Unintended

At the culmination of a convoluted train of impulses, I searched my own name in Google images. One photo of me shows up, but what really made my day was that next to that photo is a Polestar 2, a Toyota C-HR and Edward Cullen standing next to a C30.

Unintended consequences. I wonder where Noel Edmunds wandered off to.

I am often falling prey to unintended consequences.

Once Upon A Time, I was deep in the thrall of my numinous experiences, catalysed by He Who Does Not Want To Know Me. I fucking love giving people organically occurring pseudonyms, but that might be a bit much. After hitting the floor over it, a day or two away from declaring myself psychotic, I had accidentally come across some ‘information’ about ‘twin flames’ – essentially a kind of soulmates-on-steroids situation. The experience described by so called twin flame experts was bizarrely, disturbingly, exactly what I was experiencing. Stunned by the resonance, I bought in. But I kept butting up against the fact that it very much appeared my experience was not reciprocated by He. The twin flame experts had explanations for why this appeared true, but was in fact not at all true. As much as I wanted to believe that, it was too easy, and too fantastical.

He Who Does Not Want To Know Me was distinctly silent, and so, like a pesky mosquito, I landed on his shoulder time and time again saying I’m still here, are you going to swat me? Because silence wasn’t enough – I needed rejection. Eventually, cordial, beautiful, transcendent rejection came. Thank you.

Two years passed. A lot happened; I met someone, got pregnant, we moved in together and had a baby. I reached a sort of distant equilibrium with He Who Does Not Want To Know Me, and we shared a few messages over that time. I had stayed on the periphery of the twin flame community, fascinated by this collective, deluded, delicate, beautifully human phenomenon that I was undeniably part of. I was convinced there were deep things to gain from the experience that I and all these other people were having, and that there was profound meaning being forsaken in favour of a focus on The Other Person. And I, myself, was still rather more focused on The Other Person than I cared to admit.

I decided to start a YouTube channel about it. The grand mission? To change the rhetoric around ‘twin flames’ to something more useful than soulmates-on-steroids. To challenge the idea that just because this intense thing happened, it had to mean something romantic. And also to challenge the idea that if it didn’t turn out to be romantic, that must mean the experience wasn’t real or meaningful. To take the focus away from The Other Person and place it where I thought it belonged: On The Self.

At this point, I’d pretty much gone full woo and was also a practising Tarot reader and Reiki practitioner. I was completing a business course in the hope that I could make a living from it, and it was recommended that I brand everything in my own name, so as not to limit myself to any one arena in the future. So I changed my YouTube channel to my name too. It felt a bit weird, but was actually a good business move as I started attracting clients who were going through similar mystical journeys, and I found a niche.

What it also meant, though, was that, should anyone – anyone at all – Google me, these videos would show up on the first page.

Now, I don’t know if these two things are related, but the next time I sent He a message, he didn’t reply. Someone in his vague location, however, did view a bunch of my videos all at once. And, I can’t speak for everyone, but if, out of context (or maybe even in context), I saw someone I’d never met talking about me and twin flames in the same breath, I might not be inclined to reply to their message.

Unintended consequences? Did I accidentally terrify an innocent man? I have long hoped it was just coincidental that I never heard from him again, and the fact he didn’t outright block me or report me or tell me to stay the fuck away from him in a panicked font was a sign that he was oblivious. I told myself he wasn’t interested enough to Google me anyway. Still, I wonder – was this the moment he changed from being He Who Does Not Have A Strong Opinion About Knowing Me, to He Who Does Not Want To Know Me?

Either way, that moment really brought my attention to all the unintended consequences I had failed to forsee in my life. What seemed an obvious risk in hindsight had not even occurred to me. What else was not occurring to me? I began becoming more aware of my digital footprint, and how other people may perceive the slivers of me that I revealed to them. How little my intention actually corresponded to the results of my actions in some situations. How impossible it was to judge the consequences of a choice. How impossible it was to ever know every far reaching, obscure, bizarre consequence of a choice.

I’m not very good at forseeing all possible outcomes; even when I expend inordinate energy on trying to do so. I’m often caught out by the side-effect.

How do you go about anticipating a side-effect? Is it even a healthy endeavour to try? Maybe I should consult a pharmacologist.

Manifesting cars

The car I own is a dark grey 2009 Volvo C30 1.6 DRIVe. I don’t know if that’s a confession or a weird flex.

