How quickly did I get greedy this time.
How quickly did I want more.
This never stops.
This holding tight
instead of letting go.
How quickly did I get greedy this time.
How quickly did I want more.
This never stops.
This holding tight
instead of letting go.
I’ll tell you something about endings.
Endings start happening right in the middle of things.
Things start ending a little while before they actually end,
as if to prepare your heart for them to do so,
as if death were preceded by consecutive tiny deaths
to get the body ready for the real thing.
So things start ending and continue ending for quite some time
until the realization hits you
that there is no undoing the undoing.
Things end when you realize so clearly
that several days or even weeks have passed
since you could last do anything about it.
Today it is you, tomorrow it is somebody else,
The one I love keeps changing forms,
Do I love too much or do I love too little?
Is this a blessing or a curse?
The impossibility of us
makes me enjoy each second
of your dark eyes and your soft lips
as though you were going to vanish
right there in front of me,
to dissolve like a wave.
Maybe that is what you are like.
A beautiful, smooth wave which is inevitably,
according to its nature,
bound to dissolve.
And I play in your wave like I used to play in waves
when I was a child and you did not exist.
Or maybe you were a wave,
like there was a boy that was a river
in that movie by Miyazaki.
Anyways, I think you would rather be an ocean spirit
than a river spirit.
And, to be honest,
I don’t know why I am writing about you.
Maybe I seek distraction
or maybe you have captivated me
in ways that it makes no sense for me
to try to understand.
By the time I reach any realization,
it will be as though you were never formed,
and I will only be left with the sound
of your dissolution
close to the shore.
Carminho is a small yellow ladybug that became my friend this afternoon and then fled away, because that is just how it happens. We are temporary beings and everything that pierces us is temporary, like Carminho.
It was a matter of seconds. I enjoyed his beautiful yellow color, transparent wings and little black spots. I didn’t repproach him for leaving (but I can’t stop thinking about you).
(Haikus for Survival)
The grass did not know
that on that misty morning
something would blossom.
But at night I withered
as the thought of you disappearing
hurt me everywhere:
petals, stem, roots.
Was it you I missed, or was it the sun?
It did not matter
as I withered all the same.
This morning I love differently. I’ve learned a thing or two. I am not scared of loving that which escapes me or is transitory. Instead, I am a flower, blossoming in the morning mist and, if you come, my little bee, my little darling, I will be joyful and I will not hold back. But if you don’t, I will not wither, but bask under sun and rain alike and rejoice in my circumstances all the same.
Every now and then, not necessarily every month, but every now and then, I get this sadness. It is so profound. I try to blame it on things: on the fact that I’m so far away from my family and have been for the longest time ever; on the fact that I am not really that good at dealing with casual sex; on the weather, whether it is too nice, which makes me feel that I should be enjoying it with someone, or too gray; on anything.
I’ve done this for years. If I was single, I blamed it on being alone. If I was in a relationship, I blamed it on loving my partner too much or too little. If I was employed, I blamed it on my job. If I was unemployed, I blamed it on feeling lost. The truth is I believe this sadness has been with me since my childhood and I’ve miraculously learned how to deal with it, by mistake or just because otherwise I’d just, I don’t know, explode into dust or vanish. Because that is how this sadness feels. It feels as if you could easily burst into dust. I know I need to cook some things for my trip tomorrow and I should finish some transcription for my thesis, but all I can do is listen to music and drink wine and cry…and wonder where this sadness comes from and whether it will continue appearing year after year, tricking me into big fights and bad decisions.
I’ve tried. I tried all the afternoon to meditate and to feel all the love of the world within me and to understand, but in the end, this time, my sadness is deeper than I can handle today, so I am giving into in and all I can do is write, write, write. Maybe if I talk about her, she will leave sooner or become friendlier. At the same time, I just want this instant to never end, and for me to be here alone with my sadness for days. I don’t want anything else.
I try to think about love and the beauty in living, but I guess sometimes I just need to acknowledge this sadness, especially when its grasp is suddenly so strong.
(Haikus for Survival)
A delicate leaf
after two heavy raindrops
hasn’t stopped trembling.
(To Dafne and Orfeo)
When the cat smelled the flower
and the flower fed the cat
neither of them asked about purpose
or what one meant to the other
or why they had met
in those strange circumstances.
Then, why, dear cat and flower
is my mind burdened with such questions
after every single short encounter?
To know and unknow
is not to let go.
To see and unsee,
to hold and release,
to face away,
to create and destroy,
to feel joy and fake joy,
is not to let go.
What is it then?
to feel joy,
but all of that
It is quite hard, actually, to find out that you are not being true to yourself.
There might be many motivational phrases telling you to be honest with yourself, follow your heart, keep real, etc., but, what if you can’t tell what is honest and what isn’t? What if you can’t tell apart what you want from what you don’t want?
So, last night I realized I was pushing myself into a mold that I just don’t fit. Then I wonder why it keeps hurting when I try. When I try to follow patterns, to meet people and relate to people in ways others do (dating apps, for example), when I worry about making ideas and plans for the future, or when I stress over how many hours of work I am doing each day. That’s just not how I function, and I’ve been just imitating others and trying to fit into that mold.
