Not this time.

There’s a reason when you’re on an airplane that flight attendants tell you to put your own mask on first in case of an emergency. Look after yourself first and foremost, because then it makes it a lot easier for you to look after others. Sounds simple, right? Isn’t it important that you put your own needs and wants before those of anyone else? Looking after yourself and constantly discovering what and who makes you happy is probably a pretty good starting point. Some people might tell you that it’s selfish but it’s anything but. Introspection is a great thing, look at yourself and see if you’re heading in the direction you want to be going and doing all of the things that you want to be doing, whether that’s work or in your personal life. Dr Aziz Gazipura, one of the world’s leading clinical psychologists gets it. ‘Always putting others first creates deep resentment, destroys your happiness and is unsustainable. Putting yourself first allows you to meet your needs in the most skillful way. This in turn, increases your happiness, joy and capacity to love, so you can give freely and create healthy relationships.’ Healthy would be the takeaway word from that quote.

It’s too easy sometimes to think of others first, whether it’s big or small things. Someone bumps into you and you’re the one who says sorry, what’s that about? You hold a door open for someone and not even a nod of acknowledgement comes your way. You let someone cut in front of the queue at a supermarket because they have less items and they cruise on past you like you’re not even there. So shines many good deeds in what can be an unkind world, even if other people don’t appreciate the tiniest of gestures that you’re happy and willing to make. It’s easier said than done but there is zero point in wasting your energy on the things that you can’t control. A point comes when enough is enough, especially when the sacrifice is bigger. Fuck apologies, the only person you need validation from looks back at you in the mirror every day.

How long do you wait until you’ve decided that you’re tired of the way your life is going because someone is holding you back emotionally? It’s been too long for this not to be me.

I’m not perfect, I’ve got pride.

One day you wake up and just know that one person can and will change everything for the better, even if they didn’t mean to. It was a sobering moment when that penny finally dropped but there’s no room for toxic people in any of our lives. Cut them loose, won’t you feel all the better for it? Yep, it takes balls, but isn’t it a far more attractive option to hurt for a little while than to carry on hurting forever? No need for you to become a static cliche, someone who sticks about feeling unhappy just because you’re worried about what might be on the other side? Sometimes the grass is greener. Maybe it’ll be a life you’ve never experienced before, but perhaps it is. You chose to give it up to try and give someone another chance, more fool you, but you backed yourself in that moment, so why wouldn’t you do the same now?

Not everything is black and white though, but there’s plenty of colour out there going around to make things better for each of us, maybe we’ve just not all grasped that yet. Sometimes it’s hard to take but now and again, you need someone to give you a shake, to tell you words that you really need to hear. Nothing wrong with a bit of tough love on occasion. I guess there comes a day when every man draws his own line in the sand. Spending time on your own and listening to yourself is probably something that none of us do as much as we should. Sure, we’re all worried about different things but even if our progress is slow, progress is still being made.

Do you remember that feeling you had when you started something new? How it felt, how it brought a chunk of sunshine into a dark day? It’s not always going to be smooth, but you stick with it because you know the alternative made you deeply unhappy.

I had to come home to realise that it wasn’t home any more. Some people haven’t changed a bit, it’s like I was never away. With good friends, you just fall back into things seamlessly. Other people are jealous of your success, about the life you were enjoying until it gets to a point where they resent you. Those are the types of people in your life that you don’t want to make space for. Any of us can change our lives for the better but don’t hate on someone who’s taken the decision to enrich themselves just because you’re too chicken shit to do the same. I was starting to feel empathy for you but why should I?

Pity and sympathy are two different things. You can sympathise with someone and let them know that you understand any distress, grief or sorrow that they might be going through. All in all, a positive emotion. Pity is definitely more of a negative thing and you might get to the stage where you actually feel sorry for someone.

It’s not been that hard with the benefit of hindsight to decide to leave that toxic person behind. The day has come when plans need to be made to really go back home and try and rediscover that time when everything was nearly as perfect as it could possibly be. Sometimes it takes going away to bring you back.

Usually I go and take the blame but not this time. It’s our world to discover, either alone or with someone and this will be so much better alone.

I would say I’m sorry if I really meant it.

@TheSamMcLeod

JoJo’s new album, ‘Good To Know’ drops on May 1st.

That’s just being friendly.

What’s worse, too much unwanted romantic attention or no romantic attention at all?

When a relationship ends, your head and your heart can lead you in a few directions. Take some time out and look after yourself, dive straight into something serious with someone else, or even sleep with as many people as you want to with no commitment offered. Any choice you make is okay for you, but you want to try and make sure that you don’t hurt or lead anyone else on. No rocket science is involved, it’s just making the right decisions at the right times.

It gets awkward though when someone of the opposite sex mistakes kindness or politeness for flirting. You don’t need to ask for, court or invite attention, hopefully if you act as you always do, them people will treat you in a way that we’d all like to be treated. Chivalry isn’t necessarily a choice that every man makes, sometimes you just know what the right thing to do is. Always hold the door open for others. You give up your seat for a lady on a bus or a train, no questions asked. Make someone feel comfortable in your company, always behaving in a friendly manner and never crossing the lines of decency is how things should be. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with being courteous.

Always good to have rules, especially with your closest friends, right?

