In the Mood for Love

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No copyright infringement intended.

“Everybody lives within fantasy, within frames. Sometimes the frames are made by us and sometimes they’re made by others. Sometimes we need to believe that those made by us are made by others. But whatever the case, there is no way out of the frame. When fantasies rupture, crack, or break down completely, that’s trauma. Like living temporarily in a storm. Wong Kar-wai’s In the Mood for Love is a gorgeous, quiet, and painful exploration of what happens when the fantasy you create for yourself is a perverse one. When it only serves to keep you from confronting the pain that it was created to avoid. And the reason why the film is so heartbreaking is because this kind of perversity is really quite common. To all of us.”

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Viridian, Vermillion, Crimson

Viridian, Vermillion, Crimson

Colors. Their names, as breathtaking as themselves.

Viridian, a combination of blue and green. Vermillion, a vibrant, bright red; and crimson, a deep, strong red. And like these, so many shades of colors exist from a nearly limitless possibilities. A tad more of one shade, and you obtain a whole new color altogether. We see them all around us, in every form. Yet few know the names of the different shades, nor can describe them if asked.

When I read the names of these colors, I felt drawn to them, I don’t know why. The colors are known to me, but I never thought about their names, that there are people out there who are intimate with them, who create them, use them, and imagine worlds with them.

It all seemed like a metaphor for this world. There are so many things unknown, so many occurrences unexplained, things that appear different than they really are. To think that somewhere, someone knows the meaning of all of them, has named them, and can describe them. How little some things make sense to me, while they probably make great sense to another. How I wish I could be in on the secret.

Some days, I’m infinitely optimistic and hopeful. I see the bright side of things, I trust in goodness, I feel comforted and assured in what may come. On others, it’s like being a different person. Reality sneaks in, and hope fades out. And strangely so, it seems to happen without my knowledge.

As time passes, the different ways the mind works becomes more clear to me. I know that some thought processes occur consciously. It’s a slow and recognized process. There are steps, I know them as I go through them. And yet others occur without my knowledge. I don’t recall having gone through any process to reach that decision, and yet it’s there. Even though it probably took place too quickly and covertly for me to know the details, I know it has been processed in some way and is as legitimate as my conscious thoughts. But if you asked me to explain, I just can’t. It’s more of a “knowing.” And I think many people refer to it as a “gut-feeling,” but its origin is also in the mind.

I think we do this far more than we realize– reach certain conclusions without actively thinking about them. Know what is, without any conscious analysis or deliberation. If we try to break-down this knowledge into its components, it doesn’t happen and that’s confusing, no doubt about that, but it’s also inevitable. And perhaps it has more advantages than we realize. Perhaps some decisions don’t require deep deliberation. Perhaps the reason that we have to take some decisions from the “gut” or without a conscious process is because there are far too many factors to be processed. Maybe the subconscious is the heavy-duty, fast processing hard-drive where these decisions are automatically forwarded, when the mind realizes its too much to deal with them consciously. We don’t get to peep at the equations and the steps that the subconscious mind went through to reach the outcome like we do with conscious thoughts, but they’re still there, they still took place. This outcome is as reliable as the other.

If you’ve ever gone to sleep not sure about an issue, and then woken up having reached a resolution, that’s why. That’s also why people will recommend you to “sleep on it” when you’re struggling to decide. The mind is extremely effective and savvy at processing information.

And yet, other things, no matter how much one ponders on them– consciously or subconsciously– they will never be answered. Occasionally, I have existential thoughts. Sometimes even the trivial issues of the day, seem to bring me back to core questions about why anything is the way it is. Of course there are no answers, and there never will be. Sometimes I admire philosophers, and sometimes I pity them. To sit around pondering existential theories as a living sounds fantastic, but knowing that one will never find answers must be inconsolably frustrating.

I asked my mom whether she ever thinks about existence, and she said she doesn’t worry about such things. Isn’t that the way to live!

Viridian, Vermillion, Crimson. Are they any less beautiful because one doesn’t know their names? Or do they ignite any less inspiration? Why should we have to understand the world, to appreciate it? Why this desperate need to know?

Once A Fool, Always One

Once a fool, always one.
Travels upon similar paths,
Potholes of hearts,
Deeds undone.

Never learns the immature,
Naive fool who loves,
Hopes and trusts prematurely,
Many unworthy, not mine.

To believe it a virtue to love,
Afresh, anew each time.
Never carries the baggage
Of hurt, dejection, hearts denied.

Had such devotion been dedicated,
To efforts more worthwhile, fruitful than the heart,
Would hesitate not, all the riches and fame.
But once a fool, always one.

 

Stardust

This day, this moment. There is something defining about it. A feeling as though it’s where it all starts, or re-starts. As though God took a short break while writing my destiny, and at this exact moment, is about to pick up his pen again. A moment of uncertainty and evermore possibility, until when his ink touches his divine paper, and finishes the story… the climax.

The first half of this movie was entertaining. Adventurous at times, gloomy at others. No dearth of villains, and heroes, and others in between the two. Off-location shoots, and songs, and performances too. A slightly confused movie, that couldn’t quite decide if it wants to be a coming-of-age or a drama, or a satire of sorts. Some irony, some happenstance, and some miracles too.

The second half… I hope it’s good. Really good. Really very good. More laughs, more comedy, more nonsense. Just good old humor and nonsense. And some meaningful lines in between the two.

The writer of destinies!
The one who,
If he used the water of the oceans as ink,
Would run out of ink and not words!

The ultimate artist! The poet, the painter, the origin of melodies!
How within your grasp lies all of the possibilities…
The knowledge of the done, the undone, and to be done at your fingertips.
The galaxies, the stars, all of creation inside your palm,
How one does not crush it all, if by accident his hand slips!

Such love, devotion and compassion on our souls.
If he will bestow an ever greater mercy upon us,
Springs of heaven, companionship, and some stardust…
Your light and incense– a heavenly cloud of mist– it brings,
All of elation in existence, and to exist, it seems.

Celestial

Suddenly,
The mind quietened.
Stopped asking questions,
Begging for answers,
Going in circles,
Chasing itself.

Frets,
Like flurries,
Dispersed.
As though they never existed.
No more a battle,
Between heart and mind.

Maybe powerless,
Though I feel not.
Half of love is daring,
The other half, faith.
Faith in the divine,
To decide it for you–
Make it happen, or not.

I leave it,
To the celestial,
The merciful,
Who knows far better,
And best,
The paths to happiness.

Ferocity

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Some days ago, we were visiting a family friend. A woman born in a small town, who educated herself and made something of herself in the city. Independent. Someone who has always lived life on her own terms. Looking through her photo albums, of photos from her primary school days all the way to her maturity, this one single photo completely struck me. It’s a photo of her mother and female relatives. These are small-town Turkish women in the 1940s, estimately.

“Why is this photo so striking?” I thought to myself. Is it their traditional floral shalwars combined with modern sweaters and v-necks? Their fashionable hair, and bold, dark red lipstick?

Everything about these women speak self-confidence and ferocity. Yes, that’s it. Ferocity. That’s what’s so fascinating about them. Despite having seen little of the world, living small-scale lives in traditional roles, just look at the determination, power and ferocity in their eyes!

Today, most of us have seen more of the world. We’ve traveled. Maybe lived in different countries. We have unlimited access to knowledge and information. We have technology that our recent ancestors wouldn’t have even dreamed of. We have careers and financial independence. But we lack this. We lack this courage, determination, and ferocity. This look. As though the entire world lies at our mercy! The belief that we are capable of doing anything and everything! Perhaps it was this belief that allowed the following generations to accomplish so much. To lead lives that previously only men were capable of living. But what now?

If these rights were to be taken away from women,  flinched from our gasp in the blink of an eye, would we have the courage and ferocity to fight for it now? Could we take on the world with as much confidence and determination? I suppose we do, in some ways still. But this kind of ferocity, I do not see.

To Love Like We Fall Asleep

What if we could love like we fall asleep?

Out of the darkening, quieting, moony skies,
Sleep arrives calmly every single night.
No commotion, no noise, no announcement,
Slowly it enwraps you, like a mystical cocoon,
Circles you, and places a gentle weight on your eyes.

You never think of it when it arrives.
You never think to resist.
Well, maybe, just for a second you do.

But knowing the stubborn human mind,
Sleep knows how to lure the object of its affection.
It doesn’t go away, and it doesn’t demand.
It only remains close to you.

Just slightly nudging you to crawl into bed,
Luring you with beautiful dreams awaiting,
Dreams that seem to hold you by the hand,
And pull you into that land of fantastical dreaming.

When you finally give in, and rest your mind,
Breathing slows down, into a slow and steady melody,
You don’t even realize that you are now sleeping.

If we could love like that…
A gentle slide into a natural and peaceful state.
A comforting, inevitable place of possibility…
Of the most wonderful and beautiful things existing,
And never even realize that we’re dreaming.

“Orwell Was An Optimist”

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“Orwell was an optimist.” I saw this somewhere recently, and thought “how true!”

Everyday, I learn and discover some new ugly truth about the world, about war, and about humanity that both disgusts me and hurts me. It also makes me realize how naively and blindly you and I lead our lives. How we have little idea of the extent of awfulness that is going on in the world. If we’re lucky, and inquisitive, and persistent, we catch glimpses of it here and there. And sometimes, we even tie them together. But only to realize that the awfulness is so vast, that we’ve only dipped our toes in the shallow waters of its beaches. It’s in fact an ocean, an ocean of awfulness.

But it does not end there.

Imagine that everything you see and think you know, is just a very vast and elaborate play. A play that does not take up stage for a few hours and then close its curtains, but one that goes on endlessly and infinitely. One that people lead their lives in. The lines and the lies are so many and so vast, that after some time, even the players become confused about which were the original and which they made up along the way.

And then imagine, that there is another play, inside the play. Like a dream in a dream. A smaller play that is shown to you, like an advertisement– edited, clean, bright,–delivering just the right message to create in you just the right reaction.

And then imagine that all of these plays, these fake scenarios and lines and pretend emotions result in very real consequences. Like death. And destruction. And hunger.

