Why I Am Happy And You Should Be Too

happy girl

Happiness is a choice. That is something touted by mental health gurus across the net, in health books, at happiness seminars, yet I do not think such platitudes truly sink in unless they are absorbed, interpreted and then experienced on a personal level. As with everything in life, you have to go through it, to know it.

For a long time, like many people who walk the Earth today, I was not happy. In fact, “not happy” is putting it lightly: psychiatrists diagnosed me with clinical depression and started me on pills; my family members were tired of my very presence, with my constant screaming, abuse and tears; I destroyed relationships, existing and potential; I felt inferior to every human being that crossed my path, and had no self-esteem; I did not believe in my own writing; suicidal plans had been in the workings for months: I was, in short, absolutely miserable – and not only that, but I was lonely, tired, sickened by some nameless feeling to my core, wanting nothing more than to put a stop to the pain.

Much of this pain, in retrospect, I now attribute to being a highly sensitive and idiosyncratic young woman stuck in an environment, and amongst people, who were in-conducive to her proper flourishing and development. Anxiety, sensitivity, especially extreme interpersonal sensitivity, made navigating the hallways of highschool a living nightmare, a terrible dream which I had woken up to for years and years. At the time, when my misery reached a peak, I had finally reaching my “maximum” tolerance point; you cannot sustain such an extreme degree of stress, over a long period of time, without something breaking, or changing, something leaking out and running loose. And that something was, to the horror of my peers and family, me.

In most lives there are moments when you do not particularly want to go on living – when, if given the opportunity to blip painlessly out of existence, you would take the chance. Most of them have a tendency to spring upon you at night, when you are all alone in your bed, sick to your heart, unable to grasp…grasp what? All you know is that there is something to be grasped here, as a conscious creature, in this particular body, and you do not know what it is. So you clutch at empty air, repeatedly, and scream.

Those terrible nights, when you feel as if the very world were dismantling around you, crumbling like old walls, revealing an awful vacuity behind them, are the keystones to a spiritual awakening. Or, if you prefer to be more “scientific” about it, you are changing, your consciousness is growing, and you are coming to realise the flimsy nature of your old beliefs, the pieces of you shifting and interlocking and shifting again into new patterns.

They wake you up. And sometimes people, who have been sleeping very deeply, as I had been, need a good slap to the face to get the business done properly.

Oh, for years, long, long years, I had been living a life inauthentic to myself, ignoring my creative and literary urges out of self-doubt, trying to fit in with everyone else, trying, always Trying, my God, did I try. That was all I ever did: try and try to cram a square peg into a round hole, jamming it this way and that until my fingers hurt: craving approval, craving everything that meant nothing to me deep inside, not knowing why no-one liked me and I felt so out of place, not knowing what I was doing wrong, not knowing, especially, what was wrong with me.

See, there is the real You, the shining core, at your centre, which you operate from as a child; but as you grow up in society, absorbing the beliefs and opinions of those around you, that centre slowly shifts out of place, until it no longer is in alignment with the “glowing core” anymore, and you are living from a place of darkness and emptiness, rather than joy and light. Nothing, when you are in this state, comes to you easily, and nothing makes you happy; because you are denying yourself, blocking the expression of your true essence.

No-one can stay in that state for long, though I held on with tight fingertips for years, unwilling to let go. And, unbelievable as it sounds, I am of the opinion that the Universe finally intervened, by placing in my path someone who reflected back to me every single one of my flaws. To be around this person, for me, was like having a spotlight shining down on me, outlining, in stark whiteness, my every inadequacy. I was burned, dissolved, by the exposure. And I fled. I fled. I fled, away from that particular person, who was highly nonplussed at my odd behavior; I fled from my responsibilities; I fled, just like the Universe wanted me to, until there was only the darkness, and Me.

And there I stayed, for many long nights, for many long days. It was awful. Never in my life had I imagined such suffering was possible. Reality itself seemed to thin, the world become porous, more darkness rushing in through the holes of its moth-eaten substance. I did not see the point in living. I did not see, or understand, who I was. I did not see anything; I just stood, in an infinity of darkness, hurting.

Slowly, however, I began to think – and I mean, truly Think, about myself, the Universe, what it meant to be human, how to go about forming relationship with others. I realised the necessity of following your passions, rather than stifling any natural, creative urges. I realised the unity of all living things in the universe. I realised the power of my thoughts on my reality, the power of beliefs, of intention; and I realised, finally, that I, as a creature borne from the universe, who shall return to it when I die, that I, just like everyone else, was worthy.

It is difficult to condense the panoply of emotions that engulfed me over this period: I cried, I laughed, I cried some more, I loved myself, I was miserable, I was happy, I loathed myself, I wrote, I did not write; but throughout the entire period, I learned, I grew, and I began to understand, even if only a little, what this life was all about. My consciousness began to rise.

These realisations cannot be properly expressed in words without coming off as superficial and empty. Instead, you must experience them yourself (and, if you are not living an authentic life, your time will come, even if it is on you’re deathbed) in order to truly understand. However, let this be said:

Today, I am happy. I am happy. Today, I actually laughed, I ran and laughed in the sun, rejoicing in the feel of the sun on my cheeks, every snatch and glimpse of anything, be it a blade of grass, or a bird, engulfing me in joy. I do not fear death, as I know it to be an illusion; there is no “I”, we are all One, part of the great Cosmic Dance of the Universe. Likewise, I understand we should not harm other people or creatures, because they are Us, only we can but experience life one at a time, our bodies tiny, temporary peepholes with which to view the world through. I believe in forces greater than myself: Mysteries, Magic, Wonder. And I understand what a gift this is, this one, little life as a human being, in this particular time and place, and I intend to cherish it, and use it, to the best of my ability, to do as much as I can for others while I live, and to live each day in the present moment, happy, and alive, and laughing, as we all should.
I am choosing to be happy. Will you?

What An INFP Gets Up To At 5.A.M.

Night

Note: I was very sleepy writing this, so please excuse the terrible writing or any grammatical errors and misspellings and whatnot. Ahem. You may proceed.

Night makes things real.

Strange, isn’t it? You would think that light would show things clearer, but it is darkness that truly brings things into focus.

It is half-past four in the morning. I lay awake in bed for several hours, thinking – you know what I mean, that kind of thinking ones does only when one is alone in bed, cushioned in the darkness which is large as the universe.

Thinking.

I started thinking about things. Lots of things. I started thinking about the inequality present in the world, sparked by a remark from my mother who told me we could only afford to eat fruit and vegetables a few weeks when I complained about the lack of healthy food in the cupboards and fridge. I got sad, thinking of rich people living long, healthy lives in the lap of luxury while others must fight for every bite, while children die, in millions, of starvation, lying on their sides, bellies bloated and crawling with flies. I started to cry, because it was so unfair, and I hated it, I hated this world, I hated people and their selfishness and stupidity. I hate the fact that the universe is not just. I thought of the compounded suffering of all animals at the hand of humans throughout history, humans included, and I felt the utter futility of pain: Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Please. Tell me why; I cannot bear the absence of a reason, I cannot stomach the thought that suffering is as random as the pattern of rain droplets trickling down a window.

