New year’s message to the world edition 2007

Greetings :D. How are you doing?

Well,  THE time has come, it is my end-of-the-year message you’re about to read.

As usual, don’t expect it to be too holiday-cheerful or too short :D. So here we go…

This year has been quite something for me… For example, I ended up going to Cuba in February, and later on I ended up meeting a bunch of amazing people, all that because I was refused a British visa in December 2006… Go figure out the connection :D.

A day before my birthday I realized my life was perfect. Literally so – like when all pieces of a puzzle fit together and make up a stunning picture. The weekend right after my birthday made me 100% certain of this realization. It was actually a discovery astounding to the point of being creepy, in a way, but I sure hope my life stays that way. Turned out all the good AND the bad things led up, in the end, to something worthy and meaningful and quite awesome and I honestly wouldn’t change a single event of my life, whether I liked it or not at the time when it had happened. The way one thing leads to another in life is completely beyond our foresight. Sometimes even years later we don’t see the connections between events, but I saw it as vividly as it was possible at all to see how EVERY little event plays its role, resulting in something else. Creepy, once again, but awesome at the same time. There IS a meaning and a purpose to every single event, however small, in everyone’s life. That we cannot always SEE that doesn’t mean it’s non-existent, so please remember that for the future, it’s one little thing I wanted to share this year :D.

In 2007 I travelled to another 2 new destinations for me – Thailand and Sri Lanka. If you haven’t received my summer report (on Thailand) and/or the Sri Lanka story, they will be available to the public on my blog.

And now to the salt and pepper of this year’s message :).

The very end of the 2007 presented me with two interesting events, among everything else it made me face, that made me do what I do most often – think hard about them. Here’s what happened and what I thought about event number 1:

One normal evening I somehow managed to find out that one person I know was feeling down. Now, it happens, but it wasn’t an easy situation and here’s why: it is someone I know close enough to care about, but not close enough to be able to understand the history and the story and the thinking and everything behind that situation, and the situation was rather grave. It seems to have gotten better now, but that evening was quite bad… And what I hadn’t expected was that I was completely lost! I was lost for words or actions and none of my social skills or past experiences or knowledge came handy that evening…

And that’s exactly what got me thinking all night after it happened and a few proceeding days. I was wondering why I had no idea what to say or do, especially given that I had been once in that same place, that bottom of an ocean, as that place feels… I’ve been there, I’ve felt numb to life for several months – it’s like that feeling when you just wake up from a dream, that fraction of a seconds when you still can’t move and think and you don’t even know you’re awake yet – that kind of a feeling 24/7. Still, that didn’t help me the slightest bit to be helpful… I couldn’t be perceived as an objectively impartial voice of reason, yet I wasn’t an old, trusted friend either… I had no knowledge of the code to use to make the message get transmitted and register in the mind, without losing value and impact and meaning…

SO for the time being I allowed my heart and mind and intuition do the job of figuring out what to say and do and all I had left was watch them and see what happens, if anything. And I hoped at least something of what they’d come up with together would end up being that final grain of sand on the ocean floor that’d add to a small sand hill and make it tall and stable enough to use as a trampoline towards the surface, towards the air, the sunshine, the wide horizon, to the life and its endless possibilities and countless wonders and unprecedented beauty and everything that can be made better, too… At the same time, I had no way of knowing if I could make any difference, or even if I was the right person to even try to help out in the first place, and I don’t and never will know if I did… This, I guess, doesn’t matter now as this person seems to be feeling better, but what if it ever happened again?..

And I felt completely helpless… Worse yet, I felt completely worthless. I mean, what am I worth if I can’t even find the right things to say to someone who’s in need of a little push to the surface? Should I even have tried to do anything, or, given this strange relationship, should I have left it to someone else who knows that person better to do the job? Yet again, it’s someone I care about, so if I’m good for nothing when some reassurance is needed, what am I good for at all?.. And I don’t know the answers. I don’t know how to talk to someone who’s temporarily at the bottom of that ocean of mind-tricks intended at testing one’s willingness and might and skill to overcome and prevail. I don’t know, to begin with, if I’d even be heard through all that water. I don’t know how to tell whoever might be down there about the air, when that person is a tenth of a moment away from deciding to surrender and let the water into the lungs… I don’t know how to explain to anyone just HOW MUCH there is to LIVE FOR, and there are no words in either of the 4 languages I happen to speak to help me come up with a convincing set of arguments… Maybe it has to do with the fact that no one talked me out of drowning, I talked myself out – maybe that’s why I’ll never know how to talk to someone else? So how much then am I worth as a friend? How much am I worth as a shoulder? Not too much, heh?..

