One heart that was broke in two.

‘Love us like friendship set on fire.’

Perhaps one of the hardest relationship questions you’ll bounce around in your head is whether or not falling in love with your best friend is a good idea. Sure, there could be potential in it, but you just know that it could be an absolute shitshow too. What to do? If your feelings aren’t reciprocated, it’s going to ruin your friendship, isn’t it?

Maybe a lot of relationships begin as friendships and grow into something more meaningful that’ll impact you in a big way. Do you take that chance? You can never know initially but that shouldn’t stop you from imagining a future with someone who loves you. There’s nothing wrong with waking up next to your best friend.

All you want from that significant someone is for them to be there for you, the one shoulder you know you can lean on when you need to, to be your everything. Someone you can laugh with, somebody emotionally comfortable enough with you that they’re okay if you ever cry. Too much to ask?

Common sense tells you to never fall for your best friend, they’ll break you. It’s easy to think that it might not be that way for you but how can someone be so naive to think that they’re any different to anyone else? You have an intrinsic awareness though that once you change the way you look at a friend, you go all in or you stifle your feelings. It’s funny how things work sometimes, you can fall for someone without realising it and so when you finally do, it’s too late. You can’t just switch those feelings off.

Maybe some of us know immediately who it is we’ll end up with and that’s cool. If you don’t know, you have to take a leap of faith. Chances are though, one of you is going to fuck up and spoil every shared moment that’s gone before.

Maybe you shouldn’t have gone there that night.

You don’t need to like someone from the first second you see them, but a friendship can start and progress from there. In the beginning of whatever this was, there was a lot of laughter and smiles. Until there wasn’t.

Cheating, infidelity, call it what you want but it’s a game changer. Is it worse to emotionally cheat on somebody? Calling, emailing, texting someone you shouldn’t be, that counts too, doesn’t it? You don’t accidentally bump into someone in a hotel and decide that you’re going to spend the night, a lot of work has gone into that arrangement. There are millions of people in the world who make good decisions every day, someone chose not to. Let’s face it, you can’t choose to be monogamous whenever you feel like it. None of us can ever ask for 101% from someone but 99% isn’t enough. Is there anything worse than betrayal, than being deceived by someone who you thought was everything? When you lie to someone, aren’t you also lying to yourself?

Maybe some positivity can come from bad things though, you end up appreciating the more humble part of yourself. You might not need it but a gentle reminder sometimes of how to treat people can never be a bad thing. You can take whatever you want from any experience, getting rid of toxicity is good, and whilst there’s bound to be a bit of heartbreak, don’t we all know we’re better off alone than staying with someone who is quite happy to knowingly hurt you?

Sometimes the hardest part of loving someone is that moment when the penny drops that the best thing you can do for them, far less yourself, is to let them go. It’s a shame when someone fucks up but better to know as early as possible what their character is really like. It’s okay to choose poorly on occasion, hopefully it makes you a bit cleverer the next time you’re in the position of picking someone that you want to get close to.

Spin it to your family, friends or on social media in any way that you want, only one of us ruined something built up for years for a relationship that lasted for hours. Turns out that best friends can become strangers a lot quicker than strangers can become friends.

Maybe you should have told a little less lies, maybe you shouldn’t have gone and ruined my life for one night.

@TheSamMcLeod

Don’t kid yourself.

If only. Are they the two saddest words in the world?

Despite what you might think of Hillary Clinton, she once nailed a thing with just 21 words. ‘Life is too short, time is too precious and the stakes are too high to dwell on what might have been.’ Maybe one of the things we all can ever do is to hope to end up with the least amount of regrets as possible. Sure, there will always some things that you wish you can change, but is it ever really that bad, or is it experience that you can draw on? Does the potential introspection make things any easier even if something wasn’t your fault? Sometimes your emotional bucket gets full and and it can be hard not to overthink things. The guilt in the nighttime, being in bed awake and replaying all of those things that you didn’t get right sucks balls. Nothing solves your insomnia better than a big fucking glass of regret and hating yourself for a while. If you do mess up though, don’t you make right the mistakes of your yesterday today? You’ll take a win in life all day long, sometimes you accept a loss but either way you get ready to go again, don’t you? Swim upstream, whatever it is, it’s something that happened, shouldn’t we all just try and get over it?

Mistakes are just things that happen to all of us, sometimes everything goes to shit. Each one of us does things that we wish could go back and do differently. Thing is, we don’t have to be defined by the things we did or didn’t do in our past. There is zero point in spending time trying to alter any of it, it’s like trying to eat soup with a fork or thinking you’ll win an argument with a lady, absolutely pointless. It’s easy to look back and regret things, but maybe smiling at what you’ve learned is better.

Perhaps the most important part of moving forward is realising that you appreciate that you shouldn’t second guess yourself and become emotionally vulnerable. We all sit in the front row of our own lives but who wants to let down their guard and show signs of heartbreak?