Slowly, in an effort to distract myself, my thoughts took a more selfish turn. I started thinking of my father, how deeply he had hurt me, and how I still, to this day, after all this time, have yet to release that grief. It just won’t come out. I tell myself I never loved him, that I do not care, but I do, I do. He was everything to me. He was supposed to love me, care for me, be my rock and anchor in a world so terrifying and awful for an excruciatingly sensitive child, and instead, he did not love, he did not care, he left me alone, adrift. In my eyes, he morphed from a man who was never wrong, the God of my life, to someone cowardly and small and petty – and the shame and disgust I felt, seeing him that way, made me want to die.

I thought of how my broken relationship with my father means whenever I feel the slightest interest in a boy, even if he expresses some interest in return, makes me act odd, awkward, strange, running away in the opposite direction, to the point of ignoring him and treating him badly, when all I want to say is: “Hello. Nice to meet you. I can be a little weird, but hey, who knows, maybe you’ll accept that, and, even if we’re not romantically involved, at least we can be friends.”

I ruin things. I self-sabotage when it comes to relationships, denying myself that which might bring me happiness. Or perhaps I am just not meant for such happiness, such a sense of belonging, as others my age experience with their peers. I am just far too…introverted, sensitive, odd; it’s easy to dismiss such traits, to tell me I should accept myself, and I do try very hard to, but it gets so lonely sometimes, never having anyone to relate to, never feeling loved.

I get so lonely it makes me sick. I want to fold myself against someone, and feel protected the way my father once made me feel, before I was abandoned by him. Before he became strange, and distant. But I do not know if I can ever start a mature relationship with someone, not when I am so stilted and awkward, not when I can barely strike up a conversation without my subconscious forcing me to walk away in the opposite direction, the fear welling up inside of me like bile. Self-esteem is so very easy for some people to build: they strut through life born with it, never realising, when they dole out advice, that there are some out there who are awfully, awfully sensitive, who cringe at everything, be it a harsh word or an animal getting hurt, and it’s so hard, to be strong and confident when you are so soft and scared.

Other people find other people. They find love. Yet I feel as if it is something that is barred to me. Perhaps I do not have enough “self-esteem” to believe I deserve happiness; perhaps I simply cannot fathom someone wanting to be with me, someone who enjoys my imaginative quirkiness, who does not view my crying at everything as a weakness, who understands why I stop and stare at someone curled up sleeping on the street, my heart aching, bursting, choking with useless compassion. For I have so much love inside of me that I am afraid to show it. If I were to let it out, the torrent, people would only find me more strange, or pull away, disturbed by my onslaught of affection for a random human being – it has happened before, and it hurt me, terribly.

I care so much for the comfort of others. I do not care enough for myself. I am always afraid of discomfiting others with my oddness, of making other people uncomfortable in my presence, that I never even consider just being myself. Judgment and rejection pierce me just as deeply as anything else, you see, so it is difficult, resisting the urge to avoid pain. My nerves are sprung to the surface, easily plucked like violin-strings by whoever passes me by. I am exposed, vulnerable. And I hate it. I hate it.

Only friendship and love provide an illusion that we are not lonely. I want to stare into the eyes of another human being, and for each of us to see something in the eyes of the other; I do not know what, I do not know if there is a name for it, but I do know it is something very important, very true, and pure. That is what I want. I think I want to smile and see someone smile back, because they love me for who I am. I wish people were more sincere and kind. I wish and want many things, so badly that once again, my heart aches, but wanting and having are two very different things. People don’t understand the depth of my affection, my love, my emotions. Externally, you see a well whose opening is closed-off by a rotten wooden board. Inside, I am so bottomless I get lost in it.

And then, lying there in bed, despair gripped me regarding my writing. I know I mention writing too much on this blog, on how it is my only lifeline in this indifferent universe, that as long as I have my Art it shall all be Okay, but the more I write, the more I feel I do not have anything, except childish dreams and delusions, and a few scribbled pages that will never be seen by the eyes of others. Writing is hard. Yes, everyone knows that. Yes, I do feel I have stories in me to tell which I, as of yet, do not have the skill level to execute properly. But the doubt crawls in me nonetheless, making me procrastinate, which further feeds the doubt, and makes me feel awful and sickened with myself. How dare I squander time which I could have spent furthering my dreams when so many others do not have the luxury to do so?

I just wish there was someone with me, in the flesh-and-blood, whom I could speak with, who could understand me. Of course, that is just a fairy dream, especially since I tend to delude myself into thinking various people I meet can understand me, only to drive them away by spilling my heart too early, too fast. I do not know how to do things properly, how to think; all I do is feel, and let those feelings take me where they may. I am an emotional creature, not because I am silly and female, but because I have a heart. An awfully, awfully big heart, for someone so petite, that needs some outlet, something, someone. That hurts, a lot, everyday, every minute, without achieving anything productive. Empathy is useless without action. I am all empathy, and no action – it is hard to help people when you can barely leave the confines of your home without a panic attack.

How ridiculous, to want to help others so much, yet to be so crippled socially. Which is why the only way I can bring joy and happiness and delight to people is through my words, through my Art, and if I fail in doing that, if I can’t write the goddamn books I want to write to a level of quality that conveys the ideas and concepts and characters and worlds I want to convey, then there is little for me in this world to look forward to. Do not get me wrong: I still have hope, I will still push on. I will just cry a little bit more along the way, that’s all. And that’s alright.

That’s all I want. To write, and share what I write. To have enough money to buy healthy food and books I want to read. To spend my days walking in parks in the sunshine, nights watching the stars. For someone to love me, the real me, no matter how odd and strange and sensitive I act. To be happy. To wake up and smile at the sun. To play with cats and children and flowers. To act, pretend I am some character in a story, go on a treasure hunt or climb up into a tree house with someone I love. To have a tiny corner for myself where I can read and write and love and live and learn.

Oh, this is ridiculous. Tomorrow I shall faint from fatigue – it is now five o’clock in the morning. My sleep pattern is all gnarly these days, and it does not make my mood any better. Well, chin up. Let us look forward with hope, no matter how flawed we are, how many mistakes we make. I am beautiful. I am worthy of love. There is much happiness in the offing. I can write; it’s just a matter of time and practice; you can always improve your writing skills, but you cannot always improve a lack of original ideas.

There are many people I want to meet in the future. A significant other. Book characters. Children, perhaps. They are waiting for me. I shall be ready for them, when they come, ready even if I am not ready. That is all life is: Living. You just live. Oh, I shall carve my own corner of happiness in this transitory life. I hope you do, too.

A Tiny Story Of Obsessive Love

girl window

Let us be frank: Being both a romantic, and possessing an overactive imagination, or a propensity to daydream, is not a good way to become a “grounded” human being.

Those two traits feed off of each other, in endless cycle rhythmic as the beating of a heart: our imagination fuels romantic fantasies, whilst our desire for romance offers the perfect playground for our imaginations to play in like overexcited children.

