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. …

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Confession Time: “in the shallows of life”

In the first semester of LK English, we read four or five short stories, to be precise, stories of initiation. “I Want to Know Why” by Sherwood Anderson has left a not-so-easily fading impression on me, even though I have yet to figure out why.

But what strikes me most is the piece “Live Life Deeply” by Jessamyn West. The protagonist, a 14-year-old Ellie Courtney, writes an impression for her class called Live Life Deeply. She writes…

Life may be compared to a glorious sea and human beings to bathers. Some wade in ankle deep, some to their waists, and some all over. Let us not hesitate in the shallows of life, wet only to the ankles, but plunge bravely in. Let us live life deeply. Out where the breakers crash –

… then her father stopped reading, and we’ll never know what Ellie wanted to say, but it’s a powerful imagery, isn’t it? In German there’s the expression “ins kalte Wasser springen”, which means that you jump in figuratively head-first without spending too much time preparing yourself for it.

I’m an escapist. I once called myself  “a shallow, self-centered, egoistic, cold-hearted bitch.” While I find the words a bit harsh, maybe they are true. I wrote:

“[…] I can read and analyze and obsess about all the treacheries in the world. Poverty. Inequality. Financial crisis. The gap between the poor and the rich. Dictatorship. The homeless. Orphans. Or worse, children with parents who abuse them. Sexual abuse, psychological abuse, physical abuse. Abduction, murder. […] I can’t bring myself to care about them all. It would break me. I have enough problems to deal with in my own little world – yes, petty and small problems compared to starving children. But I have to deal with them. […] I could at least educate myself on such matters. And I do, about certain topics. But too many of them and all I can feel is distress, depression and desperation. I feel so bad about myself being such a spoiled child who has a roof over her head, three meals a day, and a chance at education. BUT I DON’T WANT TO FEEL BAD ABOUT THAT!! I can’t live my whole life in guilt. Guilt over having what others don’t have. I will never achieve happiness in my life, and that will make me a cranky grandma who kicks dogs and has a mean face and doesn’t do anything for the world. […] So I chose ignorance. I chose denial. I chose the easy way out. It doesn’t make me feel better about myself, but this way I can get at least several days of peace until the next time I realize what a heartless person I am being.
Later, I tell myself. When I have carved out a place for myself in the society, and once I earn my own living and can spare some money and/or time, I will look further into this. Or I will use my skills as a lawyer and defend the helpless. It sounds so honorable right now, but who knows what I will say in five, ten, fifteen years… […]”

(Maybe I should have written “but who knows what I will say in one year”.)

Now I bring the present and the past together. The present post about Jessamyn West and her story about ocean and bathers, and my past post about my misery about ignoring the bad things happening in the world, for shutting the whole life out.
Because is that not what I am doing? I put my hands over my ears and shut my eyes, I pretend that nothing is happening. I stubbornly choose to see only what is in front of my eyes. I cut myself off from the world. It’s too easy to do, actually. Don’t watch news, don’t read newspaper. It’s so easy to fall behind everyone. If you don’t actively inform yourself about what has happened today, yesterday, 50 years ago, you won’t be able to keep up with the influx of information everyone makes use of. You can’t talk about current politics, economic situation, and whatever topic that you choose to find important. (It sounds so sophisticated, doesn’t it, when you brag about your knowledge on some new bill in the parliament, especially if your conversation partner has no idea about it?)

So here I am, sitting in the house all the time except for occasional exams (then I have to actually get up, get out, and get it done) and when my family half-forces me to taking a walk with them.
I don’t go out. I chalk it up to my shyness about new people and faces, but the truth is, I just don’t want to face my life. I pass one day after another in the exact same style (i.e. get up, eat, do nothing, sleep – on repeat) and it feels like the time has stopped, except the sky gets darker and brighter outside my window.

And I feel dead inside.

It’s like I’m not really awake, not really existing. I eat, but I forget the taste as soon as the food leaves my tongue. I read, but the words never enter my heart. I breathe, but I barely feel my body.

This isn’t life.

I’m not even living in the shallows of life, my feet are completely dry. Oh, what would Ellie say to this?