The devil’s right there, right there in the details.

New York didn’t happen but not for the reason you were told. Being lied to is perhaps a bit harsh, but what you heard from someone else was wrong and my heart hurts about that. Resurrecting our plan would be nice, one day?

I should have told you how I felt as soon as I knew how I felt. I didn’t, I messed up and now we’ll never be a thing. That’ll always be a constant source of regret, even though I’m happy that you’re happy with someone else. It hurts more than you’ll ever know, sometimes you can’t see what’s right for you is there in front of you. You are a Lamborghini and I was hanging on like I was cans on the back of a fucking wedding car.

We should have never even interacted or said hello to each other, far less kissed and gone further. When you’re hurting from a breakup, you open yourself up to things that you shouldn’t because you’re in a bad place. Maybe take a minute and try to identify if someone is toxic. Good luck to the next man in your life, it’s not going to be puppies and rainbows for that guy. When you begin to doubt someone and their intentions, it’s very difficult to stop that playing in your head continually. The bad stuff that happens doesn’t always fall on your side. If you have a bag of ten snakes and nine of them are harmless but one is poisonous, you’re not putting your hand in that bag, are you? Perhaps the good thing is when something ends that wasn’t right for you is that you learn to make your fuse longer.

The attention is flattering but I’m not a location, I’m a destination. Someone can be cool, have similar interests, be sweet, but when you get to a certain stage in your life, you know what will work and what won’t. Friendship is cool but more isn’t happening. No point talking someone off of the ledge every time they’re insecure about what might come next. As long as your moral compass is in the right place, it’s okay to feel okay with yourself. Don’t speak from a place of hate, speak from a place of love. There’s nothing wrong with liking not knowing where you’ll be tomorrow or the next day, taking a few risks is fine, as long as you know what it is you want.

You can be obsessed with details and sometimes your life needs a change of scenery, especially if something isn’t right.

It’s you right there, right there in the mirror.

Messing up today doesn’t need to impact your tomorrow. Regret, remorse, sorrow are all natural emotions. Accept the shit that comes your way when you’ve fucked up, but it’s not always your fault.

Don’t punish yourself, you’re looking too closely.

@TheSamMcLeod

 

 

Sunlight starts

Have you ever been to a place that seems to implant in your heart a homesickness and that also stirs up a ton of confusion when you leave it? Hiraeth is a Welsh word for an earnest desire or longing, nostalgia or a sense of regret. They’re emotions that we’ve all felt at some point in our lives, right?

Sure, you can always go to wherever your original home is, and perhaps a lot of the people that you left behind will still be there, living in entirely the same way that they were before you went away. It might be comforting for them but is that what you want for yourself? Whoever ‘they’ are, say that home is where the heart is. Does home need to be the city, town or village that you were born in though? Can you feel a longing for somewhere else that you’ve lived in previously or even just visited before, just because you get it and that that place seems to get you? Sometimes it doesn’t necessarily compute with you immediately how attached you were to somewhere until you’re not there any more. Perhaps you have to leave in order to really miss a place.

We’re all only going to get one crack at living our life the way we want to, so what’s the point in sitting around not feeling as good as you possibly can? Don’t we all need to grasp any opportunity to go and experience new things as much as possible? Who knows, you might find somewhere that works better for you, that feels more like home. The mind can wander to wherever it wants to, can’t it? The moon looks the same wherever you go, so if you’re not happy, perhaps it’s time for a change. Sometimes you feel something, a pang you’ve never felt before. You need a sanctuary for you, somewhere that just feels right. It’s not difficult to want something for yourself that you don’t have or haven’t been able to find yet. What if you’ve already found it though?

The temptations turn my head and crack it open.

It’s easy to get torn between change and familiarity but maybe Hunter S. Thompson had it right when he said, ‘Wake up and ponder the future.’

The plane lands just after six in the morning, immigration is successfully negotiated, bags are collected and a good friend is there to pick me up. We haven’t seen each other in years but who doesn’t like a hug? Never underestimate how much a friendly smile and welcoming words can be a comfort when you’re unsure about what comes next.

The drive to her apartment where I’ll be staying for the next few weeks is more about catching up rather than looking at the scenery. No sleep happened on any of the planes and it’s exciting to be in a new city, a new country, so a shower follows and I get a tour of the suburb that I might call home forever. It’s beyond beautiful.

There are three pristine sandy beaches within a five minute walk of the apartment. Two are always busy but one is almost usually uninhabited, despite the fact that it has a shack that sells beer. It’s super cool, I could care less about the owner’s lack of commercial sense, uno mas, por favor.

Lunch happens next door to another beach less than half an hour away. The walk is beautiful, the scenery is jaw dropping. This new life looks like it’ll be amazing. I don’t yet know that the commute to work is unbelievably pretty. I end up quickly getting my own place with a balcony and view of the Pacific Ocean. Bliss.

