” … the lonelier a person gets, the less adept they become at navigating social currents. Loneliness grows around them, like mould or fur.” (Oliva Laing)
Back in August last year I wrote ‘tongue-in-cheek’ two-parts post on Kiwi Blokes. The idea was light-hearted fun and for most part it worked! Lots of people found it funny in a slightly cheeky kind of a way. Moreover, the Lantern’s stats page tells me that those two posts continued to be read on a weekly basis. All well and good -:)!
However, some people went into trouble of sending me rather strongly worded emails voicing their disagreements and, in some cases, went as far as to offer to prove me wrong in person. As the Lantern is founded on the principle of humanity, I responded as best as I could, mostly by; ‘thank you, but no thank you’, and/or; ‘the intent of the posts was humours rather than factual.’
While those emails did not come as a huge surprise to me, some others did. Primarily those written by women of various ages and from various parts of the world asking for my advice on the issues of men, love and relationships.
When the first one arrived from South-East Asia asking how to best interpret certain behaviours of the writer’s Kiwi boyfriend, frankly I could not believe my eyes! For one, I am by no means an expert on anything, least of all matters of love, men and relationships. Hence my almost life-long singleton!
While I responded to the young lady who wrote the email, and who is young enough to be my daughter, with best wishes and explaining my complete lack of expertise, the others followed … and eventually I decided to write a post about it.
And to write it in the only way I know how … lacking in any expertise, numerous female magazines offer more than enough of it already, but with compassion.
As the stories and questions arrived from various parts of the world and concerning men in general rather than members of any specific group, or country, the letter below is written in the same vein.
Thank you all for writing to the Lantern. On the endless and furiously fast cyber highway, the Lantern stands alone, affixed to the little backstreet alleyway and welcoming all who pass under its soft, solitary glow. Whoever you are and whether you rest under the Lantern for just a little while, or take some time to feel the warmth of the Lantern’s spark, tell the secrets or leave footprints … the Lantern and its keeper hope your stay was pleasant and you felt at home.
Your letters speak of anguishes, confusions, hurts, humiliations, misunderstandings and disappointments in love and even in life itself. Many of you are so young that speaking of dissolutions with men, love and life sounds like a sacrilege. I know you will not believe me now, but in time you might, so I am going to say it right here – to feel truly alive we need love, but to love and be loved we must be alive … those are entwined conditions; one depends on the other. One clings to the other with all its might.
And being alive entails opening your eyes to the clear sky even when all you can see are clouds.
However hurt or lonely or angry you may be now, and/or even for a while yet, and however unlikely it may sound to you now – it really is the truth that sadness and grief are like rice in the barn, each day there is a little bit less of it … each day at least few grains disappear.
Throughout the history of human kind love has given birth to countless literature, poetry, art … it is love and love alone that motivated and inspired myriad of creators to produce ageless beauties and in doing so make our human existence bearable.
I believe that one of my favourite poets said it best when he wrote; ‘For one human being to love another is perhaps the most difficult task of all, the epitome, the ultimate test. It is that striving for which all other striving is merely preparation’. (R M Rilke).
And that love for another human being; whether a partner, a child, a sibling, a friend … is what makes us human. To surrender in love, to give your heart away into unknown, for whatever might come, and to receive the heart of another surrounded by the equal act of complete trust is the quintessential human experience. It defines us like nothing else does. Because when we love and are loved in return we become the best versions of ourselves. To walk amongst people requires courage, to love them requires faith.
I am often told that there are so called destructive, unhealthy loves that ruin people lives beyond recognition. In other words that not all love is enriching and beautiful, not all sparkles like waterfall under the morning sun.
I however remain of the view that in those instances love is used only as a disguise to conceal other, less appealing but equally powerful human desires, such as to control, dominate, manipulate, and somehow ‘possess’ another human being by any number of means by those of us who, for whatever reason, are either incapable, and/or unwilling to truly love and receive love in return. There is the kingdom of self-deception. Because there is hardly anything more mournful than life lived without love. For such lives are lived in fears; fear of surrounding to another human being, fear of inadequacy, fear of losing control, fear of being controlled, fear of rejection, fear of being ridiculed … in a word fear of living one’s life.
In conclusion I can but offer often repeated but not necessarily practiced wisdom that it is better to love and lost than to never love at all. I always believed that the true meaning was to convey how important is to cherish each and every moment that brings you joy of love, that incomparable feeling of pure lightness of being … regardless of whatever comes next. Whether you have one day, or one lifetime of it; each moment is equally precious and each moment is a testimony of your humanity.
And yes, as long as you love another human, your heart might be broken, rejected, discarded and you will grieve, and know sadness of the deepest shades … and that will also stand as witness to your humanity. How you deal with it will witness your character.
Tonight, while soft breeze of southern summer rustles small waves across the bay and countless lights break over the harbor, brand New Year will wash on our shores,
Still unwrapped from its shiny gift wrap,
Unknown, and thus full of promise, full of hope.
For a year better than the one departing,
For a year better than those already departed.
Until the time of departure returns once more,
In the endless circle of time.
May a New Year be kind to us all,
so we may all remember that;
‘One needs Power only when one wants to do something Harmful, otherwise Love is Enough to Get Everything Done!’ (Charlie Chaplin)
Few days ago a very good friend of mine commented how the black and white photograph I used for my original Gravatar looks rather dull.
A little bit too ‘librarian-ish’ and not enough like the ‘real Daniela.’ I instantly thought; ‘Hmm, I would like to meet this ‘real Daniela’ so to finally discover who she is and where was she hiding all these years!’