So this is one essential part of this end-of-the-year message. I can only speak for myself and I doubt having any influence or authority on anyone, let alone the superpowers to influence thinking, but at least I can try plant the seed, throw in my personal little grain of sand into everyone’s heads cuz, after all, these things add up to deserts and at the very least I have the power to sit down and write things I think about and share them with you. Thus, from personally me, I wish to tell you in advance, that shall it ever happen that you might begin to be feeling the symptoms of the “I don’t really see a point of and/or a reason for living” disease, in any form it may take, please do whatever it takes as fast as you can to show yourself how profoundly wrong you are even having this or a similar thought in your head, do it BEFORE you end up miles under the water. I’ve been that deep down, feeling so dead I thought I might just as well match how I felt with the reality. Somehow, though, I stumbled upon my own little grain of sand for the hill and made it back to the surface, and by all means I am nothing but extremely happy about managing to do that! I know now, had I decided to end my biography back when I wanted to, I would’ve missed SO many truly amazing things it would’ve been a damn crying shame, and I would’ve hated my guts from up there somewhere (if that up there somewhere existed) for doing it and missing out on all that has come later in life! I’m certain I’d be so bitter it’d’ve taken me several lifetimes to stop being mad at myself :D.

I mean, sure thing I would’ve saved myself a considerable portion of headaches, quite a collection of trouble and a rather weighty load of deep sh*t that all came with the package called “living” – unquestionably so. But, still, this all other stuff, the cool, the great, the marvelous, the awesome, the inspiring and the wonderful stuff – all of it was so much more than all the evil going on around every day, all of it meant much more, so had I chosen not to experience any of it, it would indeed have been the dumbest decision ever made in the universe, as rational as it seemed back then…

Now, that evening, I was in a situation, and still am, when I realized I don’t have any superpowers to get inside of another person’s head and run a system check for “self-destruct” virus, delete it from the software, clean up all the additional glitches and re-arrange it inside so that the mind would realize that, for real, life isn’t something to just let go to waste – it’s still the best thing ever offered to us and the only way to change anything around is to stay alive and work on it… Therefore, I hope this part of the message can contribute to the anti-virus protection, if you manage to read through. I hope this will be at least a small grain of sand, if ever needed, for that hill – and I hope you’ll never need it – because even if it’d end up being less than a grain, even if it’d end up as little as a quark of an atom composing that grain, if I’d manage by this message to add any height to anyone’s hill, or to add any component of the anti-virus program, ever in my life, then I’d know I had lived a worthy life, after all. I don’t want to watch anyone else at the bottom – I have no idea what to do in that situation! – so I’m writing as a preventive measure from such occurrences, I’m sharing this little experience so that you never allow yourself to go so much down. If it’d help to not sink too deep, or in any way prevent the act of drowning of a life, that’d render my life complete and worth living a million times over – all the sh*t and crap in it that has already happened and is yet to happen in the future included – I’m willing to accept the whole package without even a thought of a second thought, so bring it on!

And an event number 2, a tiny bit related to the topic but of a different nature, was a letter from another dear to me person.

That dear to me person, who I always considered as a family member, wrote me a long letter, in the face of certain financial matters we need to settle between us, in which I learned several interesting things. One was, in 2 years we spent close to each other, I never was a friend… Interestingly enough, I wasn’t allowed to be a friend! I wasn’t ever told anything, nothing was ever shared with me, and in the end I was the bad one for not ‘being there’… I found that a bit amusing. Imagine: I’d invite you to come to my house for my birthday. You’d show up, smile and gift and congratulations all with you, and start ringing the door bell… And no one would answer… So you’d ring more, you’d knock on the door, maybe go to the window and scream, or throw stones, or send a text message no one would reply, give several calls no one would pick up the phone to answer… Then after 40 minutes or so you’d take your greetings and gift (cuz smile would sure no longer be there) and, well, walk away. And THEN a few days after I’d see or call you and start bitching at you for not showing up at my birthday party! How’s that? Well that’s exactly what was happening, I was standing in front of a closed door, not for 40 minutes but for 2 years. I’d walk away for a bit, then come back try knocking again… And in the end I get scorned for never being there… Such is life… It was a long letter with much more substance, but that’s internal matters.

