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28 Years Later;

Another year has graced me, and I cannot stop smiling on this warm 14th of October. Ive experienced this day 28 years in a row now, and for some reason being here today feels like a new experience.

Ive been writing these birthday posts for 6 years, and weird enough I do not cringe when I read them {22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27}. Perhaps it is watching yourself become someone you now know, but had no idea you were becoming as it happened. So much has happened, but when has it ever not, and I’ve grown but when has that stopped either?

A part of me wants to make lists of my achievements and my failures, and put in front of me plans for later; maybe even goals for the next 5 to 10 years; but a different part of me doesn’t care at all, and that’s the person I like, that’s the person who I’d been working on for a while. This is the person who wants to just be here right now, watching my cats sleep through noon, and sit beside a few lit candles and some incense. This is the person who grew out of countless insecurities and crawled anew out of self sabotaging fires and crippling anxieties. This person is here now and i cannot be happier. This person doesn’t want to buy anything special or take memorable pictures in fear of losing the attention received on this day. This person is basking in it all and feeling absolutely grateful to be here, along with so much love and acceptance.

Twenty eight years today, and the ride becomes softer because there is no other way to live. Maybe in not resisting it all we can learn to open our hearts to the adventures we need but not necessarily want. Maybe there is something waiting to be uncovered in the pits of our stomachs, something weightless and boundless; a sense of liberty from stories we cannot stop telling ourselves and one another.

Perhaps when the lines on our faces become deeper, we get wiser in retrospect. Life then feels laid out in front of us, and the stories all combine into one overarching narrative; a moral then presents itself to us in all of its triumph and tragedy. Except, time doesn’t have to work that way, time is not married to waste. So, what if we can take that wisdom we are bound to get to from others, and live by its virtues today? What if we really listen to the people who have been here longer than us, people we appreciate and look up to, people we consider mentors and teachers. Would we still live the same way and be the same people if we listened intently, reflected and acted upon it?

I write this piece today, and I catch myself wondering if it is at all relatable to you my dear reader. Then again, must our experiences be all the same?

Absolutely not, and that is the entire point.

Finally, and most importantly Eat some cake; Live a little!

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2019 Rant, and some potentially Bad Advice

Do you ever feel that you were someone completely different two years ago, 2 months ago, perhaps even 2 days ago? My confession is that I just caught myself trying to copy someone I was last year. That brief period of a few months where things felt like they were fully in place, where my thoughts were grounded and my wellbeing, well, was at its best. Who is that? Why do we change like that? Why is it that we don’t stay, even when we have found a place that felt right? How do we stay sane? We are the holders of vulnerable perspectives about life, the impressionable youths who were born almost 30 years ago but still feel as though the ’90s were 10 years ago.

Where do we say, this feels enough? this job is good for the next 5 years. Who do we choose to be, once and for all, which story makes the most sense to us about our life? It can’t be possible that they all do! What then? What now, which story is this? Is this the one where we go on an Instagram worthy picturesque vacation and find that life was meant to be lived that way? Or is this the one were we become parents of the modern child, and we share everything about our child’s life since birth with the world. Are we the eternally trying to SHOW the world something? What about money, where do we get that? There’s a lot of help online, from people telling us that we are the greatest and most desperate generation to ever walk the earth; why? because we have the world in the palms of our hands. But then what, are we all really so interesting? What is interesting nowadays anyway?

It seems that change has become a staple of our modern day. Transformations that once took 100 years, now take 10, even 5. Let me tell you this: It feels like the amount of living that people used to do in 100 years, we now do in 20. The level of exposure people used to have by the time they were 20, 8-year-olds now are more exposed. So how do we digest that? How do we live a life that now “COULD” be so much “MORE”? How do we cope with everything we get to do, everything we get to learn and everything we don’t. We do have more time- at least that’s what it feels like. But with too much perceived time on our hands come desperation and confusion.

Perhaps that is the weight of being a part of a generation that saw an immense change not just within ourselves during adolescence but within the world.

There comes a point where something must make sense. There isn’t one single calling, there are infinite ones it seems. The secret and I write this as a note to myself, and hopefully to you, is to actually become more picky about our multi-purpose existence. We do not need to do everything, or know everything or be everywhere. It requires a step back, and a hug from a dear heart, take my virtual arms if you like- but the truth is, we need to CHILL THE F OUT. By we, I mean “I”.

Photo by Igor Ovsyannykov on Pexels.com

Grab a coffee, eat a piece of the pie, look out at the cloudy weather and stop fighting the universe for more. We already have it all, the choices are constantly laid out for us; all we need to do is choose one, maximum two; but not all. SIMPLE. Right?