When most people do something, you think that something is what is normal. It is mere common sense. But as normal as it might seem, you might just be of a different nature. So, the weight got lifted and, this morning, I am no longer under the pressure to prove myself; to prove that I can be like everyone else and I can do what others do.
You just slip into this behavior…once and over again, without realizing it. I kept writing over and over that I just wanted someone to see me, but I am awkward, honestly, because I am not being myself, I am not giving myself. What I am giving is an attempt to become another, and that “another” I don’t even like that much.
So, I had this realization or epiphany or whatever you want to call it last night and decided that I am making changes. Now, it might last only today, or only this morning. I might have that horrible feeling in my heart (that pressure of working towards things that I don’t even choose for myself, that wanting to prove something, that attempt to be someone else) again later. It might come back soon. Sooner than I would want.
But, right now I feel good and if I can have a couple of hours feeling like my f-ing self, I am thankful and I do hope I can remain conscious enough to keep it going. Go for walks alone, write things no one reads, watch documentaries, read, draw, I don’t know, the simple things I like so much and often I feel are unspectacular to others. Come on, I’m 32, I’ve lived many lives, and I think for once I want to choose this. I want to stop resisting my unspectacular self. I want to stop trying to be interesting for others and be at least likeable to myself. I’d be quite happy just with that.
Soundtrack of this moment: Nina Simone
Photo of the moment: Me yesterday night, going off to be my f-ing self.
I wonder when loneliness was ever felt for the first time.
It took me years to learn how to be alone,
and it wasn’t easy.
It took me years to not be easily bored
and delve into my depths and enjoy it.
Training through tears, anxiety and desperation,
to stop resisting loneliness and embrace it as a dearest friend.
It took me emptying myself and facing demons and monsters
and silently screaming from my closet.
But how joyful was the day in which I was alone
and liked it.
But then came years in which I was hardly ever alone,
and I learned, again, how to enjoy company,
to feel warmth and to want attention.
And I honestly forgot to train in loneliness
every now and then.
However, loneliness, my old friend,
she always come back.
She arrives with a very particular feeling, a chill,
as though death itself held you for a second.
It usually happens this way:
When she sees you are getting rusty
and losing your interest in the art of being alone,
she comes back.
And so you sigh and say, “here we go again”.
For a while, I have been stressing out every morning about my day, my week, my month and my entire future. I stress over the coffee taking too long or my computer freezing. When I check the time and see it is already 3 or 4 pm, I worry. Before going to sleep, I think about my thesis and about all that I feel that I should know but don’t know. I don’t always realize this, of course. This time it was a friend (Camilo) who allowed me to see this. He said, “are you focusing on the present moment?” Since this is a language I’ve known for years, I knew what he meant when he asked the question.
Why are you focusing on past and future? There is, really, only now. And now carries all: past, present and future alike. It is the portal where all meets. I have two choices this instant: opening up my word document to fix an essay and send it to my teacher, or writing this while I listed to the birds and glance every now at the trees in front of me. Yes, it is true that I cannot have the luxury of listening to birds and looking at the trees all the time. It is true that life is not always that easy. It is not. Sometimes we cannot think about past and future because we are busy trying to survive. So, if this is the case, when do we actually have the chance to enjoy the present but now? Maybe I should analyze better each moment to see if I can give myself the chance to listen to the birds and glance at the trees. Will it make a difference if I work on that essay a little bit later and focus for a while on this which I actually love to do and makes me feel calm?
I’ve been too busy trying to figure myself out but, in the end, I am blank. I feel stuck in this quest, and this is perhaps because I am not even allowing myself to breathe. I am distracting myself with a million tasks because I feel I need to provide something, generate something, “do” something. I am lost again in the notion of doing. This is not who I am. This is why I suffer. Yesterday Camilo told me that I didn’t need to be great. Even though I’ve written about this before, I think it is very nice when someone says this to you. Why do I think I need to do great things? I thought I had long discovered it wasn’t “I” that mattered. It is fear and insecurity that drives the ego and I’ve been so fearful and insecure for the past years. Carrying fear and insecurity literally everywhere I go and to every person I meet and honestly I don’t want to do it anymore.
Back in 2012 I wrote: “The spirit knows, the cosmos knows, that the strongest of powers is the power to let go of all power”. It’s been 8 years, and this knowledge leaves me and comes back periodically. I can get so, so lost. I guess that is also to be loved and accepted about ourselves. We get lost. It takes many cycles, many samsaras, many lives to get anywhere. If I could give anything to anyone that has followed a spiritual journey similar to mine, which is literally like going nowhere and getting lost all the time but every now and then finding these truly amazing places, I would share Hermann Hesse’s words that I have held close to my heart ever since I read Siddhartha many years ago and which I quote every now and then, when I periodically discover that I have been lost in past and future:
“Whither will my path yet lead me? This path is stupid, it goes in spirals, perhaps in circles, but whichever way it goes, I will follow it.”
So, if this morning you feel lost in thoughts, in words, in worries. If you are rushing into a future moment you need to get to, like I have been, worrying about my thesis, finding a job I don’t even know that I want, meeting someone to share my life with and maybe have a family with… If you are trying to figure out your entire life this morning, come back to the present moment with me. Our entire life is nowhere else but here.
