The story needs more pages.

There are some questions that you know you need to avoid asking. When is your baby due? Always a good idea to make sure that the lady in question, is in fact, pregnant. That was an awkward moment. Are you seeing anyone? No one’s status matters in the way you speak to them unless you’re into him or her in a big way. When you meet someone new, it’s probably not a good idea to query what went wrong in their last relationship. Why aren’t you married? Marriage is an absolute minefield of a topic, best avoided at all costs. Why are you single? Yep, great question to ask, everyone who isn’t with someone else sits around pondering the reasons why they can’t seem to find someone that they’re compatible with. If you’re male, you know it’s an unwritten rule that you can never ask the age of a lady, no good can come of it.

Maybe sometimes though, you need to channel your inner kid curiosity. Who, what, why, where, when, how, those little fuckers never stop asking questions. The absolute wonderful naivety of youth, don’t we all wish that we could go back to that time, even if just for a few moments? Asking questions without having an agenda, without being judged, just a natural impishness to settle things in your own head. You know you can’t get the answer you want if you don’t ask the question. If you never shoot, you’ll never know. Isn’t it true that the only stupid question is the one that’s never asked? There’s nothing wrong with being curious about things and finding yourself slightly confused by the world.

Clearly some questions hold more importance than others though. What to have for dinner tonight isn’t quite as meaningful as what you need to ask someone that you think you might have feelings for or that you think you might be falling in love with.

How do you define what love means to you? The need for the well-being of another person that you care about more than yourself? Having a thing with someone so deep that the twinkling in their eyes becomes important to your own feeling of content? To see that person that makes you happy smiling every day more than once? Someone that you care about so much that you would do whatever you could to stop anything bad from happening to them? It’s all subjective, if you’ve sussed it out, you’re doing well.

I can’t seem to get it right.

Life as a sixteen year old boy isn’t that complicated, there aren’t too many questions that you need to ask. Hopefully you know where your next meal is coming from, school, sports, hanging out with friends, you probably know what every day is going to bring. Until someone comes along and messes all of that up.

Every day at 8am, the bus rocks up to take us all to school. It’s not a long journey, twenty minutes or so and everyone gets lost in their own little world. Personal CD players are everywhere, conversation is scarce. Everyone knows everyone else, some sit on the top deck, the cool kids sit on the bottom at the back, nods are exchanged and everyone loses themselves for a while. With it being a small town, chances are that you saw most of the people that you share the commute with over the weekend anyway, you were probably hanging out with a lot of them. You see this lot more than your own family, no need to be inquisitive, what type of questions do you need answered?

One Monday morning is different to the others that have gone before. The appearance of a new girl on the bus has nearly all of the boys going to the extreme step of taking their headphones off to listen to her voice rather than whoever was their artist of choice. It didn’t hurt that she’s incredibly pretty but immediately we all knew that she was major league whilst we were all the Triple-A equivalent.

Day after day follows and you know you’re in trouble when you start looking forward to the journey to school. Slowly though, a conversation happens, a friendship begins and continues to evolve over the next weeks, months and years. I fell in love with her in stages.

We hang out a lot but the subject is never broached. Having the friendship is infinitely more important than the possibility of fucking things up on a romantic basis, but do the two need to be mutually exclusive? Now would be an ideal time to have that ability again to not care about asking a question. Maybe it’s a healthy thing to hang a question mark on the things that are super important to you, no point diving in if you’re not sure that you’re going to get the answer you want. A lack of self confidence? It’s always easier to talk yourself out of something rather than into it. Sometimes a stubborn mind is a blessing, sometimes it’s anything but. Once an idea forms in your head though, can it be stopped?

Eight words have never travelled from my lips to her ears but maybe it’s time that she knows, if she doesn’t already. Wish me luck.

I’ve been in love with you for ages.

@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

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

Looking for the right one.

Johann Gottlieb Fichte, a German philosopher wrote a book called The Vocation of Man in 1799 where he explores doubt, faith and knowledge. In it, he posits that, “You could not remove a single grain of sand from its place without thereby changing something throughout all parts of the immeasurable whole.” It’s basically the butterfly effect. The thought that a butterfly can flutter it’s wings in China and cause a hurricane somewhere else on the planet. Chaos theory tells us that it’s the little things that really change the world, ergo your world. A random encounter with someone you’ve never met before, but who’ll impact your life further down the road. Reconnecting out of the blue with a long lost friend and rekindling your past relationship. It’s up to you to pursue those if you want to, just the agony and beauty of choice.

