Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Looking In Your Eyes

You go on about life as usual: it’s mostly routine with some scheduled fun here and there. You’ve been through so much that it seems close to impossible to wow you. Even things that you supposedly should enjoy feel just OK. You walk outside in the morning and think: what a gorgeous day! You realize it, you experience it, but only half-feel it as if there is a heavy lock on your heart that lets out only this much of emotion. I remember 10 years ago a beautiful sunset would make me shiver: I could be so full of emotions that I felt like crying. Now even though I know it’s supposed to feel good, the feeling of happiness is not full, it’s half forced out.

But then there are these distinguishable moments, which happen unexpectedly and leave you dazzled long after. Moments of the most authentic happiness when the time stops – there is no past, no future, no thinking, no regrets, no external life other than this moment that fulfills you and dissolves you all at once. The utter realness of it is so above everything else you’ve ever experienced in your life. You want this moment to last forever because you know there is nothing like it “out there”, it’s like being transferred on another planet where absolute happiness is the ever-lasting state of things. When you feel like YOU, not what you are supposed to be, not what you thought you were, not the way you are perceived. You are no longer parts and pieces, there is perfect unity in your essence. The moment when you see yourself and you are perfect.Your moment of extraterrestrial happiness.

It will be over just like everything in this life. You will feel stunned and tranquil for some time, smiling at everyone with a puzzling distant smile. Part of you will still be in that moment, reliving every millisecond of it, but the other part has already plunged into your mundane reality. The effect of the moment will wear off, details will become blurry. But you know it was real, you were in it, you had it, you lived it. And it will stay with you forever as a reminder that miracles happen, that happiness is real. You will save it in your heart as a mini-sun, that will keep you warm on cold winter days.

Monday, February 22, 2010

When Mondays Hurt

When you wake up in the morning and know that you need to get up, but don’t remember why

When you complete a bedroom-bathroom-kitchen marathon in record time but are still late for work

When you don’t feel like talking to your co-workers and people in general

When you cannot help but wonder why there is pure emptiness in your head

When starting off the engine of a 30-year-old car seems a joke comparing to starting off your brain

When you check your Facebook first thing in the morning hoping to improve your mood, and see the photos from a friend’s vacation in Venice (which is your dream destination that you currently cannot afford)

When the coworker you have lunch and coffee breaks with gives his two weeks’ notice

When you feel like you are falling apart and even some shopotherapy that you do during your lunch hour doesn’t seem to help much…

Remember: even if your Monday sucks (and according to the law of life most of them do), tomorrow is always a better day. And you are almost there.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Don't Panic

Growing thick skin takes time and continuous exposure to the challenges and hardships that harden our spirit. Occasionally life gives us a long break when the amount of stress we endure on a daily basis is so minimal –we barely notice it. However it’s less of a favor then we think since we soften and relax. And when a real stressful event finally occurs – good or bad, we are so unprepared that we panic.

If I need to do public speaking every week, it becomes a customary thing for me and causes little anxiety. But if I am barely ever involved in it – and suddenly I am asked to present to a bunch of serious people, I am terrified to a point when I become speechless with fear. All the long-forgotten symptoms make a comeback: loss of appetite, inability to focus, broken sleep pattern and insomnia. Mentally you are so stuck on the upcoming event that you actually fail to notice what’s going on around you unless it’s related to the source of your stress. Waiting is the worst part: hours suddenly stretch into eternity; you dream about having a “fast forward” button, which would transfer you instantly into that future moment, when the scary event is over and you know the results.

What can I say… You have to deal with it, there is no way around it – unless you choose to escape right before the “dreadful” thing is supposed to happen (such as quit your job before an important meeting that terrifies you). But you cannot run away from life, some of these situations are inevitable. Thus, I remember my cowardly thoughts as I went into labor with my son: “I wish it was not happening to me” or “I wish they just sedated me and when I wake up – the baby is already out”. Yet I had to endure the process from its painful beginning to its equally painful end. But if you do something in spite of the paramount fear – you are not a coward. You are a human being. It’s important not to let your weaknesses dominate your life and slow down your progress. You dive right in, you push yourself, you move forward even as panic paralyzes your body. And then you look back and tell yourself with pride and joy: I made it!

