Holes in happiness

Loneliness and solitude are two separate states of being, as I once discovered.  I’m not sure if I was lonely back then, certainly not by my current classification of it; but solitude was something I understood quite well. My solitude was at the desk in my bedroom of my parents’ house. I was a night-owl, staying up long after they had gone to bed. Hunched over my computer with my headphones on, drifting off into another world. Those first few hours into the next morning were perfect in that there were no peripheral noises. There were no busses groaning past, no trains rattling by, no nagging parents, nothing. The night was unspoiled.

The closer I came to entering my twenties, the more I longed for the privilege of living in my own house, alone. My very own fortress of solitude. A place where I could get a little closer to that familiar seclusion I had late into the night.

My first year alone went by quickly. Now, in my second year, I feel that time is beginning to slow as I begin to realise just how empty my home really is. It’s too much for one person, my unit. Three bedrooms, two bathrooms, and I only use one of each. The others remain untouched.

A while ago I turned down an offer to move-in with a friend. It would have been mutually beneficial, but I was too proud of my own space. A space which I only ever half-used, and now wish to share.

It’s difficult to find comfort from my own solitude. Only now have I come to realise that an excess of solitude is loneliness. Perhaps it’s this very thought that scares me, and why it’s been on my mind lately.

It’s strange that the very thing I once thought would free me, has now become a sort of prison. I guess people need people after all.

All good things

I guess I’m just a bit lonely, really. A loner that won’t muster the courage to go meet new people.

I burnt my first bridge recently, you see; one of my best friends since 5th grade. Sometimes people drift apart until there’s no real connection left between them; but sometimes the way they just fade away shits you off to no end.

It kept me up at night. So I thought, fuck it, and deleted him from my socials. It’s not like he knew, or probably even cared what was going on with me anyway. That’s what I’m telling myself at least. I think it’s pretty accurate, considering the zero fucks he gave about making any sort of effort.

In the grand scheme of things, I’ve probably only made it weird with our friends though. I hear he’s hesitant to attend any event I may be at. He was rarely ever there anyway, so fuck him. I’d be polite and respectful though, if he were to show. Maybe we could clear the air.

I’m not sure I could speak like this to his face though. Perhaps I’d get the point across, but I doubt I’d be as passionate. No, instead I take it all out here, somewhat anonymously to you strangers who’ve stumbled across this angsty rant of some failed bromance. Well thanks for reading, I guess. It’s comforting to know someone will know how I’m doing, even if you’re not here with me.

The distance between us

We were afraid to fully commit to each other. It was agreed that, given the circumstances, it would be best if we remained as friends. We knew it would be difficult, considering there was already the tension of affection between us. It was so apparent that our friends even encouraged us to make it ‘official’, but we resisted. For a time at least. We knew that whatever we started would only be ripped apart when she moved overseas in a few months.

It wasn’t long before we caved, or rather, I caved. We’d spent too much time together and one night I decided to go for it. Without a single thought as to what it would eventually come to.I leaned in and kissed her fully on the lips. A few days later we were officially ‘official’. We were happy together, but I had broken our agreement. She would be leaving soon for a far away country, and I would remain here, half a world away.

We’d discussed the option of a long-distance relationship and had eagerly coaxed ourselves into it. Crazy in love, we couldn’t imagine being apart and thus continued in our gamble at love. We became the cute, soppy couple that stared intently into each other’s eyes, whispering sweet nothings as if trying to one-up each other in our little love game. We became the couple that people didn’t like to look at. We made others feel uncomfortable in our presence and we were proud of it. It was a mark of our dedication to each other. We weren’t embarrassed or shy about ourselves. Nor did we care what anyone else though of us. We had a special kind of love. The kind of love that’s intensely wonderful in its way of enhancing life. The kind of love that might have lasted.

That’s when she left.

Each day grew tougher than the last. We’d promised to call when we had the time, but without her by my side it became easy to forget the love we had once shared. In completely different time zones, we lost sleep trying to make our long-distance relationship work. Our sleep deprivation lead to short tempers, and before too long we were arguing over the smallest things.