It’s incredibly cathartic that after you’ve suffered some heartbreak that life begins to get good again. Each day is a new experience, meeting people for the first time, discovering my new local bar less than fifty paces from my front door.

Life throws a massive curveball six months in and I need to leave. Doing the responsible thing was right, but I wasn’t homesick for anything that I encountered when I got back. The memories of the past were just that. It wasn’t home any more. Stability, somewhere to belong is all that’s needed but it’s not here. I’m in my first home but I’m homesick.

Now even more than when I first saw it, I need to be back there and stay forever. It’s not just a place on the map, but somewhere full of a shit ton of stories about people and places that made things better when it was needed. I’m missing that sky, I’ve been missing home.

During this difficult time, it’s acceptable that you’ll watch a lot of TV. I click on one and boom, there is my old apartment building featured and it brings me to tears, what is that about? It’s weird that some of the stuff you can miss about somewhere can be the simplest of things. This city holds me close and although I don’t really know why, it’s mine.

Before going there, I didn’t know where home really was. Now, me?

A wide-eyed boy slowly going through the motions. A change is coming that has been long in the making.

Take, take me back home.

@TheSamMcLeod

Cracks won’t fix and the scars won’t fade away.

Is there really just one person out there for each of us, some kind of soulmate that we’ll spend all of our lives with? Is it an overused term, the idea of finding one perfect person has to be pie in the sky, doesn’t it? What are the chances you’d ever meet someone like that? Someone you could love forever and who would forever love you back? Sure, maybe when you know, you know and whatever you have going on with someone might be a major thing but it doesn’t mean that you can’t mess it up or that it’ll work out in the way that you both want. Fingers crossed you get it right but until you try, how will you know? A gut feeling or a voice in your head? Perhaps there isn’t any need to doubt yourself when the real thing comes along, although it takes a ton of bravery, guesswork and a massive leap of faith.

Maybe we all need to disavow ourselves of the notion that there is someone perfect out there for each of us. Let’s face it, if you start from perfect, you have nowhere to go but down. On the flip side though, perhaps we’re given multiple chances to meet more than one soulmate. Not acting on something is okay, a chance will come again, won’t it?

Every single one of us wants different things from someone who might become our significant other. Someone who challenges you, who can make you laugh, who can teach you new things, who can tell you when to shut the fuck up when you need to be quiet, the list is almost endless. It doesn’t hurt if they’re easy on the eye too.

Is the 12th letter of the alphabet the most important one? You can love someone with every fibre of your being without being in love with them, family and friends obviously fall into this category. Can one of those people be a soulmate, does it depend on how you feel about them when they’re not around?

How do you manage when you have trouble sleeping, restless dreaming?

Falling for someone is a big deal but how many times have you thrown the L bomb out there thinking that you were in love with someone and how many times did you actually mean it? Is nine too many?

The first time was after meeting someone in a bar. She was on holiday with half a dozen friends but I only had eyes for her. We struck up a conversation and they all come back to the house. Whilst everyone else chats and drinks in the living room, we sit in the kitchen finding out more about each other. We hug, we kiss, they leave and promises are made to see one another again. Regular visits in both directions of over a 299 mile round trip happen, I even meet her parents, she could be the one. Being a teenage boy though, I fuck it up for someone else. To this day, when I pass her street on the south side of Glasgow, I still glance up and smile.

She was and still is a 10/10. Pretty much all of the boys in the entire club one Saturday night spot her and try their luck. She politely rebuffs all of them, there are times when you need a wingman or wingwoman. Ego takes over and I try my luck via said wingwoman knowing that everyone else wants her. Dick move in the long run, incredibly immature and it means that I make the biggest mistake of my life so far by discarding someone who was infinitely more suited to me. It lasts a matter of months and whilst we said we loved each other, we probably didn’t. She’s a cool girl and whilst we’re still in touch, it’ll never be a thing again.

Once bitten, twice shy? She’s bonkers beautiful, the girl who would become the second most important person in my life. Once she removed herself from the relationship she was in, we became a thing. I’m not in love with her but I’ll always love her. She’s with a great guy now, nothing but love for them but she’ll always be the one that got away.

It’s difficult to explain how you attract people sometimes. She was married to a famous sportsman but for some reason showed interest. Essentially, it’s an affair and it’s another shit move but it takes two to tango and all that. I fell deep and told her but she wasn’t interested in anything serious. Days, weeks and months pass and she changes her mind but it’s too late. She’s married again now and we’ve met since for coffee but that ship has sailed.

She was ten years younger so I was flattered. What an absolute car crash of a relationship, beginning to spot a pattern? She said the words first so I instinctively said them back.

