Of Reasons

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You don’t know; not really. It’s easier like that. I know it is, because I’m sure I’m guilty of doing the same with some of those around me.

People imagine that when someone reaches their boiling point, when they lash out and just reach a moment when patience is in immeasurably low quantity, some emotionally cataclysmic event is to blame. So it’s easier not to know about others’ problems. Why get dragged into some messy drama, right?

Let me set the record straight here. Maybe you don’t want to see it, or maybe you just never got to understand this. Or maybe yet, nobody ever taught you, so now it comes as a shock to hear it. But listen up, it’s the truth I’m preaching here – it’s all the little things adding up day by day that make someone break. Those times when you flaked last minute. Those times when you just didn’t feel like keeping your word. Those moments when you were gratuitously mean and hurtful. Words, actions, or lack thereof, all have consequences of their own that you might not be able to anticipate, but would be damned nice to at least consider.

I binge watched 13 Reasons Why on Saturday. You may think my tirade streams from watching the show and getting caught up in its deeply disturbing story line. In part; but it was more of a catalyst than the main reason. Just look at the world around and all the senseless cruelty we treat one another with on a daily basis. We seem to heave learnt nothing from history and our past mistakes as a society or simply as human kind. We’re repeating them today at dizzying speed and with irrational conviction in the irrational. Just look around: the rise to power of extremists (wouldn’t you believe it that Turkey just democratically voted away the very democracy that allowed them to make that choice? Mind blowing, I know!), the reduction of women’s rights in countries that applaud themselves for being democratic through and through and for supporting women (but I guess that’s how it starts – men with law-making power who believe they know what’s best for women), the torture and killing of LGBT individuals in Chechnya, the murder of civilians – in large part children – in war torn countries like Syria.

These are the extreme events, the large scale ones. But they start in the small, don’t they? The fake news in the media, the rumours and the gossip in the schools; the racist, homophobic views you can read in the comments section of any news article, blog post or Instagram photo. Accepting hate speech and mindless, aggressive reactions under the guise of a statement like “this is my opinion, so as long as there’s freedom of speech I’m going to voice it” is nothing short of insanity.

If someone believes the Earth is flat, that doesn’t make it true. When a public figure says things like: “He was presenting alternative facts” and they’re not penalised for that sort of bullshit, we’re teaching our kids – and not only – that lies are relative and they can get away with lying by simply stating they were giving alternative facts. We’re telling them that they can be absolved of the consequences of their words and actions, so long as they’re in line with what they believe. Just remember the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

Watching 13 Reasons Why was hard. Let me rephrase that – watching each episode was painful, the gut wrenching kind of painful. I had a lump in my throat the entire time; I cried and not just once. How could you not, when the story moves back and forth between a bleak present where the main character is no longer alive, victim to her own depression, that could or could not have been treated, as well as to the cruelty of the ones around her, and flashbacks to when happiness was almost within her reach, but not quite? That almost, but not quite was the point from where tears gushed out inevitably.

We’re cruel. As a society, as individuals. Whether by choice or without even realising it until the damage is done and irreversible, we’re cruel beings, with the same potentiality to commit harmful and hurtful acts as the one to practice kindness and understanding for what the other might be going through.

Beyond that, one aspect should be acknowledged and fully understood: the potentiality may be there for either direction, but which direction one chooses is mostly influenced by what one sees around, what one grows up in. It’s the kind of societal expectations we are shaped by that matters for how most of us will act and react.

Efficiency and productivity are sought and taught, as if they will ever give anyone a sense of purpose or fulfilment, as if they will save us from mental and emotional distress. It’s kindness we should be teaching, it’s empathy we should be educating children in – how to recognise it and how to develop it within themselves and others. This is the only way we’ll be able to save ourselves from darkness and nothingness.

So maybe you don’t know; not really, because it’s easier. But you should start. Right now.

Of The Last Day of March

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There’s nothing like spring, like spring in March. Still uncertain whether the temperature will be in the positives during the night, or over 12 degrees during the day, there’s this moment when nature explodes in vibrant, raw colour. Completely unexpectedly, maybe after a few days when the rain kept pouring down or even after a couple of late snow flurries, there they are: the greens, the yellows, the pinks.