If your job means that you have to wear a shirt and tie, your tie must be darker than your shirt, otherwise you will be called out on it if you end up looking like a waiter, no offence meant to hospitality professionals. No three-piece suits are allowed, you don’t play snooker for a living. No birthday cards are ever sent, shit, you’ll be lucky if we even remember that you’ve just turned a year older. You will be bought alcohol if someone reminds us, it just won’t be on the day. If we’re all together and it’s looking like we’re about to run out of beer, rock paper scissors will be played to decide who heads out for more. It’s also automatically understood that if any change is leftover, it stays in the pocket of whoever went. Sadly, sisters of friends are out of bounds. No moustaches will be grown unless it’s for Movember, a fantastic cause. If you get your hair cut, it won’t be commented upon, unless it’s ridiculous and you know that picture of it is being shared freely. No one expects an unanswered call to be returned, we’ll see you again at some point, you can just tell us then. No voicemails ever. Skinny jeans and turtlenecks are a no. If you invite people out for dinner, you always pick.up the bill, regardless of how many people are there. If you’re lucky enough to get a girl to go out with you, she never ever pays. Ever ever.

Do all of your rules apply though with someone you don’t know?

I’m a boy and she’s a girl. A tweet gets posted about a thing and she slides into my direct messages to ask if I’m doing okay. I respond politely, thanking her for her concern and wish her well. She chooses to keep the conversation going by asking more questions, and stupidly I answer them. My replies are always respectful but her messages start to go in a direction that I should beer away from.

I’m not sure if I should read between those lines.

Mistaking someone who’s being nice to you as being flirtatious is dangerous, especially if you’re emotionally vulnerable. If I’m accommodating and thoughtful with you, that’s just being friendly. Sure, sometimes a friendship can develop into something more but not if you start sending unsolicited things that you know you shouldn’t. The decision to hit the block button is an easy one but the courtesy remains as far as everyone else goes.

An email arrives a while later from someone I never knew existed. Clearly, we’ve never interacted, spoken to each other, far less met, but he wants to know how I know his girlfriend. Uh oh. It’s okay to be unhappy in a relationship but don’t you try and remedy that first either way, before looking for validation or an ego boost elsewhere? Do I reply, do I tell him?

What am I supposed to do?

@TheSamMcLeod

Fist fight with the mirror.

It would be pretty amazing if we all could have a superpower, what would you go for if you could pick one? Invisibility sounds good, but definitely has the potential to get you into a shit ton of trouble if it malfunctions, I know you know what I mean. Superhuman strength would be awesome, think of all the things you’d be able to do. Move your house somewhere else without actually moving house, you’d have zero chance of losing a fight. Flying? No more need for plane tickets, who wouldn’t want to spend every weekend somewhere different? Super speed? Hello Olympic gold medal and a new world record, stand down Usain, I’ve got this. Telepathy could be a plan, but wouldn’t the moral dilemma that comes with knowing everyone’s private thoughts worry you? Unless it’s that one person that you think you might be into. Better to know than not without having to put yourself out there, right?

Couldn’t it be possible that your own personal powers are some things that you have to deal with every day? Compassion, humility, kindness, strong decision making about what or who it is you want? Perhaps the ability to never get things wrong can be a superpower.

Have you ever done something that you know you really shouldn’t have? Maybe there’s a tiny bit of rebellion within all of us, to make a choice about something that’s a terrible decision in hindsight. The age old idea that if we have a bit of forbidden fruit, our lives will be all the better for it is misguided, isn’t it?

There aren’t a lot of people in this world who are either brave or silly enough to not change, fair play to them. Sometimes you need to though, if someone isn’t making you happy any more, then why are you wasting your precious time? It’s easy to move onto someone else but maybe your point of view gets to the stage where you decide that you never have to say goodbye to someone if you never say hello in the first place.

I guess it’s kind of messed up.

There’s a girl, she’s new, chosen over someone who gets left behind, good or bad decision? In time, she becomes closer to me than most people have, yet still there was distance, an interesting dichotomy. That said, could she be a glimpse of a new life? She might be the one that I could grow old with together doing all of the things that you love to do with someone. Quickly, wrinkles appear though and we’ll definitely not be buying each other birthday cards next year. Time to make another decision, iron out the wrinkle or watch as it gets bigger and bigger. No one is a fan of ironing but for once, it’s going to be more cathartic than watching.

Daylight fades and vulnerability kicks in. With a head full of bad ideas in a bar beneath Fenway Park’s bleachers with a view of centerfield, more beer is not a good idea if you’re eleventeen drinks deep. It’s a real number, don’t even @ me. Still, a decision has to be made, and it’s the right one for a change. The night is closing in and there is no grey, things are very black and white. I gave up the best girl to settle for someone else and now I have to face the consequences, all I can do now is brace for impact. Sure, ponder the emotional turmoil, it’s okay to be alone in the world and now it’s inevitable, can’t be stopped, can’t be slowed down.

A quickening of breath happens just before the words are said. She’s a walking awkward silence, turns out no one has ever had the stones to break up with her. We all numb ourselves at times to make room for the hurt and pain that you experience with someone but don’t you want to try and remember only the good things about them and not the absolute shitshow that they’ve caused for you? A good decision over a bad one.

It would be easy to ruin a life by taking revenge, but I’m not that guy, she’s managed that all on her own.