This phenomenon, which occurs frequently in the brain of Yours Truly, has caused me much grief during my short life. What happens, more often that not, is that I begin to build a fantasy relationship, entirely in my head, based on an individual I see around but do not know, or usually have exchanged nary a word with. If the person I have declared my “soul mate” (foolish as that might sound) acknowledges me, or showers the slightest attention, I immediately convince myself the poor boy is besotted with me, only he is too shy or embarrassed to admit it, as I would be.

With the person I have set my heart on, for whatever reason (usually indiscernible – love just springs up, doesn’t it, like flowers after it rains?), I mistake ordinary friendliness for concealed affection; I mistake embarrassment for, uh, concealed affection; I mistake avoidance for, once again, concealed affections; I begin to twine my psyche in spiritual fantasies, believing the two of us are destined to be together, joined by the strings of fate, hearts interlocking like gears, like puzzle pieces, like Yin and Yang, like the Moon and the Sun.

I idealise them to the point where, in my eyes, they are the kindest and loveliest human being under the sun, and can do not wrong. Excessive avoidance on my part, out of shyness, does not help matters: the fantasy character in my head only grows more lush and detailed, using the various glimpses of the boy in person as a blueprint for constructing his being.

In other words, when it comes to love, I am delusional, to the point, probably as a therapist might attest, of unhealthiness.

The cloud of delusion tends to solidify when I have not seen the person in question for some time – absence, in my case, makes the imagination grow stronger – and fade away when I do, whereupon their own individuality is painfully thrust upon me, the character in my head disintegrating in the face of the reality, leaving bereft, and, most of all, ashamed that I could have been such a fool, that I’ve “done it again”.

For those who perhaps cannot relate to this, here is an analogy: it is like falling in love with a painting of a man or woman, hung in a stately room, which you pass by each and each day; you begin to invent stories, wonder what he or she is like on the inside, who they are, what their life story is – only for the entire daydream to come crashing down when you meet the handsome man or woman in person, and find them crass, boorish, arrogant, egotistical, or just plain dull: a far cry from the Prince or Princess you envisioned. It is disappointment. Cold, cruel disappointment.

For the longest time, when this would happen (so far, thrice), once either the object of my affections jolted me out of my delusion with his presence, or through more direct means, I would crumple with self-disgust at the extent of my obsessiveness and delusion. As I tend to feel most emotions to the point of excruciation due to heightened sensitivity, be they positive or negative, the shame burned through my heart like acid, corroding my self-esteem.
You desperate, lovesick fool, I would think.

My darling, you delusional idiot – you call yourself an independent woman, when you yearn so desperately for love from those of the opposite sex, to the point where you have to pretend affections exists where it does not? Do you have any self-respect? You disgust me.

An obsession with another boy again, I see. Do you not have anything better to do with your time? With all the countless hours you spent thinking about an imaginary person, think of all the work you could have done, how further in life you would be, how much more successful, instead of the shy, stupid, little girl feeding on fairy dreams you are today.

He doesn’t love you – no boy, in their right mind, would love someone so defective, so delusional, who can barely strike up a conversation with a stranger without their heart pounding. That sweet, artistic kind man in your head does not exist in this godforsaken world; you know very well you’ll die alone, surrounded, at best, with some cats to mourn your passing. Like Emily Dickinson, or some other reclusive, painfully shy writer, you will die alone, leaving nothing but a trail of manuscripts rather than broken-hearts behind.

Besides, you are not lonely, you are perfectly able to occupy your own time without another human, so why the obsession, why the fantasies? Obviously you lack self-esteem, and seek to fill the void within yourself with attention from others. How demeaning.

It was a veritable torrent of self-abuse. Deep down, I knew myself to be worthy, that I was, as part of the universe, intrinsically worthy, that my Art would someday be worth something, that my writing, terrible though it might currently be, would someday be worth something, that I was worthy, Goddammit. But who among us listens to your deepest selves when the world cracks open? In moments of the greatest crisis, our Ego rears up from its dormancy like a snake to sink its fangs straight into our self-worth.

Having one or two of the boys react in a condescending manner towards me, or avoid me as if I were some crazy woman who followed them home to see where they lived (No, I was not that obsessive; I just imagined they loved me, blooming scenes of romance day after day in my mind) after I acted shyly, or awkwardly around them, only made things worse.

Then something happened.

I stumbled across several articles on Psychology on the internet which described the tendency of girls who have lost their fathers (through a painful divorce, in my case) to seek more attention from their male counterparts, or be more sexually promiscuous than their peers who still have both parents. It is a subconscious way of filling the absence of a male figure in their lives, whom they so adored and revered, and have now lost, rather like a pious woman or man, upon losing faith in their particular God or Goddess, desperately seeking out another entity to worship and find comfort in. Though I was never physically involved with any of the boys (it is hard to accomplish that when you run in the opposite direction upon spotting them) I did seek attention. And this desire for attention, coupled with my natural reservedness, caused much internal conflict, a subconscious tug-of-war.

This realisation slammed into me like a meteorite. Gradually, it occurred to me that every single one of the boys who I had “fallen in love with” were very tall, very thin, arrogant, overbearing, egotistical, commanding, yet laced with an internal vulnerability and insecurity behind the confident veneer – just like my father. And the way those boys had rejected me, either through complete obliviousness or avoidance, echoed the crippling rejection I had felt from my father since my childhood.

Subconsciously, I was repeating patterns with these clueless teenage boys in an effort to reconcile my broken heart with an awful reality: that my father neither loved, nor cared for me, and had cast me away as a child, when I loved and respected him so, and when he should have loved and protected me.

Though I would have developed into quite the romantic regardless, the absence of a father destabilized my self-esteem in ways that I am only now beginning to understand, and strengthened a hundredfold my innate daydreaming tendencies. I grew up with very little confidence. I retreated into fantasy, partly because I was a imaginative little girl, partly to escape from the pain of my home life. I felt uncomfortable and wary of boys whilst yearning for their attention, because my father, who was the first man I had encountered and loved, had cut me to my core, and now, subconsciously, all boys and men in my eyes became untrustworthy.

Sure, I did talk to boys, but just the shy, friendly ones, while desperately loving and desiring yet avoiding only the arrogant and confident men waltzing through the school halls – all tall and skinny – which reminded me of my missing parent. Eventually I opened up to my therapist about this, and she concurred with my analysis, and over the course of several sessions, she tried to show me that I should not feel any shame for my obsessions (which were normal among teenage girls, though perhaps to a lesser degree), and that it was not my fault my father had abandoned me when I wanted nothing more than his love.

My shame evaporated. For the first time in years I started being kinder to myself, to love and care for myself, rather than feeling horribly defective and inadequate, foolish and ashamed of my foolishness, and abusing myself with negative self-talk.

This is not to say I am completely healed. More delusions are likely to pop up in the future – but it is also likely they will be less intense, tempered with a degree of realism. Armed with my new found knowledge, I will be wiser and more level-headed, and realise the only people who actually exist are those that live and think and breathe beyond the confines of my mind. That I do not need the attentions of a man to feel good about myself, and that, though what happened to me was painful, I can still go on and live a happy life, as a confident, and happy, if albeit still a little shy, woman.

