Sunday, 24 April 2011

The Enormity Of Everything

Sometimes I get a bit frantic about the impossibility of ever experiencing everything there is to experience.

And not even EVERYTHING everything.

Even if you narrowed it down and dedicated yourself to one pursuit you'd never manage to do it all.

Read all the books.

Listen to all the music.

See all the sights.

Watch all the movies and/or TV shows.

Learn all the languages.

Try all the foods.

There are so many things to do and see and every now and then the though that you might be missing out on something that would be truly life changing because of what you're currently doing and because you have no idea that this truly magnificent thing exists let alone that it is your perfect thing.

Of course that's the kind of thinking that can either paralyse you* or motivate you.

After a moment of 'Aaaaaaaaaargh am I wasting my time/not taking full advantage of life' freak outs, I generally get to planning which tends to lead to new things of one kind or another.

I know that if I was immortal most of what I'd do for a portion of that forever would be sitting around and reading and watching things, not because I'm lazy** but because it would give me a chance to have a crack at watching ALL THE THINGS.

But first I think I'd travel.

The chances of various bits of the world and the things in it ceasing to exist - or at least ceasing to exist in their current incarnation - is more likely than a catastrophic EMP event that wipes out all possibility of ever watching a DVD again.

And of all the Everythings that there are to do, a lot of them can be done travelling.

Of course by the time I finished travelling there might not be time for the Everything else but it's hard to believe I'd have regrets about that.

*Because you then get so worried about doing the Right thing that you don't do anything at all.

**Though I can be!

Saturday, 16 April 2011

That's SIR Terry Pratchett, I'll Have You Know

There are some people whose work you just can't imagine your life without.

For me one of those people is definitely Terry Pratchett.

I have been losing myself in his books since I was about 14 and I often find it difficult to believe that so many varied characters, so many worlds could come out of one person's head.

I have trouble believing that some of those characters and places aren't in fact real, because who could have written something so complex and wonderful starting from scratch?

Well, he could.

And he does it in the same way as most of the people I truly admire do such things, by being genuinely and persistently interested in absolutely everything and filtering that interest in through their ears and eyes and then out through their fingers and into their work.

Hearing him speak was a fantastic experience.

I had been a little worried about how he would go as he was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's disease in 2007 but apart from the occasional pause to try remember the word he was searching for, he didn't have too much difficulty.

Just hearing about some of the things he has researched for his own interest which may never find heir way into his books was fun, it made me feel like going out to a bookstore and picking up a handful of completely random books and seeing where they take me.

I'm not disappointed that I didn't get to meet him as I tend to believe that I'll make an arse of myself in front of my heroes and wouldn't be able to think of anything original to ask or say.

I might like to have a signed copy of one of my favourite books but apart from the fact I don't think he's really doing that any more, I think I'd be tempted to stop reading it as I would want it to stay pristine for as long as possible and that's not right.
Books are meant to be read.

Speaking of which, now I'm going to have to go home and re-read my entire collection.

It won't take as long as you might expect, familiar words move quickly past the eyes.

[Edit: Ooh look! In July they posted a video of his talk online!]

If you don't like embedded videos, here's the link to the Wheeler Centre webpage instead.

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Where To? Where From?

I've always been obsessed with doors.

Not with the different shapes, different materials, different colours, different fixtures - though those things are all lovely and also interest me - but with doors as portals.

The idea of a shape or item that stands between one space and another always presented a huge array of possibilities.

I used to wonder if it was possible to pass through a door, close it and when you open it again, find it looking out into a completely different place, possibly completely alien to the one you just left.
This of course led to wondering whether the room you were in still existed on the same physical plane of reality that it had originally and whether therefore you could return to the place you left by exiting via the window instead of through a door that may then strand you in a place you'd not be able to return from.

As you can imagine I wasn't a difficult child to keep occupied.
All you had to do was leave me to my own devices and I could spend hours theorising ways to keep track or hold of your original world, like Theseus using Ariadne's ball of thread to find his way out of the Minotaur's maze*.

