Conspicuous playlists and things I shouldn’t see

When I was a kid, I used to spend a lot of time thinking about wishes. Like the working class youngun I was, I fantasised about what I would do if I won the lottery, and I also whiled away hours constructing the perfect wishes that, should they come true, would fulfill all my heart’s desires.

I’m a lot more suspicious of the concept of wishes these days. I’m too acquainted with complexity to want to risk taking such responsibility for my life. There are many things that I want, that I believe would give me the life of my dreams, but I know I don’t know the full ramifications of them manifesting in my life. So I prefer to keep things vague. Focus on who I want to be, and how I want to feel, and let life fill in the blanks. It’s not that I won’t pursue what I desire, but if somebody was to give me the power to click my fingers, I’m not sure I would take it. I still find myself pondering what I would do if granted a wish, but it’s more out of trepidation – I do not want to be tricked by a wily jinn.

I happened upon one of those pretty social media quotes that people like to post the other day. Something about being tired of being strong, and wanting to just have what you wanted. I don’t recall exactly. And I can sympathise with that. But I read it and I thought nah, I’m not tired of being strong. It kind of surprised me, to be honest. There are significant parts of my daily existence that you’d think I’d be over by now, yet it turns out I’m happy to keep grinding away with them if they’re making me better.

But the Universe has been playing a little game with me recently. Bizarre synchronicities compounding to propel me down a path and make the past feel altogether more present. It has been raising infuriating questions that I have no way of answering for myself. And it reminded me, there is still one area where I’m tired of being strong. Still one area where it strains me to bear the burden of not having what I want. And that strain has made me strong; incredibly capable of bearing other burdens and barely even noticing. But I am tired. And I would like to have what I want now. I have one wish.

Answers.

I don’t want to intepret the symbols anymore, I just want you to speak to me.

I hope I’m feeling brazen

As soon as I typed the phrase “I have a tendency to hyperfixate on people“, a voice in my head said you’re gonna have to write about Polaris again now.

While my parasocial celebrity fixations are largely wholesome and harmless, my real-life fixations have most often been of the variety that could be labelled toxic. Mainly because my brain loves the drama of emotionally unavailable men, and literally can’t get enough of the fucking chase. Give me obtuse statements to obsess over the meaning of and it’ll keep me occupied for days. Give me imaginary hoops to jump through to get you and I will be gleefully bounding all week. I genuinely enjoy it. It excites me. It’s fun. But, I mean, it’s also clearly interacting with my childhood trauma. It’s not healthy, and it invariably leaves me with the same feeling I get if I binge eat 800g of chocolate. Alongside the inevitable carnage, obviously.

Polaris exists at the intersection of these two breeds of hyperfixation.

For a brief moment in time we had a paper-thin, at-a-distance reciprocal connection. During that time, I recognised the familiar sensations of a very powerful hyperfixation developing, only at that time I just called it love. And honestly, experientially, hyperfixation is love as far as I’m concerned. Who knows what it would have become if allowed to run its course.

Much like Guy Martin, I found myself sort of uncomfortably attracted to him, because I couldn’t quite figure out what to make of him and thus couldn’t decide if being attracted to him was an acceptable course of action. Over the years I would come to understand; acceptability was entirely irrelevant. Reading his messages made me feel like the fourth minute of Hot Knife by Fiona Apple, on 1.5 speed, loud and through good headphones, and the sensation didn’t wear off on the rereads. If I still had access to them, I’m willing to wager I’d still feel like that. I was, and always will be, profoundly elated that he ever existed in the same Universe as me and I got to know about it.

And then he bounced, so naturally, the chase was on. Why did he leave? Was it something I said? Let’s analyse every word and figure it out. Was it something wrong with him? Let’s list all the fucked up things about him that might exist that could account for this behaviour. Am I a worthless piece of shit human and that’s why he disappeared? Probably, but maybe we can convince him that you’re not if we carefully craft some sort of outreach initiative. My faulty programming had a fucking field day strategising the hunt.

But that’s just the surface level. Simultaneously, something deeper was happening. Something…spiritual.

The day after my first message from Polaris, I wrote a song. I’ve written quite a lot of songs in my life. I don’t exactly write them intentionally – they just sort of come out of me sometimes, when they’re the only adequate way to express myself to myself. I don’t know what to do with most of them, so they get stuck in the limbo of just being a vocal melody that I’m too scared to reveal to anyone. That’s what happened to this song too. But when I started this blog and I needed a tagline, the only thing that seemed right to use was a lyric from that song: following the flow, the flux, of living, breathing days. I always thought I’d change it because it was a lyric, not a tagline, but nothing ever rose to supercede it. That line neatly encapsulates my intention in a way I will fail to if I actually try, and for the purposes of this post, it demonstrates that Polaris awakened in me something I’ve been trying to nurture ever since. His impact endured.