Jokes aside, I honestly believe we are all made of numerous parts; some obvious to many, some only to few and some that remain a little bit of a mystery to even our own selves … or it might even be the case of mustering the necessary courage to become aware of and embrace those parts.
Since I do take note of my friends’ views, and in any case am rather prone to ‘thinking things over’ at even the slightest nudge, it was only a matter of time before I started experimenting with my Gravatar. For better or worse the outcome is rather obvious!
Let me know what you think; was the old, ‘librarian-ish’ Gravatar better than the current one or not? Would the Lantern Post be the same or even better blog without the face of its keeper? How important, if at all, is to see the person behind the blog?
When I first started blogging, I struggled with those and similar questions.
My early attempts at creating a blog neither featured my picture, nor did I create my profile. In those days I was convinced that the blog ought to speak for itself and therefore the author’s profile is irrelevant. After all many people blog anonymously. However, it was not long until I changed those views.
The change occurred while reading other blogs and noticing how much I like seeing the person behind the blog. Writing and sending your words into the vast and unknown cyber space requires some courage; making yourself visible alongside your words even more so. It is to stand behind your words and all they convey, to claim them in your own name and image. While, like most of us I probably lack many desirable qualities; whoever was in charge, was rather generous when it came to dishing out the courage:)! So I decided to claim my words in my name and image, come what may!
Other side of it all of course is how others perceive us. Because regardless of the type of message or idea we intend on communicating, those who come across it will inevitably form their own views and sometimes maybe arrive at the meaning we never intended.
The same I guess applies to our image; how we see ourselves versus how other people see us. Even after many years, I still clearly remember that day I was on the receiving end of commentary about my looks, including my height. The first thing I did was to find the closest mirror in which to examine myself trying to see what they saw … and not seeing it. But that might be a story for another day!
‘To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don’t need to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself.’ (Thich Nhat Hanh)
- Gravatar social profile of millions of users (ivarsmore.wordpress.com)
- Does your Gravatar lead to your Blog? (sarsrose.wordpress.com)
- Doodling For My Gravatar (lipstickonmylabcoat.wordpress.com)
“People may not remember what you did or said but they will always remember how you made them feel.” (Maya Angelou)
- Maya Angelou Day 13 of 28: Consider Yourself Served. (vtypical.wordpress.com)
- Maya Angelou Day 12 of 28: Who Says You Can’t? (vtypical.wordpress.com)
- Maya Angelou Day 10 of 28: They Went Home (vtypical.wordpress.com)
This week is Mental Health Awareness Week (MHAW) in New Zealand.
While definitions, descriptions and various other attempts to somehow distinguish healthy from unhealthy mind have changed over the centuries; creative artists of all creeds have remained the main recipients.
British poet Roddy Lumsden wrote that; ‘a poet confessing to mental illness is like a weight lifter admitting to muscles’.
Popular stereotype has long classified poets as depressed and creative scientist as mad. The notion that there is a direct link between creativity and madness reaches as far back as Aristotle when he wrote that eminent philosophers, politicians, poets and artists all have tendencies towards ‘melancholia’.
Numerous examples of famous creative minds inhabiting mysterious halls, which those looking from the outside termed mental illnesses, followed throughout history; from Isaac Newton, Ludwig van Beethoven, Leo Tolstoy, Robert Schumann, Vincent van Gogh, to Virginia Woolf, Ernest Hemingway, John Nash, Sylvia Plath … to mentioned just a few.
Poets seems especially apt inhabitants; Emily Dickinson stated that ‘Much madness is Divinest sense’, while Edgar Allan Poe wrote; ‘Men have called me mad but the question is not yet settled, whether madness is or is not the loftiest intelligence.’
They, and many others, pierced the darkness with the shiniest torches of them all – those of art. And in doing so illuminated many winding and precarious roads humans travel on.
Were they mad or just exceptionally gifted? Is the former prerequisite for the later? Or is it the other way around – writing poetry drives one to madness?
And what is madness anyway? Does anyone really know where the illusive line that differentiates between healthy and unhealthy mind lies?
I know not … there are numerous serious doctors, psychoanalysts, and scientist preoccupied with this topic. They inevitably develop ever newer terminologies, classifications and drugs to go with it. To soothe and numb one’s minds sufficiently to function amongst the healthy, normal population.
The same healthy, normal population that starts bloody wars, tolerates corrupt leaderships, inflicts devastating cruelties, and otherwise tortures the fellow humans.
Really, I know not … all I can do is just to write few lines … and so here they go:
She does not write poetry often
I do not write poetry often, she said. We were sitting on the bare concrete steps, still warm from the early summer sun.
Why don’t you?
Oh it hurts too much, she said. It makes me ill.
Longing in my limbs throbs with aching, and
Ocean becomes too heavy in my eyes.
Just walking the whole night alone,
Over the stones, and shingle and sand,
Into those graves unnamed,
Where birch trees grove tall and lonely.
It hurts too much.
What do you write then?
Anything, anything at all … but not poetry.
How much do we know?
Can we understand what we cannot see?
Who we are?
Why we are here?
What is ignostic?
What is the point of it all?
Those and countless other questions most of us ponder daily or at least frequently.
We discuss and debate our views and opinions, and often strongly defend our particular point of view.
And that is always good really, as nothing sharpness the mind better than the passionate debate on those issues we feel strongly about.
What’s more, by engaging in such discussions we learn how to meaningfully voice our views and believes, while respecting those whose views and believes are different to ours – one very important skill.
I could not think of better, more interesting or funnier answers to the above questions than the animation below!
Enjoy and let me know what you think -:)!