One day I wrote a poem for you on a little piece of paper that I left on your table, but you never mentioned it.
So, the next time, I wrote it bigger and I taped it to your door, but I think you didn’t see it.
So, I wrote it on the wall of your building’s first floor, but you must’ve taken the back door.
So, I recorded it as a song, and added it to your favorite playlist, but it might be that you don’t like music anymore.
So, I decided to write it down again in the smallest piece of paper I could find and give it to the first person I encountered in the street, even though they might only understand Croatian.
And, then, something woke up in me, but this time it wasn’t some sort of consciousness of oneness or a sense of inner quiet. My insides started asking for adventure again. I have been working on my thesis and going to bed without desires and I had forgotten the wilderness…my wilderness. Today it woke up and I went out to my small balcony at night and heard strong wind shaking the leaves, making that amazing sound that somehow makes me think of the ocean. The waves of air crashing against the trees. I missed that and, as I sat in the balcony, Smashing Pumpkins started playing in the background, and I remembered my 20 year-old self and smiled at my beast which has been tamed for years now. It’s nice to tame your beast and be able to play with it sometimes, but in a way that doesn’t quite hurt you. I can still go to bed in an hour and sleep and be joyful tomorrow.
There must be beautiful moons tonight.
Sometimes I really wish I knew what I want to do, so I could give all my being to that, but nothing seems to gather me completely. I give myself to one or other thing and, in the end, I am left in the beginning. Where am I being led to? Is it alright if I just keep improvising a little longer? Allowing the universe to surprise me? Not having things under control in the great scheme of things?
Is it irresponsible now? Am I wasting my years going here and there instead of giving every drop of sweat to help others? How does helping others even look like? No matter what I do, I feel something is missing. Maybe there is. Maybe it is not about helping others to help yourself. Maybe I’ve been convincing myself of wanting to be something I don’t want to be. Studying human rights so that I can work as an officer somewhere for another two years, writing projects, making some salary, then what? What I want to do is write. That is really what I want to do, even if I am talentless. I want to write about the things I have seen and those I feel and make it difficult sometimes for me to sleep at night. That which motivates all my waking hours. Whether it be love or the knowledge of amazing people out there, in my country, in other countries, risking their lives to protect others. I want to write about them. I want to know their stories and see their eyes tired by sun and soil. I know I am distant, that there is a huge gap between them and me. At the same time, there is no difference. I have spoken to so many different people in the world and never have I stopped feeling they were my equals. I miss going to the field and talking to people without feeling awkward. Maybe that’s why I like the rural areas. I wasn’t awkward or weird there. Maybe distant, as it is hard for me to speak to people sometimes, or so I say. Maybe arrogant, as I sometimes speak harsher than I will, but not awkward or weird. When I think about it, I feel strings pulling my heart into a cave which is further inside myself. I miss it. I don’t know if it is the people that I miss, or the silence between them, or the big river, or watching people playing pool outside, or the trees, or feeling that I was doing something meaningful.
So, I have decided that I will dedicate one hour a day to writing (not my thesis) or investigating things for the stories that I want to write. I just decided it, right here, right now. I think I can go to sleep now, 3 minutes to midnight. Tomorrow will be a busy day.
To be honest, I thought I would be over it by now: the old desire to meet someone while walking through the forests around my imaginary Victorian house.
After some long relationships and several short intense…encounters, to call it somehow, I surely have lived many of those passionate love stories books and movies are made of. However, there is still a yearning. Either I forgot how it felt or I never felt it before. Sometimes I do wonder if I ever really loved someone…in a romantic way. I generally say I don’t believe in romantic love. I actually think I just believe in love. Romantic love…that is fiction to me, perhaps…or is it? Sometimes I don’t even know if I believe my own opinions.
It could be, now that I think about it, that my longing and yearning corresponds more to a feeling towards my lost childhood than to an imaginary person. I guess watching movies like Pride and Prejudice or series on Netflix like Anne with an E or Downton Abbey just reminds me of the years of my adolescence that I spent alone, longing for a friend or for a lover…or even unrequited love. So, now that I’ve gone through several unrequited, several requited and friendships of the most beautiful kind (honestly, beating the stuff movies and books are made of), I guess I just slip back into that old feeling from time to time. I am 13 again, or 16 (wow, that is literally half my age), and making up stories every night before going to sleep. Imagining with detail some scene with the boy I like (which never happened) or remembering how he looked in the morning or whether he played with my hair or smiled at me.
So, maybe my love for Victorian times is just my love for childhood and daydreaming. A craving for the good old days when I didn’t feel judged about being passionate, or about getting sad over silly things that could mean the world to me. I have a feeling what I long for is my wildness and my freedom, making mistakes and daydreaming without thinking I am wasting time that needs to be put into something productive. What I miss is, perhaps, Rumi’s ‘love’s confusing joy’ and the sheer agony shared with the pillow and lifted in the misty morning.
(Haikus for Survival)
But that afternoon
no one came to the mill
to crush sugar canes.
