Sunday, November 28, 2010

Head vs. Heart vs. Head vs. Heart vs. Head

Some decisions are very easy to make, others so effortless we don’t realise we’ve even made them and then there are those that tear us up inside, that throw everything into disarray and still feel impossible to resolve.     When it comes to making decisions in life there is never any let up we just have to keep doing it day in day out, not forgetting that old chestnut either about a non decision also being a decision.     So how do we make our decisions, what do we base them on and what makes some decisions easier/harder than others?      More importantly how do we know we’ve made the right one?     
We are so often told to listen to our heart and what it’s telling us when we’ve got an important decision to make.       This advice only ever seems to come from others; I don’t ever hear anyone say ‘listen to your head’!       We ourselves bring our heads into the mix, perhaps to balance things out a bit or feel reassured that there will be at least some logic in our decision if we’ve allowed ourselves to think about it rather than just feel it.          

Decisions based on feelings alone are often perceived to be irrational, unfounded and of course emotional.     We see it in films all the time when someone in an outburst of emotion about to do something is stopped by a thoughtful friend who urges them to calm down and think things through rationally before they do anything.     What is so special about rational decisions anyhow, I’m inclined to think that too much rationale is what clouds our decisions not clarifies them but then again I would say that being in the business of emotions so there’s my logic behind that thinking.     

Decisions have somehow become synonymous with parts of the body, some parts representing what we want to do (the heart) while others tell us what we ought to do (the head).      And then there are those decisions that have been made way before either head or heart has had a say, the gut decisions where we already know the outcome before any action has even taken place.      It’s commonly believed that decisions made based on our gut feeling are the right ones, they are the decisions that were meant to be made.      Although if something is meant to be then there’s really no decision at all.      So what tells us we’ve made the right decision?      Is it enough for it to just feel right?      Feelings, so rich with information and yet so imbued with ambiguity.      On the one hand they do provide an internal truth about ourselves and where we’re at in the world but on the other hand they can be terribly misleading when they want to be, not to mention inaccurate and at times anything but the truth.      If a person feels they are useless and worth less than nothing does that mean that they are?     Feelings, like decisions, need evidence to back them up so that how we feel on the inside collaborates with how the world is on the outside.      

Head vs. Heart?     A bit of both perhaps, they are lodgers in each others homes.      I know how I tend to make decisions, though every now and then there are some that come along where neither my head nor heart take the lead because it is inevitable what I must choose, the decision has chosen me.      Some decisions are unconditional, just looking at someone you love will tell you that.         

Sunday, November 21, 2010


“All of this has happened before, and it will all happen again”           (Peter Pan, Walt Disney Film 1953)

After a very blustery week of walking over leaf covered pavements I’ve decided that autumn is my favourite season.     Unlike spring and summer where things feel new, autumn is like a homecoming where we come back round again.     Suddenly it’s cold and dark, the trees are bare and the layers of clothes have doubled, Christmas is within sight and another year is almost over.      The planet has gone round full circle, according to clock time that is.     Lived time, where a minute can feel like fifty or an hour dreaming was really ten minutes, has no knowledge of dates and calendars.     Lived time does not come round again; it is irreplaceable, irrecoverable and irretraceable.     Not that that stops us from trying to do all three and who could blame us, being human is so vast and fast that if there is ever an invention to freeze time now and then so as to catch up a bit I’m sure we’ll all be putting it on our wish lists.       

Obviously it is autumn again but only in terms of the date.     The seasons come and go over and over but they are never the same as their predecessors, no two autumns or springs even come close to each other; they return but they do not repeat.   Every second of time, everything that we say or do, every thought or feeling we have is completely unique and new, it is our memory that joins the dots and gives our experience cohesive meaning.     The first time we experience something will also be the last time we experience it in that way, you can’t repeat originality as so many artists painfully know.   