The daydreams will never disappear, I think, only I will put less stock in them, and see them for the fantasies that they are. Daydreams are fun; it is only when we begin to confuse them with reality, and to act in alignment with a fantasy, that causes trouble.

And I am also making an effort not to swear off all males of the human species. Yes, my father did have a great psychological impact on me, but this does not mean that I cannot change or learn or work on my subconscious thoughts; it does not mean I cannot slowly realise that not all men are terrible, arrogant human beings who will leave me and reject me; that there are plenty of nice blokes out there, who are much less inclined towards abandoning their wives and daughters.

It is not going to be easy. I still distrust other people, male and female (the old cliched “trust issues”, eh?), always afraid they will hurt me in some way. When friends left me or I was rejected by my peers, these occurrences layered upon my initial experience of abandonment, thickening my distrust of people. I am frightened of people – of trusting them, loving them, and of letting myself love them, for I didn’t really love those boys; I barely even knew them: instead, they allowed me to comfort myself, to re-create love that was denied to me long ago.

If someone were to want to start a relationship with me, I will wonder if they will leave me also, eventually, I will wonder why they would want to be with someone like me, I will wonder if it is too good to be true – for life has taught me so far that love is not a right, but an instrument of pain to make you feel lost, alone. Discarded.

What I must do is remain optimistic, and do my best, even if I fall back into old, unhealthy thinking patterns. Like all of you, who deal with your own insecurities on a daily basis, I must work on maintaining good self-esteem. I must consistently reminding myself that just because my father left me does not mean I am an unworthy person; that I am beautiful even if I am a little strange and shy and aloof and have trouble with conversations; that am lovable because of these traits, not in spite of them; and that someday, there is always the possibility I will meet someone new, who will share these truths with me.

But I do not need another person to validate my existence or worthiness. Even if I never meet that “special” person who wants to walk down the beach with me, who loves me in all my quirky glory, who watches the stars with me and cries with me and understands my sensitivities, my quiet agonies, I will still be okay, because, not only do I have my books and my writing and a big dose of Hope, I have myself to believe in myself and encourage myself and comfort myself and love myself – and that is something that will, until the day I die, never leave me.

Realistic People: A Health Hazard

art

Apart from ignorant people, what I dislike most of all are people who consider themselves “realists”, those who pride themselves on their logic, their ability to assess the viability of every situation and concept, who never plunge into the waters without dipping a toe in first, or whipping out a thermometer.

I realise, being an idealist, this is a biased opinion. But realists irritate me (and I am someone who is normally quite open-minded and feels very little ill-will towards others) to such a degree that I cannot remain silent on the subject any longer. Taking a larger view of things, my opinion matters very little, but perhaps, even through my small blog, I can touch others who feel the same way, and can help someone out there feel less alone in their frustrations – who knows? That is the beauty of the internet: you can never fathom the true breadth of the impact of your own words.

Maybe it is just me, and the particular psychology of my brain (more right-thinking than left). I like quirky. I like strange. I like crazy. Being right-brained isn’t better than being left-brained, and vice versa. Only many left-brained people seem to feel the need to quash their counterparts, as can be clearly attested just by flipping open a history book. Plenty of writers and visionaries throughout history have been choked or stifled by “realists”, locked up or berated for their idealism, their forwardness. You do not, however, hear of scientists destroying the dreams of, say, priests.

Perhaps it for this reason that when I am around realists for too long, I feel a visceral urge to flee. They drain me, as an extrovert’s chatter might derail an introvert. It is tiring to be around them.

Because their minds are so insular, so perfectly tight-knit, like a box with the lid, not only shut, but sealed with wax and sticky-tape, then wrapped in a pretty satin bow. A perfect, little present. A cog, to be slotted into the mechanism of society. For them, the world, like a painting, is bound by edges and frames, never realising perhaps a room exists beyond in which the picture hangs in. They are the ones who drag down dreams, proclaiming them “unrealistic” and “unlikely”. Who do not try to do things because of the inherent risk. Who take the world and life and its people at face-value, staring at the surface of an ocean and deciding the waves are all that exist, oblivious to the blue immensities lurking beneath where marine life wriggle and squirm in their trillions.

Now, I understand not all realists are narrow-minded idiots. Without realists, much of our modern world would not be able to function. Engineers, businessmen, and suchlike make the airplanes fly and bring water to our homes – I get it. Those tasks are not small feats. We need realists, just as we need idealists. But those kinds of realists – businessmen, developers, inventors, engineers – though they might not be writers or artists, and dabble in “real world” stuff, are, at their heart, still visionaries. Those people, who invent new things that make life better for humanity, or can design a plane to fly in the air, those people have dreams, and visions. They are not the realists I am referring to.

What I am referring to are those people are, to put it simply, boring and unimaginative. Who do not have that “spark”. Granted, that may not be their fault, it may be a result of social conditioning, a neurological deficiency; but it most definitely is their fault when they try to impose their worldview, often with remarkable arrogance and assurance, on others. That is what I cannot stand. When they open their mouth, all that comes out is dull drivel: recycled information fed to them by the media, small concerns; they possess little compassion, are driven by their own pleasures, desire to stamp out any oddity or quirkiness in others. And it is stifling to be around them.

Nowadays, having had more life experience, I have learned not to associate myself with such people. In the past, however, when I was more naïve, I fell prey to “realists”. As a shy and highly introverted child, I desperately desired to be accepted by anyone, so when a groups of girls came along to recruit me into their gang, I accepted. It was the worst decision of my life. Hanging out with them was like being trapped in a Bell-jar, the air siphoned away, leaving me gasping, unable to breathe.

They sneered at the Arts, at writers and other creative occupations, believing them “unrealistic” career paths which people, especially someone as unassuming as me, could never succeed in. They viewed books, the sum of human knowledge, “just stories”, and chattered away loudly in the library, more intent on gossip than reading. They considered the shopping centre their temple, banknotes and coins tokens of worship. Their combined creativity could not have even lifted a paper plane into the air. And I, desperate to please, desperate to fit in, crammed myself in amongst them, feeling horrible, yet not knowing why.

Being around these realists, and others like them, made me doubt myself, my writing. I was made to feel my talents, those more geared towards the literary and creative, rather than the mathematical or scientific, as petty, suitable for children, but certainly not grown young women ready to choose their life’s work. One of them, when asked if she would pursue a career in the Arts if she loved it more than anything, and she knew she could do well in it, said, “No, I wouldn’t. I would still procure a job in the technical fields, because those are where the good jobs are. Who is respected more: a software engineer, or a writer?” She did not even have the capacity to imagine herself as someone with a passion for something in life.

At the time, I crumpled with doubt on the inside, wondering if my dreams were stupid, little hopes after all, with no bearing on the real world. But now, I know better. Because you know what? Whatever it is that you dream of doing, if you believe in your heart that you will achieve it, you will. This is what so-called “realists” will never comprehend: the power of belief, of an inner compass set on the right track, pointing to the destination with unwavering resolve. Everything we see existing around us in this world today, from Studio Ghibli films, to light-bulbs, to computers, even the mobile phone you use everyday, started as a seed of a dream, implanted in the brain of a person just like you, and fueled with power from the heart. Of course, even idealists are not immune to the very realistic hours of work that must be put in to bring their dreams to life – but you must have the dream in the first place to create anything.

