You Are Not The Mistake

Every now and again you make mistakes. You are not the mistake.
From time to time you feel bad.

The feeling will disappear.

You are not the feeling.
Mistakes and feelings do not define you.

They are a part of you for a moment in time.

They pass. In time.
Leaving you free to be who you want to be.
When that happens.
What are you going to do?

And who are you going to be?

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Can What’s Missing Be Your Strength?

I have been a fan of Q (English music magazine) for many years and in the latest issue, I was reading an interview with a band called Royal Blood. Now I’m not really a rock fan but every now and again a band comes through that I really like and Royal Blood are currently and pleasantly deafening me with both their albums. But why am I talking about this band and what has the header image of a vegetarian dish got to do with this band?

Well, when I used to visit Brighton in the past, I occasionally visited a restaurant called Terre A Terre, a rather good vegetarian restaurant in the city. In the Q magazine interview with Mike Kerr, the singer/bassist with Royal Blood, mentioned that he used to work as a chef in Terre A Terre and while there he was struck by how inventive they had been with the ingredients available to them, especially when they had a supposedly necessary ingredient to many i.e. meat taken out of the equation as it had forced them to be more creative with what they had.

Royal Blood

At that time, Matt was also putting together a new band and after being inspired by his experience at Terre A Terre in creating more interesting things with ‘less’, he realised that instead of having a traditional line-up, he decided that the band would just be his mate Ben playing drums and himself playing bass and singing. He may have made the right decision as last year Royal Blood sold out shows in Europe and the US, are now friends with rock stars including Muse and Jimmy Page (from Led Zeppelin) and have been one of the most successful bands in Europe in the last 3 years since they first came on the scene.

We don’t need to do what others have done. What many see as ‘something missing’ can in fact be a strength if we choose to see it that way. A restaurant doesn’t need meat to be successful and Royal Blood don’t need a traditional rock band line-up with a guitarist. So, my question to you is:

‘do you have something ‘missing’ in your life that is or could be your strength’?

Watch Royal Blood video for ‘Figure It Out’…

How Bruce Lee Helped Me Get A Spanish Driving Licence

Perhaps this is something we don’t like admitting, but although we may want to get things done as soon as possible, sometimes it will just take longer. And that doesn’t have to be a bad thing.

 

I’ve just managed to get a Spanish driving licence for a friend. It’s been a process which started a few months ago and as is the case in most places, dealing with bureaucracy can be a challenge and in Spain, perhaps more so. Either way, after several months and visits to various official administrative departments, I collected the document this morning and I’m relieved and happy, even though it perhaps took longer than it needed to.

 

636023937050182927-1052773310_o-HAPPY-BABY-facebook.jpg

 

However, when faced with a potentially unfriendly beast such as government departments with some staff who lean more towards the ‘computer-says-no’ school of customer service, I have found there are are four key elements to get what you are looking for:

 

1) be prepared, do your homework and make umpteen copies

2) focus on developing a relationship with whoever can help you as opposed to having a go at who is being obstructive. Perhaps I should have known that the grumpy man in the pink trousers was not going to be the most helpful. Having said that, can you ever trust anybody in pink trousers?!

3) take a breath and be patient (this one is important)

4) take another breath and be a little bit more patient (more important than the last)

 

Bruce Lee talked about ‘being like water’ where the water in a bottle takes the shape of the bottle or whatever container it is in.

 

In this case, I had to assume the shape of the staff in the Traffic Department and ‘speak their language’. In time, it worked, but in the meantime, being like water and working together with the ‘system’ was ultimately much more productive than if I had fought against it.

This approach may not work in all situations, but I know the next time I will have to deal with Spanish bureaucracy, like Bruce Lee, I will most certainly aim to ‘be like water’…

Baby image courtesy of The Odyssey Online.
Bruce Lee image courtesy of Bloody Elbow.

 

Be Yourself And Loudly

I have always enjoyed reading self-help-type articles including the multitude of lists that comes with them, however, I’ve recently found myself questioning their validity. Of course, the will is good and by all means, read what you feel you need to read, but isn’t every ’10 Ways To Be More Productive Beyond Your Wildest Dreams’ post you read ironically keeping you one step further from getting you to where you want to be while you’re trying to assimilate yet another list into your life? And in truth, how efficient and productive do you really need to be?

What’s stopping you being brave? What’s stopping you giving your own voice the chance to be heard above the white noise of the world? If you’re always reading information about how to do things well, that can be a good thing for a while, but when do you actually start doing the thing you want to do? Whatever your field of interest may be, what’s stopping you daring to have the confidence to follow your own path and contribute something of quality to help the world? It could be music, art, photography, a book, a good day at work, volunteering at a charity, spending time with your family, gardening, cycling or starting a business. It doesn’t matter what it is that you do as long as it’s your thing.

What do you really want to happen after putting yourself out there? Maybe millions will read, listen, appreciate or acknowledge what you have done. And maybe they won’t. Maybe people will love you. And maybe they won’t. But when you look at yourself in the mirror, what do you really need to do or say today? Now even? So much so that it would physically hurt you if you didn’t?

