Over the last four years I've chronicled many things in my life. From the being a fat bloke thing, to the various flavours of mental healthery, to the odd bit of fiction, even to occasional serious articles. With a new year approaching (kids, NEVER make new year's resolutions, they'll be down the pan by about 8th January) I've decided to archive everything and start afresh. My life has changed significantly since we started this dance back in 2013 and what was once relevant, no longer is. My new/old blog will contain similar levels of sarcasm and cynicism, but will be more regular (I know, it'll be 2 posts by November, at which point we'll all forget this ever happened) and marginally more focused (no sniggering at the back). I have a plan for what I want to do and when I can fit it in, and all being well we might have a blog that comes close to being a blog - rather than me occasionally spleen venting (which makes a hell of a mess.)
Anyway friends. Onwards and upwards. Or backwards possibly. For this is an update to part of the old blog from back in the balmy (barmy?) summer of 2016.
Many years ago, I met a man. This man told me that he didn’t have any friends. He told me that all he had were acquaintances. I asked him what he meant and he said that a true friend would do anything to help out someone in need, and that he once faked a breakdown in his car and then rang his, I guess, acquaintances to see who would come to his aid. Not one of them did, and so they all became acquaintances. Not friends. No friends at all.
Now I could have pointed out that a) I wouldn’t be a friend of someone if I turned up to help him out and found nothing wrong with his car, b) that some people may have been friends and genuinely unable to help out and c) that maybe the fact he was an insufferable tool with an immense ego and chips on both shoulders that made him look like an 80’s soap star (younger readers may want to use your favourite search engine to image search that. There are bound to be some belters out there.) But I didn’t. I walked away feeling lucky that I didn’t have to deal with such a man again.
Which I guess brings me round to the fluffy, rainbow coloured part of the story.
I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about my life lately, and how it all fits together. As of writing I’ve got 176 friends (or should that be acquaintances?) that I think enough of or that think enough of me to want to interact with me in some way on Facebook. If I wasn’t on Facebook I’d have maybe been able to list 20 people that I considered as friends.
But it’s not just a list of friends, it’s a whole diverse world of people. I’ve got black friends, Asian friends, white friends, friends of mixed race. I’ve got gay friends, straight friends, single friends, married friends and friends who are happy doing their own thing. I’ve got Muslim friends, Catholic friends, Christian friends, friends who maybe haven’t thought about it, atheist friends, agnostic friends and friends who do something different. I’ve got friends I’ve never met, friends I may never meet, friends in the UK, friends in the US, friends in Australia and friends elsewhere in Europe. I’ve got friends I’ve known for 3 months, and friends I have known for 30 years.
I don’t consider myself special. But I do consider myself lucky. Lucky to know so many people from so many different backgrounds and that have so many different beliefs and viewpoints. Despite our differences, we must have something in common - because we rarely, if ever have a cross word.
After years of working in a job I wasn’t bad at but eventually came to hate, I’m now doing something I love doing. I'm working in a place I love going to every day and working with a lot of tremendous people who I already have a great deal of affection for. I wouldn’t say I’m great at what I do, but I think I do alright. Every day I learn something new from these inspirational and brilliant people. I’m better at it than I was yesterday. I’m back on the uni trail and at some point the teaching assistant qualification may start (probably best we don't go into that today.) Let’s gloss over the "doing too many things at once" thing and concentrate on the fact that I have goals again. My weight loss plan is as screwed as ever, as is my plan for getting my fitness in gear. I’ve thought about things and think I know what is/isn’t possible - I should maybe just stop thinking about it and get on with it!
My family remain as dysfunctional as ever. I’ve got a great set of in-laws* (NEVER tell my mother-in-law I said that), I’ve got an estranged brother (although we did have a conversation out of necessity last month), a mother I've not spoken to for 4 months who lives somewhere between the 1960s, the pages of the Daily Mail and as a Dementor from Harry Potter, and a half-sister I’ve only met 2 or 3 times but is just a text or message away. *Apart from my father-in-law who could probably run my mother close in the 1960s and Daily Mail stakes.
I’m a depressive with ADHD and possibly a bit of bipolar thrown into the mix for good measure. On the surface I appear to be an angry fat bloke with a lack of attention span and a desire to interject myself into things that are of no concern of mine. I can’t change that and even if I could, would I actually want to? Not a chance. I’d like to have less going on inside my head, but I also wouldn’t want to be without the spark that makes me want to make people laugh, want to help people or come up with random ideas that *might* just work. On my very best days, I am brilliant. But on my very worst days, you really don’t want to know me at all.
So yes, there is a lot of gloom out there. But actually, there is also a lot out there to be thankful for. I’ve got friends, I’ve got a chunk of decent family (granted most of them by marriage!) and so much positive stuff out there that I should be grateful. I could walk out tomorrow and get blown-up by somebody claiming to be doing it for a religious reason. I could get hit by a bus. I could contract a disease that wipes out me and half of the planet.
But you know what? I’m not going to change the way I do things at all. Because I could not get blown-up tomorrow. Because that bus might be running late. Because I could not contract that disease. And if I changed my life to live in fear of what could happen, then I’ll never live my life in the hope of what I want to happen. We’re all blessed in some way, it’s just that most of us don’t realise it.
Have a think about it, I think you might be pleasantly surprised.
Until next time friends.