Someone I respect more than 99.99999% of people in this world once told me that something good stays good forever. He was wrong. It would be grim to think that nobody’s story has a happy ending but this story isn’t over yet. I need to leave, to move on, out of sight, out of mind, no way am I going to miss her or this place. I can’t wait to get away, some memories are good to try and lose. Forgiveness is a personal thing, it doesn’t depend on you being in touch with the person who caused you hurt. When you’re afraid and angry because of what someone’s done to you, it’s more than okay for those emotions to feed off of each other.

Maybe if I can make it past her, I can stay in my own shadow forever, it’s no fun living in anyone else’s. Time to see if it’s possible to find harmony out of heartbreak, nothing hurts like thinking I’m not good enough.

I wish I never met you, but it’s a little too late.

@TheSamMcLeod

Catch Oh Wonder on tour next year.

Tour

Wishing it’ll all go away.

Learning new things can never be bad. Random facts, finding out about your ancestors, new words, pretty much anything, every day can be a school day. Sabahah is an Arabic word for what is essentially infatuation. We all know what it feels like to be into someone, maybe it’s the best feeling in the world, just as long as it’s reciprocated. Is there a worse emotion than the hurt of someone not wanting you though? Millions of us can identify with that feeling of looking at that other person, wanting nothing more than to be forever around them, but knowing deep down that it’ll never happen because they don’t like you back in the same way. It’s horrible, it’s painful, the French call it douleur exquise, unrequited love. An irrational crush, infatuation, shit, maybe even an obsession, whatever you want to call it, you’re either on the giving or receiving end of it.

Maybe infatuation is when you think you’ve found somebody who in your eyes is absolutely perfect. It’s all bullshit however, none of us are, but it’s easy to get carried away if you think you’re falling for someone. It’s not to say it’s bad, if it makes you feel good, then clearly that’s not the worst thing in the world. It’s different from love though, right? Infatuation at first sight you can understand, but not love.

Sometimes when you look back on a situation, you begin to understand that it wasn’t all that you thought it was. A beautiful person walked into or came back into your life. You fell in love. Perhaps you just had a major crush. Infatuation can’t be sustained forever though, can it? If somebody thinks that they can never get enough of you, don’t they always want more?

If you’re just out of any relationship and someone shows interest in you, it’s normal to be flattered. It can be overwhelming though, especially if that person is a bit too full on. Also, if you’ve taken the time to evaluate everything that went wrong before and what the things are that you want from someone new, don’t you become a bit more fussy? No one should have to settle.

At which point do you become brutally honest, especially if it’s with someone and a friendship that you don’t want to lose?

Just tell her the absolute truth? There’s not a nice way for me to say that.

One day it all bubbles to the surface when I finally click. Honesty is the best policy, it’s a difficult conversation. That punch to the stomach, the adrenaline to the heart, neither of those things are there. Don’t we all want someone who blows our socks off? Fuck, our shoes, even our underwear too? Is she good at what she does for work? Most probably, but she doesn’t challenge me intellectually. No one expects to be with the hottest person in the world, but we all know that some of us would be punching above our weight in any couple, even if we’d never admit it. We should try I was told. All of the ‘shoulds’ in the world mean nothing if you’re not both invested. She told me I was a narcissist, pretty harsh, but I get it to a degree, no one likes to be turned down. No one else should accept someone that they don’t want either, just because it might be easy. The wife of one of my best friends told me that when things ended in my last relationship that she knew it was destined for disaster because, ‘She was never a Sam type of girl.’ I think I know where she was going with that and it’s been stuck in my head ever since.

As expected, the conversation is a dumpster fire. You could fall in love with me, she said. Shit, I love you enough now but only ever as a friend was clearly the wrong thing to say. I could’ve told her that I was seeing somebody but that wouldn’t be true. I know how to make this girl laugh but I definitely don’t want to know what makes her cry and I don’t want to be responsible for her tears. It’s all a bit late now, and it might seem harsh but I didn’t ask for any of this.

Do you get to a stage where you realise that the probability is that you won’t want to have another serious relationship? Between what she told me about my high demands, it seems unlikely that I’ll need to worry about that too much. Are they high though? I just know what I want. There’s something about the beauty of order once you realise what it is you desire and you can’t expect someone to share an unpredictable life, especially if you’re not going to commit everything to it. There’s a distant resignation, this chase has finally ended.

She’ll never be my story to tell and that’s how it should be. The silence feels right, but you know I want you to be happy.

@TheSamMcLeod

The lessons.

Sir James Matthew Barrie, the creator of Peter Pan, or The Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up, had it spot on, ‘Once you’re grown up, you can’t come back.’ How long does it take for that to happen though and what occurs in our life in order to make it so? Some of us are wise beyond our years, whilst others never want to be older, and like most things, it’s different for each of us. Just the naïveté of youth, right?

Perhaps it’s when you have things in your life that you look back on and wish you could change. It could be nothing quite so important, sometimes it’s simpler stuff, having the courage to ask that one person that you’ve liked for a while to have dinner or drinks with you. Setting up standing orders for your outgoings, opening a savings account, moving out to live on your own for the first time, shit, it could be almost anything. One day realisation kicks in though and you know that despite all of the important decisions you’ve made before, a choice is going to come along that’s going to define everything that comes next for you.