You make choices every day, sometimes they’re right, sometimes they’re wrong, but you do what you think is best for you. Isn’t it true that sometimes things are decided for you?

It’s okay to be scared of new things. It’s also okay to think that you’re stopping yourself from liking someone new if someone old hurt you. Leaving someone behind is difficult, there are some people that you know you have to let go of that you hope you won’t think of every day for the rest of your life. If you’re even contemplating the possibility of a new experience, don’t you want to try and find everything in someone that’s the best for you? Is it a naive hope to build something new when you’ve been fucked over? Sure, there’ll be certain people that you like, even though you think you can’t possibly get them. Maybe they’re taken or maybe they’re just not right for you.

Maybe you need to realise that perfection will not come.

A meeting in a hotel bar happens through a mutual friend. If you ever want to fully appreciate how attractive someone is, simply watch the people around them. Girls do what girls do, give their male partners that look warning them off from even glancing in her direction. Some eye her up enviously, whilst some are complimentary about her handbag, outfit or shoes. As a boy, never underestimate the power of knowing what Christian Louboutin shoes look like, trust me, it’ll serve you well.

There was a first glance between us, the sort of flirty gesture that lasts just long enough to blur the line between innocent and suggestive, my friend could be onto something. We’re both staying in the same hotel for the same length of time and a lot of it ends up being spent together, although nothing happens, despite the amount of dancing around the possibility of it. It was a tiny bit presumptuous on her part, but she told me on the first night that no kissing would be happening, she had a boyfriend. She’s got more balls than a table tennis tournament for even thinking that was on my mind, but as usual, ladies are always correct. We flirted constantly, but because of the boyfriend thing, there was zero point in pursuing it. Nothing wrong with having some harmless fun if you’re single though, especially if you’re getting the same in return. Boyfriend or not, she’s moving to New York for work so it’s an easy decision not to get too involved, no matter how much I might want to. A day comes, she leaves with a hug, no numbers are exchanged.

Just under a month later, an invite from a headhunter drops into my inbox about more than one job in New York. No reason to say no, they book flights and the trip is made.

The first night ritual has changed now that I’m doing this alone, no more rooftop beers in the shadow of the Empire State Building, it wouldn’t be right. I’m four drinks deep into Pappy Van Winkle at Whiskey Ward on the LES and headed for five. Next stop, The Rusty Knot on West 11th which probably has the best jukebox in the city.

As I walk in, I stop dead in my tracks. The average adult brain has trillions of synapses, mine are firing all at once, there she is. Over ten thousand bars in this city, what are the odds? It’s unexpected and I hate that, although at the same time, it’s pretty cool. The chance, the sheer impossibility that it could even happen. She has home field advantage though, batter up. It’s like submitting an application for the Darwin Awards for even wanting to talk to her, there are more than a dozen deep breaths. I should have realised that the song currently playing was a sign.

She seems shocked in a good way, although my explanation of why I was in the city wasn’t even a distant cousin of convincing, seems you’re never too old to be tongue-tied. She held my gaze but her eyes revealed nothing. Words and drinks follow. She apologises to me within the first ten minutes, turns out there was no boyfriend, she was just tired of boys hitting on her. Fair enough, she owes me no explanation. Now there is a boyfriend in Manhattan though, but if I move, she’ll end things with him to be with me. I know PI to over a thousand digits but I can’t work her out, how is that a tempting offer?

It doesn’t take long to decide, money is thrown down for drinks and I say no and goodbye in that order.

She hugged me tighter than anyone ever has, but it’s wrong to start something new based on a lie. Is it also wrong though to chase that feeling that twisted your mutual past into something so beautiful, even if it was brief? Sometimes you have to tell yourself that you can’t be blinded about what you want to believe, it takes balance. Thing is, if you never let anyone in, you’ll never get fucked over again. If you can treat someone that way, you can do it to anyone, I want no part of that possibility. I’m sad about it but I’ve been sad before.

Sometimes the hardest thing and the right thing are the same.

@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

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

This is madness.

There are some situations in life that you know you’ll have to make a decision on, to weigh up and decide if they’re the right or wrong thing to do. Your world can be at a crossroads, but you still have a choice. The two are mutually exclusive though, aren’t they? Neither direction can necessarily feel like a good one, and whilst there might not be a perfect choice, there’s always a right one. It’s okay to second guess yourself, for your mind to alternate between nonsense and sense, between that grey area of right and wrong. Sometimes, maybe it’s better to be irresponsible and right, than to be responsible and wrong.

