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

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.

The future starts so slow.

Abraham Lincoln is quoted as saying, ‘A woman is the only thing I am afraid of that I know will not hurt me.’ Optimistic guy. Hurt doesn’t need to be physical harm from anyone though, isn’t emotional pain much worse?

It’s easy for a lot of us to believe that we’ve been betrayed by someone at some point. Something has been done to hurt us, someone’s been dishonest or broken a promise that they made you. Trust was disregarded, maybe selfishness on some level kicked in and they thought of themselves only. We’ve all done it, but it’s not until you’re on the other side of that dynamic that you realise how much something you thought of as insignificant, has the capacity to really hurt someone.

It’s easy to tell yourself that their actions have nothing to do with you and everything to do with them, but trying to take comfort in that can be a nonstarter. It sounds pessimistic but perhaps the more you expect, the more you get disappointed in life.

You cope though, just whatever it takes to get you moving forward. You can shut yourself off from people, unfollow or unfriend on social media, no one wants to see a certain someone having a good time without you. You can holler, you can wail.

Sometimes all you want is someone who puts a bounce in your step.

It’s a late night in Boston’s Back Bay, tequila with friends at Lolita is never a bad idea, at least until the morning after. It’s my round, drinks are ordered and I turn to head back to our table when she bumps into me. The drinks go everywhere and I have tequila all over me, except where I want it to be. She’s immediately apologetic and an offer to replace them is brushed off politely. A second glance happens though. She’s wearing a top with a neckline so deep it could teach philosophy. There was a disarming twinkle in her eyes, a touch of sweetness in her smile and the conversation starts. Everyone has different tastes but picture if you can, a playground for your eyes. Several drinks and a few hours later, what I’d seen and heard so far, I liked, but I’d been fooled before. Sometimes though, you have no idea where something is going but you learn to go anyway. Enjoy each second, don’t worry about the destination, live in the moment, right?

I’m in the city to graduate and we meet up every day. Sometimes you get a vibe about someone, now and again, they might even flat out tell you how and what they’re feeling. It seems like no time at all that we’ve known each other, but isn’t the initial excitement the best part? This one is clearly nothing but trouble but in a way, aren’t we all? There’s an opportunity to make Boston home due to job offers, could there be an added incentive to make a new city home?

Something didn’t sit right though, she was like a cat, affectionate when she wanted to be, and happy to disappear once she got what she wanted.

On a rare day to myself as I looked across the Charles River towards MIT, a brisk wind was warning of cold days to come. A sign.

Hours pass, and I’m my own best company, sitting in Joe’s getting torn into the rotating selection from Clown Shoes Brewing. I liked the view of Newbury Street, and despite the rain, it’s a fine day, let’s see if we can spoil it.

We bump into each other randomly, glances are exchanged unbeknownst to the man holding her left hand that magically has an engagement ring on out of nowhere. No words are spoken, one of us has a wry smile though, whilst one of us is wearing a look caught somewhere between heartbreak and hope. Always better to know than not.

It looks like the only friend I’ll be spending time with tonight is tequila.

Later, a call comes. ‘We’re two people who can’t be together right now for a number of reasons. We will be some day in the future, but it won’t be for a while.’ Having someone think that they’re able to control who and what will be in your future? I’d rather have a colonic with a garden hose. No words are spoken from my side, I just hang up.

I walked down one street, she chose another, but goodbye is goodbye, it doesn’t matter who you’re saying it to. For a while, my emotions were fair game and that’s what hurts, but isn’t disappointment part of your growth? Doesn’t everyone face rejection at one time or another?

Malchance, sfiga, sfortuna, all words for bad luck. Just the wrong time and the wrong place. It’s easy to overthink things but who wants to walk backwards? You know that you can’t stumble when you’re on your knees but you also know that you can’t move forward without leaving somebody else behind.

Laying down on the hotel bed in the dark, staring at a ceiling that I can’t really see, she’s a taste that I’ll never taste again, despite what she thinks. I’m more than okay with that because respect has to go both ways or it doesn’t count.

All you want is to be happy but sometimes it feels like that’s too much to hope for. Like everything else, sometimes you get there, sometimes you fall short. Sometimes you can be so gullible that it makes you sick, but it’s good to know that I’m not the only man to have been taken in by a pretty girl.

There’s a time for second best and there’s a time when the feeling’s gone. I guess the future starts slow.

@TheSamMcLeod

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

A dark world aches for a splash of the sun.

By their very nature, having problems is a problem. There has to be a solution to every one of those we have going on though, whether we realise it or not in that moment. Living life is a bit crazy sometimes, a bit shitty a lot of the time, fucking intolerable on occasion, even though you know intrinsically that you’re lucky to even be able to complain about it or them at all. Once you click , don’t you do what’s best to make things better for you, even if you can’t make them right? The sooner that you handle a problem, the better things work out is a common perception, but sometimes you just can’t face things.

