Running on Empty

 

            It’s only now in 2010 that I have been able to begin to think clearly since I returned to New Zealand back in 2003 for a few months to write my first published novel’s manuscript, uninterrupted by all the daily nonsense’s that get in the way of the driven writer. I’m a Piscean therefore a thinker, dreamer if you will, I’m also a loner. Some may say I think too much, I leave it for you to judge for yourselves.

 

Don’t skim through these words and don’t jump to quick or trite conclusions, nothing is ever black and white. There are no finite answers to any given situation. Placing people in pigeon holes does not help. Whatever you may think from reading the following heartfelt words, it is the way I feel and where I am right now and I make no apologies for that, nor is this a cry for help. It may go some way to answering all the questions that I have been unable to find answers for till now. Now read on and don’t condemn me, not all of us are the same, some of us are cut out for what life throws at us, and others are not.

 

            At the beginning of your life everything that surrounds you is a source of wonder and enjoyment. As you get older and enter the school system you are preparing for your role in the scheme of things conditioning your mind for what is ahead. But unfortunately things do not always go the way you plan them.

 

When you first enter the working world, the people that control the way you will spend the greater part of your life are already hard at work exploiting you for their own ends, and when you are no longer able to contribute at the pace they demand you are thrown on the scrap heap, or you burn out. Burnout is what happened to me.

 

            I was forty-three when it first happened in nineteen-ninety one, I’m now sixty-two, and since then I have been running on empty. All the signs were there for the world and me to see, and ignore. Since that traumatic time I have had the tendency to give away everything I own; things mean very little to me, and try to find my true place in the world, if indeed I have one.

 

Nothing that the rest of western society holds dear seems to matter anymore. Because of the burnout and my age, I can no longer hold down a job due to debilitating mental stress. Saving for my old age is impossible since the government of the country I spent the greater part of my life in, spirited away that selfsame pension via government legislation in the dead of night to pay the country’s overseas debt.

 

            The only things that really matter to me now are seeing the sun rise in the morning and set at night, plus writing short stories and the odd novel, whether they are published or not.

 

            Unless you have been through the traumatic experience of collapsing from stress and being hospitalised by it, you cannot possibly understand just how devastating it really is. Since that time, my life and everything I have experienced has made me realise that most people in the western world are living a lie and more importantly that I am ill-equipped to survive in it!

            My parents’ generation do not understand just how much stress there is in trying to keep your head above water in this day and age. Such phrases as ‘buck your ideas up’, ‘get yourself into a pension scheme’, or, ‘get yourself a job you lazy good for nothing’, are their only and inevitable reaction. They have absolutely no comprehension of how things have changed since their day. Yes they went through the depression of the thirties and the Second World War, but they also had backing by government and employers who believed in the “cradle to grave” mentality.

 

These days all that has gone for good. Companies no longer value the things I was brought up to believe in like loyalty to your employer, and relying on others to be as honest as you are. These days they take advantage of anyone like myself who still holds to that view, at least while it suites them or until the contract ends, then it’s the scrap heap for you my boy and think yourself lucky! How long will it be before companies demand their workers pay them instead of the other way round?

 

            “If you can’t get a job, sign on idiot!”

 

Have you ever done that? So far I have signed on three times, the first time through naivety on my part and the bad advice of elderly relatives who because they were retired, neither understood the world outside their house nor took part in the world at large, the second and third, out of sheer desperation. All three times I was made to feel as if I was a burden on society.

 

It didn’t seem to matter that throughout my entire forty year working life I had been paying taxes, doing everything that society demanded of the individual; holding down a steady job, attempting to save, participating in jury service, obeying the law of the land, paying my bills on time, arriving at work early and leaving late to please my employer, and for what?

 

            At times like this you find out who your friends really are. They say that you can count the number of “real friends” on the fingers of one hand. Because I’m a loner and don’t make friends easily, in my case I number just four people, two in New Zealand, one in Australia, and the other in England as true friends.

 

Of the four, the one in England is possibly the only other person in my life who really understands just what it is I’m going through, and he is an alcoholic and terminally unemployed because of his stress related breakdown.

