Thursday, December 30, 2010

Farewell 2010

So it’s time to turn the page. To take one more close look at everything that’s about to become history and move on. The world keeps spinning no matter what. You may not always sense the movement but as you sum up everything that happened in 2010 you acknowledge this invisible commotion that brought you to this day but you are not the same. Some parts of you came off, got lost beyond retrieval, and it’s hard to tell if you feel relieved, or reminiscent, or both. You feel liberated by the newly acquired wisdom but unanswered questions remain too. So if you think that 2011 will bring much ease and rest to your mind, think again because there’s no such thing as absolute enlightenment after which you get to bring your mental work to a full stop. It never ends. So prepare yourself for another year of digging, getting surprised by what would come to the surface. We cannot absorb the whole world, we discover things selectively, our vision and thinking can process this much information at any given time.

Simple days, small events form into a beautiful piece with entwined patterns. The tempo of your life will vary – some days too fast, occasionally barely moving, but the progress will be made continuously. You may fool yourself with made up goals, draw complex maps that will lead you to your final destination, or at least the intermediary one if you are not sure what the final should be. There is no last point in life that you can reach – be that for education, creative agenda, love or self-development. It’s all evolving, always a comma, always to be continued… never “The End”.

So see you in a new year, may it be the one of mostly happy thoughts - I hope sad thoughts will be not as big of a source of my inspiration. To new discoveries in 2011!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010


Sometimes I get tired of living with "it-could-be-worse" approach. I am dying to scream that it could be better. We must be grateful for what we have and I am so SO grateful. But I’ve started on the road that was too wide for me, now I am walking on this narrow path that keeps getting smaller. It’s suffocating to know that there are bigger roads out there I don’t dare to take. It’s like finally getting to your dream world of exquisite color and shape just to see all the beauty moving away from you, folding down like cardboard, leaving plainness and emptiness.

I’ve seen my mom withdrawing from the outer world for years, the tiny apartment being the sufficient fraction of the world, giving her enough refuge from disappointment. She likes reading history books because there she finds something she failed to discover in our present time. She embraced religion, which does nothing but prepares her to leave this world, redeem all the sins and leave. I’m sure there is a place for her in this world that she could love, where she could be different, it’s just that she gave up too soon.

I don’t want to go like this with submission and humility inflated enough to cover disappointment. I want to put up a fight, to show my teeth, to turn myself inside out, to see what’s hiding under the sea of layers.

You can’t suppress your wants, ignore that constant itching that’s meant to keep you moving forward because the world is so much bigger than playing it safe. If true happiness is strictly internal, why bother with the world then, why leave the house day after day in this self-proclaimed quest for adventure to bring your life to the desired fullness? Should we seek to take a bigger space in the vast world of possibilities or surrender to the safe smallness allocated to us by the restraint of our choices? Where can I find courage and inspiration to live bigger? Maybe it’s time to whisper to the universe the words I’ve been denying myself the right to even think of, “I am grateful, but give me more”.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Snow in New York

As a result of a monster blizzard NYC came to a standstill. The beauty of nature with her extreme powers and surreal manifestation. All I hear is complaining: limited transportation, stranded cars, streets remain unplowed for two days, residents imprisoned by snow, unable to go to work.

I enjoyed by imprisonment, I indulged in this unplanned doing-nothingness, not feeling burdened by this forced standstill. I walked on the snow with the neighbors’ kids, we played snowball fight and made snow angels. I was the only adult out there without a shovel, plainly enjoying the snow. In places where it remained untouched it lay in these splendid smooth waves carved by the intricate power of wind. The blizzard seemed to turn everything into a chaos but as the winds settled there was this white perfection glistening in the bright light of the day sun.

Frustration. We don’t like when our routine gets disrupted. We are the planners and the executors, and we have no room for chance. We can always find someone to blame for any inconvenience: government, global warming, bad luck. We dismiss natural phenomena as interruptions, focusing all the attention on overcoming the unforeseen obstacles: "how do I get to work with all this snow?" is a task at hand. Only children are happy, they get to stamp and “swim” in all this whiteness, cover themselves with snow from head to toes and be blissfully glad it hasn’t started melting yet.