Our love began to fade and it was my entirely fault. We’d made an agreement to stay as friends; to stop ourselves from the hurt we knew would come from further commitment, but I wasn’t strong enough to shut out my feelings for her. As the months passed it was common for days to go by without any contact. Our rare catch-up calls always ended in a fight, but we still cared deeply for each other. Could we still call it Love, or were we being fooled by the ghost of what was? Clinging on to the early memories of when we were side by side, we kept trying to fix our relationship, as if there were some magical words that once said would make everything better, but she had her life and I had mine.

She met new people and made new friends, just as I had done in our time apart. It seemed that we were leading different lives than what we once had; lives that left no room for our relationship.

It wasn’t much later that she broke it off between us. I wasn’t prepared for it, even though a part of me expected it. I felt responsible for our relationship. For beginning this journey with each other, I was the one that started it, and here she was, backing out of it. Maybe I am to blame for all of the heartache, and maybe I do deserve all of this pain for breaking my promise to her. I knew I had to follow my heart though. I had legitimate feelings for her and needed to know if what could’ve been could be.

The times we were together were some of the happiest moments I’ve ever had. Given the opportunity, I’d do it all again, and wouldn’t change a thing.

The one that got away

It was easy in the beginning, the love. Looking back, it seemed effortless. But over time our relationship became harder to maintain. Those little things she did that once captivated me, now only annoyed me. It took quite some time before I understood how our love could turn to frustration in what seemed like such a short time.

We were different back then. Two individual people living our own lives, but a shared mind when it came to music. It was all we needed, all we talked about. Inevitably though, we became tormented by silence. It came to be that our dates would result in staring off into the distance, searching for some new topic to discuss.

There was plenty we could’ve talked about, but neither of us cared enough to care. We were so self-absorbed in ourselves that our hearts were oblivious to each other. I think we both knew at that point that there was something wrong with our relationship. If only we knew then what we do now.

We made a promise to each other that we would never change. But change is necessary for growth. It started from our musical interests, that which we built our identity on shifted and so to did our character. Our feelings for each other began to fall apart and all too soon our love for one another was forgotten.

We were young and naive in believing we would be together forever. Happy endings belong in fairy tales and this isn’t one of them. She’s moved on but I still can’t. To me, she’s the one that got away.

Year 12 IPT Writing Task

The following is a short essay I wrote in Grade 12 (3+ years ago) for my Information Processes and Technology class. It’s fun to see the progress I’ve made transitioning from haphazard essays such as this to the more eloquent, well scripted assignments I complete today.

The topic statement chose to write about:

“Electronic video surveillance of Australian public places is justified for the protection of the public”

Technology plays a large role in the day-to-day lives of civilians across the world, whether they know it or not. Every day people are being watched and scrutinised over their actions through the use of electronic surveillance. For years now Australian governments and local authorities in particular have used such technology for their own means. Whether it is for personal safety, national security, traffic monitoring or even used as deterrence from property crime, rest assured someone is watching your every move.

Certainly, the use of CCTV (Closed-Circuit Television) has its benefits. However when it comes to people’s safety, how sure can we be that the data such surveillance is obtaining is in good hands? As soon as data is collected and digitised it may be shared among government agencies, or even worse, stolen or leaked into the public.

The first implementation of local government administrated open-street CCTV surveillance commenced in Perth in 1991 [3]. Since then the network of electronic surveillance cameras has increased to 33 systems in various locations throughout Australia.

Ever since the first introduction of electronic video surveillance into Australia, many individuals and groups fear that such “Big Brother” acts of surveillance will undoubtedly lead to totalitarianism throughout our states and their arguments are critical to the life of video surveillance.

CCTV surveillance was introduced into Australia as an effective way of reducing crime rates, hoping that the presence of cameras would deter people from committing criminal acts or omissions. However, attempts to link the effectiveness of CCTV with changes in crime rates poses problems as a variation in overall crime rates may be subject to random fluctuations [2]. Also, studies undertaken in the Gold Coast area found that the use of CCTV appears effective at the detection of crime as opposed to the prevention of it [1]. CCTV images only contributed to solving 3% of robberies in London, even though Britain has more security cameras than any other country in Europe [6]. So the question must be asked, is the presence of electronic video surveillance really going to help achieve lower crime statistics?