Funnily enough, a part of it that was interesting was the part that said I have no friends… That everyone around me just want something from me and that’s why they stick around… Wow, man, I never knew I had so much to offer! I’m not a VIP, I don’t give money (mainly because i don’t have any to give), I don’t know anyone whom anyone else would want to know for something, if anyone wants something from me, I’d love to know what exactly it is cuz I might use it myself if I know what it is that I got! 😀

Jokes aside, that’s a serious accusation from someone who was around for two years… Plus, I was told I’m impossible to talk to and I left a bad impression on most of this person’s friends (people that I know a tiny little bit) because all I ever want is to argue and prove other people stupid… Hmmm… I wish I knew I was trying to prove other people stupid, when I always thought I was just engaged in exercise of the minds when no one is ever proved smart or stupid and when I actually wish I’d be proved stupid more often than not because that’s the way to learn something new and interesting… And the friends that I don’t have – the reason I “don’t have them” (at least in the understanding of my dear beloved… errmmm… person, well, since I was never a friend…) is because they just belong to a group of people who never go to the same places that people we both know go to, so my beloved person never COULD see any of my personal friends – we never intersect. Hence, they don’t exist (quite a few people reading this now should know they actually don’t exist haha 😀 here’s something for you to think about over new year’s 😀 ).

The reason why I brought this letter up is, I guess, just to see what you might think about it. In addition, maybe it should make us all think that, when we expect and/or need and/or want someone to be there for us, maybe we should first make sure we leave the door open for them to come through?.. And we often keep the doors closed, we’re scared of the vulnerability open doors represent, but when we need a friend, there’s no way anyone CAN be a friend to us through a closed door…  One aching head is good, two aching heads are still better at problem solving :D. Never mind that it’s most often to be a virtual visit (via the omnipresent world wide web) – it’s still better than staying locked in with the problems trying to sort them out alone. And when you want some particular friend or person you know to be there for you, let them know you need them: open the door. They can’t otherwise be what you need them to be, they can’t read your mind if you don’t speak it – we all, for some reason, rely on telepathic powers of people closest to us… – they DON’T REALLY have them, not all the time at least 😀 – so leave the door open and de-brief them, because only THEN they can be a friend/support/whatever to you.

So here’s to the new year, to the open doors and to communication. It’s funny how, the more means of communication enter our every day lives, the less people actually end up talking to each other, sharing, listening, learning from one another, communicating effectively… Let’s all keep this in mind and try to make sure we’re heard correctly when we speak, make sure we understand what the other person means before we answer or draw conclusions. Let’s use whatever tools we have, even as imperfect as simple language, to stay connected to each other, to not just talk parallel to one another, but to really exchange messages, ideas, thoughts, feelings… We enrich one another by this, so let’s make each other super-rich in the new year and the rest of them coming up! And in addition we should all should try deliver this thought and idea about life being worth living to everyone we know and care about, so that we will never have to watch them through miles of water small and vulnerable down there at the bottom. Let’s live and inspire to live, to create, to change, to fight for the better, to hope, to learn, to help – if there’d be enough of us occupied with the task, we’d eventually overcome all the bad stuff around, mark my word – all we need is a critical mass. And yes every one matters, because even the greatest deserts are made of tiny particles of sand – the trick is having enough of those “insignificant” particles in one place at one time and ta-da! Here’s a desert. Same with changing the world – each of us should try and do what we can, little things. If enough people would be doing it, eventually the world WILL change.

And well, as a customary addition to the message itself, something from me… One is a reminder from the bottom of the ocean. The other one is to life and being true to oneself and one’s goal and soul. Enjoy the read, happy holidays, and stay in touch!

Gallons of love to all :O)

Finally, here is a customary treat to fit the theme:

Living lost

The I Statement

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Quick note to the blog subscribers

Dear followers!

First of all, thank you so much for being there! I hope I don’t disappoint you with the quality/frequency of the posts :). If you’d ever have any suggestions, comments, requests – you can always contact me!

Second: it may be tricky to notice, but the tabbed menu of my blog actually features FIVE separate blogs. What it means for you as a subscriber is that you would ONLY be notified of new posts in the blog(s) you are subscribed to – and you would NOT be notified of any new posts under any other sections/blogs. This is mainly done so that posts that are extremely different in focus and area of interest don’t blanket-flood everyone :).

If, however, you are interested in any other section(s)/blogs, don’t forget to subscribe to them separately, too, not to miss out on new articles! Here’s a very quick guide to each section/blog:

In Shade: random entries on a variety of topics and occurrences in life. Usually not extremely long (I’ll likely migrate longest entries into ‘Contemplating’ section, when relevant). In the future, the plan is to add more videos and pictures – yes, the funny stuff too :).

Travel Tales: once I get a hang of picture resizing, I’ll continue to migrate my travel photos to this blog. Most times it will be a gallery, and you can read the story of the whole trip by following picture captions in the gallery. I’ve been to 42 countries so far (I think…), so a LOT is coming up!

