You’ve missed me, I know. I’ve been skinny-dipping on polar bear island (Spitsbergen), and have seen many beautiful and impressive things. I took a lot of pictures, but even though I am quite unable to put a lot of words next to them to express what I have seen there, the pictures themselves are still …
Making text and prose for the sake of having the letters put out there. Creating words so that you have said something, for otherwise the silence would have been too great, too overwhelming, perhaps, and the meaning of those words matters as much as the font you use or the surroundings that you work in.
Writing gives comfort. Someone once told me that “writing crystallizes thoughts and makes them more clear to you”. That may be true, so very true, but the goal, the very reason why you write is still the same as the reason that many others work, eat, travel, talk and do anything at all: you want to feel real, you want to feel that you exist, and those words are there, in front of you, and you but them there, so you must be.
And if there is any chance of making those words seem to have some meaning, some purpose, than you, the writer, should be the one that also has one. For how else could there be meaning in those words if you had not given it? And how could you give meaning to something if you yourself didn’t have any?
So all this writing for the sake of writing is the purpose of itself, it’s the self-fulfilling prophecy of manifestation of the reason of being. And even though it’s kind of dirty, creating something and having that loop back to yourself, justifying the reason of your own existence, it is the perfect pastime in that. For if your writing is even the least bit entertaining, thought provoking or plainly distracting, there may be others willing to read it. Giving a little bit of their precious (for limited) time to your words, in exchange for some sense of humor, some philosophical dissertation or some way into another realm of fantasy, and in that process losing the need to define their own meaning, having just enough layers of abstraction between their sense of purpose and the final provider of that purpose, so that life does not feel as if you are the only one that can define it.
That is indeed not a bad thing, even though it might seem to be, for some. Throughout the ages (at least, that’s what I’ve been told), people have always distracted themselves from this fact, so that they could enjoy the things that are on the first layer of abstraction: the direct sensory input, the first step away from your own thoughts. If they wouldn’t, would there be any target, any movement, any life at all? If the purpose of life, the meaning of the writing and reflection or entertaining is only and only defined in itself, is it not the best thing we can do to create those shiny, distracting loops of entertainment so that we can live up to what we create? Isn’t, then, imagination the greatest good in this world?
So, write, for the sake of writing, if that is what you feel like doing, and bring that means of creation to the world. Even though the purpose may feel like a loop to itself, that is the exact thing that makes this universe spin.
This morning, when I was getting ready to leave the train, there was a young mother sitting next to the doors. She held a baby on her arm. And as I passed by, that baby looked up to me with its blue eyes and smiled.
In that instant, I felt as if everything in the world was okay. There is something about the genuine, unconditional smile, that makes you feel appreciated, noticed, valuable.
I have been trying it out all day long: just smile, genuinely smile at random people. No reserves, no side-intentions (look at their eyes!), and you will see that you get a lot of them in return. You can be sure that you made a few people feel good about themselves, and the smiles you’ll see appearing on their faces will certainly have a similar effect on you.
I was watching this TED talk this morning on the train, it made me think of several things, but especially about the (lack of?) attention to detail in my life, and how I tend to forget stuff that matters to colleagues and friends. I enjoyed watching it, and I will keep you posted about what I am going to do with this in my life (if I don’t forget, hur, hur).
Update: a friend recommended a blog post about building your own mind palace. You might enjoy reading that one as well (I did).
Things happen. People do them. Goals are the reasons for those actions. These goals are mostly chosen by emotions. By dreams, hopes, but more often fears. Fear of the unavoidable thought that creeps up on us all once in a while, when we are not doing things that seem to make sense to us: we don’t know why things are. We hardly even know what really is happening, so we can’t even make sense of it all, however much we would try.
But do we need to make sense of it? Do we need to fear what we don’t know, or should we accept that we don’t know anything, and that not knowing makes things more interesting instead of more scary?
We can ask ourselves “what is?”, but exactly what is: we don’t know. And not knowing is all there ever will be.
How else could we be adventurers?