Sometimes you connect with someone on a bunch of levels. We met through work and it progressed into something more. Everything was going swimmingly for ages, the words were exchanged, albeit drunkenly but then she drops the bomb that she needs to relocate for work. I accepted it grudgingly so she moved alone. She’s awesome, her now boyfriend is a lucky man but recently she opened up and said she’d have stayed if I’d asked her. Fuck.

It was a thing that was on and off more times than a television. Nice girl? Sure. Flawed? Definitely, but aren’t we all? It was a casual thing for ages and it should’ve stayed that way, but when one person wants more out of a relationship than you really want to give, you have a choice to make. Fingers crossed you get it right if you acquiesce but shouldn’t you trust your gut?

The last girl again said those words first so I replied in kind, despite not meaning it. Proof right there that you don’t get wiser with age. She was wrong in every single way, bordering on sociopathic, happy to argue with all of my friends because she thought she was superior.

Sometimes you know immediately who the most important people in your life are. It’s easy to overthink the mistakes you’ve made with people but you’re not always in the wrong.

When you’re single, it can be tough to find someone you can connect with and that you’re excited to be around. As you get older, isn’t the thought of finding new love completely frightening?

Thing is, maybe your soulmate doesn’t have to be a romantic thing. It’s sad to contemplate not being somebody to someone, but I know there is one girl on this planet that I’ll love unconditionally until the day I take my final breath.

You’re in my head, always.

@TheSamMcLeod

Catch Gavin on tour from July 4th, https://shop.gavinjamesmusic.com

No one looks innocent.

There’s about to be a wedding, another man is going to be lost overboard. Before the groom walks down the aisle though and meets his beautiful bride, there needs to be a bachelor party/stag do. It’s a rite of passage, it could be tame, it could be wild but it has to happen. Have a day at a spa if that’s what the main man wants, but don’t you want to try and go big, make it something unforgettable? Forgettable is probably more likely if your collective night pans out the way you all want it to. Well, maybe not all of you.

Back in 2007, two friends had an idea for a movie and wrote a script called ‘What Happens In Vegas’. It was quickly snapped up by a studio but due to various legal difficulties, it didn’t look like it was ever going to be a thing. Two years later however, Warner Bros picked up the rights to the script, promptly renamed it ‘The Hangover’ and made it the first part of what would become the most successful R-rated comedy franchise of all time. Is it a good idea to try and replicate as much of that film experience as possible or not?

George Carlin was widely regarded as one of the best stand-up comedians ever. Chuck in that he was an actor, author and social critic too, and it’s hard not to recognise the genius of the man. He once posited that you should ‘Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups.’ Las Vegas, stupid people, a large group, what could possibly go wrong? On your own, you can be pretty dumb sometimes, but for shithousery levels of stupidity, nothing beats teamwork.

I always put myself in destructive situations.

If you’re responsible for such a shindig, you need to listen to the needs and wants of everyone that’ll be going. Some ideas are infinitely more ridiculous than others but don’t you try to make them all happen?

The accommodation is sorted with a pool that leans out over the side of the building. Chuck in butler service and you just know that man is going to deserve every dollar of his tip once the weekend is over.

Not all of us drive, but the Las Vegas Motor Speedway is a popular option where you can tear it up in Ferraris, Lamborghinis, McLarens and Porsches. I wouldn’t trust any of these idiots on a bicycle but each to their own. Who in their right mind would want to fly a fighter jet? This guy, and despite some medical advice that it’s a fucking terrible idea, the aviators were packed. None of us have any clue what a hammerhead stall, tail spin or torque roll is but I guess we’ll find out. I’ve already gifted my flat to someone if I don’t make it back alive. Laying your hands on everything from pistols to fully automatic rifles and sub-machine guns at a shooting range doesn’t sit well so the three of them can have at it. There’s a bar across the street, bourbon wins out.

It’s almost a scene from Ocean’s Eleven but cards at the Bellagio is a must. Throw in the complimentary Manhattans and Negronis and you know that the two Scottish boys will kick the balls out of that. Not so sure about the Kiwi or the Yank, but we’ll see and it’s unlikely that any bank heists will take place. I’m not saying that one of us knows how to count cards but I’m also not saying that one of us can’t, seems there are added benefits to a maths degree. Getting a black eye or broken jaw in the back room of a casino would be a story to tell the grandchildren, cliche as hell but probably worth it. There’s a tour of bars that comes with free IPAs’, rookie move Vegas, a day of takings in the red awaits. Who doesn’t think that drinking more beers and renting jetskis on Lake Mead is a good idea?

Pretty vanilla though, time to step it back up. Jump off the Stratosphere, basically a controlled free fall before hitting the Strip, hopefully feet first. Hijacking the pool at the Mandalay Bay, getting led astray by the poolside casino and enjoying the view for the three of us that are single. All are stupid ideas but it’s not really our weekend, or is it? Maybe this kind of trip is for everyone except ironically, the groom? He has to behave to a certain extent whilst everyone else can go crazy. Stupidity has a knack of getting in the way but everything will be alright in the morning, won’t it? As long as the night doesn’t involve acquiring a random baby or stealing a tiger, the night can be counted as a success. Famous last words.