Contemplating: long text warning! This section/blog often contains longer writing with many external links/videos on various topics that are more thought-provoking, controversial, educational, inspiring. My focus changes over time, so just because the latest spree was focused heavily on religion, it doesn’t mean that’s all you’d ever get :). In the future: even more of great stuff on education, science and everything else that constitutes slow food for the brain :).

Dancing through life: everything dance. Congresses I go to, styles I dance, occasional rants on the topic of dance floor violence :D. Coming up in the future: amazing dance videos and pictures from different styles.

Poetry: thus far the most neglected section of the blog… But I’ll get to it :). If you’re into poetry – let me know. I’d be more motivated to post if there’s an audience for it :D.

Voila, that’s it :). It’s like a buffet – so feel free to pick and choose, subscribe to sections (well, blogs 🙂 ) that you’re interested in – remember that they are separate and if you’re not subscribed to some section(s), you won’t get notifications of new posts made there :).

Wishing all of you well, thank you for being there! Also, don’t hesitate to share anything that you may find interesting with others :).

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How to get the most out of the least inspiring tasks

University hallway, break after the first Microeconomics test. I’m being questioned on the subject of the best places to go to around the city by a few students who have just arrived. In the end of the break, somehow, one of them goes back to class with a thoughtful expression on the face, because as is often the case the original topic of the conversation took a sharp U-turn elsewhere. And it all started with an innocent “I hate homework”…

How many of you have sometimes said to yourselves “I hate (or “wish I didn’t have to do/go to”) school/ university/ homework/ my job/ paperwork” (circle all that applies, feel free to expand the list of boring but necessary activities)? I most certainly did quite a few times in my life. However, there are things we all know that we are supposed to learn in school, university, or work place, and there are other things we don’t even think we can get out of those institutions. This is what got my classmate all thoughtful: besides the well-known “social skills” and “conflict-solving” skills, public speaking, reason and argument, proper research and critical thinking that are the expected “extras” one can expect to, with due amount of dedication, pick up at the afore-mentioned places, there are some valuable skills we aren’t often aware we can be getting:

1. You learn to do things you don’t like to do. Why the heck is that any important? Well, quite simply, because the whole life we are faced with the necessity of doing things we don’t like to do. Like filing the tax reports. Or going to the doctors for preventive check-ups. Even the happiest person with their own business that s/he absolutely loves, a wonderful family, great friends and fulfilling interests will, during the course of their life, need to do things that aren’t something very agreeable to them, yet necessary. It is, therefore, a valuable skill to acquire to learn to accept the fact that some things simply need to be done, whether or not one likes them. Unlike choosing to drown oneself by activities one does not like but that are not necessary at all, things like filing a tax report (a necessity, for most people) won’t probably lighten anyone’s mood, but will save them the trouble of dealing with the consequences of not filing it.

2. Time management. Some people never learn it and go through life constantly frustrated at the missed opportunities, unfulfilled plans, stress and other annoyances. Some pay decent cash for time management courses later in life. We’ve got, nevertheless, a great training for time management available to us at no cost at all – in schools, universities and at our jobs. It’s not a grand science only available to a few – all it takes is knowing how much time a certain task takes one to do and, with the notion of the fact that it’s better to be prepared a day or two ahead of the “doomsday” (aka deadline day), assign a specific time segment to the task at hand. You won’t argue with the university, trying to make them move a class or the office hours of your work-place an hour ahead or an hour later just because it’d better suit your life, would you? That’d be ridiculous! You simply make sure the rest of your schedule to the best of your ability smoothly encompasses those fixed hours. Why not do the same then for a task at hand? Why not say that on this day, from this to this time, I’m doing this task (homework, project), and treat it as an invariable commitment? A friend calling you during a class or during your work saying “hey let’s run to the movies in 10 minutes” is, probably, unlikely to make you grab your coat and flee. Why cannot the same principle apply to home-given tasks? Cleaning, for example?

3. Priority setting. This goes hand-in-hand with time management, and the respective courses also receive many willing (and paying a big buck) participants. You need to assess what is the most labor-intensive, attention-demanding and pressing task. Then do it first. You would feel a great sense of liberation when the biggest chunk of “have to do” pile is behind you. Dedicate the needed time to that task, then spread the rest of the smaller tasks around your free time so that you both have time for that movie with a friend and have everything done in time. Give yourself treats for being ahead of schedule and doing everything properly, if internal motivation isn’t enough.

