Up, Down & Everywhere In-Between


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Millencolin “No Cigar”



My life has seen its fair shares of ups and downs. There have been moments of grandeur and others of utter despair within that time and, if there’s one thing I’m still attempting to fathom, it’s how to roll with the punches. When I’m up I feel almost indestructible, full of vigor and strong enough to man-handle an ox and make it scream for its momma. When I’m in the doldrums, however, a stunted shrew could likely force me into tapping out. In many ways, I consider myself the master of my own destiny, but I’ve come to realize over the past year that there are some things seemingly out of my control. We all want to wake up each morning with dimples and a spring in our side but, the reality is, that often just climbing out of bed is the equivalent of climbing Kilimanjaro for some. While this hasn’t always been the case for me, it is something I have become increasingly accustomed to in recent times.


According to Einstein’s theory of relativity, all that goes up, invariably has to come down. It’s basic physics. You can’t spend all your time happy as that isn’t a realistic aspiration. You can damned well try and, through adopting a positive standpoint, you definitely give yourself a fighting chance of bettering your odds. However, behind closed doors, a clown still blubs. Comedians are seen as infinite joy-bringers but the sad truth is that often they’re the most depressive. The world perceives what we wish it to and masking your inner turmoil can pull a lot of wool over a great deal of eyes but eventually we all have to drop the masquerade. I’m never too busy to give a random stranger a smile, even when my world is crumbling down around me. This is my own personal choice. What I have no bearing over is whether or not I can show myself that same smile.


Life isn’t always fair. Sometimes it beats on you, it’s an inescapable fact and one we all learn about as we make the transition from seed to shrubbery. Certain words cannot be taken back, actions too are often irreversible and karma works in its own unique way. I guess it levels out over time but it can feel a little like someone up top has a serious axe to grind at times and it is how we react to this which largely determines our ultimate course. I have had days where it has felt as though the walls are closing in fast and there is nothing, and I mean nothing, that I can do to turn the tide. Yet, the very next day, I’m walking on sunshine and sliding down rainbows howling “Whee.” Go figure. It boils down to how we traverse this uneven ground as it can make or break us dependent on our reaction every time we fall under the cosh.

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So we have up and we also have down but what else exists? Well, up suggests a place where the Care Bears dance around in silk négligées, sprinkling fairy dust about with gay abandon and humming the theme tune from Falcon Crest. However, up is where the tightrope exists. It is here that nosebleeds are commonplace and vertigo can strike at any given moment. Tumble from our balancing wire and it’s an awfully long way to the basement. Down is a world populated with an infinite number of Justin Biebers running around also in silk negliges but humming their own back catalogue. A truly heinous locale, it is here that will to continue is questionable and no amount of medication can numb the pain. Put in plain English, down sucks assholes.


Never fear Grueheads, because between the tip and the balls is the shaft. This is the part that most requires manipulation as it offers a happy medium. It is within this middle ground that I find my true contentment. Build shit up too much and I’m asking for a long slide once the happy beans run dry. Keep it real and its a far less agonizing descent. Now, I’m not suggesting for one picosecond, that we should settle for mediocrity, this isn’t what I’m driving at in the slightest. Just keep your eye on the both the prize and the penance, there’s less of a climb or drop that way.


Case in point, my recent globe-trotting exploits have been simply bombastic. For seven weeks I lived the dream, enjoyed the hell out of myself, formed new unbreakable bonds and witnessed a lifestyle I could become rather accustomed to. Towards my journey’s end I began to contemplate my return. Suddenly, the Biebers had returned, all slicked back hair and gormless blank stares. It was enough to induce shudders and I began to feel myself slipping from my lofty cloud of happy joy-joy. I was running out of time and prepared to tumble until I considered my options with a little more savvy. I bid adieu to the angels and prepared to face my demons once again although I used my final days to readjust my perch, lower it a couple of notches and exist within a more secure middle ground.


I knew coming home would be a bitter pill to swallow as, if I had my way, I’d spend every day of the remainder of my existence making movies with awesome people. But I also knew that this was always part of the plan. I preempted my slump and, instead of wallowing, set myself a none too distant goal to create a kind of emotional stalemate. Yes, I would soon be back in my garden shed, with only a few Earth-crawlers as company. But in a handful of days I am jet-setting back to the States for an altogether different engagement. That gets me through when the edges begin creeping in. From my fresh vantage I can discern the ups and the downs in turn and they actually cancel each other out beautifully.


I’m never going to be as constantly chipper as it may appear to anybody meeting me for the first time. I’ve been off the meds for eight months now and it is only expected that I will have both my good and bad days. I have accepted that now as I would likely have misplaced my marbles had I not done so. If I am on form then that is fine and dandy, and there are few people as self-sufficient than I. However, whereas before I stored all that happiness in my cheeks and smiled only to myself, now I know how to pass it on. By the same token, should I be in the midst of the day from hell, then I know to do the exact same thing.


I’m not speaking of sharing my negativity with another but, instead, reaching out to somebody who cares enough to help me relocate my equilibrium. That’s a rather big ask for someone such as Keeper, I made it my life’s work to close the book and hide beneath my mask. The difference now is that I have learned how to remove it, open up, share whether that be jubilation or trepidation. By doing such with somebody constant, you can enjoy the highs a little more and cope with the lows in the same manner. What works for me may very well fall flat for others, it’s each to their own. however, I know my readership, if you’re still happy to receive my regular giveaways then, chances are, you get me.


Enjoy the highs but accept the lows. There’s no magic wand to be waved in this respect if any of this is resonating right now. However, we can be the master of our own destinies if we just slow down enough to learn all available routes. Knowing of pitfalls is half the battle won as we learn how to fall. We also learn how to lever ourselves out of said trenches and dust ourselves off. I like the middle ground, it’s too hot in Honolulu, too chilly in Alaska, but just the right temperature in the land which lies between them. Focus on this place, take each day as it comes, discern the bumps and potholes littering your path and you may just be able to steer around some of them. It has worked for me.






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