To Love Oneself…

To love oneself…

What does this even mean?
We all have different understating of the word love…
A fleeting irrational, animal response? A mere feeling?

Most often people relate the word love, to “romantic love” between two people, in a relationship, but even the meaning and understanding of what a relationship is so distorted nowadays… We are more “connected” than ever, but more isolated than ever before, especially from our own selves. The only real home and sure source of love we’ll ever find, our own souls.

I believe real love is more than just a feeling.
Real love is a verve, and a most potent sacred force making the world go around…
Unfortunately, language often impedes us to make sense and even express of all our feelings…
The same with love, which yes, is also a feeling of affection, care…
Eros love, includes attraction and feelings of lust…
But real love goes beyond fleeting momentary feelings, real love is a virtue and a divine gift.
I shall attempt to deconstruct or sketch a clear picture of what this love looks like:
First of all, real love encompasses the words:
Kindness
Compassion
Acceptance
Understanding
Patience
Forgiveness
Attention
Empathy
Care
Resilience
Precede the word “unconditional” before all the above…
Now I could go into defining each of the above as well, but I trust we can all look up the meaning of the afore mentioned and get a clear understanding of what they all mean.
Although these words might look all “fluffy” and rosy, rainbows and butterflies, spring everywhere…
They are actually the most difficult things to practice, for us humans, trapped in our ego shells, but they are the most powerful and redeeming forces for any one of us.
So when it comes to self love, where to start?

First by accepting yourself, sounds simple right? Easier said than done.
Accepting our messy, broken selves who everyday we try to change according to societies expectations of what we “should be” as humans.
From a young age we are made to feel inadequate and ashamed of our short comings, some more than others….
So this is the beginning, accepting who you are warts and all, and realising you are not just your “mistakes”, “defects”, but realising that these things are actually what shape you into the unique wonderful individual that you are.
Realising that it is through these struggles you are actually being polished into the diamond that you are.
Realising that there’s nothing wrong with you, you are just the way god, the universe, the providence, nature, whatever you wanna call it intended you to be… Perfectly you.
This is the first step to self love.

Acknowledging yourself in all your glory as not just a pile of negative adjectives of everything the world told you, you “should be”, but being real with the truth of who you are, and being proud of that. Sure, you are not perfect, you could have a million defects which you want to change but we all do, but the first step in changing or “improving” any of those defects or bettering yourself in any way, is by first acknowledging who you are in the first place, acknowledging and loving ourselves into “better” versions of ourselves, not outcasting or berating ourselves for certain parts we are not quite proud of or we don’t like.

For example you could have a fiery temper, and tend to feel anger which you often try to deny, keep contained or reflect onto other people, until eventually you explode… and then you give yourself even more of a hard time for “losing control”, or being an asshole, or a bad person or whatever the condemning thought might be.
The first step is to have compassion towards ourselves, for having all these feelings and unhelpful thoughts, being human and vulnerable and simply not perfect.
Then gently, being aware of certain tendencies or unhelpful habits we might’ve picked up throughout the years for whatever reason, and try to transform them into something more helpful for ourselves and others.
For example that anger, passion, all that energy can be a powerful force for transformation, for taking action towards a noble cause with compassion and benevolence above all. Because we know hate or any destructive action doesn’t benefit anyone, it only damages all parties involved.

So it’s about acknowledging yourself in all your glory and go from there…
To illustrate this, in my experience, I’ve always been an anxious person for as long as I can remember, given my “difficult” upbringing, trauma etc…
For years I tried to negate, hide this anxiety and deep sadness I felt, I just didn’t want to acknowledge them because the feelings where too painful, they were real, but I thought they were a nuisance I had to ignore and just “get on with it”. I lived totally disconnected from my emotions, trapped in my mind, telling myself how “I should” feel instead of owning up to my feelings and which lead to years of destructive behaviour. First of all, I hated myself for all the things I should be and I wasn’t, I hated myself for all my “mistakes”, so often I kept myself isolated, I lived behind a mask, never showing my true self, all my pain. It was only when I opened the doors of my own heart to myself that I could be free…

I started to feel deep compassion for myself, because my anxiety and sadness where there for a reason, I’d had a difficult past, I’d gone through some very rough things that would leave anyone sad and anxious, and there was nothing I could do about the past, the past was done, but my emotions which I didn’t allow myself to feel, where still stuck there because I never allowed myself to process them…
So I started by accepting my past and the feelings that came with them, and realising how it was ok to feel everything that I was feeling. What’s more, I realised these experiences where actually a gift, these deep suffering allowed me to become a more compassionate person towards those in pain, these experiences taught me how to forgive, myself and others.
These experiences taught me the way to love.

Now I realise, there’s no such thing in the universe as mistakes, everything happens for a reason even if we don’t realise it or understand it at the time, everything is a lesson, everything is working towards the evolution of our better selves…

So back to loving myself,
This means forgiving myself for all my mistakes, things on retrospective I could’ve done better? But hey! We all try to do the best we can with what we have with what we have and what we know at the time, so what’s the point in dwelling on the past?
We can only learn, and move on, wiser than before.
Second, loving myself means being true to myself, in all aspects.
First, it means acknowledging my past, all it’s pain and owning it. It means acknowledging all my emotions, not judging them as good or bad, just allowing them to be there, and have compassion for how hard it is sometimes to feel a million things at once that my brain can’t even process.
Loving myself means chasing my dreams, it mean having the courage to break out of my shell and create a life I’m proud of, a live that reflects my values….
Loving myself means loving others around me as well, and not being ashamed of this love, not being scared of being who I am but beaming proudly all this Love I carry within me because, heck it’s a treasure I’ve worked hard to find, literally through many years and tears.
In practical terms it means, acknowledging all my moods, all my physical sensations and acting mindfully to take care of each one. It means being present to my life every second. Being grounded in love.
It means accepting my body as it is, scarred, hairy and all.
It means nourishing it with healthy food, it means giving it the rest it needs.
It means taking care of my mind, nourishing it with wisdom, allowing it to rest and have some fun as well.
It means taking care of my emotions and listen to what they are trying to tell me…
It means making peace with myself, from the constant war… it means working with me not against me…
It means unity, mind, body and spirit…
It means learning to trust myself, my gut, my intuition.
It means being true to my values and beliefs and not be ashamed of being who I am
It means having patience with myself…. having endless compassion for my ego and anxious mind.
It means living a life that makes me happy even if others don’t understand…
It means being in touch with my real self, my soul, endless love.
It means being a compassionate, nurturing mother towards myself.
It means being deeply aware at every time of what I’m feeling and thinking, and grounded, respond accordingly.
It means being mindful and present to my life.
It means acknowledging all my desires and feelings and not keep them exiled or be ashamed of them.
It means reconciling my heart and mind.
It means spreading that love I have within me with others and everyone around me in any way I can…
It means trying to make the world a more loving place.

“To know thyself is the beginning of wisdom.”
― Socrates

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The Enemy Within

Things impeding me from loving myself…
Things I don’t confess to anyone else, not even myself…
I had a difficult childhood, to say the least…
I really could write a whole book…
My family had good intentions I know, but they just didn’t know how to raise an emotionally healthy child.