Standstill. Full stop. Pause. A chance to take a real look at your life when you are forced to stop running. What do you have? What are you? What’s left when job, projects, commute, shopping are all halted? Playing freeze tag with time, trying on idleness, running out of thoughts and feeling imprisoned by the chased-after freedom just because it showed its face for a change.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

New Year's Resolutions

What do I want to do differently next year? How much in my life do I want changed? Some days I want to change most of it, but largely I’m plainly content with how it is now. The most radical changes I dream of require a lot of courage or bold anger and I don’t seem to have it in sufficient quantity yet. So as always it comes to waiting, taking it one day at a time and waiting.

I know I should be praying for a lighter heart that would accept more, judge less. And I should be asking for my mind to be more open to break through the self-imposed limits. I also need to learn to ignore those little trifles, empty annoyances that can greatly poison your life once you start playing closer attention. It all goes away. Why worry, why feel anxious when you can just trust your destiny, believe that you were put in these not so pleasant circumstances not to get aggravated but to learn something valuable. Challenges keep us alert.

I feel like I am not the person I want to be, I fail myself and my high expectations. I often grit my teeth after saying all the wrong things again, acknowledging it post factum. But maybe I will never be that person as much as I aspire to, maybe the whole concept here is to soften my imperfections just enough for me to accept them and let be.

Let me be. Maybe less thinking, hopefully less thinking next year. More events, and projects, and fuss to wrap my mind around. Definitely more people to be present in my life, more fulfilling communication. Less indifference and cold, less emptiness. I am ready to welcome another wave of life- or thought-changing discoveries, find ways to weave them into my life to elevate it to the next more advanced level. To learn constantly, to forgive easily, to be there for others. To attract – not push away. Create magic, have adventures. Inspire. Expand. Love.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Challenge to My Comfort

I resented the new discomfort with all my heart. I pushed it away, I screamed inside my mind “I don’t want any of it!” All I really wanted was to maintain the status quo, to have my comfy life unchanged forever. Dreading how much I would be inconvenienced made my mind spin, blowing my fears out of proportion. I actually got really annoyed with myself this morning, when I realized that with all my excessive worrying I actually forgot to put snacks in my son’s schoolbag – boy, I am in trouble tonight!

My flexibility and open-mindedness were put to test and I wasn’t scoring too high. I told myself: A. you can handle it. B. It’s temporary C. you might actually enjoy it. Gradually I was building my way up from rejection to acceptance. I will embrace this inconvenience, this change; I can actually be pretty cool about it if I stop trying so hard. I will have no expectations, do minimal planning and just let things take their own course. I will fail less with poor planning than doing everything perfectly but with a disgruntled heart. I will stop creating and multiplying problems in my head, instead I will try to relax and actually enjoy what’s coming my way.

I am learning flexibility here! Once I tame that grouchy demon, I will loosen up and have some fun. And if tomorrow you tell me that the whole thing is canceled, I will be as relieved as disappointed.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


Last night I was reading poems to my son. One of them was about a bagpipe and a turtle, so I asked if he knows what a bagpipe is. He didn’t so I explained it to him the best I could and promised to google it for him when we have time.

This morning, when I got off the train on 34th Street, the first thing I heard was the sound of bagpipe playing. This subway station, always swarming with tourists, attracts a lot of performers who try to make some extra money. I’ve seen men playing drums, synthesizer, saxophone, and a whole bunch of Asian and African instruments, which names I don’t know. Not once anyone with a bagpipe.

I connected the two dots, tied in my gloomy morning mood, freezing winds outside, the memory of the warmth of my son’s room, the book with its deep wisdom behind silly lines, my hopes as ever-present extensions of my disappointment. My silent prayer – please make me feel better today, I am so tired of carrying these heavy feelings around, of drugging myself with books to silence my loud thinking.

Hearing the bagpipe playing was a magic moment, that lasted only seconds, but it was enough. Thank you, I thought, I feel good now.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Feeling Small

How do you fight the feeling of being too small? What do you do to proclaim to the world that you are so much bigger and keep growing, it’s just that much of that growth is invisible to the eye? With the innate urge to prove ourselves, to persuade others that we are worthy the air we breathe we still get caught in those moments when everything gets questioned: why sweat? who cares?