Monday, February 15, 2010

You Are Not Alone

I noticed that in your worst most desperate moments there will always be someone to come to your rescue. It’s like a helping hand is reaching out to grab you and pull you out just as you begin to sink too deep.

I remember living in the longest period of depression with no light visible at the end of the tunnel. I was sitting on a train taking me nowhere (I was actually going home from work), drowning in the darkest of my thoughts, oblivious to life around me. And there was this guy, whom I only met twice before at an employment agency, sitting in front of me on the same train. We spoke, he sounded friendly and attentive. He shyly invited me over to his place which was one stop after mine. I had no one waiting for me at home, so I accepted the invitation. We spoke for hours. He is a unique listener so I poured all the pain and misery out of my heart till I felt calm with emptiness. He made me tea; he even found me some vodka since I could use a drink (he never touches alcohol himself). He gave me advice, tried to find explanation why all those things were happening to me. He assured me that I could be happy. He walked me to the train station. He hugged me as we were waiting for a late night train, saying “your eyes are green”. It was dark, but I neared my face to his – and his eyes were green too…

I felt reborn after spending just a few hours with him. I thought I had a crush – which suddenly filled my life with new thoughts and dreams, distracting me from all the problems that seemed to be dominating my life just recently. We exchanged a few phone calls after that. We made several attempts to meet but every time something got in the way and either of us would cancel. I finally accepted it as a not-meant-to-happen fairytale and moved on.

A random encounter saved me that warm June night 8 years ago. Just as I was suffocating in a narrow cage hoping for nothing, the door was suddenly opened – so I fled to see the things I failed to notice before, to experience life in its new form. We may believe in a guardian angel, or the laws of Universe – it’s true that we are being watched. So many times in a difficult situation I would find the answer in a most unexpected way: a random book that “reads my heart”, a blog post where someone describes the same experience and offers a solution, a piece of advice from a stranger. All of it is meant to show that you are not alone and your silent cry for help will be heard and answered.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Living a Routine Life

... you don’t get to have adventures.

You are barely ever surprised or emotional.

You feel secure and bored most of the time.

You get lazier and lazier and probably gain some weight too.

You have little variety in what you eat.

You go to the bathroom at the same time every day.

You are afraid of change and resist it in any possible way (even if you secretly long for it).

You are so boring that keeping a conversation becomes a struggle – you simply don’t have anything to say.

You have just a couple of facial expression that you rotate wearing.

You judge others because you are jealous (which you will never admit).

You complain a lot but won’t make a move to change things.

You don’t believe there is fun in life, and even if there is – it’s for others.

You have very few memories.

You never have a good answer to the question “what’s new?”

You anticipate nothing.

You hate your life.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

One Snowy Day

Snow outside. Salt on my shoes. An ambiguous premonition all week long – something is going to happen. I look for signs, I check my e-mail more frequently, I watch the news – but I still don’t know what it is. But something is going to happen.

I think of all the wrong things. And people. I don’t know where I will be tomorrow. I wait for impossible things even as I swore a thousand times to let go.

I try to find what’s missing in the picture. Sometimes it feels like everything is missing, that it’s the wrong picture and I shouldn’t be in it. I am glad my son is with me to make it all real, so I can abort regrets and be grateful.

How are you supposed to defeat loneliness? You look into people’s faces as if begging “talk to me”, but they are too unemotional, empty, almost hostile, protective of their tiny dark caves called privacy. I want to connect but I close up instead. I am afraid to let anyone in because they always find a way to hurt you, or use you, or make you addicted and needy.