One problem with having so many cameras all recording hours of footage is that someone needs to constantly be watching the footage for any sign of suspicious activity. The cameras are only useful if the footage which they are recording is being monitored. This leads to a significant amount of cameras being disabled due to the fact that there are too many to monitor. A survey established that only one third of the surveillance systems are monitored for 24 hours and that a further third of systems are not monitored at all [4].

The fact that the councils cannot afford to employ enough staff to regulate program operation and the release of visual material produces queries as to why they can justify the cost of having all of the video surveillance systems in the first place.

There are three very important aspects in relation to how CCTV can be managed more effectively. Firstly, bias plays a large role in the operation of cameras throughout Australia and can be seen that increased amounts of attention are being placed onto certain social groups. Studies have found that working-class youths, women and ethnic minorities are more likely to be targets of CCTV due to operator bias [5]. This leads onto the second and most controversial issue regarding electronic video surveillance, civil liberty.

The placement and biased use of cameras may negatively impact on personal privacy. It is a split vote between those who believe that such surveillance is keeping the streets safe and those who believe that electronic video surveillance has no control over personal safety, but is rather just an invasion of privacy. However, some people suggest that if you’ve done nothing wrong, then you’ve got nothing to hide and therefore shouldn’t feel spied upon by the use of video surveillance in everyday life.

The third factor relating to the effectiveness of video surveillance is the displacement of crime. Usage of camera surveillance may cause a shift in crime from locations which are under surveillance to neighbouring areas which are not under surveillance. If this were to happen, the implementation and use of CCTV would not eliminate or reduce crime, but rather just move the same activities into different locations [7].

Regardless of the many arguments held against the use of CCTV and similar systems it seems that electronic video surveillance is ultimately going to become a part of everyone’s life, whether we like it or not and is therefore the governing agencies responsibility to properly monitor these systems, otherwise the installation and implementation of systems much like CCTV would become a total waste of money.

On many occasions the best crime prevention tactics include a combination of measures which have been put in place. Perhaps if careful consideration to all of the components of the surveillance system were undertaken and other suitable systems were installed instead of relying on the one approach, Australian governments and local agencies could lower crime statistics and possibly change the mind of many Australians who believe that electronic video surveillance systems are nothing but an intrusion into the private lives of many civilians, rather than a means of lowering crime rates.

In the night

“The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown”
― H.P. Lovecraft, Supernatural Horror in Literature

A flash of light momentarily illuminates my bedroom. All is silent and as it should be, but there’s a presence. The light was angled directly into my room, that much I know for sure.

Silently, I crawl out from under the covers and take a step towards the curtains. Another flash of light stops me immediately. I’m paralysed, much like a small animal sits transfixed by the headlights of a car when unexpected. I’m terrified. There’s nothing that can produce a light like that, especially when I’m two storeys above ground.

I continue making my way to the curtains and softly grab hold of the overlap. Not knowing what to expect, I gather myself for a brief moment. I slow my breathing, calm my nerves, relax my shoulders. Ever so gently, I part the curtains just enough so I can peek through with one eye. All is silent and as it should be, but there’s a presence. Is there something out there peeking back at me?

I feel vulnerable, as if that which I seek is directly behind me in my own room, a place where I should feel safe above all others. I glance out the corner of my eye at the space around me, there’s nothing there as I knew there would be, but I feel safer nonetheless.

Somewhat consoled by how ordinary everything seems, I look back out the window, this time completely opening the curtains. I peer out at the surroundings one last time. I was so sure of the flashes of light, but there’s nothing here. Are my eyes playing tricks on me? Was I dreaming and woke up without knowing it? Whatever the case may be, I decide to go back to bed. I grab the curtains with both hands and make to shut them.

A bright light flashes directly in front of me. For a brief moment I stand there, hands on the curtains, mouth slightly ajar, stunned. My mind tries to comprehend what I just saw, but it’s impossible. A camera? The flashes of light that I had seen were from a camera. A camera that was taking pictures outside of my window. But it wasn’t so much the camera that frightened me most, but more so what was holding it. 

A smiley face. A large, round, yellow smiley face with arms and legs holding a camera that had jumped two storeys up and was taking photos of my bedroom window. I release the curtains and sprint out of my room, down the hallway to the back door. I undo the locks and throw open the door, across the deck and down the stairs I go. 