Just getting him to the church safely is the ultimate goal but that can wait for now.

We’ve got a big, big mess on our hands tonight.

@TheSamMcLeod

A heart of doubt.

A new year approaches and so we make resolutions. Join a gym or at least go back to the one that we’ve been paying for and not using. Stop smoking, drink less alcohol, lose weight and be healthy, take up a new hobby, spend more time with family and friends, the list is almost endless. Those are all pretty common so you might choose things that are a bit more personal.

Answering yes to more questions, to more chances of experiencing new things. It’s easy to shut yourself off at times, to just be on your own but maybe intrinsically you know that you need to mix things up now and again. The word ‘Yes’ is a sentence, first resolution makes the list. Learning to say no to other things, it’s a failing if you’re trying to please everyone all of the time. The word ‘No’ is also a sentence, second one sorted. You can be a kind person with a good heart and still say no to people. You want to know when to say no when you need to, but also when you say yes, the people around you know that you mean it. Setting boundaries can be a good idea. Sometimes you need to let people in, to let new things in or to let some things go if they’re not making you happy. Three for three, that’ll do for now, baby steps, right?

You need some things, people you care about, that you love. Sometimes you find those people when you least expect to. You can just click with someone and know that you’re both going to get along, you don’t have to pretend to be anyone else or anything that you’re not. Sure, sometimes your relationship will be going great and at others, it’ll be a bit of a struggle.

Last night we were more than fine.

In the middle of checking into a hotel and whilst the process is taking place, I look around and see her sitting in the bar. She spots me stealing a momentary glance, I’m so busted, but I get a smile so naturally one is returned. I concentrate on the person sorting out my room though, being rude is no bueno. Key collected, bags unpacked and a much needed shower after a forty hour journey is welcome. A beer downstairs follows, she’s still there and we strike up a conversation. She’s friendly, but our time ends with that one drink. A couple of days go by and I don’t see her.

Walking around the city, I randomly bump into her a few days later, smiles and awkward hugs are exchanged and we go for a drink. It turns out we like a lot of the same things, she’s also into spicy food, tequila, travel and girls. I didn’t see that coming but I like hanging out with her so why not continue to do so, everyone has friends that they’re not into in a romantic way. We have another week in the same city and we spend a lot of time together, eating, drinking, exploring. The friendship is formed and it’s sad when she has to go home.

Sussing out the benefits of any relationship is down to no one else but yourself. You can be around someone initially that you think you’re attracted to, but as time progresses, the friendship takes over and those feelings fade. No romance is on the cards but wouldn’t you want to be friends with the kind of girl you’d believe if she told you that the earth was flat and that Skittles fell from the sky? Sometimes you just vibe with someone.

We’re in touch regularly and she’s super polite, always asking about family and friends, about what’s going on, generally just a cool human being. Do you ever have a friendship though that’s a one way street? You’re always the first person in touch, the quicker to reply.

You text me when you feel like, when it feels right to you.

Days, weeks, months pass and we’re cool though, we speak, we hang out when she’s here and when I’m anywhere near her. An invite is extended to bring in 2020 together with other friends, she accepts and a plan is made.

Her plane lands, I pick her up and nothing has changed, the chat is seamless, it’s like we’ve never been apart. Neither of us have girlfriends but only one of us is looking for one, first time being a wingman for a lady.

The last day of the year is here, food and drinks with friends, always good. The bells toll to bring in the new year, we hug as is the case with everyone else, but she kisses me hard and it takes more seconds than it should to pull away. Conversing becomes difficult as I shake my head and tell her that we can’t. I love her but I’m not in love with her. It’s probably something that would’ve never happened if it wasn’t for a shit ton of tequila. Not all common interests are good.

The pain on her face is almost palpable, those falling tears hurt even more, but it’s down to excess on a special night of the year. It’s hard to look at the ruin, but it’s harder still not to find beauty in her decay, sometimes all you want is to get or give a hug.

Who doesn’t like being kissed? It has to be right though, if it’s not, then what’s the point? Isn’t it better to feel bad for a moment by saying no and stopping things going too far rather than harming you both in the long run? It’s okay to misjudge things but you always know when something isn’t coming from the right place.

On your lips just leave it, if you don’t mean it.

@TheSamMcLeod

When you’re lionhearted.

As a new year approaches, isn’t it the best time to say goodbye to some people and some things, and hello to a lot of new stuff that could change your life in the year ahead? Perhaps the most exciting part is that you have zero clue about what any of those things might be.