You still need to live your life by some rules though. Be compassionate, be humble, be kind, those should be the easy ones and aren’t restricted to gender. You ladies have some sort of code when it comes to dealing with boys, don’t you? Most boys do too when it comes to ladies, rules are no bad thing. Sure, they can range from genius to ridiculous, but they are what they are.

Lunch or drinks with a friend’s girl is absolutely fine, cinema trips or dinner are off limits though. If a friend splits with his lady, nothing more than a shrug and a lot of beer gets offered or is even expected. No hugs will take place. Moustaches are banned, except during the eleventh month of the year and only if you’re raising money for Movember. If a friend is on a blind date, you’re obliged to work reconnaissance and report back with a nod or a shake of the head. If you’ve spent the whole day trying to dodge the result of your favourite team so that you can watch it back later, no discussion will be had about the game when out with friends. If one of you lucks out and gets a girl’s number, forget about the three days to call her rule. It’s always at least five, a week if possible. You might want to call her straight away and that’s understandable, but you’re taking one for the team here. If word gets out to her friends that you called her the next morning, soon enough all ladies will expect a call the next day. If you’re out and about as a group, it’s implicitly understood that whoever is looking for someone new, always hits on the second, third or fourth best looking girl in a group if they’re really looking to get the girl who catches their eye the most. Sexist? Possibly. Shitty move? Absolutely, but there are times when you can use jealousy to your advantage that comes complete with a high success rate. Unfortunately, the sisters of friends are off limits.

Sometimes the right thing to do isn’t the easiest thing but you intrinsically know what’s the correct choice. As with a lot of decisions, you can easily fuck up. Choosing someone new that you know isn’t a good idea because they’re already with someone else has to be up there with the most stupid things to do. It might work though, right? Do the rules still apply if you don’t know the other party who’s unwittingly involved? A copout? It might not be the most popular thing to do, but if it’s right, then popular doesn’t matter. Are the rules even that important if someone closer to things than you are willing to break their own?

Some chapters end and new ones begin, a day comes when it’s time to work out your story is going to be. Every new relationship starts with a fire inside of you.

Strike a match, it’s pure insanity, so pour the gasoline.

We’re both out of our minds.

In hindsight, it’s a fucking terrible idea, and whilst I know that I don’t fully understand her, I like her. She has a curious loneliness, as well as an absolute puzzle of a personal life. Somebody who needs an arm around their shoulders or a kind word can easily fall for someone because they’re now experiencing something that isn’t happening at home.

Calls are frequent, messages are constant. Geographically, we’re miles apart, but emotionally she’s almost sitting in my lap. A day comes when the miles have lessened considerably, although she doesn’t know that yet. Should an impromptu visit happen or not? It’s normal to ask yourself several questions but they’re not going to steer you in the right direction if they’re variations on ones that you’ve already asked.

A night out follows with East Coast friends. As usual when out with the boys, no relationship advice is asked for or given, but the beer side of the unwritten agreement still holds true. We’re in Proletariat on St Marks, drinking beer from Upland with papaya, mango and guava, two bottles should cover the five a day needed. Turns out that in the space of an evening, I’m good for about a fortnight. Cue a bad decision, the heart rules the head and another flight is booked. Everyone shrugs and carries on drinking, no one is touching this emotional dumpster fire.

The flight leaves at 11:11, I should have known. There are a lot of theories as to why that particular time is special, but perhaps the most common is that when you see these numbers, you should make a wish, and then that wish will come true. Even a short amount of time has a way of changing things though and the warning signals finally started going off, all in the space of under two hours on a plane. I don’t want this wish to come true. It wasn’t a dream but it felt like a bad one. If someone is willing to betray the person that they’re with, why can’t they do the same to you?

She doesn’t know I’m in her country, far less her town, but I see her with her (in)significant other and I know I’ve made the right choice.

A journey south is made and Bar Raval it is for tapas and drinks alone, before the hotel and moving my flight forward. Zero sleep happens, at a touch after 7am, watching the sunrise with a beer, the morning sky was as misty as my eyes. I’d hoped I was wrong but I knew that I wasn’t, head rules the heart for once. It was a silly thing to do, a stupid trip to make. Three hours later, I’m New York bound.

The experience hasn’t been a complete waste of time, a new rule had been added. Being single will save you a shit ton of stress rather than sticking about in the wrong relationship.

We couldn’t live a lie.

@TheSamMcLeod

@YouMeMusicLife

You can pick up Thrillchaser’s debut album, ‘A Lot Like Love’ now on Apple Music, and you can find them at http://www.thrillchsr.com, facebook.com/thrillchaser, instagram.com/thrillchasr and at twitter.com/thrillchasr. Go and say hey.

