Solitude

I’m a loner. Always been that way since I can remember. When I was growing up I often went on wandering around by myself instead of playing with my siblings. I rather collect whatever interesting things I could find washed up on shore or pretend I was a pirate aboard my ship on the way to yet another adventure than be with other kids. I am happy  when I’m alone.

I care for myself. The more solitary, the more friendless, the more unsustained I am, the more I will respect myself.”
― Charlotte Brontë

Later on in life I found out (after countless trials) that I have nothing in common with other women (I know) their interests lie somewhere else very far from mine, and vice versa. I can get along better with men. They are more honest and direct. I like that.

When I get married, I often took time away from my husband and children, going on holidays by my own. I need it. Personal space and freedom. I respect others theirs and seldom interfere with my husband comings and goings. He would tell me if he wanted me to know.

Family (or social) gatherings tire me. I need at least three weeks to recuperate after I’ve been to one. Little talks and constant nonsensical chatters give me headaches. I often wonder why most people open their mouths when they don’t have something relevant to say. Waste of time I find.

On the broad spectrum of solitude, I lean toward the extreme end: I work alone, as well as live alone, so I can pass an entire day without uttering so much as a hello to another human being. Sometimes a day’s conversation consists of only five words, uttered at the local Starbucks: ‘Large coffee with milk, please.’ -Caroline Knapp

I get lonely sometimes. Who doesn’t? But I prefer window shopping, libraries or bookstores than calling someone for a quick tête-à-tête. I can stand (though not for a long time) being surrounded with strangers that have nothing to do with me personally and want nothing from me. That is how far I would seek company. Anything more would be complicated. I found out by experience that there is no unconditional relationship. People always want something I can’t give in return. A friendship means responsibilities. They would invite you to dinner (you don’t want to go but have to) and you have to invite them in return sooner or later. Before you know you are deeply buried in this confusing circle of duties and social ethos and there is no way out unless you want to commit social suicide. No, thank you. Not for me.

Here is Ode on Solitude by Alexander Pope, one of my favorite poets.

Happy the man, whose wish and care
   A few paternal acres bound,
Content to breathe his native air,
                            In his own ground.
Whose herds with milk, whose fields with bread,
   Whose flocks supply him with attire,
Whose trees in summer yield him shade,
                            In winter fire.
Blest, who can unconcernedly find
   Hours, days, and years slide soft away,
In health of body, peace of mind,
                            Quiet by day,
Sound sleep by night; study and ease,
   Together mixed; sweet recreation;
And innocence, which most does please,
                            With meditation.
Thus let me live, unseen, unknown;
   Thus unlamented let me die;
Steal from the world, and not a stone
                            Tell where I lie.
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Mask

“A charm invests a face
Imperfectly beheld,—
The lady dare not lift her veil
For fear it be dispelled.

But peers beyond her mesh,
And wishes, and denies,—
Lest interview annul a want
That image satisfies.”

― Emily Dickinson

“We understand how dangerous a mask can be. We all become what we pretend to be.”
― Patrick Rothfuss

“No man, for any considerable period, can wear one face to himself and another to the multitude, without finally getting bewildered as to which may be the true.”
― Nathaniel Hawthorne

“We all wear masks, and the time comes when we cannot remove them without removing some of our own skin.”
― André Berthiaume

“Horror is the removal of masks.”
― Robert Bloch

“The irony of life is that those who wear masks often tell us more truths than those with open faces.”
― Marie Lu

“Don’t you, when strangers and friends come to call, straighten the cushions, kick the books under the bed and put away the letter you were writing? How many of us want any of us to see us as we really are? Isn’t the mirror hostile enough?”
― Jeanette Winterson

The most important kind of freedom is to be what you really are. You trade in your reality for a role. You give up your ability to feel, and in exchange, put on a mask. – Jim Morrison

“Anyone who has a continuous smile on his face conceals a toughness that is almost frightening.”
― Greta Garbo

“One of the greatest tragedies in life is to lose your own sense of self and accept the version of you that is expected by everyone else.”
― K.L. Toth