Thus, my life is demarcated by Polaris. Before and after. The way I’ve chosen to live; the discoveries and recoveries I’ve made; the things I’ve created…everything I’ve become beyond who I was before can be cleanly and unequivocally traced back to him. That should be a fucking uncomfortable statement to make, but it’s not. Polaris was a hyperfixation. But Polaris was also a soul-changing event. Polaris was divine intervention. If you’re sensing biblical vibes here, then yes, I am living in the year of the Lord.

There hasn’t been a day that’s passed since I ‘met’ Polaris that I haven’t thought of him. And I have object permanence issues; I forget my own son exists sometimes when he’s with his dad. I’ve never met this person – as far as I’m concerned, he has no physical form. Yet, long after I was starved of any new Polaris-related input, there he is. It isn’t about him. It could be about him, too; he might be as magnificent a human as I believe him to be, I simply do not know. I had to learn to live with the agony of not knowing. Fucking Schrodinger’s Star. But I don’t even remember him at this point. He’s just a nebulous mass. It’s about what he represented for me. And will probably always represent.

So many things converged to create the experience I had with Polaris. It was nothing short of magical, and it was also too fucking much for my human self. It obliterated me. And then it transformed me.

And because I am who I am, if I was going to transform, then it only made sense that it would be through connection with another human that I would access that transformation. But this was certainly not how I imagined that kind of thing would go. And, my god, what an awkward aftermath.

The Next Source

My friends organised a virtual murder mystery party the other night, and I was assigned a flamboyant celebrity character to embody for the night. And, not long into the night, I thought, yes, I’ve missed this.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about certain aspects of myself that I have disowned over the years. One of which being my attention-seeking, overtly unconventional, indulgently outrageous aspect. It used to be that I couldn’t help being that way, but being that way brought me so much pain, in the form of shame and self-hatred, that I eventually quashed it. I made myself less. I made myself smaller. I made myself easier to tolerate. It’s such a common fucking story that it’s hardly worth telling.

I thought the attention-seeking and the outlandishness were the wrong part. I thought the shame and self-hatred were caused by them. So I toned down the former and, indeed, the latter subsided.

In the subsequent years, I began to understand it was the shame and self-hatred that were, in fact, the problem, and over time I worked on them and, one way and another, disentangled myself from their grasp.

But, even though I still considered the playful rebel an intrinsic part of my identity, I couldn’t even admit to myself the extent to which I had diminished it. If I have ever fully embraced that side of myself, it could only have been in early childhood, because as far back as I remember, the reckless abandon, exaltation and satisfaction of its expression were always followed by excruciating self-consciousness and remorse, that prematurely cut them dead.

I believed, very potently, that it made me a bad person to indulge my desires so openly. And I also thought that maybe it shouldn’t. And I also didn’t want other people to think that I believed that it made me a bad person. I wanted them to believe that I didn’t care. I wanted to believe that I didn’t care. But I cared with such exquisite clarity that it gradually immobilised me.

I have been trying to unfuck myself for such a long time. My entire life’s endeavour has been trying to unfuck myself. And it’s funny, really, how the source of the fuck has been so very elusive all these years. I’ve tiptoed down so many shady back-alleys and climbed down so many winding ravines, tirelessly searching for the source of the fuck. There is always another source of the fuck. Like a desert mirage, the source of the fuck is always just out of reach.

To locate the next source of the fuck, I must first embrace my brashest, bluntest, boldest tendencies. I have been actively avoiding this my entire adult life. It’s been a limit I’ve been unwilling to cross, even though I’ve known I needed to. Because I don’t fucking want to. And I really fucking want to. And it’s all just very confusing.

As within, so without

When I was younger, the primary focus of all my desire was romantic love. I would happily turn my life upside down, and myself inside out, in pursuit of it. I couldn’t understand why it wasn’t so important to everyone else. I assumed they were missing something.

I was the one missing something – hoping endlessly that romantic love would fill the void where this missing piece should reside.

I suffered under that misguided notion for a couple of decades (I started very young). Eventually I figured out what I really needed to do, which was, essentially, learn to love myself.

And then I could soften my focus. I turned my attention to health. And then to wealth. And looking back, I can see I’ve been filling in missing pieces in order of importance, without even realising what I was doing. I was not always very effective in my endeavours, but there was something very wise at play urging me toward wholeness.

At this stage of my life, I am grateful to genuinely feel my greatest desire is to contribute. I deeply desire to be of service in the best way I can be. It’s not a sense of obligation, but a sense of inspiration, excitement, compulsion, to find the best path to enact positive change. I haven’t exactly found the path yet, and I’m not exactly healed yet, but the difference is stark from where I used to be.

It has pretty much convinced me that changing the world for the better is, first and foremost, an inside job. We all need to do our own work to fix our broken and missing pieces, before we can fully come together and do the collective work of fixing the mess all of our pains and traumas have created.

That’s a frustrating truth that many would argue with, but I set my sights high when I think about changing the world, and I can’t see a reality where we don’t create a world in our own image.

There are a whole lot of messes that need fixing right now, so we’re going to have to make do with some broken pieces in the meantime. The point is not to lose sight of the inner work amongst the outer work. Because to get the real traction that’s required to tackle our big fucking problems, we need more whole people showing up.