 

My friends in New Zealand unconditionally opened their home to me while I needed a place to get away from the world and write my second novel, which I am happy to say is now published, thanks to my friend and editor in Australia, and for that I shall always be in their debt. They and their family are kindness itself.

 

Trying to get a book published is like pushing the proverbial up the hill with a toothpick. If you are running on empty, constant rejection by publishers inevitably takes its toll. Each time I have sent off the manuscript I have been ‘up’ for a few days. Then when the rejection comes I am once again back ‘down’. If I’ve learned anything in the last few years it is to realise that writing fiction, be it short stories or novels, is my forte.

 

I did manage one good thing for other people by my writing during those few months in New Zealand after I had finished the first draft of my novel; I fell back on my other writing skill, that of travel writing, and had nine articles plus accompanying photographs published by an internet website for Malta. I wonder if that will be my epitaph – “he contributed to Malta’s economy.”

 

My CV bears testament to my working life and the few qualifications I have gained along the way. But in its entirety, it only fills one foolscap page; I think that truly says it all.

 

The world is such a beautiful place; it’s a shame that mankind and the god Mammon rule. How many more will join me out there running on empty I wonder? In the old days, people were able to enter the cloistered halls of a monastery to withdraw from the pressures of the so-called civilised world, but if you are not a believer in god where do you go in this day and age?

 

Writing has become everything to me. While I find it impossible to convey the way I feel, or what my needs and desires are to others in spoken words (with the possible exception of Ben in England, because like me, he is still going through the same thing), I can at least put down my thoughts and feelings on paper, in this case via my laptop.

 

My friend in New Zealand asked me once whether I could speak the way I write, I think this may explain why I cannot.

 

Not all good guys win, Ben and I can testify to that. We’re both worn out. In Ben’s case, all his knowledge gained in life is cheerfully passed on over a pint, and in mine, via the medium of the written word. Watching the sun rise and running on empty is all either of us has left, maybe it’s enough, only time will tell…

 


Jack Eason – author of Onet's Tale

jackeason5@gmail.com
jackeason5@googlemail.com
Blog: http://akhen1khan2.blogspot.com/

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Something’s Missing!

 

            Deciding to return to New Zealand for a while after three years in England, back in 2003, I booked a one-way ticket and handed in my notice. The few weeks I had left in England soon passed. The Friday night before I left, I had a farewell drink with my friends at my local pub. The next morning the taxi arrived to take me to Terminal 4 at Heathrow.

 

            Once the taxi entered the M25, we began circling clockwise around the vast international airport until eventually we turned off and drove past areas under construction at its western end. The taxi dropped me off and I staggered my way into the large building with my two heavy bags.

 

            Because of my early arrival, the check-in desks were still closed. I waited beside my bags and eventually checked in and watched my bags disappear. The flight to New Zealand meant changing planes at Los Angeles. Once I had arrived inside the huge waiting area I looked at the monitors to check which gate we were leaving from. To fill in the time I bought a couple of expensive beers and sat beside a window in the bar staring out across the busy airport. Perhaps someone can explain why it is that buying food or beverages at an airport is so expensive. Before I left, I exchanged a few pounds for New Zealand dollars ready for arrival at Mangere in Auckland.

 

            The departure gate was twenty minutes walk from the departure lounge. I thanked my lucky stars that I didn’t have to carry my luggage! At the appointed time, we were shown to our seats onboard the Air New Zealand 747-400 and I took my window seat beside the gaping maw of the left-hand inner engine. The tug pushed us out and disconnected its tow bar and we taxied out to wait our turn. The four massive engines built up speed and soon we were climbing through the almost permanent cloud cover that England lives beneath, out into the sunny blue sky above.

 

            The long haul across the North Atlantic took us over Iceland and Greenland in daylight. Although we were flying at over thirty thousand feet, the view of the pack ice between Greenland and the eastern coast of Canada was awe-inspiring. You felt you could simply reach out and touch it below where you sat; what looked like tiny pieces of ice, not much bigger than a hand span, where in reality many dozens if not hundreds of miles across!

