Thursday, 18 June 2015

The Big One

As the title suggests - I can see this blog post being one of my biggest to date, and I'll pre-warn you the subject matter might get a little bit 'heavy'.

And just to punctuate that point - Im going to start with dying. Sort of.

I've been off work since Monday with the same issues with my stomach I had a couple of months ago. Really severe stomach cramps, vomiting, nausea, lethargy. It's been pretty horrible, and my other half will tell you - I am not a good sick person.

When I went to the doctors with the first bout I was told it was diet related and duly started eating more regularly as instructed - however it's obviously flared up again so this time the doctors advised me that they would take some bloods and do some tests etc and I was put on a course of medication to help my stomach in the meantime.

Now I'm not one for being melodramatic and consider myself pretty 'happy go-lucky' with most things and never ever not even once, have I attempted to self diagnosis. However a lot of different scenarios were running through my head as to what could be causing this problem and the big C came up as one of the top hits on that doctor we all visit on occasion by the name of

This (I think) is pretty absurd. But it did get me thinking not so much about dying, but instead about living life.

Apparently it takes 12 years to become a master at  anything (something like 10,000 hours).

Look at that number again. 12 Years to become a Master at anything.

At first, that seemed like a big number to me, but in actual fact, if you think about it - in the grand scheme of things it's not that big a number.

I'm 28. If I had seriously applied myself to anything at the age of sixteen then that 12 years would be up already. I mean think about what you could do if you had 12 years worth of time to do something, think of what you could accomplish, or more importantly, think of what you couldn't!

I'm going to put it out there now - I dont think there is anything, anything at ALL, I couldnt do if I had twelve years to do it and the dedication to see it through.

This idea got me thinking some more about life, time and ultimately kicking the bucket. The average life expectancy in the UK (for a guy) is 79.5 years (for women its 82.5, so you get an extra 3 years to become masters at something!). Now that's a hell of a lot longer than the twelve years it takes to become excellent at anything. In that time frame, you can become excellent at alot of things. If we assume you dont start trying to be  excellent until your 16 then there are five lots of 'mastery' to be obtained. Thats a lot of potential for one person.

So why dont we see more masters? I mean with a planet of people burgeoning on 8 billion souls each with an average life expectancy of at least, lets take an average and say 50 years, that's still a lot of dudes that could be becoming masters. But aren't

Michaelangelo was a master artist and sculpture (for the love of god I hope that isn't news to anyone out there) who died in 1564.

That was 451 years ago, in that time frame how many other people have come close  to his level of skill with a brush. Not that many. Yet there are billions of people throughout the world with all this potential time available to them and yet true masters of any craft are few and far between.

Bach was a composer who died in the  late 1700's some two hundred years ago and despite all of the musicians that have graced the planet in the time since his death - how many have reached his level of mastery?

And this isn't limited to musicians and artists, Archimedes the Greek mathematician and physicist died before Christ was born - and the guy, now wait for it...he worked out Pi.

Is it just me that that astounds? With no modern points of reference, or peers of equal calibre to coerce with he worked out that Pi was a constant, irrational number that stood for the ratio of a circles circumference to it's diameter regardless of the circles size - 2200 years ago.

That blows my mind.

But back to masters, and why I think these are fewer and further between in todays modern world.

In a word the answer is: Distraction.

Or possibly Variety would be more apt.

In todays world there are an endless amount of pursuits available to everyone at the touch of a button. If I search for 'hobby's' in google - literally thousands of results will be returned. As a result we often tend to find ourselves pursuing one interest until we become proficient (or give up) and then progress on to another.

Back then this didn't happen. Would Michaelangelo have painted the Sistine Chapel if he had an XBox to play, or a Kindle with half a million novels to read? It wasn't a hobby for these masters of the past that they pursued, it was a way of life.

Now I'm not saying that distraction or variety is a bad thing. I love having so much information and knowledge available to me and I'd like to consider myself as good at a lot of different things, but Im no where near a master in any area.

And to be honest I dont ever intend on being so. But the twelve years of time thing did get me thinking.

There is a lot I want to do with my life - a large part of it, I haven't even thought of yet. But the stuff I do want to do with it is going on a list. Call it a bucket list if you will, I'll refer to it as my 'To Do List'.

And what better time than now to start writing one.

In order to curb the size of this post somewhat I'm going to transfer the list to a tab once I've finished writing it up,

But in the meantime, seriously consider what youre doing in life right now, and ask yourself - what do you want to achieve in the next twelve years.

Because honestly you  can do or become whatever or whoever you want to in that period of time.

Good luck

Dare to Dream


Monday, 18 May 2015

One of those strange coincidences...

I have no idea what it is, but it always seems to me that whenever I log in to my blog, or find a journal in my bedroom, or pick up a chapter of a forgotten manuscript - that it's been a year (give or take) since I last looked at/worked on or thought about it.

I cant believe when reading through my last post that it was written almost a year ago and once I read it I felt compelled to give an update on how things are going with me.

I am in a love hate relationship with my job. I recall sitting in RDM having organised my tasks for the week and plodding my way through them how monotonous the task at hand was, god forbid I even remember having the audacity to feel bored! That alas is no longer a luxury I have.

