Wednesday, December 12, 2012

No more 12-12-12

12-12-12 happened to be a day in my life that I could have crossed out and pretended it never happened. It was not a good day for me. In fact it was the darkest day in the whole year - so much for the pretty number combination.
My son's teacher told the class it is a magic date and kids should all make a wish before they go to bed so that their wish got granted. I want my share of magic to undo some of the damage that was done today. So I will make my wish before I say good bye to this sad day. And I'm certainly glad it won't happen again for a century.

... and my wish is ....

Monday, December 3, 2012

How Does the Universe Work

We live on a planet that is more multi-dimensional than we can possibly imagine. Because beyond the visible world, there are layers and layers of things that have no physical substance. Yet they are real and very much present. The fact that they have no shape or color certainly makes them harder to grasp, but ignoring them will not eradicate them from your life.
Take a tree for example: objectively it's just a tree with one and only way to describe it's physical nature. But if you send it through a complex mechanism of your subjective interpretation, it expands its meaning and purpose exponentially. Tree as a symbol, inspiration, source of energy, trigger of thoughts and dreams that would evade our attention otherwise. So here's the world beyond our visible existence, which is a vast grid of human thoughts, feelings, motives, interpretations and purposes that vibrate invisibly day and night and give direction to all things physical.  And above it all there's the world of eternal wisdom.
Material objects are always the same and the change they undergo in their life cycle is very predictable thus supporting this law of the sameness. We know what things are at the moment and what they are going to be when they change. The invisible field however is constantly morphing, affecting our perception of things depending on the "charge" we get from it through invisible connection.
So maybe there's a grand plan for all of us, and maybe there's more than one path to take. There's probably a passion we were born to pursue, with a multitude of sub-passions to entertain and educate us along the way. But in order to pass to the new reality, where the unknown becomes known, in order to attach yourself to this source of wisdom, you have to initiate the search. If everything gets handed down to us on a silver platter, it would be too easy.
So how do you find the outlet to this omnipotent energetic field, how do you connect to the right source of energy and inspiration? How do you get magic out of thin air? By finding your magic steps.
Mend what's broken (from a hole in your pocket to broken relationships, this will restore the flow of energy)
Use the power of words (saying makes it real)
Explore small things (for they are just the beginning of something big, that is at the moment too enormous for you to grasp because you are not ready. So start small)
Create where there was nothing before (a blank sheet of paper, uncultivated plot of land, empty space. Why use someone else's portal to the world of spiritual bliss? You can create an entrance of your own. You just draw a door and then watch it open) Also: create today what didn't exist yesterday.
Cultivate your belief (It's too weak on its own without constant supply of fuel. Create a ritual, say a mantra, establish a habit, read and make notes. Anything that will empower your "I believe" till it becomes an indispensable part of you, till it is you.)

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Why We Need Success Even Where We Don't Need It

I've had a job interview that went very positively for me. In fact, they were so excited about me being such a good match for the job, they were all ready to give me an offer. The only problem was that I didn't want it. I was saved from the final step, meeting with the CEO, by the fact that he stepped out for an unplanned meeting with a client. As I was leaving the building I saw him entering through another door and felt like a Cinderella, making her escape.
Yet I felt bitter-sweet relieved. Yes, it's somewhat of a disappointment when you get something good you didn't really ask or have no good use for. And it can be real tricky to tell the right from the wrong in the context of your personal preferences. But I needed it to go well for me as a testament to my abilities, so that I could tell "you got it!" to my self-esteem and raise my standards. If I can pass this interview, I can do it again for my dream job.
Life gives us these occasional freebies for a reason. We just can't always guess which one it is each time. To show us that we are on the right track? Or that there's always hope, it's just taking longer sometimes to achieve what we truly want? To prepare us for the right occasion so that we didn't blow our chances when it finally arrived?
What I know is today I felt present and more awake than I did in a long time. I felt like my life was actually happening and not just in my head,  I moved from the shielding shadows and, though briefly, played the lead role. It felt good to be back.  

