It is important to remember and celebrate these days. When a weight has been lifted, when a cloud has passed, when the birds are piping at the dawnlight.

The why is hard to explain, if explanation is needed or possible. I just feel like all of my joints are made of a pleasantly squishy jelly and my central nervous system is reclined in a hammock hanging from an Indian pea tree.

Perhaps the many weeks of crushing weight and darkness have made this relative normality feel like euphoria. Perhaps this is the call of Spring, the first buds preparing to awaken – a time I associate with great wellbeing and expansion.

A particularly good session in psychotherapy last week changed phases from some bubble of Winter drear, and another session yesterday helped me to change the way I see Winter and darkness. Not things to be escaped, but lessons to be learned. The more we try to shy away from hard feelings, the more surely they return.

I seek not the positive in them, but rather just to be with them, as part of some balanced whole. After all, the darkness is also part of who I am. And how much more pleasant these days when they follow the hard toil of emotional work.

I have worked really hard these last few weeks! On everything – even sleeping was a labour and a worry. I have worked harder than most ever will. This euphoria is the result of that, the weekend of a strained soul. As a mason who spends years building a new house spends his first night away from the elements by the warmth of a fire, I have gone ways to building a place I can call home inside myself, cultivating safety, self-forgiveness, strength.

Many things – I have worked hard and cleverly. Time to get the peace I deserve!

Believe me when I say there is hope. Even if it does not feel like your good works are being instantly rewarded, by treating yourself well you are putting “money” in life’s wellbeing “bank” (if you will excuse the horribly capitalist metaphor).

I do not think we can fully choose when the results come, but we can open ourselves up to the possibility by living well, being in therapy, finding useful herbs and medicines that work for us, and so forth.

Just know that the good times will come, whatever you have been through. Your self-healing processes are at work if you allow to do their thing, and be patient. Something I struggle with, but am now much learning.

We need Winter for Spring and Darkness for Light. Lessons I am learning, acceptance, being with, silence, patience. As much as I endured the elements, now I must enjoy the fruits.

That is what today is for, and that is what I shall do.



Realistic thinking: my four c’s

This article could easily be the most ‘practical’ and ‘how to’ I have ever done. So much so the title could be in CAPS and something like ‘How to improve your life and wellbeing with four simple tips!’

Recently, my ability to think realistically has been improving my situation. By no longer being prey to a wandering mind, suffering is limited and thinking realistic. Anxiety disorders and negative thinking are the ultimate causers of ‘secondary suffering’. Life will sometimes bestow some suffering upon us – this could be low mood, injury, Winter time, what have you. But this can be made far worse and more protracted if we are in negative patterns or anxious states. The secondary suffering is in fact often worse than the primary.

Fortunately, we can be in control of our thoughts. I cannot easily say the same for mood and depression and fundamental emotions; this is a much deeper mystery with a much more complex healing. But over your thinking, you are sovereign.

This is the first thing to understand. Lets repeat it – over thought you are sovereign, over thought you are sovereign, over thought you are sovereign. No one else can control your thinking. It is yours, the gift of your sentience.

Now let us begin to look at 4 C’s which can help diminish or destroy negative thinking patterns. When you find yourself lost in a negative thought…

I) Catch it

ii) Categorize it

iii) Challenge it

iv) Conclude 

I find the first stage, catching it, to be the most important. Often our thoughts swim hither and tither, getting more and more wrapped up in their own logic. Training yourself to catch those initial forays into negative patterns is essential.

Remember, our lazy brains want routines and patterns – even bad or unuseful ones! There is a certain auto-pilot to us, and until we are sentient and sovereign over thoughts, we are at risk of being dragged along by them. You have to catch yourself out, it is the only way. Get into the practice of catching your thoughts.

Once you have caught a thought, you can categorize it. I find this very useful, because it can quickly reveal whether the thought is rational or not.

