October 2016 – Part II

Tuesday, October 18th
… I feel like I’m figuring out myself all over again, but with the comfort and a little more ease of the past experiences. It’s funny how I thought just a week ago that I Was trapped and my whole life already mapped out, and today I can see the vast, unwritten future in front of me. …

Thursday, October 20th
There is such a discontent in me that it spoils every pleasure.
There is such a hunger in me that cannot be abated, no matter how much food is put in my stomach.
There is such a weariness in me that no amount of sleep can get rid of.
Pain. There will always be pain. The fear of pain has made me resist the cracking of the soul. The breaking of self.
But to not break! How can I prevent it when I have already been marked? How much longer can I hold myself together before turning into a living corpse?
A surrender, if you will. A step forward with eyes closed, not knowing whether I am standing on a cliff. To stop questioning everything.
Solitude is a hard thing. Loneliness is even more excruciating.
Ideas are dangerous things. Even when we know we should be critical of each and every one of them, once they are planted, they just take roots and worm their way into the deepest parts of our mind. Especially when certain ideas resonate with you, or they explain your flaws in such convenient ways. When it’s such a relief to accept them. We can lament the fact that all we can do is to construct, deconstruct, and reconstruct our personal truths over and over again in our lifetime. It will probably drive us mad.
A descent – or ascent? – to madness. Why should I stop myself?
You know when the relative truths clash and burn and explode? Politics. Society. Because we don’t live alone.

Friday, October 21st
I realized that I don’t know how to love people who are 8000 km away. I tried to pretend that the distance wasn’t there, masking it with modern technology, but it’s an empty substitute, because the distance is there.
Jeanette Winterson – as she tells it in the book Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? – hadn’t given up. She had always pursued life – love of life, love of self, however clumsily.
Nowadays “giving up” is associated with a task, a goal. But “giving up” really means stopping whatever you are doing. When you give up on life, you stop living, literally or metaphorically (I haven’t experienced the former, so I can’t really compare, but the latter is bad. It feels horrible, because you can’t feel anything.).
I thought I wanted security. Stability, guarantees. But what I want now is “just” to live – I want to love life, and everything in it. I am and have been lonely, no matter how hard I try to distract myself from it. Yes, there have been sunny days, days of warmth – but they passed. They will come, and they will pass again. But it’s a comfort to know that you can be lonely and still be in love with life.

Sunday, October 23rd
… So what was I coming home to? No one was waiting for me; I didn’t feel connected to anyone at the party. It was a difficult emotion to feel – that loneliness, unwantedness, fear and hopelessness. But then I thought of the heating mat that would warm me up; when I walked in and saw my familiar things, I began to settle down and felt centered enough. They gave me the strength to stay on hits path of unsteady present and unknown future.

Tuesday, October 25th
… Reality clashed with longing and bore a fruit that is unrecognizable, tart and sweet at the same time. …
For life has no meaning, and no reason. It consists of a series of present moments, and you can delude yourself into thinking you can prepare yourself for them, but you can’t.
Time is a gift and a curse. If you treat each moment with precious care and concentration, time does not exist and you are floating in the universe, and you are constantly creating your life. Even when you pause, you are creating pauses in your life. Your creation is not built to last, because if you hang on to the past because you do not want to let it go, then you stop creating. You stop being in the moment. The same thing when you worry about the future and the tasks that you have to do. So your creation lasts only for the moment it has been created in, then it fades away and gives way to your next creation.
We invented the clock, so that we can be at a certain place at a certain moment. We surrendered ourselves to be the clock’s slaves.
… I have never been an orphan. I have a beginning to trace back to, a family that is not hidden. A mother who loves me without reason, just with her whole heart. … I have not created myself from nothing, so I have a path to trace back to, a life story in which I encountered many creatures of the day and night.
A head wants confidence; it wants guarantees, it wants to understand so that it can plan.
A heart only knows what’s right right now. It accepts and it lives in the quiet, knowing way, without having to think about it.
A head wants to assess and evaluate and theorize and – improve. It strives for the best, without knowing what is good or better or best.
A heart is the true survivor. It accepts and it is immersed in the reality of now.
… It’s no wonder I don’t want to be an academic. Pursuit of knowledge isn’t my highest goal. It always comes back to humans. I want to reach out to people through my writing. It would be wonderful to reach that goal, but I think – I hope – that the process itself will be worth while.