Now and again, you just know that you need to take a break from everything you have going on because when you’re struggling to deal with your everyday scenery, all you want to do is run away. Drive until you run out of fuel, hire a motorcycle or camper van and see what stories you can experience from your escapades. Get on a bus, a plane, a train, just be somewhere different, not only geographically but also in your head. No matter how spectacular your view, if you see the same thing every day, it can grow stale. Depending on what you have going on, a solo trip ticks way more boxes than taking someone along for the ride, sometimes you just need to be alone with your thoughts, sometimes you just need to try and forget. Whatever it is, we all get the instinct to run sometimes, what’s wrong with disappearing like a magician’s rabbit when you need to? You find what works in terms of making you cope. Have a sore head? Aspirin should do the trick. That persistent cough that won’t go away? Cough syrup is a shout, although it won’t cure you, it’s just a temporary fix for your symptoms. When you’re hurting, you’d take a temporary fix, wouldn’t you? There’s nothing wrong with dropping off of the face of the earth for a while.

Maybe you just need to heal yourself, to restore life the way it should be.

A letter arrives but the handwriting on the envelope is unrecognisable. Inside, it’s typed, unsigned and once read, throws into question something that’s been the most important thing for nearly half of my life, it’s the emotional equivalent of a trip to an abbatoir. It’s maybe nothing, but it might be something. Outside the sky is clear, but there are storm clouds brewing. How many emotions can one person experience in a few seconds? Rage, heartache, anxiety, hatred, before rage again, something that should be an everyday dream is quickly becoming a nightmare. There are so many questions, but who likes questions without answers that don’t come. Until your head is straight, running your mouth without thought is never a good idea, sometimes you need to try and come to terms with things yourself first, and sometimes it’s what people don’t say that’s the most important. Trust has gone and vulnerability has popped up in it’s place, never nice for anyone to have to cope or deal with. It’s second nature to overthink things, paralysis by analysis almost. You’d be as well trying to grab a fistful of water when something floors you and you’re unable to keep your head right. There’s not enough oxygen in the world to make you feel better when you’re internally broken but are still trying to look okay on the outside.

Time for some metaphorical cough syrup.

Have you ever wanted to just rock up to an airport and get on the next available flight with no preconceived plans? What’s wrong with spending a night in one place, exploring and then heading to the airport to do it all again the next day? Travel can be a temporary fix, right? Amsterdam, Kos, London, the most overrated city in the world, but the rules are the rules. Bogotá, Washington DC follows, where next? Zero clue but that’s the beauty of this. Staring out of the window at the skyline searching for answers that won’t come is a bit of an emotional hangover. It feels good to stop hitting yourself in the head though, nothing positive comes from feeling like you’re sitting in a lifeboat in a sea of shit.

Running parallel to the Potomac brings realisation. The blackness is no longer quite as bad, it’s more of a grey now. My iPhone pings, a message arrives from an unknown number. ‘Did you get my letter, let’s talk if you want?’. Fuck, I’d like to tongue-bathe Anna Kendrick, so I guess we’re both going be disappointed. Why be anonymous in the first place?

You’ve fucked with me, so I’ll mess with you even worse once I figure out whatever the hell this is. You punch me, I’ll punch back way harder on any given weekday and all day on a Sunday. Just know that the same hammer that shatters glass forges steel.

The night comes, bourbon is poured and I listen to the sounds of the city whilst staring at the lights of the nation’s capital. Feet are put on imaginary brakes because it’s not time to go back and face whatever this is just yet.

It’s easy to look like someone who’s been worn down by the wind, but whilst you might not like the way your world works right now, you know that you’re not naive enough to think that you can change it all. Sometimes you just need to try though, if only for yourself. One more spoon of cough syrup.

@TheSamMcLeod

@YouMeMusicLife

Love is not designed for the cynical.

Everyone makes mistakes, just part of everyday life. Hopefully the majority of them are small and reasonably insignificant though, nobody wants to fuck up spectacularly. Sure, go ahead and try anchovies. You like oysters? Try the Rocky Mountain version, they have to taste similar to the ones you could get from Prince Edward Island, right? Choosing to sit through a showing of Titanic just to try and impress a girl? There are some hours and minutes right there in your life that you’re never getting back, especially if the old yawn and arm-stretch around the shoulder trick doesn’t work. Some mistakes are bigger and obviously impact your life in a much more meaningful way. Accepting a job that you realise was a mistake as soon as you start it, nightmare. Why did I choose to live in this apartment? You should always view somewhere at night too, shouldn’t you? Picking that one person to share your life with, maybe the toughest choice of all, and possibly the easiest one to make an absolute mess of.