OK. I know. #HardestThingEVER.

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The Writer

The problem with this entire urge right here is that I really don’t want to spill anything, I don’t want to say anything, but I need to write.

I need to write because writing confirms and forgives, writing attests to a truth and does not shame a lie. Writing helps a thought out the door and into the world to find itself bare and made of dust. Writing helps thoughts come to life and does not judge what gets to live and what cannot see the light.

Some thoughts dwell in the darker rooms, and once a light is flashed through, they dissipate into emotional tiredness. You cannot understand what was holding you down so heavy, but you know something was lurking there by the ache in your back.

The problem is that when a person writes, something must be said, and lies although end up being written, a general tone within the text undermines them. The reader can tell: This is a truth, this is most definitely a lie. Sometimes the reader can detect the lie that the writer has not yet uncovered. The dance is spellbinding, which is why I have an addiction to writing. People mistake writing with bravery, but I do not suppose there is much courage there. It is quite the opposite sometimes. Written words are many times, ones that could not be said to someone, they hold a weight that a human spirit cannot receive by ear, but only indirectly, only by being read.

Words are heavy, and they seem to fly sometimes, when the tone is light and the vibe is smooth. But they collide with paper and they converge with light and shadow to bring us a message. Sometimes we read a single line and a masterpiece effect takes over; we cannot get over the message conveyed in the way that it was by the person who did. Life is beautiful because it allows us to say what we really need to say, and because we might by some far away stranger or by a wise young child be heard and understood. The experience after all is so distinct for us. We cannot imitate another person’s living mannerisms no matter how hard we try, we are forever merely us and whatever makes us that, continues to nudge us into a form of fulfilment that only we can nod in recognition to.

Photo by Olenka Sergienko on Pexels.com

The human within the grand scheme of everything wraps herself in words and in winds of pleasure and pain in hopes of finally becoming superhuman, in hopes of waking up one day with shattered consciousness capable of accessing the mystery of life. The dream runs below our stories and our secrets, as it bursts in the words we write and attests to the essential struggle of finding meaning that would save us all.

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Marriage Material

A lot of the things that I want to say about getting married are being waved away by congratulating people. They dismiss the process and its Ok. Perhaps the experience isn’t as deep as I think it is, but perhaps the experience should be taken to its limits because nothing lived marginally in life is worthwhile; sometimes full immersion is the better bet.

So surely congrats are in order, but also some major dramatic text must follow; knowing me.

The Good old rant

I close my eyes and I can hear the voice of Alan Watts, mixed with the voice of one wedding planner. One is telling me that nothing really matters, as long as you remain true to yourself, and the other is telling me this is the most important and defining time of your life. Nothing will ever be the same again. So you need to add flowers and light, and hang angels from the ceilings, or else; doom.

Except this is the third piece of dramatic text I have written, and it still feels too awkward to write; let alone share. Usually my words flow seamlessly, they come out un-calculated and relevant. Most of the times I feel like I’m making sense. Now I don’t.

I’m not making a lot of sense because despite everything, and despite my ability to withstand and accept and embrace imperfections, I cannot let this be imperfect.

I’m not making sense because statistics make me uncomfortable and the odds are not to my favor. I care about marriage and divorce world averages, and I also know how fickle human beings are.

I’m not making sense because teamwork takes effort, and a lot of time I like to do my work alone. Because I pride myself on being nauseatingly diplomatic, but also stubborn in my methods.

I’m not making sense because I could be dramatic and inconvenient, my moods will upset and undermine others’ feelings if left uncensored.

There is so much that doesn’t make sense, and I suppose will not. There is so much intertwined in one person’s struggle, so how do you navigate another person’s?

The Awareness that something isn’t right

My ego gets weirdly awakened when I write those things: Labeling and victimizing, assuming and judging. A recipe for disaster. So, the alarm must go off. Something must be uncovered because our egos are never right.

The Transformation mentality kicks in

I always felt an instant reward, a cognitive rush from turning something abstract into something meaningful for me, and for others. Transformation is beautiful, turning one thing into something else naturally is a very rewarding experience.

So I stop myself here, and I try to recalibrate my thoughts, perhaps lining them in a different way will smoothen out the transformation. Perhaps removing myself from fear, control and dreadful stress will open up my sight.

Shifting into marriage is a transformation; a brilliant one. Making a choice that one person versus everyone else is the partner you want to do life with is breathtaking. Literally.