‘Oh god the man next door is shouting down the phone again, I will never get to sleep and tomorrow will be ruined and…’

This can be categorized as predicting and catastrophizing. It diminishes the power of the thought greatly to categorize it. Other categories include mind reading, generalization, emotional reasoning (because I feel this it must be true), black and white thinking, diminishing or exaggerating problems. Once you categorize, you can rest assured that you are not the only person with this kind of thinking pattern, and just how common it is in our culture. This greatly diminishes the power of a thought, and is often enough to quell it.

However if a thought gets through the categorization filter, then it can be challenged. This means weighing up the evidence for and against it. How much do you truly believe a thought to be true? Really turn it upside down and inside out. Rate it as high or as little as it deserves. Challenge it!

And then, conclude accordingly. Often my conclusion means dismissing a thought as having no significance or truth value (this is because I have a very loud negative voice in my head, it might be different for you). Compulsive and intrusive thoughts are powerful and can be more disturbing. With these, really challenge by asking ‘how is this significant?’ and seek more detailed guides on OCD and the like.

I hope this is useful. Practice, practice, practice, and seek out CBT therapist or self-help if you need extra support. Of course, being able to meditate or turn down the volume on thoughts is also very powerful, but these require a lot of time and patience. The four c’s are far quicker to get, and can tide you over until you attain enlightenment beneath that elder tree!

In summary: over thought you are sovereign. When a thought comes into your head, catch it, categorize it, challenge it and conclude accordingly. You are master over your thoughts. You have the power to diminish secondary suffering.


Once there was a crofter who rode a cart to the nearby village. Every morning he would pass a sage – a lazy, unworldly man the like of which he thought little. Morning after morning the creaking cart and its load would go pass, and nary a word they would exchange.

Then one day the crofter started to struggle to sleep every night. The tiniest of irritations would keep him awake; the light of the moon, a creaking barn door, the bleak howls of fox, footsteps outside. No matter how long he lay in bed he slept little, and in a few months, his entire body started to feel the strain. Some days were so tiring he could hardly rise out of bed, but lay drenched in sweat and frustration.

The sage was surprised to see the crofter again, after a week in his absence. Feeling like he had nothing to lose, the crofter spoke asking: ‘Sage, I am troubled. Nights I cannot sleep, and days I am barely awake. I do not understand.’

The Sage rubbed his chin and gestured to a pouch at his belt. ‘There are herbs and powders for that. Have you tried them?’

‘Yes, all of them.’ replied the Crofter. ‘They help, a little, but I have seen what happens to the yeoman when they start living on the stuff. It is a recipe for disaster. And those who turn to wizardry are even more hopeless. Their life-span rapidly declines, and they trade a few years on top for bleak years without souls.’

‘Ah, then you do have some understanding.’

‘Perhaps. But that will not help me sleep at night.’

‘Then tell me’ said the Sage, getting into his element. ‘Why can you not sleep?’

‘I am anxious and miserable.’ replied the Crofter. ‘There, I admit it!’

‘And why are you anxious?’

‘My life has been a hard one, and my soul much tormented. It is how I have come out.’

‘And the misery?’

‘I cannot say. I just, am.’

‘Oh come now’ laughed the sage. ‘No one is miserable without good reason! Have a think.’

‘I suppose I am miserable because…it feels like we are losing.’

‘Who is losing what?’

‘The good people of the world are losing, to the bad people.’

‘Ah that! Yes, it does seem to be the way of things at this time. But why does that make you miserable?’

‘I believe that this does not have to be the case, and all around me are miserable people who say otherwise. So I ride this cart everyday, to silence the voice the miserable people have placed there.’

‘You believe it does not have to be the case. Then your misery springs from the very core of your heart, that what you believe in and desire is not being achieved.’

‘I guess it seems a lot clearer now.’

‘Would you rather you did not feel sadness? Would you rather your soul was silent and let the world slide by as it does, deeper and deeper into degeneracy?’

‘Come to think of it, no I would not.’

‘So your misery which leads to agitation and thus tiredness, is it something you can get rid of without fundamentally changing the core of your being?’


