Loose Threads

Close your eyes and imagine your favorite sweater. Take a moment to envision it in all its glory. Maybe it’s blue, or red, or maybe it carries a garish Christmas print, or the logo of your favorite sports team or band. When you wear it something just feels right. The way the fabric falls against the contours of your body, the way the neck has stretched out slightly and the elbows are worn through makes it perfect to you. It’s comfortable, it feels wonderful, and you couldn’t ever imagine loving another inanimate item of clothing quite like your sweater.

Now imagine that your favorite sweater had a lose thread, and suddenly you’re faced with a decision you never thought that you would have to make. Do you pull on the thread and risk the delicate stitch work unraveling? Do you try and find a pair of scissors and cut it off, leaving a gap in the intricate pattern? Or do you simply accept that even something as cherished as your favorite sweater can carry an imperfection and leave it alone?

Well, what would you do?

Now imagine that your favorite sweater is in fact the world. The loose neckline is the Northern Hemisphere, the stretched out hemming at the bottom that you have learned to love is the South Pole. That garish Christmas print or logo is actually a cluster of nations defined by borders of water and man-made lines carved into the earth. And that lose thread? Well that my dear reader is what we know as racial intolerance and religious vilification.

I know that it may seem like an odd analogy at first thought, but look a little deeper; look beyond the surface of this earth and see the world for what it truly is. Look at what we as humans truly are: a species of Homo sapiens stretched across the planet with alternate thoughts, feelings, physical attributes and social structures. Yet for all our differences, we are supposed to be bound by one thing: our humanity. Those differences that at first make us seem so incongruous, are merely another tawdry pattern interwoven into the compassion that binds us.

So why the fuck after thousands of years on this earth are we still killing one another in hate? Why are we the only species on the face of this earth at war with itself? And why the hell are we so willing to blindly accept the wedge being driven between races by faceless cowards and men who hide behind misconstrued messages of faith?

There has always been a loose thread in the fabric of the world. With a population of over seven billion people and over four thousand alternating religions, we are bound to have clashes on an ideological nature. But right now in this moment in time, we as a species seem so fucking intent on yanking on the filament until the world unravels like a shitty sweater and anarchy reigns supreme. The thing we love so much: life, is being ripped away from us. We are been bombarded every single day with public imagery of war and hate to the point where we now mistreat and mistrust our fellow man based on the colour of their skin or the faith that they practice.

We’re pulling; we’re yanking on that thread by dividing and segregating ourselves and playing right into the hand to the minute percentage of arseholes who genuinely want to watch the world burn. Yet no one seems to have the intestinal fortitude to stand up and say fuck this. There’s a bunch of bullshit on social media that allows the general public to believe that they are making a stand against hate and cultural vilification. You can change your profile picture on Facebook to the colours of a flag belonging to a country who has suffered at the hands of terror. Or you can subscribe to anti-war pages that promote slightly skewed logic to their followers. But no one is really doing anything, are they?

We’re still stuck in this troublesome cycle of fear and loathing, feeding the hunger and needs of terror-based organizations and allowing them to grow. Imagine the world as a sweater once again. Imagine that the loose thread is you and your intolerance of a race of people that is rooted in the media you consume and propaganda you endure. Imagine that you start pulling on that thread; imagine that you start vilifying innocent men and women because of the faith they practice. In turn your friends do too, and the sweater unravels ever so slightly. Those people that you discriminate against grow bitter, and start to lash out against you. Tensions rise. Social order breaks down and the fabric of the world begins to deteriorate as the sweater becomes an unravelled pile of yarn.

Now imagine if you just left that thread the fuck alone. Rather than discriminate against a set of values you don’t fully understand you instead try to learn about them. Rather than create anger you create love and passion. Soon that tiny thread of cultural differentiation becomes obsolete and irrelevant in the lives of those around you and the compassion that binds us grows ever stronger.