Wednesday, October 26th
… I am alone and lonely and I have zero interest in opening up, because I know that my insides are empty. … I am not comfortable with not having an identity, because that’s how we establish relations with strangers – either social position (daughter, friend, employer, etc.), current profession/passion, or at least a weird, distinguishing quirk to set us apart. When has it become our job to entertain others with our identities?

Monday, October 31st
… I wish I could do the “practical” thing and enjoy it. But I can’t. I feel this pressure and misery when I ignore my inner voice. It doesn’t give me any specific direction or a grandiose goal to pin my hopes on. I only know that I’ve gotta take these next steps, even if they end up making me smack against a wall. Hard experiences are parts of what I need to experience. As for the rest, I suppose I am an anxious optimist.
In a strange way, my happiness seems to lie in getting lost. I don’t know if I will ever find myself or if anyone will ever find me. I used to read these books with stable, happy endings and anxiously imagine my future like that.
But fear and anxiety are two different things. I have learned that whatever makes me anxious in that pit-in-the-stomach, dreading kind of way, I should avoid at all costs. What I dread now, I might not dread in a few decades, but that’ll be because I’ll have changed by then. And the only way I can change into that person who does not dread X anymore is by avoiding X while I still do dread it.
Logical. My anxiety came mostly from the fact that I wanted my life to be logical and orderly. In a way, I think it takes a greater logic to accept that there are some things beyond the logic. It took me a long, long, looooong time to fully embrace this instinct, this heart, this being. Of course I will falter at some points. But even as I waver, I think back to the moment I found my heart, and I will steady myself. … Feeling right is not the same as feeling good. Feeling good is a temporary high. Feeling right encircles hardships, heartbreaks, tears, sweat, depression, as well as laughter and joy and contentment. …

Let’s celebrate life!

As Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year, slowly fades into the night sky, I quietly celebrate life in my heart.

Do you know the feeling of such intense happiness that you dance to the music only you can hear, and your heart is bursting with loud or quiet joy, and all your worries fade into insignificant nothingness, and your laughter contains the key to all the mysteries you have ever faced? You light up from within, and you can’t stop smiling, and other people can see it too? You are invincible, not because you are impenetrable but because you embrace vulnerability and fling yourself wide open. You are still afraid but your fears make you feel brave instead of miserable. Your body is vibrating with energy and you are swamped with the love for life.

This – let’s call it joy – isn’t something that is doled out to you on a rare occasion because you’ve been a “good person”. You can create joy. In fact, you are the only person who can give yourself joy.

That’s what I believe, anyway. My values – honesty, authenticity, contribution or giving back, creativity, compassion, vulnerability, love, gratitude, simplicity, accepting our humanness, forgiveness. Me as I am, not who I should be. Embracing my human flaws and goodness. And celebrating it.

I am lit up with life. Happy Litha, everyone.

Being temporarily (I hope) ill

I woke up last Thursday morning and puttered around in the kitchen to get my breakfast ready. No doubt wondering whether I will finally pull my shit together and get my ass in gear. I ate something small and simple. Probably an apple and a piece of toast or whatever. I put the dishes in the sink, went to the bathroom to wash my face…

And then. The world tilted. There’s really no better way to describe the sensation. I was overcome with sudden dizziness, only it wasn’t the usual light-headedness you get after standing up too fast or seeing black dots for five seconds or ten. No, my bathroom moved in front of my eyes. It tilted to the left, and then to the right. My head felt too heavy for my neck, and I was overcome with a strong nausea that made me want to barf.

I stumbled to the bedroom, and since the world was still swirling around me, figured it must be some sort of a migraine minus the headache. I decided to take some pills for the common headache (plus a small dose of sleeping pill) and I was determined that it would be gone when I woke up after a good sleep. Never mind that it was only 11 in the morning.