‘Well, yes. A little, try some of these herbs and powders.’


‘The world will not change overnight, and you still have to live in it. But remember ye this – the more it is in your head that your misery, and all its concurrent malaises, are caused by your very own inner-dreams for betterment; the more you realize that your desires for better are being compared to the world and perpetually let down, the less that misery is your enemy, and the more it is a reason to strive to change things and avoid complacency. And rather than wallow in it, as I have never seen you do, you will just have to find a way to express what you truly desire to see in the world, and make it so, as much as it can be so.’

‘Truly sage, I thought you lazy as an old ox! But you speak much wisdom.’

‘I am lazy as many old oxen, stout yeoman. But I do not begrudge myself for it – I would sooner be so than serve stagnant, degenerate lords.’

‘And yet you have no misery to you?’

‘Not now, no. But often. Even when I do, I do not let it destroy my health. I am a sage after all!’

And the crofter went along his way, drained and tired still, but a little bit more hopeful that world could be turned from evil. But it was a long way uphill, and this was little solace in the midst of Winter.

Work-ethic anxiety

‘Yeah I’m going on holiday after this work season finishes. Then I will return to my productive labours at the office. How about you Tim? What are you doing with yourself’? asked William.

‘Oh…I’m currently “between jobs”.’

William looked at him with a slight edge of disdain. Tim wished he could shrink and vanish into a crack in the pavement.


A large source of my anxiety and self-worth problems have historically come from the w-word.


I used to not do it much. Not doing it much was not very good for my soul, which vegetated in front of the computer, or in front of blank, white walls. At around the age of twenty-three, I stopped playing computer games or staring at walls, and started being more creative. A little bit every day – of writing, music, and game design. I remember a quite specific moment when this rhythm started to sink in. Even though a lot of the writing and creativity didn’t go anywhere, and wasn’t cohesive, creating something every day gave me some direction, self-worth and helped hone my skills.

This ‘work ethic’ is still with me today. However, it is not so useful as it once was. When you are creating things for the necessity of filling some ego-void, it is very easy to lose sight of the bigger picture. The work is not always directed toward any goal, and small accumulation doesn’t always get you anywhere.

Doing tiny bits of work every day is like building a sand-castle, where every time you add a bucketful of sand, half a bucketful has been lost to the laws of entropy, decayed and misshapen. Stepping away from the sand-castle, you can reconsider how it is going, or see it from different perspectives. You could even say fuck this sand-castle, and go do something else!

It is deeply neurotic to feel a severe compulsion to do things. There are days when you cannot create something, when you fall ill or just feel plain uninspired. Is it legitimate to hate yourself and feel deflated on these days? If so it shows a ‘living in the present’ which definitely isn’t mindful or healthy.

So as you can tell, my ‘work ethic’ can be quite destructive and self-negating, a double-edged sword. It is also not necessarily productive. In this sense it has a lot in common with another work ethic.

That of the capitalist world.


There is this destructive belief that we should always be active. We should shun the hours of night and live for the hours of day, scrambling around, doing things. Endlessly doing things. Always doing things.

I have heard many people say ‘I am currently between jobs’, as if all of life was to be contained within the boundaries of work. As if not having a ‘job’ was something to be ashamed of, and required a euphemism.

Yet always being active does not mean one is being productive. A short-sighted measure of productivity misses the much important bigger picture. A busybody might work every day, and think that everyone else has to. In a vigourous rhythm of work, our busybody could easily fail to take care for themselves (I’ve been there), and carry resentment for others who do not share their ‘burden’ (there also). They might think that those who do not share their busybody attitude to work and perpetual industriousness are lazy and in need of ‘motivation’.

But other people might work at a different rhythm. The artist who paints one meaningful brush stroke per week is no less creative than the contracted musician who writes ten advertising jingles a week. In regards to productivity, one person may mindfully achieve more with a single hour of clever labour than a fusty busybody achieves in a week of running around keeping themselves busy.

Because those who stop to consider things can change fundamentals which save everybody time and energy, or which sets us on a better direction.