It sucks, but maybe part of growing up is just taking what you learned from all of the bad things that went before, moving on and trying not to take them to heart. The good things you definitely want to keep on doing and experiencing, don’t we all believe that intrinsically we’re a good person? For a lot of our days, we’re young and irresponsible, but maybe that’s what growing up is, you eventually learn from your mistakes.

It’s more than okay to have mixed feelings about growing up, apparently it happens to everyone. Still, you should never stop having fun, to make yourself smile, it’s okay to fuck up now and again. Did you make mistakes when you were young? Absolutely, but haven’t you made just as many when you’re all grown up?

Growing up is never easy, you keep a hold onto things that were important but that you don’t really need any more. Your mind can wonder what’s to come, obviously there are going to be moments when everything is fine, and other moments where you know that there are some memories that you’ll never get back. Certain people in your life are never going to change, and the hardest part is knowing that there’s nothing you can do except watch them, unless you remove yourself from that situation. It happens to everyone as they grow up. You find out who you are and what you want, and then you realise that people you’ve known forever don’t see things the way you do. So you keep the wonderful memories, but find yourself moving on, even if you don’t really want to.

The hurt is palpable when you have to leave someone behind but you can’t always get what you want or keep what you had. There’s that choice again but you know you have to make it but how can you both go on when they were everything?

How will you exist, how will I exist?

A day comes and we knew it was time to let go of what had been, and look ahead to what could be. Different days, new days, those days that are yet to come. It’s okay to forgive each other for growing up and recognising that we both need a change. Again, everyone’s different but how many of the people that you’ve been involved with romantically are you actually still friends with? It’d be like adding your captor on FaceBook once you were released after being kidnapped, fucking stupid idea.

It’s a change that involves thousands of miles, quite literally. We weren’t miles apart before but days later we were, not everything has a happy ending. Benjamin Franklin has been quoted as saying that ‘Three can keep a secret, if two of them are dead.’ What if only two people know the secret? If you do believe that you’re a good person, is learning when it’s better to lie to the people in your life, rather than to hurt everyone else with the truth not a good thing?

Growing up, peer pressure, and what people in your life want you to be and what you think you should do can be life enriching, but also a massive pain at times. It’s important to surround yourself around amazing people that actually love you for you. We all have flaws but if you fuck up, isn’t forgiveness one of the best attributes you can have? How many times has someone bumped into you in the street and you’ve apologised? I’ve lost count of the amount of doors that I’ve held for people who haven’t had the good grace to acknowledge even the tiniest act of kindness. As an aside, top tip gents, if you have to pull the door, the lady goes first, if you have to push it, you go first. You’re very welcome.

Time away, discovering new things, a new start sounds like a great plan. A new apartment, new experiences beyond the wildest of dreams, new friends, a new job, life couldn’t be better. There’s always a but though. Thing is, despite reaching what can be one of the highest points of in life, what happens when it’s hard not to feel alone, to know that you’ve lost everything? The only tattoo I have reads is, ‘Only one who has lost all has the freedom and the ability to gain everything.’ Time to take my own advice and leave all of the good stuff behind. A choice is made about trying to grow further, to face those demons, and the loved ones in life who have been failed by me as well as those who’ve failed me. Three plane flights are booked.

One of those plans was a good idea.

Maybe we all need to start accepting ourselves for who we are, and whoever is not going to accept us, weren’t really meant to be in our lives in any way whatsoever. The most important thing that I learned is forgiveness is something that when you’re able to finally wrap your head around, you free yourself to move on. All grown up now and I shouldn’t have come back, it’s time to leave again.

It’s a constant back and forth for a while with both enduring different experiences. Sure, it might be the same story, but it’s being read through opposite lenses. Whose ugly side is the ugliest? It doesn’t matter, both of us know.

@TheSamMcLeod

@YouMeMusicLife

The fuel to your flame.

Empathy, it’s a cool trait to have, isn’t it? Being understanding of what anyone you know has going on in their life is a good thing, assuming that they’re willing to let you in. When someone chooses to pour their heart out to you, it’s easy to become more concerned about them, but don’t we always want to do anything we can for the people that we care even a tiny iota about?

Kindness is another cool thing to have in your armour. Treat people like you want to be treated, right? Sure, it’s easier said than done sometimes, but maybe if we all approach each day with that mindset, we’ll do okay. It sounds like a glib thing to say, but you wake up every day choosing how you treat people. Strangers, your partner, your friends, your work colleagues. It doesn’t sound too difficult, but sometimes it’s not easy. Things impact your own life and so sometimes you’ll not always be in the right place to offer help when it’s needed. It’s okay to miss things sometimes, but you reach out when realise that you need to, don’t you?

Whilst it’s absolutely the right thing to do, your kindness can be interpreted by different people in different ways. Some take your intentions in the way that you meant them, some others don’t, and whilst it’s those people who’ve read things wrong, it’s hard not to feel like you’ve misjudged things also. Did you go too far, did you give them too much attention when they needed help, did you make a mistake? We all make them, probably every day, certainly on a regular basis. Perhaps the difference is what we do after our mistakes, whether we learn from them or continue to make them again and again. It’s okay to make them but you want to try and not make them again.

Sometimes though, your radar is off, a mistake is coming and you have absolutely no idea about the consequences you’re going to face.

This one might be a battle, might not turn out okay.

When you split with someone that you thought you’d be with forever, don’t you try and focus on anything else you can that will help you try and do whatever the fuck it takes to make you get through it? Work it is.