Transformation isn’t an easy thing, it’s often full of chaos and can be the start of a lot of conflict with yourself. Change is scary, it’s okay to be a little bit frightened about the good and bad things that await you. Maybe the point is though, those things are a chance of a shot at inner growth; a rebirth almost, where you restart yourself, when you realise who you are once more. There’s fuck all wrong with learning to learn again. You remember what you’re all about and the game changes, one moment could decide it all.

Good things can prompt you into thinking about the year ahead, a choice about new decisions. Jobs, relationships, travel, new friends, additions to your family, the list is almost endless. Flip things though, and it’s the same for all of the bad. Losing a job, a relationship ending, losing a loved one, life has a way of putting up obstacles that stop you getting on with what you need or want. Does anything ever remain as it was?

When the bad shit happens, we all know that it hits hard, and so we need to decide on certain things, about how we continue, about how we move on. Realising that you can find that you know exactly what to do in all of those dark days has to be a crumb of comfort, doesn’t it?

It’s not always easy, sometimes we brace and then fall.

It’s normal to lose confidence but it’s not normal to stay down. Now and again, we all have to stumble or fall to reach the next phase of our lives. Do you ever dream or feel like that you’re standing on the edge of a metaphorical cliff looking down and thinking, ‘I need to do this, I need to jump, it’s the only thing that’ll help me move forward?.

It doesn’t matter a lot of the time what you’ve done in your life. The friendships you’ve made, the breaths you’ve taken, the words you’ve spoken, the people you’ve fallen in love with, you’ve got to start over. Undoubtedly, between the optimism and pessimism that we all juggle with, we reach for either chance or stability, to try and carve out a sense of belief that we’re all on the right road that we want to be on.

It’s not always something that’s said out loud but as midnight approaches, don’t we all think to ourselves, ‘Next year will be my year?’ Let’s hope so for every single one of us.

This year can do one. The loss of a loved one, the end of an important relationship, serious injury, life threatening illness, having to move house and change jobs. Fuck you 2019, 2020, I’ve got this.

Anguish, grief, hurt, loneliness, regret, no emotions that any of us should have to feel on and day, week, month or year but it’s just life. It can be a tough road but you know that some things will only scratch your surface whilst others will hit you at your very core. You get to decide which are which though because you’ve got this too. Suss out the emotions you need to have to start the year in a strong way, right?

Good news will come your way in the year ahead, and whilst it’s hard not to be able to share your joy with the people you miss the most who are no longer around, thinking of yourself should kick in again. Retain the love, respect and thought for others, but do you.

Sometimes you wake up one day, just like any other, and you decide that you don’t like it anymore. So, you make a change. You need to be selfish at times and do what’s right for you.

Sometimes we don’t fall at all.

@TheSamMcLeod

Tired of beatings and battles.

All it takes sometimes is a single moment and your whole life can be turned upside down. It’s just one of those things, some of your days are good, some of your days are damn near excellent, whilst some days are a proverbial kick in the stones. One day can change your life, one day can make your life, one day can ruin your life. Whatever shit comes your way, you react in the best way that you can though, don’t you? Always in all ways. You find a person or place in this world that you know is worth fighting for and you get your game face on. Some days are a struggle, but isn’t the beauty of fighting that you can come out of the other side of something difficult in a better place?

In The Myth of Sisyphus and Other Essays, Albert Camus scribbled that ‘There is scarcely any passion without struggle.’ You need to focus on having a positive outlook of fighting through your struggles when life tosses you a curveball, don’t you? You have beliefs, friendships, values, fuck, a shit ton of different things that you care about, aren’t all of those things worth keeping in your head when something comes along and knocks you on your ass?

Undoubtedly it’s difficult, but sometimes you need to put on your big boy pants and suck things up. Sure, it’s not always easy and it’s okay just to let things be wrong for a minute. You’ll come back stronger and find that one thing that’s worth fighting for.

It’s more than alright to feel like you’re the one person in the world that’s the most alone, but that said, you need to at least let someone know that when you’re struggling with something, don’t you? The hardest things to speak about are the ones we can’t understand ourselves but we need to try. Opening up when you’re vulnerable is tough, but somebody cares that somebody knows.

Where there are roads in our lives, there are bound to be speed bumps too, but isn’t there a time for acceptance as well as a time for kicking the fuck out of something? Maybe life isn’t always about having a good day but about finding good moments. Perhaps every day becomes less difficult if you can learn to fight back against whatever you have going on. You love the people you love, you cry, you laugh, you fail, you succeed, you fall, but the most important thing is to get back up. When something’s difficult, you’ll do so much more to ensure you don’t lose the things you care about. We fight.

The harder the fight, the more glorious fuck you will come at the end of your battle, right? How much joy is there when you can flip a middle finger at something? Is it right that only the things that are really worth fighting for gives everything in your life it’s value?