But when we quit the tiresome process of self-establishment, when we stop peering into the strangers’ eyes, begging silently “Believe in me!” a strange thing happens: we do become smaller. It’s as if some of our parts evaporate once they cease to be evaluated, judged, approved by others. Many of our essential qualities become atrophies if we are no longer willing to promote and share them with the rest of the world.

It’s easy to cling to your failures, past, current and future; to sulk; to feel masochistic satisfaction from being unappreciated. You can always seclude yourself in that small world of yours that you created by thoroughly assorting the constituents. Nothing will cause you pain, only comfort and peace. So you shrink without challenges, the aspiration to achieve, to win, to overcome obstacles. You are feeling so small because you deny yourself the opportunity to engage in the intricate commotion of external life.

You might feel naked when you display what’s inside, things you’ve been hiding forever, but keeping it all to yourself will eventually lead to their erosion due to lack of use. Come what may, good or bad, but share yourself with the world, show what you are, what you may become, feel as big as you were born to be.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Empty Space

When you arrive at the conclusion that your life needs filtering, it means that you’ve been wasted yourself on incompatible components for too long and your functioning mechanism is too worn out to continue working in the same mode. You need to start applying some principles of exclusion, sort through the clutter and figure out what stays in the closet, what needs to be put away, what gets disposed.

That’s the way life is: you cannot be everywhere doing everything. As the age and the level of responsibility are progressing, you need to be more and more selective what you spend your energy on. It will scare you at first: if you are cutting off these huge chunks that were an essential part of your existence just yesterday, what is left then? The phantoms of loneliness and boredom still bear enough influence to chase you back into your all-conforming form. What if dismissing your half-friends will thin the crowd around you to a threatening level? You envision yourself all alone, howling like a desperate animal, so you hurriedly agree to another boring socializing event to maintain the illusion that you are still part of the circle.

Filling the vacuum does not happen overnight. It may take years to find things that are you. Multiple times you’ll get steered away from your course by fake promises, lured into what you think would make you fly whereas it would only push you deeper underground. But eventually you will get your foundation and commence building the solid weather-proof structure. Your life, played by your rules.

We could all use a magic compass to show us the direction. And it’s probably always there floating in the air right in front of us. The problem is sometimes we cannot spot it because of all the clutter we’ve been diligently bringing in for years. It’s time to sort through the piles, remove the distractions and get the clear view back. Vast vacancy will let you see the light better.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Some Days

Some days I can’t find a single good thing that would help hold me together. I am surrounded by blessings, which on those particular days fail to glue my heart pieces back; their light can’t break through as if all of a sudden I am immune to all the joy and happiness; I am only capable of absorbing darkness and misery. Those are the dark days when magic is gone and I fall through a deep dark cold tunnel down and down… Of course I fight, I have the whole arsenal at my disposal – things that can help brighten up my day. But when nothing works I take my defense system down and let the cold stream take me wherever it wants. Then the law of underwater currents works: when you try to resist them, they only take you deeper down, they drain you of all the energy, twist your limbs. But once you succumb and stop fighting, they bring you back to the surface and let go.

The darkness always tries to pull us in. This is its way to remind us of its gloomy existence. Many times I used my hands to cover my eyes: if I don’t see it I may pretend it doesn’t exist. If I don’t pay attention it will leave me alone, spot someone else. Alas, we don’t live in the world of pure light, there are shadows all over, dark places never reached by the rays of sun. When shadows try to imprison us we are to put up a fight and that’s how we build resilience and learn gratitude. After violent stormy days the sunny weather is no longer taken for granted, it is appreciated up to every second.

My dark days are scarce for which I am grateful. Some people live in months, years of darkness, their will suppressed, soul diminished. I only take the occasional dive deep down, which hurts nonetheless but nothing that I wouldn’t be able to handle. Once I resurface, I move on, I don’t look back, no questions asked. The light is bright, the magic is back, there’s harmony and the soothing rustle of the wings of my guardian angel.
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