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

Not this time.

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

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

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

I’m not perfect, I’ve got pride.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

@TheSamMcLeod

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

The day bleeds into nightfall

Unsurprisingly, Mark Twain had a way with words. ‘Good decisions come from experience, experience comes from making bad decisions.’

The best of people can do things that aren’t right and they can make shit decisions now and again, but it doesn’t necessarily make them less of a human being deep down. That said, it also doesn’t make how they behaved towards you less wrong. We all get lost sometimes, you need to make choices about lots of different things every day. Life isn’t always easy and sometimes people fuck up. Maybe the trick is not to let your trust in others go when that happens. How much tougher does that become when you decide to leave someone you loved for someone new?

Chances are that we’ve all been stabbed in the back by people we trusted the most. Ever been lied to by by someone you loved because you covered up their mistakes to try and protect them? Sometimes there’s going to be days when no-one is going to be there for you but yourself. Betrayal hurts like nothing else, it can be devastating and destroy a lot of things you believe in. It makes a mockery of the trust you had in others and can leave you feeling like you’re all alone. Sure, you can bounce back from a lot of things but betrayal is hard to forgive. Unless you’re an incredible human being, forgiving is not forgetting, right? For some of us, perhaps all we can betray is our conscience, because let’s face it, we’re all in control of how we treat others. You’re not in charge of someone else’s loyalty, it doesn’t matter how good you are to them, there’s no guarantee they’ll treat you the same way. Just because something goes wrong with whatever you have going on, it doesn’t mean that you get to become the wrong in everyone else’s life. Be kind always.

Sometimes the people you love the most turn out to be the people you can trust the least. You have to make decisions that are best for you and nobody else. You can have bad luck but it’s easy to get that tangled up with your bad decisions, unless you sort out in your own head what’s going to be the best thing for you.

We can all fight to hold onto something, and now and again, we try and find the strength to let go, even if we don’t want to be seen as weak or failing. Life is too short to make the wrong choice twice though, so hopefully you evolve, you move on and you trust those people who you think you can count on. Once bitten, twice shy. Some are willing to betray everything you shared just to try and look good in the eyes of other people. It’s laughable though when they think they’re cleaner than ivory snow.

A poor choice was made and not for the first time, the grass wasn’t greener.

I let my guard down and then you pulled the rug.

I can’t explain the pain of someone fucking you over. Hopefully not a lot of us have experienced it but even now, it still hurts. Just emotions, I guess.

The worst part is that it could’ve been forever, fuck, it was a major thing. It was a mistake you said, but maybe the error was mine for trusting you and covering your shit up. I would never do to you what you did to me. I would never hurt you just to make your betrayal hurt you back. I’m enough of an adult to forgive you, but I’m not fucking stupid enough to take you at your word ever again. Someone doing wrong doesn’t give us the right to do wrong back. A feeling of wanting revenge is a horrible emotion, sadly it turns out that sometimes the person that you take a bullet for is behind the trigger.

I don’t give a damn about what people whisper, the truth is finally out there for the people who are willing to look for it or have seen it. Seems like heartbreak makes you find out who stands beside you and who believes the shit that gets fed to them. Every day is a school day.

It’s a pity that you fucked this up, I was getting kinda used to being someone you loved.

@TheSamMcLeod

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