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’…

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Sky Full Of Morning Stars

It’s 6am on the first day of November and quite dark outside. I couldn’t sleep and so I tiptoed through the house so as not to wake Mrs Cortado and our dog Grace to go outside and get my phone which I’d left in the car. On my way back, I promptly dropped it (clearly no coffee yet having an impact) and happened to look up to see an incredible sky full of stars.

I’d never really thought about there being stars in the morning and don’t ever remember seeing them at this time of the morning, but of course one of the lovely things about living in this part of the countryside in southern Spain is that there is no light pollution and so the darkness of the sky is beautifully and very brightly illuminated by thousands of stars. And all you have to do is drop something to see it…

Just think, if I didn’t drop things, I wonder what else I’d miss noticing?

Photo by sergio souza on Unsplash
(I tried to take a picture this morning, but there’s only so much you can do with an Iphone. I much preferred this shot.)

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.

 

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.

 

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

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