Bravo my friend, you’ve just imagined the world we live in now.

I’m not trying to be a pessimist. I’m not saying that everything is bad all the time. There is a lot of good as well, but that good is in the audience. The sentimental and good audience that is easily convinced and influenced by the well-primed actors. The ones that you and I selected for their roles, to make decisions on our behalf, and with the utmost belief that they would carry out these roles in sincerity and honesty.

But now the roles have changed. Now we are the puppets to the ones we selected for our well-being. We are the stringed and the tugged, in that direction and that. And the saddest part is that they are so good at making us believe that we still make the calls, that we are blinded to our strings, believing that they are still the actors, and we, the audience.

I see my strings. I feel powerless. I see the evil, and yet I am powerless.

There is only two ways to go about this game. Either you remain where you are and keep watching the play and try to convince yourself that this is reality. Or you walk out of the theater, reject the play, and the ones holding the strings decide what they want to do with you.

I wish there was a third option. A scissors! To break free from the strings. To expose this play for what it really is, and return to reality. The REAL reality.

Orwell WAS an optimist. All that he foresaw, and even worse, has already taken place. You are living in it. And then you are reading a book about it and clenching your teeth in fear of the arrival of that awful world! Oh how terrible it would be to live in a world like that!

Oh dear.

You are watching a play. Inside another play.

The Losses and Gains of Obstinacy

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Painting by Leonid Afremov

It’s raining heavily.

I walk briskly and intently in the rain. But I have no protection from it, and I seek no protection. The rain is my own. I’m its origin, and it, my remedy– droplets of salt water to put out the fire inside of me. The fire that I lit and flared.

The wind blows too, but I don’t mind. I keep walking towards it. Trying it and inciting it to face me, to defeat me. I know it won’t. It can’t. No wind could defeat the strength of my resolution.

But even in this struggle, just as with any other…

While I defeat, I am defeated.

While I love, I am unloved.

While I seek, I am unfound.

So you have won after all, dear wind. You’ve won because you’ve done what comes natural to you. You blew in the direction you were meant to blow, while I resisted and persisted to change it. And in my obstinacy, I lost. I lost you and I lost myself.

 In a way, you have lost too. I was obstinate that we travel in the same direction, and on the same path, out of my love for you. And so, in following your natural path, you too have lost– my love and companionship.

Lost what you were meant to lose.

And thus both having lost, and without influence over heavens’ will, we travel on.

I’m okay with that. I may not find you again. But perhaps I will find myself?

And perhaps, you will too.

Remember me, dear wind. For I shall remember you.

When you brushed against my skin and became infused with my scent.

And I breathed you, allowing you to nurture my being.

How oddly joyful, that in all of this losing, there are some things that could not be lost.

The part of me that became you, and the part of you that became me.

If You Can Read This Scribble, You Can Read Me

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“If you can read this scribble, you can read me.”

–Written by Mrs. Patrick Campbell to George Bernard Shaw, possibly 1912

I’ve always found an irresistible allure in the non-physical, yet intimate and constant mingling of two minds. And I’ve always loved the representation of such equations in cinema.

In the movie You’ve Got Mail (1998), which is by some, credited to be the origin of online-dating in an era where internet and online conversation with those unknown to us, was very new and was still being discovered. Of course, it didn’t take very long for the masses to understand that more evil was to come from this advancement than true romantic prospect, and online dating has now transformed into two very extreme versions where it is either used to arrange marriages or, as a tool to satisfy sexual urges. A different type of interaction, one of mind and spirit, is more difficult to find.

In the same movie, the lead character, Kathleen compares her online correspondence with NY152 to the letter correspondence between “George Bernard Shaw and Mrs. Patrick Campbell.” Shaw and Campbell, who never had a physical or romantic relationship, wrote amusing and witty letters to one another for an entire forty years. Those who have read them (apparently it is available in book form), describe their interaction to be magnetic, a unity of spirits, or as an intellectual love story. I think that’s beautiful.

A part of what comes with our social conditioning, or maybe our inherent human inclinations, is that we hardly known any relationships aside from the estranged and the romantic. I am not any less guilty of that than anyone else, but I wish it were not so. There is so much to be gained from other people and their thoughts, then just simply an affirmation of like or attraction. And I think that a great many of us would be a lot less lonely, and a lot more happy if we learned to seek and be content with other types of relationships- including the solely intellectual ones.

I generally start off my posts on one topic, and end on an altogether different one. But maybe what I’m trying to get across in this one, is that we humans, have a tendency to underestimate our influence and impact on other human beings. We don’t realize or want to believe that our words matter to others and affect their thoughts and actions. But they do. And that is a very powerful, and also, a very meaningful thing. Because if you were to use that in a way that uplifts others, that makes them see and feel that they are valuable, cared for, and significant, you can have a powerful positive impact on that person’s identity and life! And similarly, if others treated you in the same way, it would have an equally meaningful impact on you.

So why not seek that support and compassion from other human beings and offer it in return? Why not tell a stranger online what you admire in them? Or smile at someone who seems to be having a bad day? Or give up your place in line to someone more vulnerable? Or comfort one who is grieving?

Some months ago, I had the most beautiful relationship with a street child. He sat everyday with a weighing scale, a very old method for little children to earn some income. Despite that he sits on the street every day, a more dignified, sweet-natured, hopeful and positive child I have not met. Honestly, I’ve never offered him any money. I would merely share with him whatever snack I had in my purse. One day, a banana, one day, an apple. One day, I had a craving for an ice cream cone and remembered to buy one for him. I’d simply hand it to him while walking along. A huge grin would suddenly appear on his face– a more grateful, more delighted look I have never seen. “Thank you!” he always responded. On the last day that I saw him, he again said thank you, and as though he knew that I would not be there to see him again, he also said “bye-bye. ” “Bye-bye,” I responded. Bye, bye my sweet little companion whose name I still do not know!

The reality is, the most meaningful, the most beautiful, the richest and best moments of life, are the moments when you feel that you’ve truly connected with someone, whether it is but for a brief minute, or a long forty years!

Pride

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Pride & Prejudice (2005)

“I could easily forgive HIS pride, if he had not mortified MINE.”

-Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen, 1813

Before I move on for a while, from the works of Austen, I want to talk about pride, or more specifically, whether pride is a good or bad trait. I think most of us, without really deliberating on the subject, would say that it is bad. But is it really?

Excessive, or unfounded pride, of course. One that causes hurt in others, as Mr. Darcy had done to Elizabeth, definitely. But otherwise, is pride a bad thing?

In the dictionary, pride is defined as “satisfaction of one’s achievements,” and “consciousness of one’s own dignity.”

If you think about it this way, there is absolutely nothing wrong or negative about this description. Neither, satisfaction of one’s achievements, nor consciousness of one’s own dignity could be protested.

We get our own definition from Austen in Pride and Prejudice:

‘Pride,’ observed Mary, who piqued herself upon the solidity
of her reflections, ‘is a very common failing, I believe.
By all that I have ever read, I am convinced that it is very
common indeed; that human nature is particularly prone
to it, and that there are very few of us who do not cherish
a feeling of self-complacency on the score of some quality
or other, real or imaginary. Vanity and pride are different
things, though the words are often used synonymously. A
person may be proud without being vain. Pride relates more
to our opinion of ourselves, vanity to what we would have
others think of us.’

But the more amusing definition comes from Mr. Darcy:

‘Perhaps that is not possible for anyone. But it has been
the study of my life to avoid those weaknesses which often
expose a strong understanding to ridicule.’
‘Such as vanity and pride.’
‘Yes, vanity is a weakness indeed. But pride—where there
is a real superiority of mind, pride will be always under
good regulation.’

So, pride is bound to naturally exist, where there is a superiority of mind, and in such a case, it will not regulate or overpower one’s actions anyway.

I agree that carrying pride is a matter of understanding one’s dignity, and that it helps to create healthy boundaries with others, where they are required.

In Turkish, there is a saying “there is no pride in love.” But the way it is spoken in Turkish, is far more definite and enforced than when it is translated into English. The meaning is more along the lines of “there cannot be, there ought not be, it is unimaginable for there to be, pride in love.” It implies that pride is love’s enemy. A poison that is bound to destroy and kill the most promising sentiment, and something to be avoided at all cost,  if one’s aim is to love and be loved. It also implies that these emotions cannot coexist, and choosing one, means overriding the other. It implies, that there is no shame or repulse in doing things unimaginable in the name of love, and one must act, if required, out of character, for the sake of attaining it. Love is treated as the ultimate superior emotion, far more valuable, and necessary than pride.

That’s what you do when you profess love, in any form or method. When you place yourself at risk, when you de-associate with your pride to say the words “I love you” without knowing whether it will be spoken back to you. And if it is not?

If it is not spoken back to you, that pride, that you so selfishly pushed away and orphaned, becomes your friend again. It doesn’t mind returning to you, but its heart was broken too, and it’s not quite the same anymore. You realize, that you valued it too little, and was willing to forsake it for something promising, yet unknown and untrustworthy. And your pride, is now spiked with regret, and shame, for not having been so proud before.

Consciousness of one’s own dignity.

Isn’t it strange that dignity should be so at odds with love?

Effects of Austen’s Words

I read two Jane Austen books back to back, Pride and Prejudice, and Persuasion. While there are similarities, and vast differences as well between the two novels, what struck me while reading Persuasion was the frequently-used words of Austen and their meanings. Some of it may simply have to do with the natural changes in language over several centuries. But aside from this factor, there is something very different and interesting in the way Austen chooses and uses her words.

You probably already know one of Austen’s favorite and most frequently used words– “felicity”, which refers to a state of heightened happiness.

Other words, sound very familiar and average, but hold meanings deeper than is immediately obvious to us. One such word is “agreeable” — whether someone is found to be agreeable to one, or not. However, initially, I had understood this word to mean what we would naturally denote it to mean today– that whether we agree with the opinions of another or not. But that is not the extent of its usage by Austen. The definition is more comprehensive and takes into account different factors such as character, communication skills, but is at its very core, the enjoyment of the company of another, and to be able to spend time with and speak to another with utmost ease. And this also implies of course, an amiable, mild, and courteous character. Such a person is identified to be “agreeable” while one with whom these cannot be done, is “disagreeable.”

