When life sucks

lonely trees

There’s magic in Loneliness

I guess there’s a numbing sense of despair that comes with loneliness. It’s not that sad feeling you get like when you just finished a book and lost all the friends in it or go to the supermarket and find that your favourite fruit packer doesn’t work there anymore… It’s that deep cut to your being when you have epic news to share and you realise that there really isn’t someone specific you can think of to share it with. It cuts even a little closer to the soul when you’re surrounded by friends and family who care. But they just won’t really understand. They won’t really get it. They won’t really get you.

When I was little, I used to climb the tree in our backyard and sit on a branch singing all the songs I learnt in Sunday school. I thought I was singing to the birds. Like that princess in that movie. And I believed without any doubt that the little bird that came and sat on that branch that one day flew by for a bit because he heard me sing. A part of me remains optimistic over the probability.

But what I like to think back on is that I firmly believed I was at one with nature that day. That the universe heard me. We were connected. And even if I was only five years old, those songs and that bird changed everything. I never told anyone about the bird. The neighbour came by and told me my songs were beautiful. Which I’m sure they were. But what happened between me and that little bird would be mine. It would be me and nature alone to share it. A secret connection no-one would ever believe true.

And that is why I find the most powerful magic in what they call loneliness. It’s those little secrets you share with the universe that nobody can ridicule.

It’s you laughing at your own jokes. It’s you dancing on your own under twinkle lights. It’s you driving on the highway singing to your favourite songs. It’s you being you without trying. Without apology. Without fear. Without doubt. Without judgment.

Experiences don’t attain their credibility through sharing them with others. It’s you telling your stories to yourself and it manifesting itself in real life through the coy smile on your face.

And that is pretty frickin much everything.

After a while you learn the subtle difference between holding a hand and chaining a soul.
And you learn that love doesn’t mean leaning.
And company doesn’t mean security.
And you begin to learn that kisses aren’t contracts.
And presents aren’t promises.
And you begin to accept your defeats with your head up and your eyes open with the grace of a woman, not the grief of a child.
And you learn to build all your roads on today because tomorrow’s ground is too uncertain for plans.
And futures have a way of falling down in mid-flight.

After a while you learn that even sunshine burns if you get too much.
So you plant your own garden and decorate your own soul, instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers.

And you learn that you really can endure.
That you really are strong.
And you really do have worth.

And you learn and learn
With every goodbye you learn.

                                          -Maggie Oman

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girl running in mountain

Why you should run away

What is normal?

what is normalThey also don’t really tell you that the only car you’ll be able to afford will never go faster than 100km/h. And that when you use the air-con, the whole thing kind of becomes a total embarrassment of a vehicle.

They also tell you that this won’t be forever. A couple of years and you’ll have more than you bargained for. Just fight through these few years. It’ll be worth it soon.

Or maybe normal is travelling the world and meeting new people. Learning new languages and letting the rush of spontaneity fill you with epiphanies and widen your frame of reference so that you can become more than what you’d have become sitting in one place.

We live on a blue planet that circles around a ball of fire next to a moon that moves the sea. And you’ve no desire to explore it? Is that normal?

But then they never really tell you about the smells in the streets of Thailand. And they don’t tell you about how rude people can be or about the lengths you have to go to to communicate with people who don’t speak your language. They also don’t tell you about the loneliness or the assholes or the frauds.

I always contradict myselfgirl running in mountain

When I was trying to be one of those people who travel a lot, I used to write often about fighting mediocrity. About running from the chains of routine and the unfulfilling poisons of a responsible life plan and towards the prospect of an impulsive choice leading to a magnificent life. And looking past the telescope of supposed prosperity handed down by the generations before us. About trying to discover a life that is more suited to our century. One that’s less about the house and the job and one that’s more about the soul and about keeping it sane.

But then there’s also that one time I wrote about how millennials think life is a ride and about how annoying it is that they think happiness is the only answer and how ridiculous it is that they fail to see the bigger picture or work hard to achieve significant things or realise that being responsible with your life and the future you’re paving is vital to achieving any form of happiness.

Maybe I’m confused because I’m constantly torn between what people tell me should happen and what I’d prefer to happen for my life. So much so that I don’t even know if I want either anymore.

But then a couple of days ago, this weird Norwegian kid with a forearm tattoo that says “sweetboat” stumbled upon my path and ripped all of those pre- and misconceptions from my brain. He’s been travelling the world hitchhiking and drinking Jäger and probably also making really bad choices.

