Let this be our little secret.

In ‘1984’, one of the most seminal works of fiction, George Orwell wrote that, “If you want to keep a secret, you must also hide it from yourself. You must know all the while that it is there, but until it is needed you must never let it emerge into your consciousness in any shape that can be given a name.”

We all have our secrets, there is nothing wrong with keeping some things known only to you. Maybe what you don’t tell someone is worse than letting them know, choosing which decision to make can be troublesome though. Is sharing a secret a cathartic thing? If it only makes one of the people involved feel better, it would be selfish if you did it just to placate the feelings that you’re experiencing without considering how it might affect someone else. Pretty dick move, but it’s okay to look after what you want from time to time, isn’t it?

Would you take a second chance on yourself if it meant letting some secrets go? You just don’t let opportunities pass you by, at least not more than once. Giving yourself away, opening up, can be scary. You want to let people into your world now and again though. It’s fine to be private with your emotions, but then perhaps you realise some things about yourself that you’ve dodged thinking about for a long time. Saying no to what could have been the perfect job. Saying yes to the wrong person, saying no to the right person, regret is the worst. Can you change that around?

It’s hard to know what to do sometimes. Life is made of choices and not all of them matter that much, but then a different kind of moment comes along. One where things are changed forever, a few seconds or minutes that we might have thought about continuously. If you thought it was a good idea, you’d have made it already, wouldn’t you? You can always make wrong decisions, maybe you messed up the first time around. Will there be another chance? How about if you didn’t even know that a certain someone was a possibility, far less a probability? Self doubt can do one, decisions decisions, but a leap of faith isn’t the worst thing ever, someone always needs to reach out first.

Current relationship status? Staring at the dark.

Have you ever had a beer with a family member over Zoom? It’s ironically important right now not to become isolated and to keep in touch with family and friends in any way that you can. Catching up with one of my little brothers is always a cool thing, slipping back into conversation without months of being in touch is seamless. We talk shit about a lot of things, what we’ve been up to, sports, girls, memories about growing up. The drinks flow, and although we live hundreds of miles apart, soon to be thousands, reminiscing is amazing. There are a lot of mutual friends and each of us have caught up with a lot of them at some point. I tell him about a girl we both know that has a bit of a thing for him and he’s intrigued because he was blissfully unaware. Given that he’s newly single, he’s keen as mustard, it’ll work out or it won’t. Either way, always good to tip someone off if you know something that they don’t if it might work in their favour. A secret worth sharing.

He then returns the favour and tells me about a girl that asks about me all the time. Neither of us have seen her for a while, they speak regularly though, and she’s the kind of girl that all the boys who were ever in her company probably dreamed about. The asking didn’t just go one way but we never asked the same person about each other. She was everything that was important once upon a time but she never knew any of it, so it’s easy to know where the fault lies.

Sometimes the more you care about or like someone, the less you realise how little you’re letting someone in, you’re deceiving yourself rather than facing up to something that could be great. You can keep your feelings hidden for someone for an eternity and you learn to live with them. Some of the vowels and consonants that we shared weren’t lies but they weren’t full truths either, time to think some more about the one big thing that wasn’t talked about when it should have been. A secret that up until now was indescribable, words that were too difficult to articulate at the time. Speak up or keep quiet, you might as well take a chance. Fuck it, an email is composed, one secret won’t stay that way for much longer. On some level, it’s probably not even fair to ask the question, but wouldn’t you always want to know the answer rather than not? If you need to tell someone something, to share a secret, what are you waiting for?

How come it takes some people so damn long?

@TheSamMcLeod

Hurting, searching and learning.

Each one of us has our own preferences on many different things, life would be boring otherwise. Take food. If you like mushrooms, what the hell are you thinking? Tinned sweetcorn, there are no words, put the can opener away and donate those vegetables to a food bank. Smoked fish of any kind, have you lost your mind?

It’s the same when you choose to be with someone new, what’s your criteria? Finding out about someone’s personality can be a slow burner whereas looks are more immediate. What you find attractive though is going to be different from what someone else does. It can be a minefield because how we view ourselves is often different from how others see us. You look in the mirror every day and perhaps tell yourself that you’re a solid 6, but everyone you interact with might see you as an 8 or a 9. Clearly, we’re all our own worst critics and with that comes insecurity. It’s a reasonable reaction to think that people who are ridiculously attractive are out of your league, there will always be someone you like who’s a tiny bit intimidating. Are you just talking your way out of rejection though by not answering or asking the question? No one likes to hear the word no.

The liking of someone starts with the little things and then you start to realise that those qualities you’re looking for are right there. You’re falling but the penny drops, she’s way out of your league. Insecurity. You make me sick to my stomach, I wish that I wasn’t me.