I find this fascinating. If I were to go by this definition, there are a great many people who are agreeable to me, but that I would never think of them in these terms.

That is the other fascinating thing about society in Austen’s books. I don’t know if it’s a social characteristic, or the literary skills of Austen, but I find it amusing how the characters in her book are able to assess and describe others’ characters so effortlessly. This is something we never do today, not even to ourselves.

Just imagine that you meet someone for the first time today, spend some time getting to know him or her, and then in your mind or with others, quite distinctly and specifically describe their character, nature, behaviors, social status, advantages and short-comings as to form a very definitive opinion of that person.

One would think that this is just the daily exercise of a very rigid and judgmental society in which its members are only valued to the extent of their family history, education and wealth. But Austen’s descriptions of these relations transcend social classes repeatedly, and often dwell on personal temperaments than outer appearances that makes me think that it is not so.

As I read her novels, I do feel a kind of longing. It is not a longing for the characters per say, although I admit that she describes some of the most loveable and dignified characters I’ve ever come across. It’s a longing to discover and understand human emotions and actions to the extent that Austen’s characters are capable of doing.

I think that we spend our days, on our own, and with others, in what Tara Brach often describes as a “trance.” And while she uses this to mean a state in which we are not aware of our own emotions and thoughts, I think we can take it one step further and also say that we are not aware of the emotions and thoughts of others, even ones with whom we acquaint ourselves intimately (yes, another Austen phrase).

It is this possible disconnectedness, from my emotions and the emotions of others, that frightens me the most. I often feel so hurt, that I wish to numb myself by occupying myself in daily, trivial matters, in a sort of coping mechanism. While I desire this, I also fear it. I fear that I will become and remain numb forever. And every time I am hurt, I fear that a part of me, a part of me which is so tender and affectionate, is dying a slow but irreversible death, a process which will eventually turn me into a completely numb, and distant character.

And while I fear and mourn for this, I also feel anger for those who cause this hurt, and wish that there was a way of showing them the consequences of their selfishness.

Regardless of the fact that I spend most days trying to manage my expectations and convince myself that true love does not necessarily exist, and may not necessarily be found, deeply and most intrinsically, I do believe it exists. And I know exactly how it’s characterized. And perhaps that is why I feel so hurt, because the things and emotions I come across in this world, are so unlike the love I know and feel, that it creates a powerful disappointment. Not just disappointment in my personal fate, but a disappointment in humanity, that love– real love, should be so rare and difficult to find.

I shall leave you with the letter written by love interest Captain Wentworth to the heroine of Persuasion, Anne, upon hearing Anne’s long discussion with another acquaintance of whether men tend to forget women more quickly than the latter forgets them. Anne, initially arguing that men forget much more easily, eventually gives-in that some men do not. Captain Wenworth’s letter:

‘I can listen no longer in silence. I must speak to you by
such means as are within my reach. You pierce my soul. I
am half agony, half hope. Tell me not that I am too late,
that such precious feelings are gone for ever. I offer myself
to you again with a heart even more your own than when
you almost broke it, eight years and a half ago. Dare not
say that man forgets sooner than woman, that his love has
an earlier death. I have loved none but you. Unjust I may
have been, weak and resentful I have been, but never inconstant.
You alone have brought me to Bath. For you alone,
I think and plan. Have you not seen this? Can you fail to
have understood my wishes? I had not waited even these ten
days, could I have read your feelings, as I think you must
have penetrated mine. I can hardly write. I am every instant
hearing something which overpowers me. You sink your
voice, but I can distinguish the tones of that voice when
they would be lost on others. Too good, too excellent creature!
You do us justice, indeed. You do believe that there is
true attachment and constancy among men. Believe it to be
most fervent, most undeviating, in F. W

(Persuasion, Jane Austen 1818)

Tell Me A Place Where God Does Not Reside

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I heard this story just now on Pehla Nasha radio station on Radio Mirchi. It was composed of beautiful couplets in Urdu and this is a very rough translation. I found it amusing and wanted to share it with you!

A man wished to drink in a mosque. He was told that he is not allowed to drink there because it is the residence of God. He responded, “tell me a place where God does not reside, that I may drink there?” He received the response, “go to the heart of the unbeliever, there God does not reside.” He responded, “I went to the heart of the unbeliever, God was there, but [the owner of the heart] was unaware.” He was told, “then, go to heaven, it is not forbidden to drink there.” He responded, “but I drink to forget the woes of the world. There are no woes in heaven. There is no fun in drinking there!”

Intuition

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Intuitions are not to be ignored, John. They represent data processed too fast for the conscious mind to comprehend.” Sherlock Season 4, Episode 1, The Six Thatchers

Do you agree with this statement? I was fascinated with it when I heard it, and I do believe there is truth to it.

Often, we think that reaching a particular conclusion can only be done after focused deliberation on a subject, and a thoughtful consideration of factors that we believe to be relevant.

Other times, we have an intuition, a gut-feeling about something. It could be a general thought or feeling, or even something very specific. But since it is an intuition, we are not able to trace back to the factors that have led us to this conclusion, and that generally causes us to ignore or disregard it. But that does not mean that those factors are not there, or that they were not processed by our mind.

Of course, we can’t assume that everyone carries this ability equally, or that what we understand to be intuition, will always be accurate.

But that intuitions are not to be ignored, I think we can all safely agree on this.

Have you had any such experience?

Bear Witness to the Loving Beauty

Love.
I feel nothing but love.
I have surrendered to love!

What might emerge from that, is irrelevant to me. All that matters now, is that I am overwhelmed by it.

I don’t ask for anything. I don’t even ask for acknowledgment of this emotion that has so unexpectedly, and so beautifully overtaken my being!

Oh how surprised I was in the beginning! How taken aback, how confused, how panicked!

All difficulties of the heart, are from the resistance of what already is. All of one’s confusion is due to an unwillingness to understand and accept. An attempt to control one’s emotions, because emotion is considered to be a weakness. To battle it, and be victorious over it with logic, is seen to be the utmost sign of strength!

I too resisted, refused, ignored… vehemently tried to uproot and destroy this beautiful feeling! But the by-products of these efforts were too painful to bear. I became torn, crippled by intense emotion, and fear. I suffered. Indeed. It was, suffering. Resisting love, is suffering.

I thought about my actions. Actions which appeared to be driven by insecurity and fear. Insecurity which caused me to judge myself even further.

But then, I dug deeper. Deep into those layers of complex thoughts and fears, and asked a very simple question–

What is my intention?

What has been my intention all along?

Regardless of how the thoughts and actions may appear on the outside, what is the intention underlying it all?

I received one answer.

Love.
Just Love.
I wish to love, and to be loved!

[Speaks to self] Oh dearest one! Oh naive one! Oh emotional one! How harshly you judge yourself! How good, and true, and beautiful you are! All you seek is love! Could anything or anyone be as virtuous as that?! That’s what you feared all along?! That you wish to love!

In this way, my spirit laughed, joyfully teased the all-naive, wonderful self!

And this discovery about the utter beauty of my good-willed spirit, has washed away all of those painful emotions, and the resistance.

I love!
I love!
I love!

Now, I just want to live in this moment. A moment of love which is so pure, and worthy of admiration! A love that is as unblemished, and untouched as any. A truly honorable love, is what I have. It is but one, and the most simple and straightforward, illustration of my goodness!

Whether I continue to see that, or not.

Whether another sees that, or not.

Right now, in this moment, I know. I see. I bear witness to the loving beauty in me!

So Be It

For as far back as I can remember, all of my life, I have spent my mental and emotional energies dwelling upon the idea of a utopic, ideal romantic prospect. I’ve treated it as an ultimate end goal, the utmost achievement and proof of my worthiness.

For a period, since it clearly was not happening for me, I took a very extreme opposite position. I tried, and temporarily succeeded in making myself a stoic. I labeled love and all that is associated with it to be a most futile experience. And the search for love, a sad attempt that the weak and unintelligent opt for, instead of living in the real world, with all of its harsh, but true, and existing realities. Love is a diversion, I felt, from seeing, experiencing, and succeeding in this world. An effort that is bound to fail, and lead to disappointment.

While this worked well for me for some time, I could not maintain it. For when, one is an inherent romantic, even the smallest glimmer of hope can be sufficient to reignite its passions. Therefore, I again succumbed to the “sad attempts” that I had found distasteful and repulsive just shortly before.

But my story is a dull one. It repeats itself. Love, is as distant and unreachable, as it always has been. And all of my efforts at attaining it, as futile as they’ve ever been. But now, I realize something completely different. I realize that I have been focusing on the wrong things all along.

I probably need not explain to you the wrongness of this entire premise. Nothing beneficial can come out of viewing romantic love as an end goal, as a kind of achievement. I do not blame myself for thinking this way, for it was embedded in our way of thinking from a very young age. Why were we raised on Cinderella stories where a girl’s happiness lied in finding and uniting with a true love? Why was it driven into our head that the search for romantic love, is an essential and inevitable aspect of life? A solution to all woes? How might we lead our lives differently had it never been so?

And how were we ever led to believe that we deserved to feel “worthy” to the extent that we were desired and loved by another?! If we understand our self-worth to be solely reliant on the affirmations of another person, how are we ever to find true and lasting happiness, in accepting and loving ourselves? And how can we ever believe that an affirmation received once, would be repeated regularly for the rest of our lives?

So let’s say you are in the most ideal situation– you’ve loved, you’re loved back and you get married. How many days, weeks, or at best, months, will it be until your spouse fails to affirm who you are? How long until the moment when you disagree and no longer feel loved? How can anyone accept to base their happiness and self-affirmation on the whimsical thoughts and feelings of another human being? That is, surely, a recipe for disappointment and disaster. That, has never been my idea of love. That’s because my idea of love, and perhaps yours as well, is imaginary. It has no basis in reality. It’s a mirage, a hallucination, a dream, a wish, a fairy tale, is all.