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by Alex Blajan, via unsplash.com

I remember this wonderful March, when everything seemed to fall into place just perfectly. It was as if fate had reached out a very merciful hand and said to me: “Here! Have at it, don’t question it and enjoy it wildly! You deserve it.” And so I did, I fell right into it like drowning into a warm, crystal clear sea, yet still being able to breathe. Gravity was cancelled. I was floating on my own fantasies and daydreams.

To me, March has only ever been one of two things: either a time of seemingly endless bliss – which of course always had an end, or at least an interlude – or of unquestionable heartbreak. Both these states were a blessing I only understood much later. In bliss, I flew to heights I’d only dreamt of before and never imagined I’d get the privilege of reaching. In heartache, I delved to depths of my own mind and soul that I’d been afraid to confront or acknowledge, ultimately rising from the ashes of what was lost. With March and onward, spring has forever been a time of transformation for me, in sync with nature finding its way back to vibrant life again.

Of Full Moons and Memories

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Looking back at all the things you don’t want to forget. There are details you clutch so hard to because you can’t find it in you to let them slip away into the blurry half-remembered snapshots of days past.

I reminisce about long gone springs and summers. The air tonight makes me feel this beginning of March as if it were its end – is it March 3rd or 31st? Does it matter really, at this point in time? The sky hasn’t been this clear for way too many days and there’s a twinkle in each and every star. Walking home from the bus station, almost tripping a couple of times because I was too distracted by the twinkle that kept catching my eye, I decided: my future home must have a telescope in it.

A couple of weeks back, on my way home from the station again, I witnessed the most magnificent moon I’d seen in years. I’m not entirely sure it was a full moon, the full snow moon, as February’s full moon was traditionally called by the the Native Americans  during colonial times. But it was such a sight to gaze at. A father with his young daughter, probably no more than 3 years old, were just as smitten as I was with the big, pale ball hanging in the sky.

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by  Anders Jilden, via unsplash.com

“Look up!”

“Why?”

“The moon’s so pretty tonight.”

It’s these random evenings, unexpected observations and touching thoughts and gestures that you clutch to so hard that you knuckles turn white. They’re the ones that keep you going when you feel like throwing in the towel. But how do you hold on to them when you’re being pulled in three different directions, when the exhaustion creeps in and when you start wondering why you keep at it? Write them down – write until your fingers turn numb or there’s no more ink in the pen. Write until there’s nothing more to say or nobody else to read. Just write, clutch on to those moments and release them on paper.

Of Civil Resistance

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For almost 7 years now, I’ve been able to keep this space a purely personal one. Politics have not been a topic of choice and I’ve kept myself at a safe distance from what I  always considered to be a moral grey area (to say the least), something I didn’t wish to be part of or associated with.

That was my greatest mistake, believing what the politicians decide and enact is something separate from my day to day existence. It’s not. It is not!

We’ve been called lazy. It’s been decreed that we do not contribute with anything to society. We’ve been called stupid, misinformed, easily manipulated, paid off by Soros (the big bad wolf for anything they cannot offer rational counterarguments for), we’ve been pointed out as traitors and instigators, wanting to split the country down the middle and to create political and economic instability.

Is that really why we’re out in the streets, night after night, straight after our working hours and then in the morning back to work, paying our dues to the state and expecting to receive at least respect from the people elected to represent us? Is it really? Short answer is ‘no’. The long answer is ‘hell, no!’.

Most people out there in the streets are part of my generation, people my age or younger. We’ve been underrated, seen  as passive and uninvolved, these self-absorbed millennials with shot attention spans. I despise these evaluations, because they couldn’t be farther from the truth. What drives us is a moral compass that’s started to point the true north for an entire country.

For all those who still don’t understand why we’re out there in the cold and the rain, marching night after night, for those who still think we’re against democracy by protesting against an unfair governmental emergency decree and so many other acts of abuse: we march FOR democracy, not against it – we understand the left won the elections, it’s not something we’re denying, but that does not give them the righ or legitimacy to legalise acts of abuse and straigh out theft; we march for fairness and morality, not against the government or the leftist party (although, in our current rage against corruption, it might feel like PSD is our enemy); we march for a better future for ourselves and the ones who will come after us, not just for the spare change they’ve been throwing in our direction.

