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

Foreign: Just a word

Foreign.

What’s your first thought? The answer will tell you a lot about yourself. Does it strike you with fear? Or does it evoke a sense of wonder?

It covers most places in the world, most people, most everything. For me, the word evokes a feeling of curiosity and triggers the need to understand and learn. There is so much to learn and appreciate in this world. It doesn’t even have to mean leaving your country, although some people should definitely try this. There are things to learn on your doorstep, we are all foreigners to one another. There is another world inside each person’s mind.

But the further you move from home, the more variety you will find, and also be surprised by the similarities. Smell the air, it’s the same, but with a slightly different aroma. Taste the food, probably the same basics, but with a few additions which you wouldn’t have thought of. It’s the differences which make the world interesting.

It’s just a word but, for me, it stands for excitement. What does it mean to you? Take the test.

Foreign.

© Neil Hayes and neilsworldofenglish

Follow the flow

Following the flow of a meandering river has to be one of the most enjoyable and relaxing ways to spend your time. You come across so much, if you are paying attention. Nature, wildlife, civilisation and, if you are unlucky, people. I’m joking a little bit about the last one, but my main purpose for a walk like this would always be peace and quiet.

Rivers change so much, around every curve there can be a new world to be discovered. Sometimes they are as straight as an arrow, running through the city, fortified against flooding. Then they can become a wilderness of tall grass, where childhoods are spent hiding and forts are constructed. Maybe they run through industry which seems a tragedy as an adult, but as a child was a wonderland of unknown and dangerous intrigue.

But, however you view them, they are a source of life. Veins and arteries, which cross our lands giving sustenance to all the organisms which depend upon them. So they must be cherished, cared for, and not allowed to deteriorate. For, if we are not careful, before long they may clog. And what were once healthy vessels with fresh water coursing through them, could become choked trickles struggling and shrinking.

So, as with the body, we must be careful what we put in, what we take out, and check regularly for any problems. Treatment must be quick and, hopefully, we will all live long and healthy lives together.

© Neil Hayes and neilsworldofenglish

Australia

I am a Welshman, but I was lucky enough to live in Australia for over four years. I met some of the best people I have ever known during that time. Some were Australian, but others were fellow travellers from all over the world. Like-minded people from as far afield as North America and Asia, as well as from all over Europe. There was even one very important Czech lady, who would become my wife.

In the future, I am planning on writing about my experiences in the Land Down Under in more detail. But to start with, here are the first things that come to mind, when I think of Australia.

Welcoming, active, smiling people; who say “G’day” to everyone, both friends and strangers alike. Sun-kissed landscapes that stimulate the senses. Skies stretching so far, they almost swallow the world. Skies, at night, so full of stars you truly feel your insignificance in the scheme of things.

Mates, pokies in the pub, Surf ‘n’ Turf and Beer and Oysters. Standing in the rain at the end of a long hot day.

A variety of wildlife that appears to be the invention of an overimaginative child. Everything seems so far, but you can often move from the city to the beaches in minutes. From beaches to rainforests or highlands within an hour. Then everything feels like it is around the corner.

I also think of one of the safest places on Earth. Where people will look after a stranger like they are their best mate. 

Text © Neil Hayes and neilsworldofenglish

Image courtesy of http://freeaussiestock.com