Thursday, November 1, 2012

A New Day Will Always Come

How fragile is our comfort. Maybe my mom is right after all and we should always be prepared for the worst: train our bodies for deprivation, be used to the prolonged feeling of hunger, to the absence of basic necessities. It should always be in the back of our minds that many of the luxuries we have and frequently take for granted can vanish in a blink of an eye.
We depend on our possessions and only losing them makes it clear that we are incapable of finding comfort elsewhere. We need our things to be happy. We each build a small private universe around our possessions and as we see them go, we can't help the feeling of being sucked into a black hole. Kids are so different from us in that sense. They can still be overpowered by joy even under the worst of circumstances. Kids can spot and enjoy countless things of interest even in the deteriorated reality; they will invent a fun game and play it among the rubble.
So how do we adjust to the feeling of loss, to unexpected hardships and unplanned turns of events? Should we try to restore normalcy at all costs, get things to the way they were so that we could blissfully forget the dire times and move on? Or maybe it's wise to dwell on the experience, to seek some deeper meaning and adjust the mindset so that it could encompass these new unfortunate possibilities. Appreciate what we have, but above all appreciate life and value things that aren't as easy to lose: our body in good health and working condition, our head that has enough knowledge to find a way out of any situation and our heart, that finds joy where we didn't look before, too busy multiplying and holding on to our possessions.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Why "Be Safe" are Not Just Words

Hurricane Sandy ravages Staten Island's North and West Shores

You are not supposed to mess with natural disasters, ignore evacuation orders, think that you know better, that media yet again is blowing it out of proportion. Hours before hurricane Sandy hit New York,  I was watching journalists interviewing people who decided to stay in their homes and ignore the government's plea to evacuate. Everyone was saying the same thing: we left last year during the hurricane Irene and nothing bad happened, so this year we are standing. I was immediately struck by the illogic of their thinking: how can you compare one hurricane to another? As if these natural monsters always strike the same way, damage the same property and injure the same people? And on top of that, people were making the comparison after they've been told a number of times that the coming storm is entirely different from the last year's one.
So why can't we learn a lesson unless we experience firsthand this danger, the deathly breath of the calamity we otherwise refuse to believe is possible. Do we really have to look the death in the face to practice caution? I remember coming to the nearby park a few days ago to sit in the quiet of the nature with my book, to enjoy some crisp autumn air. But as I went deeper into the park, I realized that I was the only person there. Such an eerie but almost exciting feeling of being all by myself in this magic kingdom of trees. But instantly I had the alarming thought that many crimes happen in secluded parks and should I get attacked, I could count on no help.  I was already there, hypnotized by the incessant rustle of the falling leaves, itching to get immersed in my book and forget the world. So I stayed. And only later I thought it through and realized how it was not worth the risk. Nothing bad happened this time, it's possible that nothing bad will ever happen but why mess with my luck?
When we get the warning the first time we listen and comply, by the second and third times we begin to lose vigilance. I heard that new drivers are less likely to have accidents the first year they are driving in spite of their far-from-perfect driving skills. But they are still afraid so they pay attention and practice safe driving. But as they get more confident they engage in some risky maneuvers that don't end so well.
Our problems begin when we lose fear and replace it with self-confidence. Maybe it's good for career growth or with personal aspirations, but when it comes to mother nature and basic safety precautions, you don't consider yourself invincible. You don't make silly jokes to stress your fearless nature but think back about all the past victims of a similar disaster. You ask yourself: what can I do to keep me and my family safe. And then you do it even if the whole world laughs in your face. Because we've all learned at some point the bitterness of "I told you so"  and it's better to waste your time but stay safe than keep your cool just to lose everything in the end.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Dealing with Rush

What is my average day like? It's a constant struggle to keep up - with time, my own demands to myself, my to-do lists with half the items remaining unchecked at the end of the day. And then there's this buzzing irritation, annoyance that is always in the background: why cannot I just live instead of being in a state of preparation for living?
Sometimes I believe that if only I got non-important things out of the way, I could focus on things that matter, where my undivided attention should be. But before I get to that matter of importance, I need to make sure nothing will distract me: my house is clean, the meals are cooked, the laundry is done and clothes are put away. It's just that once I finish the full cycle of house work, the new one begins almost right away. All I really get in between is a couple of hours, when I'm too tired to tend to serious things and would rather watch a light-mood movie.
So what is the solution to end my daily race, to dig out some time for myself from a pile of never-ending chores? Up to this point all my to-do lists and time-management plans have failed simply because I run out of time before I run out of things to do. Maybe the only true solution is to start the day with that one thing, that I believe to be the most important. Even if it's something trivial like finishing a book. Or something more productive such as creating a photo book about our recent trip. And then maybe that feeling of satisfaction, the pride that I actually got something accomplished will serve as the fuel to get everything else done.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Thinking Out Loud