If a farmer spends ten days sowing ten acres with a shitty plough is he more productive than the farmer who spends five days sowing ten acres with the much better plough he took the time to improve and re-design? One who measures work in days and hours is bound to think that the longer one spends on something, the more productive they are being. This is simply time-filling, not meaningful, praiseworthy labour. Industriousness is no bedrock of pride or productivity.

The idea of a neurotic work-ethic is stopping us from pausing and planning for the precarious future. The more we run on the treadmill, the more we fear to step away, even if the end result is a disastrous collapse. The ceaseless juggernaut of capitalism is literally driving our society blindly over a cliff toward climate catastrophe.


There are essential labours which must always be performed. In the twenty-first century we could make these comparatively few, thanks to technology, human wisdom and the bountifulness of nature. These essential labours do not need a work-ethic to promote them: if they are not done, people will starve and die, buildings will rot and collapse. Nor do they need particular praise or ‘bigging-up’. They get done because they should get done. Those who are able but refuse to perform these essential labours, or create extra work for others, should rightly change their ways, or go away. But to expect everyone to be ever-active is the great folly and conceit of our times.

If someone voluntarily spends their time grinding away at their craft to be the best that can be at it, I have much respect for them. But if someone expects others to always try their hardest, always be active, and be forced into involuntary work, then they can go and sod off.

The greatest sin

The greatest sin you can commit is to try and perfect yourself.

To hold yourself up to impossible expectations.

To push your body far beyond its capabilities.

To build expectations to be ever happy, ever productive, ever active.


Perfection is self-harm. The light, when too strong, blinds eyes and makes you feel sick.

Crawl in shadows and feel earth under your fingertips.

Show where you are weak, because people will find out anyhow.

Be a spectrum and a totality, not a linear light with its disembodied soul.


But the greatest sin of all is to try and perfect yourself.




New Places


I often go on an upward spiral when I remember you. Of late, my handwriting has become so bad my notes are like hieroglyphics! Nonetheless, plentiful wisdoms await, yearning for their chance to the see light.

Writing in this notepad is like finding seeds in a meadow, and expressing them the digging, tilling and planting. Looking back, what I have written is often good advice on the right track; glimmers of what is to come all but presaged. But to embody truth takes something else I cannot quite put my finger on. The words say what would be best for me to do, but this awareness alone has to become practiced and truly embedded someplace deep within. That ‘someplace’ is a mystery beyond us all. As unknowable as the forces behind the cosmos.

And even if we know the right path, day to day bad habits pulls us away. Into tunnel-vision, into bad routines, into negative thinking patterns. I am prone to a lot of this, and the isolation and sadness and frustration that follows.

Of course, even that last paragraph is quite unnecessarily gloomy! Things are not bad now, just wobbly and (occasionally) boring. I have made great steps toward recovery, and crossed a threshold of understanding today.

It is about giving the body the time it needs to process things and heal. I will trust myself and those around me. I will trust the flux of all-things we are contained within.

Life has humbled me; my being turned out to be more than just a mind and its expectations. I must learn to live at a new rhythm, away from impossible expectations and unhealthy obsessions.

Reading has helped enormously. Although anxious and vulnerable, the power of words has a much bigger impact on me. Music too. I experience it now with the vivacity of a child. The world is scary and wonderful again at the same time.

But writing, like a mirror, reflects and expresses. I have created a narrative and history here, through Nyteshade, and I am happy that you are travelling along with me.

At one time, this was the only solace in a harsh and demeaning Winter time. Now the spore has landed and grown into a mushroom, I promise to be more active and restore this good habit!

I want to feel good. I want to be well.

That is self-love, writing is self-love. Please express yourself too. Say how you are, say how you will meet Nyteshade in the dark, colourful glade. Say something whimsical and silly, or just be.

Just bring a quill and parchment!