I’m afraid, it was a bit like the blind raising more blind for generations on end…
I won’t start from the start, I’ll save that for my memoirs, but to summarise…
I grew up believing I wasn’t worthy of love, I was taught that I had to earn my worth and affection, somehow, through hard work…
This resulted in me being an extremely anxious child, perfectionist, high achiever… all to be “accepted” and hopefully loved by my family and peers.
I never had many friends growing up, I was always quiet a school, and kept a lot things to myself…
I grew up believing I was weird and different from everybody else, given my family situation… I never had a “stable” home, like everybody else, a mum and dad under one roof, siblings and a pet… My upbringing was all over the place, I was like a hot potato my family passed around… from relative to relative, in their attempt to provide me with a better future?
So, I guess I thought I couldn’t reveal myself to other people or they’d think I’m weird, and I’d be shamed and outcasted, so to spare myself this pain, I isolated myself and found solace, in books and writing, and painting and in anything creative where I could escape my grim reality into the wonderlands of my imagination.
In one of those “shufflings” from family member to family member I ended up moving to Australia permanently, just to be abused by my disturbed step mother. The fairytale of Cinderella, literary became my life. Unfortunately, the fairy godmother is yet to appear but I haven’t lost hope…

I was 12 at the time, and found myself in a new country of which I knew nothing about, I didn’t speak a word of English, and away from my mother, the only person in my life, who I’d always felt had unconditional love for me and felt secure around but because of her social condition, and absurd revolts in my family which I’ll never understand, I never got to spend as much time with her as I would’ve liked to…
Emotionally things became pretty dire, when I moved to Australia, although I was now living in a beautiful country, in a nice house, I didn’t have a home, I felt very much lost and abandoned; my world inside was the Machu Picchu ruins I’d left back home, except my ruins also had the the gloomy aftermath of the Hiroshima bomb, not a pretty sight. Lucky it was all inside, and I was always all smiles…
My emotionally unavailable, workaholic father was hardly ever home and appeared to not take much interest in my emotional health. Unfortunately, this is a family trait since he was raised in the same way… I don’t blame him, although at the time I remember feeling quite resentful, and often questioned if he loved me or cared about me at all… I know now that his way of showing me his love was by working hard so he could buy me things me and a good education, which was always important, above all, in his family culture…
I remember “running away” from home on several occasions to see if he’d come looking for me, he never did. He was totally oblivious to the abuse from my stepmother, he didn’t believe me, it was my word against hers. I always lost.
At school, I didnt have any friends. First because of the language barrier, and later my insecurity and shame kept me from approaching anyone. Eventually, I made friends with other “rejects” as we were called… Academically, I was still a “high achiever” and a perfectionist still, but given all the other stuff I had going on in my personal life, much to my distress, I didn’t do as well as I would’ve liked to or knew I could, and for this I was always deeply resentful to my father, for never supporting me. I saw and felt envious of all the other kids with parents who were always there for them, picking them up and dropping them off at different events, doing anything and everything for them, I had to beg just to receive any “extras”. I had to complete a list of cleaning chores every weekend just to be allowed to see my friends, the few I had. If I wanted anything other than the bare essentials for existing, all hell broke loose, so I just didn’t bother and resigned myself to a miserable existence. By this stage I was very depressed although I did not know it at the the time, I remember crying myself to sleep for weeks on end, wondering if life was worth living, why my back luck, if there was a god where was he? Why was I Suffering? Why me? Why me?…
At 13, I developed OCD, and because my “rituals” and nervous “tics” (turning lights on and off repeatedly, asking the same question over and over, etc) disturbed my stepmother even more I was sent to see a psychologist. I saw her three times, until she suggested to have some sessions with my father and stepmother to deal with the underlying issues behind my anxiety. They refused to engage in any sort of therapy so I stopped going, she gave me some tips on what to do with the rituals, I took some of it board, it kind of “worked”. I just learnt to internalise the anxiety, so that it wasn’t apparent to others and keep it quiet, I learnt how to “hide it” better.
The cherry on top for me was the fact that I was flat chested, I remember being 13, 14, 15… and waiting… but boobs never grew. I remember seeing all the other girls getting bras and looking like women, whereas I was still as flat as a board. I got this from my mother who has very small breasts but at least something there, whereas I was zilch, zero, nada… I hated myself with passion for this.
I could not tell anyone about my teenage body inadequacy, there was no one I trusted enough to talk about my body issues and since at this time I had very little contact with my mother, first of all because communication back then wasn’t as easy as it is now. Also, I think part of me found it easier to deal with the pain of being away from her by just pretending she didn’t exist anymore. So nonetheless, my lack of boobs became another one of the monsters haunting me all the time… My body, just me in general… defected goods. My mind was a mess, my body wasn’t right… my family was nuts… and I couldn’t talk to anyone about it all. I kept shit bottled up for years.
I didn’t even know what was going on for me… I learnt to numb my feelings and dissociate, put on an act… of everything’s ok, people pleasing…. When inside I was crumbling.

At 16, I couldn’t take my stepmothers shit anymore, I’d decided I’d take “control” of my life and move out of home much to my fathers disapproval. I seeked refuge with an aunty of mine, I was “lucky” I suppose, to have some extended family nearby, who knew about my evil stepmother. My aunty was willing to help, unfortunately, she lived in a different state, which meant I had to leave my school, right at the most crucial time, the last year of high school, which supposedly marked your entry into university or not…. Although I wasn’t sure whether or not I wanted to go to university or what was it I wanted to do after school, other than to do something in the creative arts, which had always been one of my hobbies and outlets, but one which sadly, my family never nourished, not surprisingly…

Either way, I ended up moving states, changing schools and developing a full blown eating disorder. Quite rapidly I became anorexic. I did not what I was doing, I obviously did not set out to achieve this. If you are a reading this and know nothing about eating disorders I suggest you get informed. Eating disorders are not a fad or a trend or a diet or a conscious decision a person makes, but a serious and life threatening illness just like cancer or diabetes…

Anyway, this is how it happened for me; I was 16 at the time and “taking control” of my life… so I thought. I decided I’d start eating “healthy” as part of “renovating” my life. I remember always wanting to have a flat belly, a “bikini body”, I was flat chested so much to my distress there was nothing I could do about that, other than plastic surgery (which I did later on), but at this stage I thought I could “improve” other parts of my body, mind and spirit, I devoted myself to exercise, “eating healthy”, reading and doing art. I desperately wanted to be a “better” person other than poor, defected me… Things started spiralling out of control relatively quickly though… I started doing zero school work, I just couldn’t stop exercising a certain amount each day, I was very strict on what I ate and my meals started decreasing more and more, I couldn’t stop thinking about food… At this stage none of my clothes fitted me anymore, I was skin and bones. I remember looking in the mirror and seeing myself looking gaunt, tired and tragic and thinking how ugly I was and how somehow my exterior for once reflected exactly what was going on inside, a bloody nuclear war. So I hid in baggy clothes…
At this stage I’d never heard of eating disorders before, I had no idea about anorexia or bulimia or that things as such existed… I didn’t know what I was doing had a name.
But I knew something wasn’t right, although it was hard to admit it, I knew I was less in control of anything than before… exercise and food had taken over my life, I felt I wanted to die, I did not know what to do, I felt desperate and helpless, my attempt to be in control had failed dismally. It was then when I called my father, who I hadn’t talked to in months, crying my life out and pleading for help, I was desperate willing to do anything, I just wanted to be ok… and be “normal” for once in my life. My father, being a doctor himself knew nothing about eating disorders, but he asserted I go and see a doctor immediately. Which I did, everything happened very quickly after that first doctor’s visit which my aunty very kindly assisted me to. I remember her being very worried the poor thing, not knowing what the hell was wrong with me, why I was acting very strange… she was very kind and sympathetic towards me; and for that I’ll always be eternally grateful, I wish and hope I can somehow repay her kindness just when I needed it the most.
But back to the story, after a quick blood test, which revealed my emaciated state I was told to pack my bags I was being admitted to hospital. I remember feeling somehow relived, that maybe there was hope for me but also shit scared not knowing what was ahead…

This was just the beginning of a roller coaster “recovery” battle head on with anorexia, bulimia, my self hate in general.
My first admission was to a psychiatric hospital where they diagnosed me with infamous anorexia nervosa, a diagnosis which no one in my family understood, neither did I, all I knew is I was scared to eat, stop exercising and the prospect of gaining weight terrified me. Even though I knew I was stick thin, I just didn’t want to be worthless and fat, on top of that. After a week at the initial hospital, I was transferred to another clinic with an “eating disorder program”, where I had a three month stay until I reached a “healthy” BMI and with the help of a few inpatient psychology groups I only just started to scratch the surface of the surface of the massive boulder under all the anorexia symptoms.
Unfortunately after this first admission, now at a healthy weight, my family and me were all under the impression I was “cured”. Also unfortunately, the treatment for eating disorders in Australia at the time was mainly focused on re-feeding you to a “healthy weight” and that’s about it… When I was discharged nobody told me I should see a psychologist, psychiatrist, dietitian… have any sort of follow up, things which I learnt much later on are essential for any chance at ongoing recovery. But I was simply told “see you later”… which they did, time and time again, I relapsed. Once too many times, more than I like to admit.