We march because we yearn for a purpose that goes beyond the power plays we’re witnessing. We march for principles.

Of The Shortness of Time

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“Living like you’re dying
Isn’t living at all,
Give me your cold hands,
Put them on my heart,
Raise a glass to everyone
Who thinks they’ll never make it through
This life
To live a brand new start” 

Ingrid Michaelson – Afterlife

No words. Nothing to say. Acknowledging the one next to you, their pain and loneliness, or instead their dreams and desires, is an act of effort, which most of us would probably rather not commit their energy and time to. Can’t be bothered, as the saying goes.

But why not? Why is the connection you establish with another considered a bother, when all the studies and research on happiness say it should be our first priority in life? That is, unless you’d prefer to end up 80 and filled with regret at all the things you could have said and all the souls you could have touched, but instead found excuses not to.

Yeah, life can certainly sometimes be one big steaming pile of shit. I think a lot of people will agree 2016 has been one terrible, no good, very bad year. It’s been no different for me  – the recent loss of someone dear has shaken me to my core and made me look at the world through a different lens.  I’m not coming up with some novel idea to achieve happiness, these are truths we can all acknowledge and there’s almost a ‘duh!’ element to what I’m about to say next; but probably precisely because of the common sense aura surrounding these things, we tend to treat them with levity and not grant them the importance they deserve.

Our time is limited. No shock, no surprise, no big reveal. Yet somehow we’ve become so talented at forgetting that, at shoving that fact so deep under the daily grind and under piles upon piles of unessential events. This is the amazing part – that we act like there’s always going to be more time to put back together what we’ve broken and to rebuild what we’ve torn down. Maybe there will be. Just as well, this might be all we get and absolutely not a second more, and our level of control over how much of this thing called life we get to enjoy is in fact ridiculously low.

Yet we put off saying the things that we mean to say. One ‘I love you’ or one ‘I miss you’ or one ‘You’re beautiful’ won’t chip away at anything, but not saying them might. A touch of the hand, a long hug, a passionate kiss won’t cost you. A kind word won’t make you any less strong, instead it will show the kind of strength you posses.

I was once asked if it doesn’t scare me to put myself on display through my posts, to show so much of myself through my words and to ultimately be as vulnerable. Of course it does, but this is who I am and I’ve learnt that owning the vulnerable part of myself is where I draw my strength from. More than ever, after this terrible, no good, very bad 2016, I choose to be open, to own who I am and to carve out time for what truly matters during this brief time we each get to be alive.

I get excited by the holidays. Even more so this year, because it’s a time when generally people pull away from the dark and dreary of their existence and decide to instead celebrate the good around them and be grateful for the tiny bit of positive in their lives. Why do people make such a fuss about the holidays? Simple: for some, it’s probably the one and most important time when they get to be surrounded by the people who matter and get to fully enjoy their presence, no rush, no work-related phone calls, no stress for the tasks that are waiting for us in our inboxes. It’s that moment when you get a reason to smile, even if a lot of the time life is hard and painful.

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by Brooke Lark, via unsplash.com

Even though 2016 has been a terrible, no good, very bad year, I refuse to give in to that. I refuse to give in to an immobile, sad, almost hopeless existence of dragging myself from one day to the next, with little to no joy for the good things and amazing people that surround me. Joy can be in the incredibly spectacular gestures you might receive from someone who loves you more than anything, but it’s also in the small acts of kindness, which can mean simply showing gratitude for what the universe has given you.

The day we give up on having hope in the good, on celebrating it, however small and insignificant it might seem to others, that’s the day our spirit dies. Personally, I don’t plan to be a dead-woman walking, my spirit is very much alive and kicking. So I say be silly, be merry, be alive!

An Ode to Leonard

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It feels ominous now in hindsight. These past few days have hardly had anything good about them.

I was so excited after the launch of his latest – and as I sadly found out this morning, also his last – album. The title track, You Want It Darker, felt heavy. It all felt heavier than usual, but Leonard sounded better than ever.

