Religion · Uncategorized

40 Days Later.

Er, Merry Christmas! Um… Happy New Year! …In China! (See, I’m on time with that one).

Look what we’ve missed in the months since I directly addressed you, my adoring readership numbering in the thousands. No doubt you were all wondering who I’d been replaced with, as this blog seemed to turn into ‘Spirit Corner’. You thought; F.P. has ruined him! He’s lost his creative edge! Has gone into religion land where he’ll soon be employed to stand on street corners and tell people they’re going to Hell or sell Bibles from a would-be popcorn stand.

Please, my friends, please. Just because I’m learning more about theological stuff this year doesn’t mean God’s going to take away the very interpersonal things that make me, well, me. I remember the times when I would just rant about films and video games on here, yes sir. When I would consistently post once a week simply to talk about nothing in particular, or come up with silly stories about yetis. I remember the big deal I once made about resolutions (strangely, I rarely followed up on success rates…) in a bid to point out how illogical I thought they were. All those who made resolutions for the New Year; how are they going, hmm? Still on the nicotine patches? Not touched a drop of alcohol, or sugar, or bacon, or whatever your substance of choice, since the clock turned 12 forty days ago? Still enthusiastic about the new gym membership (which you have, of course, been taking advantage of four times a week)?

If you have indeed noticed a great change within yourself so far, great! But that’s totally not my point! My point, that I began thinking of a way to make in the final hours of 2010, was the answer to why exactly we want to make a change in the first place. Is it because we know, deep down, of a need to make some kind of change, in a life that has flaws, in a person that has weaknesses? Resolutions become the temporary answer to many of life’s problems. The astronomical failure rate of them shows that they are not the right answer, or at least not one that convicts us enough, but are (if nothing else) a sign that we know the right answer is out there somewhere.

I decided to use myself as a case study. Indeed, most of those resolutions that I have set, in the past, were not a great success. Don’t get me wrong; they did have an impact on my life, but on their own they certainly didn’t hold any substance. If we want our resolutions to have meaning, to have conviction, they need a little something added to them, an extra element. And behold, this is the stage we find ourselves at in my third and final year of study into the very human joy of resolutioning. I do indeed have more resolutions this year. Again, they will be spread through the different months of the year – hitting yourself with multiple changes all at once may be a sure-fire method of excitement, but without sustainable pacing you’re likely to run into stress when it comes to the bread and butter of life. This has, at times, been precisely my problem. So there won’t be twelve of them. There will just be, maybe, eleven and a half.

Relax! I’ll reveal them in due course. For now, sit tight and listen to me talk some more.

Stuff happened around the turn of the New Year that would have made good blog material, but alas, I find myself here having missed the opportunity to tell you all about it. Like, for example, having to stay in London for a night, after missing an 11.30pm coach down to Portsmouth. I say ‘stay’, but in reality I didn’t actually stay anywhere except the bus station. There was no sleeping done that night. Nor had there been the night before. You see, this was after travelling from Belfast (where I had spent Christmas), on route to Portsmouth, which basically means a full night of driving – and unlike certain other people, I find it extremely difficult to sleep when sitting upright in a moving vehicle, surrounded by noise. Not coherent noise, just the noise that you only seem to hear during the forced state between consciousness and unconsciousness, and which you only realise wasn’t pleasant when you’ve had a chance to reflect on it later.

During this journey it was and, in the current travel climate (a time when we’re still using human drivers who need rest and drive at borderline reckless speeds), still is necessary to transfer coaches in London. As you may know, London is a good tourist spot as well. It’s easy to find stuff to do there, even if you don’t mean to. In this case, however, I did mean to, having pre-planned an excursion the previous week from my comfortable residence in Belfast. I could foresee that my arrival in London just so happened to coincide with a special Lord of the Rings movie marathon happening at a cinema in Leicester Square. Starting at 1.30 in the afternoon, this unique screening of the classic trilogy would last until 10.30 that evening – leaving plenty of time to navigate the perfectly planned route through the London underground back to Victoria coach station, jump on the coach and be back on the south coast in time for bed.

How nice (and simple) that would have been, had I been dealing with anything other than the London underground, which, it seems, likes to screw you over at the most inopportune moments. In other words, they decide to do maintenance work on one of the lines at 10pm on a Sunday night; fine for normal people, whose rush hour doesn’t happen at that time. And it’s only one after all, so it’s unlikely to really affect anyone, unless you’re the person relying on that very line to take you towards Victoria in good time.

Thus, having been forced to re-navigate a route (which I’m not good at – I know the underground about as well as I know the streets of Bristol), I rocked up to the coach one minute too late, just in time to watch it leisurely drive off without me. While I know I’m sometimes prone to exaggeration, I can promise you there is not one hint of it here. I was literally one minute late. I literally was not allowed onto the coach and had to watch in despair as my last chance of sleep in a cosy bed that night leisurely drove off at an insulting pace, with the driver even stopping to flip up his finger at me before leaving the station (ok, slight exaggeration on that last part). I felt tired and drained – the brief feeling of triumph I had felt as I thought I would make it after such an adventure quickly dropped like a lead balloon, replaced with longing. A longing to be on that bus.

Take it from me that it’s not the best policy to approach New Year’s Eve with two consecutive all-nighters already behind you. But then again, at least I have a story to remember from this year – one of quite a few that seem to be writing themselves. And I can say with conviction that whatever further challenges await me between now and July, few will come close to recreating that feeling of sitting on a park bench in London at 2am on the 31st of December 2012 with three heavy bags and a bad mood for company.

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