I am delighted to feature this blog from Matt Whatmough today – so Celebrate Saturday is all about him! I hope you enjoy his writing.
What would win in a race between a moped and a unicorn?
No, I haven’t had some sort of breakdown and putting aside the apparent absurdity of the question, it is one that I currently find myself pondering. Allow me to explain. I have been on something of a transformative journey in recent months and had my thinking challenged on number of occasions.
I was a deeply cynical person. It feels good to even type that sentence in the past tense. Along with my cynicism – which of course I passed off as ‘realism’ in a deeply cynical trick of the mind – I could happily (oh the irony) refer to myself as a miserableist, depressive and neurotic. What a happy combination that lot is. It will come as no surprise to anyone that I have suffered from long and recurrent bouts of depression. In a cyclical thought pattern that will be familiar to most depression sufferers I was even cynical about depression. I would sneeringly mock myself for being weak and feeble minded, which of course lead me to feeling wretched about myself, which inevitably would lead to… you get the idea – ad infinitum, or at least it felt that way.
What in the blue hell does this have to do with a race between the eponymous motorised scooter and a mythical beast? Allow me to explain. In an attempt to re-frame my view of the world and more importantly my reaction to the world around me I have created… wait for it… the Moped of DOOM. Actually that’s a misnomer, but it sounds more dramatic. More accurately I now have in my possession a moped of cynicism. In my mind it should be written as
And whenever I talk about it there should be a dramatic dun dun durrrrr. That may say enough about the state of my mind. You will see I also love to digress.
Previously my cynicism has been a comfy pair of shoes. I wore them a lot. They were familiar to me and slipping them on was second nature. They also stank a bit, but of an odour that was in itself comforting and more offensive to others than to me. I can spray a bit of foot deodoriser to mask the smell but I’m not truly treating the underlying cause. I’ve got myself a new pair of shoes, in fact several pairs of shoes with gel inserts and I rotate them. But, cynicism isn’t something to be cast aside so easily. We’ve all been there keeping hold of those old pair of shoes because you never know when you’ll need them. Gardening shoes (ha!). Neuroscience informs us why it’s hard to give things up. If you do something, anything, again and again then of course those are the things you are best at and most comfortable with. Tried giving up something that you love because you’ve been told (or know) it’s bad for you? Hard ain’t it. So to expect myself to just give up on cynicism when it has been akin to a security blanket for years is simply nonsensical.
Besides, cynicism can be a good thing. Cynicism is what stops all of us from being taken for fools. Applied in good measure cynicism can be our friend. For me, cynicism is also a great source of humour viagra en gel. Whether directed at myself or others I have used cynicism to make people laugh and laughter is a great feedback loop. Cynicism => Laughter => Being Liked => More Cynicism. For someone who has a core value of being liked you can see how the above Mobius strip has led to cynicism being front and centre of my thinking.
That kind of explains the moped. Now, to the Unicorn. The Unicorn is not my creation but it has come to represent something aspirational for me. In all honesty, what I understand now, is that it could have been anything. It is a focus and a representation of change. In the context in which I was introduced to it represents the capacity for change within each of us and that, much like a unicorn, can feel magical. Now, my previous incarnation wearing my comfy shoes of cynicism would have been all over this like a shot. But I’m not wearing those shoes anymore am I? I have chosen to take those shoes off. The funny thing is that it has always been about choice, but never felt like that. I could have removed those comfy shoes at any time but it never felt like a choice because it had become autonomous to pull those little fuckers on. Having discarded those shoes I now give myself the choice whether I hop onto my MOPED of CYNICISM (dun dun durrrrr) and wheel spin all over the unicorn. I choose not to. It sounds so easy. It’s not. There is no epiphany and I suspect that those who write about epiphanies truly believe they experience something, but it will likely be the result of lots of little things falling into place over time that taken in from a distance will reveal the bigger picture. I’ve fought hard for my ‘epiphany’, often and most violently against myself.
So, to answer the original question – The Unicorn will win… 9 times out of 10… because sometimes it’s still nice to hop on my moped and open that throttle up.
 Yes, I made that word up.
 Neural pathways are increased the more you do something. Obviously this is simplified but see Neuroscience for Dummies (seriously) for slightly more detailed explanations.
 The concept of which will feck with your head
 There is some argument about the concept of free will and the books of David Eagleman and Sam Harris are much better at explaining it – which you’d expect given that they are both neuroscientists and I’m, well, not.