 

            Flying across the vast landmass of western Canada and the United States in daylight, you begin to realise just how large the North American continent really is. Between the patches of white fluffy clouds, you can see the thin ribbons of the major transcontinental highways crossing the dull green-brown landscape with the sun glinting on an eighteen-wheeler semi as it travels to its destination. Occasionally a small cluster of buildings indicated a town along the shining ribbon thousands of feet below. As we gradually headed southwest towards California, ranges of snow covered mountains thrust up towards us from their firm rocky bed below.

 

 Descending over the outer edges of Los Angeles towards LAX was like flying over a gigantic computer circuit board, with the neat rows of houses in the suburbs looking like banks of electronic components, and the massive freeways crisscrossing the urban sprawl like the solder tracks that connect the components.

            Because of the heightened security within the United States after the tragedy that was September 11th, numerous checks were made both of you and your luggage. The painstaking way in which my luggage was scanned, dusted and searched, reflected the way the Americans now view all travellers, whether they are simply passing through, as I was, or are landing in the United States on business or for a vacation. I counted at least six maybe eight times that I was checked as I made my way through the corridors of LAX to the departure lounge for New Zealand. But like all security, there was what seemed to me to be one glaring weak point. As I followed the signs to the departure lounge, I found myself outside the terminal walking along the footpath beside the ranks of yellow taxis. No one challenged me; I could simply have got into a taxi and disappeared somewhere deep inside Los Angeles!

 

            The second half of the flight to New Zealand left LAX around nine pm. For this leg of the trip, there were only a few of us onboard, which meant you could spread out across the seats, and get some sleep. Because my body clock was in turmoil, I only caught snatches of sleep during the long haul back across the Pacific, spending hours with my face glued to the window staring out into the darkness.

 

            As we flew across the orange glow of Auckland’s streetlights before dawn, and lined up for our landing at Auckland International Airport, the heavens opened up and the plane and the runway were awash. Sometime around 5.30am, I pushed my trolley with my two bags out into the public waiting area to be met by the smiling face of my best friend Graeme. I had one problem however; perhaps I should have reported it to the authorities. Something was missing; I had lost Sunday! But as I had acquired a spare Saturday when I went to England, I suppose I shouldn’t complain too much…

 


Jack Eason – author of Onet's Tale

jackeason5@gmail.com
jackeason5@googlemail.com
Blog: http://akhen1khan2.blogspot.com/

Blue eyed people have common ancestral origin

LONDON: Every person on earth would have had brown eyes if that one person wasn’t there.
If a study is to be believed, brown is the ‘default’ colour for human eyes which results from a build-up of the dark skin pigment, melanin. However, in north western Europe a gene suddenly appeared known as OCA2 that causes blue eye color.
”Originally, we all had brown eyes, but new genetics affecting the OCA2 gene in some of our chromosomes resulted in the creation of a ‘switch’ which literally turned off the ability to produce brown eyes,” said reseracher Hans Eiberg from the University of Copenhagen.
The researchers found that people with blue eyes all over the world have just one ancestor who probably lived about 10,000 years ago, the Independent reported.
After studying the genetics of eye colour, scientists have discovered that more than 99.5 per cent of blue-eyed people who volunteered to have their DNA analysed have the same variation of a gene that determines the colour of the iris.
‘This indicates that the eye color originated in just one person who became the ancestor of all subsequent people in the world with blue eyes.
‘The person responsible for blue eye colour most likely originate from the north-west, where the great agricultural migration of the northern part of Europe took place in the Neolithic periods,” the researchers report in the journal Human Genetics.
Variations in the colour of people’s eyes can be explained by the amount of melanin in the iris, but blue-eyed individuals only have a small degree of variation in the amount of melanin in their eyes, Professor Eiberg said.
”From this we can conclude that all blue-eyed individuals are linked to the same ancestor. They have all inherited the same gene at exactly the same spot in their DNA,” he said.
Men and women with blue eyes have almost exactly the same genetic sequence in the part of the DNA responsible for eye colour. However, brown-eyed people, by contrast, have a considerable amount of individual variation in that area of DNA.
Professor Eiberg said he has analysed the DNA of about 800 people with blue eyes, ranging from fair-skinned, blond-haired Scandinavians to dark-skinned, blue-eyed people living in Turkey and Jordan.
“All of them, apart from possibly one exception, had exactly the same DNA sequence in the region of the OCA2 gene. This to me indicates very strongly that there must have been a single, common ancestor of all these people,” he said.
It is not known why blue eyes spread among the population of northern Europe and southern Russia. Explanations include the suggestions that the blue eye colour either offered some advantage in the long hours of daylight in the summer, or short hours of daylight in winter, or that the trait was deemed attractive and therefore advantageous in terms of sexual selection. Still others have a much more fanciful suggestion that blue eyes can be traced back, along with certain haplogroups, to the fabled lost continent of Atlantis.