What I’ve failed to recognize in all of this, is how my futile searches for love, how my disappointments and heartbreaks have in fact been helping me to progress in a path towards enlightenment. I am not near enlightenment now, by any means. But the phases of my life where I’ve had enlightened moments, periods of deep introspection and greater understanding of existence, happiness, and God, have directly emerged from disappointment and heartbreak. And I am in one now.

So, no. Love is not the end goal. The search for it, is not the purpose of our lives.

The end goal, has been, and will always be, a return to home. A return to our true selves, and to God. If that will be gained, through love, and heartbreak, so be it. If that will be gained, without love, so be it. For this destination is so fulfilling and sweet, that any struggle and pain one finds in its path, is wholly welcome!

Coming Home

“All of life is a coming home. Salesman, secretaries, coal miners, beekeepers, sword-swallowers. All of us. All the restless hearts of the world, all trying to find a way home. It’s hard to describe what I felt like then. Picture yourself walking for days in the driving snow. You don’t even know you’re walking in circles. The heaviness of your legs and the drifts, your shouts disappearing into the wind. How small you can feel, how far away home can be. 

Home. A dictionary defines it as both a place of origin, and a goal destination. And the stone. The stone was all in my mind. Whereas the poet Dante put it, in the middle of the journey of my life, I found myself in the dark wood, for I had lost the right path. Eventually, I would find the right path. But in the most unlikely place.” Patch Adams (1998)

Elizabeth’s World

“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.” Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen, 1813

The infamous introduction to the one of the best known classics, and unforgettable romances of all time…

It’s fascinating to read and re-read Pride and Prejudice and ponder on the many differences in social structure, tradition, social norms and norms of courtship between then and now. In that world, a man’s character and behavior, was as important as his social standing and financial prospects. Just as his wealth and breed made him ideal husband material, his vanity and rudeness made him not.

A world where affections could be based on reasoning and understanding, just as much as outer appearance and first impressions. When selecting a life companion required a comprehensive assessment of all the various factors that were to impact one’s relations, and future life.

It was also a world where a poor young woman’s greatest aspiration would be to be worthy of being married off well, and selecting a partner was as much a financial necessity to her as it is to dis-empowered women of today. In some ways, the world has changed little, in others, it is no longer the same world.

Can you imagine a ritual of courtship in which getting to know someone took place during highly formal, restricted and short periods spent together in the company of one’s family and guardians? When a mutual expression of love was equivalent to being engaged, which was promptly followed by seeking official permission from parents, only to be married and settled very shortly after?

In what ways are we better off today than we were then?

In the high-tech virtual world we live in, and the freedom granted to us by our families, and society, are we better equipped to court or find life companions? Does facebook, tinder, and instagram make us better assessors of one’s character? Does the infinite amounts of time we are permitted to spend in privacy with someone and without any responsibility of commitment make us better familiar and intimate with someone’s personality, principles, and habits?

I personally think not. Courting, loving and marrying are not easier today than they were 200 years ago. In many ways, I think it has become far more difficult.

The variety and number of platforms in which we are now able to indulge our romantic and sexual wants, has not brought us any closer to true intimacy, affection, and love. It has simply given us more ways, and more methods to hide who we really are, to put on pretenses, form fake virtual identities, and give greater liberties to our darker, irresponsible tendencies and desires.

In this world, we are even more vulnerable, and get hurt even more than we would have in Elizabeth’s world.

Freshly Roasted Coffee Beans

Let’s take a stroll together?

When the sun set not too long ago, and the city unwraps into a different one. The air is crisp and cool, just enough to wear a thin cardigan. We breathe in the cool air, while being comforted by the warmth of the wool on our skin. The city becomes decorated with lights. Suddenly all becomes lively, bright and exciting. Where was it hiding until now?

When we walk briskly amidst crowds of strangers, they seem not so strange anymore. They become like fireflies who’ve met for a common mission in the dark. A mission to find whatever it is they are in search of. A mission to be paired and loved.

We take a turn into a smaller side street. Suddenly all quietens for a moment. We’ve diverted our path from the others, and decided to go on our own. It’s peaceful, and also uncertain. What might be at the end of this path? But at least you are with me. I don’t fear getting lost.

But lost we are not. At every curve and corner of the narrow street, familiar strangers welcome and greet us, giving us assurance that we are on the right path. Lights dispersed at regular intervals show us the way. I can count the pieces that make up the stone path. We breeze through waves of shades, of shadows and lights from lamps, and objects that get in its way. One second our path seems so dark, so difficult to see. I grasp your hand more firmly for assurance. Just a mere second later, all is bright again, and everything clear.

And suddenly, we are hit with an aroma. An aroma of freshly roasted coffee beans. It encircles us, enters us, and draws us to itself, into a cosy haven that we call our own. Finally, we’ve arrived.

I don’t drink coffee immediately. First I grasp the cup between my two hands, feel the warmth of it, keep it close to me for a long time, and deeply breathe in before taking the first sip.

Standby?

Why do some people linger in the betweens? They’re not able to commit to you, and yet not willing to let you go? Or they want you, and want others too?

How can there be a romantic in-between?

There just isn’t. Because there is nothing frightening or worrisome about wanting to be with someone you love. On the contrary, that’s precisely what you want.

There is only one reason why someone would feel that way… because they’re not sure about you, and they’re not sure about wanting you. Shall we keep it simple and short? They don’t love you.

So what is it then?

I think it’s just selfishness. Extreme selfishness and dishonesty. Not willing to make promises, not willing to be all in… treading on the sidelanes, keeping backups… giving you reasons enough to stick around hoping, while never delivering on those hopes.

So why are you okay with this?

Do you believe that this is all that you’re worth? All that you deserve to have, all you think you can ask for?

Do you not deserve integrity? Do you not deserve to be loved wholly and exclusively?

We all have to make our own decisions. And we will make them when we’re ready to make them… when it’s time. Just recognize the reality for what it is. That’s always the first step. The thing is though, you have to decide eventually. Because if you keep sticking around forever, you will never know what else is in store for you.

So… standby? Or start walking?

Ocean

I tried. My intentions were true and pure. I broke my barriers to reach you. I tore down my walls of fear. I accepted being vulnerable, I took the leap. I crossed the unknown to land a kiss on your lips.

I thought there was an understanding between us. I thought it was deep. I thought it transcended the boundaries of the physical. I thought it may be meant to be. I thought it could be everything.

I’ve been in the desert. I’ve been desperately thirsty. I’ve never stopped seeing that mirage, that calls out to me from far away and offers to quench my thirst. I’ve been running to it for so long, without getting even a step closer. It’s time to stop.

For once I will not blame myself. I will not feel regret. I will not self-loathe, or criticize, or judge, or hate or bash. My intentions have been pure all along. All I wished was to connect, to feel safety and support. To feel complete. To fall asleep breathing in the scent of your skin. That’s all.

But when the response to my purity and sincerity is shallowness… when it’s the raw and untamed lust that objectifies my soul and is willing to break my fragile heart for its egocentric satisfaction, it’s over. I will not allow my light to be blemished that way.

Everyone claims to love, while they do not love at all. They don’t understand that love means sacrifice, that it means putting the needs of others before your own needs.

If I had been truly loved, my fragility, my hurt, my fear, my hesitation would be understood. I would be treated with gentleness and patience. I would be given the opportunity to heal, and the space to re-blossom.

Do you think I am incapable of loving you? Of showing my affection?

Oh how you err.

You do not have the remotest idea of the extent of my passion and affection. You cannot realize that to be loved by me, is to be loved for the first time. That my touch is not only a sensation on your skin, but a shower of love on your spirit. That my kisses are accepting, and healing of every fear and shortcoming you have ever felt.

Would one replace this, with mere desire?

Desire is helpless, fleeting, pitiful. I am the source of desires, and its remedy too. Desires are too small for my vast spirit, that expands and engulfs all of existence.

You wish to define me by your desires? Oh how small and little you think!

I offer you an ocean, while you wish to be satisfied by a drop!

Barriers

“Your task is not to seek love, but merely seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.” – Rumi

Have you ever briefly met someone, felt an understanding between you, but did not proceed with the idea because of some kind of superficial expectation that you carry? Maybe appearance, or social status, or financial status, or something else?

If so, you’ve made a mistake.

What if everything you have ever sought, everything you’ve ever dreamed of finding was in that person? But you never got to find out because you never took the chance? Because you were unwilling and afraid to find and break the barriers within you? What if that deep bond, that infinite love and acceptance, was right in front of you and you failed to see it?

It’s still not too late. Find and break those barriers. Reach out. You have no idea how liberated you will be. You have no idea of the bliss that is awaiting your one nod. You have no idea how quickly and beautifully it will all come together.

In Awe of Your Awe

That smile…
It’s so familiar. I’ve seen it somewhere before. I’ve loved it before.
To love a smile not yet seen, I never knew it was possible until now.
But it’s unmistakable. The way your teeth emerge with a shy dimple and the spark in your eye.
It’s a mischievous spark. Joyful. If one looks closely though, it begs a question. It’s a hint of unbelief that this is happening. It’s in awe.
I’ve never seen anyone see me in awe before. It’s beautiful. I’m in awe of your awe.

Who We Really Are

I’d once heard, in a rather shallow film in fact, a very deep insight about who we are. It stated that who we really are, is who we are when no one is looking. It’s what we think and do when we’re alone.

When we’re around others, whoever it may be, we start to pretend and act. It’s not because we’re not forthcoming or honest people. It’s an intrinsic aspect of being human, to demonstrate ourselves in ways that will meet others’ approval or somehow obtain what we desire from them.

It’s only when we’re alone that the the pretenses fall away, and we truly find the opportunity to be who we are actually.

Can you imagine, if we could do that when there are other people around? Just be ourselves? Would it be just a lot of awkwardness and embarrassment? And why is that? Why are we embarrassed to be who we are? Why do we think that our authentic feelings and the natural actions that emerge from that authenticity is wrong? What if we came to terms with the fact that they’re not wrong? That they just are, and that there is nothing wrong about it?