I like cars. I know fuck all about them if we’re being candid, but what I lack in knowledge I make up for in enthusiasm based upon, frankly, arbitrary points of interest.

Part of the reason I know I like cars is that some of them kind of turn me on a bit. Not quite to this extent, I hasten to add. But appealing aesthetics are a…driving factor. If a car catches my eye, I then take it upon myself to research it with a heavy confirmation bias, to find out all the other reasons I like it.

As far as aspirational cars go, a C30 isn’t exactly top of my list these days. When I bought my C30 I was lusting after a Toyota C-HR hybrid. That’s since been replaced in my fantasies by a Polestar 2.

BUT, when the C30 came out, back when I was 16, every time I spotted one it was a cheap thrill. Even now, the lines of that era of Volvo make my pupils dilate. Seeing Robert Pattinson driving my favourite car in Twilight may well have been the spark that ignited a passionate crush I stand by to this day, because Robert Pattinson is spectacular. I’ve written him two fan letters. But I digress.

Edward Cullen’s C30 inspired me to head to the Volvo website to design my own. Colour? No question, dark grey was my favourite colour for anything. Engine? I had no fucking clue of the implications…but I liked the environment so, naturally, I chose the ‘eco’ option – the 1.6 DRIVe. The year was 2009.

Did you ever hear Noel Edmunds going on about cosmic ordering? I did, around about that time. From what I remember it’s a basic Law of Attraction type concept. You just had to make your wish, and wait for it to be granted. There was this website where you could type in your ‘order’, and when you submitted it, it added a virtual star to a virtual sky. I enjoyed that idea. It’s quite likely a C30 made it into my virtual sky, although I can’t corroborate the claim.

When it came to buying a car this time around, I was having difficulty. It had been a minute since I was last in the market, and my affiliation with diesel was now frowned upon. And my budget wasn’t exactly expansive. At first, I’d been excited to buy a sexy high-miles Volvo diesel estate. Which is a preposterous statement if ever I wrote one. But my son’s dad sucked all the fun out of it with his talk of air pollution. So then I looked at all the reasonable petrol alternatives, and none of them aroused me at all. I went round and round in circles trying to land on an acceptable compromise, until I didn’t want a car anymore.

But I needed a car.

I was so tired of car shopping, I wished I could just have a car delivered to my door and not have to think about it anymore. Dejected, I made a deal with the Universe – either deliver me a car that I can be really excited about owning this weekend, or I’ll cave and buy a Honda Jazz or something, just to be done with it.

Enter The C30. The exact car my 19 year old self had ‘ordered’. Low enough emissions that I could live with indulging my guilty diesel pleasure for one last hurrah. Nearly 140,000 miles on the clock so it felt worldly (I’m not kidding that was a selling point for me). Delivered to my fucking door.

Why do I tell this story? Because it emerged into my consciousness as I was taking a walk today. And it was such a peculiar culmination of disparate threads, a bunch of which I haven’t even mentioned, that it invokes a healthy questioning of reality. And I want to make sure I remember it.

Polaris

There’s a man walking around out there in the world who is, to some extent, responsible for all the good things that I am today, who I don’t know, who doesn’t know me, who doesn’t want to know me, and who never really even did anything to deserve the dubious honour of being my greatest teacher and guide.

This is the premise of the post that, when I didn’t write it, made my every other post optional.

My favourite author is Haruki Murakami. One of the things that is notable about Murakami’s stories is that the protagonists are not crazy, but when crazy things happen to them they just go with it. They don’t fight it. They don’t agonise over whether they’re going crazy. And they don’t create a load of drama around it either. They sort of acknowledge their unusual situation with an equanimous shrug, and that’s about the extent of it.

Murakami’s characters always kind of gave me hope that the fact that I was…not crazy, but, also, not quite not crazy either…wasn’t such a bad thing after all.

And then, when crazy things finally started happening to me, that hope probably predisposed me to go with them. Until the reality of the situation I had gone with started dawning on me. Because, actually, it does take a full-blown crazy person to go with it when crazy things start happening. So, upon realising that I was, in fact, a full-blown crazy person, I started thrashing. But it was too late; I had made my decision and gone past the point of no return.

The fine line between genius and insanity has long intrigued me. But, in my life, I have often been just courageous enough to find out how much of a coward I really am, and, instinctively, I feel like courage may in fact, at least in my case, be the line between genius and insanity. Because it takes a little bit of courage to pursue your crazy vision, but it takes a whole heart full of courage to hold true to that vision while simultaneously acknowledging the hostile reality surrounding it. And that’s when, if you choose to continue, it becomes devastatingly easy to buffer yourself with clever distortions. At which point you’re swimming in a choppy sea of half-truths and the shore you were heading for could be over there, or it could be over there, or it could be over there, or it could be over there.