This is not to say you should throw all caution to the wind and join a traveling circus that circulates in the desert. Let us put in the mathematical terms a realist might understand, shall we? Our minds should be composed of 6 parts idealism, and 1 part realism. Yes, if you paint a flower that resembles more a stick-figure sporting multiple heads, it is unlikely a career as an artist is in the offing. In this situation, a dose of realism is needed.

But if you paint a flower, and the teacher tells you the flower is not a “proper” flower, that the pollen centre should not have a face in it, that the petals should be smooth, not gnarled like angry hands, then you need to believe in yourself, and dream wild dreams, and create as only you can, and to hell with what anyone else thinks. Oh, and stay away from people like that teacher in the future – like second-hand smoke, they are detrimental to your well-being, and should be avoided whenever possible.

Gather Around Squeakers, And Listen Closely

So, you telling me you’re scared, that’s what you’re telling me? Yeah, I know you’re scared, you’re all scared, the whole lot of you, huddling like wet rats at the back of a mouse-hole while a cat scratches, claws flashing like scythes, at the entrance. That’s all you got, fear. Well, let me tell you something, you squeaker, that fear don’t exist ‘cept in your head, you got me? No, you don’t got me, you nod and say I got it mister, I got it, it’s all in my damn head, but you’re still scared, you’re still feeling the fear – it’s just words, like painting in thin-air, fucking useless without application. Without understanding.

Gotta dig those fingers into the bolts and gears ratcheting inside that noggin of yours, twist some screws around, oil a few pipes, you get me? You got to be your own mechanic, and get your hands dirty. It’s gonna hurt – make no mistake about that. You ask any old car, any cranky plumbing system, you ask them if they like it, when the man or woman comes in with the overalls to twiddle, and shake things up. Ain’t nobody likes it! But that’s what you got to do, to keep on working properly, keep on functioning, keep on bringing the electricity and the water, keep the world sated and lit like a lightning shark. You following what I’m saying?

See the thing is, that fear, there ain’t no point in it. You just gotta see that it’s a goddamn illusion, like the demons those religious folks said would drag you down into fiery pits to burn until your skin blackened and your eyeballs charred in their sockets. You are believing in fucking fairies, my friend. Look at you, a grown woman, a grown man, still afraid of the bogeyman under the bed? But there ain’t no shame in it. Happens to the best of us. What you got to do know is realise there ain’t no bogeyman – and there ain’t never was. There’s just you, and your goddamn lying sneaking mind.

You’re gonna die one day. That’s a fact. There ain’t many certainties in this doggone life, but that’s one of them, surer than even the sun will rise tomorrow. That’s your real bogeyman; that’s who should be really scared of, or ‘least, pay more attention to it than you do to your own fears. Okay, listen, listen, really listen, look me in the eye dammit! No, don’t gargle, don’t choke, you can breathe, you can breathe, I ain’t holding you that tight. Now, listen.

One day, you’re going to be dead. You’re going to die. You’re going to close your eyes and fucking sleep forever. You’re going to be buried in the ground, a lump of flesh, same as every other organism that scurries on the planet, and has ever scurried, and will scurry, and you’ll rot, you’ll rot like a vegetable left outta the fridge, the maggots squirming in your flesh, until you’re just bone, calcified matter, dead, gone, nothing. You got it? Okay, I’mma let you go now – no you idiot, just your collar. You can’t leave yet. I ain’t done with you, ’cause I can see it, in your eyes, a tiny kid hiding under the bed still. We gotta do something about that; we ain’t finished yet.

What you gotta understand is that nobody, nobody knows shit. Not those damn billionaires – they’re just squatting on piles of cash, trying to comfort themselves like the last dragons of the world sitting on mounds of treasure – not the damn scientists, who try to quantify and measure the universe, us, the world, like ants crawling over a baseball trying to figure it out without being able to see the cricket pitch. There’s worlds and stuff out there you and I, and our kind, for long as we exist, don’t know nothing about, won’t ever fucking know. Nobody knows. You ask the ant: does it know us? No: It don’t know. Likewise, we don’t know – we’re the ant to somebody, something else. No-one knows anything! Not your smarty-pants professors with their cushy tenures, not the smartest man or woman that has ever lived, not that friend o’ yours you see strolling down the street with their lives seemingly in order like a finished jigsaw puzzle – nobody knows shit, kid. And because we all are clueless, pretending to be see when really we’re blind, stumbling about in the dark, we’re all fucking scared. It’s the unknown, see? We’re scared.

Now different people deal with this fear in different ways, as you’d expect. Some chase after stuff, accumulate mountains of, I don’t know, houses and clothes, and pretty sparkly shit to garland their bodies – whatever’s popular these days. Others get to work, work hard on their dreams, their goals, trying to improve their life, help others, even if they know, deep down, that it don’t matter in the end. That probably nothing matters in the end. Then again, we don’t know that for sure, you know what I mean? You see where I’m moving towards now? Seeing as we don’t know anything, we shouldn’t assume nothin’ neither. It’s a free for all. Hell, maybe ain’t no demons bumbling about in the earth beneath our feet, but there sure as hell may be some funny creatures out there in space. Maybe we’re the demons, the hellions – we’re the worst nightmare of other animals, nature, the environment, don’t you think? Ain’t there more things that should be scared of us?

Oh, but ’cause we’re so powerful, we start to fear everything, because when you’re at the top, you get to wonderin’ how long it’ll last. So maybe, you know, God has is it in for you – he’s out to get you, if you don’t follow the rules, be a nice little pious shit. Maybe you don’t have the skills, the talent, to achieve your dream, so you’re scared of yourself; maybe you’ve wasted most of your life already, and you’re running out of time, so you’re scared of the clock. Tick, tick, tick. Yeah, it ticks alright. Or could be there’s somebody out there who you kinda fancy, yet don’t have the courage to say anything to, ’cause what if you get rejected? You’d be surprised how much of our neuroses, our problems, our anxieties, are tangled up with sex. So now, we’ve just got all this fear, clogging up our pores, making us stink, making us sick.

And you know what I want you do to do?

Cast it all away! Throw it out. Kick it the curb, flush it away. Who the fuck cares, who the fuck gives? It don’t matter, in the fullness of time, so you might as well take the shot. Listen. Say you have one last second to live, yeah? And in that last second, all you have the choice to do is throw a ball towards the hoop, or not throw it. If it’s your last second, why the hell not give it a try? Why the hell not? That way, before you blink outta this world, ‘least you could experience a microsecond of satisfaction on the off chance you did get it. That’s life. That’s all life is. You got a second, a second on the clock; the hoop’s there, hanging like some demented halo, you’ve got the ball in your hands, and you can take a shot; all you’ve got, right there, is the chance, to throw it, or not throw it, before the buzzer blares.