Pretty grim when you think about it, but some of us get a lot of things right, anchovies excepted. Life rears it’s head once more, every single one of us struggles with different things now and again, aren’t we just a person trying to find acceptance and love about something or someone, trying to make sense of different things, probably to try and make ourselves feel better? Trying to move to a new place, changing that job, saying goodbye to someone, even when you know that it’ll sting. Sometimes the hardest things and the right things are the same.

It’s okay for your confidence to be dented when something ends though, especially if you weren’t 100% sure about it or them in the first place. Soul searching, trying to tell yourself that it’ll be okay, don’t tell me this is all for nothing.

Do you, or have you ever had someone in your life that if you could only see them one day a year, rather than see somebody else every day of the week, you’d choose the former? Aren’t the few hours you spend with that special someone worth the thousands of hours that you spend without them?

We were young, we lived hundreds of miles from each other. She was visiting family, a mutual friend introduced us, and it became the very definition of a summer romance. Eight magical weeks spent together, giggling, holding hands, hanging out, hugging, kissing, it might have been the best summer that any 17 year old has ever had.

What were the chances of seeing her again? Zero at the time or so it seemed, but all you can do sometimes is to try and better that number and then everything is out of your hands, fate kicks in. Apparently, a school of thought exists that missing someone gets easier every day because even you’re one day further from the last time you saw them, you’re one day closer to the next time you set eyes on them. Bullshit or not?

Christmas comes and she’s here again but things are different. There are hugs, but no holding of hands, no kissing. She has a boyfriend back home now so it’s the right way for her to behave and it’s immediately understood, no words are needed. Nothing better than hanging out with someone who’s quickly becoming a best friend, I’ll take what I can get. It turns out that distance means the square root of fuck all when someone means so much, even if it might not go anywhere. Different holidays come and go,and it’s accepted that if one of us is seeing someone when we catch up, nothing inappropriate happens. Kissing is as far as it’s ever gone but when someone wants to press their lips onto you one day and then do it again the next, how can that ever be bad? Could it be more than something? A question that was never asked, simply for the reason that I might have been scared of what the answer would be.

The holiday visits slowly come to an end and contact becomes infrequent. Days, weeks, months and years pass. She started seeing someone and I’d met an incredible girl who’d give me the best gift ever. We split, she moves onto someone so much better than me and they’re happy. Life again, live in the moment, not the past. What now, miss you or forget about you? Thoughts drift occasionally but only when single life is the reality. I meet someone else and it’s an on and off thing for longer than should ever be necessary for two people. She’s a beautiful person in her own way but it doesn’t take Einstein to work out where the mind goes when it’s an off period. It’s ultimately destructive, you can’t keep covering for someone when they’re in the wrong. Sometimes the people you count on and trust the most turn on you because of their own failings. Some secrets should stay hidden though, even if you’re the one that takes the shit for them. Every day is a school day though, but if all you learn is what’s done is done, then that’s enough. Does it help or hurt? Fuck knows, I’m numb. There is absolutely no harm in trying to constantly connect dots and to forgive someone to make things right. Can it be sorted, is that even what I want?

A message comes from the girl I remember as a teenager, and whilst my smile is huge initially, it’s not by the time I finish her words. She’s now single and is reaching out. Whether as a friend or something more is clear, but who wants to be a rebound?

It’s more than okay to hurt but don’t we all need to find our own little corner of the sky to try and repair ourselves first? Being a friend is the first job, sometimes we all need reminded that hard times will pass eventually. It’s hard not to make this anything more, but I can’t mess someone about, despite how much I want to say some things. Pouncing on someone who’s emotionally vulnerable would be a dick move.

Maybe the feeling of knowing that fighting for the one that you think you love is worth it, but how do you articulate your thoughts? A feeling lingers that there could be a million people against us, but when we have that one person that stands beside you no matter what, do you even care?

You’re hurting and I hate that. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you might think, but the most important thing is I’ll always be with you. It’s as simple and as complicated as that. Every time I get a text, I hope it’s from a certain someone, you’re my favourite notification.

It’s late, I’m in my bed, you’re in your bed. One of us is in the wrong place but I can’t tell you. I wrote some words and then I stared at my feet, became a coward when I needed to speak. Who knows what could happen if you ever ask again?

I see everything you can be, I see the beauty that you can’t see.

@TheSamMcLeod

@YouMeMusicLife

The debut album, ‘Without Fear’ drops on September 27th, available online and in all good music stores. Shit, it’s likely that you’ll be able to pick it up in some bad ones too, so go and get it!