All that I am, all that I ever was…

I am more than my mental health. I am more than my homelessness. I am more than any one aspect of me. I am Addy. And this is…


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017. Darn, your talent and committment make me want to be a greater person

Inspire Me

Inspire Me

Day seventeen of my 365 Day Blogging Challenge has requested I write about the people I idolize.

I’ve been thinking about this question all day. As I walked the chilly streets in a daze of depression I pondered what this word meant to me.

It didn’t take me long to decide that it is not a celebrity that I have the hots for. When I think of the word idol, I never think of cheesy television talent shows or warbling boy bands.

Nor do I think of Higher Powers, although this is by definition what an idol is; an image used in worship; a false God.

When I think of my idols, I think of people who have inspired me, souls that have touched and pushed me toward bigger and better things. Individuals who I look up to and say ‘darn, your talent and committment make me want to be a greater person’.

Once this decision was made, the only thing that popped into my mind were fictional characters. As The Doctor tangoed with Brooke Davis, Chuck Bartowski was summoning the courage to ask Jilly Coppercorn onto the dance floor. But these people are not people. They are figments of several people’s imaginations. Of writers, creators, directors and actors. The lives I have shared have been crafted, shaped and designed to reflect the moral, ethical and metaphorical constructs of the stories they feature in.

So in constructing the list I knew I had to eliminate fictional characters from the mix. The people I truly look to as my inspiration are flesh and blood, not ink and celluloid. The people I consider my idols are:

Mark Schwahn

Mark Schwahn is the creator of the television series One Tree Hill. I have spoken briefly of my love for this show but stopped short of fully explaining why I admire this writer as much as I do.

I will freely admit this television show is not spoken of in the same circles as The Wire, Game of Thrones or Breaking Bad, nor am I going to argue that it should be. Each exist in different genres, each represent individual visions and alternate audiences. What they all share is an innate skill when it comes to characterisation and originality.

What One Tree Hill lacked in the originality of its premise, it made up for in the uniqueness of its voice. A voice that is quintessentially Mark Schwahn’s.

When I think of individual episodes of this show almost all of them were written by the creator. Immediately the intimacy and power of With Tired Eyes, Tired Minds, Tired Souls, We Slept floods my memory banks, as does the powerful subsequent episode Who Will Survive, And What Will Be Left Of Them. Of course the season finales are thought of with their (at times) over the top cliffhangers, but episodes such as Pictures of You and To Wish Impossible Things, that focus primarily on character and relationship are perfect examples of television writing.

I admire Mark Schwahn’s ability to create character (I’ve already stated I believe Brooke Davis to be one of the finest fictional female’s I’ve ever come across) as well as the risks he took throughout the show’s nine season run. He is a writer I hold in high esteem and one who rekindled my own passion of this field of the arts. As such, I have no qualms to list him as someone I idolize.

Note
The following video clip from the episode With Tired Eyes, Tired Minds, Tired Souls, We Slept contains a MASSIVE SPOILER for those who have not seen season 3 or beyond. So do not watch if you’re currently viewing, or planning to watch the series. I should add it is also potentially triggering, just to be safe. It is however, a beautiful piece of writing.

Charles De Lint

My favourite writer. A musician, lyricist, folklorist and all round inspirational man. Over the years he has created dozens of characters who flew of the page and into my heart; Jilly Coppercorn, Janey Little, Isabelle Copley and – of course – Blue.

I have long admired his pioneering work in Urban Fantasy and have never hidden how his work served as a source of inspiration toward my own dabbling in this genre.

A beautiful and creative soul that has taught me many things in the realm of writing, folklore and mythology. He also, through his author’s notes, introduced me to the group The Walkabouts, for which I will be eternally grateful.

Ronnie O’Sullivan

The world over people worship footballers, AFL stars, athletes, rugby players and swimmers for their skills in the arena of physical sport. I admire none of them. I do admire this man for so many reasons – all of which are on full display in this video:

George Mackay Brown

Beside the Ocean of Time. Greenvow. Magnus. Vinland. For the Islands I Sing. Hawkfall.

The poetic and literary output of this astonishing writer speaks for itself.

There are few writers who write with such a lyrical, timeless beauty. A skill I can only wish I possessed. My introduction to George Mackay Brown came at a Writer’s Museum in an Edinburgh backstreet. An exhibit that served as the inspiration for me to visit Orkney, and later, read my first of his canon; Beside the Ocean of Time.

Although it didn’t grab me at first, by the time I reached the final chapter I was spellbound. I can recall to this day the tears that trickled my face as I read the words that captured my heart forever.