4. Becoming more intelligent in several dimensions. Beyond the curriculum, if we’re talking about a school setting. The trick is that you can actually teach yourself to learn, instead of being satisfied with merely doing the minimum and getting by. And knowing how to learn, together with being willing to do it and active in pursuing it, is a priceless skill to acquire that can enrich one’s life and understanding in all the plains.

Ok so you hate a certain topic, class, or project at work. Question: can you avoid it altogether? Most likely answer: nope. So you have two options: 1. To “suffer” through it all, doing the least you possibly can that’d get you by just short of failing or 2. Make the very best out of it. How? Easily. Well, not really, but doable. Much easier, still, than suffering through the entire process and dealing with a trash end result. If it is a subject that you hate, find what all it applies to in real life. Find something interesting in it for yourself. See reality through the prism of that subject – you’d realize its real value, beyond the abstract value of learning some theory, it will become “alive” for you, and thus much more entertaining. MAKE it fun if you think it isn’t. This may require additional research, but hey – that’s what search engines are here for (besides, of course, looking up some porn and free downloads 🙂 ). It may also SEEM to require a bit more effort, but trust me you’re wasting by FAR more energy and time complaining about the daunting task, worrying about it, hating the idea of doing it, stressing over the fast-approaching deadline and feeling sorry for yourself and the fact that you’re faced with having to do something sooooooooo terribly annoying.

If a subject/project has, in your eyes, no practical reflection in reality (although every subject does, even advanced mathematics) – then at the very least perceive it as an exercise for the brain. Cognitively active people have better memory, more fulfilling lives and less chances of developing nasty conditions like Alzheimer’s in senior age. Learning and understanding for the sake of exercising the brain is just as good for you as going to the gym when you are young and fit – it’s not to lose weight (or to get a decent grade, or to merely pass) that you’d do it, it’s to avoid ever having to face all the difficulties that may arise from gaining many extra pounds and having no muscle strength on top of that, back pains, muscle cramps, headaches, fatigue – consequences of a lazy lifestyle. Brain needs exercise just as well. And finally, by learning to think about things and subjects you may not like, you gain perspective and critical thinking. You are forced to pay attention to things you voluntarily would never bother with, and inevitably you can learn a lot. If you so wish. A similar principle applies to work projects. And, in the end of the day, overcoming the difficulties and oneself and accomplishing much better results than the “mere pass” will do many more wonders to one’s productivity and self-esteem that any psycho-trainings (another multi-billion-dollar industry) can ever dream of.

So, next time you’re faced with a daunting task, instead of allowing it to spoil your mood and kill your motivation for the time of its duration, why not instead use it to your most and absolute advantage? Get all you can and then some from not merely doing it, but doing it well, on time, learning the most you can about the subject and its implications while you’re doing it, and ending up with not only an accomplished task, but a whole lot of valuable life skills, sense of accomplishment and higher self-esteem. Happy learning and project completion to everyone!

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One of THOSE days again!!!

So it is THAT day again… ooooph….. I wonder if I am so totally feeling the weight of a quarter-of-a-century-and-then-some on my shoulders because it is indeed so unbearable, or simply because I haven’t properly slept the entire preceding two weeks and am currently awake for my 34th hour in a row… Regardless of that, I’ve made it through yet another year – I guess that’s great enough on its own. Yaaaaay!!!

Since the last October 5th, it has been quite a ride. Life does it – takes you for the rides. In fact, a ride is awaiting at almost every road you walk, and you can always choose if you want to hop on, or if you’d rather take a slow stroll in its stead. As we all have heard a dozen of times before, sometimes the greatest reward of the resulting journey is the final destination. Other times the journey itself. In either case though, no such journey would be the same without the co-travelers. Also known as “special people one encounters in life and shares special moments with”, they are the ones adding the unparalleled dimensions to our existence. What you share is not essential in itself. Something as trivial as a smile from a stranger can leave a life-lasting impression, given the right circumstances. Still, the ultimate richness of our existence on the planet is largely comprised of our interactions with others.

Over the year just passed, I tucked in a few more new lands under my belt, finally began learning a new language, fell in love with yet another dance (lambazouk rulezzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz!!!), entered my senior year at the university, finally started that darn blog, and still failed to follow through a million other plans. I’ve been and seen places, done some things on the go, but none of it would have ever taken place if it was not for other people.

Of course, my parents are the central figures in my universe in many ways, however far apart we live or how rarely we see each other. Yet there are many more out there, most of whom I won’t even know the names of, who won’t even realize their role, but who had made it such a beautiful, eventful, colorful, fun, challenging, self-reflecting and ultimately worthwhile year for me on this planet. This list includes everyone, from the distant person picking up tea leaves for that kick-ass elite Japanese tea I enjoyed every drop of at a friend’s house, to some newly acquired proximate friends, and I’ll do my best to try and thank at least those that I can reach for their contribution to making my life wonderful and multi-dimensional….

