Nothing Like A Coffee And Some Time

I’m sitting on a lovely, ever-so-slightly battered brown sofa in my favourite bar (Cafe Cyrano) in Almería, my recently adopted ‘big city’, listening to my new favourite album (‘Hey Mr Ferryman’ by Mark Eitzel) with a cortado coffee and an orange juice.

Lovely & slightly battered old sofa

I’ve just put my car in for a service. Not a big deal for most people, but not having owned a car until recently, it feels like a strangely grown up thing to be doing. I dropped the car off at 9.30am and am told it will be 3 hours, so I’ve popped into the city to mooch around and am really enjoying it as it’s not something I can really do in the village where I now live.

I’ve been walking around for a while enjoying the buzzy morning atmosphere of a working day here. As with many cities, there are lots of ‘things to do’ here, some of which I’ve done and others that I will do, but as is often the case, I find myself doing a similar thing ie ‘not very much’ to some people.

But the joy I get from simply sitting in a bar with a coffee, listening to music on headphones, writing, reading and reflecting on nothing in particular is immeasurable.

Some people these days might call this being mindful. I don’t know why doing this works for me and maybe it’s best I don’t know, so in the meantime, I’ll just enjoy the positive and calming energy it gives me.

Hope you’re having a good day too…

Bring It On…

I haven’t posted here for a while. Not for any particular reason. It just kind of happened and maybe we need time away from things or even people to reflect and appreciate them more when they come back. I always wanted this blog to be about rallying against the negativity and cynicism in the world by seeing and appreciating the positive that is in the smallest things. Today I felt the need to post…

 

I can’t believe that given my privileged position that I’m saying this, but I haven’t been happy recently. One of the primary reasons is that I got annoyed and frustrated by something somebody said and after much dwelling on this, it became a thing. Or more to the point, I let it become a thing until it sapped my energy to the point where I couldn’t see anything else for a while. And then over the last couple of days, I have been lucky enough to have been in touch with close friends I have and new friends who I have only known for a short time and the lovely thing is that I have realised that I am happy. And very much so.
 

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View from my house

There will always be negative people saying negative things in the world and at this moment in time, politically the world is going through some major changes which are worrying. And yet, I feel I’m coming through the other side of this fog through which I’ve been navigating of late to see clearly how lucky we are and how lucky I am. There’s a lot in the world to rally against, but perhaps

 

if we focus more on what positive contribution we can make to the world, then the naysayers and the negative world they live in, can be beaten.

 

I sit writing this in my new studio (aka converted garage) listening to records which I have recently rediscovered and albums which I have always loved. My lovely wife Mrs Cortado and our recently adopted dog Grace are asleep in the warmth of the house next door – it may be the south of Spain, but it still gets chilly at night in November – and I’m listening to Joni Mitchell and reflecting on where we really are today.

 

We moved to the magnificent city of Granada in the south of Spain three years ago and almost six months ago, moved to where we live now, a tiny village in the province of Almeria, still in the south of Spain, which is unquestionably an outstandingly beautiful part of the world. One of the wonderful things about saying that sentence is that I/we always hoped of living ‘abroad’ and after some time in Italy, we chose Spain and love our life here. It’s not perfect. Nothing is. But the good far outweighs the bad. For example, we live in a beautiful place, have met some very kind and friendly people since we came here and are now lucky enough to have some close friends.
 

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Grace

We loved our life in London, but we left at a time that was right for us and now that life seems like such a long time ago. We have worked to have the life that we have and though at times, it can be a challenge, I appreciate the incredible opportunity that this experience is. Some people are not open to change as it can be difficult, however I can now see that some people never want to or are simply too afraid to change and maybe that works for them. However, as a result of recent experiences, I am now reminding myself not to permit others negative filters and perspectives to distort my choices and also to have more faith in my own decisions.

 

I am hugely thankful for our life and every day, we still look at each other as if we have somehow moved into some other parallel time continuum and are living someone else’s life. But as each day passes, I see this is our life now and after nearly three years away from the ‘normality’ of our almost twenty-year old London lives, this is now the new normal and London has become the distant, strange, exotic place which is nice to visit for a few days, but then you want to get back home. In my twenties, I never thought I would say that, but I’m now in my late forties and it feels perfectly natural.

 

We’ve recently had some work done on the house that is coming to an end and the changes have made living here feel quite different and in an incredibly positive way. Perhaps it wouldn’t be that big a deal to many, but they feel more significant. It’s not just that I have my new studio, the whole place has more of a Zen feel with more space and natural light and it’s almost as if we are starting a new chapter of our lives in our ‘new’ house.
 