I think I’m tired of living this way. Of having to calculate my feelings and actions all the time. I want freedom, true freedom. Not just freedom to make life decisions or to travel somewhere or to speak a highly controversial opinion. But the freedom to be just as I am without worrying about being judged or the consequences that I think that may bring. How liberating that would be! Wouldn’t it be lovely to taste that liberty before it’s too late and I pass on from this world of illusions and never get the chance again?

Humans are truly the epitome of contradictions. We always preach about the loving and accepting nature of God. How God always sees and hears and knows what we are doing and thinking and feeling. And how he does not judge us and accepts us and loves us and forgives us and welcomes us no matter what.

If the one who created every single creature in the universe is so loving, accepting and compassionate, why are we so hesitant to offend his imperfect and confused creatures? Does that make any sense? Does it make any sense to hurt ourselves, limit ourselves and judge ourselves in order to receive approval and affirmation from those who are just as imperfect and confused as we are? Just think about that.

This Mess Is You

the-shack

The Shack (2017)

Let me ask you, how confident are you in your ability to discern good from evil?
Usually pretty obvious.
And your basis for something being good is what?
If it helps me, or the people that I love.
And evil?
It’s harmful, if it hurts someone I care about.
So, pretty much, you are the judge.
Yea, I guess.
You ever been wrong? Or changed your opinion all the time?
Sure.

And there are billions like you. Each determining what you think is good and evil. And when your good clashes with your neighbor’s evil, arguments ensue. Wars break out because all insist on playing God. You weren’t meant to do any of that. All on your own. This was always meant to be a conversation between friends. 

What do you think? [referring to the garden]
It’s still a mess.
Yes, it is Mac. Wild, wonderful, and perfectly in process. This mess is you.

Nature

Nature has such a quietening effect– quietening of the mind and of the soul. Describing nature is a daunting task because describing it justly, is highly improbable. Nature isn’t to be described but to be experienced.

How can I describe to you the myriad shades of green that form as sunlight drifts over the leaves of shrubs?

Or the deep, intricate, complex scent that diffuses from the crushed fruit of a pine tree?

Or the gentle and loving breeze urging to take deep breaths of its air,  still lingering with the mild scents of the flowers it caressed before reaching you?

Or the warm sensation of sunlight on your skin, its rays fluttering one’s eyelashes and giving new hopes?

Or the bees that visit every single flower without fatigue or hesitation?

Or that one bug that is incessantly drawn to the powdery, sweet scent of your skin?

Or the birds that carelessly go on with their socializing and planning?

Or that moth that emerges out of nowhere and draws all attention to itself until it leaves the stage?

Or the utter tranquility and relief that all of these sights, smells, sounds, and sensations create inside?

How can I ever describe it justly? Go on, experience it for yourself.

Rumi in a Dream

The last I had read anything of Rumi was about ten years ago. I had enjoyed some of his poetry online then and was gifted a Rumi book. But I don’t recall any of his poems.

But this morning, I dreamt of a Rumi poem. I dreamt that someone addressed it to me. All I recall are the words “one or the other.” So I looked it up and could only find one Rumi poem which mentions these words:

When you begin to love God; God is loving you. 
A clapping sound does not come from one hand.
Lightning from here strikes there.
No lover wants union with the Beloved
without the Beloved also wanting the lover.
Love makes the lover weak,
while Beloved always remains strong.
A thirsty man calls out, 
‘Delicious water, where are you?’ 
while the water moans,
‘Where is the water drinker?’
The thirst in our souls is the attraction
put out by the Water itself.
We belong to Him, and He to us.

God’s wisdom made us lovers of one another.
In fact, all the particles of the world
are in love and looking for lovers.
And the Holy Spirit helps with everything,
like a young man trying to support a family.
We, like the man’s young wife, stay home,
taking care of the house, nursing the children.
Spirit and matter work together like this,
in a division of labor.
Remember what the soul wants,
because in that, eternity is wanting our souls.

God fixes a passionate desire in you,
and then disappoints you.
God does that a hundred times.
God breaks the wings of one intention
and then gives you another,
cuts the rope of contriving,
so you’ll remember your dependence.

Don’t be presumptuous and say one or the other.
Close your lips. 
The mystery of loving is God’s sweetest secret.
Your prayer should always be:
Break the legs of what I want to happen.
Humiliate my ego.
It’s Spring and finally I have no will.

The Lovebug

We all know someone. Maybe a love prospect that was unrequited or maybe one that ended in heartbreak. Someone who is not in love. Maybe success is the utmost ambition for this person, and all else mere needs that are to be filled, by someone or another. Perhaps people are just tools in their eyes, or ladders, allowing them to reach what they need in that moment. Value is allotted to others depending on their present utility.

If you’re not loved back by someone like that, don’t let it get to you. Don’t take it personally. Especially because love is not something that can be artificially implanted into another’s soul. No one knows why it takes root in one, and not another. I believe it’s part of a divine plan. A mercy, a miracle that God distributes in very chosen, specific, and timely ways.

I also believe that no one escapes the bite of the lovebug forever. If not today, then one day… if not you, then someone, that person too will be bitten. Because that’s how love works. Love is not something that we obtain and then keep forever. It’s a trigger. A trigger that causes change and transformation in who we are. It’s a key that unlocks different versions of ourselves and takes us on journeys, both inward and outward. And no matter how far one runs away from it, it will catch up with everyone eventually. And when it does, love will hit that person harder than any of us.

A Dreamy Assurance

Does it ever happen to you… in the middle of the day, when you’re busy, minding your work or errands and suddenly you get a flashback of a dream that you had a very long time ago?

It returns so suddenly and yet so vividly that it’s impossible to ignore. For a moment, you find yourself back in that dream, remembering what it exactly felt like and looked like. And somehow you get a feeling that it isn’t just a dream but a piece of destiny, a destination that you are on the path of reaching. Even though I cannot get myself to completely accept that a dream is a form of reality, I can’t shake off the feeling that I am destined for it.

These flashbacks do not come very often, maybe once every few years. But when it happens, it gives me a strange and inexplicable feeling of assurance that I’m on the right path and headed for exactly where I should be heading. I feel relieved and comforted.

It’s also strange to think that as much as I perceive life and the world to be something which cannot be planned or predicted… somehow, all of this mess, this chaos, has its own patterns and its own destinations. Somehow, everything is always as it should be.

A Society of Paranoids

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“Wheatfield With Crows” July 1890, Vincent van Gogh

I unfortunately encounter quite a few raw, judgmental, and hateful people. I mostly likely to refrain from making grossly generalized statements such as this, but experience has shown me, time and time again, that this is the case. And yet, I do not mean this as a depreciation. I’m merely observing and recognizing it.

I think for a long time I was in denial about this because I believed, and maybe still want to believe, that all people are inherently good. But as years pass and experiences and incidents repeat in disappointingly familiar ways, I find it inevitable to draw some conclusions.

The type of person I will describe now is the ultimate manifestation of rawness and negativity. By rawness, I am referring to raw feelings– feelings that existed at their height in the very beginning of humanity, when they possibly served a somewhat practical purpose of ensuring survival. I’m referring to raw feelings like jealousy, envy and hatred. Viewing all others as competition for limited resources and aiming to gain victory over them without hesitation or mercy must have surely increased the chances of survival for our early ancestors.

But doing this now… Hating someone for no other reason than the fact that they simply exist and wish to coexist with you in the same space…To despise someone you know nothing about, to never even allow the opportunity to learn about them before passing severe judgments about them….And wishing them harm just so that they will get out of your way… It’s this kind of rawness, a state of having fallen behind evolution and humanity, that I fail to comprehend and accept.

As much as I feel hurt and withdrawn because of this type of thinking and behavior, I also feel sad about people who live in this constant state of mental war. What might it be like to view everyone but yourself as an enemy? What might it be like to always be on guard, to protect yourself from imaginary harms, to constantly plan to strike first before another strikes you…What might it be like to live in a constant state of fear, insecurity and suspicion about the world, to be consumed by how wicked it all could be…

Isn’t all of this just a form of paranoia? And what if you have an entire society made up of people who feel, think and act this way? A society of paranoids? What might be the consequences of their fears and wars? And what happens to the rest of humanity who wants goodness, happiness, and peace?

Start Now

Until now, I always thought that my intrinsic value as a human being was determined by my opinions of and treatment of other living things. So I’ve spent 30 years worrying about being kind to others, and being extremely receptive to their opinions, behaviors, thoughts and actions.

At age 30, I learn that I was wrong. My value as a human being is not dependent upon any external force or being and how they view me. It’s entirely about how I feel about myself.

The struggle is never about being loved by others. The struggle is being loved by ourselves. The reasons for undervaluing oneself, or not feeling like we’re enough or worthy of love could be many. Perhaps a parent who deprived love and affection, perhaps a teacher who was highly critical. The reasons do not matter. It’s not too difficult to find reasons if that’s what we seek to do. But if we don’t fight this, if we don’t learn to accept ourselves just the way we are; if we don’t learn to stop judging ourselves, of deliberating over every mistake and worrying about other’s perceptions of us, we can never be happy and at peace.

It’s not easy. It’s not going to happen overnight. You are fighting a life-long established pattern, an enforced mechanism that has become so natural to you that you don’t even realize that you are doing it. This is going to take deliberation. This is going to take hard work. You’re going to have to de-program the way you think and feel about things. You’re going to have to think about it and mindfully practice it. But it’s possible.

I don’t know you and I don’t need to. I just want you to know that this battle exists in everyone, and I’m fighting it, just as you are. I want you to have confidence in yourself.

People often talk about life changes…about accomplishing things, about success. But you don’t need to change your life. You need to change your thinking. Change it by accepting yourself, with all of your perceived “shortcomings,” “faults,” “mistakes,” “foolishness.” Which by the way, they are not.

Right now, this moment, I want you to accept that there is nothing wrong with you. You are perfect just as you are. You are wonderful. You are beautiful. You are the most beautiful being that anyone can ever encounter. You are complete.