It’s your choice, woman. It’s your choice, man. It’s your fucking choice. In that moment some people freeze up with fear, and they don’t throw it, or they dribble the ball instead, waste their fucking time, ’cause you may as well be doing nothing if you don’t take the shot, try get it in the hoop. Others, they throw it. They aim, they keep their eye on the damn hoop like their retina’s fucking glued to it, and they throw it. Sometimes, they miss. Yeah, I gotta be honest with you: A lotta the time, they miss. But a lotta the time, seeing as there are so many of us on this planet, a lotta the time, they do get it in. They get it in.

It ain’t that hard – that’s the thing, that’s the thing nobody ever tells you. It’s only hard when you get stuck in the fear. Problem is, unlike my little analogy here, life to us feels a little longer than a second, so we have a lotta time to freeze up, to think and ponder and muse and wonder and be fucking indecisive. If it felt like a second, you’d have no time for that. You’d be just shooting. You’d be just lifting your arms and aiming for the hoop, no thought going through your head, just going for it. So go for it. Shoot. Shoot. Shoot. And that’s it, then. You sweat, your heart pounds, you throw it – and then, who knows, you score, to the sound of a stadium erupting into cheers, like the universe is celebrating for you.

Why Do Mornings Change Everything?

lonely girl

Why is it that daydreams and hopes have a tendency to dissolve in the morning, like snow when spring arrives?

The evening before, or even the afternoon, in that cusp between darkness and light, when the sky is suffused with a strange blend of dark-blue and gold and the world seems hushed and magical like a spell waiting to happen, everything feels possible.

You are often alone at this time, either working, or relaxing after a day of work. Now and then, you turn away from whatever it is you are focused on to look out the window, and muse. Ironically, hope fills you with light as the world dims – it is as if, along with the mystery and magic that accompanies the approaching night, your dreams grow more real and potent also.

For me, what I find is that my self-confidence tends to rise at this time; it is as if the incoming darkness allows me to idealize everything – even myself. When I look in the mirror, I am startled by my own reflection (what midnight creature in yonder glade is this?). Possibly this is due to the dimmer lighting, which is useful for hiding any blemishes, but I am still me, only my mindset is different. Is this perhaps why people like to go out clubbing at night – because they feel more beautiful then than during daytime?

Fantasies increase in frequency: I begin to imagine myself whirling off to far-off lands, falling in love at some lonely hotel with red-checkered tablecloths, plastic flowers teetering on their windowsills and showers that spit rusty water; or strolling through some French-style avenue, wrapped in wind and romance, my dark hair swirling in silent jubilation. My imagination also goes on overdrive, spinning idea after idea in a tangled mess, most of which I will shake my head at and scrunch up and throw into the wastepaper basket the next morning. Still, the feeling of my heart cracking open, in a flood of sweet creativity, is quite wonderful.

Most of all, as night draws near, the shadows pooling in the corners of the streets, I begin to believe in myself more, and my dreams. Perhaps it is only due to my tendency to idealize everything; perhaps daylight is too harsh a reminder of reality. I do not know. What I do know is that my dreams, most of which, from where I am standing now, look like collosal mountains I must climb, rearing up against the sky in the distance, suddenly seem but a few hops, skips and jumps away. And when I arrive at the base, I am certain a staircase will miraculously appear, snaking up the steep inclines to take me to the Heavens – or at least the clouds.

But that all fades in the morning when I awaken alone in bed, faced with another cold, slightly lonely day. I realise, with a sharp pang, that the staircase was only a mirage, fading with the rising sun; that there is no easy way to climb mountains, no shortcut, except to take it step by step, without lifting your head to see just how far you still have to go. I am not some femme-fatale waltzing in a romantic movie, ready to be serenaded by an artist who makes his living selling paintings in galleries and on the streets – just a shy, socially anxious girl, who likes reading, and writing, and dreams too much for her own good. And there is no certainty, no guarantee in this life. None at all.

One thing does remain, however, and that is hope. The hope is still there, a glimmering deep inside my chest. No matter how depressed or lonely I become, as everyone is at some point in their lives, no matter how disheartened and self-hating, I will always have hope. It is a reality that will never fade, regardless of whether the sun is shining or the stars are out, and sometimes, such constants are better than a thousand daydreams.

Basic Universal Income – A Human Right

poverty

I think every person on the planet has a right to a Basic Universal Income, which is a set amount of money provided to a citizen purely as part of their basic right to existence.

In our current economic model, one motto exists: Work or Starve. To say this is outdated would be an understatement. First and foremost, there exists enough resources to clothe and feed and shelter every single person in the world – only we have all been fooled into the monetary system, equating papers and bits of metal with wealth. Thus, we must be “productive” in order to survive, and use the particular tokens we receive from a job to pay for our daily needs.
Seeing as automatons are predicated to replace up to half of all jobs in the next twenty years, leaving millions of people out of work, we need something to ensure great portions of the population are left on the streets, or clogging up often poorly-designed welfare systems.

Now, the Basic Universal Income does not propose handing out exorbitant amounts of money to people. Instead, it is a low, limited allowance, such as $10,000 per annum, that just allows the recipient to survive. It might only allow them to live on beans and vegetables, and share the rent with other people, but it means without a job, all citizens will not starve, or end up on the streets. Based on our current wealth levels, it is feasible to grant every citizen $10,000 (or whatever is the equivalent, depending on the living costs of the particular country), especially if you remove other costs as a result of not everyone having to work to survive i.e. roads, public transport.

Opponents of implementing this economic system have put up many arguments, the most prominent of which is: If you give people free money, then won’t the entire human species, without the incentive of money to get them moving, spend their time lazing about, doing nothing productive whatsoever? And the answer is: No. Sure, perhaps 10% of the human population will become slackers, who do nothing; but those people, even whilst employed, would probably have contributed very little to the productive sum of humanity.

Meanwhile, the rest of the world will actually become more productive. With fear taken out of the equation, people can devote their time to pursuits that truly interest them, and they are passionate about. Think of the art, the inventions and the technologies, that might sprout forth, once human ingenuity is allowed free reign without having to worry about food or rent! Medical researchers could devote their time to studying various diseases and having to combat them, without having to worry excessively about funding; artists could work on their creations without having to worry whether they will get kicked out onto the streets; homelessness would be eradicated; those with disabilities do not have to wade through the red-tape inherent in welfare agencies; the benefits are endless.

What is more, there will still be many of the jobs we have today, such as paramedics and doctors – because there will always be people who want to live above the poverty line, and eat better fare than rice and beans, who want to buy their own homes and go on holidays. There will always be people who are passionate about surgery, or cooking. It is not as if all restaurants and medical clinics will disappear, the streets morphing into ghost towns – most people will still want to get an education and jobs so they can supplement their meager basic allowance. Introducing the Basic Universal Income will simply provide all humans the opportunity to be more creative and adventurous in the absence of a guillotine of starvation or homelessness hanging over their necks, whilst not compromising existing, necessary occupations.

I am just one person, in a pool of thousands across the world, who have jumped onto this bandwagon. I am certain it will happen in the future, especially when robots are able to replace humans in nearly every occupation (think Baymax from Hero 6, the inflatable first-aid Bot), allowing people to work fewer hours, freeing up their time to work on what truly matters to them rather than just for a paycheck.