After a rough night, or feeling guilty, or feeling unaccomplished, or doubting yourself, find some silence, breathe gently and remember…how can it ever be wrong to do things out of love? Remember the moments of love that brought you to your present.
Love brought me here. How could I ever feel that “here” is not enough?
And, if I feel love didn’t bring me here, then I can start loving more. However you want to express it, through a smile, through art, through work, through a favor, through an embrace, through an advice…
I have found that there is nothing that heals me better than putting love in little places. I wrote a story once about these little paper boats that someone used to make for me. I imagined they lifted at night, organized in a row and travelled while I was sleeping. Maybe love is like those small paper boats. Maybe I put love in small intentions, actions, words…and I leave them everywhere, and sometimes they travel to other, more remote, places. When I look at life this way, it makes a lot more sense.
This game you think you are playing
you lost it long ago.
I follow you around
pretending I don’t know.
You come from war defeated,
I tell you it’s okay,
pretending I don’t see the demons
leading you astray.
And sometimes you go silent
for months or days or years
and I pretend that it’s alright
to see you disappear.
And when you come back smiling,
ask for a thing or two,
the veil falls down and I start thinking
perhaps I’m losing too.
(Haikus for Survival)
The mold grows over
the slow death of an orchid
from too much water.
When I was a child, I was intimidated by adults. They seemed so…serious and square. To me, chaos and games were reserved for children. Crying and laughing hysterically were not things I would associate with adults either.
The other day I was at a bookstore in Dijon, France (before I arrived to Zagreb where I was bound to spend the quarantine) and I sat down in this sofa to have coffee. It was one of those sofas that can fit like three people, but I was alone. The only other sitting places were a small stool close to the sofa and a table with two seats that were taken by two old ladies having tea.
A man, in his 50s, quite serious looking, the kind of man you’d think is well past the years in which awkwardness is acceptable, ordered something and then came into the little room where I was and analyzed the seating arrangement. He, silently, as in shame, walked to the stool and sat down, barely even looking at me. Oh, I just turned 32 a couple of days ago, so I was 31 (I do look like 26, or so they say). The bookshop owner told him it was better for him to sit on the sofa. He quietly nodded and then sat on the sofa. It was all very awkward, but sweet. It hit me. The awkwardness never goes away. And then, many moments in which I have dealt with really awkward adults crossed my mind. You never outgrow akwardness, just like you still get slightly (or very) nervous over speaking in public or interviewing someone and your heart still gets broken the same.
You still get afraid, maybe sometimes even more, and speak with shyness to people you don’t really know. You’re still embarrassed sometimes when you try new things or try to ask for things in a new language. I keep telling myself: “stop being shy, you’re an adult now”, but maybe shyness and awkwardness know not of age. We continue to be vulnerable and clumsy. We continue to lie about silly things and to avoid difficult conversations sometimes.
To be honest, it is quite a relief.
I mean, not all adults will own to it. They will give you a million advices about doing the right thing and being reasonable and mature. Maybe they also grew up with this idea that I had when I was a child that being an adult was about being in order…and maybe sometimes I give “adult” advices too…
I don’t really know what enthropy means, but I like the word. Enthropy never ceases to be (or maybe it does, I don’t really know how physics use it). Perhaps we pressure ourselves into being this adult thing that is really a twisted idol, a final cause gone wrong, a misdirection. Maybe we needed to learn to be more vulnerable, more conscious, more joyful, more playful, but in a different way. Maybe the final cause is mastering playfulness, understanding joy and teaching it. But, I don’t know, sometimes I get too busy trying to be an adult and then I have some wine to relax and I end up writing silly things like this…but, maybe…
maybe the thing of being an adult was just a myth.
I got diagnosed as a workaholic many years ago, perhaps by an ex-boyfriend. I was probably 25 or 26 and starting my first “real” job (yes, it took me some time). Ever since then, it comes and goes. It is just like any other adiction. You can’t stop thinking about it and you feel ashamed when you get on your computer once more at night and work a little bit more before going to sleep.
I probably missed quite a lot of things, at least a lot of time with myself, because of being a workaholic. Missed out on the possibility of making friends or building on existing friendships. I realize that now.
These days I have been growing obsessed with my thesis. It’s the most recent manifestation of my workaholism. I haven’t even done that much, but for every part I dedicate a large amount of time. Revising, re-revising, re-re-revising. And last night I got my computer out again at night, around 10 p.m., and worked some more. Then I started thinking…why? why do I do this? why don’t I meditate or read a book or do something else? Specially now, in quarantine, in the priviliged situation of studying a masters and not having a job I risk to lose.
The truth is that, for me, workaholism is a way to (1) cope with guilt and (2) deposit all my love somewhere. “I need to do this right”. That is what I keep thinking time and again. I need to write my thesis and graduate. I need to do this so that I can do more and stop feeling guilty about not doing enough about the state of the world. It is love, in a very strange way, that makes me go back and back to a file and work on it endlessly, even when it probably won’t make a difference. That it is why it is hard to explain to others that I will not stop doing it. That I will not stop trying to make things better, that I will not stop trying to make things right, once and over again. If it’s not my thesis, it will be something else.