This, in turn, gives me a certain kind of hope… Maybe, if I’m lucky, I can sometimes unknowingly be on that list for someone else – the list of people who make their life special, in no matter how small of a way… This could be my own tiny contribution to the ultimate well-being on this planet… And it is up to me if this contribution will only extend as far as people I directly come in contact with, or someone about whose existence I am not ever to know. I am not picking tea leaves someone may enjoy. Actually, I am still rather unsure whether I am ever doing anything of substance and meaning on this planet or just spending my time around here procrastinating in the grand sense of the word… I do try, nevertheless, to try and share things that bring me joy and fulfillment with other in the ways I can.

Maybe by sharing that I may spread those feelings around, too… Maybe this is why I post hundreds of pictured from my trips online for anyone to see… Maybe that is the reason I make some of my numerous random thoughts public in this blog… Maybe it’s just that drive to touch the lives of others in ways that would make them see something inside and around themselves they haven’t noticed before, to explore something new, however vicariously, to feel at least a portion of the joy, or to go at least knee-deep into the depths of thought through the little insignificant bits I share every now and then… Maybe it is only a selfish desire to be of enough significance in this universe as to leave at least some sort of an impact… But maybe it is a contrary movement of the soul, a manner of expressing gratitude to all those strangers and non-strangers for contributing to the amazing, fun, sad, thought-provoking, character-forming, enchanting, beautiful, melancholic, enriching ingredients that make up that crazy salad called “mi vida”, oftentimes without knowing…

This is my day to accept wishes, but I have a wish to give out instead: I wish you all to be that special someone for someone else in this world, whether you know it or not. I wish you to realize that you impact other people’s lives far beyond the scope that you can imagine your influence to ever spread. And thus, I wish you to act with the consciousness of the fact that what and how you do travels beyond borders and time… Maybe then it will make more sense to begin acting in ways towards everything you do that are filled with joy, kindness and love, for it is what you carry inside that you spread beyond the scope you can imagine… Would you rather be the taste-enhancing or harmony-disturbing ingredient in other people’s salads? Whichever one you choose, remember that regardless of whether or not you know whose recipe you’ll end up in, what type of an ingredient to try and be is always, every minute, every day, your and no one else’s conscious choice.

Happy cooking, and let’s put together one hell of a finger-licking-delicious global salad!

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I read, therefore I think. I think, therefore…

There exists a theory that all kinds of music has already been written, and it is impossible to come up with a new melody. Similarly, there exists a theory that every possible plot in literature has already been explored and nothing new can ever be written.

A few times a year I send e-mails to my friends that summarize the major news on my side of the fence over the past several months and the thoughts I wish to share with those I care about, since I cannot necessarily boast keeping in touch with everyone regularly. Those e-mails (just as my blog entries :)) tend to run long and pensive (if you’re craving for an example or two – you can find them in messages to the world).

One of the recipients asked me once to “summarize the main point in a few sentences”… I had tried to explain that the e-mail was intended to be read in its entirety, and that its “point” was as much contained in its point as in the rest of the content, the form, the development of the thought… to which I got “whatever, I’m too lazy to read it, so if you don’t summarize I don’t think I’ll ever get to it”… Another person once whined that since the message isn’t intended exclusively and personally to them, they wouldn’t read it…

I am not Shakespeare, just to use the most recognizable literary icon. Or Rowling. I would never assert that what I write has any world-wide grand value, sheds light onto any unheard-of before wisdom, is insanely entertaining, or in other ways genius. Nevertheless, what an amazing way to let someone know that you don’t give a toss about anything they might wish to share and feel important enough to spend several hours, at times, expressing in words – “give me a summary”… A person, presumably a friend of yours, takes the time and effort to, instead of doing anything else, write a message that would share what is most important to them at the moment, and you – the “friend” – can’t be bothered devoting 10 minutes of your time (not enough to watch even 2 full commercial breaks on the tv) to read what’s on their mind… Maybe even if out of respect for what has been invested into creating that text?…

As far as “this message isn’t intended for me personally” is concerned… well, guess what? Neither is ANYTHING you ever read in your life except for direct mails in your inbox, and even then there are exceptions! It is absurd to think that I should never read classics because they didn’t dedicate their works to me personally and no one else. I’m not a classic, but the same argument holds for anything written…

I’m not the most centrally important person in everybody’s universe. Still, if an equally ‘peripheral’ person from my own universe asked me to take a look at something they consider very personal, important, and worthy of sharing, I would definitely read it. Even if it is 4 pages long (wow… 4 pages… that’s less text that some newspapers’ sports sections or some magazines’ beauty tips for the current season break-down!). Or 10. Or 20.