In transforming material from one state to another, a lot is lost; and that explains the feelings of sorrow one develops. But with loss comes novelty and the space is created for new material to become what it must. So being aware of always leaving space for ourselves and for the other is incremental to reach higher levels of happiness.

So who are we in standing in the way of transformation that is natural in every way possible?

There is love and hope in our unison, and there is space for struggle, the singular kind and the compounded one. We build together what we must, and we let go of forced living. One must learn to be free continuously, and if we keep on learning; then marriage must be the space where people learn how to free themselves and each other. It must be the space for people to work against fixed cultures and dive into creating better quality of life for themselves and those that surround them. I think that is the purpose of picking a partner: growth, creation and soft nourishment of each other’s unabashedly brave spirits.

 

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A child on the 27th ride around the sun

I keep having the same dream, one where I am young, younger than I ever was; and I am starting to believe one thing only. My dream has never been to grow up, possibly never will be. My dream is to forever be the child I knew at 8, the child that grew to be 16, and has now become 27.

The child lives on and crosses time zones and experiences that nobody really should. The child lives on and meets lovers and haters, finds hiding places and extreme emotions. The child serves the greater good and suffers from indecent thoughts. I remain that child as I attempt to learn and walk on. I remain that child as I suddenly need to have answers for things I never questioned. It seems that walking in the shoes of a growing person becomes tricky the longer you walk.

See, kindness helps, love helps, people help and everything has a place in the greater story we tell ourselves and each other, but the only thing that never changes is the child that is constantly in awe of the life happening all around. We suddenly become capable of handling experiences bigger than us, smaller than us and beyond us. Something is in control but not us. Twenty-seven is the number of breaths I take when I get anxious for something stupid, it is the number of steps I will take as I walk down the aisle to my future husband, it is the number of people who still care about me despite my lack of social adeptness. Twenty-seven is just a number, but for some reason it is heavy; which makes me wonder how Seventy-two-year-olds do it.

There is a certain glory, a form of an ego boost to be able and cut past the bullshit. There is a freeing sensation beneath all the weight. There is a knowing that you hold on to as long as you hold on to the child within you. The child always knows something, the child takes life as it is but also with an underlying understanding of the comedy of it all, the unrealness of it. How funny is it really, to be considered old and young at the same time by the people around you. You go to a cousin’s 12th birthday party and you are so old. You visit your grandfather and suddenly you are a baby again. So I do not take it so seriously, hopefully never will.

I write to tell my story, and to describe the sometimes overwhelming feelings that come with living a good life; one that has allowed me to still walk on both my feet, breathe well and look alright. The longer I stay here, the funnier it gets; to be fair the less I believe any of it. The longer you open your eyes, your heart and your mind to the world the more you find pieces of yourself looking straight back at you. You pick some up and you leave some to be free elsewhere in the world. Life gets heavy, so do we if we don’t watch our weight, but the point is to always cater equally to our senses. Don’t eat too much, don’t think too much, don’t get caught up. Catching and releasing is a pleasure and one that I intend to keep.

I get wiser, but I also get sillier, and there is no basis to any of it. We work so hard to make our lives legendary, but we also get bowel movements that make us remember who we really are. The child runs free, the child pays no mind to the chaos. I choose to keep some of the lessons I have learned over the course of my life so far, but I also choose to drop a truckload of useless mind traps that I thought were lessons.

I cried when I entered this life as a baby, because who wouldn’t? so I still shed a couple of tears every birthday. A birthday is a reminder of the first arrival. It is an anniversary of being transformed from nonbeing into being, it is a reminder of life and the beauty of finding ourselves suddenly here. Birthdays also make us think about who we are, where we are and what we are doing.

And the best part forever and ever and always is the CAKE…until next year, let’s take this cake loving child in the body of a twenty-seven-year-old, on a ride around the sun.

 

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Irrationality and the fear of change : Is that why you refuse information?

“You have to turn ethnography inward and learn how your peers and leaders make decisions before you try to use data to influence those decisions.” Erika Hall

Reading the quoted article on Medium about research I came across the above 2 lines, and they took me straight to the day, THAT DAY.

My boss was old, he was always angry, intimidating and he sat behind his beautiful, huge old oak wooden desk. I had recently turned 23, straight out of NYU grad school, I thought I was really great; he didn’t.

THAT DAY, I marched to his office, I decided to be a lion, and I suggested a more efficient process for working, pointing to all the very logical steps we could take to improve. He glared at me, he signaled that I had no idea what I was talking about and dismissed me disrespectfully. With my tail between my legs, the lion went to the bathroom and shed some cat tears. I quit a week later.