The week is a little different than usual. Forty five interviews in five days is draining but finally it’s over. Two people are needed for my team and there are only six that make the shortlist. It’s like the NFL draft, will I get my number one pick? Turns out I do, but I have someone forced on me by the powers above that I don’t want. Nothing against her, she seems cool enough but sometimes you have a gut feeling about people, about things. Always trust it, right?

Days and weeks pass and it seems like my gut was spot on. She has a lovely personality, she’s friendly, warm, she’s Snow White classically pretty but there’s a but. No one else can put their finger on it either, but something isn’t quite right. Drinks are arranged one night, everyone gets involved, it’s cool to unwind without the stress of work chat.

Too many drinks are had by most, some of us remain sensible, but she doesn’t. She breaks down, starts crying, emotional kryptonite for most of us boys. I walk her home, making sure that she’s safe and we talk for most of the night. She opens up about personal things going on in her life, suddenly I get why she’s been off her game. She reaches in for a kiss and I don’t stop her. A mistake. I stay over, and whilst nothing happens, it’s another mistake.

More days and weeks pass and things develop, a proper relationship starts. More mistakes are made, I was just a pawn in a game that I finally realised one day that I’d never really understood. She’s pretty, she’s younger than me, she’s a girl that turns heads when she walks into a room. Irresistible. Who wouldn’t take a chance?

When we go out for dinner or drinks though, she gets numbers from boys just to satisfy her own ego. She talks down to my female friends, to the point where they don’t want to be around me when I’m with her. What am I doing? She’s batting a thousand and I’m the 1962 New York Mets, an absolute shitshow. I think she’s better than me in every way so I accept it every time, but that’s toxic and I know it but I need to accept it. Don’t I?

We argue a lot. There are a shit ton of emotions, anger, a lack of trust, blame, feeling unheard and undervalued, hostility, jealousy, what’s the point in even hanging around? No good relationship is built on magical thinking. You can know that someone is no good for you, yet the games and mixed signals seem okay to you sometimes but it’s acceptable to be vulnerable. It’s an abusive relationship, mentally rather than physically. I don’t know what you’re doing to me, better that we end our days and split our ways. Time to tell her, she’s the first girl I’ve ever broken up with on my terms. A meet is arranged. When I turn the corner and I see her standing there, my heart skips a beat, but tension corkscrews in my stomach. The words are said, it’s not healthy for me, and truth be told, how can it be healthy for her? Now gravity is a little less heavy though.

There was that element of chance but now I’ve learned lessons that I’ll never forget. Fucking mistakes. Just maybe you need to try and forgive yourself for the mistakes that you’ve made. You’re not crazy to be curious, we’re all going to disappoint someone at some point, but you don’t want to be disappointed. It’s not fair but you have to think of your own wellbeing sometimes.

Right now, I’d sooner lick an electric fence than let another girl in, but hopefully that’ll change in time. Trust is sacred and hopefully I won’t let this get in the way of the lady that comes next.

Relationship status? South of okay, north of giving a shit about her any more.

I know we’ll never be friends again but I hope that you know that I’d never do any of those things to you that you did to me. Hopefully it never happens to you, but maybe we’re all attracted to people that have the ability to hurt us. Sometimes it’s hard not to think what or who we think we love can affect us the most, but the truth catches up with us eventually.

@TheSamMcLeod
@YouMeMusicLife

All the feelings and the day they stopped.

Innocence is defined as freedom from blame, freedom from guilt, harmlessness, innocuousness, inoffensiveness, irreproachability, lack of malice, purity. Aren’t they some of the qualities that we all have in one way or another?

There’s always a lot of guesswork involved in who and what you let into your life. We all take chances every day, some come off, some don’t, that’s just the way it is. It hurts when you get it wrong though, you’ve trusted your innocence in believing what you think you know or what someone tells you, it’s just part of trying to be as good a person as you can be.

It’s never good though if a day comes when you stop believing in your personal fairytales, and you realise that there’s no point in holding onto hopes that won’t take you anywhere. You understand that you’re not the only person out there who has things to deal with every day, things to think about, decisions to make. There are plenty of people in the world who have gone through and are going through things that you’ll never understand. No one’s fault, just innocence rearing it’s head again, right? Some people you meet will bring you down and make you feel bad but, there’s no point in holding it against them, aren’t we’re all inexperienced at life in general, no matter what we might think?

It sucks when that innocence makes you spectacularly wrong though about someone or something and your feelings get hurt.

One day, you’ll stand up on your own.

Sometimes what you think you’re looking for comes when you’re not looking at all, and sometimes you don’t know shit about shit.

We know each other but nothing has ever happened, we’re just friends. Hugs, but no kisses, nothing else at all, other than random texts and emails. She’s super cute, If she could turn my head, I’m not the only boy who’d end up with whiplash, but that’s not enough, don’t we all need someone to stretch us on an intellectual level too? She’s nothing more than a one time passing thought, but she’s a friend, so there are feelings there but they’re innocent.

A message arrives on WhatsApp with an invite to her birthday party. There’s a bunch of other people copied in that’ll be amazing to catch up with, it’s a yes. The night comes, presents are given, drinks are poured and the music is on. Everyone gets to pick a song from iTunes and we’re all on rotation, the music will be eclectic, no one knows what’s coming next, it’s never a bad thing to discover new bands and songs. Let’s see what the opinion is in the room about some Canadian rock.

