Who Do You Want To Be Today?

If every decision we made in the past made us who we are now, then decisions we make today will create the people that we will be tomorrow.

 

So what do you want to be and perhaps more importantly, who do you want to be?

 

Because today is your chance to take steps to making that happen.

 

Image by Matthew Wiebe www.unsplash.com

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)

Everybody’s Pointing And Nobody’s Listening

Blame, blame and more blame.

 

It’s your fault we’re like this. I feel like this because of you. In England, the Conservative government are blaming the Labour government for current issues and they haven’t been in government for 6 years. At present, Spanish politicians are fighting for power blaming each other for the lack of any progress in agreeing to form a government and as long as the blame cycle continues, nothing changes.

 

Admittedly, we don’t expect our politicians to necessarily be emotionally aware, but one thing you would think comes in their job description is the ability to listen. Too many have perhaps perfected the art of feigning or selective hearing, but either way, they’re not listening. They have their own personal or party agenda and that’s it regardless of the people who voted for them.

 

So let’s shout and point at each other until we find a solution that we’re both happy with. And then, when lo and behold, talks fail, it was somebody else’s fault.  Taking responsibility for when things go right or wrong can be challenging and not just for politicians.

 

So, how can we learn from all this blaming behaviour?
One first step could be listening to each other.
How do you feel when someone ‘really’ listens to you with no distractions and just focuses on you and what you’re saying? Or maybe you’ve experienced the opposite more?

 

And equally, how many times have you really listened to somebody? And how do you feel when you are the one doing the listening?

 

And if you haven’t tried it recently, maybe you could give it a go?

 

Blaming politicians is lazy and just makes us like them. Let’s  break the cycle and try to learn something from them by not being like them.

 

So, what do you want to say?

 

I’m listening.

How Flies Can Help You To Be A Better Person

I’m sitting in a bar near where I live in the south of Spain and it’s already hot outside. There are already 9 flies circling around in the bar doing their fly thing and other than having to swat one from time to time for getting near my breakfast, we seem to get on perfectly well.

 

While looking at them though, it got me thinking about what we do as people each day. Flies have a justifiable excuse. They are only capable of doing so much. They’re only flies after all. However, what are we doing with each day that we have?

 

Whatever you might want to achieve or even have achieved in your life, we are who we are now. At this moment. Like artists, musicians, writers or businesspeople, we’re only as ‘good’ as our last painting, song, book or deal. And if that’s the case, now is the chance to be the person you want to be and do the thing you want to do.

 

It doesn’t have to change the world as there can be significance in the seemingly insignificant, but however big or small what you want to do may be, if it’s important to you, what’s stopping you doing it today? Otherwise, we’re just flies circling over someone’s breakfast, aren’t we?

 

Header image courtesy of Unsplash/Robert Kresse

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.

Little-Richard-Performs-A-007

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.

 

Do Your Thing, Then Step Back

I recently spent a few months travelling across the USA and one of my favourite places was the rather laidback city of Portland, Oregon. There is a thriving food, art, music and craft beer scene and it’s also renowned for its slightly hippyness. What’s not to like?

Maybe I could sense something in the air, but it was while wandering around this wonderful city that I started thinking about the words ‘Do your work and then step back’ by Lao Tzu, the founder of Taoism. 

From my point of view, everything gets done and works well in Portland but there seems to be this wonderful consciousness there that whatever you are doing, your intention is to do it well even if it takes a little longer and this includes everything from working on one of the infamous (and rather fabulous) food trucks to making coffee which is practically an art form there.

Yes of course, there are the overly pretentious, hipster places as depicted in TV comedy Portlandia, but it’s even the ‘regular Joe’ coffee shops where there is a sense of pride in everyday work. Community is very important there and after only a few days you really notice it. Portland has a downtown/centre, but the heart of the city is not there, but in the thriving centre of each local neighbourhood.

One of the barmen I met there said one night: ‘The slower you chill the ice, the fewer bubbles you get and you have clear ice’
or as I interpreted it:
‘The more slowly and mindfully you live your life, the fewer obstacles there are and so, the clearer things become.’

Being in Portland reminded me of the benefits of being more conscious and mindful of things you do each day, however small they may seem. It doesn’t have to take time, just a momentary awareness and focus on what you’re doing. A kind of mindful meditation I guess.

It was lovely hanging out in Portland and I can see why people want to live there. It’s a quietly inspirational place which encourages you to do your own thing in your own way whatever that may be. Again, what’s not to like?