Blacks, whites and Asians have different ancestors – and did not come from Africa, claims scientist


Geographer claims the races evolved from different ancestors.


A public claim by a fellow of the prestigious Royal Geographic Society that humans did not all come from Africa — and that blacks, whites and Asians have different ancestors — has been dismissed by world experts as “dangerous”, “wrong” and “racist”.
In a paper widely trumpeted and due for release in book form, Akhil Bakshi, the leader of a recent major scientific expedition supported by India’s prime minister, claims that “Negroid”, “Caucasian” and “Mongoloid” peoples are not only separate races but separate species, having evolved on different continents. Responding to the claims — developed while Bakshi led the Gondwanaland expedition from India to South Africa — Professor Lee Berger, a leading palaeoanthropologist at the University of the Witwatersrand, immediately insisted that, there were no fundamental differences between the races and that all humans had the same genetic and physical roots in Africa.
The prevalent scientific theory of modern humans — the “Out of Africa” model — is that they left Africa just 55000 years ago and replaced the last remnants of other ancient hominids living in Europe, Asia and elsewhere.
The old biological racial distinctions of “Caucasian”, “Negroid” and “Mongoloid” have recently been abandoned by mainstream scientists — removed, for instance, from the US National Library of Medicine in 2003.
LemuriaBakshi has become a self-declared champion of a minority scientific view called “multiregionalism”, which claims that modern humans evolved from separate hominid populations. Hominids encompass all humans and the ancient family of human-like ancestors, including large-brained ancient ancestors and unsuccessful species such as Neanderthals.
However, Bakshi — who has no training as an anthropologist — has linked to this model a theory that these populations evolved according to the genetic material left behind when the prehistoric supercontinents, the northern Laurasia and the southern Gondwanaland, broke up. An influential figure in India, Bakshi is also a filmmaker and author who has led four major scientific expeditions since 1994. Bakshi admitted to the Sunday Times that “some of my points may prove to be wrong, and may be seen as politically incorrect.
He claims indigenous “Negroid” populations occur in places like Australia, India, Sri Lanka, the Philippines and the Andaman Islands not because they moved there from Africa, but because all these land masses were once part of Gondwanaland — and that all evolved separately. Whites, according to Bakshi, are from Laurasia and blacks are from Gondwanaland. He argues that, 60000 years ago, humans could not have crossed vast oceans and deserts to reach remote places like Australia and North America, and they must therefore have evolved there.
“His is a highly confused argument which jumps enormous levels, which are quite impossible to link,” Tobias said.
However, he added that the true picture of modern humanity’s precise departure from Africa was far from clear- cut.

Trapped

 

Oh help me won’t you please, I’m here, trapped inside this tree. Why won’t anyone help me? Please set me free I beg of you. I’ve been here slowly preparing for the day when I can finally be born.


Woodsman o woodsman, please come and cut down my prison I beg you woodsman. Bring axe, bring wedge, bring mallet, bring your sharpest crosscut saw I beg of you good woodsman. Oh come soon. The next storm will bring thunder and lightning and I shall perish here in my prison.


Bird, do you see the woodsman? Deer prick your ears; do you hear his footfall on the forest floor? Squirrel have you seen him?

Thud! What was that? Thud – thud. The woodsman is here. I can feel his sharp axe biting. It hurts. Please be quick good woodsman. Ah the agony. I can feel the cruel teeth of his saw as it rips into my prison; I am still connected.


My neighbours squirrel and owl are leaving my prison. Soon it will be my turn – soon. I grow dizzy; I feel faint. The pain is excruciating. Please good woodsman, end my pain I beg you – please.


