My phone is a job. I have a hate and love relationship with it.

It’s like carrying a pocket TV with my favorite channels in my pocket. Except that these channels are social media and the shows are my friends.

I love them, but it’s not worth being bombarded with drama and news all the time. With 24 hours of attention at my leisure, I’ll always feel like crap when I spend it going down the YouTube rabbit hole or liking puppy photos on Facebook.

So, let’s use social media to my advantage:

I have been writing so much in my spare time that it became difficult to distinguish between good and bad – I could write utter crap one time and something compelling in another.

As daily practice became the norm, so did the need for structure: a set of rules that I should follow to make the most of my writing.

Recently, I shared them with someone close and it made me think: why do I keep it to myself? What value is there to hoard everything in my head? I can show the world how I think. Others may need it. Opportunity may come that way.

Welcome to the Tempered Fables, my name is N.T. Cloever. Come, sit by the fire; Let me tell you a story.

Tempered Fables

I love this word. Narrator.

The first image that comes to mind is the Hundred Acre Wood, with John Cleese’s warm voice narrating the introduction.

This could be the room of any small boy, but it just happens to belong to a boy named Christopher Robin. Like most small boys, Christopher Robin has toy animals to play with, and they all live together in a wonderful world of make-believe. But his best friend is a bear called Winnie the Pooh, or Pooh, for short. Now, Pooh had some very unusual adventures, and they all happened right here in the Hundred-Acre Wood.

Narrator

It’s meant to be a children’s show. For kids. With a narrator like that, anyone can enjoy it! I love looking back at WInnie the Pooh cartoons sometimes. They’re just so wholesome.

But let’s get back to John Cleese’s role, ie. the voice behind the story.

Why is he there? If his voice didn’t exist, could we still the enjoy the show?

Actors are the same whether on or off-screen: there’s a character in their heads, and they must perform it. For those on stage, there are cameras and an audience looking. For voice actors, there’s the producers, directors, and others in the recording studio.

I wish I knew these things before diving into the voice acting world. Something fun became an obsession, and now it’s something highly involved with my life. These apply even if there isn’t a microphone at the ready:

Speeches make and move the world. They are performances: tests for any man, woman and child to show their conviction. They need to, in order to move the crowd. They want to, because that is who they are.

When you do a speech, you’re not speaking to one person. You speak to nations. You speak to markets. You speak to voices of their own. You speak to the lives, burdens and emotions of people.

Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it. 

Charles R. Swindoll

How do we learn to filter out the bad?

For a majority of the time, we can’t help but react to bad news from around the world. Shootings, bombings and the like: it’s bad for the soul. I don’t like it, and I don’t think you do too. But how should we react?

We can spend time letting it overwhelm us: Spend the rest of the day thinking about it, how it could have been avoided, who to blame, and other things.

We can spend the whole day thinking of what-ifs, but not the what-nows: What things are happening around us now, things within our reach. That you’re still breathing, and that your friends and family are doing just fine, and that you can still make memories with them. We have to learn how to be grateful for the things around us even if all the bad shit is happening around the world.

So, the bad news that comes to us should only serve as a reminder for gratitude and nothing more. It’s bad for the soul if it floods us with negativity.

Some people find ways to cope through alternative means:

There are more fake gurus and false teachers in this world than the number of stars in the visible universe. Don’t confuse power-driven, self-centered people with true mentors. A genuine spiritual master will not direct your attention to himself or herself and will not expect absolute obedience or utter admiration from you, but instead will help you to appreciate and admire your inner self. True mentors are as transparent as glass. They let the Light of God pass through them. 

Shams, The Forty Rules of Love

Note to self: anyone is a mentor in some way. You have bad ones and good ones. The bad ones barely teach you anything, and the good ones teach you naturally. The bad ones don’t care about your improvements, the good ones know how important it is for you.

In a nutshell, bad = bad. Good = good. But how do you tell the difference?

Here’s what I noticed for the time being:

As a Sufi, I had been trained to accept the thorn with the rose, the difficulties with the beauties of life. Hence followed another rule: The midwife knows that when there is no pain, the way for the baby cannot be opened and the mother cannot give birth. Likewise, for a new Self to be born, hardship is necessary.

Elif Shafak, The Forty Rules of Love

We have those days when we are down. The loss of a family member, poor exam results, you didn’t get the job you wanted, and many other bad situations. It feels like life likes to punch us in the face.

But when things get better, it can be due to two main forces:

  1. The environment around us changes for the better
  2. We grow, and change for the better.

There’s a limit to how much we can control number one. The most that I can think of is to move to a nearby jungle, away from civilisation, and if that is a good change for you then go for it. But I’d like to focus on number two: giving ourselves the chance to grow.

But hardship is necessary. It’s like exercise, training heavyweights at the gym so that we can get stronger. We train with heavier weights on purpose because we grow that way. Life is the same: It needs to be hard before it gets better.