Love takes the weirdest shapes and sometimes we need to accept the ways in which it manifests. However, a level of consciousness must be kept inside, a safety word, a code, so that when someone really needs you to snap out of it, you can. Or maybe I am excusing myself. It’s true, maybe I could change and try to work less, to engage less, to get sucked in much less. But, how can I explain it? I can feel when I do things out of love, I guess, and I know there should be nothing wrong with that. I am writing out of love, I exist out of love and I also want things to work out of love. There is absolutely nothing else that I can do here, but try and try the best I can.
Last night I couldn’t sleep. The question I had avoided for weeks finally asked itself, loud and clear: is this how you wanted to be isolated? Heavy questions hid behind this main question.
What are you doing in Croatia?
Did you want to be unemployed and studying a masters at 31?
Did you want to be single?
How did you get here?
What if you weren’t allowed to ever leave? What if isolation prolongued endlessly?
The matter behind the question was simple: there is only the present. And this is the present I chose. So, last night I was confronted with this choice. I had forget how real it was, the assertion that there is only now. Now is everything. But is now enough?
Is being away enough? Is sleeping alone enough?
The honest answer is that I don’t know, but I have a feeling, a gut feeling, that I’m not looking at things the right way. I don’t feel terribly sad or lonely. I don’t feel like I need much else. The emptiness only comes when I compare this to other moments of my life.
But, what if the present contains those too? And what if everything in fact lives in me and I can feel…everything, right now?
Then I wouldn’t ever, ever have to feel lonely or unaccomplished, and no matter where I ended up being isolated, I’d be at peace.
This has to be more than enough. I want to be able to tell the lonely women and men, and children, who are often lonely too, that loneliness is sometimes a matter of perspective. For example, this tree in front of my window always makes me feel accompanied. I’m so happy to have it, this tree. It is enough. Or close enough to enough.
Soundtrack: Blue Ridge Mountains – Fleet Foxes
Today I decided to stay in bed a little longer. I played that music that we used to hear after waking up in the sun-filled room. Now, when I think about it, living with you wasn’t that bad at all. It was perhaps those years that defined how I would live the rest of my adulthood. Thanks to those years, sometimes I see the sunlight falling on the trees or coming through the window in angles, and I feel alive, but alive in a different way, in a way I learned mostly thanks to you. This morning I feel this way. I hear the birds singing and I see the same tree as every other morning and I feel so calm. Maybe it’s because Spring is coming, or something transformed last night. Maybe I realized I can let go easier than before. It feels good to let go.
But I don’t do this every morning. In fact, it’s the first time I write in a while. Most mornings I wake up, make coffee and some breakfast, and sit down to work on my thesis. I don’t even allow myself to wake up. I don’t give myself enough time to realize I’m alive.
Many years have passed, but the sensation this morning is exactly the same. It stands all tests of time.
I must also confess I never think about it much. About New York or Tampa or those glorious, glorious mornings in Bogota. But this morning I am thinking about it and it makes me happy and grateful. Things change, we grow, we transform, we leave, dancing away, but the source of magic is endless. The magic is always there. Maybe the magic is love. Not the romantic kind that feeds on time and proximity. The real kind, shapeless, infinite and needing absolutely nothing to change.
Thanks for the magic.
El acto de despertar
Banda sonora: Blue Ridge Mountains – Fleet Foxes
Hoy decidí quedarme en cama más tiempo. Puse aquella música que escuchábamos cuando nos despertábamos en esa habitación donde nos caía el sol. Ahora que lo recuerdo, vivir contigo no fue tan malo. Fueron, tal vez, los años que definieron de qué forma iba a vivir el resto de mi adultez. Gracias a esos años, a veces veo la luz cayendo sobre los árboles, o entrando en ángulos por la ventana, y me siento viva, pero viva de una forma distinta que aprendí en gran parte gracias a ti. Esta mañana me siento así. Escucho los pájaros cantando y veo el mismo árbol de todas las mañanas y me siento tan tranquila. Tal vez es que se acerca la primavera, o algo me transformó anoche. Tal vez fue el darme cuenta de que me es más fácil dejar ir que antes. Se siente bien dejar ir.
Pero no todas las mañanas hago esto. De hecho, es la primera vez que escribo en un tiempo. La mayoría de las mañanas me despierto, hago café y algo de desayuno, y me siento a trabajar en mi tesis. Ni siquiera me permito despertar. No me permito suficiente tiempo para sentir que estoy viva.
Han pasado muchos años, pero la sensación esta mañana es exactamente la misma. Supera todas las pruebas del tiempo.
Debo confesar que nunca pienso mucho en eso. En Nueva York, o Tampa o esas mañanas gloriosas mañanas en Bogotá. Pero esta mañana estoy pensando en eso y me hace sentir feliz y agradecida. La cosas cambian, crecemos, nos transformamos, bailando, nos dejamos el uno al otro, pero la fuente de magia no termina. La magia sigue ahí. Tal vez la magia es amor. No el amor romántico que se alimenta del tiempo y la proximidad. El verdadero, que no tiene forma, es infinito y no busca cambiar absolutamente nada.
Gracias por la magia.
The light falling on the yellow leaf summons me.
The birds falling from one tree to the other summon me.
Silence, above all, summons me.
