You’re having one of those days. Everyone wants a piece of you right now. No matter what you do, or how fast you do it, you feel like you’re rearranging furniture on the Titanic.
What to do? This, do this: http://bit.ly/1SaXhPi.
What scares you most in your life? Not spiders, or natural disasters or all-you-can-eat buffets. Think internal, base level fears. Do you fear being lonely? Being rejected? Being poor? How honest can you get with yourself, and others, about deep fear and have you ever tried?
Byron Katie, author of Loving What Is and speaker/teacher on self-inquiry, says there are no new and unique thoughts (and it’s our thoughts that perpetuate our fears). Any thought you have – ‘I don’t think she/he loves me’, ‘I am not good enough’, ‘I can’t do that’, is not exclusive to you.
When it comes to personal struggle especially, humans are not unique in the slightest. My fears are your fears. We may express and cope with them differently but peer behind the façade we play out for the world and we’re all the same. Everyone wants to feel loved and accepted but we’re scared.
The solution? Vulnerability.
Read the rest here.
In December of 2014 I found myself on a ferry in Honk Kong Harbour. My cellphone, which was also my camera for the trip, was too low on battery for me to take pictures of the city kaleidoscope that is Hong Kong by night. I’m glad because I wrote these haikus about what I saw and felt instead. The place is magic – a colouring-in book for adults.
City rainbow sparks
making dark water twinkle
lights move like heartbeats
A colour palette
The endless spring, made by us
Stop stopping me.
I can’t not do the doables anymore. It doesn’t work for me. I feel like your motto is ‘don’t put off for tomorrow what you can put off indefinitely’. Trouble is, there’s a lot of double negatives and not doing happening here. It’s confusing and exhausting. Back up already.
I’m grumpy and stressed because I didn’t meditate this morning because I had to wash my hair instead. I didn’t wash it last night because I rewatched four episodes of Game of Thrones (when we promised it’d just be one), while eating popcorn for dinner because I didn’t go food shopping on the weekend.
You got me to skip exercise and the shopping on Saturday and Sunday, remember? All in favour of nothing. Stroking the cat, scrolling through Twitter, looking at my face in that awful magnified mirror that lies.
Why do I always listen to you? Some insightful being said ‘we must suffer the pain of discipline or the pain of regret’. The latter is worse, obviously. What am I, a masochist?
The one thing I will give you credit for is your consistency. You make it equally hard to apply face cream and organise my finances, make dinner and plan my work for the week. There’s something to that equality but mostly it just makes low-level living bloody hard.
I’d say I’m going to try go it without you for a while but we both know that’s a hilarious proposition. You’re even making it hard to finish this paragraph. I kind of want to stop writi
[Disclaimer: I know nothing about art. I only know what moves me and what doesn’t. This piece of writing is subjective, uninformed. It’s what I understand from a striking image.]
Naomi Okubo’s work always inspires reaction in me.
In Buddhism and Hinduism, mandalas – intricate, spherical artworks and symbols, represent the universe. They tend toward having a radial balance, with symmetry being significant.
I find them meditative (which is the point), peaceful and pretty.
With anything trying to exhibit universal symbolism, the themes of opposites, balance and creativity are imperative.
I see all of these in this image of Naomi’s.
The lack of a horizon line speaks to forever, the infinity of the universe and how endless time is (most especially because it’s not real).
The colour contrast between the playful yellow and greens and the dense, stagnant blues and greys of the branches says a lot to me about opposites. The inner and outer worlds. The different sides of the self. The conscious and unconscious. Fantasy and reality. Struggle and peace. I could go on but ultimately, the representation of two means acknowledgment of other. And maybe even acceptance.
The rainbow ribbons hanging in feminine loops from ascetic branches pretty much sums up one of the greatest lessons learned in my life so far. About rigidity and softness. About bracing yourself and acceptance.
I thought the greater the winds of life, the stronger I should stand. But, no. I’ve learned to bend so that I don’t break. To soften, accept and move with the storms and in doing so remain in tact.