But no, “I’m too lazy to read it all”, I hear…

Back at the dawn of civilization, one of the traits that began to separate us from primates and other animals was growing awareness of self and others, ability to abstract and project onto/take from preceding and forecoming generations. One of the ways to preserve any collected wisdom and culture was written word, and once humans began using language in both spoken and written form, civilization took root. Today, with the ever-speeding-up demand for last-minute headlines, news and informational digests, tweets, the written word has become just as fast-food as any of those obesity manufacturing joints that spring to mind.

Every possible plot may have been already written… Does it mean there is no need to write or read? Does it mean anything thicker than a magazine is too time consuming to waste time on it? Or that long, ‘un-entertaining’ or ‘serious’ or ‘classic’ books, at times in several volumes, are good to toss away?

Maybe every melody has been written, too. But people keep creating music all over the world, as a form of expressing their own personal take on the ever-lasting things that matter to us, homo sapiens sapiens. Millions of melodies each day are in the process of being composed. Millions of books are in the process of being written. Each one has its own unique voice, unique language of the author. And somewhere out there in the world is a person who would best understand something very important for their life, or even best be amused and entertained, by that specific take, voice, form, and no other will do it better for them… Which is why creation keeps taking place all over the globe, despite the numbered topics around which our lives revolve…

As far as the reader goes… The ability to read a long classic is something that reflects into one’s life more than one can possibly consider it. To read AND to enjoy it. To follow through the plot. To ponder over the situations, characters and dilemmas. To explore in depth. People who read, even longer fiction, somehow tend to be more intelligent. They have a wider perspective from which they see the world and its events, and they are thorough in what they strive to accomplish much more often than those whose longest text ever read dates back to “forced-upon-them” school readings… It helps the brain to think, trains memory, and does countless other favors to the one who practices this form of mental exercise, just the same as physical exercise does for the body.

We have “no time” to read though. or so we say… I have read 3 books of over 400 pages in one month just while standing in a line at shops, banks, post office, waiting for the tram, for a friend to show up, for the food to cook, for the lights to change, for the passport control, security check, boarding call… I’d read a paragraph at times, or just a few lines (while the teller was sorting out my order at one of those afore-mentioned fast-food joints, for example), but three big, fat, serious books (one being, for instance, on history of finance), found their way from my handbag into my treasury of knowledge. This will stay with me from now on forever, and greatly enrich my life and my understanding of it. But I haven’t dedicated a single minute specifically to reading at the expense of any other activity or university assigned readings that I had been doing that same month…

There is always time. There is always playing 1000 games online, or reading an online book (if a printed version is unavailable or cannot be shown). And even if you don’t play games, there’s dozens of minutes spent waiting – wasted time – which can be turned into the eternally renewable source of expanding knowledge.

That is, of course, if you’re not “too lazy to read”… But then again, that means a lazy mind. If it is true that to think is to be, then there is no better fuel for thinking than reading fat books… Start with Harry Potter or anything of the sorts to get used to the scale, if you can’t stomach something “boring” at first. You’d be surprised at how fast you’d gobble down the entire collection! Or Agatha Christie, or Doyle. Or anything that is alluring to you by theme or subject. There are many classics of their time in any genre, and they become such for a good reason, which may give you the taste for a language, self-expression, self-awareness, for creation, for thinking, knowing, understanding more and more…

We live on an amazing little planet where there are too many wonders to ever imagine, and it’s a waste of time to live one’s life without finding at least some of those wonders. One can set on the road and travel all around, and/or take a work of literature from another country, or another era, and go travel while waiting for that darn bus to come, instead of wasting those minutes on stressing out and being upset over its 3-minutes delay, which you cannot influence anyway…

I read, therefore I am. ARE you?..

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On hunting and gathering (heat-inspired ponderings).

Apparently, back in them days way before god had decided to let there be light and stuff, our ancestors had divided certain necessary for survival tasks according to certain gender characteristics… Thus, while most males ended up following the “see mammoth – chase mammoth – kill mammoth (or, in occasional less fortunate cases, get killed by mammoth)” formula, most females, presumably, in between having babies and taking care of them (a labor intensive task, ever more so way back before the diapers) went around gathering foods and items that may have come handy at the cavehold.

