral bound together in two volumes.

I wish I had the resources then that I have now. I had only just opened a hotmail account, never mind having a blog site. Digital cameras existed but I still had a 35ml. Consistent access to a computer/internet that was not charged by the minute would also have made a huge difference.

Things moved so quickly it seems funny to think that only that little time ago, I just had to make do with what I had.

In any case, good luck with your novel and travelogues.


Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi Bingkee,

Sadly, my job is the main source of pain at the moment; that said, it's not that bad really - it's just that I feel it ties me down. I can't be too negative about it though because it has enabled me to travel a little and also the guys I work with are great people. To be honest, I simply do not want to work for "the man" and in my chosen career I simply cannot avoid that - even if I change jobs. This is why I need that elusive lottery win :-)

I certainly accept my flaws - it is good to see them and to try to change them. Whether I will be successful remains to be seen.

I am delighted that you are happy with your faith also. I would never dismiss anybody's beliefs simply because they are part of what makes a person who they are. Whether it is God or some other faith, if it makes you a happier better person then that's fine by me.

I know that you are deeply committed to your faith and that is good. And, most importantly, it makes you happy and gives you peace and hope.

And that is not a bad thing at all.

Thanks for a great comment.




Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi Kelly,

"The China Chronicles" came about because I have a poor memory, believe it or not, but I had such fun writing it that I decided to do it again later. Sadly, there are few photos of our exploits and they weren't on digital camera anyway - I may try to scan them in actually if I can dig them out.

It sounds to me like your own journal may be interesting too. I would be tempted to write it up more formally - certainly my handwritten notes for China were very crude and needed some thought and structure.

Are you tempted to publish it? It might be fun.




An Eerie Tapestry said...

Happy second blogoversary. Good luck with the novel.

Plastic Mancunian said...

Cheers Mark.

Incidentally, I have been reading your novel too (I finally found it).

Very amusing so far.




Scars Beneath The Skin said...

Let me know when you get to 75000 words, Dave. I can give you advice about approaching agents and publishers.

Don't treat writing as anything more than a hobby, though. I've only earned £500 since my novel came out, and when I knock off writing-related expenses that comes down to zero or less.

Great for sense of achievement, crap for earning any money.


Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi Andy,

Not sure it will be good enough for publishing ...


It's just something I need to do - but we'll see.

Thanks for the offer though.




Kath Lockett said...

Congrats on your 2 year anniversary, Plastic Man. This year will be number six for me and it has become a pretty big part of my life. I may not want to put 'blogging' down on my CV under 'hobbies' but in reality it's right up there.

Best of luck with your novel, too. If you ever need a fresh set of eyes, just yell. (LOUDLY, 'cos I'm in Australia)

Scars Beneath The Skin said...

Best attitude to take, Dave.

Just be careful, though. Writing can become an obsession and take over your life!

Plastic Mancunian said...

G'Day Kath and thanks.

I might let others see my novel - if I am happy with it myself.

We'll see.




Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi Andy,

Yes - I've heard that and I'm sure that you are speaking from experience too.

It certainly isn't taking over my life at the moment - it is simply lurking in the back of my mind.



River said...

There's no soul-searching here. I know exactly where my soul is. In the fridge, on the same shelf as the chocolate and strawberries.

Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi River,

Excellent - exactly where a good soul should be (other than, perhaps, the pub).