In between hospital admissions I tried to do something with myself, take up study, design, social work, theology, have different part time jobs, in pretty much any industry you can think of… You name it, I’ve tried it… I managed to make a few friends, have a boyfriend, save enough money to have the boob job I always wanted… I tried to live my life as “normal” as I could, but it was all an act… I was still very much unaware of all my internal conflicts and self hate… Although my symptoms were somewhat “controlled”, and I tried to appear “normal”, I was just trying to fool myself and keep my family and everybody around me happy.
Internally I was still very much struggling… Eventually anorexia turned into bulimia, which was a whole another sort of hell. The good news was, I eating now! I was eating alright…. enough to feed a family of five for a week every night and vomiting it all back up, staying up all night doing this. I was working full time as a “Disability Support worker” during the day, not eating anything all day of course , but drinking litres of water and coffee just to get me through the day to earn the pay check, to pay my rent and spend the rest on food I would vomit in self loathing… Looking back I really don’t know how I survived this self flagellation. Needless to say, I couldn’t go on with this torment for too long, after about a year of this “binging and purging” vicious cycle (as this inferno is referred to in the industry), I admitted I had a problem with another type of monster this time called bulimia… which resulted being more expensive than anorexia I must add! I was broke and broken inside, now more than ever.
By this stage however, I was made much more informed about eating disorders and the treatment available. Although my family still and to the day do not understand much about my condition, I researched online, eating disorder treatment centres in Australia where I could check myself in. I ended up travelling interstate to a clinic with a new and reputable “ED” program, it was there where finally, I started making some breakthroughs into the anorexia/bulimia iceberg. Unlike the clinics I’d been to before, where it just was all just about the food and weight. At this clinic, the doctor and psychologist tried to explore with each client what was driving their eating disorder, as they did with me. After I was discharged from their 40 day program, which I returned to a few times later, they recommended I try “schema therapy” to treat the root of my problem with a psychologist in my city. So I did, I was determined to do anything to “recover”. Unfortunately, my family, my father in particular, who never understood the problem was not very willing to support my treatment financially, which meant sessions with a psychologist/dietitian were scarce, whenever I could afford them or whenever my father felt merciful enough to give into my begging for help.

Throughout the years I’d seen many psychologists, all of which apported a bit of wisdom I suppose, CBT, DBT.. all the therapies, you name it, I’d try it. Self help books, I’d read them all, but to be honest nothing seemed to make that big of a difference in my emotional state. Until, I met my “schema therapy” psychologist, Catherine, who knew me better than I knew myself. Only here, I became aware of parts of me I dissociated from, my “abandoned child”, my internalised, punitive father and step mother, who although I’d long ago stopped living through their hell, I was still tormented by their voices… The enemy within.
And this is a constant battle still, I still struggle to accept, love myself.
Í still restrict my eating.
As much as I’d like to say this is a happy ending I very much don’t know…
This is only a very brief outline of “my story”,
I’d like to say I’m “recovered”, but I’m not.
What is that even?
“Normal”? No one is, that much I’ve learnt.
I’ve also learnt that everything happens for a reason, although I may not understand it at the time, I believe there is a God syncing the universe, not necessarily punishing or rewarding people for their actions, but I believe there is a higher power overseeing this cosmic, comical tragedy… one which we just can’t comprehend with our tiny human minds and huge ego’s…
I don’t know if it’s a he or a she, if he/she wrote the bible or the Koran or any other holy book. But I believe the Universe works in weird and wonderful ways, a bit like me, I try to tell myself…
I know the antidote to my self hate is love, but heck….
Love, sounds so fluffy, so easy, breezy and wonderful, when the truth is, everyday I struggle, I wrestle, I slither and grapple on the filthy floor to even reach an inch of love for myself.
Going through this torbellino, has had its “plus sides”, I suppose… If you want to find a positive to every negative and “see the glass as half full” rather than “half empty”.

This quest for “recovery” has pushed me to “better myself” in a lot of ways I would not have otherwise ever been interested in exploring. I’ve discovered I’m really curious in understanding more about how the human mind and our emotions and body’s and “beings” in general and how we work… I’m deeply interested in what you’d term as, psychology, philosophy, spirituality, natural medicine… all of course with the hope of finding a “cure” for my internal ailments. I contemplate the meaning of life everyday…
I’ve also rekindled a passion for writing, one which I had as a kid but because of all the other shit I had going on, never pursued…
I’ve also developed compassion and understanding towards others, I’ve learnt to forgive and give others the love I can’t give myself.
I just yearn to break free of this jail where I keep myself captive, just surviving…
I know I still have a very long way to go on my “recovery”, although I don’t have a long way to go in life, I’m 28 and I feel I’ll soon be dead and I’m still struggling, the thought which makes me feel sick to the depths of my soul.
Who would’ve thought, loving yourself, would be the hardest task of a lifetime…
The opposite is so much easier, running a marathon each day, restricting my eating, depriving myself from living…
But I’m not giving up… until my last breath.

The doctor at the last clinic I went to, his name was Peter, who became like a father figure to me, ironically enough he resembled a lot my stern grandfather, (who my father got his charm from). But anyway, Peter had the motto of “turtle steps”, slow and steady wins the race. And I really took his advice on board.
I don’t know if I’ll ever see Peter again, for my sake I hope not, in an inpatient situation anyway. I hope to stay clear off hospitals for as long as I can and hopefully it’s all “up hill” from here, but I really don’t know…

If theres one thing I’ve learnt last year though, is that anything is possible, and you can expect the impossible, in both a good and not so good way.
Life give you lemons and melons in ways you least expect it. And it’s all to polish you and make you a better person, better than your former self.
We are here in this earth to learn love, compassion, patience… all the virtues and wisdom, oftentimes through suffering, for the evolutions of our souls, I have a feeling…

My story is not yet finished, and heck this is only the prologue of the prologue, which despite my perfectionistic tendencies, which in the past would’ve prevented me from posting this, I’m gonna do it. Even though I’m highly dissatisfied with it, even though it’s far from perfect, even though I’ve left so many important parts out, even though I’ve written this having only had about three hours sleep from the insomnia that’s been haunting me lately, (obviously from all my unresolved unconscious issues).
I’m going to publish this, because one of the things I want to do this year is to be true to myself, who ever that is… Let go off the rosy mask I try to put on and present the raw, real, broken, limping me.

I’ve learnt the clock is ticking and there’s no better time to do the things you want to do than now! Tomorrow, might never come, no one guarantees me I’ll live to see a new day, I’ve literally been close to death so many times…

So I’m determined to be brave, bite the bullet, and live my life the best I can, with what I have and can/know-how, now.
Be happy now, despite…
So this is part of my truth.
I’ve taken off my mask, so please excuse my ugliness….
But I’m daring to peak outta my shell for a little bit and face the world…. and man it’s bright out there, so turtle steps…
And with this, here’s the minuscule glimpse, into “my story”….

Human; all too human…

I want to speak for those who do not have a voice…
I want to pay attention to those who are never heard…
I want to understand the misinterpreted and translate the obscure, blurry, hieroglyphics between “us” and “them”…
So this is for you who are hurting, taking refuge in those dark corners of an eternal night, hiding or left behind.
I want you to know you matter and are a part of this as much as those who are up on stage, whose glossy images are propped up in shining lights and who’s names the walls ricochet…

I want to let you know you who are hurting, that your pain won’t last forever.
You are not alone alone in your struggle, we all carry within us a yoke it seems sometimes we can’t bear…
We all have monsters tormenting us… Our hearts all keep secrets… Emotions no one can escape…
We have all been blessed and cursed with sentient hearts, thinking minds and conscious consciences not letting us sleep at night.
We are all learning as we go along, we all just want to get by and if we are lucky thrive…
How or why we arrived at the grand theme park that is life, no one really knows, all we can do is try to enjoy the ride and take in and put out as much as we can, while we can…
Everyone is doing the best they can, with what they’ve got and with what they know…

Life didn’t come with instructions…
Although there’s many manuals we’ve made up, many theories we’ve conjured up… Truth is no one knows you better than you know yourself.
The trick is to attentively listen when your heart speaks, kindly quiet your mind, reconcile the two and together, synthesised, in harmony lead your life… To be aware of the ego and the games it plays…

To have compassion for your frail humanity and in this know you are not alone. And so extend that compassion to everyone around you, for we are all fallible and finite and its hard for all of us…

Because pain is an unavoidable natural phenomenon of life we all must learn to bear the best way we know how, and this is constant transmutable process…

Because hopefully through our pain we will learn. Because every battle scar makes our souls more noble and sturdy.