And so, although over the past few weeks, I have felt somewhat distant from our life here, finding the smallest things frustrating and also missing the urban-ness of the city, reflecting on recent experiences and especially sitting here now listening to the recently released late and incredibly great Leonard Cohen album – which is wonderful – I feel so much stronger to be able to deal with whatever comes my/our way.

 

bruce-lee

 

So now I say, bring on the naysayers and bring on the negativity. Like Bruce Lee said – be like the water. And if it worked for Bruce Lee, I’m happy with that too.

World Of Dust

Other than writing blog posts, hanging out in Spanish cafes and my new dog, my primary passion in life has been making music. For many years, writing songs on my old acoustic guitar and in the last few years, I’ve also been using my laptop. My latest project is called Pearl Viper and the mOnk and in January, we released our first EP ‘Immortal’.

Like all Pearl Viper and the mOnk tracks, ‘World Of Dust’ came about after listening to one of teapotmOnk’s ‘Empty Your Cup’ podcasts. In this post is new artwork for the song based on a photo taken round the corner from our studio. What do you think?

We will also be posting each new title on our Facebook page (with accompanying artwork) each week when we are not also working on our new video for the first song from the EP ‘Right Now’ at Viper Studios.

As someone with an interest in Eastern philosophies and taoism in particular, I’ve always liked the idea that we are merely dust in the wind. We are born, we live our lives and we die. The much more important world does its thing around us while it gives us temporary permission to take up some space, live and make our own contribution to the world.

TeapotmOnk says:
“Dust is everything that holds back that drop of pure spirit within each of us from riding a boundless wave of energy, from wandering between crossing paths, from delighting in spontaneity and moon light and laughing to the rhythm of music in the wind.”

I wanted the sound of ‘World Of Dust’ to be quite primeval, hence the heavy percussion throughout the track. It was also a nod to Burundi drumming and my childhood heroes, the very drum-friendly Kings of the Wild Frontier period Adam and the Ants.

You could even say that Pearl Viper and the mOnk literally have our own world of dust not far from Viper Studios in the desert of Almeria in the south of Spain. However, it’s the awareness of the metaphorical dust which helps us to live better lives, isn’t it?

Jason (Pearl Viper) & Paul (teapotmOnk)

‘World Of Dust’ is the second song on the new ‘Now’ EP of Taoist-inspired songs by Pearl Viper and the mOnk which will be on Spotify, Itunes, Apple Music and all online download/streaming outlets in May 2016.

In case you haven’t seen or heard any of the songs on the ‘Immortal’ EP which came out in January, you can do just that via the links on the Pearl Viper Facebook page.

Right Now

Other than writing blog posts, hanging out in Spanish cafes and my new dog, my primary passion in life has been making music. For many years, writing songs on my old acoustic guitar and in the last few years, I’ve also been using my laptop. My latest project is called Pearl Viper and the mOnk and in January, we released our first EP ‘Immortal’.

In May 2016, we will be releasing the ‘Now’ EP, the 2nd in our series of 3 EPs of taoist inspired music that we will be releasing this year.

However, what’s that got to do with the Away From The Noise blog?

Well, as I’m writing this, it’s a beautiful day and I’m lucky enough to be sitting outside in the sunshine with the 21st Century tai-chi teaching teapotmOnk at my local bar having a morning coffee. You may not think that having a coffee somewhere nice is particularly special, but I would disagree as what we’re also doing is really enjoying the moment.

Right now.

Which ever so subtly just happens to be the title of the first song on the new ‘Now’ EP of Taoist-inspired songs by Pearl Viper and the mOnk which will be on Spotify, Itunes, Apple Music and all online download/streaming outlets in May 2016.

Happiness is for us to enjoy now. It’s in the moment. It took me a long time to see that. From whatever has happened in the past – ten years ago, last month or even yesterday – which have all been and gone – to whatever will happen after tomorrow – which hasn’t happened yet – all of that is what it was and what it will be.

You see it naturally in children and animals who get lost in the moment. Yes, as adults, we have to go to work after the weekend, but that hasn’t happened yet. Let’s all take a moment to enjoy the moment. Now.

What do you think of the ‘Right Now’ sleeve artwork?

‘Right Now’ is the first of the 4 titles on the EP that we will be posting (with accompanying artwork) each week when we are not also working on our new video for ‘Right Now’ at our new studio in the desert of Almería in southern Spain.

In case you haven’t seen or heard any of the songs on the ‘Immortal’ EP which came out in January, you can do just that on the Pearl Viper & the mOnk Facebook page.

In the meantime, wherever you are, whatever you’re doing and whoever you’re with, I hope you’re enjoying your own moment right now.

