A World Full of Magic vs. an Internet Full of Facts?

As a child I was lucky enough to grow up in an environment which allowed me freedom from adult responsibility. The world to me seemed a complex enigma, made up of many layers, each as beautiful and as compelling as the next. To me, the mythical world was just as real and as tangible as the mundane context through-which, I believed, it could be interpreted. In every cloud I saw a picture and in every mossy tree trunk I saw a face. The world was mysterious and magical;  ours to unravel. However, as time passed I began to grow up.

Recently I  have been thinking a lot about this universal subject; the complex relationship between ( as William Blake put it),  innocence and experience. How do we retain wonderment and enthusiasm for life while at the same time learning as much as we can about how our world works? How do we remain fascinated by the land that may lie just beyond the woods outside of our window, when we have Google images to tell us that all that is there, is more concrete and another motorway? It occurs to me that I am lucky to have been a child just before the internet monopolised our lives so completely. Had I only been four or five years younger than I am, I may never had had to wonder about what magic could be residing just outside of my vision, I simply could have asked my good friend Google. Indeed I’ve babysat children who own their own i-pads at an age when I couldn’t keep a tamagotchi alive for two days. What if we are denying children the chance to one day be the inventors and dreamers of the world, as well as denying the world of their creativity? Could the age of internet mean the end of imagination?

Perhaps we must find a new way to cultivate imagination. Perhaps within our interpretation of ‘facts’ and information imagination can still thrive. As said by Yeats: “The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper”.

Feeling disillusioned every so often is natural. We cannot always be transfixed or wholly enchanted by what surrounds us. We must carry on with our mundane duties. We must learn, become functioning adults. However, I would like to believe that enchantment can still be found in our lives, as adults and as children. We all experience our surroundings differently, and so while we all may receive the same information overload, we can still look at life through our own  unique lenses. As long as we approach life with a ‘let’s experience this’ attitude, as opposed to a ‘let’s get it done’ one, I believe that we can still find magic in everyday life.

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Free to Be Safe?

Recently I have been thinking a lot about the murky dis-clarity  which often seems to surround the discussion of student nightlife, alcohol and of consent.

Almost every week I hear new rumours particularly (though not exclusively) of young women being attacked on the streets, or of groups of friends pitted against each other with different opinions on whether an encounter was consensual or not. These stories,  are passed on at times as tales of caution, told with great with sympathy. Often though, (particularly among an older generation), I hear these stories passed on as though they are fresh slices of gossip, loaded with ridicule and open to assumption. I myself bore witness to this ridicule just a fortnight ago after being randomly pounced upon by an older man on the street. Although I thankfully escaped this individual unscathed with the aid of my friends, I was both astounded and saddened by the reactions I was met with when I told some people of what had happened. Of course, many of my friends were outraged by what they heard; but they were a distinct minority. It seems to me that most people, even people within my own family, could only agree that I had been wronged once they had been assured that, yes I had been ‘respectfully’ dressed in black tights, a long sleeved dress and a knee length overcoat. This to me is nonsensical.  Why do we still automatically seek fault in victims as opposed to addressing the actions of the perpetrator? Perhaps it is an unwillingness of society at large to face up  a darker side of the human condition. One may also suggest that the extremely common reaction I received, is a symptom of ageism or sexism still prevalent in our so called modern society, colouring our perception of teenage and young women.

This unwillingness to confront the realities of a nightlife culture based around alcohol, becomes clear when discussing the issue of consent. I can almost feel eye balls rolling when I use that word consent. Constantly I hear people complain that they are sick of hearing about consent and its importance; Surely by now we all understand what constitutes as consent and what does not? However a student with first hand experience of this culture, I am left wondering whether many of us actually do. If we are all experts on what constitutes as consent, why is it that we still blame victims for their outfits choices or their alcohol intake? Since when has someone wearing a dress become an invitation for assault? The blame lies only with the person who commits an assault, not with their victim.  We each have a responsibility to educate ourselves around issues of consent. Furthermore it is vital that we challenge our prejudices and inform ourselves fully, before we cast judgement on those involved with such incidents. Personally I feel that reading novels such as Louise O’Neil’s ‘Asking for It‘ has genuinely aided me to open my eyes to these issues. Similarly, I hope to read Polly White’s ( found at https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/51508251)  new novel ‘What if I Go‘ not only to educate but to empower me to speak up about these topics, even though they can be surrounded by stigma and controversy. As members of our societies, we have a responsibility to try to achieve as fair a society as we can, whether we do this through speaking openly about our beliefs,  independent research, or simply through overcoming pre-judgments and stereotypes.

These issues are not the problem of a few; they are the problem of all within any society in which they are still prevalent.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why I Write

Hello everyone! Today I thought tat I would write a post about writing, and why writing is such a compulsive reaction for me, whenever things go wrong or when life feels a little overwhelming. However, as I was writing I realised just how wavering and ever evolving my relationship with writing is. Hence, I deleted what I had written and have decided to do a little experiment, which I hope will better reflect my changeable relationship with words and language. Over the next number of weeks along with my usual (somewhat sporadic) posts, I am going to record in mini posts (are they a thing?) how I am feeling regarding my writing on that particular occasion.