If anything, at the very least I have some genetic and evolutionary theories to blame then for the fact that I collect stuff. Unlike most “normal” women, I don’t collect shoes. I mean, I already have 24 pairs as it is, can you imagine how many there would have been if I actually collected them?!!!

Instead, I collect other things. For example, candles. The nice looking, unusually shaped and colored ones. I never burn them.

I collect coins and bills. Not fanatically so – just try to get some samples from places i’ve been to… or people’s pockets :). With their permission, of course. (ehm… usually…)

I collect earrings… i have hundreds of them!!! It’s winding down a bit, since i seem to already have all the most interesting items, but i still can’t walk unmoved past the stores with lovely dangling items on display.

Let’s see, what else… pictures… from my trips. Thousands of them… by the way, the albums from all my trips are available to the public here.

…Fridge magnets. As a form of therapy for those moments when the mood insists on “i hate the world and it hates me right back”, which certainly is something most of us experience every now and then. I see my fridge very often, and the geography represented on it works wonders, explaining very quickly to the brain that, in fact, it has absolutely nothing to complain about and an amazing life on top of that, too.

I collect languages I speak (in theory. In practice, I collect languages I WANT to speak, because the collection of those I DO speak stopped currently at number 4) and dances I dance (from club style stuff like trance to r’n’b to belly dancing to salsa cuban, LA and new york, to tango, to cha cha,bachata, zouk, capoeira, to pole dancing…NOT what you thought!At home and in class, purely for the fun and the fitness of it :))…

I collect countries I have visited. I think am approaching the 40’s now… The plan is to visit every existing country in the world. Ambitious, but possible. Besides, I’m already 1/5 of the way through and not even 50 years old yet :).

But most importantly, I collect experiences. Stories. My own and other people’s stories of life, love, loath and everything around and in between. Experiences of new places, cultures, people, perspectives, and new discoveries inside myself.

The one thing we should all keep in mind is the fact that in the end of life, whether that house was built or not, whether that tree has grown next to it or has never even been planted, the most valuable assets we can always carry on with us and pass on to anyone around are not assets at all. Things grow old, break apart, get destroyed, sold… but even left without a penny in the street, one can still hold immense richness within. It is the knowledge, the experiences, the stories of one’s life that won’t go off at any auction, but are nevertheless the most valuable assets one can gather through life.

So I gather those. Maybe I won’t end up rich (although I sure hope I will – traveling the world would be so much easier then :)), but I already have enough to look back upon and say “daaaayyymn, I’ve lived quite life, met great people, and known a great deal of little bits of everything…” this, my friends, is priceless. For the rest of it, there’s cash and plastic cards and barter :).

I guess the purpose of this entry, written on a hot evening in Perpignan (southwest of France, right at the border with Spain, nearby the sea) is very simple: to remind you, when you face decisions, or troubles, to ask yourselves some extremely important questions.

In case of troubles, ask yourself, if you would have been 90 years old now, would this huge tragedy seem like such an unmanageable deal to you then?.. Would you even remember it? Most probably not… Which means you have all it takes to overcome whatever comes your way, and come out of it all better, wiser, stronger, with more knowledge to share and carry through life.

In case of decisions, especially “to do, or not to do” ones… Would doing/not doing something be something you’d be looking back upon when you are 90 with a huge grin on your wrinkled face? or would you want to tear the remaining hair from your head just thinking abut it? Would you regret forever not having tried something?.. All of a sudden, decisions will seem easier to make, certain risks easier to take, while others easier to discard.

In the end of your life, you have nothing but a book you truly possess; a biography book. You are the sovereign author of it, although life’d throw in its own passages to spice it all up and make it less boring. ultimately though, you are the one setting the tone, selecting the story line, keeping or discarding characters and actions… Ask yourself, if you were to read your own biography, would you be bored out of your wits by page 3? Or shamed into purple shades of crimson? Or would you read that biography, and through all its emotions and passages to the last page enjoy it, its dynamic, its main character’s integrity, stories…

Every day is its own chapter. They will not all be perfect – perfection is an abstract idea that has nothing to do with reality. But you can make the best of even the worst hand of cards (or, as they say, when life hands you lemons – ask for tequila and salt :)), and try to write your chapters to the best of your ability, so that the final product, the complete autobiography, will be something you would enjoy re-reading passages from to yourself and others for the rest of your life, and so that others will be happy to share it with others yet long after that house falls apart with age, that tree dries, and your proper name may be lost to the history of humankind… You can still live on in your stories, if you never forget that you are writing them down right now on the invisible pages of space-time…

On that note, happy story-writing and i am off to dance!

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