There are some lessons I've learned lately, about life in general and about myself. You can seek balance in life but you can't get too comfortable. Wrapping yourself with cushions all around leaves you too vulnerable to an accidental blow - and you may rest assured it will come sooner or later. Occasional troubles and issues to overcome keep you prepared enough for a serious challenge. Strive to achieve harmony and peace but don't count on perfect weather conditions to last endlessly.
My rich inner life seems so much more interesting than life around me, that I make less and less effort to live for real. The actual life has too much room for disappointment whereas the flow inside my head can be adjusted to my liking. But rather than shutting the doors, I need to uncover the channels that will let some parts of my essence exit and mingle with the world. And everyone will benefit from this liberation - I will be a more interesting, genuine person to be around, and at the same time it will encourage a more meaningful interaction and provide me with additional food for thought, without which I start to malfunction.
Living on the wrong assumptions can go on for years and totally screw up your way of thinking and your perception. Until you are given a glimpse of what it's like to be on the other end, when people think of you what they shouldn't based on the misinterpretation of the signals. Which leads to the question of me misinterpreting those very signals in the past. So even if you establish that something is true, you should still leave room for doubt, unless your suspicion was confirmed by words said out loud. And even then the chance is remaining that it's not 100% so.
My recent conclusions show that whatever direction you pick, you only go straight for that long. Sooner or later you reach the point where you either deviate slightly or turn 90 degrees and determine that you were wrong and the opposite of your previous views is true. Nothing is certain in life and exploring the multiple theories regarding some important aspect of it can lead to surprising discoveries.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Perfect the Way I Am

I thought I was over the whole 'what people think' problem but apparently I'm not. And the vibes coming my way from certain double-faced people still get to me. It's not even the need to prove myself because that would mean playing their games, which I'm done with long ago. It's the fact that they still manage to belittle me in my own eyes, to poison me into thinking that I'm worse than them.
That need to be validated by others can push us in all the wrong directions. I should know better by now but I still cannot help feeling sad. Painful memories from my adolescent years perhaps? I was showing the old photos to my son, saying "this girl here used to be my best friend but then she no longer was because..." and I still don't have a clear "because" to why she chose not to be my friend at some point. Somehow I did not fit into her perfect picture any more. Back then I felt hurt and lonely, today I just feel bitter.
Or maybe the problem is that I am too quick to withdraw. Like a delicate flower I shut close at the first sign of danger, however imaginary it is. And mostly I don't give second chances. I realize that my friendliness is the best way to disarm their well-hidden animosity, that rather than waste my time on mulling over their hostile glances I can smile at them and move on. And focus on nurturing that inner light, the unconditional love that's theirs to take if they want. For free. The kindness and forgiveness that will envelop me like in a cocoon and make the attitude and opinion of others irrelevant. Because once I am transformed into a new serene state of being, I leave my old form behind, in the ugly world of the earthly insects. My soul is now a butterfly and I am born to fly free. I am nothing but perfection, the beauty in and out.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

How Have You Been?