Those quiet, little personal moments when you get bad news are vital. You suss out a plan, which details you choose to share with everyone that you care for, how you get over it, everything is a contest, head and and heart clashing as they often do.

Two days before Christmas and the news isn’t good, it’s as bad as it could be. Who wants to spend any time in hospital, far less a day where you should be surrounded by your family and friends? More than likely, it’s as bad for the staff as it is for a lot of the patients, healthcare professionals are wonderful, especially at this time of year. They’re pretty humbling people, kudos to all of them.

Words and intentions are good from the people that care about you, but when you’re down, you’re down. Kindness is a lovely thing, but isn’t it true that if you have to pull yourself back from the negative thoughts you’re having about everything you have going on that it’s easier said than done? We fight.

We made it to today, we’ll make it to tomorrow and hopefully the next day after that. We fight.

This is the biggest thing that I’ll ever have to face but there’s no other option, I fight. My little girl, family, friends, everything that I still have to achieve, I’ve got this. We’ve all got this, we just need to tell our minds to believe it.

Maybe if you have nothing to fight against, you have nothing to fight for. So, we fight our way in and we fight our way out.

Just pick yourself up, it’s time to go.

@TheSamMcLeod

To be humble, to be kind.

Having morals, values, being noble and principled should take you pretty far in life. Being generous, helping people when they need it, smiling is never bad, all good ways to be. Some of us are emotionally wired to be that way, very cool if you’re one of those amazing people. On the flip side, some of us aren’t, and that’s okay, but don’t we all try to do the best we can, if we can and treat everyone in our lives in the greatest possible way? It’s perhaps a fanciful notion, but it’s always better to hear a kind word from someone than a nasty one. Small gestures, reaching out when you know that someone needs help, a call, an email, a text, nothing wrong with an impromptu visit.

It’s easy to ponder over what to do sometimes, but if you feel in your heart that something is right and you know you have to do it, then aren’t you doing the right thing? We’re all flawed, we make mistakes occasionally, but sometimes we don’t make decisions because they’re easy; we make them because they’re right. Doing what you should for someone else is a good deed, but can’t it also help you? If you’re feeling down, struggling with whatever you have going on in your life, won’t reaching out and giving some time and thought to others make you feel a tiny bit happier inside? Even the smallest gesture can impact someone’s world in a way that you can perhaps never fully fathom. It can be a good world that we live in sometimes if we’re willing to try and make it a little better in our own way as often as we can.

A world that’s full of endless possibilities.

New York in November is an unforgiving mistress, the wind chill bites hard. It becomes even less so, if you’re out and about every day with a Red Sox beanie on. Insults come regularly, but it’s cool, this is the greatest city in the world, nothing can wipe the smile off of my face. I’ll happily discuss recent World Series wins with Yankees fans all day long. When you know a city well, chances are that you’ve done all of the touristy stuff. Trips become more about hanging out with friends that you don’t get to see very often, going for lunches and dinners, having copious amounts of late night drinks. We all have our favourite things to do, right? Watching the Jets at MetLife stick it to the Raiders. Eating PEI mussels with fra diavolo and drinking jalapeno margaritas at Banc on Third. Spending a lazy day whilst friends are working, reading newspapers and making an impressive dent in the beer list at Blind Tiger, before hitting John’s for the best pizza in the city. Drinking cold Patron on the rooftop whilst the Empire State Building dominates the background. There are worse ways to spend days and nights, but it’s easy to forget how blessed you can be to be able to do the things that you want to.

That lesson is rammed home in the space of less than quarter of an hour. An evening is spent alone at Zum Schneider in the East Village, not everyone can partake on a school night. Like a lot of people sitting on their own, I’m scrolling through my phone. A notification pops up from YouTube and I check it out. It’s a couple of young guys who travel the country tasting various foods at different price points and then give their verdict on which particular dish was the best value for money. Sounds like fun, pretty harmless, but not when they’re eating a hotdog in Seattle that costs $169. To be fair to the guys behind it, they give the profits to charity, but the overriding thought is, ‘Why aren’t people spending that money in a better way, to do better?’ I’m still shaking my head when a van with City Harvest written on it drives by. I’ve never heard of them so I check them out and it’s humbling. They’re the largest food rescue organisation in New York, dedicated to collecting fresh food that would otherwise go to waste, and delivering it, free of charge to hundreds of community food programs, food pantries and soup kitchens all across the five boroughs. Nearly 1.2 million New Yorkers face hunger every year, including one in five children and that’s fucking unacceptable. It’s okay to feel foolish now and again.

They need volunteers to help out and given how much I’ve enjoyed having fun in this city, it can’t hurt to give something back to it. It’s an absolute eye opener and there are tears more than once. To see people come together, to give up their time to help others isn’t something that’s always on your radar. It’s a cold, long night but at least I know that when it ends, my head will hit a pillow and I’ll have my pick of what to eat in the morning. That’s not always been the case, so it’s something that I’m blessed to have discovered. Trudging back to the hotel, shuffle does that thing it regularly does and throws up a perfect song, my smile is rueful. It was written to help support Newtown after the terrible school tragedy and it’s been adopted by more than one charitable organisation, truly a wonderful thing.