An invite for dinner from a couple of friends comes via text. ‘Dinner on Saturday at 8pm, bring wine and don’t dare say no. My sister is in town, we think you’ll get on well.’ There is zero amount of money that could persuade me to say yes to a blind date, there’s as much chance of that happening as me becoming the starting QB for the Jets. Curiosity gets the better of me though and I check out her Twitter. Uh oh, looks like I’m going. Put me in, coach.

I rock up and get introduced. ‘Hey’, she said as I tried to fold my tongue back into my mouth and tried not to stare. Her smile holds my gaze, it’s kind of like that part of the FedEx logo, once you see it, you can never unsee it. Now is definitely not the time to be awkward or shy. The conversation flows as easily as the wine, the night goes better than expected and numbers are exchanged. Maybe this could be something, more likely it’ll be nothing. Insecurity. Before I’m even home though a message arrives asking when we can meet up again. The three day rule is obviously bullshit, right? There are some people you meet and you’re pleased to leave their company, she wasn’t one of them.

We hang out every day for the last two weeks of her trip, the personality is there to match the looks, she’s pretty cool.

Is it any surprise that book smart people sometimes act like complete idiots? Of course I messed up on her last day when she tried to kiss me and I put my hand out to stop it happening, the first time I’ve ever done that to a girl. I didn’t enjoy the look of confusion on her face, the tears on her cheeks, far less the sight of her walking away. It feels too quick but that’s where most men want to get to with someone like her, me included. I just don’t want to be hurt again, the i word.

A message comes from her sister. ‘Looks like you might’ve fucked that up?’ That’s like saying that the Titanic encountered an issue or two. Maybe her attitude softens when another one comes a while later asking if I’m okay. I’m miles away from being okay, I couldn’t see okay through binoculars right now.

You need to take a chance now and again, don’t you? Is it natural to want to try and stop your world from turning so you can figure shit out? It’s rare in life when everything you want lines up just right, but isn’t it true that the worst set of circumstances is always what your brain conjures up? Never mind what the reality is, the fiction always seems more real. Maybe you don’t get through discomfort or pain easily. Sometimes life throws you a curveball, a little roadblock on the place you need to get to. We might always have that tiny bit of self doubt, but perhaps you have to go with what you know in your heart and trust yourself. No one is out of anyone’s league, you might think that you don’t have a chance but how would you know if you haven’t even asked?

After being alone for a while, it’s strange when your thoughts start to include another person. A message is sent with an explanation, hoping for a reply. Time to wait.

Take a breath.

@TheSamMcLeod

Memories of a stolen place.

There’s a generally accepted train of thought that as you get older, your life becomes a little bit more boring than it was when you were younger. Perhaps it does end up slightly less exciting, a touch more tedious and not as filled with as much adventure as it once was was. Fair or not?

How long do you give something that you have going on but you know doesn’t make you happy to continue? Someone or something that’s stopping you from doing all of the things that you want to in your life? Mae West was bang on the money when she said that ‘You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough’. No one wants to get to a point in their life when you realise that there are a lot of things that you wish you could have done, zero point sitting around complaining about stuff when you’re the only person that can do something about it. It’s okay to feel fear, but once you know that you have to make yourself the priority, don’t you know that you might have a ton of fun once you look inward? If you are or have been unhappy in a recent relationship, shouldn’t you look after yourself first, just pursue your own wellbeing? Who wants to check with someone else before you do the things that’ll make you happier? Saying fuck it, I need to do me can be difficult but you’ll probably thank yourself for it later.

The Last Dance with Michael Jordan has been one of the better things to watch whilst we’re trying to occupy time right now. Isn’t it right that there’s usually at least one thing you remember from any book that you’ve read, any song that you’ve listened to, or any film or television show that you’ve watched? ‘To be successful, you have to be selfish or else you never achieve. And once you get to your highest level, then you have to be unselfish. Stay reachable. Stay in touch. Don’t isolate. Clever guy.

None of us are experts at life, it’s easy to become frustrated at whatever you have going on. No manual exists to help us decide what to do as we grow older. Mistakes will happen, we’re all selfish in our own way, but shouldn’t we all want to have as many joy filled days as possible? Isn’t it true though that you you can be selfless and selfish at the same time? What if a day comes when you realise that you can’t carry someone forever and you know that your own happiness is slipping away? It’s selfless to let them go but selfish for you just to to do you in a way.

If you find yourself doing something that makes you think of a lot of things that you liked when you were younger, then aren’t you cheating yourself? Maybe it’s time to start making a list of everything that you need or want to do, to help you find your very own moments of magic and wonder.

I’ve made a list of things to do and say.