I am thinking of you, and you, and you. Of all the people from my past. You see I have time now. It makes me sad when I can't remember the face that used to matter once. Sometimes all I remember is words as if they are still ringing in my ears. Or I can see them on my photographic memory display, if they were first typed and then sent to me. With some people all I remember is the feeling: how I felt when they were around and then how I felt when they were gone.
When I get lonely, I imagine meeting someone from the past, things we would talk about, questions we'd ask. I know I've changed but will they like the new me? I like this version of myself better but maybe they will think that all my flair has been lost. But then again I won't care as much what they think.
I'm not in the midst of things anymore. I am on the edge, comfortably close to people yet safely detached. There's still so much I need to understand about interaction and the right balance between opening up and shielding what no one needs to see. At least for the time being. And I wish I had a better understanding of how much I am allowed to affect someone in order to make a positive difference as opposed to causing pain.
But today I'm thinking that if we were to bump into each other by chance, I would be nice to you, and smile an encouraging smile that would melt the ice of the past. I would ask you what's new in your life and tell you what's new in mine. I would say it was great seeing you again and walk away knowing that we'll never see each other again. Because if life gives us a chance to make things right, it means that deep inside we needed a closure to the situation of the past, without which we cannot move into the future.
All you have to do during this random encounter is ask me "why". And I would say to some of you that I didn't know better, or that I was scared, or that I did it for your benefit even though it hurt us both. Then maybe you could finally erase my name from your memory, or remove the negative imprint I've left on your soul. And knowing that you've moved on, I would stop seeing you in my dreams and move on too.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Imagine, Create, Transform

Mental acuity was never born from comfortable circumstances. Haruki Murakami, 1Q84

Every day is a new chapter and it starts from a blank page. We get to write whatever we want on it. Some of us choose to leave it only half full, others copy most of what was written the previous day and just throw in a new word here and there. There are pages where words are so many that they are literally crammed into the limited space. But mostly the words are sparse and monotonous to the point they lose the meaning behind the all-too-familiar curves.  

I come up with projects, put together lists, challenge myself and add as much new to my routine as I comfortably dare. But days are just passing by without taking my breath away. And this passage of time takes over my waning enthusiasm and I let these days just be, soothed by their monotony and the abundance of feeling-good time. But sooner or later too much comfort turns to discomfort. I'm losing my train of thought because my brain turns too mushy-sleepy. There was this very important thought I wanted to mull over I tell myself, but I don't remember what it was or why it was so meaningful. But the escapee is irretrievably gone and I can't say I miss it.  

And then I get scared: so tomorrow will be just like today, and like the day to follow? But life gives us a major breakthrough only a limited amount of times. And mostly when we are least prepared and totally unexpectant. It doesn't mean we should sit back and relax till the next big turn of events. Every day is a new chapter and we get to decide how much to write so that the following chapters pick up from a more interesting point. The cause-and-effect relationship of our daily decisions with the events that follow must be one of the most unexplored areas of the science of human destiny. We can open one tiny side door and find ourselves in a totally new world; once the terrain shifts everything changes and we can't always track what caused this transformation of things. Neither do we have the time to play the if-game as we are forced to deal with the new circumstances. But that's precisely what makes everyday life so thrilling: the possibility of experiments, the little steps you take, this stirring motion of yours that sends ripples beyond all traceable points. And then you just wait how the universe will respond.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Not Enough Words

The nonverbal brain knows things you haven't put in words.
What do you almost know? Let it come into your
awareness; speak it.
--Martha Beck
I've been thinking lately how much I feel inside, how many interesting thoughts are swarming in my head, and how inadequate is my ability to express any of it. Writing blog posts is a tremendously helpful channel to bring our inner life to the external world. Another favorite quote of mine on the subject by Gayle Brandeis - "We don't know what we know until we write it". I've had so many revelations about myself through writing: about the issues I didn't know I had, or the solutions to the challenges I've encountered.
Writing gives form to our seemingly shapeless, blurry pondering. But so does speaking. I wish I could add the depth to the conversations I'm having  with all sorts of people. I wish I could believe that I will find listeners as soon as I summon the courage to speak up, open up, disclose myself without holding back. I wish life hasn't taken away so many people I connected with and could share my thoughts with freely.
If everything is a lesson, then what am I to learn from this current void? Have my fears pushed these people away? Have I not tried hard enough to look for and initiate connection with those who I could call like-minded? For now I can only hope that everything will change as I'm learning to express myself on a new level - and maybe "listeners will follow". I should better start practicing voicing those sacred, intimate thoughts, even if just one a day, even though the walls are my only listeners.  

Monday, July 16, 2012

Living is Risky, Not Living is Wasteful

“If you dare nothing, then when the day is over, nothing is all you will have gained.” —Neil Gaiman

The biggest mistake in the way I lived was overusing my improved ability to turn my back to the wind, whatever side it was blowing from. My protective back would hide me for all the bad, worrisome, annoying and heartbreaking that life sent my way. All I had to do was stay alert and rotate my position in anticipation of the next blow so that by the time it hit me I could no longer see or experience it at its full force. Like a snail hides inside its shell at the first sign of danger.