‘Have a party forever’ is the name of this artwork. And you know what? I think we should.
Windows for strangers
Doors for the recognised ones
Keep those far, these dear
A decent share of the travelling that I have done in my life, I have done alone. My happiest travel memories all involve other people. A lack of association means thin, watery memories. Connection widens, deepens life. Like an enthusiastic river speeding its way through dull earth. Creating significance where there was nothing.
I don’t want to live without connectedness.
It’s a universal longing but it’s one that’s as personal as it is collective. It’s also layered.
I have this memory from years ago. I was watching a goldfish in a small tank. Watching and watching – a kind of unintentional open-eye meditation. There’s nothing remarkable about what I am describing but at some point something happened. For the smallest amount of time everything that existed was the same thing. I had the thought: I am the fish.
Are you laughing? It’s to be expected. It’s a humorous anecdote but it points to one of the layers of connectedness I enjoy experiencing in this life. A connectedness to the whatever-it-is that makes everything anything.
Simple recognition is as considerable but in an entirely different way. When you and a stranger share a smile of acknowledgment as you overhear a two-year-old asking their mother inappropriate questions in the queue at Woolworths. It light but worthy.
Life is fun and meaningful because of other people. We allow them to make us feel happy and safe. And we are. If we’re all weaving ourselves into the same web of authentic, vulnerable, unsullied connectedness.
The thing I fear most is fear itself. It halts my living and nourishes my overthinking. It makes me second guess everything.
There’s a paradox to fear (one that’s only implied here). If I think about it in terms of benefits – say, preventing one from jumping off a second-floor balcony (which, I’ve done – but that’s a detour we’re not taking right now) then fine, it has a purpose. But it’s not all that deterring or preventative. Like I said, I jumped.
That base-level, adrenalin munching, reptilian brain fear is the least of my hurdles in this life.
The fear that gets me is the fear that’s fake. The self-created fear that I’ve raised and nurtured and hold on dearly to because of an intrinsic belief that it will stop me from combusting.
Didn’t you know? If you tell a near-stranger you’re still acquainting how much you like them. Or hug a friend for an inappropriately long time because for some reason it feels like every cell in your body is craving their affection. Or quit your job and let your life’s small-change savings take you on an adventure. Didn’t you know that doing any of these things means instant combustion? Poof! Player one, dead.
I fight against this everyday. It’s one of the reasons I welcome getting older. The fight doesn’t become easier, no, but you become easier with it.
My whole life I’ve given fear just enough power for it to stop me doing things that would be beneficial for my happiness. What a masochist.
At least with age my brain is learning an autonomy of second guessing my incessant second guessing. It’s learning to writhe its way through the acrid jungle of inner turmoil.
Writhing until I arrive where I began and begin to act. I feel the fear and do the bloody thing anyway.
I know nothing for sure but if there’s one thing I have learned, it’s that most often the right thing to do and the scary thing to do are the same thing.
A separate, unrestrained thought on the subject:
All fears are the same. If you dig deep enough. We label them for control’s sake. Fear of rejection, success, commitment, power, responsibility, being alone, being trapped. There are as many fears as our internal dialogues allow – infinite.
Thing is, they’re like a bunch of balloons. Each fear is its own balloon and each is unique in shape, colour and how long or short its string is. But they’re all filled with, and exist because of, the same helium.
I lived in Rotterdam, Holland for one year, working as a live-in au pair. This word is my teleportation device – back in time, across the world.
It’s an experience I struggle to explain.
You’re in a small restaurant. It’s a late winter’s afternoon. It’s -7 degrees outside but you’re comfortable. It’s warm and inquisitive rays of sun offer a gentle glow. You have five of your best humans around you. The conversation is so authentic it makes you feel like you’ve never been alone and never will be.
You get up from the table to take a phone call. Before you rejoin, you stop. You choose a moment of witness. Perspective. You see what you were a part of, what’s about to consume you again. And it’s difficult to tell whether you love your friends or whether you are, in fact, in love with everyone one of them.