Of all the writers and poets out there he holds my highest esteem. To be as talented as he is but a dream, but the power in which he infuses his words, will forever be a source of aspiration.

New Child: ECL

i
Wait a while, small voyager
On the shore, with seapinks and shells.

The boat
Will take a few summers to build
That you must make your voyage in.

ii
You will learn the names.
That golden light is ‘sun ~ ‘moon’
The silver light
That grows and dwindles.

And the beautiful small splinters
That wet the stones, ‘rain’.

iii
There is a voyage to make,
A chart to read,
But not yet, not yet.
‘Daisies’ spill from your fingers.
The night daisies are ‘stars’.

iv
The keel is laid, the strakes
Will be set, in time.
A tree is growing
That will be a tall mast.

All about you, meantime
The music of humanity,
The dance of creation
Scored on the chart of the voyage.

v
The stories, legends, poems
Will be woven to make your sail.

You may hear the beautiful tale of Magnus
Who took salt on his lip.
Your good angel
Will be with you on that shore.

vi
Soon, the voyage of EMMA
To Tir-Nan-Og and beyond.

vii
Star of the Sea, shine on her voyage.

GMB © 1996
for Emma Catherine Lawson

FromFollowing a Lark’ (published 1996)

There are others, many so, but for now I feel this will do. I peeked ahead, you see, and shortly within the 365 Day Challenge is a prompt that will allow these real-life individuals to shine.

But their time will come, for now, who are your idols?


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Hope, the greatest weapon of all

Yesterday I was reminded why I used to enjoy Twitter so much. Certainly, it provides a connection with the outside world that is sorely lacking for most homeless people, but beyond that, it provides hope.

Something that is surely lacking for most homeless people.

Whilst homeless my life was a series of parks all over Melbourne with nothing to hold on to or look forward to. The need for “something” became so overwhelming and I would often latch onto something – anything – to encourage myself to keep going.

Over the years these things ebbed and flowed. Some were fleeting, others constant.  But without these things, I would certainly still be homeless, if not something much worse.

Doctor Who

David Tennant as the Tenth Doctor

David Tennant as the Tenth Doctor (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This is the constant.

My love of Doctor Who began when I was child; when my parents banned me from watching The Greatest Show in the Galaxy because it was scaring me too much.

In the early nineties, when my mental health problems were in their infancy, repeats on BBC2 enabled me to lose myself in the worlds of Jon Pertwee and Tom Baker for the very first time.

When Paul McGann took on the role in 1996 my father drove me to Cardiff for a midnight opening of HMV so I could be one of the first to purchase the video. I went to school blurry eyed the next day after watching it twice through the night, ecstatic that I had done so.

In 2005, when the new series began, I was both elated and frustrated at what they had done to my show. Later that year, when David Tennant took over, I fell in love; I had found my Doctor!

I have spoken before of Tennant’s Doctor helping me in times of mental health crisis and it was my desire to see his farewell from the series that gave me the strength to keep going during those early months of homelessness. When my mind was being ravaged by the soul-destroying experience of homeless, the need to see him bid adieu is what kept me fighting.

I can still remember watching The Waters of Mars for the first time. I can still recall the tremendous connection I had with The Doctor in that episode; of the psychological impact his solitude and loneliness had manifested itself, and I knew I could keep going to The End of Time.

“But me? I could do so much more! So much more! But this is what I get. My reward. Well it’s not fair! (silence) I’ve lived too long.” The Doctor.

Karen Gillan at the 2011 Comic Con in San Diego

Karen Gillan at the 2011 Comic Con in San Diego (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I spent far too much money downloading it on New Year’s Day in a small internet café in Preston, Melbourne. I can remember all the laughter, joy and the tears I shed whilst watching it. I can recall perfectly the parallels I made with my own life, given I had said something very similar to the above quote on a beach in Port Fairy in 2007.

Walking through a park, overwhelmed with emotion after watching this episode, I didn’t think I could go on. My Doctor was gone forever and a stranger was taking over.

Although never having the same power as it did in 2009, Doctor Who has remained a constant beacon of hope through the abyss of mental health and homelessness. The need to see if it will ever be as bad as The Beast Below/The Victory of the Daleks again; the desire to see my heroe’s continuing adventures; the fact I have a massive crush on fellow Invernessian Karen Gillan, but then what heterosexual male doesn’t?

Even now, knowing I hated 75% of the last series, my love of Doctor Who keeps me fighting. And because of this, and all that it has done for me, I will always – always – love this show more than any other.

Movies

Occasionally a movie provides me with the hope I need to keep going. Here are some of them:

One Tree Hill

One Tree Hill (season 3)

One Tree Hill (season 3) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In late 2010, after I became suicidal following a breakdown, it was Mark Schwahn’s opus One Tree Hill that saved me.

