The Climb: Raglan Road by Luke Kelly

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At this point, it’s another climb, so you’re okay with it.

The first time that you ever had to climb the hill, wow, that was really tough. It was back when summer blanketed the world with temperatures of ease and normalcy. When 70 degrees was cherished. But man, that hill. You didn’t want to go over it alone. So you didn’t, but people told you to not be afraid of going over it alone. But you were still wary. Because every day? You were supposed to go over this every day?

Ah, but you grew up where bravery was contagious. Where adventure was a treasure to be won because you were looking to find the challenges that would enhance you. That first time you went over the hill by yourself, oh gosh, look at you go! It was such a relief. You could do it. You could trust yourself to push yourself over it.

There were some days where your mind just didn’t let you go there. You had to take the long way so you didn’t have to shorten your breath or think about the strain of doing it. Not everyone thinks like this. This fastidious attention to detail. But there are many that do, so you knew you weren’t alone.

There were days where it was so hard. So hard to just push yourself. To just keep going. Why didn’t everyone just understand that just being this way was sometimes difficult? You weren’t trying to act against anyone, it’s just that sometimes you felt like you were putting extra weight on your shoulders. And you still had to do the climb.

The climb started to numb you, though, and you didn’t even mind after awhile. It was quicker to walk over the hill so you were going to do it anyway.

And then you were invigorated by the hill. Every day you exerted yourself. Every day you tried, even if at the very base of it all it was just climbing a nasty hill.

And maybe you made mistakes. Maybe there were things you shouldn’t have done or maybe there were people who didn’t love you back the way you did. Maybe you took awhile to find your footing. But you loved. You loved and loved and loved and loved and when it wasn’t people, it was at least art. It was at least nature and beauty.

The best was when you were at the top and looked all around and saw the world’s pockets of houses and miniature trees. Where you looked at the Dome the same way you did when you first got there. A look-out point you could experience every day.

There are times where you can worry about the little things. Then there are times where the weightier ideas creep into your everyday thinking process. It’s in these periods of your life where you can’t just assume someone’s going to make it go away. A tissue in the bathroom during class – it’ll help. But you can’t be a kid anymore. You have to help. Or at least do your part.

So you keep going up and down, up and down, up and down. When there are other things in the world, one hill isn’t going to stop you. In fact, it’ll define you. And your strength will only increase.

Because you keep having energy. You keep having persistence. You keep going.

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A Sensation of the Softness of the Snow: “Watering Hole” by The Apache Relay

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As you drink your coffee, your tea, what have you, you think about how there’s just so much shit to do. There’s just so much to do and you’re not sure how it’s all going to get done. But really what this self-talk shows is that you’re entertaining your self-pitying side of you. But why judge yourself? Everyone does it. You’re just not as sure as you used to be, and my God, this snow just is not letting up. It’s colder than Antarctica. Antarctica! You’re not a penguin. 

And you’re also a little sick, which is just zapping your sense of good vibes in the first place. It’s like your lungs are balloons you filled up with squeaky air and you’re holding that little opening to the balloon and then when you finally let go, the balloon (your tears) just ends up flying everywhere, noisy and breathy and just cumbersome to the people around you (or at least that’s what you tell yourself, but really you know that people are willing to help out).

The weirdest part of it all, though, is that deep down you’re so, so happy. Is this, like, some weird part of you that likes to punish yourself? I like to challenge myself is what you go with when people normally point this out. It’s all about positivity, man.

But yeah, you’re really happy because it is all about positivity and perspective. Where else in the world would you be able to do these things? Where else in the world would you meet these people? And oh, the people. With their little smiles and hugs and pokes and you know you’re going to be okay because look at who you’re with right now. My God, they like you! My God, you don’t need to wonder about being weird or silly or strange because we’re all just little balloons floating around, bumping into each other every now and then.

The snow, as cold as it gets, is soft when I touch it with my fingertips. And I look at it sparkling and I walk every day to get to the life that I chose. The life that I got to create. Maybe it’s just for a few more months where I’m the author of this particular story, but man, I couldn’t have asked for a better cast of characters.

Irma Thomas and the Future – British Television Pretty Much Rules My Life

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This past winter break, I pretty much just watched television and it was glorious.