The only problem with this approach to life is that with time more and more events and interactions get classified as "danger". And even when common sense told me there was nothing to be afraid of, I still chose to hide just in case. To say that I was missing out would be an understatement. I existed in such a narrow world, all fenced up against real life, a slave to my assumptions which weren't necessarily true.

All highly-sensitive people are extremely protective of their delicate emotional structure. But avoiding excessive experiential stimulation and limiting any situations that can stir some unnecessary feelings will inevitably lead to an internal conflict, when you realize how much you crave life but too afraid to live it.

I'm taking baby steps in reversing this erroneous way of thinking. I'm taking risks by opening up and reaching out. I re-learn to make eye contact and be the one to initiate a conversation. I'm ready to get burned but sometimes our burns and scars are the best testament to the fact that WE LIVED.

Saturday, July 14, 2012


I get angry at my friends who go to Landmark. They call me up and try to "share" ecstatically all the cool things they learned and discovered. They don't even sound like themselves, but rather like someone brainwashed and re-programmed.

A friend called me yesterday in the middle of the Landmark seminar to ask me how I am. Having some previous experience with this, I suggested, "they must have given you an assignment to call with a specific purpose". To which she replied, that yes, she would like to ask me if there's anything that she can do FOR ME. I didn't know if I should  have laughed or screamed at her. It was late, I was tired and it was my obligation to come up with something so that she could complete the assignment and cross an item off the list? Her "transformation" is my headache? If you really wanna do something for someone, you take the time to call, and ask questions, and show genuine interest, so that it felt safe for me to open up and share what's on my mind. And then you would know that something you could do for me, it would float right up to the surface. I will ask you for a favor, for a helping hand, if I know you are sincere about helping me, not because it's part of the self-help session you are in the middle of.

A number of years ago another friend of mine asked me for an interview, where I was supposed to honestly answer what I thought about her, what were the things I liked, and what were the things I believed she needed to work on. Apparently, completion of a series of seminars prepares you to stomach the truth however hard it  hits you. I tried my best. I softened and sweetened the "flaws" part. But I did tell her - care about others not just yourself. Hear people out. Well, I never saw any change, so I guess all her efforts went to the process, not the purpose and outcome.

I know I sound bitter. And I have nothing against Landmark though I never took any of the sessions myself. I believe it helps people to understand themselves, the meaning of their lives, the purpose better. And I should be happy for my friends who took this direction and set out to the self-exploration quest. But having followed so many inspirational and self-help sites for years, I am no-stranger to this area of human practice. What they've been doing for a weekend or two, I've been doing daily for months. I've discovered and learned so much. And the main thing I've learned is that the key part of the transformation process takes place inside. However you change the surface, it will go back to its old form without changing the content within. Knowing is big, but without feeling and believing and willingness to work hard through pain and self-disdain, your words and actions will be empty.

They never asked a question about why things the way they are, but after a couple of seminars they suddenly think they know all the answers and go preaching to the rest of the world how to live and think. What they don't know is this learning process has no ending and after years and years of digging, they will still not have enough knowledge to have a huge positive impact on someone else's life. It takes self-sacrifice, devotion and unconditional love to make a difference.

Friday, July 6, 2012

July 6th, 2012

A nice day at the beach today. We specifically planned it out before the crazy heat strikes tomorrow. Not a bad life being able to assign an activity to any of the 7 days of the week, being able to reject some days simply because it's too hot.

My son seems to have caught the "calm germ". He can go without TV the whole morning and his frantic urge to fill up every minute of his day is gradually subsiding. He is more okay doing nothing and for longer stretches of time too. We are like the two bums now but in a good way. Mostly we don't have anywhere to be, neither there's a purpose to our days. Our goal is just to have a good time and we proudly succeed.