Jason (Pearl Viper/Away From The Noise) and Paul Read (teapotmOnk)

Permission To Not Be Positive

“Sometimes I want to go home and stay out of sight for a long time”

 

This is a lyric from a song called ‘Van Occupanther’ by one of my favourite bands, Midlake which gets me every time. On listening to it today, it got me thinking especially about how it feels to ‘sometimes want go home and stay out of sight for a long time’.

 

Being online for example can be a wonderful thing and maybe the truth is that some people ‘lie’ about their online presence as they want to put on a ‘happy face’ on Facebook or maybe don’t feel strong enough or that it’s even appropriate to talk about things on their mind and share in such a public way. And of course, this sense of having to put on a brave/happy face can also be  a personal or professional pressure in our everyday lives.

 

The reasons for wanting to stay out of sight for a long time could include depression, loneliness, prospect of conflict or just having a bad day. We’ve all been there to some degree and some more than others. When we feel like this, many people focus on the positive solutions and offer up advice which can be and is certainly meant to be helpful. Statements in the manner of ‘You just have to focus on the positive’ are well-intentioned but like everything in life, the solution to each problem is not always the same. It needs to be flexible depending on the situation.

 

However, sometimes we do just need to ‘go home and stay out of sight’ if not for a long time, then at least for a while. We may come out the other side in a better way or not, but that’s not really the issue here.

 

It’s more about giving ourselves ‘permission’ to occasionally feel okay about setting aside positivity for a time to embrace sadness, which after all is an inevitable part of the human condition of which many people are quite naturally afraid.

 

Once we’ve spent a little more time with ourselves and our own sadness, we may then have gathered the strength to not only not be afraid of dealing with sadness itself, but also anything else which we may face in our lives, including perhaps the ability to be positive.

We can’t be positive all the time, however hard we may try. From time to time, I think we need to give ourselves permission to not be positive.

 

Read a previous post inspired by music Embracing The Melancholy.

 

Watch the video to ‘Van Occupanther’ by Midlake.

 

Blue Swans

Rip It Up And Start Again

When digital music first came about a few years ago, I loved the idea of having access to pretty much any music I wanted and these days, whether it’s downloading or streaming, there are even more opportunities to have no physical music and own more music ‘that you can’t touch’ and I find a strange joy in having the space that not having countless CDs creates.

I don’t necessarily need the space for anything else as I just find it calming enjoying a space filled with emptiness.

And this doesn’t only apply to CDs, but to many other things including clothes I haven’t worn for a long time, books and DVDs for example. However, one of the most challenging but ultimately rewarding things I find to ‘throw away’ are song lyrics. I’ve been writing lyrics and songs since I was a child and over the years, there have been hundreds of pages of words, dreams, ideas, notes and finished lyrics which never saw the light of day because if I haven’t used them after a certain period of time, I throw them away or these days, delete them.

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Little Richard ripping it up…

In fact in the past, I used to take great pleasure in physically ripping up these pieces of paper as it felt that although I had invested a lot of time and creative energy in writing the words in the first place, the process of ripping them up seemed appropriately ritualistic and I felt that the new ‘space’ I was creating would enable me to be even more creative in the future. Of course, I’ll never know if at some point I ripped up the best song ever written, but I do feel that this ‘ritual’ encouraged and perhaps even forced me to be more creative over the years.

Though it can be a scary prospect if you don’t feel confident enough in your future ability to create, destroying ‘old’ ideas can be creative in itself that you are making space for even more creativity. Another truth is that I enjoy a good old purge periodically as each time, it makes me feel ‘lighter’ and gives me a sense of freedom and energy to deal with the present and whatever the future holds, creatively or otherwise.

There’s a wonderful strength in the space between the things in life which is quietly powerful.

And of course with a new year having just begun, it’s the perfect time to rip it up and start again, don’t you think?

Here’s a fantastic song by Orange Juice.

 

Who Do You Want To Be In 2016?

It’s the first day of 2016 and it’s that time when people may be feeling the pressure to make New Year’s Resolutions, some which they keep and others which will inevitably fall by the wayside.

However, although the ‘usual’ resolutions such as losing weight, getting a better job, going to the gym and travelling more are fantastic things to want to achieve, I believe that we should first be looking at a couple of other ‘resolution’ questions:

Who Do You Want To Be?‘ and ‘What Do You Stand For?

Once you spend time focusing on these questions, everything else falls into place much more easily and naturally. You proactively choose things that you want to do in order to be who you want to be as opposed to fighting against things that you think you should be doing in order to be who you think you should be.

It’s not easy and it takes courage to look at yourself and challenge yourself to ask these questions, but it will be worth it.

Following on from this piece, you may also be interested in a post I published last year called ‘What Do You Stand For?’  Read here