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?

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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.

Of Mindless Acts of Violence

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WordPress alerts me that it’s my blogging birthday today – 6 years ago I started writing this half confessional/half I-don’t-know-what blog that is still experiencing the growing pains of defining what its role and purpose might truly be. Sort of like myself and every other millennial in this world. But that’s OK, searching for purpose is the last thing one should be ashamed of.

For this anniversary, I wanted to write positive, uplifting things. I truly wanted to tell you about how beautiful the world is, despite the negative we might be facing now and then.

Yet at this point all I can think of is how we possess endless resources for making the ones around us suffer, both on a personal level and on a macro level. After last evening’s events (just the latest in a long string of pointless violent acts), I can’t help but wonder if the world has always been this awful and scary of a place or if it’s just that after the emergence of all these instantaneous means of communication atrocities are more salient, more immediately and easily visible. At this point, I feel gutted and hopeless.

If there’s someone, anyone out there looking at Earth from a distance and observing us, they’re probably wondering how the hell we didn’t perish as a race by now. We’ve so disappointingly learnt nothing from our past mistakes and we keep repeating history as if we didn’t have access to all this information to help us grow and evolve emotionally and psychologically. We’re so obstinate in viewing the world through the distorting lens of violence and aggression. We must look to those observers not even like animals – they kill for survival, not for vengeance and some sort of sick pleasure – but rather like brutes possessing an evolved ability to rationalise their acts of violence and to strategize their cruelty to achieve the exact desired impact.

How can we still be thinking of any human being as less than any other on this planet? Have we really learnt absolutely nothing from labelling people to find ways of arguing that some are less than others? How can anyone still rationalise murder as being something God requires of them, whatever name one might give their God? Are we that emotionally damaged and hateful at our core that we only understand to react and solve our problems through violence?

I can’t wrap my mind around how this kind of mentality and attitude survive. I don’t have the answers and I’m starting to question whether any attempt to make the world better matters in the face of all this mindless aggression. Confused and gutted is what I am right now.

Of Not Losing Yourself

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In the past couple of years, I’ve moved past dreading and despising winter. No hate in my heart for it, but not quite love either. Summer, however, is without comparison. Can you honestly say otherwise when you see skies like the one tonight, pink upon blue in the balmy dusk?

It’s a time to be raw and wild and to grow beyond the limits of your being without regrets or apologies, to become who you are deep down but fear might be too much to handle any other time of the year. It’s the time to remember who you are, who you were but aren’t anymore, and who you want to be. We forget all those facets of our being far too often and for far too long stretches of time. If only we were capable of keeping a never ending summer in our souls, we wouldn’t feel lost anymore.

Love is so much more intense in the summer. It smells of vanilla and cherries and it tastes of refreshing lemon ice cream. It can be overwhelming in its ability to take over every atom of your being. But so can loneliness. In both cases, a glass of wine, a good book to drown in and purposeful introspection help with finding your centre again. Intense is fine, but losing yourself in it is never a wise idea or a healthy path to go down on. Don’t lose yourself to anything, your being is too precious.

Summer feeling by Madison Bersuch _ Unsplash

by Madison Bersuch, via unsplash.com

Just be this summer, be yourself instead of someone who you think others want you to be. Laugh every chance you have. Cry if you must. Offer a comforting word to someone who needs it. Encourage and support instead of criticising. See people’s talents and strengths instead of their weaknesses and what needs to be fixed within them. Reach out to the people who deserve your time and attention. Make time for them, for the ones who truly see you the way you are and who trust in all the amazing things you’re capable of doing and achieving in this world that feels much too passive at times. Embrace the unique intensity of summer, just don’t lose yourself.

This is 30

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I’m not the same person I was a year ago.

Really, did you know that cells in the body get renewed quite often – some of them even once every few days? (for the geeky ones among you, see here a chart for more specific details on turnover times) So none of us are literally the same people we used to be a year ago. In my case, that means – among other things – a few extra pounds, a new job and, perhaps the biggest step of all so far, the down payment on my very own apartment. I’m going to be a home owner, you guys! How exciting is that?

Thank goodness for nature knowing better than our very evolved brains that change is a vital process for growth, and for survival if we’re to draw a bottom line.

Life looks different at 30. And not in the antiquated and sexist sense that a woman’s life is pretty much over and done with once she hits this age. I’d like to hope that society is at least trying to move past that point, difficult as it may be to let go of centuries old deeply rooted mentalities. I read a recent interview with author Autumn Whitefield-Madrano on the topic of beauty and feminism co-existing in which she declares it might take another few centuries until we’ve untangled sexism. A bit disconcerting.

I digress. Undeniably, May 28th of this year marked the beginning of a new cycle for me, one that would – at least in theory – bring the clarity and the calm after the storm that I’ve been seeking.

More than anything, 30 feels like a rite of passage, moving from uncertainties to being aware of oneself, one’s desires and needs. While the direction of some paths I’m following at the moment might still look foggy and subject to reconfiguration as I go, at the very least they were active, fairly well informed and purposeful choices. If nothing else, this makes me proud of myself and where I am at this point in my existence. Sure, there are still aspects that need to be ironed out, but ultimately that’s life – there’s always something that could be going better or that needs to be fixed. Looking at anything that happens as part of a progression or a smaller part of a bigger process you might not be aware of in the moment is the way to go and to keep you going.

Rites of passage also bring in the foreground the past as a springboard for the future, so I’m keeping mine close. However deep you’s like to bury it, destiny has an uncanny way of making things and people resurface right when you least expect it. As long as you fully know that you aren’t the same person you used to be, there’s no reason to dread the past or run away from it, since it will catch up with you at one point anyway. Rather try to learn from it (better late than never, right?) and allow it to positively shape who you are constantly becoming. Bitterness is poison and a sad waste of precious moments you have to live your life.

JakeGivens - Sunset in the Park

by Jake Givens, via unsplash.com

I’m living my summer instead of thinking of the cold that stretched for too long this year. The 30th summer and I’m not going to accept anything less than an amazing one.

 

Of Sitting Down and Getting Down To Business

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There’s this misleading belief that writing is supposed to come from a place of pure and untainted inspiration, but it’s not. Keep waiting for the Muse to grant you the privilege of her divine touch and you’re likely to not come up with anything worthwhile anytime soon; or even worse, witness your ideas float away into oblivion, never to be recaptured again.

The reasons for not sitting down in front of that piece of paper (physical or virtual) are many and diverse. I cannot count how many times I had this almost idea and felt almost inspired, but could not muster the motivation to drag myself from other activities too vital to be postponed – watching a TV show, throwing my clothes into the washing machine, reading useless articles on the internet about useless things I’d never have any use whatsoever in my entire life.

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by MS J via unsplash.com

I’m too tired. I’m too busy. I’m too caught up in this episode. Just one more episode and then…Now I’m too sleepy. So there goes another day of not being productive writing wise. I keep wondering how others do it – make themselves sit down in front of the computer screen and pour over that topic they chose to explore even when they’re not feeling the least bit inspired. I’m sure there’s a secret, but I’ve yet to find it (or stumble upon it).

That’s why it’s been 20 days since my last post. The acacia trees have bloomed in the meanwhile and strawberries are almost out of season. And that day of the year is speeding my way.

I’ll try to do better, but motivation is a fickle friend.