Because every pain beared is another monster slashed, another mountain conquered, another medal earned.

Because without without pain and difficulty we wouldn’t know stillness and satisfaction…

So know this…

In your shame, you are not alone… When someone made you feel defected, almost alienated. When you weren’t being accepted and didn’t feel appreciated, needed to be validated… For all the times you were rejected, nastily degraded, your self-esteem negatively affected… For every time you wanted the earth to swallow you whole, or quickly crawl into an imaginary hole. For every one who ever said you weren’t good enough, and ridiculed you with scornful laughs. For every instance you felt profound humiliation was your condemnation. For every time you were teased, made fun of and mocked, insultingly provoked. For every time you had to endure some sort of abuse, treated offensively without excuse, left to in shame suffuse and your pride reduce. For every instance you were ever left questioning your worth, depreciating your soul… For all the mortifying secrets you keep locked away in your heart, wanting to be erased by your mind. There’s someone here, who can see past that brave but frail, fake smile, someone who knows you really ain’t alright, someone who knows that those words really hurt deep down inside, that those actions were vulgar… There’s someone here who’s been there too, affirming your truth in its entirety and sharing in the mutual embarrassment…

In your fear, you are not alone… For all the sweaty palms and racing hearts, for all the times you felt paralysed, when horror had you petrified… When you were close to panic, so you started acting erratic. For all the times you got chills down your spine in the face of something scary, real or imaginary… For every time you ever felt intimidated, but resolved to not let terror leave you incapacitated so a risky feat you initiated. When your monsters were incarnated but you bravely motivated of courage you appropriated and another phobia vindicated. For all the seconds spent in the grips of impending doom, when unsettling uncertainty seemed to loom. For every time dread held you back or you impulsively betrayed your heart. For every time you closed your eyes to jump but you either froze or run…. Through that constant anxiety, feeling like something bad is going to happen… Through your courage and bravery, there’s someone here who’s been too, holding your hand, having your back, being your cheering squad, telling you you’ll be fine, it’ll pass, you’ll see it through the other side…

In your sadness, you are not alone… For every time you felt down in the dumps, like nothing could cheer you up. For every time your sou’ls wounds were bleeding and needed some compassionate healing. For every broken heart and every tortured poem penned at night. For every goodbye kiss and every the lover that you miss. For every tear shed and illusion shred, when heartache seemed to spread… For every time you felt depressed and by woe possessed. When anguish was a constant state, when you felt like misery was here to stay. For every ending and melancholy tolerated. For every hour spent in sorrow and mourned like there was no tomorrow. For every time you felt your world was coming to end, for every moment of overwhelming despair. There’s a someone here who’s been there too, consoling your heart, padding your back, providing you the tissues to have a good cry… Telling you that although it now hurts, the pain too will come to an end, you will smile again, time will heal and kiss those aches away and even though I can’t repair your loss know that love will once again grow…

In your anger, you are not alone… For every moment of consuming fury, for every instance you were left you fuming. For every occurrence that made you bitter and made your sunshine wither. For every time you felt you needed to yell to express your discontent. For every second of exasperation, perhaps caused by a repetitive incidental irritation. For every of moment of perceived injustice, perhaps you witnessed something destructive, so by anger you were made captive, enraged and disgusted. For all the times you wanted vengeance, amend a debt left pendant, regardless of repentance but thought twice and realised violence was just more petulance, anger wasn’t the answer so you controlled your temper. For every thirst of revenge, wanting to let loose and wrench, satisfy a vindictive quench. When you were victim of an aggression, perhaps in the middle of a contention… For every second of impotence and frustration, when in indignation you demanded an explanation. For all the episodes of uncontainable rage, for every time you felt betrayed, like the world was just not fair, and nobody gave a care for your welfare. There’s someone here witnessing your cause, hearing your discharge and giving you a glass to smash… There’s someone here to remind you that don’t have to be hash back, gotta cut the world some slack, resentment will only harbour more hatred, so just breath and left off steam, let the anger move through you and be released…

In your envy and jealousy, you are not alone… For every time you were disturbed by the thought your lot was being threatened, your territory being invaded, so your turf had to be defended. For every time you were suspicious your brother’s intentions could be malicious. For every time you caught yourself lusting, onto foreign objects grasping. For all the times you viewed your brother as your rival, concerned for your survival. For all the times your insecurities bred resentment opportunities. For all the times you felt possessive, mistrustful and obsessive. When your ego started whining, after what’s not yours pinning… For every time you were by greed possessed and started to covet what was on the other side of the fence. For all the times your eyes were bigger than your belly and you didn’t believe in sharing. When you just weren’t satisfied with what you’d been supplied, what you had wasn’t enough, you wanted to accumulate more stuff. There’s someone here who’s been there too, eyeing off the neighbours goods, but reminding you that life is not a competition, your brother is not your opposition so put down your ammunition and let go off your needy disposition. Instead count your blessings and don’t obsess over your earnings. Realise there’s no need to be stressing your assets are extensive and through life you are progressing. There’s someone here who’s been there too, to remind you to appreciate your current state, see it’s already great, there’s really nothing missing so let go of greedy wishing, what you’ve got is sufficing, so instead start grinning, you are already winning, life will keep on giving. Desire can drive you crazy but gratitude is a better attitude. So remember you you’ve got enough, you are enough, life’s already lush…

In your loneliness, you are not alone… For every time you felt secluded like by the world you were eluded, from humanity excluded. For all the times when someone’s absence made for a desolate ambiance. When you felt like a recluse solitude had produced. For all the times you felt abandoned and yearned for a companion. For all the times your friends were no where to be seen or you felt you didn’t fit in, like an outsider trying to squeeze in. When you were surrounded by many but seen by none, when you felt like a stranger from a foreign land. So you sat alone questioning your worth far away from home… When your loved ones weren’t near, and there was seas between you and those you held dear… There’s someone here to keep you company to alleviate the solitary agony, together in harmony. Theres someone here to interrupt your desolation to remind you are part of a global congregation, we are all in relation. We can be together in unity, a solidary community, like humanity is supposed to be. Theres someone here to remind you even though you are alone, doesn’t mean you are not loved, there’s always someone near just a call away on the phone… Also, remember sometimes solitude can be a welcomed state where you can meditate and your own company appreciate…

In your worry and doubt, you are not alone… For every time your mind raced with a million possible scenarios of what could do wrong. For every time you forgot if you left the stove on. When you just couldn’t seem to let it go, when preoccupation seemed to grow, anticipating woe or regretting what happened long ago. For all the endless sleepless nights when you thought the money wouldn’t be enough, wondered why life was so rough and things at home were tough. For all the times you wondered how long the struggle would last, your world was just spinning too fast and had a gloomy forecast . For all the times anxious thoughts disturbed your peace of mind, when just you couldn’t leave the past behind and wanted to rewind. For all the times your mind obsessed over a concern, perhaps money you had to earn, or how to increase your return, so on the same thoughts you would churn until your head would ache and burn, when stress became stubborn, constant and nocturn and ruminating turned into a detrimental pattern. For every time your mind made up a dramatic story, a mental purgatory with an endless repertory. For all the times your mind made a mountain out of a molehill, against your will stress made you ill, you just needed to chill so you took a pill. For every time you had a burden to solve, come to a resolve but your problems just seemed to evolve. When your imagination became stressful, just plain painful. For all the moments of indecision, wether to listen to your intuition or your logical cognition. For all the times you felt pressure, questioned by a demanding oppressor. Know there’s someone here to not telling you to “just relax”, but handing you a worry jar. Without any wise advice other than to listen to your heart. There’s someone here to remind you breath and run through your pros and cons list. There’s someone here with whom to brainstorm, your worries transform and something relaxing perform…

In your illness, you are not alone… When the medicines just don’t seem to work, when the doctors don’t know what’s going on, when you just want your biology to cooperate and to be healthy once again. In your physical, mental, emotional impairment, despite all that keeps you incapacitated… There’s someone here who’s been there too, now holding onto hope with you, saluting you for your strength in the face of ill health and encouraging you not to give up. You will win this wellness fight, you will heal and you will thrive. You will find the remedy to cure your malady because you believe in positivity…