And of course, feel free to think that this is just another post full of white noise. That’s your prerogative. I would much rather you make your own noise. Be yourself. And loudly. Contribute something of quality to help the world. This is one of the ways I do what I need to do. What’s yours?

Feature image by Sebastiao Salgado

The Lost Art Of Being Positive

What are you doing right now?
As opposed to
What are you not doing?

Are you enjoying reading a book and relaxing?
As opposed to
Wasting time when you could be being much more productive?

Are you talking to a friend about an issue you may have with them?
As opposed to
Not doing so and letting any potential issues fester?

Are you focusing on what is actually happening?
As opposed to
What could be, but may not in fact be happening?

How would you prefer to spend your time with the mental and emotional energy you have?

Would you rather focus on the positive elements of any given situation?
As opposed to
Choosing to focus on the negative?

And note, it is a choice.

What is it giving or even costing you focusing on what may go wrong as opposed to what may go right?

Have you not spent time with somebody who does that? If so, how did you feel? Inspired? Or simply much more depressed than you were before you’d seen them?

It may not be easy at times and of course, I’m not saying that we can will things to be good, but wouldn’t it be worth the effort and be better for ourselves and everybody around us to focus on what we can change as opposed to what we can’t? On what good there is or could be in a situation as opposed to what bad there is or could be?

In a world of seemingly fashionable and infinitely easy cynicism and negativity, let’s make a choice together to be brave enough to stand out from the crowd and focus on the good things or even what could just potentially be good as opposed to the negative alternative. It wouldn’t just be better for you, but for everybody around you and that would be a good place to be for all of us, wouldn’t it?

Feature image by Christian Widell/Unsplash

Como Ser Un Realista Más Positivo

Ayer yo estaba en un bar de Granada escuchando una conversación entre dos amigos.

Uno de ellos decía
“No me gusta  este compañero de trabajo, pues no puedo trabajar con él. Va a ser una semana imposible.”

Hay gente que dice ‘No soy cínico o negativo, soy realista’ y tal vez es verdad pero de hecho, ¿qué cosas realistas dicen estas personas? Puedo imaginar la conversación entre estos dos amigos que podrían tener en el mismo bar a finales de la semana que viene.

El ‘realista’
“¡Que semana he tenido!. ¡Ha sido imposible! Sabía que no podía trabajar con este compañero. ¿Te lo dije, no?”

O algo así.

El amigo realista está cansado después de una semana difícil y enfadado con su compañero pero por lo menos, él puede culpar de todo a esta persona. No tiene que tomar sobre sí mismo la responsabilidad de su vida. Al final, era verdad que no podía trabajar con el compañero  y tal vez, si, tenía razón, pero ¿cuál es el precio de tener razón en este caso?

Si tuviera una actitud diferente, digamos más positiva, ¿qué diría?

El realista antes de que comience la semana
“Es verdad que podría gustarme más  este compañero, pero tenemos que trabajar juntos esta semana, pues voy a intentar  sacar el mayor provecho de esta situación. Quizás, ¡podría aprender algo!”

¿Es diferente, no? La situación es exactamente igual pero la actitud es completamente diferente y claro está que  no hay garantías de que vaya a pasar pero la probabilidad es que cuando transcurra la semana, la conversación podría ser así:

El realista más positivo
“Podría haber sido una semana imposible esta semana pero aunque no seamos amigos, trabajamos bien juntos y de hecho, he aprendido algo de él porque tiene experiencias diferentes.”

Es como estar hablando de otras personas en otra situación, ¿no?

Sin embargo esta vez vez lo único que ha cambiado es su actitud y su lenguaje, ahora  ambos son más positivos. Más realistas y positivos.

No tenemos que reformular todo lo que decimos en positivo. Me gustaría tener 1.85 m de altura pero eso no va a ocurrir. Tengo que ser realista. Esto no puedo cambiar. Pero la cuestión de cada día es ¿cuánto soy de realista? Yo prefiero  ser un realista más positivo.

Sé que puede ser difícil pero si se usan palabras positivas en lugar de negativas, la situación puede cambiar en algo más positivo. Por ejemplo:

Negativo
– No voy a poder nunca hablar otro idioma con fluidez. No soy capaz de aprender idiomas.

Mientras, la misma situación con un actitud más positiva:
– Tal vez algún día podré hablar mejor este idioma. Será un reto y voy a intentar hablar más en intercambios  para mejorar mi idioma . Voy a valorar el progreso que hago.

Es importante coger control de tu situación y no ser una víctima de uno mismo que no puede ayudarse. Tu vida es tu responsabilidad. Es demasiado importante para culpar o dar esta responsabilidad a otro.

Pues, ¿qué es más importante?

¿tener razón porque has predicho ¿? una semana terrible?,

¿ dar la responsabilidad de tu vida y tu felicidad a otra persona que no te gusta?

O decirse al final de la semana que has tenido una semana difícil  pero has aprendido algo.

Finalmente, ¿quejarse porque no puedes hacer nada?

¿O cambiar tu actitud en positivo e intentar hacer una cosa que quieres hacer?

¿Qué opción es más positiva?

¿Qué opción preferirías?

Sé cuál elegiría yo.

¿Y tú?

 

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.