The violets explode inside me
when I meet your eyes
Then I’m spinning and I’m diving
Like a cloud of starlings
Starlings by Elbow
An extract from one of my favourite songs. I was going to end the blog right there as its link to the photograph is pretty obvious. But I feel like I owe you more, or to put it bluntly I owe myself more. Blogging is a very solipsistic pastime. The only indication I get that anybody is reading this at all is the statistics that I glean from WordPress. A friend told me that you should only blog for yourself and never for anybody else and not to get hung up on readers but it’s very hard not to. As human beings we get hung up on what others think of us; we crave acceptance. Life, after all, can be likened to one long popularity contest. Writing as someone that has never been particularly artistic, this is especially true for me. On the face of it I am hoping that readers are going to like my photographs. But as time as progressed the words have assumed an equal importance.
What has emerged from nearly 2 years of blogging is that you can never second guess what is going to strike a chord with your readership. I find it amazing that my most popular post is the picture I took of my daughter’s makeover party. Admittedly this was helped by being picked by WordPress to appear on the homepage, but they must have seen something in it that eluded me. It was a post I rattled off in an attempt to post something, anything. Conversely, posts that I pour my heart and soul into (or at least put a lot of effort into) receive little or no comment – owl stretching time for example. It should probably serve as a warning: stop polemicising and stick to what you know; but some things just come and before you know it what started out as a post about liking owls ends up as rant against David Cameron. Because I attempt to promote this blog and my photography in general using social media I am aware that I am diluting my message somewhat. Quite often I have some really good comments via Twitter or Facebook that by definition don’t appear on the blog itself, I suppose because it’s easier to respond there and then within whichever media you are using.
Last week I had my first ever request for a print of one of the photographs from the blog. This is another small step towards building up my confidence and is a genuine cause for celebration. I have sold images before but that was in an exhibition environment. I know I need to publicize myself more and I have actually been making some efforts in that direction, but so far with little success. Also, although I have signed up to blogging every day, I can’t help but wonder if I am diluting the message. Posting every day is very good for discipline (that badge on the right hand side is a constant reminder) and for improving my written communication but won’t there come a point where I, and almost definitely you, the reader, will become tired of it.
As you can probably tell, this blog is developing into one of my semi-regular spirals of self pity. I am very aware that I do this but if I am to write this for myself then I need to be honest; I am hoping that I can look back at this post a year from now and think ‘what an arsehole’; just like grown adults look back at their teenage diaries with a mix of humour and horror. I have never written a diary. This blog is the closest I have got. I did get a diary one Christmas and vowed to keep it up to date but it didn’t last very long – it mostly recorded details of what I had for tea (mostly beef burgers or Findus crispy pancakes) or posed the age-old question of why a certain girl wouldn’t go out with me to which the blindingly obvious answer was ‘because you never asked her’.
I feel that my whole life is at a crossroads and it’s a feeling that I’ve had for quite some time; I have alternating periods of boredom and panic that I can’t seem to shake off. Am I depressed? I don’t think so and I hope not. It has been suggested by those who love me that maybe I should go and see a doctor for a chat but I’m pretty sure that this wouldn’t help. I certainly have no desire whatsoever for medication – the only drugs I have ever taken are paracetamol, aspirin and ibuprofen (obviously not at the same time before anyone rings the Samaritans). The thing is, I know exactly what the problem is, at least I think I do. It’s the whole idea of getting older and a sense that I have not achieved a great deal that nags away. It’s also a very real sense that there is a better time to be had doing something else, but then again I don’t know what or how to go about achieving it. I am 100% sure that I am not alone in feeling like this but it’s not something people ever talk about. We go about our daily business, commuting to and from work, going to the gym, doing the housework, gardening (I hate gardening, did I mention), cooking, writing blogs, updating statuses, drinking, reading, sleeping. It’s almost as if life only gives you the tools and the confidence to be happy in your own skin at the point at which you are too old to use them. Does that make sense? Probably not but I can’t think of a better way of putting it. I think the best way I can describe it is a general sense of malaise or maybe even wistfulness.
I have no idea what drives it. It’s certainly not problems at home and work is fine also. Maybe it’s the weather or seasonal affective disorder (SAD)? Maybe it’s the rumours the Glastonbury headliners are U2, Coldplay and Beyonce? Maybe its the fact that we had the family car serviced today and it cost us £680. And 20% of that was VAT. For a long time I blamed it on Roy Hodgson but things are looking up in the football department too. What it probably is, however, is that I want the moon on a stick. I want to be a gentleman of leisure, travelling the world with my family and taking stunning photographs in stunning locations. If anyone has any vacancies please let me know.
Spookily, a good friend of mine re-tweeted the following on Twitter yesterday from someone called @zard [I’d like to think there’s an @oz67 out there too]:
You know what will make you feel better about your life? Hating fewer things and liking/loving more. Try it?
I have no idea who @zard is but given the above its probably the best advice I’ve heard in years. I still hate gardening though. And Chris Moyles.
You may be wondering what any of this has to do with starlings. Well the answer to that question is ‘not much’ I took this picture on my way home from work this evening. My office car park abuts onto a cemetery that is home to hundreds, if not thousands of starlings. Up until recently I only heard them as it was always dark on leaving work. Now the evenings are getting lighter you can see massive flocks of them swooping and diving. I was going to write about Ted Hughes and a poem I remembered from school about starlings but then it turned out the poem was actually about thrushes and that’s not really a good title for a blog. Thankfully Elbow game to the rescue. We’re all spinning and diving like starlings but thankfully although I am, as the song puts it, ‘a horse that’s good for glue’ I do have plenty of love to see me through. See you tomorrow…