In your mistakes and your regrets, know you are not alone…. For all the times your ego was deflated and your grand plans never consolidated, when you were utterly devastated. For all the times you chocked, those words were never evoked, your intentions weren’t invoked, your proposals were revoked, things just didn’t go as you hoped. For all the times you fell flat on your face and encountered disgrace, felt like a hopeless case, stuck in an adverse place. For all the times you felt you were swimming against the current, your path was errant seemed apparent, the world was noncompliant, instead it was being defiant, you were up against a cruel giant. For all the times you felt like the biggest fool, prone to ridicule and treated yourself cruel. For all the times you just couldn’t forgive yourself, when the enemy was your own self. For all the things looking back, you wished you had said and done, all the missed opportunities, unexplored possibilities, unexploited abilities, suppressed impulsivities, alleged liabilities, perceived fallibilities in light of uncertain probabilities and pre-cautious proclivities. There’s someone here who’s been there too to remind you that what matters is you tried and weren’t afraid to fly, fear defy, your courage testify and tenacity exemplify, so your mistakes you will rectify and your victories will multiply. When you feel disheartened, chin up for trying. Life is a learning curve, no ones perfect, so errors come to expect, it’s not an inborn defect, you just can’t always be correct, there’s nothing wrong with your intellect, so don’t lose your self respect and instead confidence reflect. There’s someone here to remind you to go easy on yourself for at some point those regrets were exactly what you wanted, otherwise you wouldn’t have acted, but you dared and experimented, it all went as destiny intended for your knowledge to be upgraded and another lesson learned consolidated. Hindsight is always 20/20, mistakes are ordinary and although they might be awry they make you hardy and savvy, so greet nicely and use them wisely. Remember it’s never too late start over, you can still recover, of the world you are an explorer, inner strength you will discover, even if you have to go slower, you are only becoming stronger. Sometimes life does give second chances, so don’t dwell on your current circumstances and keep on making advances…

In your struggle, you are not alone… For all the times when you felt completely overwhelmed, when nothing seemed to go your way, it was all hazy and gray, you carried a deep dismay and became a sad display, wanting to throw it all away or runaway from all the disarray, yearning for a sunnier day. For every time you felt misunderstood, like the world was all aloof… For all the times you felt you were running out of strength, it all too intense, your problems seemed immense, you were tired of pretence, challenged in every sense, so you prayed for extra defence. For all the times you were stuck in a dark place, perhaps a bad habit trying to replace but the cravings were too intense that you just couldn’t tolerate so relapse would replay and then the guilt would suffocate, from your conscience you couldn’t escape, the mistakes you couldn’t erase so the problem would complicate and a vicious cycle would replicate.
For all the times you couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, it was all a constant struggle, you were surrounded by trouble, your world was all a jumble and you had started to crumble. There’s someone here who understands you ain’t super human, you don’t always have to have a plan, although you may feel pressure to be a “top-gun” and get it all done, the reality is not always fun you are allowed to come undone. You are allowed to feel tired and uninspired. You are allowed to have had enough and want to leave it all behind… It’s ok to unwind, however not by hardship be defined or to adversity confined but instead once realigned wisdom find, become kind and of sound mind, of service to mankind…

In your humanity, you are not alone… There’s someone here also made of flesh and bones, another sentient, animated soul taking on a temporal physical role… In your preference for certainty, battling internally, wondering about eternity. In your wanting to be special, somehow differential, you are indeed intrinsically essential, donned with a unique potential. In your ever changing identity, blotchy integrity, mental complexity, emotional intensity, spiritual tendency, need for transcendency, beyond pleasing aesthetically and succeeding financially, regardless of race and theology and any other different philosophy or separating ideology. In your wild imagination, ingenious creation. In your endless contradictions, quirks and addictions, all your ambitions and afflictions, in all your aversions and leisurely diversions. In your inclination for indulging in pleasures and desires, searching for what your soul requires… In your wrestling with God, filling that existential void. In your need to control, life taking its toll… In never giving up hope, always learning to cope no matter how steep the slope, walking in life’s tightrope. In being your own worst critic, harshly analytic, sometimes fatalistic, not wanting to be a cynic but remaining optimistic, aiming to be realistic, ever artistic with a stroke of mystic. In your vulnerability, most important ability. In your mortality, sobering reality. In your constant search for meaning, incessant thinking, dreaming, seeking, needing, breathing, feeling, living… There’s someone here who bleeds the same blood and breaths the same air, a mirror reflection extending a fraternal hand, looking into your eyes, past the facade and pantomime. There’s someone here who speaks your silent language, no words necessary, hearts speak directly, always truthfully and valiantly, tirelessly… There’s someone here too, someone like you, someone like me, someone human, all too human…

Your Masterpiece

“This world is but a canvas to our imagination” – Henry David Thoreau

This life, this one ever expansive cosmic canvas of inexhaustible, unlimited potential yet also a finite one, bound and constrained by the concrete frames of our mortality….

So… what am I splashing across? Am I languishingly copying monotone, weary and tattered templates for the sake of putting something down, or am I pausing, letting my spirit impregnate and reign over my body and be fully awake before I paint? Aware and in awe of the humbling grandiosity of the task?
First vowing in reverence and honouring in each step this magical blank space before me in which anything and everything is possible…

The day we came into this earth we were all gifted with a precious brand-new, limited-edition canvas, exclusively crafted for each one of us to take ownership of and work our magic on… To bring about that original melody and symphony of colours, which one else but ourselves can unravel…
Thus in life, in the 24 hour cycles we are repeatedly lovingly allotted for an uncertainly certain limited time, it is our divine responsibility to emancipate ourselves from the incarcerating shackles of our own inhibitions, lovingly ameliorate our preconceived handicaps and let loose, carpe diem and paint large… Paint a range of different landscapes, whole different worlds and entire new galaxies only our own particular set of neurons can conceive, only the blood running through our veins can feed and our own irreplaceable hearts feel…
It is our task, to let down those constricting heavy iron gates and let our hearts run free, escape and mingle in unison with our ingeniously restless minds…

At any given time, we all have the chance to stop scribbling our days away or mindlessly doodling to pass the time until we die… Although it might not come automatically since its not our default state, although this is no easy, effortless exercise and make no mistake, certainly no child’s play or leisurely walk in the park, but rather, perhaps the most seriously crucial and gruellingly audacious yet also the most rewarding and overall lifesaving task we will ever embark on in our lifetime; to make the conscious, constant and irrefutable decision to rip off those bindings and stop silencing and soothing our naturally fervent and passionate hearts and souls with synthetic tranquillisers and artificial props…
At any given time, we all have the chance to wake up, open our eyes and see the miraculous temporal potentiality of life as it is, and so wide-eyed, perky and determined rise up from our comfortable yet incapacitating beds of conformism, of fear, of pear-pressure, of not taking chances, of unwillingly fabricating listless lacklustre and lifeless reflections of a life… One’s which perhaps look good at first sight but after a while disfigure to reveal their morose reality…. The desolate, cold and passionless landscapes, empty of meaning which once we are finished tracing and once the trance of business and momentary distraction have worn off leave us feeling hollow, confused and defeated….

It’s refreshingly freeing and inspiring to realise and paint with the conviction that there’s really no rules or set instructions, although implicitly there might be expectations and implications of what it’s meant to look like…
If I am to deviate from the common trend there’s every chance I maybe scrutinised and shunned, perhaps labelled or deemed as a “failure of an artist” or “just not good enough” by those undiscerning critics rigidly sticking to contemporary fashions… So I should strive be more Picasso and less me… Aspire to imitate the archaic hindering definition of “greatness” and “success” they’ve been sold… To create a “masterpiece” based on the stereotypical yet also wavering model of what life is supposed to look like… One which clearly depicts all the imposed and expected milestones in ones lifetime, one familiarly comfortable to the observer; a house, a car or two, a mum and dad, all busily toiling 9 to 5 while attempting to raise and provide for their three kids and a dog…

But really at the end, where is the jury panel who will appraise our paintings and publish their final critique? When will the auction of our paintings take place transforming us into either revolutionaries best sellers of the art world, or merely mediocre struggling craftsman?