I once went on a really bad date. Well, I’ve been on a few. But only one is relevant right now.
The next day I was talking to a friend about it online. Explaining how I know I should be attracted to this Adonis of a man and that we have a lot in common and he’s so shy it’d be more comfy hanging out with Gollum.
He was asking for details of the evening and how I felt about how things went.
I was about to launch into a tirade of typing, using all the adjectives (bad form), saying everything.
Then, in a moment of expansion, I realised my position on the experience could be comprehensively summed up with one word: Ennui.
So that’s all I typed. My friend’s questions abated. All of them having been answered with five letters.
In the winter of 2013 I had the greatest holiday of my life with dear friends in Ithaca an island to the west of Greece.
Yasas. It’s colloquial. It’s ‘hi, howzit, hello’.
It’s also fun to say as a South African because of our unaware penchant for liberally sprinkling ‘jussus’ into our daily banter. Like it’s a condiment for bland language.
The word makes me happy. It reminds me of flopping from the too-hot, too-bright outside into a consequentially too-dark tiny shop at the top of a hill. A post-swim break en route home. “Yasas!” says everyone in varying degrees of breathlessness. “Yasas!” the Greeks smile.
It’s time for ice-cream.
Aum is supposed to be the frequency that the universe vibrates at. When you say/chant it correctly (most don’t) it’s a worthwhile experience.
Breathe deep into your belly. Now make the sound “aw’ from that same part of your belly for a few seconds.
Then move up your body and get a “ooh” sound vibing from your chest and up into your throat. Finally, move onto a “mmm” sound from your mouth with your lips closed. Your lips should tickle and, (don’t freak out) so should your third eye.
Russell Brand is the reason I know this word. I enjoy his intellect (and his face). He uses it often in his books, comedy and interviews.
Solipsism is a philosophy that the self – one’s own mind – is all that can be known to exist.
It’s a lonely idea. Narcissistic too.
That’s why I like the word so much. It’s contrary to what it captures. It’s not its definition. It’s pleasurable to say. All those serpentine s-sounds and the hiccupping ‘ip’, ‘is’, and ‘ic’.
You can roll it around in your mouth like a cherry Fizz Pop. The word being the saccharine mantle, the definition the effervescing sherbet.
I Don’t Know Why I’m Telling You This
Young and creepy
I’ve always been mature for my age. My first love/crush/infatuation was in nursery school. I was three. He was eight. I don’t remember his name but he was my teacher’s son and I loved him. I was going to marry him.
I never said one word to him (I get anxious thinking what would three-year old me would have said). He didn’t know that I existed. He never will.
The thief, the hippy
Tiny parts of my childhood were very Hollywood. I was ten. The neighbourhood gang and I would cycle, walk, rollerblade (shout-out to the 90s!) through Stepford-esque suburb streets. One day, on the farthest end of our suburb, in the last cul-de-sac, I picked a flower.
It was a face-brick house (boo, the 70s!) with no gate. You could just walk into the yard. Bubblegum pink geraniums congregated in clay pots on either side of a dehydrated wooden front door. I wanted one for my hair or to give to my mom. I can’t remember which.
After a transitory gang dialogue I decided to go for it. I marched down the not-yellow brick driveway, right up to the front door. I plucked a flower with the same vigour and resolve one does a rogue grey hair. Then things got kak.
As I was walking back to my cronies the front door opened and a wrinkled man came to castigate me. I was petrified and the more he spoke, the more I disassociated from the situation. I returned to the undesirable moment in time to give him my parent’s telephone number. 794-1482. I changed the last digit. It should have been a 1. And then I ran. I still feel guilty about lying.
I’ll keep this one short because I’m not keen on reliving the embarrassment for a prolonged amount of time.
I was obsessed with the Hanson brothers and Leonardo DiCaprio. At the same time.
I cut large, rotund letters out of newspaper and stuck them to my bedroom door at an angle. They read: Leo + Hanson = love. My door was always open unless I was in my bedroom alone, so no one else ever saw my formula.
Maybe there is a God.