I slept. I woke up and tried to sit up. Whoa, not a good idea. Vertigo (like, serious vertigo), nausea, frustration, and a sneaking sense of fear. What if it kept for longer than 24 hours? What if it becomes a permanent situation?
I couldn’t move my head, not even to lie on my side, or another wave of nausea would plague me. But since LED-screens did not make my condition any worse, I Googled “extreme dizziness” using my iPad. The closest self-diagnosis I came up with is vestibular neuritis. Basically, my balance is screwed up because the nerves in my inner-ear(s) have inflamed or something. The recovery time? A few weeks. Maybe a few months. Sometimes it becomes only the first of the many recurring episodes.

The first two, three days were bad. I was scared, I couldn’t sit much less walk so I couldn’t go to a hospital (and I absolutely refused to let an ambulance come to me), I couldn’t eat thanks to the nausea. Really, the first day, all I could stomach was a chocolate bar because I didn’t have to chew. I drank lots and lots of water (I finally mastered the art of drinking by lying down!). I tried to sleep a lot because I was bored out of my mind. The only way to read was to lie on my back and stretch out my arms up in the air, holding a book. I tried to sit and not move my head but not making any movements while sitting was impossible, and the small waves of nausea eventually built up to a headache.

My family fretted and worried but they were unable to fly up on such a short notice. My friends worried but I didn’t want anyone to play the nurse because… I still have trust issues? I’ve gotten comfortable talking about the hard stuff after it happened but I’m still having problems telling them and asking them for help when it is happening right now.

The thing with this condition is that it came very suddenly but is healing very slowly. It’s frustrating and a little bit scary. It has been six days, and I still haven’t regained my sense of balance fully.

Thankfully, I am getting better every day. Today I was even able to walk a short distance to a pizzeria to pick up my lunch/dinner. It was a small miracle for me – to be able to go out and feel the sun and the wind on my face! Yep, the appreciating-mundaneness-thanks-to-a-temporary-illness has occurred. I hope, but doubt, that I will cling on to this gratitude forever.
So for the future reference, here is something I noticed while I was out tottering around. Firstly, walking is not as easy as it seems. I had to walk very slowly and focus on something distant and still the surroundings moved around a little. I also had to cross the streets a few times, and I was extra careful because running wasn’t a good idea. All this made me think about older people who have difficulties walking and how navigating their walkers or opening a door could be a physical hardship for them. The second thing I noticed is that all this slowing down and being careful in my movements have made me more perceptible to human friendliness. Before picking up my Italian food, I went to the grocery store next door, all the while chanting silently you can do it, you can do it, you can do it, don’t puke, don’t puke, it’ll be over soon, okay you’re doing great, when another customer let me go first, when the cashier said a cheerful hello, when the owner smiled at me. We are nowadays so used to automatic politeness – the quick, fake smile at our neighbors, the murmured hello and goodbye at check-out lines, the fleeting waves of hand at fellow classmates. But today I felt the warmth that can only come from deep within us. Maybe my brain is a bit delirious. Maybe I decided I needed all the friendliness I can get and interpreted everything in my way. Maybe, maybe by slowing down and concentrating on the moment 100%, I was able to see what I normally couldn’t see because I was already thinking about what I should be doing next.

My sudden balance-disorder is teaching me mindfulness in a new way. It is also teaching me self-confidence by letting me take care of myself. I “screwed up” yesterday because my balance was wacky (an oven-heated ready-made frozen pizza ended up on my oven door the wrong way down) and I was so frustrated. ‘Look at the mess I made, and I can’t even clean up because I’m already close to bashing my face into the hot oven! Why, oh WHY does it have to happen to me?!’ Hot tears of frustration ran down my cheeks, but I cooled off and started looking at things in a rational way. It wasn’t my fault that I was sick (okay, indirectly maybe, if this balance-disorder-thing is the result of a built-up stress) and that I made a mess because of it. Right now, I was in no shape to do any real cleaning up (I’m still not, sadly).
But I can take care of myself. I can make plans and lists and even write (thank you, iPad) while lying on my bed, oh-so-paitently waiting for my balance to restore itself.

Making the best out of the situation, and finally building a layer of self-esteem and feeling good about it. Appreciating life.
I’m so grateful I’m alive.