Things interfere with your world, sometimes in the greatest way imaginable, but now and again in a way that you wish had never happened. Love, need, want. Two out of three isn’t bad, depending on who your musical favourites are. Zero out of three isn’t a good batting average, and whilst intentions were made clear at the start that none of those things were on the radar or available, if someone chooses to stick around anyway, sometimes it’s easier to just let them. Pretty selfish, but an absolute waste of hours, days, weeks, months and years. It’s never nice for a relationship to become Sylvester Stallone, especially if you knew that’s exactly where it was headed for from the very first second. Sure, it takes risks to make a mistake, but aren’t there mistakes in all of our lives every day? Turns out that nothing is ever simple and nothing is ever perfect, but sometimes it’s of your own doing. Time to cut ties, one thing down.

A random act of kindness in helping out an elderly lady needing advice during her week long stay in a strange city ends up coming with an incredible offer. She’s made her own bucket list for 2021 and it involves travel. The problem is that she needs someone to house sit for her in Grey Lynn, one of the most beautiful areas of Auckland. Who would say no and why wouldn’t you help someone who needs it? Selflessness wins out, looks like guidebooks to New Zealand will need purchasing. One more thing that’s on there, hope the Kiwi ladies are ready for a kilt.

Telling a girl that nothing will ever happen between us because we want different things, no point jumping into something new on a whim. She’s beautiful, ridiculously out of my league, but looks aren’t everything, selfishness and selflessness combine, best for both of us, we’d only hold each other back. It’s okay to be honest with yourself. Three down, but plenty to go.

Snorkelling in Blue Pearl Bay once more, skydiving, getting lost in Venice, this time alone, visiting every one of my friends that live overseas, be prepared for a surprise.

When you feel like life is passing you by and there’s pressure everywhere around you to be at a certain level and place in your life, shouldn’t you be the only person to be the judge of when that is? Isn’t it boring to stay in the same spot, to have to grow up. Better to grow? If somebody’s boring you, chances are that it’s probably you. Time to mix it up, to discover some things or somewhere that’ll make you happy.

The destination, the place to get to?

The boy I used to know.

@TheSamMcLeod

Shine bright.

We’re all living in strange times right now. Some of the stuff we used to do every day are no longer possible. Not being able to catch up with family and friends in the way that you used to sucks. How much did you take for granted, how easy was it to go and watch your favourite sports team, whether it’s baseball, basketball, soccer, or any other sport you’d care to mention? Date night at a restaurant or the cinema has been off of the menu for a while. Life has changed, who would’ve thought we’d be wearing face masks or social distancing from each other? If you’ve been unlucky enough to contract coronavirus but lucky enough to come out of it the other side, you’ll have an appreciation of how lonely you can become when you’re stuck at home, especially if you’re single. It’s no wonder that subscriptions to sites like Netflix and Prime have gone through the roof, what else can you do when you’re not allowed to see anyone? How much terrible television can one person watch? Turns out a lot.

It’s easy to become anxious or stressed wondering when all of this will end, when you feel like everything is heading downhill at a rate of knots, overthinking is the worst, right? As everyday normal people, it’s no shame to admit that we struggle to deal with uncertainty because something’s thrown us for a loop. Apprehension, fear, nervousness, worry are all perfectly acceptable feelings to have right now, but perhaps you need to learn to be kinder to yourself, aren’t you doing the very best that you can? Striving for a sense of self can be more difficult than you think, experiencing a feeling of trying to run away from everything sometimes is understandable. It’s more than okay to know what it’s like to be afraid of your own mind, we all have anxiety about different things, we all have insecurities.

It doesn’t matter how old you are, what your creed, gender or nationality is, everyone experiences anxiety or stress at some point, and whilst this year is only just over halfway done, it can already take a flying fuck to itself.

Everyone needs a reset button though, don’t you want to try and fill up your little bubble with as much positivity as you can? FaceTime, Skype or Zoom calls with family and friends, every little helps. Isn’t it amusing to see how out of control some people’s hair gets when they can’t get to a hairdresser? You find and take the humour where you can.

It is tough but you need to do whatever you can to make things as easy for yourself as you can, don’t you? Take a breath, smile as much as possible, even if it’s just for yourself, right?

They say you can’t, but you can.

Some of us have an innate ability to deal with all of these challenges easier than others. That said, just because someone else can’t explain the feelings or articulate the words about their anxiety, it doesn’t make them any less valid. An actual hug might not happen for a while but you can have as many virtual ones as you need or want. You might think that some people don’t worry as much as you do and that someone else is stronger than you are. It’s bullshit, maybe that other person just thinks differently, you’ve got this. Isn’t it true that you can’t always control what goes on in your inside? You feel what you feel. Give yourself permission to fuck up now and again, nothing wrong with that. Things are difficult right now but they’ll change eventually, fingers crossed, and then it’ll be the little things that are more of a concern to you. Maybe if this shitshow teaches us anything, it’s that there is zero point sweating the small stuff, why worry about things that might never happen? Now and again, we’re all unsure of who we are and where we fit in the world, and whilst all of this isn’t helping, don’t we need to have faith in whatever is around the corner?

