Wild and raw, but softer than melted butter in the depths of my heart that I only let show when the sun is sleeping soundly and that bottle of red is almost finished.
Do not confuse my resilience for an inability to break; do not confuse my desire to remain grounded for an inability to fall. Do not mistake my longing for connection for anything more or anything less.
Not your therapist, not your mother. I am not your solution, neither your problem.
My arms know how to cradle your head, but not as a child's. My lips know how to make you scream, but not out of pain. My words know how to make you
5AM and I can hear the birds singing like there’s nothing else to worry about in the Universe except for the coming dawn. A few too many for some of us. A cocktail glass abandoned on the sidewalk by some merrymaker who’s in fact anything but merry.
I’ve been getting the best introspective questions from dudes recently. To me, this is very surprising given the extent to which men are conditioned by society to bury their feelings and act as if emotional depth is something not suited for ‘manly men’, rather reserved to ‘fragile women’.
I told you I love the night and what it does to us humans. Defenses go down like domino tiles, one after the other in the precise order in which we secretly wish others would break through them. Add a few drinks to the intoxicating mix of a spring night smelling of raindrops and you’ve got the recipe for some potentially intense exchanges of thoughts and self reflection.
You might find yourself sitting next to someone you’ve literally known for years, but who you don’t know much about (now read that again). In between nonsense and changing topics every 30 seconds, a couple of points somehow mange to hit the mark:
First: ‘You don’t know about me because you never asked, and I don’t share these things (voluntarily).’ Raise your hand if you identify with some version of this.
Second: ‘Who are you really and what do you want from life?’ To which I fall silent, sort of surprised by this silence myself because I was so sure I had the answers to these questions sorted out in my head. I had been certain up until that point that if I were ever asked, I would be able to verbalize the answers like the most natural thing in the world. Big ol’ nope. So after a minute of trying to conjure up the ‘true me’, I resort to ‘I’m still trying to figure those things out’. Dude sees right through my cheap trick and is not impressed, accusing me of presenting him with the ‘standard and socially acceptable answer’. Well, well, well, that’s what I called being served! Lucky for me the topic changes completely a mere 10 seconds later.
Not to completely evade the tricky question I got asked though, more on that in a future episode just in time for my upcoming b’day. So stay tuned (if you’re still curious).
A different side of the story: ‘You haven’t changed a bit, you look the same as you did in college,’ I’m told by a former colleague I haven’t seen in a decade. Beside the moment of amazement at how fast time slipped by, I’m amused by this assessment. I see a completely different face in the mirror. My gaze will hold yours more confidently, my smile has got a bit of mischief in it if you look carefully, I’ve got more kindness in my eyes towards myself and more understanding towards others. I’m more genuinely curious and willing to get to know and understand the person standing in front of me, even when chances are I’ll stumble upon sides of them that can shock, upset or disappoint in the first instance.
You’d probably never guess it, but moral of the story is: we’re all changing as experiences flow through us and over us, but there’s also a certain constant core that never wavers and to which we’ll keep returning however much we’d like to deny it at times and chisel it into something else entirely. We must accept this contradictory duality if we want to avoid becoming fractured individuals always wondering which version of ourselves is the real one.
These loose threads I've been dragging behind me lead back years, countries, continents even. At night, I wish they'd tear for good, but in the daylight I keep willing them back to life - a cheap trick I play on myself, like circus magicians pulling quarters from behind little boys' ears.
My feet get tangled, my heart does too and it stumbles over itself, almost falling into those thorny rose bushes again.
Step after step, I find myself holding a fresh bundle of red flailing threads instead of roses.
I’d forgotten that I, in fact, love the night. This slip of the mind must come with age – slowly, unnoticeably, we realise one day that mundane worries have begun to litter our dreams and anxiety is keeping us up when we should be resting, distracting us when we should only be focusing on losing ourselves in our lovers’ kisses and caresses.
The bloom is almost gone now, a cruel and fast fate the petals have had this year. Spring fever is almost a thing of the past. But that’s alright, since my month is about to begin, summer madness is round the corner and I intend to fall into it completely and unapologetically. Come, summer! And kiss me deep, make my heart grow wings again on nights like this.
Yes, I do love the night for the way it makes us drop our guard. The city is mellow and the air smells of warm tarmac, of grass overtaking every last corner of earth it can. Silhouettes are softer and feelings are deeper. I love how nights like this turn hopes into possibilities, all that’s missing is a sprinkle of courage.
I hate how we pretend to be confident and so put together when we’re not. I hate how we pretend to be lacking of any fears, indifferent and untouchable, when we’re really not. I hate how we pretend to not need, when we certainly do.
Did you notice how most of us are looking, but few are actually searching? It’s the looking that blinds us, while the search would free us if we were brave enough to take on that climb up the mountain.
A list of things hard to admit:
that you’re not perfect (far from it);
that you have days when you really don’t like yourself;
that you felt left out when you weren’t asked to join the party;
that you’ve closed yourself off because not feeling seems better than feeling pain;
that you stay quiet because you’re afraid of sounding silly;
that you’re so tired of trying and never quite making it to that sweet spot;
that you’re really not a pretty sight in the morning/late in the evenings;
that yes, you really don’t give a fuck anymore.
