Call Me Morgan Freeman

A memory just flashed across my mind accompanied by a tinge of nostalgia. Someone (I know not whom) used to call me Morgan Freeman presumably because of my voice… you know, as opposed to my looks (I’m only 21 after all). I cannot for the life of me recall who it was or when they said it but I genuinely miss the nickname for one reason or other.

Maybe I should stop watching all those “best-acting” compilations on YouTube. After all, Morgan Freeman is in a lot of those.

So… Phobia?

Phobias. They are irrational aren’t they? To this day I don’t know the causes and how it feels to have one. I guess they are only irrational from the outside and perfectly rational to the victim. Victim – yes that’s the word I have chosen, because that is how I viewed the person who revealed her phobia to me. I wish it was so of her own volition.

If you didn’t know already, I currently work in the escape game industry or whatever you want to call it. What does this mean? Well, I interact with people of all ages, backgrounds, interests etc. who have decided to spend an hour (sometimes more) escaping rooms by completing puzzles using team-work and intuition. Most people know what they are in for, whether it’s a dark cell or an asylum, you’ll be locked up until you escape. It’s normally a great experience, trust me, I check up on all my guests to see if they had a great time, but for every normal event there’s got to be an abnormal one to skew the trend. For me that occurred two nights ago.

I gave my introductory speech setting the eerie tone. It’s something I’ve worked on, honed and am even now still perfecting. At this point it’s probably too good because at the end of it I either receive nervous laughter or a mixture of puzzlement and terror. They never know whether to take it as a joke or be genuinely terrified so they end up with a good helping of both. On this particular occasion I did my routine, making sure to have equal measure of eye-contact with everyone as I usually do. I should have seen the signs then… but for some reason I didn’t. One of the ladies there made prolonged eye-contact with me. There was dread in those eyes which I mistook for humour… I know, I need to hang out with people more. We proceeded towards the cell.

I split them up then I locked them up. As soon as the door shut I knew I’d made a mistake.

“No! I can’t do this! I need to leave!” she wailed.

Haha. I’m used to the jokes at this stage. So I look up to maintain my menacing façade only to be met by a tear-eyed look of genuine terror.

“I can’t do this! He knows about this…Why?”

“He” referring to her boyfriend in the other cell. I stood there stunned. This had never happened before, not to my knowledge.

“Let me talk to her.”

There was the only voice of reason in the group of seven adults, myself included. Sense penetrated the shock and my brain finally kicked into gear. I let the man out to talk to his lady while I shut off all the magnets and effectively reset the game to let her out. It all took about 2 min. It must have felt like an eternity for the girl.

She was beyond embarrassed. They’d done this as a sort of surprise outing and had no knowledge of her claustrophobia, apparently only her boyfriend knew about it. It was a powerful thing too, as soon as the magnet activated, shutting them in, she wasn’t having it. Fear grasped her senses and squeezed every ounce of will out of her, like an anaconda fully wrapped round its prey the fear squeezed and squeezed until she couldn’t take it anymore.

So she sat out the game. I did the best I could to comfort her. She sat outside on one of our couches listening to music. Sometime later I brought her a cup of water and asked if she was ok while apologising for the fiasco. She said she was fine and reassured me letting me know I didn’t need to apologise. But I could see the damage this had caused. I’d glimpsed the looks of incredulity her unknowing “friends” had shot her. So I offered her a window by letting her know they’d progressed into a much larger room than she was currently sat in and I could let her join them now if she wished. She declined. The shame she’d acquired that night paled in comparison to the fear that harboured within: the phobia of confined space.

The Best Wisdom

You know that bit of wisdom that you get when you ask for advice? When you’re feeling really hurt, mad, annoyed or desperate?

“I need help with this!”

“Could you please just hear me out…”

Then those that were listening have the nerve to give you reasonable advice? They tell you the words you needed to hear, even if you didn’t want to, no – especially when you didn’t want to. In the end you’re frustrated because they leave you empty of that anger.  You wanted to be mad but in the end you’re filled with peace. They shared their wisdom; their reason, when all you wanted was someone to back you up. Those people are definitely on your side.  They are backing you up. Those are the people you should put more effort loving, cherishing and keeping… because that painful advice we just described earlier, is the best wisdom you’ll ever receive.

Nakama, Grow Well

My brother you turn 21 today. I figure as you are the one who introduced me to anime, it would only be fitting if I use your favourite anime character in your message. For your 21st I’ll let Jiraiya do all the talking. Happy birthday bro!

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So to sum it all up. Jiraiya says:

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How you grow is up to you. Grow well.

I Am THAT Guy

I am THAT guy. That wasn’t always the case. I used to be that guy. I started out really petty, for what reason I will never be certain. I craved success and absolutely detested failure, I still do, but my attitude towards obtaining both has changed. Young Joe would pout if he lost. He’d think about it all day and all night and would not be consoled until he either forgot or won at something else. If I’d lost in a competition then whoever would have beaten me couldn’t be my friend. At the same time though, cheating wasn’t something I would take pride in. I remember a race I took part in, in 1st grade. We were meant to race to a building touch it, then return. I remember racing to the building, turning back without touching it, taking first place for the majority of the return sprint and… I still finished 3rd. In the end it wasn’t coming 3rd that hurt – it was doing so after having cheated. I didn’t talk to the boys that beat me, that was the way I was back then.

I liked being top of the class. In 2nd grade I didn’t; I came 7th instead. Who remembers what position they came in 2nd grade? I do, isn’t that odd? Well it’s because it pained me greatly. I went to the prize-giving ceremony and felt like a big helping of poop watching my peers receive prize after prize while I was relegated to just watch and clap. I vowed to myself that I wouldn’t let that happen again. I was beyond jealous and couldn’t even bring myself to applaud the winners.

That was the old me.

After teaching from my lovely parents and role-models as well as a bit of first-hand experience, I shed that skin off. I decided to be THAT guy instead. You know THAT guy? THAT guy who celebrates your victory more than you would. THAT guy who you can always tell your success stories knowing you won’t receive resentment, just encouragement and an supermassive dose of enthusiasm. Part of the transformation was being taught to value the success of others and never to moan when someone one-ups me in anything.

Use the success of others as inspiration, as motivation. Celebrate them as you would celebrate yourself and if possible, find out how they earned that success.

So what if we went in for the same scholarship and you got it and I didn’t? So long as you don’t follow me on the way home saying, “Sorry you didn’t get it,” or “I totally smashed you!” (You probably wouldn’t do that because you’re not a certified prick) I would be glad for you. I would probably want advice on how you edged me and feedback from those that made the decision so that next time I have a greater chance at the scholarship. Of course I would be sad I didn’t win it. I’m bound to be if it’s something that I wanted but I would also be happy that you did. I will strive to congratulate and motivate, “You did fantastic! You deserve it! Keep up the good work! Hopefully next time we’ll both get scholarships.” It’s in my nature now and whether you think it’s cool or not, I’m not getting rid of it.

That’s what I’m all about. Tell me about your victory, it motivates me to pursue my own. You need a hype-man to bounce your excitement off of? I got you! I am THAT guy, I like to say probably even the best THAT guy! If you didn’t know that by now, you probably don’t know me very well.

P.S. You can be THAT guy too. It’s so much more liberating than being that guy.