Our current economic model creates too much suffering, and inequality; it is about time there was a change. Every human has the right to survive – why should millions die in one country because they are cannot afford food whilst others on the other side of the world throw tons of food down the bins each year, simply due to what family or part of the world they were born in? It is not just about freedom, or allowing people to chase their dreams, but also equality: providing every human being the right to exist, to expand and grow, without their lives being cut off short by an arbitrary monetary system.

Here’s to a New Revolution.

Are You Scared Of The Future?

I mean, everyone is afraid of the future, right? Even though it technically does not exist, and all we ever have is the present, the future is still, well, pretty scary. For a number of reasons.

Mostly because it is the dreaded “Unknown”, wherein we, day by day, step deeper and deeper into a pitch-black cave, carrying aloft a fiery torch that only illuminates space a few feet ahead of us. The flickering shadows do not help; we have a tendency to see shapes in them, like bats or hungry monsters who might chew off our legs. Apart from our fear of coming to the end of the cave, we are also scared of not finding what we desire in it. For isn’t that what we want, most of all – for the cave of our lives to resemble the one in the Aladdin story, crammed with riches galore, the odd magical lamp that conjures a genie in a puff of violet smoke when rubbed? I mean, I don’t know about you, but I certainly do. At least, sometimes.

See, it’s funny; when you’re depressed, not only having you stopped moving inside the cave, the cave has ceased to exist. So when the funk comes to an end, you feel like a tiny homunculus wobbling on teensy legs that has been unceremoniously dumped in a cavern large as the universe – everything becomes awfully, awfully frightening, when you suddenly find yourself with many dreams and many goals bubbling inside your heart with no absolute guaranteed assurance they will come true. How much easier and less stressful would it be, if three wishes fell into our lap – but it would be far less rewarding, if it were so easy.

For my part, what I want to do, most of all, is to write books I am proud of, and then publish them so other people can share in my daydreams. It is something I have always wanted to do, ever since I was a little girl cracking open her first book sprawled on the living room carpet with her tiny, chubby fingers.

Thing is, I am nowhere close to that dream. Well, perhaps not nowhere close; I am sure, if I was pressured to, I could write a book in the next few months, though one probably of low quality. What I am struggling with now, along with trying to improve my craft, is letting my book ideas ferment inside my head long enough for them to blossom into full-fledged novels, like embryos growing, slowly, into fetuses. Unlike human babies, however, books, for me at least, have a long gestation period, as bits and pieces of my lives slowly squirrel away down to my subconscious, where all the magic happens, to brew and steam the idea into a rich and frothy concoction.

Just off the top of my head, I have two main book ideas currently gestating. They have been doing so for quite a while. And, as any of you writers or creative creatures probably know, starting creations before they have finished “gestating” is a bad move: your book baby will plop out prematurely, unformed or deformed; the time simply is not right – you will know when it is right, as many mothers can probably attest. Unfortunately, just like human babies, stories are fickle, and are not born when you want them to. Without that long-fermented idea, like aged wine or cheese, whatever I write will only be a watery, diluted narrative, and very irritating to see drip down the page.

Speaking of babies, I have been thinking about babies, and, well, marriage, quite a lot lately. Obviously, I am still far too young to seriously consider such “grown-up matters”, at least according to people close to me, but my excitable brain likes to leave no stone unturned. At this stage, considering my social anxiety issues, I simply cannot imagine myself even dating, let alone getting married one day and having children. Being the slightly odd creature that I am, the likelihood of finding a similarly odd creatures who will in turn agree to spend the rest of their life with me (a formidable task indeed; I wouldn’t recommend it on my worst enemy) is also low – but you never know, I suppose; there are an awful lot of people in the world.

But what I cannot bear, most of all, is to be realistic about love, and reconcile myself to the existential loneliness inherent in life, the sad fact that no-one on this planet can ever truly understand or “see” into me – half the time I don’t even understand myself, so it’s ridiculous to expect someone else to! Sure, from out my cynical mouth there may spout all sorts of jaded notions of love, “Most marriages end in divorce” and “No human being can complete you”, but, at the end of the day, I am still a hopeless romantic, and in my head there exist all sorts of silly notions regarding fate and destiny, and (I am cringing at myself), “The One”.

Fantasies of meeting eyes with someone on the other side of the bookshelf, or sitting down on an aeroplane right next to the person I will spend the rest of my life with, are still very much at the forefront of my mind, no matter how cynical and realistic I outwardly appear. Like many people, I do want the sickly-sweet shebang, though perhaps with a quirky edge: finding flowers poking through my ventilation, or having books I have been browsing on Amazon mysteriously appearing on my doorstep, complete with handwritten personal reviews. Deep inside, I am sick with yearning for romance, and I am afraid that sickness will always be there, if I never experience it with someone in real life, just sitting there and…wanting.

Truth is, the thought of never getting married saddens me greatly. Sure, I might not want the house with the two dogs and the white picket fence, but like all humans, I am afraid of loneliness, and it is always nice to have someone to cuddle with and keep you warm at night, someone you can pour all your secrets and thoughts and fears to. This world is a big, scary place – who wouldn’t want a partner to face it with? Having been always the odd one, never fitting in, never feeling like anyone related to me, probably contributes to this particular desire; I’ve always dreamed of finding someone who could finally accept me, for who I am, without being repelled by my weirdness; someone who could see past my twin weapons of aloofness and seclusion enough to get to know, or even want to know, the “real me”.

And let us not even mention children. These days many career woman are rejoicing being single and renouncing men (or women) left, right and centre, as well as children, who they view as grubby, messy creatures – but I am not one of those women. I do want children, one day, only in the way someone might vaguely want a house full of cats and books on a hill in the middle of nowhere. Sometime, someday… It would just be so delightful, to have a little person who has genetic imprints of you in them, who you can play with, and read to, unload years of knowledge upon, and read to…

Either way, all these goals regarding marriage and children, and finding love and acceptance and not being lonely, all pale in comparison to my main dream, which is to become an author. It will happen, much as I moan and fret over it; I know it will, it is just a matter of time. Still, it is the waiting, and working, that is the most agonising part of any dream. The journey is hard; the destination is easy. When I achieve it, I think I would not mind never getting married or having children and being lonely for the rest of my life: for I would have my books still, the ones I have written and the several billion I fill my shelves with, and probably at least five cats, and my characters to talk to when the nights get long and dark.

For unlike you mere mortals, who require flesh-and-blood human beings to assuage loneliness, us authors have a ready supply of interesting imaginary people wandering about in our heads to have a chat with when it is getting a little quiet – so there’s that, at least.

