A Network of Friends #77

Making the life that you want it to be.
    Ever since I became aware of the potential of punk to alter your own life, I have been blown away by the extent to which you can do this by. I don’t know of many other cultures, and I’m talking of primarily punk DIY culture here, where you can have complete control over your own output and distribute your zine/record, travel, meet people who are into the same things as you, all over the world, just through being into punk. I think it must be one of the reasons why I have stayed involved because whenever I have been jaded and tried to step out of the punk scene into ‘normal’ life I have found myself jumping straight back in with renewed vigor after discovering once again how horrendous I find ‘normal’ society to be on a social level. It has to be argued that to a large extent, we are all, in some ways, part of ‘normal’ society. Just as human beings we have to do similar things to exist. It is how we do many of the other things that make the difference.
    Making the life that you want it to be can often be harder than you think. (or at least it has been for me otherwise I probably wouldn’t be writing this column!). Many of the plans, ideas, and opportunities that you may have are often determined by where you live and by this I mean in what country, region, town, city you’re from or in.
    In an interview I did recently for my own zine, ATTITUDE PROBLEM, one of the bands that I interviewed, URO, talked about how important it is to create your own oasis, a place where you can live out your dreams and live the life that you want to live. It made me think about how at times, I have drifted away from what I want in life and how I want to achieve what I want. Sometimes I feel as though I have let principles and ideals drop because other options have seemed easier and less hassle. I am not arguing that you have to make things hard for yourself, but merely that how you live your life and how you want it to be means that you are constantly faced with decisions.  Even veganism for example. When I first became vegan, many convenience foods did not even exist in the vegan market. I used to make my own bread, my own sandwich fillings, even grow my own food to some extent with the allotment that I had. Over the years with the introduction of various soya based convenience foods, it is now so easy to be vegan but eat processed fillings instead of fresh hand-made ones. It may seem a stupid example but the decision of how I wanted to live my life, in this instance being vegan, had become overtaken by convenience and laziness. It may have taken more time to prepare whizzing some ingredients up in a food processor to make my own fillings but I was doing it my way and independently.
    Making the life that you want it to be asks the question though what kind of life do you want it to be in the first place? I remember hearing on the radio an interview with the U.K. woman who sailed single-handedly all the way around the world. She said that by positive thinking you can be what you want to be. However, a commentator on the same show criticized her for her narrow-mindedness. Do you think a starving child can transfer her/himself out of the place where s/he is just by positive thought? Much of life is circumstance. Where you are born and who and what you are born into. How much money and backing you have form your family, the class and privilege that may exist around you. And even then, just because you may be rich and from a well to do family may in itself place pressures and restrictions on the life that YOU want to live.
    As people, we are all individuals with different wants, needs and desires. We all see things differently even though we may all want the same things. Often, working together can be the hardest thing to do because of the ways in which we want to do things. Arguments occur, dreams dissolve and people become disappointed. Dreams that you once held evaporate. The easy option becomes more appealing. 
    Making the life that you want it to be can be a hard struggle. There are always problems that you did not expect or times when someone throws a spanner in the works and everything falls apart. It is how we deal with these times as individuals and together as friends, as collectives, as punks, that things change.
    There have been opportunities in my life when I have been to hesitant to take them. They have often involved taking risks. Risks either seem to come off or fail dismally! What sort of character you are as a person and the confidence you have in your own ability can be the difference whether you make it or not.
    Whether you’ve grown up with the feeling that you’re never good enough or not, feelings of confidence to try risks I think come harder than those who have been supported. Other people’s fears can have an affect on what you do. It all depends on how much you want it and your willingness to take a chance and stick to it.
    Punk for me has opened up so many doors. Through doing my own zine and writing to people I have met friends and traveled to places I never thought I would ever see. This ‘network of friends’ that you can build can make you more aware of the greater world around you and of the possibilities that exist and still be DIY and political about what you believe in.
    Making the life that you want it to be for me means putting into practice the principles that you have learnt from new ideas and ways of thinking. It can be a risk. It often does involve change and doing something new that you are not familiar or comfortable with and I definitely think that as you become older, those risks that you are prepared to take evaporate as the years slowly slip away. Even just staying involved in the punk scene as you get older can seem ‘different’. “You haven’t grown up yet?”, “You still go to gigs?” Yeah!! Maintaining the opposition to ‘normal’ life intensifies as you become aware that you’re no longer 20 but nearing 40 and the body can’t take the same level of pressure that you used to exert on it! Comfort becomes more of a welcoming thought! People’s perceptions and priorities change too as folk have children together.  Even for those who do not, priorities change.
    Making your life how you want it to be takes time.  Many of my earlier years in punk were coming into new ideas and ways of thinking that I had never even thought about or considered before.  And even when you do try and put those new ideas into reality it often becomes a lot harder than you imagined. It depends I think on whether you are determined to build something of longevity or whether you can accept that what you want to do will only last for a short period of time. Making the life that you want it to be for me exists over a period of time. Punk for me is part of that of that longevity. Keep the passion alive!
Thanks for reading. If you want to write or comment on anything I have written, write to Steve Hyland, c/o Attitude Problem Zine, PO Box 326, Leeds, LS7 3YR, England or e-mail: veganwarrior@yahoo.com. Cheers!