I think we all wished him to still be present, full of life and brilliant inspiration. We wished that Darker was – albeit striking in its genius – just a regular case of Cohen voicing an ever imminent sense of defeat. Yet looking back at The Guardian‘s review of Leonard Cohen’s last album, I can’t help but shiver. The opening paragraph: ‘Last week, Leonard Cohen felt obliged to announce that reports of his death – or at least his imminent death – had been exaggerated. “I said was ready to die recently,” he told the audience at a listening party in Los Angeles for his 14th studio album. “And I think I was exaggerating. I’ve always been into self-dramatisation. I intend to live for ever.”‘ This was not much more than a month ago.

Along with review after review that praised this masterpiece, but at the same time felt it as a sort of last will and testament; along with the saddening US election results that seemed to embody all of Cohen’s worst fears for the American society, it all feels terribly, frighteningly ominous in hindsight.

I don’t know if he just decided to leave the table before the game became too dreadfully painful to bear anymore,  but I know the world  will be poorer without him.

His songs have never really left my side for just over a decade – when I was so happy that I thought my chest would burst open and I’d have my heart fly away, forever lost from me; when I cried for my shattered heart to use those tears and glue itself back together; when I was searching for the kind of unique wisdom that only he could offer through his sung poetry.

Through the best and the worst, his words and melody elated me and got me through. And for that I can say thank you, you will be missed!

The troubles came, I saved what I could save
A thread of light, a particle, a wave
But there were chains, so I hastened to behave
There were chains, so I loved you like a slave

Of That Back To School Feeling

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This autumn, this fall! It’s like a disconnected melancholy. Falling from grace or perhaps falling back into grace, but certainly falling away from illusions impossible to turn into reality. Falling into dreams close to impossible, but still close enough to could be.

Summer’s a maddening mistress, that keeps your most absurd expectations and most unattainable hopes going and going, until you reach a point of utter exhaustion. Summer blinds you with its scorching sun, takes away your foresight altogether and when September rolls around, you can finally begin to see again. Blurry vision, but still a good starting point to regaining control of your senses.

I didn’t live my summer this year. Not really. Maybe just Lana’s summertime sadness and the searing sun leaving me blind still. Time to wake up now and see things clearly again. It’s time to re-evaluate and make decisions.

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by Olsztyn, via unsplash.com

This September, this Indian summer! This longing to learn, not to gain a marketable skill, but for the sake of accumulating knowledge. Missing school is an odd feeling that’s been circling around my heart for a while now. A sense of anticipation and curiosity would take over whenever September approached, wondering what new knowledge my dear books would impart. Those times are gone, though – right? So this back to school feeling should make no sense. Yet here we are, longing.

A most lovely Indian summer it’s been so far, but then in a split second autumn has shown this city the strength of its melancholy filled days and its evenings sprinkled with books, hot tea and warm blankets. And Mr. Cohen’s songs, let’s not forget those. You can go ahead and call me silly, but I’d say school’s back in session even for me – read, learn, understand, evaluate, decide, repeat.

Of What Matters

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What do you want to do? What would you like to do? What does your heart skip a beat over when you think of the possibility of doing that for the rest of your life? Get a pen and paper (or an Excel file, it’s easier to move things around while your thought process unfolds) and write those things down. Make a list, decide and get working on it! No excuses!

Wise words. Not mine, but I’ve not gotten permission to quote the author, so I’m paraphrasing just a bit. The truth is, we get sucked into other people’s dreams and ambitions without even realising most of the time, so it becomes frighteningly easy to forget what our own dreams or aspirations even looked like. But then you’ve lost a part of yourself, you’ve missed the opportunity of making the world just a little bit better and more beautiful – maybe not now, not tomorrow, not even in the next year, but who knows what amazing and meaningful ripple effects your actions could generate in others at any given time in the future?

creativity

by RhondaK, via unsplash.com

I’d also add: what kind of people make you transform into a better version of yourself? Who are the people whose values and principles you align with and admire? Who are the persons who through their mere presence in your proximity energise you, make you more optimistic and confident, and simply put make you happy? Make a mental note and keep them close. Keep them close and don’t let go for the life of you, because those are the ones who matter and the ones who at the end of the day will have made a true difference in your existence.

It’s never too late to acknowledge these truths. But do it now, sooner rather than later. Why on earth would you waste any more time?