The birthday girl comes over after a while, glasses are clinked and we speak for a while. A lot of the chat is about music, about who the band is that are currently playing, what sort of musicians each of us are into. Let’s be honest, everyone likes talking about themselves and what they like so it’s not a difficult conversation to have. She heads off to mingle and it’s good to get some boy chat instead, football, girls, the usual nonsense that boys talk about.

As with every party ever, people begin to drift off as the night stretches on. She comes back over and she’s clearly drunk, it’s her birthday so that’s her prerogative. We talk again and a kiss is attempted, easily the worst idea she’s had tonight. Turns out that saying no to a girl is easier than you think as a boy, especially is there’s another girl out there that you’re thinking about instead. We’re at a junction, turn left or turn right? Turning wrong isn’t an option, but there’s no decision to make. Maybe a wise man never counts all the way to three, but there’s no point trying to second guess it, no hesitation, definitely no overthinking. It seems that I never read her right and it’s like I’ve knocked over the first domino of the end of our friendship by saying no. Reverse isn’t a gear I’m familiar with but something doesn’t feel right. You always need to get over someone first before you can get under someone else, it’s not fair otherwise.

She’s going through me like shit through a goose, tonight needs to be about putting out a fire before heading home, but she’s not accepting any of it. Can’t anyone of us speaking to someone for an hour just be someone being nice, especially if the conversation is strictly innocent? Boys and girls can be just friends, but telling her to be strong enough to let go about tonight and be wise enough to wait for someone she deserves is not a good idea. Taxi for one.

Life is messy sometimes and some people, this boy included are deluding themselves if they think they can just wave a wand and everyone will suddenly play nice. It turns out that there are some things that you can’t fix.

Endless messages, calls and emails follow but when you know something isn’t a good idea, perhaps it’s better to ignore them and try and forget. It’s never good when a friendship ends, but there comes a point when you realise that all of us have different degrees of understanding about what innocence is.

I remember losing hope, I remember feeling low.

One day you’ll have to let it go.

@TheSamMcLeod

Get up off your knees.

One of the most difficult aspects of growing as a person is learning how to forgive yourself after you’ve fucked something up, if you’ve made a mistake. What if you don’t even know that you’ve made one though? It’s entirely possible that you didn’t think you did anything wrong, but if someone important to you thinks that you’ve let them down, then they’re right, their perception is their reality.

We’re all human, bound to mess up now and again, even if we don’t realise it at the time. When you’ve inflicted hurt upon someone, forgiving yourself can prove to be the difficult part, it’s easy to keep telling yourself that you’re nothing but a social hand grenade. Even when you finally find out that you did something that caused them some pain, or if you’ve been forgiven, it’s tough to not to examine where you went wrong. Making mistakes, taking risks, even accidentally, no other way to live, right? We all get up in the morning, we all step out of our front door at the start of each new day, learning is important, don’t we all want to be a better person every day? It’s tough when clearly something has happened though and you’re left in the dark. If the dynamic has changed and you don’t know why, and they don’t tell you why, what can you do? You can ask the question, but if they’re less than forthcoming, then all you can do is hazard a guess. Sometimes shit just falls out of the sky for you. Nothing else to do but focus on yourself, try and get through each day and be done with it. If you’ve said sorry for whatever it is that you’ve made a mess of, then you’ve done all that you could. Fuck, you can say sorry and not even know why, some people are just polite. Tomorrow is a new day, and although it’s easier said than done, there’s no point in continuing to worry about something that you can’t fix. Zero point in taking yourself out at the knees before you’ve even learned to walk in any given relationship.

On the flip side, perhaps it’s much easier to forgive than to say sorry; maybe it’s something we learn as a child. As we all get older, we realise when people hurt us, it’s not always a reflection on us, it’s more to do with their flaws and insecurities. There will be good times and bad times, and maybe you shouldn’t want it any other way. Still learning. If that someone doesn’t want to tell you where you’ve gone wrong, then saying sorry and forgiving them for their silence is the way to go. Holding grudges is bad for the heart, the mind and the soul.

Let’s be honest, no matter what you’ve done, you’re never beyond redemption and if you can see that, fuck it if someone thinks that they’re so perfect that they can’t front up or think that they’ve never made a mess of things.

It’s normal human behaviour that when people are hurting inside, they believe that no one else in the history of the world has been hurt as much as them. It’s tough to say, but none of us are that special. Everyone messes up sometimes, and you don’t have the monopoly on feeling hurt or let down. If someone saying sorry isn’t enough, then it says more about you than it does about the other person. No one wants to be in the ‘friend’ column, rather than the ‘I love you’ column, but what’s the point in hanging on for someone who won’t be honest with you.

Friends are always important, especially when it comes to needing advice. As is the case with all people you have in your life, some will tell you what you want to hear, but some will be brutally honest. Let her go or try and resurrect things, what to do?

They say let you go, but I want you back.

From thinking about her every day, she’s gone to crossing my mind less and less. Days and weeks pass when I don’t think about her at all. It’s no reflection on her, we’re just not in contact. Sure, she’s missed, but again, what’s the point in thinking about something that you can’t fix.

