Monday, 5 January 2015

Welcome to 2015: K.B.O. — and thanks.

David Coverdale, the leather-trous’d frontman of Whitesnake (and let’s be honest, how often does one get to start an article like that?) is a gentleman who enjoys Twitter and the opportunities it affords a veteran rocker to vouchsafe his whimsical worldview unto the tweeting faithful. The other day, amidst his usual engaging blend of daft photos, jokes, and cheerful innuendo, he sent out this piece of motivation:

No matter how you feel, get up, dress up, show up, never give up.

Not his words of course — it’s been attributed to various people, but dang, I’m taking it as wisdom imparted direct from the man who sang Fool For Your Lovin’ and once made an album with Deep Purple called Come Taste The Band. Thanks, Dave.

Even more succinctly, Winston Churchill, always pretty good value for a quip and a quote (especially when lifted out of context), famously signed off letters and phonecalls during the Second World War with the initials K.B.O.Keep Buggering On. Churchill had a name for depression, specifically his own: the ‘black dog
— but as a confessed depressive, he appreciated the value of engaging with the world, to seize opportunities to create that all-important sense of achievement that makes life worth getting out of bed for of a morning. Outside of — or perhaps slyly, gleefully acknowledging — the term’s sexual connotation, Churchill’s phrase has a certain dynamic, bullish swagger to it. Merely getting by is not enough. You have to get out there and get stuck in, cause trouble, build some bridges, burn some others, make some noise. Keep buggering on.

“K.B.O…. K.B.O…” irrespective of how you may feel about Winston, I’ve found it a powerful mantra this past year. As I bid farewell to 2014, I can honestly say without overstatement that it has been, in many ways, about the worst single year of my life to date. I may sound melodramatic but trust me, there has been more heartbreak, anger, doubt, despair, loneliness, frustration and tiresome intimations of fleshly mortality packed into twelve neatly boxed sections as any I could recall, in relentless procession from January to December.

However, I’m not here to complain, nor do I think it’s my natural disposition to wallow in abject misery. In fact, quite the opposite. Positive change has to take place from the inside first, of course. At the risk of spouting platitudes, here’s another quote, from Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace. Indulge me. Amidst the clunking dialogue of that much-maligned movie comes an unlikely, but undeniably neat precis of positive thinking: ‘your focus determines your reality’. I have spent a considerable amount of time this year, more than ever before in my life, alone — and this has afforded me time to sit and focus on said reality. But the journey has not always been about navel contemplation, reflection on regret and self-recrimination — the most exciting things can sometimes happen inside one’s head, and lately I have been more thankful than usual for the redemptive power of music and other entertainments. I’m certainly not saying anything new or profound here, I know, but one has to find this stuff out for oneself to really appreciate it.

Most importantly, I can see that there was a whole lot to enjoy in 2014, despite myself, between those episodes when I needed to remind myself to K.B.O. — and the vast majority of these things were experienced in the company of splendid, loving people. I shan’t name names as I will embarrass you almost as much as I will embarrass myself in my gushing, unvarnished praise of every one of you; you who have kept me occupied, engaged, amused, distracted and stimulated this past year. Let’s just say, you’ve collectively given me hope for the year to come. Please know that for that, I love you.

Next time, soon, I’ll be back to pop culture chronicling duties and will present to you a list of cultural discoveries and re-acquaintances I made over the last twelve months.

But first, a drink. If I permit myself.

That’s a whole other story.


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