Today I learned that there are two kinds of bores: those who talk too much and those who don't talk. I happen to have very good friends who are exactly that - one is the talker, the other is the silent type. I more or less learned to deal with the non-talking friend, if I am persistent enough and touch upon a number of topics, sooner or later I come upon something that sparks her interest and she opens up. She visited me this week and we spent the whole day together; in spite of some fears I had there wasn't a moment of awkward silence: mostly the conversation kept flowing and neither of us got bored with each other's company. That's quite a progress considering that we used to struggle through lunching together and that's was just one hour. The "talking friend" is still a problem and so far the best I can do is avoid her all together but eventually I need to come up with a better strategy.

I'm floating slowly along the river of time. I am not attached and just lazily observe the life on the riverbank. But sooner or later I will have to debark and attach myself to a new life phase with new people, situations, problems and lessons to learn. That's the future and however distant it seems, it will arrive one day. For now I just want to hold on to this life. These days are too elusory and memories are too vague that each day I wonder if yesterday really happened. I guess that's the problem with having a good life: without true obstacles and well-won victories we don't truly know who we, why we are and where are we going.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

This Summer Every Day is a Sunday

Today we went to the zoo. It's nice to have this hidden gem living in New York City - a suburban zoo center with a great reptile collection, stunning fish and human-like spider monkeys with priceless facial expressions. All within 10 minute driving distance and with barely any other visitors, especially on a weekday. Me and crowd don't go together so that was a nice retreat.

Eventually we did bump into a group of young YMCA campers all in identical oversized yellow shirts with a camp logo. I asked my son if he missed being part of the camping crowd, to which he responded that he didn't. He'd rather go on a trip with me. And I didn't exactly miss sitting at work while he was taken on yet another tour on a school bus under reckless supervision of his neurotic teachers.

I let him use my new camera and he enjoyed running around and taking photos of every single species on the exhibit. He did get some really nice shots so thank god that's another feature he takes after me, for his dad is a useless photographer, capable of nothing more than blurry lopsided pictures.

The trip added to the calm I'm feeling these days. The balance I have finally achieved because I'm no longer pulled in a number of different directions. I do get slight nudges of guilt for not doing much, but just being feels too good, too surreal to give it up and set out to climb the next mountain. Summer is given to us to halt, and take a deep breath, recuperate our strength and then maybe leap forward. But not until I've had enough of the vast summer sky, the sensation of breeze on my skin, sudden flashes of fireflies close to the grass, the delicious taste of vegetables in my garden and a sense of complete happiness and harmony, that washes over me with an almost suffocating power.

Monday, June 11, 2012

A Safer World

I'm finally beginning to realize how much pleasure I get from being liked by children. They don't care how I look, or how much I know, or how eloquently I can talk. It doesn't matter to them whether I am too fat or too skinny, socially awkward or a chatterbox, popular among the elite crowd or being talked about behind my back. They don't need to know my status, employment situation or how much money I have. All those attributes, valued so highly by adults, mean completely nothing to children. They like you for who you are as long as you are open and honest. The minute you start faking it they get suspicious and lose interest.

I like to be liked by children because there is no better testament to my true worthiness. And because I don't need to pretend, or strive to meet someone's standards. When surrounded by children, I can relax and breathe freely. All the tension oozes out of me and I can be myself. And I needn't worry what they are thinking. Because they grab my hand and don't want to let go.

They will grow up and close their eyes and hearts. They will be very selective to what they see or how they feel. But for now I thrive in their world, where there's always enough room for fantasy and silliness, hard-to-believe stories and laughing for no specific reason. In the child's world there's no such thing as a stupid question. And talking about meaningless things suddenly brings up significance, where it seemed non-existent before. I watch them with curiosity and they never cease to surprise me. They learn from me and I learn from them and it's always a fair trade.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Waiting for the Purpose to Find Me

I was born with many talents. My son wows me on a number occasions with his many gifts but that exactly what I was too as a child: the best at everything – school, dance, music, social skills. I set up goals and worked hard to achieve them. I liked to challenge myself and see how far I could go. And I certainly envisioned the brightest possible future for myself.

Then how come at 32 I am stuck and feel like all those talents have vanished? I remember hearing at some TV show that “by 30 a person should know his place in life”. I think I’m more clueless than I was at 18.