As much as we try to love and accept others, if we put that much effort into loving and accepting ourselves….what would happen?

Everything else that you think you want right now– whether it is to be loved or to be loving towards others, to be successful, to be content, all of this will follow when you are at peace with yourself. These other things are not the destination, they are the side effects of the actual goal– loving yourself. So don’t concentrate on the side effects, focus on the source. Love yourself.

Start now.

Your Own Little Big Bang

I spend the nights listening to music and trying to make sense of my feelings. Sometimes they are as mysterious to me as they would be to a stranger. Where does it come from?

There is a word, “yakamoz,” in Turkish. As much as I complain about how limited and unsatisfactory Turkish is to me as a language, I’ve failed to find an English term for this word. Yakamoz is the reflection of the moonlight on the sea.

I remember those moonlight filled nights. When the sun sets and the feminine flowery scent of the hot sand transforms into a masculine scent as it cools down and settles into a peaceful rest. The dark starry night welcomes a full moon that shines so brightly on the sea as if to make a path that I could follow to it.

It was impossible not to fall in love on such nights. Romance roamed in the air and took over your being as you simply breathed. It turned commonplace objects and people into butterflies that settled deep into your chest. It turned scents into ecstasy, and one became high, just by existing.

That feeling was so beautiful, that it always made me feel a combination of joy and sadness. The joy that it was happening to me, and the sadness…. I’m not sure why. Maybe I felt sad about being deprived of this emotion at other times, on other days. Maybe I felt sad because I knew it could not exist forever, it was bound to end.

Sometimes, I really admire people who are not able to love. Love is the most powerful, unreasonable emotion. It doesn’t fit, it doesn’t quiet down. It rushes and flows, overtakes, paralyzes, awes. It explodes and overtakes the universe, from right there, inside your little heart. Your own little big bang.

My Grandfather’s Home

My grandfather used to call me “my lioness.”

He was a tall and thin man, of wheat skin, and a serious glance that was disrupted by an adorably chunky nose. He loved to be clean shaven. He always wore a vest and suit, a flat cap, and carried a pocket-watch.

He was a man of few words, but of infinite compassion, love and affection. He never hesitated to show his love to us, he laughed heartily and unabashedly. He was the kindest man I’ve known.

Many times, I would see him, pulling a wooden chair to his garden. Sitting one leg on top of the other, always playing with worry beads. His movements were slow and sure of themselves. If he was ever worried or anxious, I’ve never seen it in his features. He could sit in his garden for hours, or aimlessly take a stroll in the streets. He always carried regular and candied chickpeas in his pockets. Much to my delight, he would pull out a handful and put them in my palms when I least expected it. I can never forget the sweet taste of that candied chickpeas, or the kind, earthly hand that shared them with me.

On the day of the bazaar, he would order a horse and carriage. We would all get on the back and make it through the hot, dusty streets with the sounds of galloping horseshoes resonating in our ears. On our way back, we would find our place among the watermelons and the peaches and the cherries.

My grandfather ate little, and spent little on himself. But when it was time for our visit, he would stuff the refrigerator with all kinds of foods. He had this orange drink in the kitchen drawer that you made with hot water, and fresh Turkish coffee that overwhelmed your senses. He would hang quince from the ceiling for us to take back before we left.

As a child, my grandfather’s home was the only place that ever felt like home to me. There was nothing but love and acceptance in every corner of it, in every creak of its wooden floors.

My grandfather’s bath had cold cement flooring, but the water was heated using a furnace. I cannot describe the experience of bathing in that room. Have you ever bathed amidst the comforting scents of burning wood, and felt the hot water warm up the cement floor underneath your toes? I can assure you that there is no greatest comfort or pleasure on this earth. I have never again experienced such delight, and I doubt that any other experience will ever measure up to it.

And yet the wonders of my grandfather’s affection and home didn’t end there. His house was full of interesting and intriguing objects and unexpected surprises around the corner. He would place candies in the least likely places, giving our childish minds wonder beyond imagination. His living room, which we would immediately turn into a bedroom after our arrival was decorated with lights on one wall, all year-around. I think he used them as night lights. It was just one of a million things that comforted me when I was there.

The only thing I had an issue with was the old clock on the wall which seemed to make no noise at all during the day, but its tick-tocks would magnify in my ears and keep me from sleeping at night. Well at least for a few nights until I got used to it.

I don’t recall my grandmother as much, as she was the one to pass away first. I know she was of average height, the weight centered on her middle part, with thinner legs (features of all the women of our family I’m afraid). She had very fair skin and dark black hair. I very clearly recall the day when she made a massive pot of Noah’s pudding. Noah’s pudding is a mixture of grains, beans, dry fruits and nuts, molasses, orange rinds, cinnamon and sugar. It produces the most amazing aroma and takes over your senses much like an apple pie right from the oven. She placed the huge pot on the ground for it to cool down, handed spoons to my brother and I and told us to have some once it cooled down. At this point, my brother and I literally attacked the dessert, with the spoons making endless trips between the pot and our mouths. My grandmother’s legs wandered by us a few times as she continued her house chores. Eventually, she came and stood on top of us, glanced into the pot, and possibly alarmed at how much we had eaten in such a short period, simply commented “kids, keep some for your grandfather, ok?”

My great-grandmother lived with them as well but insisted on having a small shack of her own in the garden of the house. I think she had the desire to be independent even when she wasn’t. Her tiny little room always smelled of herbs and oils. Whenever I went there, I’d find her sitting on the floor, boiling herbal teas in a pot in front of her.  She loved sage tea and oil of oregano, and I can clearly recall the potent mixtures of these scents. She was past the age of 90, very thin, a hunchback and blind in one eye. But she had a sharper mind and bigger appetite than any of us. She was an eccentric woman who was religious and spiritual but who didn’t mind using curses when angered, ones that would make an adult man blush. She could put us to sleep by whispering prayers into our ears, but also enjoyed telling us ghost stories right before bed-time. I would shudder in fear and then she would tell us to say our prayers and sleep and that nothing would happen if we did. She loved talking and could tell stories for hours if she found any keen ears around her.

My grandmother passed away in 1991, my grandfather in 2002, and my great-grandmother just 6 months after my grandfather. Apparently, my great-grandmother’s last words were “I guess I’ll lie down and die now.”

I don’t know what heaven will be like exactly, or whether I’ll make it there. But if I do, I hope it’s my grandfather’s home, and that I’m surrounded by all of them and their love again.

Just Another Amusing Story Over Dinner

I like seeing the world through other people’s eyes. Learning about their life. Seeing things from their perspective.

It makes me realize how grand the universe is, how limitless the possibilities. However large my problems may seem, through another’s eyes, they might seem small.

No matter how difficult or bad you think your life is, trust me, there is someone out there who would change places with you in a heartbeat. Concentrate on the good. Console yourself.

Think of time, time which will make all things pass, and all wounds heal. And when it does, all of the pain you feel right now, it will be as though it never happened.

It will be a long forgotten dream from another lifetime. All of your problems will one day be a faint memory that you will struggle to remember. Just another story that you tell your friends over a warm, intimate meal together, for mere amusement.

Just wait for that day.

Float

You know when you’re swimming in the shaded part of the pool… and then you start floating on the surface of the water and close your eyes. All you can experience is the feeling of the water on your skin. How it plays with your fingers. How you get immersed in it. How your worries dissolve. How you become part of the water. Your perfume mixing with the scent of the water to make another, beautiful scent, that fills and intoxicates the surrounding air.

Then suddenly, everything lights up… you’ve drifted to the sunny part of the pool. The sun indiscriminately shining on every part of you. And you feel so happy, so glad to exist in that moment. Life is so beautiful that no combination of words can ever describe it justly.

Sometimes we talk too much and feel too little. Now is the moment to feel and experience. Just close your eyes, and float. Let it take you wherever it goes.

Stop Fooling Yourself

Stop fooling yourself.

I know you know what love is. I know you know what it looks like and feels like.

Love is effortless. It either is or isn’t.

You can’t make anyone feel it, and when it’s there, it will not keep quiet. Destiny will make it come together, in ways you never could have dreamed of.

Love is not convenient, selfish, proud or vain. There is no confusion, doubt, fear, hesitation, restlessness or insecurity.

Stop making excuses.

It’s not shyness that’s keeping love away. Love is overwhelming, courageous, and it feels perfect. It is perfect.

Love drives away fear and insecurities. Your tests don’t become walls. Your reaching out isn’t interpreted as rejection. If there really is love, it won’t end so quickly. It will not make you cry so, it will not leave you to your loneliness.

It’s not love.

I know you know what love is. I know you know what it looks like and feels like.

Stop fooling yourself.

The Night

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Saawariya (2007)

I’ve been having a hard time sleeping lately.

It’s not that I’m not sleepy or tired, or won’t be able to sleep if I tried. It’s like my mind resists the idea of falling asleep.

I’ve always loved the night. That period between 10 p.m. and 3 a.m. is so beautiful and promising. It brings the satisfaction of having overcome one more day, and the next one seems unperceivably far away. In those hours, it feels as though I have all of infinity at my fingertips.

If I sleep, I feel like I will miss out on something, Like missing a train that can never be caught again. Like missing ideas and emotions that only conceive and blossom in the mysterious, romantic, drowsy moments of the night.

When the hot, bright, contrasting colors of the realistic day fade away, the darkness and coolness brings new possibilities. A different world, a different me.

My mind slows down. I start to listen. Really listen. As thoughts and rigidness relax and fall away, true emotions begin to emerge and show themselves. Like they were hiding under the bed, waiting for the night to arrive.

The sun exposes too much. It reveals the shapes and dents of everything and anything. It’s too dazzling. It forces me to close my eyes.

But the night… The moonlight brings far more clarity than the sun. I sense more than I look. I’m infused and transformed into something a little different than the night before. Every night makes a new me. I don’t want to lose out on that experience.

Do you love the night?

We Aren’t Here to Make Things Perfect

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Moonstruck (1987)

Loretta, I love you.

