changesI'm not the man I used to be. There's no doubt about it, I've changed.
As a teenager, I was top of my year at the Academy for Maths, but these days even simple arithmetic can put my head into a spin-cycle! My brain has changed, re-wiring itself along the way for whatever the task in hand, more and more becoming a different brain.
We all change. Every day. And There's no escaping it. Our thoughts, opinions, outlook, all fluid. The things we do, change, over time, and the way we do them. I accept this, but I do question one thing: Who decides these changes?
I don't watch TV, that's by choice. I watch people who watch TV, though, and I see how it gets inside them, sucks them in and assimilates them, changing them. It starts with wee things, you catch them quoting critique on the latest films, and actually caring about soap opera weddings, they are tuning in*. Not everyone is so affected. But I am, so I don't watch TV.
I remember sailing up the Themes, erm, Thames?, well, that big river in London (the one at the start of Eastenders maybe), and I'm only seven and I'm right up at the bow, yapping to this American guy with a fat camera and an even fatter wife. And I am startled to realise that for some reason I have adopted an American accent! It was fun, though, and I kept it up for almost the whole journey.
I remember at nine or thereabouts, my mother on the phone to her employer, and her voice got all posh, and I thought, well There's a strange thing, and then I noticed everyone does it, all the time, and I was the worst! Or maybe it's for the best, and There's another question.
I have more memories than when I was a kid, and this useful to me, more pieces of the jigsaw, as it were. But I've forgotten so much, too. I'm reminding myself right now as I blog, in an attempt to pinpoint exactly where I changed, because I don't seem to do it anymore.
Or do I?
Yes, I've changed. Yes, I'm very clever for spotting my flaws and doing something about them. But in reality, the traits themselves aren't gone, they have simply been transmuted to some higher function. At seven I could impersonate a pretty convincing American, or posh person, or whatever. But now, I can be anything I want to be! Role-play, it's practice.
So now I can assume any rôle.
If we humans are to thrive, even survive this next century, I suspect we'll all need to get on with our work, whatever that might be, our life's work. And to know what that is, we have to know, to coin a phrase, "our own mind". I think you can see where I'm going with this.
The mirroring is an infantile thing, sure, but essential learning, a necessary step on the road to true empathy. So we all do it, some more than others. Truth is, everything influences me, strikes me to the core. I find myself enthralled with the slightest and simplest of things, and partly this is why mathematical solutions become intangible to me, I am so enraptured by the beauty of the problem's simplest elements.
Soap operas depress me, and make me angry. They charge me up and make me want to shout "FUCK" at the whole world. If you watch them for a few days in a row, you become desensitised, and eventually care about very little at all. (If you want to get your true feelings across to a soap opera addict, you need to shout Very Loudly, to get through the surface tension, and their own screen of soap opera amplified kinesics, of course.)
Eventually, their lives become soap opera, and only those brave induviduals able to pull themselves away from the remote-controlled* retangular shrine between peak-time hours has any chance of a real life, or real change, change orchestrated by themselves.
Being most affected by the surrounding environment, a sensitive soul you might say, me, realising myself a mirror to the world around me, decided to turn this powerful capability in on myself, and that was when I realised what it was all for.
And when all the crazy 50Hz people are milling around in their frantic, dizzy exclamation of an existance, declaring and proclaiming the importance of politics, or government, laws, religion, or morals and all that shite, I AM! and while I realise all these things are required in the world, for now, I have no part in them! In the world, not of it.
The point! That crucial moment in time when I changed the path I was on. I rememer now. And it's ironic, especially down here in paragraph ten or whatever to realise that it was when I got rid of my TV and Video! I swapped the pair (and they were almost new, flat-screen, Sony, very nice!) for a Super8 camera and projector some guy had advertised in the local paper. UNderstandably, the guy was speechless when I phoned him. That was over a decade ago.
I'd never been a big fan of TV, as a kid I was always up to something else, building electronics or computers or rock climing or ritual magic, whatever, I'd tune into the box for a few favourite shows, Top Of The Pops, Inspector Morse, that sort of thing, and then back to whatever I was doing, though even my favourite shows got the heave-ho when I started programming.
But some time in my early twenties, during my rock 'n' roll days, I went through a spell of staying up late at night, vegging out for hours on end in front of the TV, flicking from one least disagreeable channel to the next. It went on for months, and I felt like my soul was being sucked slowly away. One day I got up and decided to get rid of the TV.
I didn't get rid of the problem, of course, just the TV. But it felt like my personal Grimer Worm-Tongue had been cast out, and I'd been released from his evil spell. I started shooting some film, taking more pictures, writing more, creating more, being influenced more and more by the most important guide I have on Earth; me.
In short, I decided to start impersonating me, to practice being the person I truly am, regardless of the consequences, or what you may or may not think, and eventually it all worked out, just like I knew it would. Though the transition was tricky, as they always are, and though it's certainly not over yet, I hardly ever have to pretend.
My brain's changed, and I did it! I still have a rectangular shrine, but transmuted into a portal, and what goes here is my choosing, you're looking at it! I AM! And the inertia of the universe is at back of me because more and more I assume my true place in it. Is this Haiku?..
I, being myself,
affecting real change here, now,
not lost in the world.
1: Tuning in to the TV, tuning out of the real world!
2: You only think you control the TV, really it's the other way around!