I have to travel to discuss a potentially life-changing work opportunity. As beautiful and big a city as this is, it’s a small world. I think I see her, but it can’t possibly be her, guess she has a doppelgänger, maybe we all do. It’s the first time I’ve thought about her in what seems like forever. Still shaking my head at the coincidence, I walk into a store and a song comes on shuffle that reminds me of her, iTunes has that way of messing with you at times, doesn’t it? Still listening to that song, I can’t bring myself to skip it, so I check my emails whilst browsing stuff that I don’t need. A note is there, but at least I finally know why we’ll not be anything. Autocorrect on a message changed ‘wasn’t’ to ‘was’ and it altered the entire context of the conversation.

It’s innocent, but she made a choice to not query it initially and not let me know why she was confused. It hurt then, but now it’s okay. It’s been said before but it’s fine to say again, there’s nothing wrong with being humble.

Girl, I’m sorry I let you down, so stupid that I messed up.

@TheSamMcLeod
@YouMeMusicLife

I fucked it up again.

How do you define character? Doing something that you don’t want to do but deep down knowing that you should? Standing up for, or protecting someone close to you regardless of what they’ve done? Just be trying to be a good person, full of compassion and love for anything and everything around you? Choosing to be as good as you can be from the moment that you step out of bed? Sure, we all control our own choices, but sometimes someone might throw you a curveball, they need you to keep a secret for them. People are entitled to their secrets, but is it selfish of them to decide to share those with you, especially if they know that it’s going to have an impact on your life? What if it’s a secret that affects two of the most important people you know? One of them has confided in you, whilst the other person has no idea about any of it. It’s not always easy to decide what the right thing to do is, but is keeping secrets the equivalent to lying? It’s probably right that the best way to keep a secret is to pretend that it doesn’t exist. Easier said than done. Anyone who’s ever been entrusted with a big secret and who struggles to keep it, knows exactly what that feels like.

All of us are blessed with free will though, you can choose to decide between saying nothing or saying something. The moment you share a secret however, you’ve lost all semblance of control with it. Keeping the secret that now belongs to you and maintaining your silence is probably the best way to go, right? Maybe it’s about not being owned by someone else’s secret that’s the easiest way to cope with someone messing with your conscience, your moral compass.

If I’ve learned anything about women, and I probably haven’t, it’s that pride and stubborness have a way of warping men’s thinking, whereas perhaps the ladies in all of our lives, can manage to be a bit more composed when it comes to making a decision. Girls seem to have that ability to always find the right words. I don’t know whether to speak up or hold my tongue, there’s going to be consequences either way.

I can read between the lines, I want to run from everything.

Moving to live and work in a new city and country is exciting, everything is an adventure, the newness of it all is intoxicating. Meeting new people, experiencing a different lifestyle. Discovering new hobbies, finding a local watering hole for those after work drinks, travelling and seeing places that you never thought you’d see in your entire life, pretty damn cool. It turns out though, that it doesn’t matter how old you are, you can still get homesick. Whilst you’re forging a new life for yourself, it’s easy to be a tiny bit sad from time to time. Thoughts turn to the people that I’ve left behind and a plan is hatched after six months to go back and visit. Quick tip, if you move to the other side of the world, either get your friends to figure out what time difference means, or switch your phone off at night! Calls are made, flights are booked, and I don’t know it yet, but plans are made also, catching up with friends will easily be the highlights of the trip. If I was any happier right now, I’d be triplets.

Two of the most important people in my life are in a relationship and dinner reservations are made for the first night back. They didn’t know each other until one night years ago when I played matchmaker and set them up, and they’ve been together ever since. She ends up having to work so it’s a boy’s night, there will be time to see her again. It’s a night you’d expect, two friends letting off steam after not seeing each other for so long. It’s more of a liquid dinner and then it’s onto a night of bar-hopping. We bump into some of her female friends and they join us. Way too much tequila is had but after a 37 hour journey, I know that sleep will come easily tonight. I have to say my goodbyes but can’t find my friend to say goodnight. As I leave, I see a couple kissing and my heart sinks. It’s him but it’s not with his her. Shit has gone sideways. He sees me, she leaves and there’s an immediate demand to know what the hell is going on. He confesses to seeing someone else for months now and begs me to keep his secret, he doesn’t want his relationship to end, but he doesn’t want to let go of this new girl either. Talk about a hospital pass, what to do now? Damned if I tell her and damned if I don’t.

It turns out that she has to go away for work for a week, so I have time to mull things over. I’ve been friends with her for a lot longer so I have to say something. Don’t I? I put the responsibility back on him and decide that some secrets are meant to stay secret forever, I don’t want any part of it. Little did any of us know that one of her friends told her that she saw him kissing the girl that night, and that I saw it also. A storm is coming and I’m inadvertently a part of it.

She comes home and we meet for coffee and I’m oblivious to what she’s aware of. She tells me that she knows, accuses me of being disrespectful and a shit friend, hard to argue. She leaves in tears, so I sit there on my own learning the cost of keeping something to myself. No matter how much you try to contain a fire, it always burns the way it sees fit. I’ve been the arsonist, can I be the fireman? I reach out because you care all the way or you don’t care at all. Still no response and my heart hurts, especially as I have to leave soon.

The timing’s poor, I know it’s never right.

@TheSamMcLeod
@YouMeMusicLife

A few mistakes ago.