He told me about the little mining village in Russia where they don’t really mine anymore but the people still live there. They just spend most of their time drinking. It’s also about 500km from any other civilisation. It sounds like my kind of place this Russian village of alcoholic freedom that I shockingly have not yet visited.

He also told me about the time he was in a Ukrainian bar and happy hour wasn’t called happy hour but rather brain-dead hour. Because of the bottomless vodka shots.

But the thing with him is that it doesn’t seem like he gives a shit about what anyone thinks of what he’s doing. Or where he’s going. His plan isn’t set and it’s not conventional and he couldn’t be bothered even a little bit. It’s one week at a time. And the happiness radiates from his pale face.

It’s not about what they want

What it sort of came down to then is that life’s not about telling people what to do and what not to do. Or prescribing some foolproof plan that will lead to the ultimate happiness. Working an 8 – 5 job is not everyone’s ideal. Travelling the world is also not for everyone.

“Adventure” doesn’t mean the same thing to all different kinds of people.

But what I do know is that for me, it is important to remember that this is all yours. This life. It’s not your mother’s or your friend’s or your neighbour’s. It’s yours. It’s also your own definition of adventure that counts. And it’s you chasing that adventure that matters.

So run away from their prejudgment. We need to distance ourselves from this “but what will they say” bullshit. Stop asking for permission on everything. Decide what works for you. If it’s staying in one place building on an investment, then that’s yours. If it’s running around the world escaping your comfort then that’s yours.

There’s a lot of bad in everything. There’s also a lot of good in anything. And there’s a lot to gain from both of those.

But for the love of whoever you are, do it for you. Because you’re the main person who will cringe with regret looking back on a life planned out for you by someone else.

Run dammit.

Run towards yourself.

Freedom field

Ride the wake

There are these times in life when you become overwhelmed by a feeling of near-happiness.

You don’t want to call it happiness because you’re not sure it really is happiness.

And if it is, you’re too scared to admit it because there’s always that chance that you’ll jinx everything.

But you know it in your soul.

Your toes are swifter and your hands feel more.

The things you grasp at seem more surreal somehow because they carry more significance now.

The books you read mean more to you.

You appreciate the song you’ve got stuck in your head somehow.

The people you see every day become less the people you see every day and more like interesting souls that somehow share a part of themselves with you.

And welcome you to share a part of yourself with them.

And they get your jokes and you make them smile and their laughter becomes infectious.

And for the first time since you last remembered, you’re waking up in the morning knowing things instead of trying to forget things.

Anticipating things instead of fighting your regret over things.

Excited.

Inspired.

Moved by what you’re capable of.

Driven by what you’ve been dreaming of.

And that.

That is why people don’t give up on themselves.

That is why we don’t let go.

That is why we fight.

And cry.

And die. For what we love.

Because love for life isn’t a fad.

It’s not a trend.

It is everything.

It is in you.

It is in the person next to you.

It is in whoever you thought you were yesterday.

Stop wasting it away.

Stop feeling sorry for yourself.

Stop blaming everyone.

Stop waiting around.

Stop settling.

Turn and face yourself.

Look yourself in the eye and tell yourself what’s up.

Tell yourself how this will pan out.

And then ride that precious wake straight into the bliss of oblivion because fuck what people think.

This is yours.

It’s all you now.

Who wrote the rules?

I don’t know what his name is, but some guy, one day, wrote something about leading a balanced life…working 8 hours a day, sleeping for 8 hours, and then spending the other 8 in leisure. Very balanced indeed. Thank you, man from extremely long ago. Whose rules apparently still apply.

mountain view

The condition of the instrument determines its success in observation and measurement. If the instrument is broken or damaged, its measurements are bound to be off. Its ability to capture what it has been designed to observe will be altered. It will not succeed in its purpose. We can try and fix it. Glue it back together and re-calibrate, though it may never be as effective. The changes we try and make to it alters it to such an extent that its original purpose somehow becomes void of meaning.

Perhaps we, as instruments, are always too involved in the prospect of the future, too busy trying to be effective, too distracted, too patched up and too obsessed with what we’re trying to measure, to be open to each new experience. Maybe the only way to be fully present is to not be present. To take a step back and change perspective.

If we could see things outside of the long telescope we’re always looking through that always either points from our eye and our memory of the past towards something tangible in the distance… If we could see beyond the small, magnified part signifying the direct past and future – maybe we’d become enlightened by the paths we’ve not yet contemplated for ourselves.