Truth is, we are here to concoct this colourfully messy adventure of a life for no one but ourselves, the only audience to please is your own soul.
The reality is everyone is too busy and preoccupied with painting their own painting, at the end, all you are left is what you’ve got, whatever it is you drafted while you had the time…
So maybe it’d wise to stop being so concerned about what others are painting or their opinion of our progress…

When painting, the boxes people may try to pack us into or the labels they may attempt to print across our representations should be the least of our worries.
To be deemed “average” or be granted any other unflattering comment is only a reflection of that persons particular circumstances and only valid in their own enclosed personal sphere. Other people’s opinions are merely fleeting words which have absolutely no power and validity if we ourselves choose not to validate them and uphold them as our truths. Only we have the authority and power to “define” ourselves, even though each one of us is an innately complex, dynamic, forever evolving and enigmatic being, who’s very nature escapes classification… Thus,  it’s only up to our own command, to outline and determine our character through our own manifestations, intentions and the quiet ambitions of our souls and so letting our actions do the talking louder than clearer than any words…
Nonetheless, it remains a fact that our actual figures, our shading, our lines and waves will always be a little too sharp, a little too bright or a little too wobbly or not enough for some people while at the same time those same designs will be pleasantly received and cherished by others…

To paint and so to live with the aim to people please is a fruitless, futile and heartbreaking endeavour…
The reality is we are collective of millions of unique individuals, with tastes and preferences as unique, varied and numerous as the entirety of humanity itself, thus it’s only natural that we are not always going to be everyone’s cup of tea all the time… Therefore, why sacrifice and betray our own souls, our unique essence, our unique impetus and character by striving to paint something we hope presumably other people may like, trying to hit an illusory fictional target hypothesised by our insecurities… In this way we are not doing anyone a favour but regretfully only ripping ourselves off and being prevented from painting a true masterpiece, one which flows from our DNA, one born and true to the vivacious life-force of the innermost, intimate workings of our hearts and so one which brings contentment not only to our own souls but like ripples in a pond, has the unintended effect of spreading amongst the surrounding bystanders that contagious satisfaction of a genuine, beautifully enacted, virtuous representation of an exquisitely rich life, one nobly depicted in courageous integrity and authenticity.

That’s how art, that’s how life works…
So pay no attention to what others may say, and instead let the colours, smell, shine, every aspect of the paint captivate and enthral you, be so engrossed in your work that the endless opinionated banter blends in with the chirping of the birds and alchemically serves to fuel your inspiration…

If that’s who you are… If that is your experience, if that’s what you are thinking/feeling, if you are being authentic, as long as you are painting from your heart then you can’t go wrong… in the process you are merely creating your own style, one which probably won’t be understood or appreciated until after your time, if ever?…
But that’s not the point anyway, to paint for external gratification, validation or approval?…
You paint, because you paint, because you don’t know any other way to be… Than to be wholeheartedly dedicated and devoted to the art of life.
If others can be moved and respond positively to your painting, if others approve of your style and like your interpretation of the subject, that’s a bonus, but that’s not the aim of painting.
I paint what my heart dictates… Emotions are the muses inspiring my creations…
And maybe you find that certain types of yellow, orange or light red suit you better than the murky tones of grey… Maybe you find that love inspires in you roses, while fear, jealousy, anger, make for a mean thunder storm… Maybe anxiety and uncertainty are the nimbostratus and tornados swiping through the flowers you sculpted earlier… But that’s ok, it’s all just the weather…
So I don’t I don’t know what will happen, I don’t know how this piece will turn out.
I’m not here to make a profit, I’m not here to impress critics or the rest…
I’m here to paint to my hearts desire… To paint my canvas full of all shades of the prismal rainbow and contrast it with the charcoal of the starriest of nights. To try and experience and depict the whole cosmos of possibilities only limited by my imagination and how much I am willing to risk, bargain, gamble and trust that mischievously cheeky keeper of the perplexing future…

If I can diligently and skilfully paint my days away like a a pro and may be in some way help inspire others to start painting from their own hearts or maybe trace a flower for as tiny as it might be then I could happily put my brush down…

So don’t be afraid to splash technicolor across and sideways, be bold, be brave. Let your heart be stamped on the canvas of your life and sing along in rhythm with the bittersweet harmony of life… Whistle while you work…

“Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.”
― Pablo Picasso

The Questions of my Heart…

“As far as we can discern, the sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light of meaning in the darkness of mere being.”
― C.G. Jung

Ah! What peculiar creatures we are… Us humans and our intrinsic egocentric need to “matter”, to be of some notoriety, of some importance or to be somehow “special” and superior to our fellow men and creation, to have dominion not only of ourselves but our surroundings….
Irreparably we live in a culture plagued by the illusion of separateness, of “every man for himself”, and so we are encouraged and driven to some extent by the need to compete in every possible manner even if only partially acting out on this sometimes unconscious programming…
But nowadays it seems to be our daily bread… The media is a constant unrelenting broadcaster of these pernicious arbitrary yet rigid assessments we pass on each other, every news article can be condensed more or less to be a rundown of who’s “succeeding” and who’s “failing” at the game of life, who should be admired and emulated and who’s to inspire in us disgust and should shamed or feared, this manoeuvres taking place both in an intimate personal level in our everyday interactions and on a large sphere in between nations or other social groupings…
We are constantly reminded of this virtual running score of who (as individuals and collectives) has got the most of (insert an infinite variable of any given possession or asset)… Who’s the wealthiest, strongest, smartest, kindest or even baddest… We are so quick to judge and look at the speck in our neighbours eye while simultaneously consoling our own insecurities as we strive to be the “righteous ones”, who, even if we only admit to it partially, want to have it all, know it all and want it now, guaranteed.

It seems to be part of our mere human nature that we are driven by a thirst to conquer our surroundings, to achieve quantitive knowledge, and immediate measurable results all the while suffering from a desperate silent need for the certainty that our grand life plans will be realised and that after all, there must be a reasonable satisfying explanation behind all our otherwise absurd toiling, that the lives we lead “mattered” somehow, and that once we have long been buried underground we will not be forgotten, that we won’t just vanish into the eternal unknown as if we had never even existed but that hopefully, some form of legacy will remain in remembrance or to the very least perhaps merely our memory will “live on” in the minds of others …

We live in a culture where being “ordinary” is classed an insult and to be considered “nothing especial” is to be cursed… It seems that with each passing generation this problem entrenches to the extent that in our increasingly narcissistic, “selfie” driven culture, notoriety, approval, admiration of some sort seem to be the driving forces behind a lot of the commonplace routine interactions and enterprises structuring our society…To live a quiet, reserved life, to pursue an “alternative lifestyle”, free of societal expectations and influences is an anomaly, and a sure way to be granted the grand tittle of “outcast” or colloquially speaking a “weirdo” or “loser” who’s sanity is put on the balance…
It seems to be an irrefutable truth, that as humans we are all dotted with the inbred need to know ourselves to be of some importance, we all want to be cherished and be the “anointed ones”, and that’s ok, it’s part of our human character and we are after all remarkable beings…. But the glitch lays in that when confronted with our actual insignificance and impotence when faced with the grand impositions of not only life and the world as we know it, but also with the unsettling knowing of our eventual looming demise, we freak out and seek out shelter in our “reason” by constructing intellectual fortresses and armours and holding onto some form of “safety blanket” to try and alleviate or distract us from the inevitable discomforting anxiety we feel in the face of a future by nature ambiguous and indocile, maybe a little too much for our liking.
However, regardless of our preferences, that seem to be the structure of the timeline of life; a promising magic casket containing an abundance of infinite dormant possibilities but yet also a finite one, with a limited number of permanent, inedible possible realisations…
In this scenario, our “safety blankets” wouldn’t be a problem if only they provided a real answer to our existential enquiries instead of being band-aid/dummy solution offering only temporary relief and perhaps unwillingly, as a side effect fortifying the actual wound even more since the cause is left untreated… These “safety blankets” or foe cures, look different for everyone of course, some of us find comfort in amassing earthly fortunes, others in attaining “prestige”, reaching some sort of respect or admiration from our peers, some sort of fame. Others feel alleviation when exercising some sort of power or control, others seek shelter in the presence and validation of others through pursuing relationships, romantic or otherwise… Or some of us by dedicating our intellects to science or any other subject we’ve deemed as worthy… As well as devoting our talents to the arts or some other craft we find purposeful…

It seems that even if we were blessed with having attentive parents and sensible mentors who from conception and throughout our formative years asserted our worth and did their best to lay the solid foundations for healthy self-esteem, we simply can’t escape the shrewd appraisal of the social structure we operate in, which as soon as we have full use of our faculties demands from us to “prove our worth” in some way and burdens us with the burning question of why it is we even came into this world? Some arrive at this conclusion either through their own self deduction often in the face of difficulties or others when being bluntly challenged with the query by an outside entity nonetheless it seems none of us can evade this nagging itch.