This man, who I don’t know, who doesn’t know me, who doesn’t want to know me, for some reason, became my North Star. Not only did his existence tempt me into an ocean that looked cold and scary and objectively dangerous, with the promise of gold on the other side, but it guided me, from quadrillions of miles away, across that ocean. And the gold I found was not the gold I thought I’d find, because I hadn’t escaped the clever distortions, but it was fucking gold nonetheless.

For some reason that I have yet to comprehend, this man, who I don’t know, who doesn’t know me, who doesn’t want to know me, imbued me with the courage that I never thought I had when I looked at him. By orienting myself toward his light, I completed a years-long journey that I would have otherwise torn myself to shreds on after a couple of days. And, at this point, it’s safe to assume that ‘his light’ was illusory – just another clever distortion of my sea of half-truths – but The Light was really fucking there, because if it hadn’t been there, if it hadn’t been constant, if it hadn’t been the ever-fixéd mark that looks on tempests and is never shaken, then I would have been lost.

This man, who I don’t know, who doesn’t know me, who doesn’t want to know me, allowed me to glimpse True Love. And I feel bad that he had to be the one to do that, because it wasn’t a job he signed up for and I don’t think it came without cost to him. I owe him a deep debt of gratitude. And at the same time, I have to acknowledge the fact that he didn’t have any fucking thing to do with it anyway. He was responsible for his own good grace in the face of my agonised thrashing, and for that there is a separate debt of gratitude. But the deep mystery of what transpired for me; the numinosity of those years of pilgrimage – that is a sacred burden that should never be placed on another human being’s shoulders.

You’ll have to forgive me if this blog post leaves you wondering what the hell this madwoman is rambling on about. This is a long thread to pull.

Explicit instructions

I put a sign in my sitting room above my notice board saying “breathe air, drink water, give thanks”. Last month I put a sign above my bedroom door saying “strong back, soft front, wild heart”. That one’s more poetic because it’s courtesy of Brené Brown.

I can’t say I welcome many visitors, even when we’re not in a national lockdown, but it’s the kind of thing I feel a bit sheepish about anyone seeing. Like I’m one of those people putting inane inspirational quotes around the place. Oh God, am I one step away from “live, laugh, love”??

But, to bring in yet another cliché turn of phrase, ‘out of sight, out of mind’ is a pretty big deal in my life. I do better when I externalise things. If something is important, it’s probably better if it’s in my field of vision. So I’ve adorned my walls with explicit instructions, and there are probably more to come.

The first day after I put up “breathe air, drink water, give thanks”, something upset me, and I sat there glowering at it. No. I will breathe, but I will sure as hell not breathe mindfully, which I know is what you mean. And I will not drink water, I will drink coffee, and maybe cola, to wash down the chocolate. I will watch TV and avoid paying any attention to my emotions, and you can get fucked if you think I’m going to transmute them into fucking gratitude. So shut up. I’m this fucking close to pulling you down.

We faced off for hours this way, neither of us willing to give in, and then I went to bed. And then, the next morning, there it was again, as staunch as ever. I had to admire that. And, after some rest, I had to concede it had a point, and I probably should have listened sooner.

It’s a beautiful thing when you can get called out by your wall.

Dicky-Dancing

I take too much responsibility for other people’s feelings.

I’m excruciatingly tuned in to how other people are feeling. It took me a long time to learn that a whole bunch of those feelings are nothing to do with me. People are complicated creatures living complicated lives, and they didn’t just emerge from the abyss a second ago to enter into this conversation with me. They’re carrying stories and problems and worries. That is mostly where their feelings come from. Sometimes, I may remind them of those stories and problems and worries, but I didn’t create them. It is fairly rare for their feelings to be directly or solely caused by me.

Now, even though I know that, if we take a look at my behaviour we’ll see I still dicky-dance about a lot trying not to cause anyone undue hurt. So, why, exactly, do I think dicky-dancing is required to avoid causing undue hurt? It seems an awful lot like I might have spent too much time around people looking for a reason to get hurt. People who were going to get hurt regardless of what I said or did.

Anyway, dicky-dancing is a terrible method to resort to. Just asking for some stepped-on toes.