Of A Kind Of Summertime Sadness

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It’s always easier to hit back harder, cut deeper, rather than put in the sometimes extraordinary effort to understand and empathise with why someone reacts the way they do. More often than not, the real reason is they’re hurt. They’re hurt to their core and possibly even reached a point of complete exasperation where retaliation seems like the only thing left they haven’t tried to express just how hurt they are.

cute_band_aid-2833Cut deep and draw blood. When words are no longer enough, when they’re the enemy instead of the band aid to help heal the wounds, when the walls that have been put in front of you have become terrifyingly high to climb, nobody can see the hurt. Nobody wants to. So you lash out and you kick and scream, and you hit where you know it hurts the most (even when they say it doesn’t hurt in the very least). Deep down you know it’s not the way to do things, not the solution you wanted for even a split second. But you’re so left without options, that you do it anyway. You hit back hard and with a precise target.

Because maybe then they’ll see you. Really see you. Maybe then they’ll hear what you’re saying and understand what you’re truly going through. Maybe they’ll even come to you and comfort you. You could even dare to imagine they might want to shield you from any hurt from now on and not allow anyone to cut into your soul ever again.

We hurt each other with such ease and refuse to admit it when we do get hurt. But then we strike back even worse. We stifle our words and shut down instead of reaching out and speaking out. Call me a naive idealist, call me a fool and call me a damned idiot, but I’m convinced that if we peel off the layers of hurt and resentment, the emotional and psychological baggage we’re lugging behind us, for years and even decades, what we all want – each and every one of us – is to be really seen, cared for, appreciated. And loved.

No, the idealist hasn’t died or given up.

Of A Much Too Short Summer Story

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I had a dream that I was more than who I am right now, but somehow not as much as I used to be. I don’t quite know how that can be, but this is how it was and it felt odd and awkward, like a butterfly that turned back into a caterpillar instead of the other way round. You don’t get it? Yeah, neither do I.

It feels like summer hasn’t really happened yet. So how can it be that it’s almost gone already and I’ve managed to somehow miss it? Perhaps too preoccupied with things that in the grand scheme are utterly unimportant. But that’s how it is – while we’re busy planning it, life happens. And it passes us by, waving in desperation that we might look up from our drawing board and start living. We just love to tell ourselves we’re working on the next great masterpiece of humanity, don’t we? In reality, we’re just doodling most days, colouring between the lines and too afraid to leave our comfort zone or even switch up colours.

The days are getting shorter. It’s already dark outside, but thankfully the air is still balmy and sweet. Even sweeter when there’s that rare and special soul to share it with. Tell me, when was the last time you went out after a long day at the office and just wandered the streets in the warm evening air, hand in hand and heart next to heart? There’s no need for many words, but then again words can be a relief and a true treasure when coming from that right person. When did anyone get upset over receiving a compliment from someone they know cares about them? Blushed, possibly. Acted surprised, not impossible. Gotten upset, not a chance!

A quote circulating on all means of social media (with so far an unknown author to my knowledge): every summer has a story. Can it last longer? Please, pretty please? It seems too brief for my taste, like words and paragraphs were edited out to make it fit neatly in 3 short months and not a day more. Like experiences are few and far apart and shaped according to other people’s expectations and desires, while your own needs and wishes fall short. Tell me, did you travel enough? Did you take enough walks hand in hand? Did the sun see your face enough? Did you watch enough sunsets and share as many deep talks as you wanted about the universe and how love has transformative powers even when you hardly realise it? Did you make enough people smile? Did you speak enough kind words and comfort enough wounded souls? Did you read enough books? (I’m way behind on my reading list, that I have to admit)

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Most importantly of all, did you love enough? Really, truly, immensely, selflessly love the one who’s waiting patiently for you to notice they’re still there, still trying to stretch out this summer’s story (as much as humanly possible to control the elements), with the sole purpose of potentially giving you a bit more time to see how much of the good you’re missing out on while busy drawing the plans for higher walls to build for that majestic work of art.

Buildings are worthless without people filling them up. It’s the people that make them beautiful and give them value, otherwise they’re just edifices that will crumble when someone with a plan for a bigger and more majestic work of art comes along. Don’t forget the people, don’t forget to make this summer’s story one worth remembering and telling. And don’t forget to love, with everything that entails.