What I am (to you)

An old vinyl full of sublime sound, never put on

An oil painting from the renaissance, gathering dust in the cellar

A cerulean, sun-soaked sky behind heavy, drawn curtains

A beautiful wandering cat, seeking love from strangers

The words of power that unmake spells of hate, never uttered

A drawer full of field beans, never planted in the garden

A book of depth and colour, you refuse to read


You do not need to say the sun is gold and resplendent

For the sun to be gold and resplendent

And if you say the sun is bleak, squat, grey and ugly

That does not make the sun bleak, squat, grey and ugly


This is why your words have no power; they speak untruth.

The magick of words is their ability to say what is

For magick is power, and magick is just truth, thus truth is power


A proud otter swimming through a running river, whose strength you cannot comprehend


Start writing it

Ask her out

Cancel your card

Leave the house

Take the risk

Send it in

Procrastination – anxiety in action. The brain’s version of two feet fumbling at the edge of a cliff, refusing to just bungeeeeeeee…

The difference between good and great is that good procrastinates and gets there eventually, whereas great is already one step ahead, having missed the procrastination stage.

The worst that can happen is that you could trap yourself in a spiral of negative thinking and unproductive worry!

This means that you are in control of how you feel today. It means that the insurmountable mountain is actually not that steep.

It means that all of the barriers on your path only seem so high because you are hunkering down.

It means that all of the monsters on your quest are infamous only because other people are so afraid of them.

I think procrastination is a form of enchantment – only, in the negative sense of overestimating threat. I suppose dread and fear is as much a part of the imagination as anything!

But it is not a part of the imagination we want to allow to rule our lives.

To ‘not do’ is not the safe option. To ‘not do’ is how phobias and disorders develop, and once they do, it is not easy to reverse them (believe me, I am in the middle of one).

If only I had done this, if only I had done that – also not useful. Procrastination.  What has been is not necessarily what will be. And who can tell where each path would have led, or what you would be now if you had done what.

What you have before you is what you can mould the most. Your destiny is undeniably a continuous thing which cannot be altered easily, as is your character. But the small steps you can make to begin changing that destiny – they can happen anytime.

And once you start winning and changing, the results are exponential. Find something you can feasibly achieve, and feasibly achieve it.

Procrastination – the product of too much intellect and not enough feeling. Get out of your mind for a moment, and back into the whole of yourself…

There is a world to explore

There are unjust systems to deconstruct

There is your novel to write

There is love to be found

There is music to be played

There are seeds to be planted

There is climate destruction to be undone

There is a Trump to be dethroned


(If you like this post, share it on social media and help your friends stop procrastinating!)

The Pace of Oppression

Oppression is not a solid thing. It is not a tangible entity. I feel it inside me as a pace of life, a compulsion, a chimera of fear and desire and desperation.

A cursory think about the capitalist system reveals the truth of its oppressive nature. What would happen if you decided to take a spontaneous holiday from work? You would become unemployed. To make ends meet you would have to go to a job centre. They would force you to look for work or participate in some kind of scheme to acquire the basics of living. You would be forced to do things equally as unpleasant as work. In other words, beyond set holidays there is no option to ‘opt out’ of this society for any duration of time. You have to be constantly active, most of the time.

This driving force to endlessly do things is the invisible motor of capitalism. It makes people hugely “productive”. So “productive” in fact that they have no time for hobbies, they have no time for relatives, they have no time for volunteering, they have no time for their children, they have no time for those with mental health problems, they have no time for artists. In fact, they have no time for anyone but the busybodies who think that everyone should be forced to do things, all the time (in other words, the bosses profiting from this sorry state of affairs).

As if this false economy of constant motion is somehow a noble end! As if endless consumption and the environmental devastation that follows is an inevitable law of human societies. Please! Do not be such an underachiever.

Human beings who are forced to do things they do not want to do become miserable. And human beings forced to do things they do not want to do, will do so in a half-assed, second-rate way. Left to their own devices, human beings will naturally labour to improve their lot. This is not only because they have to, in order to survive, but also because labour can actually be rather pleasant when done for the common good, and at one’s own pace.  Doubly so when we can actually enjoy the products of our labour, rather than feeding the super rich parasites draining us all.