We can either have a sweater made stronger by our cultural diversification with a few loose threads throughout the stitching that add character. Or we can pull at the loose filaments and watch our world unravel. The choice is ours to make. We can pretend to make a difference, or we can swallow our pride, roll up our sleeves and actively do something to overthrow religious and cultural vilification. Befriend a stranger, learn their story, and stop passing judgement on matters of faith you haven’t taken the time to understand or comprehend.

Conventional Hell

I’ve always struggled with the idea of conventional education. Alongside editing my creative works, the education system has become the bane of my existence. I’ve forever had a love/hate relationship with classrooms. I love learning. I love to be challenged and increase my own intellectual prowess; I just don’t believe that the best way for me to do so is through university. The thought of writing pieces that are tailored to fit a marking sheet sends a shiver rolling down my spine. It seems incongruous to enroll in a course in creative writing only to have to stem the tides of my own creativity and start chasing grades instead. I’m stubborn as hell; you only have to read through a few of my posts to see that. And someone who wants to paint the world in glorious colour has no place in an educational system that promotes black and white.

I’m not knocking education in general. It’s really important that we make that distinction right here. University has its place in society. If I wanted to be a doctor, or a lawyer, exercise physiologist, or countless other professions then my progression through the tertiary education system would be an integral rite of passage. But when I am establishing a career out of my own creativity the process seems somewhat redundant; particularly for someone as headstrong as I am. There’s no one who understands the inner workings of my own mind like I do. And I resent someone grading something as personal as my creativity against the man or woman sitting next to me.

This is probably why I’ve racked up thousands of dollars worth of university debts across a number of partially completed degrees. I enrol, start off strong, and then eventually lose interest when assessments and classes pull me away from what I would rather be doing: writing. I’ve commenced and quit five separate university degrees, and right now I’m contemplating making it number six.

It hurts me to admit that I’m at this point again. I like to think that I am a resilient and adaptable man. I like to think that I am intelligent, and that I have the will and determination to see a task through to completion. When it comes to writing I push myself harder than anyone else ever could. I want to grow. I want to get better. And I want to finish a university degree for no other reason than to say that I didn’t give in. Because let’s be honest, a degree in writing doesn’t really equate to too much does it? I don’t want to be a journalist. I don’t want to be a copywriter. I just want to create literature. The most I’ll ever gain from my studies is an understanding of literature’s rules imparted onto the modern generation by all those who came before us. I’ll learn how the great minds of the past approached their craft. But if my successes so far have taught me anything it’s that rules are made to be broken.

I mean, how can someone manage to get a book put into print yet find it so difficult to adhere to something as simple as a study guide or assessment criteria? When I blog or write for myself I pour my heart and soul into what I do. I embrace vulnerability and allow my heart to bleed onto the page. Yet when I write at an academic level I have to be structured, restrained and ultimately boring. I remove the wondrous colours of a world that I’ve constructed in my head and leave behind the black and white outlines of a story that could have been great.

It sounds arrogant doesn’t it? I believe that I’m better than university right?

…Wrong. I just don’t gel with the classroom or the structure required to excel within it. When I was a kid my parents were so concerned with my lack of interest in writing and literature that they enrolled me in special education, those extra curricular activities for kids who are falling behind. But my problem wasn’t that I found literature boring: I just thought the way it was imparted upon my peers and I was pretty shit. Writing and art is about expressing oneself and breaking a piece down to the ridiculous where you know the text better than the author destroys the wonder within the words. I’ve carried this believe through to adulthood, creating university pieces that assessors have labeled vulgar, disgusting, and disturbing.

So here I sit, alone at my computer debating whether or not the graft of university studies is really worth the effort. If I was trying to do anything other than write creatively I would say most definitely. But when I’ve come so far already on my own should I bother writing to appease a lecturer? Or just keep building upon the momentum that I’ve gained and be the world eater who found publication all on his own? University is my Everest. It’s that goddamn elusive task that almost breaks me every time I try and climb it. Now I’ve got to decide if I truly need to mount this particular summit, or if simply creating a shoddy participation ribbon to mount on a mantle alongside my real achievements will suffice.

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