Believing in a better tomorrow is my biggest asset. I am so hopeful that it almost gives me wings. I am filled with curiosity, I can’t wait to peek what new adventure the future has in stock for me. I am an optimist after all.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Stay in the Moment

WHAT is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
W.H. Davies

Life is one big process of waiting for something to happen. During the week we are waiting for the weekend to come, once the weekend is here – we are waiting to go back to work (not necessarily looking forward, but still getting ready one way or another). We are waiting for our well-deserved vacation to get a break from life. We are waiting for the love of our life, but often once we are in a relationship, we are waiting for it to be over, and something better to start. We are waiting to have children, but when we have them, we are waiting for them to grow up, so that we can regain our freedom. Our children become adults and leave the nest, then we are anxiously waiting to have grandchildren to fill in this burdensome silence and emptiness in the house.

Maybe waiting is what keeps us going – if we get to pause and tell ourselves, ‘this is it, this is the day I’ve been waiting for, now it is here so the waiting is over”. But it doesn’t work that way. We cannot stay in the moment because tomorrow is already sucking us in, disguised under some fancy term like “life planning”. So we are always in the present with just one foot, the other has already stepped into the future, testing the water, foreseeing the events of tomorrow.

Staying in the moment is an art, neglected by most people, who are convinced that life is too hectic and we cannot afford to stop: we will simply get run over by the ever-increasing and speeding life-ball – bills, mortgage, retirement planning, investment, savings… But catching happy moments is essential for you to keep it real, to stay in touch with your life as it is , at this very second. Otherwise it’s just waiting to die, because living in tomorrow only gets you closer to that one final day, when there is no longer tomorrow, no more planning, anticipation – this day is all you have left. If only you didn’t waste so many other days that preceded it.

Learn how to stop and appreciate the luxury of having each day we were given. Have your mental camera ready to take a snapshot of random moments that make this day unique: music you hear on the subway; a cute but sad puppy tied up to the meter, waiting for the owner to come back; snow-covered trees through the windows of your bus on the way home; a spontaneous tight hug from your child. What are your favorite moments of TODAY?

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Stepping on a Dangerous Ground

We often have to fight temptations because we are aware of the consequences. Most of the time they are simply not worth it: a short-lived pleasure with a long pay off period afterward. “It’s much easier to extinguish a first desire than to satisfy all of those that follow it.“ There are always principles to hold on to, which, as we are convinced, fully protect us. Even when the occasion will present itself, we believe we’ll just shed it off our mind and continue walking on the straight line. If only we knew better about the nature of temptations.

They come when your life is in perfect balance and you are enjoying your inner harmony. Or right after you made a difficult decision and feel very determined to stick to it. Or when you just seriously committed to something. We are often quite clueless about the things we may find tempting, which makes fighting the temptation even harder: we are totally unprepared to resist the thing we never thought we would find appealing. What’s worse – temptations are breaking your defense with incredible persistence. If you decide against red – red will be everywhere you look; want to become a vegetarian – everyone around you is suddenly eating juicy steaks; you scorn adultery – and someone is trying to seduce you with unheard of passion and determination.

If only saying “no” was that easy. Being tormented by longing day after day weakens the strongest will. Temptation is like a siege: the longer it lasts, the better the chance that you will succumb to it. First you will give a small crack, thinking that it’s still not late to turn back. Little do you know, that you’ve stepped on a dangerous ground: temptation will mess you up and spit you out, once you lose everything that you cherish in your life.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Walking Up the Escalator

I like to commit to small resolutions, for some reason it makes me feel more in control of my life. Recently, when in a mall, I made myself a promise to walk up the escalators instead of riding them. It happened just as I was standing still on one of them – I suddenly saw myself all tired and apathetic, waiting for this “dragging” to be over. And I felt angry and started walking up, even though my legs seemed to protest against this unnecessary motion. But as I approached the top, I was filled with energy and enthusiasm. Ever since then I resolved to walk up any escalator on my way – for the sake of exercise, being in control, being ahead of time. And that was my little yet quite symbolic victory over myself.

That’s how our life goes: we can let it drag us wherever we are going or we can make an effort and speed things up. We can wait till we get to the final destination point – relationship, career, realization of dreams or we can get there faster by being more active, having more movement, getting stronger from that extra labor that we choose to do. Riding the escalator of life seems easy, but walking it up is more rewarding.
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