And so we’ve become these species of conglomerated lone rangers, all baffled busily walking our own strict business of high importance, oblivious to each other’s common pain, not recognising in each other our shared humanity, silently bearing this mutual existential enigma… And so through life, even if only unconsciously, we strive to “justify our existence” and make up or find a meaning (or in some cases absolve ourselves of the question which is in itself an answer) as we best see fit, one which satisfies our intellects and settles our souls? As aforementioned these “safety blankets”, some form of formal religiosity, scientism, humanistic, nihilistic or hedonistic dogmas are just some of the mediums through which we attempt to soothe our souls…. And so from the beginning we’ve unconsciously absorbed the implied message that maybe we are all just trivial mishaps of nature, genetic mutations born barren into a competitive, discriminatory terrain where only the “fittest” survive and so we must be productive and make ourselves useful, legitimise our lives and increase our chances of survival… And so the eternal striving and grasping begins…

It seems to me, that in these times we live in we find ourselves in a bit of a conundrum. The “dog eat dog”, “every man for himself”, “survival of the fittest” dogma which seems to be primordial and dominate the workings of our modern western world is in my view totally absurd and self defeatist. The reality is that we are a collective of temporal very fallible and sensitive beings yet we demand of each other and of ourselves to be literarily bullet proof, perfectly working omnipotent specimens. Furthermore, we expect or aim for at least some aspect of our existence to be transcendent and go on for ever, almost as if we intended to transform ourselves into the Gods many of us have renounced… So when confronted with the reality of our own flawed mortality there’s nothing we crave more than compassion and acceptance, connection and union, love, despite our evident shortcomings, but sadly these are the very things our own egocentric tendencies, customs and self constructed armours fight against and prevent from being realised.

Sadly, it seems that this materialistic profit-driven western world offers nothing to alleviate this deep existential hollow all of it’s citizens carry, but on the contrary it seems to be programmed and operate in a way which aims to negate and often dilates this latent blank space… Sadly, it’s quite obvious that we live in a culture which encourages competition and discord not only with neighbours but starting with ourselves…
Naturally, this disapproval and dissatisfaction with our own being carries onto our interactions with others…

Sadly, I know it’s not just me who’s for too long suffered from the infectious “not good enough” epidemic. For years I too was a subscriber to the perpetual hourly bulletins this society bombards us with, selling us the current and ever changing ideals of “perfection” being promoted at any given time…
Sadly, almost from birth I too swallowed this bitter pill, its destructive intoxicating effects only becoming stronger with the passing years… And so for most of my life I walked around in a state of blind deception, resigned to solemnly believing I had to justify my existence because I, as I was, was not ok, there was something inherently wrong with me… what exactly that was I wasn’t quite sure, but it didn’t matter anyway, all I knew is at any minute the jig would be up and I’d be found out, ridiculed and vanished into a corner of the universe where all of the “not good enoughs” go. And so my life became a constant and arduous DYI self-improvement project… An improvised stand up routine where everyday I put all my might into upholding the different masks I tried to juggle, constantly switching into different characters for my expectant and demanding audience to judge and value, review and categorise as worthy or not, A+ or merely a B… All the while, the leading actor, the “real me”, my “true self”, was never to be revealed. Whatever that “true me” was, at that point I didn’t even know anymore… The only thing I believed is that whoever that self was, could never be pretty enough, clever enough, thin enough, wealthy enough, kind enough etc etc… And so I became a dazed and confused stranger forever running from my own shadow…

I wish I could say that one I woke up and casually stumbled upon the antidote to cure my malady, but the truth is the road and quest for recovery has been and continuous to be more like a tumultuous high speed chase for the holy grail of “self acceptance” and peace of mind. Fortunately, I know Im not the only one who’s had the realisation that maybe this quest for perfection and superiority is futile. So instead of trying to fight my humanity, my imperfection why not accept it and even embrace it. Instead of always trying to outdo my neighbour why not help each other along the way, why not love?… Because it’s not our first or learnt response, but it’s always an option and for me love has been the answer, it’s being the light against the darkness of mere being.

After many years stumbling around in the shadows, blindly trying to “make something of myself”, trying out many different “safety blankets”, looking for a potion to quench the yearnings of my soul, it was only after I had exhausted all my options and had no bullets left that I had to put down my armour and do the one thing I hadn’t dared to do before. To cease all striving, call a truce and raise my white flag, only then I was free to the most simple yet most revolutionary thing I ever did, to turn to love. The answer I’d been looking for had lied within me all along, always being within mine or anyone’s reach, yet sadly more often than not its foregone… Maybe because it’s often misunderstood, seen as weak and dainty or infantile, a myth only valid for fairy tales or Hollywood films, a fleeting fluffy feeling we sometimes experience… When really, it’s the most powerful earthshaking, word-transforming power we all carry within us, if only we chose to honour and embrace it… The answer, love, being the only antidote towards all the indifference and frivolous inequity we encounter in this world.

I’ve now made peace with myself, both my light and my shadow. I now see the idea of “perfection” for what it is, a handicapping belief keeping us from fully experiencing life, from realising our full potential afraid we won’t live up to a certain ideal… Truth is there’s nothing wrong with making “mistakes”, with being different from the norm and breaking the mould…
I’m not perfect and I don’t expect to be. In fact I now see that’s it’s in my imperfection, in my idiosyncrasies where my unique power lies. It’s truly through my cracks that the light gets in. I’m broken and I needed to be so I could break free.

It feels amazing to say that I’m now ok in my own company. I don’t need anyone else to validate me or entertain me. I’ve made peace with the fact that I’m perfectly comfortable spending a Friday night in the company of my tranquil self and perhaps a good book rather than feeling guilty or pressure to be out and about “hitting the town” in the company of a million strangers engaging in social rituals I find no real enjoyment in… Societal expectations no longer seem to have the impact they once did. I’ve realised now there’s really no guidebook to follow or script I must stick to, it’s up to me to to create my own path and write my own book, and it’s doesn’t matter if it makes sense to others or not as long as I’m living and writing from my heart, all things in love. After so many years feeling like a stranger inhabiting an alien body I can finally say I’m at peace in my own skin, and I can breath deep down into my belly. Sure the future, is still uncertain, I’m well aware that I’m living in a very opinionated sometimes intimidating world, but I can now relax into the flow of existence knowing that no matter what the future holds it’ll be alright. There’s no need to walk around inflamed, geared up and armed for battle because I’m not here to fight, I’m here to love, myself, my messy existence and everything else in this truly quirky whimsical world…
I’ve realised I don’t need to do anything to prove my worth, life is so much more than a rat race, a pageant or stage play. I’ve realised there’s nothing I could achieve, no earthly fortune, no amount of fame or “success” that could satisfy if I’m not satisfied with my naked self, full stop.
I’ve realised I don’t need to make anything of myself, I’m already whole. I don’t know need to build an empire or a fortress where I may rule supreme, truth is the natural world is already a majestic wonderland I’m not called to conquer but to submerge into and integrate… I don’t need to try and control or manipulate others or my surroundings but instead embrace, become one and amalgamate into the flowing dance of life. I don’t know if my memory will go on living after I die, and it doesn’t matter for this one life I’m already experiencing and the memories I carry in my heart are more than enough. I don’t know if I can change this material world we live in and I don’t intend to, but the truth is I can certainly change my world and make it a loving place, if I can do that and in some way help change someone’s else too, I’d consider my work done.
I’ve realised I will never be next Einstein, Nietzsche or mother Theresa, Luther King, Picasso or even Michael Jackson (insert any other well-known icon) and that’s ok. I’m called to be nothing other than me… And maybe that’s what the world needs, people who are not afraid to be themselves and let their true colours shine with all their might.

