Sunday, November 22, 2015

Alphabet of the Human Heart - As and Bs

I mentioned that someone special had bought me a book that's going to spark off a meme ...

The book is the Alphabet of the Human Heart by Matthew Johnstone and James Kerr and each page is a letter. One side of the book is positives, the other side is negatives. But the negatives side isn't so much about describing the emotions that burn us, more how we can redirect them to better ends.

Here goes for the first few letters ! Some of this is from the book, most of it is me ! All me.

A is for Anger. What makes us angry ? Fears, griefs, insecurities ? We have to understand our anger, absorb it, overcome it. Harness it but in doing so, direct it in positive directions. "Control the emotions and everything will be cool."

Most of the time, I'm a fairly placid character but there is that inner fire that has potential to lash out and burn. When I dropped a catch in the cricket, I would get very angry at myself and damage my weak shoulder by throwing the ball back too hard. When a team mate fluffed something easy, I'd bite down on the nasty comment and give encouragement instead. There's often a snarky comment being directed at other drivers on the road as they do something silly. When people at work are less professional than they should be, there is a cold fire burning. When I see prejudice, towards me or towards others, that's really bad for my sense of calm.

But we need to direct those reactions to positive ends. Although that does often mean at work that people don't realise that I walked away so as to not explode. With the cricket, the anger and passion would drive me to play harder but always fairly. I'd bowl meaner, run faster, throw harder (not good for me!) but I would not cross that line into unfair play. If the batsman annoyed me, I'd try and run him out or bowl him out. I wouldn't (intentionally*!) bowl or throw at their heads.

*The flaw in my shoulder made me lose all control of bowling length and meant that balls could come out directed at people's heads - so I stopped bowling because combine that with swinging deliveries that follow the batsman as they try and take avoiding action - potentially lethal.

Direct your anger but do that in positive ways. Don't let it turn hurtful to others, your conscience will make you regret that later.

A is for Adventure. It is the opposite of television.

I love the German Market coming back every year. It's new. It's different. My favoured activity in Elite is to go trading in new places. In Warcraft, it would be to travel through the zones seeing what's new. With people, people are unpredictable and it's fun being on that adventure with them. I like seeing things that are new. I'll hopefully get to the Bath Xmas market when it opens at the end of this week, I've missed that for the last few years.

Adventure is fun. Don't miss out on it. Embrace the unpredictable.

B is for Boredom. Oh what an appropriate one to follow Adventure ...

The cure is curiosity. Do something different, learn new things, see new sights. Ask a kiddie what to do, they have an uncluttered, unspoiled, unprejudiced mindset which can be absolutely gold. Tune in to life. Turn off the tv.

I have to admit, an episode of The Flash is on the telly while I tap this post out. But I see that as one sign that I tune into life and away from boredom. The story of The Flash tv series still interests me, although it's not as good as the new Supergirl. However, contrast that to The Walking Dead, which I stopped watching cos ... boredom. It's not as good as when it started out. But that's telly. There are more stories out there.

Some of the time, I'm putting my mind through familiar patterns that some would see as boring. It's the repetitive task or game that is the opposite of adventure or new. But it is a certain kind of cathartic activity that lets my brain relax while simultaneously racing. My brain seems to like doing that. I like seeing new things but I also need to switch off.

One thing about cricket, why I find it compelling, every game is different. England have done pretty well in the one day games but you'd never have called a 3-1 series win for them in this series when it started. Jos Buttler, our wicket keeper, was in such bad form that the fastest ever 100 by an Englishman was totally unexpected.

There's a few things I want to see fairly soon, although I'd like to see them with someone :
Bath Xmas market while it's on.
SS Great Britain.
Bristol Planetarium.
Snow ! Infinite patterns and infinite possibility of snowmen.
And people who surprise me with smiles.

Because smiles are awesome. Even if I never really believe that it's me that made them smile.

B is also for Balance, which gets us full circle to Anger.

Where there is anger, the answer should be calm. Yin, Yang. Acid and sherbets (hey ! It's been working for me, the sherbet lemons have been counteracting the excess acid I make). Balance is the tension between opposites, day and night, warm and cold, ice and fire, conversation and silence, sociability and solitude, love for another and love for yourself. We always strive for balance, weigh up the options that will let you achieve that.

When I feel anger, I ask : How will others see me like this ? This moderates my reactions when I drive. The need to not show that Horned Demon side helps me hide it within and suppress it.

Day brings sun, night brings sleep. And stars. Stars are pretty. One thing I've never done is to go out in the country somewhere on a cloudless night and see the stars open up before me. Never had the excuse.

Warm and cold, ice and fire. I like being warm but I don't react well when it gets too hot. Cold brings snow. The fire inside turns to ice as I redirect it.

Conversation is great but silence can also be that intimacy of enjoying another's company without needing to say anything. To have a comfortable silence. To not know what the other will say but to be in tune with it. To not rush it by being sociable when the other wants to talk and giving them the space of solitude when they want a quiet moment.

And most important, giving a little love for the other and not making it all about yourself. I fall down a bit there as I think I turn the conversation round to me a little too much when I talk to other people. How do others see that ? It's something I'm aware of that I do, perhaps I'm seeing something that isn't there.

I do like to keep an eye on the close friends though to see if they're ok. I keep an eye open for pictures that I think will make people smile. I see things that remind me of others and think "Will they like that?" Yep. I think of other people a lot, possibly more than I do myself although my attention has been drawn to me rather too much as I get healthy again.

That's an odd thought - I may be properly healthy again soon, with the problems with my outsides steadily receding. There's still damage to repair but ... it's getting there. Just have problems on my insides now !

Haha - I'll leave it there. Back for more A to Z sometime soon :-).

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