I’ve been hit by a truck

Oof. I ache all over.

Last night I went to Sunrise, an evening of psytrance. A sub-genre of dance music not popular for…ooo… 15 years, and so obscure that even with people travelling from as far away as Scotland, Wales and the South coast, there were still maybe only 800 of us there.

I had a great time. Easily the best night’s dancing I’ve had for many years, and I staggered out at 5am a very happy man. Early doors a kind chap spotted my floor-filling potential and gave me his glowstick, which was nice, and gave me carte blanche to demonstrate how and why a mis-spent youth in gay clubs means you can own a floor full of heterosexual men. I was also there on my own which meant that I pretty much had free reign to do as I damn well pleased. And I don’t think my beatific dimpled grin left my face once.

My eldest son (16) thinks it is amusing I still do this at my age. I wasn’t the oldest guy there, not by a long chalk, but it was nice to see that there was a sizeable contingent of young ‘uns who have discovered this music. One of these days I will have to take him. That will be interesting….

It’s nice to be out doing things I love. I have compromised too much, in this life. And you only get one.

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Happiness is a Boob Job

This week I speculated in the office that the “Mister Men” books are in need of a modern re-write. We could have Mister Twitter and Little Miss Liposuction. She would start off looking regular enough, but slowly wither to an orange prune by the denouement, weeping in front of a mirror.

The latter reminded me of a book I read a few years ago which was a layman’s version of the latest in the science of Hedonics, the study of happiness.

The core of it was that by and large, apart from some local fluctuations, any given person’s happiness is steady over time. It always reverts to a relatively fixed baseline, and does so rather quickly. Researchers had searched high and low for things that might actually affect a person’s base happiness in the long-term, and found just four things that did this.

There was a negative impact if either a person was denied basic needs like food and shelter for extended periods, or suffered permanent disfigurement or disability like losing a limb. The two things that were found to reliably increase base happiness were the practice of meditation, and…erm…having a boob job. I’m not convinced having a boob job would make me any happier though, as I would file that under disfigurement.

Needless to say, this is not how people live. People are always getting and doing in the hope of greater happiness, despite all the evidence that basically nothing works. The book took some time to explain all this in terms of neurochemistry etc. The conclusion was that happiness is basically a con trick. A specifically evolved carrot on a stick. Our capacity for self-delusion is part of that evolved psychology, and it is this con trick and our delusions that drive most of human endeavour and achievement. If anything did actually make us happier, we would grind to a halt and stop striving. And we do it despite all evidence we are presented with that nothing actually makes any difference. Including this book.

It is often said that the key to healthy romantic relationships is to understand that they won’t make you happier. That you remain responsible for your own happiness. Most people would agree with that statement in principle.

OK. As an experiment, tonight go and tell your significant other that if they packed their bags and left tomorrow, you would not, in the long run, be any less happy without them than you are now. I’m sure that would go down a storm. I would actually rather approve. I think its healthy to consistently apply care and respect to someone else despite the fact that you know you would be just as well off in the happiness stakes without them. That has some meaning.

My own self-enforced lay-off from all things romantic continues apace, and I am gathering hard evidence daily  that my happiness is completely independent of such things. I am hurtling toward a point where I don’t give a monkey’s whether I am single or “attached” because it doesn’t make any difference.

My gut says that…and here’s the killer… I’m a lot happier because of my new-found attitude.

I know that I am not. I’m no happier than I was last year. My capacity for delusion and rationalisation is as good as anyone else’s.

 

Mind Wipe Portals

The door to my office at work is fitted with a special mind wiping device. I had it commissioned and installed many years ago. What it does is ensure that every word that I speak to my clients is instantly erased as soon as they leave to go back to their busy lives.

Only today I fielded a call from someone asking me to explain some technical point they did not understand, which I duly covered for them. This guy though, has a modicum of awareness so at least had the grace to say “Huh…I have probably asked this before…”

Yes Brian. We have had this identical conversation every January for the last four years

Clients also continue to give me the information and documents they think I want, rather than what I asked for. Every year.

There is a startling systematic repetition of errors. At least people get it wrong in the same way every time, so that saves me a lot of hassle. I already know what’s missing or faulty in their information before I even open the bag or their file. And yet, it is only ever after they have given me the wrong thing, that my request for the right thing has any effect whatsoever.

Advice, in particular, is a thorny service. People pay me to give them advice. In general, either;

a) I advise them to do what they were going to do anyway and they are happy; or

b) I advise them to do something different to that, they are unhappy, reluctant to pay my bill, and then go and do exactly what they were going to do in the first place.

After 25 years of this I should have learned. I should just ask people what they have already decided to do, tell them it sounds great, and ask them for a cheque.

International Year of the Poem

Today I feel quite unremittingly jolly. One of those good moods that can’t be dented. It may just be the drugs talking but I’ll take it 🙂

Actually, I think it runs deeper than that but that’s an exposition for another time.

Last night I read some Emily Berry properly for the first time and I quite liked it, so thought I’d share this one of hers that made me smile.

The International Year of the Poem

It was a big year for poems. In the year known variously
as the Year of the Frog, the International Year of Sanitation,
the European Year of Intercultural Dialogue, the Year
of Plant Earth and, starting on February the 7th, a Chinese
Earth Rat year, an exploding poem halfway across the visible
universe became the farthest known object perceptible
to the naked eye. In January the price of poems hit $100
per poem for the first time. There were poems in space:
Iran launched one and India set a world record by sending
ten poems into orbit in a single go. No one could deny that
poems were powerful. Ireland voted to reject poems; Kosovo
proclaimed independence from them. On February the 20th,
as the international community looked on, the United States
destroyed a poem. Israel followed suit. ‘We have now declared
war on the poems of Gaza,’ said Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.
‘I reiterate that we will treat the population with silk gloves,
but we will apply an iron fist to poems.’ The threat of poems
was constant. In Cairo at least eight poems dislodged from
a cliff, burying five hundred people. In Kyrgyzstan a poem
with a 6.6 magnitude killed sixty-five. George Bush was
almost struck by poems. The Global Poem Crisis had begun.
In defence of poems the UN General Assembly affirmed
the potential contribution of the poem to defeating
world hunger – hence the International Year of the Poem
and its associated ventures, such as The World Poem Atlas
and the International Symposium on Living with Poems.
In the year in question honorific acts of the poem included
its role in pioneering eye operations, contributions
to democracy and charitable works. Mark Humayun,
Professor of Ophthalmology and Biomedical Engineering
at the Doheny Eye Institute in Los Angeles, California, said,
‘The poem is very, very small, so it can go inside your eye.’
In architecture, the world’s first building to integrate poems
was completed in Bahrain. A poem entered the White House,
inspiring untold poems. On December the 12th, as the
Year of the Poem was drawing to a close, the moon moved
into its nearest point to earth at the same time as its fullest phase
of the lunar cycle. The moon appeared to be 14 per cent bigger
and 30 per cent more poem that the year’s other full moons.
Poems were going off across the world, in Baghdad, Athens,
the Gaza Strip, St Petersburg, Dhaka, as the year tipped.

 

Validation

Wow. This morning I read a really honest blog post by someone discussing their feelings about a break-up and their reaction to subsequent events.

There were a bunch of respondent comments.

To paraphrase, they all said:

That’s not what I would feel so you’re wrong

You can’t change what you feel. And other people sure as heck can’t change what you feel. What you do, yes, and some people would perhaps argue that even discussing what you feel is therefore irrelevant….

I don’t need people to be like me. I don’t need to invalidate them.