A list of things harder to admit:
that you’re not perfect, but want to be loved as if you were;
that you might not like yourself in the moment, but still wish someone else did;
that you didn’t feel like going to the party, but still wished you’d have been invited;
that no pain is still not better than joy;
that your fear of ridicule is actually fear of being rejected;
that you’re tired of trying, but once the coffee kicks in, your will to try just one more time is alive and kicking (if only someone met you in the middle for once!);
that some things and some people are worth giving up that extra 30 minutes of sleep (just don’t forget the extra shot of coffee) / that extra episode from your latest TV show obsession;
that you’ve stopped giving a fuck about meaningless things, but are reserving your fucks for the ones that matter.
Don’t you ever want to go out walking through the silent city on these maddening spring nights? Don’t these warm and fragrant April nights make you sleepless, wandering the streets for something you know you’re missing but still almost untouchable, still unsure if you’re ready to look it in the eye?
‘Don’t die from feeling too much,’ is what he told me a summer ago. As if! Then he got into his car and drove off to a life of not feeling too much, pretending problems weren’t problems, and solutions were non-solutions.
Can you stop yourself from feeling, really? Or is it just another kind of high you’re chasing, a way to stop the flood of emotions when it gets in the way of maintaining the day to day routine.
Everything’s in bloom and my heart is bursting because that’s what spring does to me, making me show myself as I am more than in any other time of the year. But I hope my heart won’t burst, because I so do want to keep feeling.
These nighttime walks under the shower of white and pale pink petals are a waking dream. Or it could in fact all be a dream I’m losing myself in without realising I’m fast asleep. I might need to pinch myself now and again to not forget what’s real and what’s naive fantasy.
Been quiet. Been mulling. I could say I’ve been busy, and I wouldn’t even be lying. Been sifting through enough thoughts to last a lifetime, trying to find ways to make them settle down. Been desperately wishing for spring, for something new, for comfort and thrills wrapped in a single package.
Spring fever, they call it. I call it life bursting fearlessly into how it’s supposed to be if we dare let it – joyful, colorful, bright. I smiled at the blooming trees tonight, stopping in the middle of the empty street to let myself be surrounded by the mellow scent filling the warm evening air.
In that instant I wanted to take everything in, to drop every barrier and be transparent in the best of ways. Had anyone walked by, they would have seen me like only a handful have. The smile on my face telling you I’m right here, so present that I don’t care about yesterday, a month ago, 6 months or 10 years ago, I’m not thinking about tomorrow, a week or 2 years from now. This moment right now just feels too good, too right not to be in it fully and without fear or judgement.
‘Do you ever stop thinking?’
Rarely. But if you’re really looking at me, you’ll know exactly when that happens. That which makes me smile with all my being will be obvious. The whats and the whos with that kind of power over me are unmeasurably beautiful.
For the longest of time, I led my life under the tyranny of what if.
The ability to analyse a situation from many angles, to imagine outcomes that might or might not come true, to ask questions and to think one, two or even ten steps ahead has helped me grow professionally. On a personal level however, the constant buzzing of the many different potential futures has been my biggest foe more often than I’d care to admit even to myself. It’s a hop, skip and jump from analyzing to over-analyzing.
The fear that one decision, the choice of one option over all the others might bring on disaster is what keeps a lot of us stuck and numb. Or worse, down the road it can bring us to a place where we’re stuck and suffering by being pulled in so many directions.
I had one of the most difficult conversations of my life yesterday evening with someone I’ve known for years and who’s dear to me in a way that few are. Listening to them struggle to understand whether they should walk away from a relationship that’s been steadily deteriorating, while all along having the what if’s of how such a decision would influence their child swirl through their thoughts, wasn’t something I was prepared for. Over the course of a few hours – the length of the entire conversation – I had to bite my tongue more than once to stop myself from introducing the what if’s going through my head into a situation that was not my own and had no right to influence in either direction. I’d had my chance to ask those questions years back, yet I remained silent out of fear they might be misinterpreted (more what if’s). Now, all I had the right to do was to stay quiet once more and listen. So I listened for hours to the agony of wanting to give up, wanting to make things work, not wanting to cause pain, not wanting to feel pain themselves anymore.
Current state of affairs: too scared to move, too anxious not to.
I’m sure there was a time when a state of terror at the very thought of getting bruised wasn’t the normal. I call it the age of innocence. Foolish enough to ignore risks and collateral damage, eager enough to learn what all those movies are on about.
Maybe a year or so ago, there was a shift in me that started leading me back to that age of innocence in a sense. I listened to what my gut feeling was telling me was right, I ignored the thousands of what if’s that normally put me in analysis paralysis mode and took a risk that put me in a state of vulnerability I’d never experienced to that degree before. Then, as the law of synchronicity would have it, someone much wiser than me straight out told me to stop overthinking every little thing so much for a change: “Just live. If you’re enjoying a conversation, enjoy it instead of starting to think 3 moves ahead. If you’re having coffee with someone, be present, don’t immediately start questioning what it might mean. Be grateful for the moment and just live. Stay in the moment and be happy it happened when there was also a possibility it wouldn’t happen.”
Beware of too many what if’s. They stop us from speaking out when we know we should. They keep us from reaching out when we see someone who needs us to. They prevent us from taking that one risky step that might mean we get what we’ve been desiring all along. And they’re a nasty habit to break.