Every day, different people come into your life. Depending on your outlook, and for how long the interaction is between you both, you might decide that you like or dislike them. You might choose to take some time to form an opinion about them, no choice is wrong, your perception is your reality, so you trust yourself. Sometimes, someone might come along and you have no opinion on them whatsoever. Nothing to do with them, they’re just in your life, perhaps in a work context, or they’re a friend of a friend. A relationship between two people can take a long time to develop. One person can know immediately that they’re interested in someone else, whereas the other person might take some time to notice her or him. Sometimes you have to go with your head, sometimes your heart. Isn’t it always the heart that has the potential to get you into trouble though?

You can think that you have your shit together but now and again, something happens to you and you’re thrown off. You’re tumbling down a hill, crashing into rocks and trees and you’re dazed for a while.

If someone likes you romantically, you’re either aware of it straight away or you have no clue at all. If it’s the second one, you’re probably a man, not really our strong suit, right? If you don’t open your eyes though, you won’t be able to see anything. Sometimes there are people that you’ll meet that are like a fire that should never be lit. The thing is with a new relationship though, knowing when to stop is probably more important than knowing when to start. It depends what we’re all looking for. It’s easy to spend every night with someone different but some of us want something more meaningful. You can admire someone from a distance, but sometimes the distance should be as far away as possible.

Sometimes people come into your life and you feel like you have to look after them, because they can’t do it on their own. It’s not your job though really, is it?

Some relationships are like monsoon season, short and steamy. This was not. Long and drawn out, a slow burner. I knew that as soon as we met, that she was not a good idea. Sometimes though, different things will fight each other for the right to win your heart and your senses. Fear, hope, love, lust. What an absolute cauldron of confusion. It’s just how things work though, isn’t it?

She was a boatload of trouble and I knew that she knew that I knew. Everyone knew. She had a beguiling innocence. Innocence has a way of haunting you like nothing else. She could make your eyeballs stand up and she was well aware of it. Some other women hated women like her, but that was to be expected, because she was a potential threat. No one seemed immune to her charm. I guess she knew this. Was she playing with everyone just for the fun of it? She could have the most devoted of boyfriends and husbands questioning whether or not she might be worth the risk. What man wouldn’t want to tell her everything that she wanted to know? She was one of those girls that was guaranteed to be a shit ton of fun until she wasn’t. She was like walking into a hornet’s nest and being suddenly surrounded by a swarm of bees. Something was definitely going to sting if you decided to give her what she wanted. She was a maze, practically a labyrinth. The issue is though, that the only thing that you know for sure about labyrinths, is that there’s always bad news waiting for you at the end.

She was beyond beautiful, aesthetically. It’s easy to see the beauty before all of the imperfections though. Perhaps there was an inner sadness that enhanced her beauty, one that was barely visible but if you’re perceptive enough, you find it. You just hope that you find it quickly.

The way in which she looked at me practically begged for a cover charge and a two drink minimum, but I liked someone else. I just didn’t have the courage to tell her. It’s nice to be desired, to be wanted though, right? If you’re male, sometimes your ego will be your downfall. Who in the world knows which one of the falling snowflakes starts the avalanche?

I liked her and that bothered me. Fuck, every boy liked her. Everyone liked being around her, but if a little of her company was good, then a ton was even better. Everyone knew that she was trouble, but maybe sometimes, with the benefit of hindsight, someone giving you good advice, can seem like a prophet. Everyone advised against it. Would she be an adventure? Sure, but some adventures, a man can live without. Before you choose to go down a particular road, you should ask yourself what lies at the end of it.

It’s easy to forget how much of an idiot you can be at times. Maybe we’re all sillier than we imagine. It turns out that common sense has little to do with reason. You can justify anything to yourself if you want to. Maybe you have a bad habit of telling yourself things that aren’t true? Could it work?

It was just a random night out when she decided to open up. You do the right thing, so I walked her home. I said goodnight and turned to walk away. She stopped me, with a hand on my back. Would you like to come up for coffee, she said? It might have only been six or seven seconds of silence between her question and my answer, but it felt like a lifetime. I told her that I didn’t drink coffee. She replied that she didn’t have any coffee. Whatever good things you’ve heard about me probably aren’t true, she said. Whatever bad things you’ve heard, are definitely just the tip of the iceberg, she said. I’ll give you everything that you want, she said. It’s only later that you realise that someone who’s willing to give you everything that she thinks you want, is probably also capable of taking everything that you have. We held each other’s gaze for several beats longer than we should have. Maybe sometimes you don’t have to say anything at all to be eloquent. We should never ask questions that we don’t want the answer to. Sometimes though, the horse has bolted and is a fucking long way down the lane. Everything was on pause and then it wasn’t. It was time to press play. I asked if she liked me? I’ve been in love with you for a year, so I thought it seemed like it might be time to find out whether or not you felt the same about me, she said. It would appear not, she said. Taking a deep breath, I held it for a couple of seconds and let it out. Sometimes you have to do things that you don’t want to do.

A game? Undoubtedly. I started the long walk home. Alone. I’d never fled from danger in my life but she gave me cause for concern. Getting into anything with her would be like trying to pick up a water balloon in the dark with razorblades. It’s not going to work. She wanted me to look at her the way that I did another, but I couldn’t.

In another time and in another life? No. There comes a time in your life when you have to choose to turn the page or close the book. She’s a book I’ll never read.

I knew you were trouble when you walked in.

@TheSamMcLeod