It’s me, but the world had to go quiet for me to hear myself.
The divine in you, the eternal, or chaotic and temporary,
Whatever form you choose for the divine in you,
It speaks softly,
It doesn’t scream at you or force you to listen,
It stays within smiling like a monk, or a cynic,
Until one day the world goes quiet,
And you hear a mumbling, like a distant mantra,
And get curious…or not.
I need to continue working on my thesis, but I keep thinking about all these unsacred encounters I’ve had in the last months and how much they’ve disappointed me. It makes me wonder what I’m even looking for.
What are we looking for in the unknown?
What can we expect from strangers?
What do we (I) long for?
I guess some sort of complicity, mutual awareness, common understanding…or is it love? It’s silly. You only feel empty when you become aware of someone else’s existence. I don’t know if this is entirely true, but right now it seems about right.
It is possible that I’m trying to hide again. Trying to squeeze myself in other people, to find myself later, much like dogs hide their food. It is possible that I am in no position to give, and that is why I get so damn nervous every time I have to encounter a new being. So, I was telling someone about how I always felt people were not going to like me. Why? Yes, I asked myself why as well that night and then thought about it a bit more, because it doesn’t make sense. I mean, a lot of people don’t like me, but a lot of them do. Why? Maybe we are getting onto something. Same old conclusion. Same old motivational crap of loving yourself which is nevertheless true.
I have to love myself more. There is no other way. I cannot be this child at 31 waiting, begging for approval at every single corner of this dark inner city. There is no other way. Maybe not love myself in the spiritual sense I aimed for many years ago. Maybe not love myself in the sense that I’ll be proud of my efforts and achievements, and all that nonesense. Maybe just love my fucking self for the sake of it. Embrace my years and the little bags under my eyes which appeared only this year (and are still not visible to some human eyes), not making them about something else. Not making them about the experiences behind them or squeezing meaning out of them. No, maybe I should love myself like I love meaningless drawings of random things or some of the Leonard Cohen poems that I just read yesterday. Maybe that’s the way I should love myself. In the way I love bad coffee.
And recognize the sacredness of everything unholy.
(Haikus for Survival)
Haiku # 7
A dandellion grows
then comes a man and blows it
out of existence.
(Haikus for survival)
Tiny blue flowers
in winter steal the splendor
from the sleeping vines.
“How beautiful” says a biologist, basking himself in the view of a yellow black-eyed Susan standing tall, hit by the sunlight.
The garden is full of different flowers, all beautiful, all cared for, healthy and following their final cause: attracting pollinators, expanding, perpetuating their existence.
But this one Susan, the yellow one, the one the biologist notices with admiration and seems to stand slightly over the others, doubts its final cause. It does not know if it wants to attract pollinators or stand forever in that garden among others of similar birth.
Susan would have preferred to be an evening primrose. If it had to attract anything, it would rather attract moths than bees. These are all daydreams, while the bees come and go. Susan has grown well accostumed to their buzzing and does not mind it anymore.
Maybe Susan would have liked to grow on a cactus. It doesn’t care if humans have revelations, epiphanies or feel nostalgia when seeing it. It doesn’t care if bees like to suck on its nectar. It doesn’t care…
A child, a 4-year-old girl, Susy (pure coincidence), runs past the biologist and, to his surprise, goes for that same black-eyed Susan. He doesn’t like it a single bit, but neither Susan nor Susy care.
At night, I pretend
I don’t feel your breath.
You make me promise,
silently, against my will,
that I won’t look,
that I won’t listen,
that I won’t even wonder
whether you are human.
The least impressions possible
for forgetting as early as possible
in the morning.
Hence the darkness.
Hence the silence in bed.
Hence the coercive choice
between sex and sleep.
(Haikus for survival)
One tree did not grow
but as its body stood low
its roots sank endless
(Haikus for survival)
The small white flowers
bend under the thunderstorm
and wait for rebirth.
(Haikus for survival)
At night in autumn
awake and desperate to fall
hangs in vain a leaf
When you’re bullied and told you’re not pretty; when you are told you are not normal, and things of the sort…you start asking from a very young age…so, what am I?
I am smart. This was the discourse I was taught since a very young age and it became my protection. It was my protection from everything. The world could become a very dark place, I would have to face many demons…but I was smart. It was the only thing I had going for me growing up. My parents were smart enough to know it was the only thing that would make a difference in my life.
So I went on believing I was smart and it was through this belief that I survived. Now, at 31, no longer a young bullied kid, I find myself in situations in which I realize…I am not that smart. There are brilliant people out there. I am just full of rhetoric. Believe me, if your social survival depended on it, you would probably construct your own. But, behind those words, there is not much. I am not an expert at anything; I am not very good at studying; I don’t want to become a president or any of those things. I don’t even want to discover anything new. Maybe it is OK not being smart. Maybe I have survived and I don’t need it anymore, I don’t know. So, how to go from here? I guess now it is time to humble down and accept. Humble down and learn what I haven’t learned yet from myself because I was too busy trying to be smart.
For the first time in my life I am really doubting myself in this sense. Maybe I am not that smart. Maybe I won’t be a writer…”but never doubt I love”…said Shakespeare…
“Never doubt I love.”