One of the reasons could be that I ran out of personal challenges. It’s not that there are none endeavors left for me to take. It’s just that most of the key goals have been achieved. My education (1.5 college degrees), marriage, a child, a house, a car that I finally started driving after overcoming my fear, basic work experience. Even the country and the city of my choice that I can truly call home, with all torturous immigration procedures behind me. So when my best friend shares her many wants and unfulfilled wishes, I almost envy her, because I seem very content with all I have. My sister says that you need to have a wish that will be your guiding star in life, your incentive to keep pushing forward. I took on many ambitious dreams and actually got to live them. I guess I can now sit back and enjoy the fruit of my labor. A rather terrifying perspective...

“ If you lose your purpose ... it's like you're broken. ”
― Brian Selznick, The Invention of Hugo Cabret

With all the “essentials” covered, it’s actually possible for me to take the time and really think of what I want to do next. The luxury not many people have since they are devoting all the precious life hours to basic survival. I almost miss my “surviving years”, because back then hard work negated all the extra thinking, so in a way it was a blissfully-brainless existence. Now that old “I’m-too-tired” is no longer an excuse for wasting my days. So I have to find this scary-elusive thing called the Purpose and get the process started. If only I had the slightest idea what exactly is my purpose in life, like some know that they are meant to be doctors, civil right activists, actors or presidents. I don’t have any clear sense of my calling so “any-work-will-do-for-now” approach has to suffice until I figure it out. My son says, “but you are such a good mom, that’s your purpose”. I don’t argue but I feel there has to be more for me out there… And we can and probably should have more than one purpose.

“I like to imagine that the world is one big machine. You know, machines never have any extra parts. They have the exact number and types of parts they need. So I figure if the entire world is a big machine, I have to be here for some reason, too.”
― Brian Selznick, The Invention of Hugo Cabret

I know that I can live my life as it is now. If it ain’t broken, why fix it, right? But I was going at such a crazy pace in my twenties, and achieved so much, that I can’t imagine stopping now. Slowing down? – Yes. Stopping? – Never! The way life works, I know that eventually I will get some exposure to the “next big thing”, be it meeting the right person, or just being in the right place at the right time when everything suddenly shifts and you are in a new terrain, and though it’s still you, the change is now happening and you are becoming someone else.

“You're always you, and that don't change, and you're always changing, and there's nothing you can do about it.”
― Neil Gaiman, The Graveyard Book

I’m still afraid to miss the sign, to never be shown the right door that will open for me and me only. I believe that the most important things appear more than once in different form and shape, so sooner or later you are bound to notice them and make them part of your life. But I also believe that in order for a change to happen, it must be preceded by the internal change, spiritual growth, getting in the right set of mind. Until then that whole “being in the right place at the right time” won’t happen, the important signs will pass unnoticed. Looking at things when you have all this clatter in your head is as good as living blindfold. You can see but you can’t make the connections.

So here I am at 32, thinking hard, and reading a lot, and imagining, and hitting the walls, and impatiently waiting.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Feeling Sad is Easy

“How we see the world changes all the time. It all depends on our mood.”
Sarah Addison Allen, The Girl Who Chased the Moon

There’s so much noise in life. And clutter. And also so much beautiful silence.  And happiness. We get to choose where to divert our attention, in which moments to linger. And what episodes we should just let pass quickly as inevitable life experience we have to endure but not necessarily allow to inhabit our minds indefinitely.
It’s all about the choice we make. I can drive myself insane thinking about the fight with my husband or I can take my camera and go take some photos. I can go in circles about his unfairness or take a walk along the beach because there’s nothing like the smell of the ocean in the morning. I can think of all the words I should say to get through his stubbornness and prove my point or I can start a new book and let it carry me into the world of other people’s problems and blessings.
I can choose to complain, and feel sorry for myself and maybe even act all sad and irritated. Or I can choose to take myself out of the context even though it requires some force, and transport myself elsewhere. We don’t always appreciate how lucky we are to be able to choose a better place for our mind for each given moment, unlike the physical location for our body.
It’s not about running away from problems, it’s more like not letting them reach you with full force. If life is an earthquake, we have more ability to control the emotional magnitude of each hit than we think. We just have to work on the inner switch that will facilitate quick transfer between various emotional states. Catching myself brooding over some unpleasant incident for hours I get mad for wasting my life whereas I could have been enjoying it doing something more positive. Or thinking much lighter and more enjoyable thoughts.
So I choose not to dwell in a bothersome situation and do/think something else instead. And I then I find this something else and hit my mental switch. I create moments. And then I multiply them until they fill my days enough to leave no space to worry, anxiety or sadness.
Feeling sad is easy, happiness requires work. I wake up each morning and I can feel some unhappiness already building up in all corners of my conscience. If I feed it during the day, by the night time it will become full-blown depression. I set to work on opening all my doors and windows to let the light in. And even if dusk is all I achieve, it’s still better than complete darkness.  
There’s no point in waiting till someone delivers happiness and all you have to do is sign, unwrap and start enjoying. Too much happiness is hidden and we need to go find it, extract and  keep it from sneaking out. But this happiness hunt starts the moment you choose to not be unhappy.