Day 1.  I think that words may be my guide. So often I cannot feel feelings, and yet still find myself full of words. Bubbling, and tumbling, they rise up through me and land on  my confounded tongue, or through my arm onto a page. Sometimes they mean nothing, while at the same time meaning everything. They bring me back, slowly to the surface of consciousness. Through words I can be, even on those days when I cannot find my soul or inner self; perhaps on those days especially. Through words I have a physical connection to the world, and so I exist. Words have the ability to take an undercurrent of feeling, and to manifest something physical in its place.  Some days, I feel that words are all of what I am.

Uncrafted

Having this week (somehow) completed my first year of university, being the narcissist I am, I’ve found myself reflecting upon the general state of chaos with which it often feels like I crash through my life. It’s strange, I can see my reflection as I walk past a door or a mirror everyday as I go about my daily life and recognise that on the surface I look ‘together’, sophisticated even, just like everyone else. In reality I know that I (touch wood) have no genuine problems. This is where my confusion lies; why does my life feel so often out of control and I like a jester, or a wandering minstrel bringing noise wherever I go, though having no idea where that might be. It seems sometimes as though I am lying, that I merely purse my lips and walk briskly as though with purpose when really I have drifted through the past two years of my life like an empty bottle in a vast ocean; with neither direction nor any real ambition.

In truth, I think that a lot of us feel this way, or at least I hope so ( I would hate if this was only me).  A couple of years ago, a friend of mine introduced me to the world of social media, after years of friends urging me to join Facebook and Instagram. Immediately I was struck by the new perspective I was receiving of my friends. It was as though friends I had known for years,  my own siblings even suddenly had incredible double lives in which they spent every day at the beach or parties, and lived on diets consisting of only kale and increasingly intricate cupcakes which were 90% icing and only 10% actual bun. I was amazed. There were even pictures of me on their social media, laughing and smiling as though I had not a care in the world; I two had a doppelganger who spent everyday day at the beach. The fact is that the lives that my friends were presenting while not untrue were certainly not real representations of our mundane lives; they were more like fan-fictions of our friendship, collages of what our ideal lives would look like.Despite this however, I have found that ever since that  introduction into the online world, I have never quite made peace with the fact that my life can never be as picture perfect as the girl I saw in those photos.

During the past couple years I have cooked only with coconut oil, religiously guzzled down eight glasses of water a day, along with four mugs of green tea. I have taken up yoga, tried on and off to turn my seven years of vegetarianism into veganism, catastrophically failed at turning my magpie tendencies into minimalist ones and have tried to stamp out all emotions which do not squeeze into the Instagram interpretation  of ‘mindfulness’ or ‘graciousness’. Of course, one must always be grateful and it certainly is healthy to practice mindfulness and to appreciate the clarity it offers. However I dare to believe that our other (perhaps less refined) emotional states also serve a purpose; why else would we experience them? The lives we so often present online while seamless and lovely are not complete; like the characters we craft in books, they tell a certain story with the props with which they are equipped. In our real, physical realities, it becomes more difficult to narrate the story we wish to present. While makeup and clothes may act as a slight filter on the lives we present to the world, if we are lucky enough, we will have have friends great enough to see straight through the embellishments we place upon ourselves and our lives, they will recognise who we are in our ‘uncrafted’, confusing lives.

I suppose that if I have a point in writing this (and I’m not sure whether I have), it is to allow a part of my uncrafted self to brave the internet. While it is true that I sometimes eat kale, enjoy the very occasional ill-proportioned cupcake and definitely find myself at more parties than I will ever admit, it is also true that I sometimes ea an entire packet of  crisps (shock) , that I possibly have the most chaotic desk and bedroom in the whole of Europe (horror), and it is even true that I sometimes feel lonely, confused, foolish, frustrated and occasionally even angry. I am not without fault, and I am not devoid of many complex emotions, I am both ugly and beautiful; I am uncrafted.

 

First blog post

Dear reader,

I will begin this new acquaintance by offering to you, an explanation. Convention dictates that all new friendships must begin, with a simple exchange of names; thus, we here arrive at our first complication. For the purpose of this diary-style blog, I must (for now) remain anonymous.

Since leaving home for college I have learned much from living alone; one being that in hindsight, I am far less independent or easy going, as I once upon a time believed myself to be. Facing the world alone can be difficult, perhaps especially when you’re in your late teens or  early twenties and only just realising how little you really know about the world. It is because of this, mainly, that I have decided to write this blog, as opposed to keeping a private diary. As I amble my way through this new, overwhelming lifestyle as a girl at the beginning her independent adult life, I felt that it would be interesting not only to document, but to share and discuss events and thoughts as they occur in my life, and see how my opinions on issues (great and small) evolve over time.

Being alive, (at least as I experience it) is never going to be easy. Every experience we navigate is subjective; seen through a lens, not quite the same as any other. Attempting to judge right from wrong is never truly a straight forward procedure. Everything we experience is endured through our own personal adaptation. My telling of events will never be completely the same, as my friend’s recollection of events; just as your reading of these words, will likely differ in some way to how I interpret them, even as I write. Each of us responds to situations independently of one another. We each notice and hone in on, alternative details submerged within a common overall vision and so, I must admit that in all thoughts and opinions, I remain assuredly uncertain.