THAT DAY, I did not deal with my perceived irrational boss, I simply escaped the situation by quitting. Now when I think back, he wasn’t irrational, he was actually scared of change, he didn’t understand what I was talking about, so he forcefully ejected me and my thoughts out of his “ I’ve been doing it my way for 30 years and its been working” office.

So how do we deal with irrationality? That which is usually driven by multiple levels of cognitive dissonance in one person. When providing information will most likely not be strong enough a reason for them to change their mind, we end up discovering that people are picky about their rationality, and their beliefs, and it is up to us to identify possible entry points.

Lebanon, a rather nuanced country with suggested democracy, has political elites who are keen to remain in their positions by fueling generational sectarian divides among the public. Those policy makers, from a public good perspective are irrational, but from an interest based perspective are quite the opposite. So one might understand that change in policy is going to be limited to interest serving decisions. Their irrationality towards the country’s public good is a symptom of their fear to lose their positions.

BUT, then there is a layer beneath that of the elitist policy maker, and that is the “wanna be” elitist business man, teacher, architect, engineer, doctor…taxi driver and the list goes on. It is quite remarkable to operate within a culturally accepted virtue of irrationality.

How do you deal with a person who operates in a low income household, who has little access to healthcare and education but thinks that changing his/her car is the top priority in their life? Irrational perhaps, but addressing other priorities will require a change (a huge one in the general system).

How do you deal with a group of people who request change in a political system but refuse to believe that their own appointed leaders are corrupt, just because they chose them? Irrational perhaps, but addressing corruption will require a change in process and strategy, many might lose momentum.

People are avert to change in most of its forms. Rationality sometimes leads one to a single solution to problem (x) and that is to CHANGE BEHAVIOR. So the issue is no longer about how correct or incorrect the approach to thinking is, logic is devalued not because it makes no sense, but because if person (x) is to follow it then it will require CHANGE.

CHANGE has many haters, and to mention a few: it costs money, it costs time, it costs conflict, it costs discomfort, it costs effort, it costs failure and learning, and it costs belief systems. And most people would rather turn the other way, take the easier route, the familiar one.

Change is eventually devalued by its own cost.

So how do we deal with irrationality?

We must determine what is the driving fear of the person’s refusal of a certain piece of information, and it could be as simple as: it sounds true enough to make me appear wrong, so I will dismiss it because I am never wrong, especially on matters like this. END POINT

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Where is the White Space?

Rolling through YouTube’s suggested list, I come to realize one very important effect of our modern life and access to the internet.  I noticed that all that music almost sounds the same, just as most influencers look the same, and bloggers (sometimes including myself) are saying the same things. As easy as changing our lives seems to be through marketing campaigns, it actually is immensely difficult because every click we make, and every decision we take molds us into certain people, possibly not the people we really are, but mere consumer personas. Comfort zones are created around us so organically, that reaching out of those spaces becomes hectic sometimes even impossible.

I was inspired this morning listening to an interview on InsideQuest (IQ) between Tom Bilyeu and Jim Kwik. What really kicked me right in the gut was the concept of White Space. And my mind automatically went into overdrive “I NEED WHITE SPACE”. All my spaces are inhabited by thoughts, people, objects and generic content, some introduced by me, and others suggested, and I am overwhelmed and anxious.

How can anyone really think with all that noise? Where do we hide in this bombardment? When hair style x is going make me more daring, and brand y is going to make me sexier, and person z is telling me how to tie my shoelaces… the list goes on and on with people telling me things, buying out every ounce of attention I have; FOR FREE!

In our pursuit of well-lived, exciting, and constantly educational experiences, we end up being victims of our own choices in this self replicating noisy space. It appears to me that our social fondness for grouping is an ultimate and absolute construct. It might be that attempting to break free of all groups will eventually land us with yet another one.

All that brings me back to my absolute infatuation and fascination with the concept of whitening out a page and starting again, purposely leaving everything and beginning again, as dangerous, unaccountable and anti-social as it sounds. But, there are more family friendly versions of this attitude. One thing that really works but requires countless practice is a form of meditation, essentially allowing the creation of white space inside your own mind, and then moving on from there.

Becoming the creators of our spaces can happen in two ways, either building over and modifying  pre-existing constructs, or annihilating them and starting over. Yet in annihilation one cannot escape the wisdom preceding the experience, actually one would be foolish to ignore it.

So where is the white space after all, and do you really need it?