But you can attempt to recreate a repeat as Harold Ramis tried to do very nicely in the 1993 film ‘Groundhog Day’.       As Bill Murray wakes up to the same day everyday where the exact same events take place in the same way that they did the day before although it’s not really the day before because it’s the same day being repeated....well you know what I mean!    What’s interesting is that the only thing that tells us repetition has taken place is the fact that Bill Murray is the one person that is not repeating himself.     For him time has moved on although he’s stuck in the same day having to live it again and again.      The film is not about repetition at all it is about quite the opposite, about learning new things and developing a new way of being made possible only through reliving it.     Is this not the formula for experience?      Even repetitive patterns are never repeated in the exact same way, the gist may be similar but the variables always vary.     As I write this post I am concurrently revisiting an old essay I once wrote about ‘reliving experiences’.     Flicking through its pages now I’m wondering if I were to rehash my old words for this blog would I be repeating myself or recycling?!      Going back to things is not the same as repeating them because something will always be different, time will make sure of that.     It is not Christmas again or ones birthday again, it is a new and different event each time.     

It has gotten dark outside as I’ve been writing this and I hadn’t noticed until now that I stopped to look, a bit like autumn really.      What is it about autumn, it’s rife with nostalgia.                 

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sometimes someone else just says it better

However vast the ‘outer space’ may be, yet with all its side real distances it hardly bears comparison with the dimensions, with the depth dimensions of our inner being, which does not even need the spaciousness of the universe to be within itself almost unfathomable, Thus if the dead if those who are to come, need an abode, what refuge could be more agreeable and appointed for them than this imaginary space?

Raymond Pettibon

What moves me is the irregular form – the flawed words and stubborn sounds....that affect us whenever we try and say something that is important to us.

John Ashbery

The mower stalled twice: kneeling, I found
A Hedgehog jammed up against the blades, Killed.
It had been in the long grass.
I had seen it before, and even fed it once.
Now I had mauled its unobtrusive world unmendably.
Burial was no help.
Next morning I got up and it did not.
The first day after a death, the new absence is always the same:
We should be careful of each other, we should be kind while there is still time.

Philip Larkin

My mother never forgave my father
for killing himself,
especially at such an awkward time
and in a public park,
that spring
when I was waiting to be born.
She locked his name
in her deepest cabinet
and would not let him out,
though I could hear him thumping.
When I came down from the attic
with the pastel portrait in my hand
of a long-lipped stranger
with a brave moustache
and deep brown level eyes,
she ripped it into shreds
without a single word
and slapped me hard.
In my sixty-fourth year
I can feel my cheek
still burning

Stanley Kunitz

I wander’d lonely as a cloud
That floats on high over vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd
A host of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
Continuous as the stars that shine and twinkle on the milky way,
They stretch’d in never-ending line along the margin of the bay;
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.
The waves beside them danced; but they out-did the sparkling waves in glee,
A poet could not but be gay
In such a jocund company.
I gazed...and gazed...but little thought what wealth the show to me had brought.
For often, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye which is the bliss of solitude,
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

William Wordsworth

Go deeper than love, for the soul has greater depths.
Love is like the grass, but the heart is deep wild rock, molten, yet dense and permanent.
Go down to your deep old heart, and lose sight of yourself.   And lose sight of me whom you turbulently loved.
Let us lose sight of ourselves and break the mirrors.
For the fierce curve of our lives is moving again to the depths, out of sight, in the deep living heart.

D H Lawrence

The gunfire around us makes it hard to hear.   But the human voice is different from other sounds.    It can be heard over noises that bury everything else.    
Even when it’s not shouting.    Even if it’s just a whisper.    Even the lowest whisper can be heard over armies....when it’s telling the truth.

The Interpreter (2005).     Universal Pictures.   

You got a fast car
I want a ticket to anywhere
Maybe we make a deal
Maybe together we can get somewhere
Anyplace is better
Starting from zero got nothing to lose
Maybe we’ll make something
But me myself I got nothing to prove
You got a fast car
And I got a plan to get us out of here
I been working at the convenience store
Managed to save just a little bit of money
We won’t have to drive too far
Just ‘cross the border and into the city
You and I can both get jobs
And finally see what it means to be living

You see my old man’s got a problem
He live with the bottle that’s the way it is
He says his body’s too old for working
I say his body’s too young to look like this
My mamma went off and left him
She wanted more from life than he could give
I said somebody’s got to take care of him
So I quit school and that’s what I did

You got a fast car
But is it fast enough so we can fly away
We gotta make a decision
We leave tonight or live and die this way

I remember we were driving driving in your car
The speed so fast I felt like I was drunk
City lights lay out before us
And your arm felt nice wrapped ‘round my shoulder
And I had a feeling that I belonged
And I had a feeling I could be someone, be someone, be someone....

Tracy Chapman