If you haven’t done so already, maybe today is the day where you reach out to someone who perhaps appears not to be handling things as well as you are, someone who might be struggling with their self confidence. Just be a friend, be there. Nothing wrong with offering a shoulder to cry on or to lend an ear for them to tell you anything that they need to.

You’ve got empathy, support and sympathy but never judgement. You’ll also learn, if you’ve not figured it out already that I’ve got your back, and that I’ll care about and defend you forever. Forever ever. I’m not going to blow steam up your ass though, you will be told if you mess up, harsh love is still love. Just know that someone cares and appreciates everything about you, especially right now.

Your innocence is your USP.

@TheSamMcLeod

Figure it all out on your own.

If you’re a boy and you like a girl, you tell her, don’t you? Whether you’re just up for some fun or something more, it’s always good to know where you stand, to know if you even have a chance. What if you don’t speak up though? Khaled Hosseini was probably not far off of the mark when he wrote in The Kite Runner, ‘I opened my mouth, almost said something. Almost. The rest of my life might have turned out differently if I had, but I didn’t.’ Male pride or stubbornness is a terrible thing at times.

Moving on from someone who did a number on you is super difficult, but you know at some point that you’ll need to take chances and get out there and make yourself emotionally available again. It’s easy to play it safe and sure, it’s okay to have trust issues, no one wants to feel pain but you have to try, don’t you? We all do things from time to time that we desperately wish we could undo but now and again, the things we don’t do or say sting the most. Regretting the things we haven’t done and the chances we didn’t take can linger in your memories for a while. Sometimes there aren’t second chances. So what if you make a mistake and don’t get the answer you want? The thing is, we fall short on occasion, we mess up sometimes, every single one of us.

Watch me take a good thing and fuck it all up in one night.

It was only a smile, nothing more but one intriguing enough to turn heads. We meet up more and more, we hang out, although the time spent together is shorter than anyone would like. We didn’t need to have stupid fights just to make up because we never argued. How amazing is it to find someone who wants to hear about all of the things that happened in your day, who wants to hear everything that you’re thinking about? Do you ever have an appreciation of how badly you’re going to miss a moment whilst you’re living it?

Life does what it does though and things change, she moves away and I don’t ask her to stay or if she wants me to go with her. I didn’t know it yet but I’d just let the girl I’d been waiting on forever to walk away and didn’t do enough to make sure she’d come back. You never think that the last time is the last time. You have forever, right? Don’t you sometimes wish that you could go back to a specific moment in your life? Unfortunately you have to figure out which direction you’re going to head in, making a decision either way is surely infinitely better than not making one at all.

We drift apart, contact becomes less and less frequent. Birthday greetings on Facebook, the odd congratulatory message when something good happens to one of us. Who wants to have a relationship on social media though?

A few days ago, fate rears its head again and we’re in touch every day. I don’t know if she’s seeing anyone and she doesn’t know if I’m with anyone but that’s not where the conversation starts off. I know I want to build up to it though and then one night, I go big.

Next year will be a game changer, a new job, a new city and country to live in, new memories waiting to be made. Who wouldn’t want to make those together with someone special? Who wouldn’t want to come with? Not her apparently, I’m immediately shot down. If I’d been more committed previously and opened up, then things would have been very different she says. It’s not a nice feeling when someone tells you that you blew it by not asking a simple question.

I was almost good for her. She told me she was in love with me but because I never told her back, she doubted me. We almost made it but I didn’t tell her that I wanted more, the timing was always off for one of us. The ghost of relationships past.

A message arrives today inviting me for drinks with mutual friends. I’m an idiot most of the time but not tonight. I need to spend some time alone. Before I met her, life was good. After her? Now it’s just after.

She tells me that I’m only her friend for now but maybe something could happen in the future. The very definition of being friendzoned. I’m not going to stop being friends with her because she might like someone else but there’s a shift in the dynamic. She’ll always be a girl friend, just never a girlfriend. It’s just something that happened, or perhaps more accurately, didn’t happen. Time to get over it, I lost her, although I never really had her. What now? You can’t keep kissing strangers and pretend that it’s someone else. Watch her maybe be in love with someone else or come to the realisation that there is zero point in trying to hold onto feelings, better just to move forward. No other choice. I almost said something but almost was never going to be enough. What an idiot.

I think, that something’s fucking wrong with me.

@TheSamMcLeod

One heart that was broke in two.

‘Love us like friendship set on fire.’

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

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

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

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

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

Maybe you shouldn’t have gone there that night.

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

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

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

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

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

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

@TheSamMcLeod

Don’t kid yourself.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

@TheSamMcLeod

 

 

Sunlight starts

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

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

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

The temptations turn my head and crack it open.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Take, take me back home.

@TheSamMcLeod

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You’re in my head, always.

@TheSamMcLeod

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

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.