The statement 'Not enough hours in the day' could not be more apt than when being used in my current role. Gone are the days of clock watching and packing up at 16.58, all the time silently praying my phone doesn't go in next two minutes and instead I look forward to the peace and serenity that 17.01 brings knowing that I now have some peace and quiet to get on and finish whatever it was I planned on doing at 8am that morning.

OK not entirely accurate most days I finish the thing I started at 8am before 10, but there is always something else to do, and as much as some situations have me wanting to tear my hair out - I find I am thoroughly enjoying my work. It's challenging and rewarding at the same time.

I imagine Clark's to be one of the  few employers who don't hide any aspect of the process from it's staff. If your on the Team  Clark's bus then you are on it from the beginning to the end. From the moment a claim is logged right up until I pass it for invoicing I have a direct impact on it's success, and that in itself is liberating, to be trusted with that responsibility. And as much as I may dread the prospect of what the day ahead holds, I leave most nights feeling that I achieved a great deal and that my actions throughout the day have at least aided some people on their path back to normality...all be it mine will be as mental as yesterday when tomorrow arrives :P. 

(All that being said, when the alarm goes off at 6am I definitely miss my 9am starts!)

So the work stuff aside what has been happening in my life? Well, to be honest I'm not nearly as windswept and interesting as I thought I would be when I imagined where my life would be at this point ten years ago. There are no BAFTA's, no statue's being erected and not a single condo has been purchased in Florida from the proceeds of my novels (though I did get a random payment of 54p from Amazon last month - so thanks to that ONE person who has bought my book this year, you bought me 9/10ths of a Mars Bar - I thoroughly enjoyed it!). I've not even became a millionaire yet!

It's funny (and somewhat cringeworthy) when I look back on where I thought I would be in my late twenties. Life isn't anywhere near as easy as my younger self believed, and a lesson I'm learning now that I wish I had then, is that yes, you do in fact get out of life what you put in to it. Amassing an extraordinary amount of debt at 18 is not a great plan for any aspiring adult and given the amount of time I spend looking at numbers now, I wish I had looked at, and known WTF an APR was, back then. And yet getting myself out of all that debt has taught me a lot about being a grown up, lessons I may not have learnt until much later.

Now although I'm not where my 15 year old self imagined (I've got less hair for a start!) - I am definitely in a good place right now, a great one in fact! As I stated in my last update I got engaged and we've set a date (albeit a couple of years away) in June 2017. When, despite my teenage self never imagining I'd find a girl that could love my geeky nature for more than a month let alone a lifetime, I will in fact be MARRIED!

Toots has just qualified as a nurse and has just netted her first job in an Optomology ward (that's to do with eyes...I know, I thought it was to do with Optom's too.) and we have just put down a deposit on our first flat together.

I'm excited about moving out, I know I've done it a few times before but it's never felt as right as it does now. Sure I know that learning to live full time with someone will take a lot of work, there's the cooking and the cleaning and the bad habits and the bills and the "it's my turn for the remote" conversations - but  Toots will be awesome at all of that.

Never before have I felt so invigorated at the prospect of a trip to Ikea at the weekend (wow, I am really am growing up), walking through the store I actually feel myself starting to get at excited at the prospect of building things! And putting that over there next to that other thing. It's great! Storage space was a concept that I didn't think one could lose hours thinking about and yet alas, I have.

So that is happening and it happens in less than a fortnight. As I write this I realise that I may have been overzealous in my packing having already dismantled my bed meaning it's a mattress on the floor for the next 14 days.

In writing and other news, there is little or nothing to report. I am playing a lot of magic the gathering (trying at least to stick to one of my new years resolutions) and trying to play at competitive level as much as I can.

I have started to write an MTG Planeswalker's Guide to competitive magic and have had permission from several of the big sites to use pictures and content from their sites in the book, but it'll definitely to be a work in progress as I'm still on a learning curve myself.

I've started to take a serious stance on MTG Finance (which for those who don't know what MTG is, it's a bit like the stock market - with trading cards being the stock) and am pleased to say that my collection's value is steadily growing.

Empire, my second novel is undergoing a pretty monumental plot change. I reached a point in the second installation of the series where I had one of those 'OMG that's a great idea moments!' that authors everywhere will have experienced at one point or another. The problem with those moments is that they often need to be set up, subtly, a long time in advance. So book 1 now lays the groundwork for the main plot of book 2, but you don't realise it at the time and then when it gets to book 3 the "Luke, I am your Father!' moment happens and it blows your least that's the plan.

Books 2 and 3 of the series have had a lot more time spent on the background stories and themes for almost every place, race or person mentioned which often means delving back in to book 1 to give the latter installations substance. It's great fun, but time consuming. Hopefully when they are done, I'll have a finished product I am happy with, regardless of whether or not they ever buy a condo.

Anyways, it's suddenly 00.40 and my alarm clock is ominously predicting a wake up call in 5hrs 20mins - time for me to get some sleep!

Thanks for reading,

Ill update more often (or if not, check back around about this time next year ;))

Dare to Dream,