Any book, movie or TV show that involved any kind of travel or access to such different dimensions or locations were therefore insanely interesting to me.

Sliders, The Lion The Witch and The Wardrobe by C S Lewis, Stargate, Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman, The Weather Witch by Paul Stewart, The Fionavar Tapestry series by Guy Gavriel Kay, Goodnight Sweetheart, all of those crazy ABC kids shows that involved the characters stepping back in time or travelling to the UK or Canada** possibly whilst also stepping back in time...

I'm also pretty sure that despite my lifelong fascination with such portals, that if I found one, I would not have the guts to step through one.
Or if I did so by accident I probably wouldn't do so twice in the event I managed to get back to where I came from.
What can I say.
I'm a giant wuss.
Then again the curiosity and the fear of missing out on a once-in-a-lifetime chance would be warring with my terror of being trapped forever in an alternate reality or time.

I expect it isn't a choice I'll ever need to make but, y'know, never say never.

And never look at doors in quite the same way again either.

*Except I wouldn't douche-ily abandon somebody who saved my life and ensured I succeeded at an impossible task. I'm looking at you, pretty much every man in every Greek myth ever.

**You know, countries we just happen to have relationships with who also like weird shows like that and want to cross-market/co-produce their kids shows.

Saturday, 2 April 2011

One Or The Other Or The Other Or The Other

I'm not very good at having 'favourite' things.

Mostly because I have this wandering memory and if it's been a while since I've seen/read/heard/experienced something, I may not think of it when the question is asked.

I have lots of things I love and am enthusiastic about but if you ever ask me point blank what my favourite book, movie, band, TV show or celebrity hairstyle is I simply will not be able to answer you.

I'll be able to give you a short list in each category of things that I like but I can't elevate one above the other, I don't grade them on a bell curve.

I don't know, maybe these things don't resonate with me on the perfect level they do with other people which allows that level of passion or maybe I'm more aware that the passion I feel for a particular book, show, movie, author, style of dog Halloween costume is partially influenced by its newness and novelty and I'll have to reevaluate my feelings in 6 months time to see if they hold up.
Whatever it is, I'm not good at favourites.

Even seasons.
For the most part, people seem able to declare at least their favourite season without even stopping to think about it.

Even here I struggle.

When it's winter, winter is my favourite season.
The wonderful bracing contrast between the warm inside and the cold outside and how satisfying it is to be inside looking out and knowing how warm you are, or outside looking in knowing how warm you're going to be.
All the scarves, jackets and gloves.
The warming food.
Reading in front of an open fire when you have the chance.
The crazy frost patterns that mean you have to fiddle around with water and wipers for minutes before you can drive to work.

When it's spring, spring is my favourite season.
The new growth.
All the animal babies.
The smells in the air.
The rain.
The touch of cold that still hangs in the air.
The hints of warmth creeping in.

When it's summer, summer is my favourite season.
The sunshine.
The picnics.
The BBQs.
The swimming.
The joy of air-conditioning and cold drinks on sweltering days.
Christmas with the family.
The long days and warm nights.

But autumn, autumn is my favourite season all year around, even when I'm playing at the other seasons being my favourite season.
As the days shorten, a crispness begins to creep into the air and the deciduous trees begin to shed their leaves.
As you get to mix and match the best clothes of summer and the best clothes of winter without having to shed two layers every time you walk in the door.
As the urge to eat harvest-type foods pops up.
As the outdoors becomes more invigorating and the indoors becomes more comfortable.
As your pets start pretending that they love you more than they usually do so they can start poaching your body-heat in preparation for the thermal-vampire routine they'll take up in winter.

For some reason although spring is perched between the two more extreme seasons in exactly the same way, autumn appeals to me more.

So I guess I have one favourite thing.
For now.
Until I get distracted.
And forget again.
And remember again.
Every single year.

But unless I need to answer thee these questions three my inability to commit to or remember my favourite anything on a reliable basis shouldn't actually kill me so I doubt I'll lose any sleep over it.

Instead I'll just stand out here taking deep breaths of the brisk Eucalyptus-scented air and feeling - almost impossibly - aggressively peaceful.