Friday, May 18, 2012

The New Taste of Freedom

A number of years ago the idea of staying at home would be terrifying enough to frantically look for any employer that would have me. Today it is the most welcomed turn of events, something I’ve in fact been dreaming about for 3 years now. Unemployed. The blessed adjective that prompts people to look at me with pity as I think in return – I’m the one who should pity YOU. I thought that working will provide all the answers whereas it barely left me any time to think. It was funny how I used to look forward to my daily commute as it was the only time I had for thinking. And reading a book. And spacing out too, staring into the window but seeing nothing. The rest of the day was just a rat-race.

So now I have one of the biggest luxuries in the world – time! And my head is spinning from all the things I want to be doing in the next several months and it already seems like even all this time will not be enough. I want to stay active, so sleeping more is not on my list, but I also want to have those unproductive days when I just enjoying doing pretty much nothing. I want to travel deep into my head and explore all the concepts I’ve pushed off getting into because they required time, and solitude, and silence. But I also crave hours of non-thinking, just blessed being without any whys and whatfors. 

I need to fight off a dangerous temptation to disconnect from the world because as precious as solitude can be, it quickly turns into loneliness mixed with depression if “consumed” in excessive quantities. I don’t want to underestimate the power of having the right people in my life, so I turn my messenger back on and accept invitations for lunch. And I have to plan out my days and stay active, else I will fall prey to laziness attacks, which is really depression in disguise. 

I don’t know what this summer has in store for me… Will I heal? Grow? Transform? Degrade? I just want it to be something more than just another season lived through and forgotten. 

P.S. Only my own photography moving forward, need to justify the purchase of an expensive camera right before losing my job…

Friday, February 17, 2012

Every Day is a Fresh Start

This week I felt like I’ve reached all the possible limits of holding it together. I’ve been saying all the wrong things to people, which provoked the long-forgotten lack of confidence and a strong desire to crawl to a secret cave where no one will witness my failures. It caused a lot of self-disgust too. My stronger self literally had to pull the loser in me from the dark bottom and persuade that it’s not my fault and I’m only an imperfect human being, just like everyone around me.

Time has acted funny too, it’s been slipping through my fingers as if hours suddenly became seconds. I got nothing done. I rushed through things and postponed catching my breath till later. But this later never comes and it’s been months. I just want to pause and do some serious thinking, which will clear my head. But once I stop for just a second, I am attacked by such extreme laziness mixed with depression that I hurry to get back on the move. So it’s either keeping myself chaotically busy or falling prey to dark thoughts.

My kid told me that I inspire him with my words. It almost caused me to break down in tears. I sure don’t inspire myself anymore. And since I don’t have anyone else to do the job, I have to be my own motivator and it’s another big responsibility on the list, which I already struggle to keep up with. I’ve felt so so down because of my inability to express myself, to talk to people in a meaningful way, to feel good about the way I look, think and speak. I've been feeling the strain in my facial muscles because I was so focused on not losing my composure.

The words are failing me, the world is failing me, I’m failing myself. But the thing is if I turn my back on myself there’s no one left. Which will mean free falling. So I have to be gentle, loving, forgiving and supportive. So I forgive myself for all the mishappenings of the week, for withstanding this profound sadness that almost swallowed me whole. I still love myself and tell myself I was made this way for a reason. And if I really look deep inside, I will see that I am a bottomless well of light. This volatile reality almost made me lose it for a while by imposing its crumbling walls, but there’s one true reality above it all and its name is love.

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