I want to write about the quiet ones who maybe never received preferential attention or were never the first at anything, not because they were not courageous, but because they were humble, and loving, in a way many of us haven’t learned yet.
I want to write about the old man in the waterboat on the way to Venice whose wife was impacient because “he wondered” and who took his time to come sit down with a big smile on his face; the sort of smile some old people have when they have the joy of experiencing childhood once again.
I want to write about the man who was taking the same plane as me. He was with a group of friends, but was with no doubt the “quiet one”. He was skinny. Skinnier than me and that is already saying a lot. He could not really wear his old black backpack, because a large part of it was almost completely unstitched, so he had to grab it all the time with his bony hand. He had no socks but wore worn down black dressing shoes and he was there; quiet. He did not try to get anyone’s attention and when we got to Venice and everyone was pushing in the huge line to pass through immigration, he stayed behind a bit. You could tell he was not used to push.
Someday I want to write about the fishermen who get up when it is still dark and take daily journeys against the rising sun. I guess it is about the patient ones that I want to write. Those who are not desperately trying to understand, control or live their lives from one adrenaline rush to another one.
I want to write about these quiet ones, because I know they would probably not write about themselves, because they don’t need to…and there’s a beauty to that which I will probably never know completely.
We were laughing, and for a second I thought I saw you looking at me.
I took one glimpse, and then another, as my eyes opened and closed following the rhythm of my laughter.
I could swear that your eyes were glowing and that you were happy.
When the laughter was over, you looked down and we silently agreed to never talk about it.
(I just started a masters degree at 31 – which is a challenge for me – and I am trying to have some time to relax before I start reading again, so I decided to write a poem loosely inspired by Trainspotting).
Find your group of people.
Be the best at what you do.
Love your job.
Enjoy every day like it is your last.
Plant a tree.
Get a masters.
Find a husband.
Be good to people.
Be nice to the environment.
Comb you hair.
Don’t be easy.
Don’t be too sensitive.
Don’t cry at your job.
Be on Instagram.
Be on Facebook.
One apple a day.
One post a day.
Wake up, darling. It was a bad dream, and it will take some time to shake it off. But here you can do whatever the fuck you want, even if what you want is to not do anything at all.
Alek was too smart for his own good. But what does this mean, exactly? It means that, despite of being a talented writer and natural love-maker (which he didn’t know yet), he didn’t have the slightest idea of how to open a space for himself in the world. At 26, he’d only had one job which he had just left, and the only positive thing he could say about himself was that he was a “typist” (if he were not too shy, he’d say he was “fast with the hands” instead). What he really loved, though, was writing Haikus. He also loved Russian literature, despite of being Polish.
He was tall and thin in comparison to the average young men from Florida, so he was often told that he “was too skinny and needed to eat more”. Florida; that’s where his family had lived ever since his mother decided to move to the United States to pursue a career as an actress…or waitress. His brown eyes sunk a little in his face, but they matched well with his thin nose and lips. Nobody seemed to find him particularly attractive, just like no one really knew that he often suffered from sinus infection and his favorite novel was Lo-lee-ta. He often wondered how he could explain how much he loved that book; even more than classics such as War and Peace. It wasn’t that he fantasized about meeting a much younger girl; it just amazed him how much empathy he felt for Humbert Humbert.
Sometimes it weirded him out that nobody knew that he feared moths and had once seen mating hummingbirds. The point is that, even though he had two somewhat close friends, Leo and Ethan, there were a lot of little secrets and thoughts that he had never shared with anybody. Were the little discoveries of his to remain in his mind forever? Maybe they were supposed to, but he sure wondered how it would feel to share them with someone. He didn’t like to get romantic though, and wasn’t ready to accept that part of himself quite yet. Alek didn’t even think much about getting a girlfriend, even though he hadn’t had sex for over a year. He had no idea how to flirt with girls and he was well-aware that his inability to pretend made girls feel awkward. Maybe he was too raw, too honest, overexcited when speaking about things he was passionate about, pulling on his hair when he felt nervous, playing with receipts and any little paper he found when bored.
And now he was also unemployed. Sitting at the kitchen table, trying to write a Haiku about mating hummingbirds, which he had tried a million times before.
(Haikus for survival)
Four teardrops falling
heavily and without grace
break the midnight peace.
There’s always one late to bloom,
one to take longer to adapt
or to find someone to kiss.
Like small trees, too comfortable
under the shade
of bigger trees
that didn’t stay too long
playing with roots and soil
and, instead, grew taller and taller
toward the sun.
There’s always one who arrives too late
to a realization
or the doors of fate.
Or is it, maybe, that being late
is being right on time?
Are the so-called late bloomers
just careful flowers
making their nectar the sweetest
before opening up in the fall
when everything else seems to wither?
Something as simple
as staying inside with you
when it is raining.
Sometimes I feel a little bit ashamed because I have not really discovered “my path”. I feel most people find that thing which they want to put all their energy into. I believe if I found that thing, I would really try to be unstoppable. But, I have commitment issues.
Maybe it is terrible that
every moment I spend with you
is followed by a sigh;
as though my body had to let it go
for me to continue living.
It is just too much.
Too much water for
this small cactus.