Cowardly shy.

Do you ever feel more vulnerable than you do when you’re not in control of things? Vulnerability sucks, none of us wants anyone in our world to discover that we’re not as strong as we’re making out to be. Just maybe though, once you’re able to get over your fears and insecurities and even embrace them, you realise that you can and will handle whatever has come at you. As contradictory as it seems, perhaps it’s something that can make us stronger. We either learn it ourselves or we’re taught from an early age to put on our game face, to head out into the world and hide our fears. If and when we do this, aren’t we finally realising that strength comes from what fear teaches us about overcoming our weaknesses, about what being a tiny bit emotionally broken means. What you tell yourself will either increase those feelings of vulnerability or be the words that encourage you to be stronger. Hope is precious.

When you hide those weaknesses though, no one would ever know that you’re waging a war with your feelings or that you’re scared about thinking that today might be the day when you just can’t go on. Sure, it blows when things aren’t even in the general ballpark of being okay, but sometimes you need to cry on the shoulder of someone you know and trust, and sometimes you just need to figure shit out for yourself, whatever works for you. Just a part of a personal growth process probably. Who knows, maybe you can be an inspiration to the people in your life when you show a side of yourself that you never expected you might have to. Tomorrow things could and likely will get harder, perhaps harder still the day after, but not every ending has to be the end of your world.

It can be a multitude of things, maybe it’s the end of something that tugs at your heartstrings every day. You have to at least try to keep going though, don’t you? The only one who can make you give up is yourself.

The thing is, everybody gives up sooner or later.

It should never have ended and I’m still confused as to why it did. Days, weeks, months, years of pain pass, of being afraid to open up to someone else. Off of the charts vulnerability wise, but a day needs to come when the need to open up to the possibility of someone new becomes a reality. That’s all it is though, a possibility. It’s not fair on anyone new if your mind is still wandering back to someone else. You can meet someone that splits your emotions though. Is it a bad idea, a good idea? When life is tough, when you feel beaten down and someone shows interest, you try and take pleasure where you find it, right? It’s okay for your heart to need a boost.

All of us want different things from people that might become a significant other, or who at least might become something. Looks, personality, being driven crazy by someone in a good way, a person who makes you not want a good feeling to wear off, someone to make your eyes smile. What you don’t need is someone who leads you on, it turns out that people can get to you emotionally and cause you to lose your usual objectivity.

She has a nice way with words, she’s pretty, any male would take a second glance. Toss in eyes that you could fall in love with and it became easy to be entranced. If only moving on was so easy. That said, things develop. It’s something in it’s infancy, so it’s emotional rather than physical. We talk most days, you don’t speak with someone that you don’t want to. Isn’t it true though that when any two people enter into something new, someone always falls quicker than the other?

The penny drops on a trip away, looking out at one of the most spectacular skylines in the world brings clarity. It’s not fair, for once I’m the one doing the leading. Those sudden chaotic feelings of confusion, the potential of something new don’t sit well, a realisation kicks in that it’s hard to feel anything when you’re certain that you have nothing left to give because you’re still stuck in the past. No point in telling a lie or kidding on, shouldn’t you go after what you truly want, even if it’s to finally end whatever it is that you find yourself in that moment? A call goes unanswered. Sending a message to end anything is fucking awful and it’s a horrible nerve to touch, but there’s no point in giving her the PG-13 version. The reply comes, job done.

Cold hearted? Definitely. The truth though? 100%. I fucked up royally from the beginning but I also knew deep down that it was never going to be a thing.

Countless beers follow and a Hong Kong sunset becomes a Hong Kong sunrise in what seems like minutes. All I know is that I’ve wasted time looking for something that I don’t deserve yet, that I’m not ready for. I don’t want it, it’s been a dick move from the start and I’m sorry. Things will work out one way or the other, just go for what or who you know really matters.

Hours pass and I wake up on the wrong side of the bed and not because a new girl was taking up the right side.

There’s always some relief in giving up, so there’s zero point in being afraid to miss out on what might be good to try and go for something that might be beyond great. It was never anything substantial but everyone deserves to be treated honestly. I didn’t mislead you on purpose, I just didn’t know that I wasn’t ready.

I want somebody else to be with you, I want somebody else to follow through.

I was in the wrong to even entertain the thought of you. Another sunset comes, I continue to feel bad and sleep doesn’t come easily. I’m wide awake, knowing I never miss you.

I should’ve said something at the start.

@TheSamMcLeod

@YouMeMusicLife no