The night before last I went to see Brigitte Kaandorp, one of my favorite Dutch cabaret artists. She can relate (in practically any meaning of the word), and has a certain vision of life that I really love (or should I say: I love what I think her vision of life is). Probably my favorite song of hers is titled “Leven zonder angst“, or Live Without Fear (go there and listen). As I couldn’t really find a translation of the lyrics, here is my shot at one:
|Dutch (from Songteksten.net)||English (my own try)|
|Leven zonder angst – Brigitte Kaandorp
Ik kon maar niet slapen
Ik lag te woelen in m’n ledikant
Ik telde 100.000 witte schapen
En die bleven maar staan
En die keken me aan
En ik riep ga nou eens aan de kantIk wil leven zonder angst
Ik wil branden zonder blaren
Ik wil geld zonder te sparen
Ik wil feest zonder gedoe
Ik wil zuipen zonder kater
Een horloge zonder later
Ik wil dansen zonder moe
Ik wil regen zonder jas
Jij zei vannacht
Maar ik wil liefde zonder eind
Ik wil vreten zonder dik
Ik wil reizen zonder doel
|Live Without Fear – Brigitte Kaandorp
I just couldn’t sleep
Tossing and turning in my bed
I counted 100.000 white sheep
And they kept standing there
And they looked at me
And I yelled: move aside alreadyI want to live without fear
Want to burn without blisters
Want money without saving
Want a party without hassle
I want to drink without hangover
A watch without later
I want to dance without tired
I want rain without a coat
You said last night
But I want love without end
I want to munch without fat
I want to travel without aim
I apologize for the strange translation. Some plays on words only work in Dutch, I guess, because they are also strongly connected to cultural phenomena or (then) recent events. Also, trying to keep the translated lyrics in the original shape, I couldn’t always think of a proper word or synonym, so I might have used a weaker or not-quite-the-same translation. I tried to link to explanatory sites wherever one of the above was applicable.
What I like most about hearing these lyrics, is the comparison between inherent effects of causes (most of which are some kind of undesired side-effects), and the implied effect of fear caused by living. Plainly said: you can’t have one without the other, however much you might wish for that.
On another level, almost every side-effect is something you might worry about when (thinking about) doing the action that might cause it. And worrying is the main cause of fear. Whenever you feel fear, chances are that you just thought about what might happen. So in that case, the solution to living without fear would be: living without worrying. The side-effects are inevitable, so there’s nothing to be done about them. But, you still have the choice: you can also choose not to live at all (i.e. just sit and wait until it’s over).
Do you live?
So today I went to the kittens once again, and they are really used to me now. Not yet coming to the door on the sound of the key entering the lock, but no longer running away, and greeting me with purring and nudging my leg for attention. They grew bolder, and that makes taking care of them more pleasant.
The only thing that I didn’t really like, was the fact that they had managed to climb on the windowsill and throw over a plant. The dirt was all behind some drawer-chests and on top (and some inside) a PlayStation. It took a bit of cleaning-up, but I could hardly blame them. Well, just a bit, but I guess that long days in a quiet house are not their primary idea of fun.
While cleaning, I thought of the ways in which we grow to be more adventurous, and also make some mistakes. I know I’ve pushed the metaphorical pot off the windowsill, and I think we shouldn’t be afraid to do so. It happens. Let’s not sit and bemoan it, but clean it up (if possible) and go on adventuring.
For instance, last week I heard that the management of a company decided that some people would be let go. The people whom it concerned would be notified in a week time. Of course, that caused quite a bit of uncertainty with regards to the future. One could ask: will I be one of those? If so, what would I do? Where would I go?
But instead of being afraid and letting yourself be petrified because of that, you could also opt to see both possibilities as an opportunity to learn something new. Anyone might make some mistakes, run into walls and even lose some things that they love. But in the end, you will have lived your life as an adventurer, and it will be filled with life! Just thinking that everything will go wrong, will not make any of that better. Enjoying the strawberries that hang around, all the more.