So now, my only task is to have loving compassion for my flawed self, everything that I am and not as well as my mirrored neighbour. I’ve realised we are all in this together, we are all part of the same family, living this puzzling temporary human existence we at first know nothing about and try to figure out as we go along… I’ve realised that deep down we are all feeling just as overwhelmed and isolated, deep down inside we all just want to be loved and treasured, and why wouldn’t given the intricate, wondrous and forever enigmatic creations we are? Despite our fallibilities, despite our massive egos and tendency to turn on each other….

So I’ve chosen to take up love as my shining light as I navigate this excitingly uncertain life…
I’ve learnt that there’s no need to fear the future or my brother, I’ve learnt that by paying attention and taking loving care of the present, the future will take care of itself. I’ve learnt that as long as I’m living in awareness and present in each moment, living true to my heart and the values I hold dear not a borrowed ideal of a “good life” everything will be alright… So now I’m putting my feet firmly on the ground and standing true to myself and pursuing my own idea of a live well lived,  fully inhabiting my body and being present to experience all the joys and all the heartbreak, the thrilling vulnerability of life…

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

 

Your Holocaust

The ignition in your being, a voracious fiery disaster.
Feel the scorching fire; let it burn.
Why not go ahead, sit in those incandescent radioactive coals.
Let your flesh be lit alive with crimson red flames, let the aura of the flares radiate your silhouette.
That blistering fire havocking inside no one can put out; yes, you just have to let it burn.
Let it consume you, a holocaust.
Don’t ask why, for you can’t see.
The smoke is blinding and impairing, the reason you can’t conceive .
Just feel.
You can’t burn forever.
Energy comes, energy goes, thermodynamics.
When the morning comes, you’ll see what’s left.
There in the ashes you’ll find a your clue.
Scatter your ashes, make it worth something.
This meaning… only you can formulate and decipher.
Or the wind will swipe away your remains.
So simple, yet so daunting.
This cremation of excruciating emotion.

Love, beauty and truth…

What are we here for if not to leave this world a little more beautiful than it was before?
But when I say beautiful I don’t mean simply in the aesthetic sense… Sure it’s nice to have pretty things to look at, but I think the current media and marketing enterprises this consumeristic society impulses already do a very good job at bombarding us with eye pleasing cosmetic ideals…

I’m talking about a transcendental type of beauty, one which can withstand the evolving concepts and changing fashions of cultures throughout the centuries, one which is available to anyone, male or female, young or old, rich or poor. Not a fleeting, flimsy ideal, but a sturdy kind of beauty we can all perceive and embody…

Oh! to be beautiful… A lot has been said about beauty. A quality that’s always been held in high-esteem and is especially embraced and dare I say, possibly distorted and taken advantage of in our current capitalistic western society of the rich, famous and seemingly beautiful….
In this materialistic world that seems to be increasingly concerned with achieving ideals of lavish majesty and grandeur through our surroundings and encouraging the spending of our efforts and resources into manipulating our facades to comply with the ever changing epitomes of physical attractiveness, in this superficially deceiving world where nothing is what it is seems anymore, just what is beauty? And is it even worth admiring and/or pursuing?

But isn’t the concept of beauty ambiguous and dynamic, subject to a society’s forever changing standards of what is considered attractive?

Although trying to define beauty just like any other virtue or moral concept can be met with skepticism, an even though many will try and argue the subjectivity of primordial principles such as good and evil, I believe that really, the truth is that when we lie in bed alone at night and put our hands in our hearts and consciously examine our intentions and values, we instinctively know and can intuitively differentiate on a very basic level between “the bad” that which causes harm and anguish or brings about destruction and “the good” that benign act and positive contribution which is for the betterment or wellbeing of self or another…

In the same manner, I believe that when it comes to “beauty” or standards of physical attractiveness, there are certain very well founded characteristics we can all agree make up what’s become known as “classic timeless beauty”; harmonious proportion, symmetrical, youthful and healthy looking features, “the golden ratio”, will always withstand the test of time. Certain visual qualities will always be appealing now and a hundred years back and into the future, here and in China or in the most remote village on earth as long as we remain human…
Therefore perhaps it’s not a vain or futile enterprise to examine and question our concept of beauty beyond that narcissistic, masticated ideal mass media tries to sell us…

A quick google search grants us with the common widely held definition of beauty which is “that which is pleasing to the senses”, thus from this definition alone it’s inevitable to arrive at the evident conclusion that to be beautiful or cultivate beauty one has to be more than just visually agreeable… For can we not perceive stimuli with more than just our eyes? Yet why is our culture so pedantically obsessed with simply prunning our looks? Isn’t it a wonder how beauty would be perceived by our other senses? Would we be destitute and oblivious to the presence of beauty is we were visually impaired? I believe that to prevent this situation, thankfully we have been all been blessed with a vital and reliable receptor, one which can not be deceived and we can always count on to recognise real beauty all around us… Our hearts.

Retracing the origins of our notion of the word beauty, perhaps it’s not unintended that in its etymology, “beauty” apart from physical attractiveness its also identified with “goodness and courtesy”. Perhaps it’s no coincidence that in Classical Greek the word “καλός” for beautiful can also be translated as “good, right, noble, moral, virtuous”.
Perhaps Plato’s ancient intuition was right when he theorised in the Symposium that beauty was a form of gateway or first stepping stone towards ascending into higher moral virtues…
So perhaps it’s time we stop neglecting or misusing the concept of beauty in merely banal endeavours but instead focus on another more virtuous and benevolent side of the beautiful.

I find it both comforting and empowering to know that even if some of us might have any of our basic 5 senses impaired, and so be disabled to participate in some aspect of sensual beauty, we all without exception have the capacity to discern and experience real beauty to its true extent given our intrinsic capacity to nurture and delight in beautiful hearts full of kindness, compassion, acceptance, forgiveness, respect, understanding, courage, wonder, joy, hope, faith; love.

I believe that although the physical concept of what is considered attractive will always be subject to alterations and even though the depictions of the ultimately beautiful tangible human form will vary to some degree; in the end the most valuable and honorable qualities integrated in a truly, timelessly beautiful person are perhaps more noble, unseen and ethereal, yet will endure the test of time and transcend subjective definitions…

So instead of spending more precious time looking in the mirror, taking and deleting “selfies”, more hard earned dollars trying to upkeep a perpetually modifiable “stylish” wardrobe or any other more efforts (from resorting plastic surgery to being more or less crippled “our problem areas”) in external pursuits of beauty, isn’t it time we started aspiring towards a more durable and resilient, pure and true kind of beauty?
The one which will still be evident even after our skin inevitably wrinkles and our bodies decay.

So instead of any more cutting, pulling and plucking out of hairs, how about pulling out the weeds of jealousy, envy and discord from our hearts?
Instead of disposing of endless hours working out our physic and trying to “bulk up” and “sculpt” our bodies how about working out our strongest and most important muscle, our sentient, compassionate hearts… How about sculpting our character? Our values, our morals? How about growing our love and kindness towards one another?

Instead of colouring our hair? How about colouring the world with more shades of joy?
Because let’s face it, at the end of the day, both the winners of the genetic lottery and us mere mortals will all perish and decompose the same way, no matter the colour or style of the fibres constituting our bodies or those covering it, wether we were a size six or sixteen, wether we donned the latest designer couture or recycled no brand…

Let’s not let beauty be an adjective reserved only to describe just a few genetically privileged individuals, let’s embrace and take appropriation of the word in all its glory and in a more worthwhile sense…
So to conclude, may I suggest that perhaps beauty is not in the eye of the beholder but in the heart of the bearer…

One which will always shine through.

So be beautiful, be you!

“She was beautiful, but not like those girls in the magazines. She was beautiful, for the way she thought. She was beautiful, for the sparkle in her eyes when she talked about something she loved. She was beautiful, for her ability to make other people smile, even if she was sad. No, she wasn’t beautiful for something as temporary as her looks. She was beautiful, deep down to her soul.” ― F. Scott Fitzgerald