I fall; I crash to the ground, now disconnected from the earth. I lay here barely able to focus as my life’s blood leaches from me. I am growing numb to the pain now as the woodsman finishes his task. I barely sense the heavy rope strop as it is cinched to the woodsman’s horse.


My skin is ripped savagely from me as my journey along the forest floor begins. I can hardly concentrate now. The journey has stopped. Thud – thud, thud! The woodsman wastes no time. Now he begins his task to free me, as I am barely conscious, to release me from my prison as he drives his cruel iron wedges deep into my flesh.


At last he cuts me free. I can feel the sun’s warmth on my naked flesh. He hands me to the artisan who lovingly wraps me in damp cloth. My true journey begins at last. The journey is long, but no matter.


I feel the warmth of the artisan’s hands as he carefully unwraps my cloth protection. His sharp tools begin their work. Slowly, carefully, I am being transformed, soon I shall sing to the world. Under his practiced eye, I take shape. O artisan, give me voice I beg you. He lovingly applies many coats of protection to my naked flesh. He garnishes my very being with his love and tender devotion.


He turns me over in his calloused but gentle hands, smiles and gives me voice. I see my reflection in the mirror as he holds me tenderly. I am born at last. I am Stradivarius…

 

 


Jack Eason – author of Onet's Tale

jackeason5@gmail.com
jackeason5@googlemail.com
Blog: http://akhen1khan2.blogspot.com/

Getting Old

 

God I hate getting old! The nights are getting longer, the seasonal change between summer and autumn is well and truly under way. How do I know this I hear you smugly ask? Perhaps by looking at the name of the month on my laptop calendar I hear you cry – no. By looking at the dim-witted weather presenter’s hideously laughing face as he/she gleefully points out the bleeding obvious while reading off the auto-cue in front of them – no.


My body is beginning to return to its normal state of aches and pains, rheumatism, creaking joints, general lethargy brought on by a serious absence of pure sunlight and the necessary, nay vital warmth that my body so desperately needs.


Very soon now, probably within a fortnight, it will be time to search out my long johns and thermal socks. I’ve already located my suede fur lined snow boots that replace my slippers during the winter months. Taking them outside in the elements because of the soft leather they are made from is not a good idea. Already today it is so dull outside with the total cloud cover that England is renowned for that I have had to turn on the lights here in my living room.


Within a month or so of sitting here on my favourite chair, rapped up under a blanket to slow down the shivering and the aches in my limbs while watching TV in the ever increasing hours of darkness, before having to migrate to the warmth of my winter duvet, I will be forced to turn on the extremely expensive heater in my living room. My electricity provider will be rubbing their corporate hands with glee when I send them my next set of meter readings!


As if that were not enough to contend with, our esteemed Chancellor of the Exchequer has plans to make my aged existence even worse. With his obscene obsession to hit those who can least afford to lose money i.e. the poor and the old, two categories which I inhabit, by severely cutting back on things like the winter fuel allowance for those of us over the age of sixty on pension credit, which helps fend off insolvency during the bleak months of an English winter by paying our grossly overpriced heating bills.


Very soon now I also fully expect to receive a demand from one of the faceless minions within the Department of Work and Pensions demanding that I explain why I should not be in gainful employ at the ripe old age of sixty-two, being one of the two million out of work in this country at the moment, with the number of unemployed increasing steadily by the week and in some cases by the day.


Chancellor – your worship – my lord – whatever, if you want to get people back into work, concentrate all your efforts on the young, not someone like me who has barely three years to go till I reach my sixty-fifth year and the old age pension. The young, at least, have a lifetime of work and taxpaying ahead of them, helping you to balance the financial books, always providing that you and your cohorts in government create jobs worthy of them, not work for the dole non jobs as is the current trend.


If you want to turn round the economy Mr Chancellor, don’t hit the older generation; hit your cronies instead, the rich. They are the ones who got this country into such a financial mess not us. Now see what you’ve made me do Mr Chancellor, you’ve made me show everyone just how old I am – doh!


Jack Eason – author of Onet's Tale

jackeason5@gmail.com
jackeason5@googlemail.com
Blog: http://akhen1khan2.blogspot.com/