But an image like that, within our direct frame of reference, remains unimaginable. Intangible. We are in many ways unable to wrap our minds around something we’ve not seen or explored or been taught before. Because we’ve been conditioned to believe that life is what it is.

That we’re all meant to follow a pre-ordained path that leads to the same little pot of treasure at the end of the apparent rainbow. That it is normal to succumb to the universal law of mediocrity. To the voices of intellectuals of past centuries. To live by rules set by people who lived in a different lifetime. When opportunities were not as vast. When the world was not as small. When all the answers to life were not yet a click away.

The rules of life have changed. It’s just that we don’t really write them down anymore. And we don’t really educate people accordingly anymore. But that does not mean these rules don’t show significant difference from the ones written by philosophers of the medieval age.

Break free. Make your own rules. It is no longer 1640 and it is also no longer 1980. Look past the future that dead people seemed to have planned for you. Do what makes you happy. Run if you must.

Our journey as human beings is not about following a pre-ordained path, but about creating that path. Life rarely makes any more sense when things are done “in order”. Life makes sense when we are centered in our hearts and we let go of resisting how our unique journey needs to unfold in its own beautifully unruly way.

escape

How to break free without running away

It’s appalling that we have these moments of sheer hopelessness in which life seems to have no flames left to ignite. Moments when all that seemed good in the world is strangled through our attempts at grasping for contentedness. Moments when an escape seems more inviting than the supposed prosperous futures we are continually promised. Moments when these promises of bright summer mornings and never-fading happiness dissolve into the grey and motionless dust of a barren fire.
It’s appalling.

escapeSometimes we embark on some kind of adventure just to find that we immediately regret pursuing it. This weekend, I ran up a mountain with the idea that it’ll be worth it when I see the view from the top. It wasn’t. The pain in my legs, the shallow volume of my chest and the blisters on my feet manifested itself on my face in the form of irreversible lament. Like that time I went bungee jumping. The supposed freedom of falling 216 meters into the heart of a valley, combined with the rush of adrenaline and the intended epiphany of the beauty of life never really hit me the way I expected. Instead, it just felt like I was voluntarily jumping to my death. It felt a little like I was trying to escape from the everyday responsibility of being responsible. While being responsible.

There’s a tendency to get into the tumble drier of life and enjoy the warmth and comfort with your favourite clothes. But at some stage, the heat, the cramped discomfort and the relentless strikes of inexorable fervour start hurting in your bones. You start shrinking and your colour starts fading as you abuse this comfort. Some days you need to climb out of that tumble drier and take a good look at the neglected clothing enthusiastically staring at you from the back of the cupboard and the bottom of the pile. Give them a chance. They will most probably appreciate it more than any of your favourite items ever did. Maybe they’ll even compliment your eyes. Or emphasise the shine in your hair.

Because I believe that some days, you don’t need to go as far as searching for an adventure. Probing for new, exciting, exhilarating things won’t always get you the results you need. Connecting back with what you have forgotten to enjoy can bring you to the top of a mountain with an indescribable view – without you having had to run your ass off to get there.

broken shoes

Why it’s okay to screw up

I’m not perfect. And neither are you. You’ve probably done some next level stupid shit in your life and those memories all creep back into your consciousness when you lie awake at night wishing you could go back and change it or somehow eliminate the memory from the minds of everyone who know about it.

Life being the forward-ticking witch it is, you can’t undo your mistakes and you can’t take back your screw-ups. But you can get up and get over it and move on. Do some new legit stupid things that overshadow your screw-ups from the past.

Because it’s okay to screw up. It’s okay to be stupid and immature and short-sighted at times because you are not a machine and you do not exist to please each and every human soul in the world. You were not put on this planet to serve as some kind of prodigy child who never leaves the house and doesn’t drunk text or occasionally bounce it out on Kid Cudi. Life also doesn’t refrain from throwing failures at you. It’s one of those things.

You’re meant to screw up. If you never screwed up, what would you laugh about? How would you ever have fun? How would you advance in life or in your studies or in a career if you are constantly setting unrealistic standards of perfection? Sometimes knowing you could potentially screw up leads you to not screwing up because you take the risk of doing or creating something brilliant.

Screw up. Screw up and enjoy it. Laugh at yourself. Cringe when you lie awake at night. It’s part of a life lived fully. Have the courage to fail big and stick around. Make them wonder why you’re still smiling.