Race and Helplessness

How do you write about what has been happening in America as a white man? My helplessness and shock at what I have been witnessing are tiny feelings compared to the terror and anger which must be being felt by the black community there. I cannot even put myself into their place. It is simply an impossible proposition for any white person, and especially a man. You see, nobody judges me according to my skin colour. We are all judged in some way, but these verdicts come upon by others usually remain in their own minds. This has not been, and is still not, the experience for many people in the world.

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Swarms

It’s an impossible task to get an image of a beautiful place that contains no people. So we need to accept that fact, move on and capture different images. I find this one beautiful and believe it to be enhanced by the swarms of people visible. Zoom in and see how many selfies are being taken, you probably won’t be surprised.

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Sporting Cultures Clash

It is interesting when you have a family from a mixture of cultures. You ask yourself so many questions when your kids are young. How will they cope speaking two languages? Will they enjoy being bilingual? Could they possibly feel too different to those around them?

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Touching and Feeling Again

Reliving old experiences can be beneficial to our minds and souls, if there is such a thing. Going back in time, searching through photograph albums, watching old family videos, it reconnects us to where we come from. It seems more important than ever to do this in the digital age we live in.

Now, that digital world has huge benefits and I am not anti modernity in the slightest. The ability to share ideas, find differing points of view and learn from people on the opposite side of the planet is something that everyone should avail themselves of. Yet, there is something missing, there is no physical record of what we see, read or listen to.

Online music streaming offers huge convenience and the ability to discover music which you would never hear if you only relied on the radio to provide you with new musical ideas.. Ebooks are amazing and with my reading addiction are definitely space saving, but then I started to think. Where is the history? What am I leaving behind?

Remember when you were a child? You could browse through your parents record collection finding things from their past, who would have thought that my dad liked Jazz when he was younger? Maybe he was cool once? Looking at their bookshelf you could see some of the books that your teachers were trying to get you to read. Perhaps you didn’t appreciate it at the time but in the future you would and at least you could see them.

Realising this has made be consider more which books I purchase a paper version of, and then remain on my bookshelf, and which I am happy to own in an electronic version. Even more so it has got me back into the physical world of music, specifically the world of vinyl records.

It is no secret that vinyl has made a comeback in recent years as people yearn for the physical, as well as for the past. For me it is definitely a combination of the two. Fond memories of my youth come flooding back, even if most of the music I listened to then now seems tragic. Even more, there is something immensely satisfying about touching and feeling the music you are about to listen to. Watching the record spin as the music pours forth from the speakers is hypnotising and extremely therapeutic. Being compelled to turn over the record when it reaches the end of side one ensures you stay connected and can’t drift away for too long. We all try to multitask too much these days and all it means is you don’t concentrate and truly pay attention to anything. Of course there is a time for background music and that is when I will happily play a Spotify playlist. But I have learnt to choose which option is correct for the situation and if I want to listen to music I truly listen.

The only problem with all of this is the effect it is having on my bank balance. What began with a cheap turntable and only buying the cheaper second hand records has, of course, morphed into a full on addiction. The turntable has been upgraded and the Pink Floyd collection is almost complete. Next there will probably be a new amplifier and speakers, I hope my better half doesn’t read this.

As I sit here with Dark Side of the Moon spinning I have no regrets though. My children will one day look through my record collection and maybe, you never know, even think that their dad was cool after all.

© Neil Hayes and neilsworldofenglish

A Healthy Obsession?

Can any obsession be truly healthy? Surely the very word has negative connotations. Obsessions can interfere with our lives, our decisions, and affect the path we take.

My current obsession, is reading. We all read for different reasons. To escape, to other worlds and into other lives. To escape, for relaxation and inspiration. We also, of course, read for knowledge, whether it be sourced from fiction or non-fiction.

I believe that reading simply improves us. Of course, we can read self-help books for this purpose. But any book exposes us to somebody else’s mind. Their thoughts, feelings and experiences, as well as their culture and history.

Travelling is, perhaps, the best way to experience other cultures. But reading is a close second. In a world which seems to be obsessed and suspicious over every difference then, maybe, I have a healthy obsession after all.

© Neil Hayes and neilsworldofenglish