In a single week I watched the first four seasons back to back. I fell in love with Brooke (one of the best female characters in the history of television), Peyton (one of the other best female characters in the history of television) and developed an on-again/off-again bro-mance with Lucas’ hair.

More importantly this show reminded me of who I once was and wanted to become. As the episodes ticked away, I was reminded of my love of music, of television production, of story arcs and obsession with mind-blowing writing (e.g. S03E16 – With Tired Eyes, Tired Minds, Tired Souls, We Slept)

When I learnt of seasons five and six I broke a three-week period of not leaving my room to obtain them from the local library. When Schwahn had the guts to skip four years in time, introduce the remarkable Jackson Brundage, put together the greatest tribute to John Hughes ever and write depression incredibly well (i.e Hayley’s story arc, season 7) I knew I would love this show forever.

Now the show has ended and I refuse to watch Season Nine until it is released on DVD, because this way I will be able to keep going that little bit longer.

Chuck

Chuck Versus the Sandworm

Chuck Versus the Sandworm (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I didn’t wait for Chuck. I may be the most patient man alive but I couldn’t wait for this conclusion.

My introduction to Chuck came in a hotel in Glasgow, slightly drunk and with a woman lying next to me (long story!)

After a rather full on few hours she wanted to watch something, anything, she didn’t care. Earlier that week I’d downloaded the pilot for this show for free on iTunes so we watched it; and instantly I was smitten. When I finally watched season one a year later, I was in love.

Season Two is one of the most consistently brilliant seasons of TV ever.

Season Three, watched mid-homeless after great sacrifice in a motel near Flagstaff Gardens, is the single greatest season of television I have ever seen.

After eighteen months of avoiding every single spoiler I could, I was finally able to see Season Four. Nothing could be as good as season three, but this was still better than most other things on television.

I admire so much of this show; the writing, the risk taking, Scott Bakula, the music, the style, Zach Levi, the direction, the humour, Kristin Kreuk, the ensemble, the Morgan effect. And, obviously, Yvonne Strahovski (see Karen Gillan comment above!)

So when I moved into the unit I now occupy and was kindly given a computer by my counseling organization, I surreptitiously downloaded season five from internet sessions at the library. A personal treat to reward myself for all I’d been through since that emotion filled day in Glasgow.

Even now Chuck provides me hope to keep going. If I wish hard enough perhaps there will be a movie.

My Writing

I know I’m not the greatest writer in the world. But ever since I was a young boy I’ve loved doing it. From the early years of Neighbours (The Movie) and Indiana Jones and the Sword of Excalibur though to the later years of I, Georgina and The Inverness Chronicles writing is something that has assisted in everything from self-worth and confidence through mental health and homelessness.

Even though I’ve barely been able to write since I, Georgina (Inverness, 2009) there have been times I’ve settled down under lamps in parks and written whatever I could. Most of it was terrible; some of it not too bad.  On the occasions some of my homeless-era work was published online (not on my blogs) I was buoyed to continue onwards. To keep striving to achieve all I desired in this area of my life. As I still do today.

My Nephew

Woody Woodpecker and his niece and nephew, Spl...

Woody Woodpecker with his niece and nephew (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Of all of the above my nephew has provided me with more hope than anything else.

He was conceived whilst I was homeless, born whilst I was living in parks, has lived the first two years of his life with me being a Chuncle (Crazy Homeless Uncle) rather than an Uncle.

I’ve never met my nephew. I may never will. But he has kept me pushing onwards for two different reasons.

In much the same way as my need to prove to some of my old friends I’m not the worthless piece of human excrement they decided I am – I want to be a man my nephew can be proud of.

Someone he can look up to and say ‘that’s my Uncle!’ instead of ‘that’s my Uncle?

But more than anything, I want him to grow up in a world where the homeless are treated with respect.

A world where the homeless are treated as the human beings they are instead of stereotyped, abused and forgotten as they are now.

We can but hope.

“If you lose hope, somehow you lose the vitality that keeps life moving, you lose that courage to be, that quality that helps you go on in spite of it all.”
Martin Luther King

Note: This post was edited on 21/5/12 after reading The Troll of Twitter Feeds (by Carey Fuller)

My original post quoted from the blogger discussed in the above piece and is someone whom I had not encountered before. From this, and other research conducted, I do not wish to associate with him and removed the links to his work from this piece.

I have long supported Mark Horvath and the amazing work he does in the field of homelessness. When I first used Twitter in 2010, his work and support of the homeless gave me exactly what this post is about: hope for a better life, and hope for the end of homelessness.