Not like the way they told you love is. And I didn’t know this either, but love don’t make things nice. It ruins everything. It breaks your heart. It makes things a mess.

We aren’t here to make things perfect. The snowflakes are perfect. The stars are perfect. Not us. Not us. We are here to ruin ourselves and to break our hearts. And love the wrong people, and die. I mean the storybooks are bullshit.

Now will you please come upstairs with me and get in my bed?

Letting Yourself Be Vulnerable

I’ve been listening to many Tara Brach podcasts in the past few days. I find her descriptions of the inner workings of people extremely insightful and true. She uses ideas of Buddhism to understand and explain human emotion and action, and how we can relate to ourselves and one another.

One very interesting thing that she talks about is how we all build scales, to protect ourselves. And it all comes from vulnerabilities and fears — the fear of not being accepted, not being loved, not feeling worthy or deserving of love, etc. And she talks about how we do not allow the love of others to come in because of these fears.

With inspiration of her discussions, I tried to open myself up to someone recently. I definitely did. I was able to go one layer down and reveal the first layer of my vulnerabilities, which I have never done before. But I also realized that there were other layers that I had not reached and had not opened up.

It’s shocking to me how even at times where we have the intention to be very direct, open and honest with someone, we actually are not 100% honest. We still do not reveal the very, very deep workings of our psyche. The very deep and sometimes shameful vulnerabilities that we ourselves have difficulty facing. Even my most honest self, is still withdrawn and scared.

What is it that we’re so scared of? Why is the fear of being rejected and unloved so frightening and powerful? Why do we allow these emotions to control us so? And how can we ever establish truly meaningful relationships if everyone is always pretending that they are stronger and better than they really are? Don’t we all have to let go a little?

Something else I struggle with is what I actually touched upon in a previous post, the struggle of knowing that something is wrong, analyzing it correctly, and expressing it as such, only to later fear that I may have made a mistake or that I have been hurtful. Although my desire to never hurt anyone’s feelings is very strong, I also know that my assessments of and feelings about situations are fairly accurate. And if something doesn’t feel right to me, it probably isn’t right. And that is not something I should regret. I think this mainly has to do with self-confidence and having the assurance of knowing that what I feel, cannot be wrong. Ideas can be wrong. Judgements can be wrong. But feelings, no. You can never tell yourself that what you are feeling is unreal or insignificant. If it exists, if it’s there, there is a reason for it and we have to learn to trust that.

What I do based upon those feelings are still open to discussion. How we react to situations is definitely something that we all can work on. But I think how we feel about them should not be questioned.

Don’t Give Hurt Back

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“Now I can see that I bring out the worst in you. Let me just help you to not say something that you’re just going to torture yourself about for years to come.” You’ve Got Mail (1998)

Be who you want to be, no matter the circumstances. Sometimes we get emotional, we get hurt, we get frustrated. We want to point out the faults in others. We want them to understand how much they’ve hurt us, and maybe even pay for their mistakes. Although it seems attractive, it won’t make you happy. It won’t give you what you want and it won’t make anyone have an epiphany and change. But it may hurt their feelings, and then you end up being the same.

I used to think that not opposing the wrongdoings of others made me weak and foolish. I used to think that it meant being taken advantage of. I felt it a duty to present a mirror to them, make them face themselves, and the dark sides of that self.

But then I realized that no one wants to know. And no one is going to change unless they want to. And if that does happen, it will something internal for them and not something that you initiate. And in trying to show the shortcomings of others and make them face it, I realized that I was being judgmental, defensive and mean. But I don’t want to be that person, I am not that person.

Does being kind and forgiving and loving only apply when others treat us the same way? Of course not. If we truly are the kind people we claim to be, we have to be kind even to those who are not kind to us, no matter what they have done and how much they have hurt us.

This is not weakness. This does not mean that you have to give yourself up to that person. It doesn’t mean you have to be with them or do as they say. You still decide how that person will be in relation to you. You still prevent them from hurting you again. But without hatred or anger, without giving hurt back.

It can be extremely difficult to accomplish this. I’m still working on it. When we are very emotional and sensitive, it is difficult to think straight. You may not get it right the first time around. If you don’t, it’s okay. Apologize and move on. I never feel small by apologizing. If I make a mistake, I will own up to it. I will say sorry, and I will move on.

Listen to this: http://www.tarabrach.com/audio/2011-10-19-Divine-Abodes–Compassion-TaraBrach.mp3 

It’s Better to Help People Than a Garden Gnome

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Amélie (2001)

“The girl with the glass…”

“Yes.”

“Maybe she’s distracted because she’s thinking about someone. “

“Someone in the picture?”

“No. More likely a boy she saw somewhere,  and felt an affinity with.”

“You mean, she’d rather imagine herself relating to someone who’s absent than build relationships with those around her?”

“No. Maybe she tries hard to fix other people’s messy lives.”

“What about her? And her own messy life? Who’ll fix that?”

“It’s better to help people than a garden gnome.”

Let Go?

Sometimes,  I feel like I’m living in a dream world. A world of unpredictable chaos. A world where purity is unappreciated, feelings are misunderstood. I’m misunderstood.

They say that everyone and everything is connected. But how can a world connected to me, be so different? So indifferent?

I want to be rid of my emotions. I want to lose all feeling. I want to be an apathetic, unaffected entity. One that cannot be influenced, cannot be harmed. I want to be a machine. Something uncomplexed by a myriad of emotions that tangle and untangle daily.

I want to be rid of all the expectations, judgments, stereotypes, rules that weigh on my conscience, that prevent me from being who I am, at any moment. At this moment.

I want a companion, who is not the destination, but has the same destination. I want us to reach it together.

I’m tired. Of myself. Of working on myself. I just want to let go.

Can I just let go?

 

Uninvited

Like anyone would be
I am flattered by your fascination with me
Like any hot-blooded woman
I have simply wanted an object to crave
But you, you’re not allowed
You’re uninvited
An unfortunate slight

Must be strangely exciting
To watch the stoic squirm
Must be somewhat heartening
To watch shepherd need shepherd
But you, you’re not allowed
You’re uninvited
An unfortunate slight

Like any uncharted territory
I must seem greatly intriguing
You speak of my love like
You have experienced love like mine before
But this is not allowed
You’re uninvited
An unfortunate slight

I don’t think you unworthy
I need a moment to deliberate

Lyricist and singer: Alanis Morissette

Explaining Relationships and Para-Psychology through Quantum Physics

The 1995 film 12 Monkeys presents a causal time loop. Events which are conventionally labelled as “future events” or “past events” cause and result in each other. The whole premise relies on the concept of time in quantum physics. That time, is not a concept of an arrow going in a single direction through which we naturally progress, but rather singular experiences that always exist in space which is four dimensional. So all of our experiences, whether we think of them to be the past, present or the future all exist right now, simultaneously. “Future events” are as concrete and in grasp as “past events.”

If you take a while to think about it, it is a far more clear and real explanation of how we perceive experiences, events, and memories. Understanding that what we believe to be time is actually an illusion, and that the perception of time, like all other experiences is purely subjective, can be consciously liberating.

Another interesting concept of quantum physics is the theory of entanglement. This is when two particles become entangled and then separate in space time. However, this entanglement results in a shared connection which causes a change in one particle to have an instantaneous impact on the other particle, regardless of their distance apart in space time. What Einstein termed as “spooky action at a distance” is in stark contrast to earlier beliefs that particles only have an impact on their immediate surroundings.

What I’m interested in finding out is how these theories help to explain certain human relationships and para-psychological events such as premonition, precognition and retrocognition.

Quantum Physics and Relationships

We’ve all had experiences where we’ve  simultaneously thought or done the same thing as someone who is emotionally close to us, even though they may be physically located very far away. This often happens with close family members, friends, and spouses– people with whom we have shared considerable experiences. The theory of entanglement is the only available explanation for the phenomenon. Somehow, when particles, or in this case, people are entangled and in the process share certain common characteristics, more romantically described as the “connection.”

But what about people with whom we have had very brief interactions, very long “time” ago. Are we capable of maintaining a durable connection in this case? Is the “connection” capable of existing infinitely, unless acted upon by an outside force for example?

There is yet another concept of quantum physics which states that energy gradually disperses. All objects lose energy and eventually reach a state of equilibrium. Therefore, if such a “connection” does exist between particles and people due to entanglement, the force of this connection should reduce, and eventually cease to exist as these particles remain constant in their locations in space time. Meanwhile, the particle is entangling with new and different particles in its immediate surroundings, forming new “connections” that affect its composition.

Trying to explain human relationships and the “connections” that people perceive or feel between one another becomes even more complicated when we try to dive even deeper into the concept of time. If we can visualize ourselves in the four-dimensional time space, it goes to argue that each individual in space time (that has or will ever exist) has its own trajectory, which at any time lies upon and does not lie upon the same trajectory as others. People have trajectories at different angles and directions. Add to that movement, and people also have different rates of speed at which they move through their trajectory. In a way, it could be thought that being within the same trajectory as someone else in space time would allow us access to that person that is otherwise not available. And vice versa.

These ideas can further be elaborated to explain levels of compatibility between people. One exercise denotes people’s taste in music in wavelengths which are then combined to form a new, uniform wavelength. Wavelengths that reinforce each other, indicate a greater amount of compatibility between people. Do that for all hobbies, interests and ways of thinking, and you can calculate a very specific and accurate measurement of human compatibility.

All of this is fine and dandy, until comes along a theory called “the uncertainty principle.” This principle literally shoots through our romantic notions of calculating probabilities of events using quantum physics by saying that there is a level of uncertainty and unpredictability in the universe that cannot be accounted through a probability calculation. So although particles in space time generally behave in certain ways in certain situations, they can also completely catch us by surprise and do something radically different and unexpected.

So is there a way of calculating how people will act or what our relationships will evolve into? It seems, no. We could formulate theories of high probability, but they could also turn out to be completely false.