Dealing With Love, Work And Death

This human life of ours is quite complicated, and not only because we make it that way; I think to properly live one’s life, you have to disentangle the inherent complexity within every aspect of it in order to be, if not happy, at least reach a measure of contentment. Hard as it may be, in the end, it is worth it to treat life seriously, rather than flippantly – it is, as far as we are aware, the only one you will have.

couple

Take one of the most written and sung about topic throughout history: Romantic love. On one level, such love is but a biological mechanism necessary for the propagation of our species – you need a father and mother to bond, in order to take care of the offspring. But on a personal level, it is a different matter entirely. With our complex processing skills, humans have reached an emotional state beyond mere biology. When choosing a mate, a thousand things must be considered, from whether they can understand you, talk to you about things that interest the both of you, help you grow, love you or care for you in the years to come. It becomes a complete synthesis of two beings – and it is not all romantic. Some of it is quite practical. Are you able to tolerate the other person, when both of you are at your worst? Can you raise a child together in a way both of you agree upon? What is the glue that binds you two together, for physical attraction, in time, is likely to fade: is it mutual respect, or personality? As always, when it comes to love, there is much more to it than a “Happily Ever After” accompanied by a ride off into the sunset. At the end of the day, you are two human beings trying to get along with each other over an extended period of time – and that’s not easy.

cities

Another aspect of life which has been the cause of much strife in millions of hearts is how exactly to spend it. In the past, when we lived in caves and hunted and gathered our sustenance, there was little choice regarding what you spent your time doing: you tried to survive, as best as you can, whilst, during the few leisure hours, played or interacted with other people. Now, living in a complex world filled with thousands of jobs and hobbies, pressured by cultural and sociological forces, it is a chore to narrow the influx of information down to a single specific “occupation” you will devote your life to. As a result, people either spend their life doing things out of passion, or for the sake of money. Certainly most would prefer the former, but what if, upon entering this world, you decide you have no particular interest in anything, except enjoying the pleasures money can buy? Then the latter seems like the only choice – yet, eventually, such a life will start to seem empty. What humans want most, due to our intelligence, is meaning. We want to spend our time meaningfully, in a way that either enriches our own lives or the lives of others beyond monetary gains. Along with this, we have pressures from parents, the threat of homelessness and the desire of prestige, all conspiring together to make the decision difficult. There is no easy answer; I am convinced the only way to come to decision about this is by asking your own heart: What matters to you?

tombstone

So now we have love and work out of the way, let us move onto a final facet of life that troubles people: Death. It is quite the triage, isn’t it? Love, Work, Death; the trio of spirits filling the space between cradle and crave. Most people do not actively spend great portions of their lives – in between having fun, loving and working – thinking about death, simply because the thought frightens them or, if they are young and healthy, it is sufficiently far-off to be safely ignored for the time being. But how you feel about Death will determine how you live with your life. Treat it as the Grand Deadline, and you will be more productive, more eager in pursuing your dreams. View it as but a gateway to another form of existence, and you will spend your life piling up riches in the sky rather than on Earth. Or treat it from a purely scientific standpoint, that you will simply return as atoms to the universe, and you might waltz through life with a slight recklessness, even courage, knowing that nothing matters very much, anyway, if eventually you will just end up a scattering molecules in the environment.

How

Either way, whether you wisely or foolishly consider these three central aspects of existence, time passes regardless; such is the only constant in life. What must be stressed is that there is no perfect way of doing or seeing things, only a personal way, and your job in life is to discover a path that fits you – not your friend, not your mother, but you. No-one cares if you are stuck in a loveless marriage, or are petrified of being judged by God for your sins after you die, or hate your job as a lawyer earning oodles of money you have no time to enjoy or spend – no-one cares. Only you do. And therefore it is up to you to mold or at least shift your life in a direction that will make you respect yourself and your choices and be without regret, both at the end of the day, when you lie down in bed hopefully next to your loved one, and when you lie down on your death bed, at the end of a life.

Do You Remember What It Was Like, To Be A Child?

boy

There is something to be said about the magic of childhood, when every book you cracked open was an actual gateway to another world, every film you watched utterly immersing, every experience delightful, every bad experience quickly forgotten. Fairies really did flicker in glints and glitters at the bottom of your garden, your parents were gods who held up the moon and the stars, and the world had not yet grown its teeth.

Before reality seeped in and we “grew up”, life was a delight. Unlike the adults of today, very few children, unless they grow up in abusive households or harsh environments, are depressed, let alone anxious. During my brief stint as a teacher, what struck me most, and made me the most happy at the end of each lesson, was the sheer, frolicking happiness and boundless creativity of the children. They live entirely in the moment, as we all once did. Wherever I looked, smiles greeted me like tiny suns, a phenomenon you would be hard put to find in an office crammed with men and women tapping at keyboards.

We lose that innate joy as we grow older, is what I am trying to say, and it is an awful shame. If adults saw the world through the eyes of a child, perhaps our planet would be plagued by fewer problems: Let’s not cut down the trees because the birds need them to live in; let’s share our toys with everyone; let us all play together, beneath the sun, laughing and shouting. Instead, what we have, most of the time, is suffering and war, whilst millions of the well-off slave away at jobs they dislike in order to fill their houses with fancy toys, almost like petulant, overgrown children.

I wish, like everyone, that I could return to that halcyon age, when every day was an adventure, and fun the agenda. It could be argued that the reason parents enjoy seeing their children happy is not only out of simple parental concern, but because it reminds them of how they saw they world when they were their son or daughter’s age. My younger self would never have dreamed of killing herself to escape this world, or found it anxiety-inducing just to go down to the shops.

That is why it is important, I think, to tap into your inner child now and again; deep inside, we are all still that little girl and boy; only to survive we wear our big, adult selves like armor against the world. So perhaps next time you feel the urge to take out a piece of paper and doodle a bit – do it. Next time you take a stroll in the park, look and gaze at everything in wonder, from the way the sunlight winks between the branches to the feel of the gravel beneath the soles of your shoes. Treat yourself to some ice-cream or an icy-pole (or Popsicles, if you’re American). Dance around in your room to some music you listened to as an eleven-year-old. Re-read some of your favourite childhood books.

It is good to remember how we were as children; it will make us kinder, happier, more loving. Any negative emotion we experience these days, be it competitiveness, or jealousy, or hatred, are but products of our adult society, and not a true reflection of who we are on the inside.

On some level, it is as if we have forgotten ourselves, forgotten the joy and beauty of life and other people, brainwashed by the media and the constant negativity it pours down our throats, scared and isolated in our big cities like children sent to our rooms to be punished. We have lost the spark. Nowadays people stare as if you are peculiar or “not right in the head” if you gush over a garden of flowers, or stop in the middle of the footpath to lift your face up to the sky, letting the sunlight warm your cheeks. Our eyes are affixed to our phones now, or on the ground, or into the distance, in contemplation of the non-existent future or some other misery.

Having a doodling session or eating a bowl of ice-cream with the same spoon-licking delight of a toddler might not change much in your life. In the middle of doodling your phone might ring, or after looking at the label on the tub, you might decide not eat the ice-cream – you do need to watch your weight, after all. After reading this, you will probably go on living your life as you have always done: eyes on the ground, ignoring the beautiful sky.

And that is okay, because we all have responsibilities we must tend to, trials and tribulations to face. Even children get sad sometimes, or do not feel like drawing. But what you must not lose is the essence of childhood, which is the delight of being alive, breathing and existing. You must not forget to smile. You must not forget to appreciate the world you see around you each time you wake up in the morning. You must not forget how it was to be and feel happy, not because you received a raise or bought a house or have a holiday planned, but simply for the sake of happiness itself.