The lesson learned?

How unbelievably fortunate we are, how insignificant some of our problems are compared to millions of others. Sure, we perhaps realise them on some sort of level, but now and again, something comes along to make you appreciate the things you have and how lucky your life really is.

We are how we treat each other and nothing more.

@TheSamMcLeod

It’s simply one neighbour helping another. 61 million pounds of fresh food would go to waste if City Harvest didn’t step in to help feed the people who need it most. Just $1 helps feed a family in need for a day, $36 helps feed 133 New Yorkers for a day, $52 helps feed 27 individuals for a week, $83 helps feed 3 families for a month, whilst $135 will feed a senior for more than a year. If you can spare some time to volunteer, I guarantee it’ll change your life.

Support them if you can at http://www.cityharvest.org

The last ones dancing when the lights go out.

Devotion. A noun meaning to have care, love or loyalty for someone or something. There’s a scale though, isn’t there? Some of the things in your life, not all, that you show any of those emotions to, you get to choose what they are. It can be big things, it can be small things but you’re in charge. Don’t all of us have a favourite band, drink, film or food that we love? Death Cab For Cutie, Carolina Reaper tequila, The Big Lebowski, phaal curry, love them all, but devoted? Nope. It becomes a bit more difficult with sports teams, assuming that you even follow any side, team or organisation. Again, there’s a scale though. If you live on the opposite side of the world to where your favourite team are playing, chances are that you’ll be asleep when they’re in action. Staying up through the night or waking at 4am to watch a game remotely shows devotion for sure, especially if you have to go to work straight after. Maybe that devotion takes away your choice, perhaps you’re not in charge as much as you thought.

It gets even more difficult when it comes to people, but again, and for most of the time, you choose who you let close and who you keep at arm’s length. It’s always a good idea to never not try and do anything by half though. If you love someone, don’t you try and love them with all that you’ve got? The L word isn’t just something that you just toss around. If you hate someone, and it’s a strong word, hate them until you feel better or until you forget about them. It’s okay to fuck up, haven’t we all let someone in that we thought would enhance our lives, before finally realising that decision made as much sense as bullfighting on a trampoline. None of us need a certain number of friends, just a number of friends that we can be certain of.

Lots of people will want to ride your coattails at one point or another when things are good, but what you need and want is someone who’s looking out for you all of the time, even if you don’t know or see it. Someone who resolves to always be by your side, maybe when no one else has your back. I guess you could call that devotion.

Thing is, you’re on the other side of that relationship too, you’ll do anything for the people that you care about. A few words, a hug, a smile. A call, an email, a quick text, it’s the little things sometimes. Sure, it’s difficult if they’re further away, but they need to know that you’re always available even if it’s just at the end of a phone. You know intrinsically though that if they really need you, that they can take comfort to know that you’re getting into your car, hopping on a train or a plane to head in their direction because you care about them. Who’s devoted now?

They need to know that you’ll always let them in, that you’re there with the door wide open. No matter what.

You have to either let those words leave your mouth or communicate with them in another way so that those people in your life, know unequivocally, that no matter what happens, no matter what’s needed, that you’ll always be there. Nothing wrong with having an unwavering commitment to the people that you care about, it’s just choices again. You either do something, or you don’t. You can love someone with every fibre of your being or not. Don’t we love all of the things that come together to make them a part of your life? Maybe it’s like Jenga, there’s only so much that you can add or take away without making the whole fucking thing collapse. Not if you let them know. To have it clear in your own head that they understand it doesn’t matter about highs and lows, they know there is at least one person who’ll support them through anything and everything.

It sounds like a noble thing to do, but it’s really not, just the right thing. Life gets in the way sometimes though, or we don’t appreciate that it’s not always clear. Perhaps it’s the smallest thing or a life-changing event for you to realise that not everyone you care about knows that you’ll always be there for them. Guilty as charged.

Cards, notepads, pens and stamps have been bought, how quaint, who even writes letters any more? It’s time for those special people to know, for that one special person to know that I’m here, that I’ve always been here and that I’ll always be there, no matter where I am in the world. My bad for not saying sooner. A shoulder to cry on? I’ve got you. Some encouraging words to help try and make you feel better? All over it. If harsh words are needed, then you’d better believe that you’re going to hear them. Tough love sucks sometimes but it’s love nonetheless. If something hits your mat, or even just your inbox, then now you know for sure.

Anytime that you will fall, I’ll be there to pick you up.

When there’s no one to hold you, I will still hold you down.

@TheSamMcLeod

@YouMeMusicLife