Aged 30…

Good morning Tash Appreciators,

A couple of nights ago, I suddenly had a hankering to hear a song that I hadn’t thought about for years: “I still haven’t found what I’m looking for” by U2. I can hear the hipsters tutting already but, like T. Swift says: haters gonna hate hate hate.

It’s normal for TF to be written during the course of a commute but that’s traditionally been on trains. This week is slightly different in that I’m typing away while sitting in a cramped window seat on a Bombardier Q400, somewhere over the Irish Sea. It’s a clear spring evening outside and the sun is just dipping below the horizon.

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After take off – when I was allowed to put my earphones back in – I put my new tune on. I’ve listened to it a couple of times now and I’ve reached the conclusion that Bono isn’t looking for something which can be found just by looking for it (like a set of keys). I think the lines about “climbing the highest mountains” and “scaling city walls” are about looking for something intangible.

I know what he means – as I’m sure many of you do. We spend a lot of our time looking for things which, no matter how hard we look, we may never find – things that have to find us, so to speak. That can be religion, a career, the ideal home – anything.

At the moment, I am looking for a home. Not that I don’t have a home, you understand; I’m just looking for a new one. I’ve been telling people that there’s nothing out there and I’ve jokingly said I’m giving up the search. However, watching the sea, sunset and blue sky outside I’m reminded that there is a place out there which feels like home but which cannot be found in Scotland. Maybe I found what I was looking for a long time ago and that’s why nothing I’m seeing now seems quite right.

So where does that leave me? Because the captain has just said it’s 10 minutes until we land and I need to wrap this up before I’m told to put my phone away.

I’m reminded of a line I heard recently when I was watching a documentary about a media mogul who’s empire was at its height in the 1930s – William Randolph Hearst. The film starts with William’s father (George) working away on a small mine, trying to make his fortune.  Ultimately, George decides to  gather his possessions and leave the place of his birth. The narrator says: “aged 30, he went to California.”

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I’m beginning to think that Operation Zorro needs to look further than one year ahead. Unlike Bono, I might have found that intangible thing which has sparked something in my soul. Maybe that’s why I spend an inordinate amount of time watching  planes flying west and wondering whether they’re going to San Francisco. Maybe one day…

It’s not really a Tash but a big dream deserves a large amount of facial hair. Thanks for the inspiration, George Hearst:

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Have a great weekend folks.

As ever, I ask you: what’s next?

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…You’ve seen it all

Good morning Tash Appreciators,

In this finale of another season of TF, I’ve decided to let you into a trade secret: not every edition of TF is a spontaneous reaction to the events of the preceding week. To supplement weekly events, TF HQ holds a stockpile of quotes, thoughts, questions, names and lyrics which can be drawn upon as and when required.

For as long as I can remember, the name of that stockpile has been a line from The Secret Machines’ “Lightning Blue Eyes”. I’ve always enjoyed the line and I find it helpful to be reminded of it when I’m struggling for inspiration.

The first part of the line was the headline for last week’s edition: “In your dreams…” As you might recall, I said that there were two ways of saying those three words: in a sarcastic or scathing way or in some other way which I would explain this week.

The second half of the line provides the context which allows us to correctly interpret the first: “In your dreams you’ve seen it all”.

Here at TF, saying “in your dreams” is not a reproach – it’s a direction. Dreams are the brain’s way of processing and rationalising what we have experienced while we are awake. They show our deepest fears and ambitions. In a real sense we have seen all of ourselves in our dreams. Therefore, if you want inspiration, your dreams aren’t such a bad place to start.

This time next week, the editorial team of TF will be visiting the organisation’s spiritual home – Moonstone Beach, California. You may have seen it before if you took a look at the photo at the top of the website:

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Above the beach is a hill and, on top of that hill, there is now a castle. The hill was once the favourite spot of a young man called William Randolph Hearst, who used to make a point of riding out there to enjoy the hill’s view of the sparkling Pacific Ocean. It turned out that the hill was more than just a hill to this young man – he called it La Cuesta Encantada. He was so enchanted by the hill that he dreamt of building a castle on it’s summit. Years later, when ownership of the hill passed to him, the dream started to become a reality. It now looks like this:

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I’ve spent a long time wondering why I don’t have the drive to do a particular job in the same way as many of you. I wondered whether I might be money-centric (not that I’m rolling in it now) or whether I just had a dull character. Thinking about Hearst caused me to change my mind.

Hearst didn’t spend all his time at his castle – he was a media mogul and so couldn’t be in such a relatively remote location for too long. He went there because he was passionate about the place. I daresay he dreamt about it.

I’m passionate about that part of the world too – I feel utterly content when I’m there. I find myself day-dreaming about it a lot while on the train. Maybe, my dream is to be able to regularly carve out time when I can feel like I do when I’m there. Maybe I’m the kind of person who doesn’t find satisfaction through an occupation but is searching for something less tangible than that. Maybe that’s why I became involved with TF.

Anyway, I shall leave you with the words of Mark Twain – a Tash I have been saving for a special occasion:

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

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Have a great couple of weekend folks!

What is NEXT?

P.S.

An eagle eyed member of TF’s London office spied this in Thursday’s Metro. Hope you win the tournament, Fred!

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A wooden leg named Smith

Good morning Tash Appreciators,

Many thanks for the texts and emails of complaint following last week’s re-post of an old TF. I was working on an Operation Zorro activity and that had to take priority. Hey, I’m not perfect.

Perfection is something that I have been reading and thinking about recently. Mainly this is because I’ve been reading the incredible book “Daring Greatly” by Brené Brown. The book covers a multitude of interesting topics but, for the purposes of this week’s TF, I’m just going to talk about perfection.

You often hear people saying that they are perfectionists. I assume they are trying to say that they pay attention to detail or that they are thorough. That’s all very laudable but it isn’t really being a perfectionist in the proper sense.

If I were a perfectionist, I’d never get out of the house in the morning. I would have to try over and over again to pour the milk perfectly onto my cereal; I’d spend until the end of time trying to iron a shirt perfectly; and I’d spend so long trying to make the perfect knot with my tie that the threads would eventually come apart in my hands. I may be wrong, but I don’t think human beings are capable of perfection. We can get close (for example, the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel or Jimmy Page’s solo in Stairway To Heaven) but nothing we create will ever be perfect.

That being said, I do think that we sometimes experience perfection. I’m thinking in particular of those moments when weather, company, music, time, speed, location (and every other factor you can imagine) conspire to create something which is perfect. I remember one moment in particular which I felt was perfection and thinking that I had to try and capture it somehow. It’s not great photography (although the sunburst sums up how I was feeling at the time) but this tht exact moment:

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As we get older, we feel less free to enjoy ourselves and perhaps moments of perfection pass us by. We worry that things are going “too well” and that some disaster must befall us in order to balance the scales of life. Or we feel guilty that we’re happy when others are not. This weeks Tash lost the ability to enjoy life because he got wrapped up in his responsibilities and stresses. However, with a bit of help, he realised that life is best lived when you can laugh and enjoy the company of those around you. The man I’m referring to is Mr Banks from Mary Poppins:

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I wonder if Mr Banks felt that the kite flying out of his hands was a perfect moment.

Have a great weekend folks – enjoy it! Maybe go and fly a kite or something?

What’s next?