Too much love
for this small body.
I’ve filled all the little corners
all the secret places,
with your treasures,
like a thief.
Now I am afraid
I have nowhere else
to place them.
when I tell you that I need space,
it’s because I go to some other place
where I can deposit your treasures
to keep them safe
and then let them go.
And I would rather do this
every single time
so that I can come back
and look into your eyes
and be able to handle it.
Randy had never looked inside a closet to figure out what to wear for so long. Nevertheless, that early morning he found himself staring at his four shirts and three pants for a long while, not knowing which one to pick. All of the shirts had flaws. The white one had a couple of yellow stains, the light blue one was missing two buttons, the orange one had unstitched sections on one of the sleeves and the grey one was not exactly his. It belonged to his brother, who was still in prison. It made Randy terribly sad just to look at the shirt, but it was still his best option. After getting dressed, for a while he stood in front of the mirror, carefully observing all the years and suffering stored in the wrinkles around his eyes and mouth. He then took three quarters and five dimes from the collection of coins which he kept in a jar, and after putting them in the pocket where the piece of paper with the address was, he opened the door and left the small moisty room where he was now living. His first “home” in 12 years.
When Randy got to the place, he was already a little bit sweaty. It was not a particularly hot day, but his own nerves made him feel as though it were. He pushed the door gently and, as soon as his bulgy brown eyes took a look inside, he felt a little shocked to see so many people…so many young people. He just stood there, behind the half-open door, until…. “Excuse me, sir.” These words took a few seconds to register in Randy’s mind, upon which he shook his head violently and walked inside.
My sister and I, we go through these “what the hell” moments. That’s what she calls them. This is when we are mentally tired.
How can you tell that we are going through a “what the hell” moment? Because we eat. This afternoon we had the best worst idea. We went to read at a vegan (she’s vegan…I am…almost vegan -whatever that means) café. They have amazing donuts, key lime pie, cookies…(yum!). So we were already in a “what the hell” mood and it all started with a shared key lime pie and a donut. She was reading a book on animal rights and I was reading about economic, social and cultural rights.
Reading made us more and more tired. So, we ordered more and more food: coffee, desserts, something salty, something for the road. I don’t know how I made it home (before getting home, I did stop to buy a large bag of paprika-flavoured chips).
It was a big time “what the hell” moment. I allowed it, in part, because I am moving in a week to Europe and I’m trying to get all these sister moments in before I go. Also, we were anxious. We get anxious sometimes. Specially Saturday afternoons. I don’t know why.
So, I got home and I really felt under the obligation to write. I figured I was too tired to write, so I decided to doodle something. I was too tired to doodle, so I ended up doing a weird drawing of myself; of my post-“what the hell” moment look.
You know? Sometimes we just get tired for no good reason…and we eat chips.
I wonder when we started becoming so obsessed with being more. I wonder when we stopped being important. Is it that there’s too many people? Is it a biological need for attention? Is it a human need of fulfilling an ideal?
Whatever it is, it’s everywhere, and it’s not new. We can find this in literature (in Tolstoy’s The Death of Ivan Ilyich, for example). I don’t know if it is a tendency toward survival or evolution, but I don’t see how it is helping us anymore.
“So they began living in their new home — in which, as always happens, when they got thoroughly settled in they found they were just one room short….Things went particularly well at first, before everything was finally arranged and while something had still to be done….When nothing was left to arrange it became rather dull and something seemed to be lacking, but they were then making acquaintances, forming habits, and life was growing fuller.”
-Excerpt from The Death of Ivan Ilyich by Tolstoy
I think what most people need is to understand it is okay to stay where you are. It’s okay to not travel around the world and meet a million people. Whatever you do, try to do with love. That’s it. Well, I don’t actually know that that’s what people want to hear, but it’s definitely soothing for me.
Things are only better or worse according to society-based concepts sometimes. Why is being somewhere “exotic” better than being at home? What changes in you? Why does it make your experience of yourself better or worse? We are missing out on so much by desiring something different or “better” all the time.
Hey, I love travelling, but I am really trying to understand that being at home is just as enjoyable; as infinite; as divine.
It’s similar to drugs. I’ve heard people say “concerts are just better on drugs”. This, I think, is a dangerous thought pattern. Things are “better” with someone else, on something, somewhere else. Why can’t we just say it’s “different”?
Words have power over us. The thought that something external to us gives us a better experience of ourselves makes us addicts. To travelling, to tattoos, to sex, to love, you name it. It can become each time more difficult to come back home to you and understand that you are just fine. That the sun shines beautifully through the windows of your own home, and that this morning is as calm and beautiful as it could’ve been in Thailand, India or Fiji.
I too have that urge to become something else all the time, until I remember that I don’t need to be “bigger”, “better”, “brighter”. What keeps me from embracing this moment is only myself. I am totally missing it. I am totally missing the point. I am here and that is much more than enough. These atoms didn’t need to manifest in my form. It happened by chance, and chance is amazing. These bodies are because of chance. Lay off the pressure. You’re OK. More than OK.
AND….if you’re having trouble being happy over your own life, follow the advice I heard from a buddhist monk…rejoice in the circumstances of other beings.
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