Pause. Take breath.

We are emotional beings, children of nature. We are not machines waiting to be driven by a crankshaft. Any mechanistic, deterministic view of humanity has to die; we must be liberated from the tyranny of forced work. This race for productivity, to make more and more and more without even having the time to enjoy the fruits of our labour – the quickest way to describe it is a load of old bollocks. The most severe way as a deep waste of potential, and massive cause of anxiety and depression.

To feel like you have to constantly fill your life is a waste of that life. A window is useful because it is an absence of material; a bowl is most useful when it is empty; a wheel runs swifter that has gaps in it. The right to philosophical contemplation, to idle play, to whimsical creation, or just to lie in and have an indulgent wank, is essential to human happiness. Why is our society bent against such simple pleasures and basic securities?

Until the basics of life are provided for, and until labour is performed at our own pace for the common good of all, endless miserable work is the lingering doom we are going to have to live with. This is our inheritance of the archaic capitalist system, which no one really believes in, but the cowardly, uninspired masses go along with for their apathetic lack of hope in humankind.

If you believe that people should be allowed to work as what they want to be, rather than what they are forced to be, congratulations, you are a liberated socialist.

No more neurotic dreams…

Running away, from place to place. As if you can outpace your shadow. Throwing yourself onto the back of another’s horse, begging them to save you. Is this the path to inner-healing? Is this going to lift you out of your tumult and darkest pain?

There is no utopia inviting you, there is no perfect woman waiting for you to find her. Nothing better awaits until you are strong inside yourself. No one is an island, but you must have a basis of self-love and self-worth in order to do any good for the world.

Have you got it? Look deep inside, is it truly there?

Finding this is not a sudden process, and cannot be rushed. Though it may have climaxes and peaks, it requires the opening of pandora’s box, and I wonder how much control we have over such an action. Perhaps you are lucky if you have a crisis, for now you can unlock the truth.

Your secret box is finally open, and now you are looking within, into places of deep daring. You are one with your hurt, even as it heals. And the closer you get to truly actualizing what is within yourself, the harder it is going to get. That final leap, to become a knight of faith, is the hardest step of all, harder than first opening the box or even taking up your sword.

Therefore, do not be surprised if your trembling, fearful inner-child gets worse with time, until the final battle with the ultimate shadow.

And when you face it down, know that you cannot defeat it with even the broadest of swords, for that thing is part of yourself, and to harm it is to harm yourself. Know it, and you know part of thyself. Embrace it, forgive it, and you achieve the ultimate courage, whatever others may say to you.

You accept yourself as a flawed, weak, vulnerable being, and in doing so grow tenfold in flexibility and adaptability. You become ready to evolve into something better.

There is no escaping the inner-truth, so do not long for worlds of fantasy. Do not be so absorbed in art that it loses all relevance to the world-as-it-is. Do not believe the propaganda  of saviours. Do not run from yourself, however painful the feelings, however harsh and hard the thoughts. Do not hide behind work and routine, this is to make reality mundane. You must face yourself.

Every experience is part of your history, and cannot be repressed. Nor can you stop them from impacting upon your conscious behaviour now, in the present, unless you take them unto yourself and resolve yourself. There are many patterns inside of you which you do not realize, and these shape your character. If you have not the tools and sensitivity to unweave that personal destiny, you are a slave to a motive deeper than your conscious being.

The truth must be dug up, and held up. What you truly are, a wonderful conflux of experiences and attitudes, must be beheld by your conscious mind. You must come into the present in order to truly find yourself.

Then you can take the largest step of all, and the hardest. Into true selfhood, as an actualized being of nature. Of course, darknesses and patterns will accumulate again, and there is no final enlightenment. But you will be much more prepared to deal with challenges, in a mature and adult way. You will be more than the sum of your pain and neuroses.

Fear not yourself. Loathe not yourself. Only know thyself, be thyself and love thyself.