I’m below my bedroom window glancing around frantically for any sign of the perverted smiley face freak, but there’s no sign of it. I come to the conclusion that it had made it’s escape undetected while it still could. Just to be sure though, I stroll around the side of the house, under the carport to the front yard. There’s nothing here either, but it’s brighter. I look up to the sky, expecting to see a full moon, but there’s no moon at all. Instead, there’s a star, roughly double the size of the moon and shining so brightly that I have to squint to see it properly.

My surroundings slowly melt away before me and I feel my conscious self returning, along with an awareness of reality. It was a dream. Well, a nightmare really. I’m laying in my bed, covered in sweat with sheets all over the place. Breathing deeply, I take a moment to process what I just witnessed.

To this day, that nightmare remains one of the few dreams that I can recall completely. It has occurred a few times, with each experience leaving me just as frightened as the last.

Quote

What use is a name, if there’s no-one to call it?

I’ve been here before, I know what to expect. The isolation. The loneliness. It’s nothing new, but that doesn’t make it any easier. They don’t know how it affects me, yet I resent them all the same. It’s not their fault, I can’t blame them for my choices no matter how much I want to, because in the end that’s exactly why I’m in this situation in the first place. My choices.

There’s a person that I confide in. I’ve spilled my darkest self out in front him and he doesn’t treat me any differently. I wonder if my other friends would be as kind and forgiving. No matter how many friends or followers I have there’s no escaping it. It’s been said you can be lonely in a room full of people, but what if there’s no room full of people? What if it’s just you, alone with your thoughts? That’s when it’s most dangerous. When there’s no-one to hear you out and your thoughts turn darker with each passing minute. You begin to question even your strongest bonds and you can’t help but ask, “why?”. Why me? What makes me so different from everyone else? Why doesn’t anyone else hurt like I do? Maybe the do hurt. Maybe they hide it just as you do, behind false smiles and a facade of contentedness.

I turn to looking at my past, searching for a reason to why this is happening. Why I have this constricting feeling of loneliness. There’s only one answer, my choices. I burn bridges before they’re even constructed and it leaves me empty. Hollow. There’s a standard which I’ve grown accustomed to. A standard that prevents people from getting close to me. I lock them out before they even get a chance to prove themselves otherwise.

So quick I am to judge others and this is what I get for doing so. I’m happy with my relationships at the moment and I’m grateful for having experienced the overwhelming sense of loneliness. I believe it enhances the mind, opens it to reality and puts things into perspective. It’s a terrible thing, but it has deepened my understanding of life and boosted my emotional intelligence. So here’s to loneliness, the isolation and the emptiness it provides.

Inspired by The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Cut Off.”

Novel

A few days ago I finally managed to read The Hobbit. It’s been on my to-do list for a few years now, but I never really got around to it. As with any good book, I’m a little disappointed that it’s over. The Hobbit’s adventurous storyline just kept me wanting more and more, but alas all good things come to an end.

Although The Hobbit is a great book, I expected to enjoy more than I did, being a fan of fantasy-adventure novels. Not to mention the movies which I thought were quite brilliant. Yet perhaps that in itself is why I found the thrill and joy of reading the book somewhat lacking. I already knew the story. Knowing what to expect took away a great deal of the suspense and excitement that I would have otherwise experienced.

Is The Hobbit my favourite book? No, but it’s definitely up there. My favourite would have to be Dune. Written by Frank Herbert and published in 1965, it’s been described as a sort of sci-fi Lord of the Rings. I’ve read Dune three times and plan to again before moving on to rest of the series.

There are a number of great quotes from Dune, so here’s one of my favourites. It’s a litany that is used at various points throughout the story by the two main characters.

I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see it’s path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.

A lovely little update

It’s been quite a while since I last blogged, which is both good and bad. On the positive side of things, a lot has happened in the past few months, providing me with some possible future blog posts. However, in my time away some of my followers have left me and I’m somewhat stale when it comes to writing, which is understandable considering how infrequent and unreliable I’ve become with my posting.

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Self

A recurring thought stuck in my head;

Now on paper, by my hand with lead.

A thought. An idea;

Always fraught with fear.

By my own making, a prison;

I no longer want to live in.

Erase the words, no relief from the pain;

Nothing to lose, but much to gain.

It’s a silent demise;

Away from prying eyes.

No white knight, no happy ending;

Yearning for light, darkness impending.