Quantum Physics and Para-psychology

I have had experiences which para-psychology perceives to be “premonition” or “precognition.” Somehow, these were relatively easy for my mind to understand and accept. But when I had an experience of “retrocognition,” it completely baffled me as I could not perceive how it could be real. Until I learned more about quantum physics that is.

Premonition and precognition describes access to knowledge in the “future” that is not conventionally available. Their only difference seems to be the way in which the information is delivered, whether the information is literal or involves symbolism, and whether it is delivered in a wake or dreaming state. Retrocognition, on the other hand, is access to knowledge in the “past” that is not conventionally available. Let me give you a concrete personal example.

I experienced what I have assessed to be a warped form of retrocognition, of planned terrorist attacks that were prevented before they took place. I had no external access to the knowledge at the time of the retrocognition.

So terrorist attacks are planned for day X and are prevented by law enforcement several days before, on X-2. It is not reflected in the media until day X, after my experience of retrocognition, and is the only way I could obtain such knowledge. On day X, while present at one of the highly probable locations of one of the attacks, an instantaneous and unexplainable idea wholly consumes my mind, “there is going to be a bomb explosion.” It was so overpowering and certain that I raced out of the location and returned home immediately.

By the time I was home however, I dismissed the idea and felt extremely foolish, until shortly later, when a family member informed me of media reports regarding planned terrorist attacks in my town. This is my first external exposure to this knowledge. I am shocked and consider if what I experienced was a premonition. But I research further and learn that the terrorist attacks were in fact prevented by law enforcement several days before when they caught the perpetrators before they could launch their plan. It was not reflected in the media until several days later.

I didn’t even know that the word “retrocognition” existed at the time. But I understood that it cannot be premonition, which is a pre-knowledge of a “future” event. I had obtained a “retro-knowledge” of an event that had not even taken place.

I thought about this for weeks without finding any clear explanation. Now, I think the explanation may lie in quantum physics and the true nature of time. Of course, it pushes the envelope in that it argues that not just events that have happened or will happen, but also events that could have happened also have existence in space time, and are equally accessible. I may have accessed knowledge of the original planned terrorist attack, which was somehow averted, but existed nonetheless.

This may reinforce the idea that there are infinite alternative versions of our current reality that exist simultaneously. And the version that becomes our reality depends on our actions. If law enforcement had not caught the perpetrators that day, the reality on day X would have been a different one.

I think this is a strong hypothesis against those who argue that existence of all possible events, “past,” “present,” and “future”  in space time are predefined and unchangeable. That is not so. We define and change them constantly.

Watch 12 Monkeys, the film that ignited this whole thought process.

The Battle of Heart and Mind

Sometimes, we walk away from something even though it is difficult to do so. Sometimes we do it hoping that we’ll find ourselves back there once again in a wishfully not too distant future. And sometimes we do it knowing that it’s the only way, and nothing else was ever meant to be.

Have you followed your heart and regretted having done so?

 

The heart is always right, I once thought,

Wise in a way I don’t understand.

Sending signs of a beautiful future,

That is only waiting for me to take a step.

 

Oh how I have followed my heart,

And bended and groveled, and threw myself at its mercy…

How I’ve rushed to its wants and desires and treaded on its heels abidingly,

Believing that it would take me to where I needed to be. 

 

But the fickle heart carries no wisdom at all.

It runs and chases and gets carried away.

A brittle leaf on a rapid stream, unaware and uncaring.

Invincible it feels, but oh so severely it breaks,

Into millions of pieces, large and small.  

But learn, it does not.

Who but the heart has such audacity,

To get hurt willingly again and again?

 

The mind on the other hand, he has wisdom.

Free of enslaving whimsies and emotions that disease the heart,

You can count on your mind to give you sound advice.

Careful and thoughtful it treads.

Measuring and calculating, it does.

It plans, and plans, and plans.

 

The mind with its realities and analyses

Battles the unreliable craze that is the heart.

High and drugged on romantic thrills,

It pleads and nudges you to ignore your mind. 

 

Whoever wins the battle, you become.

 

Truths, Cynics, and the Greatest Love of All

Some believe that love is about another person. No. Love is about ourselves.

It’s about how it makes us feel. It’s the emotions, thoughts, dreams and expectations that we attach to an idealized image of someone else.

And again some believe that love means being with another person. But loving someone doesn’t mean that you have to be with them. It doesn’t mean that the person is right for you or will make you happy and vice versa. It doesn’t even mean that the person is good. Love is not logical. It’s not pre-programmed and it doesn’t fit into a rigid construct. Sometimes, loving someone just means that the person takes up some space in your mind and heart. Maybe forever, and maybe not. And still, that person in your mind and heart is not the real one… it’s the idealized image of that person… because that’s the only one we ever want to keep.

Who is this soul mate that everyone keeps talking about? Is there such a thing? What does a soul mate look like? How do you know it’s him?

What if a soul mate is not a spouse or life companion in the traditional sense? But rather just someone who understands us and accepts us completely and without reservation? Why must all be found in one magical person? Who can satisfy us emotionally, intellectually and physically? Is that the soulmate, the one person who can accomplish all three?

I’ve always longed for a soulmate. Not finding him forced me to broaden my mind.

The alternative truth about all of this is that we are made to believe by society that all of us– our thinking and way of life– must fit into a single box. We are born, we study, we work, we get married, we have children, we raise them, we retire, and we die. Everyone falls in love. Everyone finds someone suitable for themselves. Everyone has a soulmate.

Today I want to tell you the reality. None of this is true. Some people fall in love, and often not mutually. Most people do not find someone suitable for themselves, and few people have what they call a soulmate. And ALL people compromise.

The world is not the cinematic fantasy driven into our heads and hearts as children. Life is challenging and it almost never turns out the way we plan. The true secret to happiness is compromise. Compromising in all areas of life and learning to be content with what we have and not what could have been.

Your elementary school teacher lied to you. What she should have said was: “You cannot be anything you want. You cannot accomplish all of your dreams. But as long as you keep trying, it’s okay.”

From young, we are taught that anything is possible and acquiring our wishes are inevitable. But it’s not what we acquire or don’t, it’s how we tried and how we overcame the challenges along the way.

The truth is that no one is a failure. If people’s success in life was measured by the unrealistic and shockingly over-exaggerated expectations imposed by society– such as wealth, status, appearance and health– you can be certain that no one can be termed to be successful.

I’m not trying to be fatalistic. Of course we can change aspects of our life, but I also believe that there is a limit to what we can change about some areas. For example, no matter what you do, you may never be a millionaire or a CEO. There are only a few areas of your life which you can change without limits and which do not require miracles, well at least for most. And that’s knowledge, belief, and ethics.

There are no limits in expanding and broadening these. No one can prevent you from obtaining them and you can reach as far as you wish. Good thing is that these are actually the only things that matter. And as long as you keep trying, you can never fail, because in all three, the path is the destination. Every day that you try, you succeed.

Going back to soulmates, I suppose one is always a cynic until it happens. I meant, if it happens.

The adorable thing about the human heart is that it’s like a mischievous free child. It forgets. It’s always happy, and it’s always hopeful about the future. The greatest cynic in the world cannot deny those moments of weakness, when the dark, gloomy clouds of pain, sadness and disappointment depart, revealing that glimmering all-powerful ray of hope, however small it may be, that love exists. There, far away, somewhere in the distance, it awaits, to be found and to find.

Some believe that love is about another person. No. Love is about ourselves.

And maybe it’s about our love for the greatest love of all– the One who is most loving.

The Light Bulb

Sometimes, I get an overpowering and extremely interesting thought. It will start off with one idea or question and in a matter of minutes develop into a full-fledged theory in my head. Unfortunately, this usually happens in a very inconvenient time or place, like when I’m about to fall asleep, or during  a road trip, in which I have no inclination or possibility of writing it or recording it somewhere. It’s such a shame because at the moment of conception (so to speak), it seems so innovative and worth exploring.

The problem with voicing such ideas to other people, which I basically never do, is that I know it will not be understood. At least not in the way I have understood it. And no, it’s not because I am more intelligent or capable of having thought processes beyond the average person. It’s because each idea or theory is a result of a series of incoming information that I am processing in a unique way. So unless someone with a very similar mind is exposed to the same information, it will be difficult to relate.

I think this is why I also love talking about films. Because a film, although it is a unique experience to each person, delivers the same exact information to a large number of people. Since everyone is processing the same data so to speak, of course through a personal mental filter, more than likely, you can expect a fair faction of people to relate to your thoughts on that film.

But thoughts based on personal experience or research and knowledge, it’s not so easy for others to relate to or find interesting. It demands many similarities among the individuals. This is probably why support groups are found, because only people who have had similar experiences are able to relate to and help one another.

But on the other hand, if we only tried to communicate with those just like us, we will never obtain new information and ways of thinking. There is something fantastic about the discovery of a new notion. A moment of exhilarating relief when that light bulb goes on. A rush of excitement that such a novel idea exists and has occurred to you. And for that, people have to be willing and not hesitant to share their thoughts and ideas, no matter how strange or complex or unreasonable they may appear. Because let’s face it, all of us live in a small mental bubble of rigidly formed ways of thinking and expectations. There is actually very few new things out there that will not seem strange to us. If you’re open to new ideas however, you can change and adapt yourself. The small rigid mental bubble I described above, is actually not something enforced on us. We can be fluid in our thoughts and beliefs, adapt them and renovate them as we receive more and varying data from our environment. And the only way to do that is not to be afraid of new thoughts and ideas.

Of course, in everything, we have to aspire for a balance. So when I say, welcome new ideas, it doesn’t mean that every other week, you switch to a different political ideology or religion. There are parts of us that perhaps have to remain a bit rigid, so as to give us that sense of belonging and confidence in an ever changing tumultuous world. That can be our family, our religion, our occupation etc. But these core elements of your identity should be as basic as possible, relying on the most general and elementary premise which you know to be true and unflinching. And from that core place, you can still take incoming information and make small renovations as you learn, experience and discover new things… but it will never take away from who you are as a person or cause any traumatic shift in your persona and view. It will only add to you, your character, your depth and understanding as a human being…