It had been about two years since I had a complete month off. There were periods in between each destination in which I was resting, sure, but a lot of that particular time I was gearing up for the next step, the next hop, the next task. This time, though, I just relaxed.

I listen to Local Natives’ “Breakers” to think about that kind of thing a lot – my constant motion, constant thinking. I have that tendency to always move, rotate, run. It is easy for me to run myself thin. I like to do everything, but the problem occurs when I try to do everything-and-a-half. That’s why the act of running itself has sprung up in my exercise routine. If my mind can’t do it all, maybe my legs will help.

Fortunately, I was able to be lazy this break (with some bouts of productivity of looking into job prospects and activities that I wanted to dip into before the SU exodus began). With this laziness, I didn’t work on creative projects, I didn’t read many books (despite the fact that I do still want to finish these projects and novels). I allowed myself to fall into my natural state of being the self-proclaimed television aficionado; specifically, I worked (oh yes, worked oh-so-hard) to find the best British shows that were available for me to indulge in.

I also was wanting to go back to the root of what I liked. British shows, classic rock, drawing. I had branched out so much that I wanted to remember where it had all started.

I had the help of my fellow British-television-fan compatriots (and I always love to find fellow British television lovers at any point in time) to guide me to the best. Instead of finishing Peep Show (which I still need to do), I found myself drawn to the suggestions for various dramas. Luther was the one that I focused on – with the blend of amazing acting, writing, soundtrack and location spotting (there were many moments in which I thought, “Hey! I was on that bridge!”), I fell into a rhythm of, yes, binge-watching.

But before I delved into Luther, I treated myself to the best new sci-fi anthology series that just premiered its Christmas special: Black Mirror. I had watched the second episode with a fellow sci-fi friend a few months before – for fans, you know it as “Fifteen Million Merits.” Haunting, harrowing and compelling (all of the film bloggers’ beloved buzzwords), the episode shook me. I didn’t pursue the other episodes at the time because I was thinking of a variety of other things and because it really cut through me. I am such a proponent of technology and progress and here was a scathing, yet loving, view on what technology could do to us. Was I, along with other tech idealists, a propellant of this catastrophic shift?

I got over this show-watching hesitation when I watched the rest of the episodes the latter weeks of December. They were difficult to digest and often times had horrifying (“White Bear”, anyone?) story lines, but they were riveting (again, another buzzword).

When I watched the Christmas special, I couldn’t help noticing that I had felt like I heard the karaoke song from the scene in the bar before… looking it up, I saw that, yes, it was indeed the song from “Fifteen Million Merits.”

I finished the show and I watched Luther and I finished that and I started watching Archer to get my mind off of the intensity of the dramas but that ethereal, mystical feeling never left me when I listened to the song from “Fifteen Million Merits.” Looking it up, it was Irma Thomas’ “Anyone Who Knows What Love Is.”

I liked that feeling of mystique. The song represents how I feel whenever I look up at the clouds and I look through the sky and try to imagine how stars look in front of me. The feeling of the impossible and the never-knowing, but thinking that maybe one day people could get close to the craziness of the universe.

Whenever it snowed my freshman and sophomore year, I liked listening to The National’s “England” because it made me think of the future – that one day I would go abroad. Now that being abroad (at least as a SU student) is a thing of the past, “England” represents a rich history that I created in my junior year. It no longer was the song of the future.

A few days ago, I was at my friend’s house and I was leaving and it was snowing. Flakes were flittering down, just the way that I liked it when I would flip on The National. I was drawn, however, to Irma Thomas. The snow swirling, the lamp posts glowing a hazy beige, I walked down the middle of the street. I breathed in my solitude – I was the only one outside, peering down the road through the flickering lights and snowflakes.

I stopped. My reverie ended. I had forgotten my charger.

Being extremely attentive to my belongings most of the time, I was irked by the fact that I had forgotten something that I used so often. I went back to go pick it up. I was such in the mode of thinking of how big this universe was; really, though, it was just me enjoying being lost in my thoughts. But maybe my “daydreamer” self leads me more than I know.

I picked up my charger from her and I restarted the song and went to carry on with my evening. I was still thinking about the future, but in a different way from “England.” Instead of thinking of all the ways that life could be, Irma Thomas’ powerful, soulful lyrics represented all the ways in which I couldn’t even predict how life would turn out.