“You’ll never know who you are unless you shed who you pretend to be.”
― Vironika Tugaleva

Virtue has a veil, vice a mask. -Victor Hugo

“If we’re wrapping ourselves up to conceal any vulnerability, whatever happens to us has to go through all those extra layers. Sometimes love doesn’t even reach where we truly live.”
― Alexandra Katehakis

“She did not know yet how sometimes people keep parts of themselves hidden and secret, sometimes wicked and unkind parts, but often brave or wild or colorful parts, cunning or powerful or even marvelous, beautiful parts, just locked up away at the bottom of their hearts. They do this because they are afraid of the world and of being stared at, or relied upon to do feats of bravery or boldness. And all of those brave and wild and cunning and marvelous and beautiful parts they hid away and left in the dark to grow strange mushrooms—and yes, sometimes those wicked and unkind parts, too—end up in their shadow.”
― Catherynne M. Valente

“Masquerades disclose the reality of souls. As long as no one sees who we are, we can tell the most intimate details of our life. I sometimes muse over this sketch of a story about a man afflicted by one of those personal tragedies born of extreme shyness who one day, while wearing a mask I don’t know where, told another mask all the most personal, most secret, most unthinkable things that could be told about his tragic and serene life. And since no outward detail would give him away, he having disguised even his voice, and since he didn’t take careful note of whoever had listened to him, he could enjoy the ample sensation of knowing that somewhere in the world there was someone who knew him as not even his closest and finest friend did. When he walked down the street he would ask himself if this person, or that one, or that person over there might not be the one to whom he’d once, wearing a mask, told his most private life. Thus would be born in him a new interest in each person, since each person might be his only, unknown confidant.”
― Fernando Pessoa

It’s a terrible thing to be alone – yes it is – it is – but don’t lower your mask until you have another mask prepared beneath – as terrible as you like – but a mask. -Katherine Mansfield

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Obstacles And Crossroads

I had  my share of obstacles and ups and downs. I dare to say more than your average person. And like everyone else I’ve been on crossroads few times in my life making crucial choices and life-changing decisions. Most of the times I had followed my heart and trusted my instinct, it brought me where I am now. Sometimes I have doubts if I had chosen the right paths but there is no regret. C’est la vie.

Couple of years ago I have been diagnosed with auto-immune disease (you can read the details here ) and my life suddenly took  a 360 degrees turn for the worse, I become a complete stranger even to myself. Gone is the girl who used to be a nomadic gypsy, alive, energetic, independent, sportive globetrotting workaholic, daring, fearless and free. In her place is this pathetic helpless woman who can barely get out of her bed and dress herself up and cannot go somewhere without a chaperon; I become a prisoner in my deteriorating mind and body. I lost everything I value the most, just like that.

Every day is a hike to the top. A simple task becomes an ordeal. Pain is everywhere. I realized little and big things  I used to take for granted, like walking and sleeping. But the most difficult to accept is the lost of my focus, my almost photographic memory, my ability to explain myself, relate my thoughts on paper, write or type them. My mind is in constant foggy state and my fingers together with the rest of my body don’t want to obey my wishes. 

There are good moments but they are few and far between. During those scarce opportunities, I (often) behave like a mad cow out of a corral, pushing myself to the limit knowing the chance to do the things I love (like gardening – especially gardening – hiking and taking long walks, traveling and swimming) may not come again. Other days I am mostly in denial, going from hopeful to hopeless from manic to depressive and sometimes rebellious, eating the food which is forbidden for me so I can remember the taste and spend the whole evening in the restaurant’s toilet puking my heart out praying nobody would hear me and embarrass myself unnecessarily.

Everyday there are hurdles and crossroads to overcome, goals to meet, decision to make. All of that in the comfort(?) of my own home. Double that when I go outside. The funny thing is, this kind of illness ( Invisible Disabilities) are often misunderstood and met with hostility by society at large. People think and accused us of faking or imagining our disabilities. Especially when we don’t use an assistive device and most are looking and acting perfectly healthy. I can’t speak for the others, all I can say is I will not wish my condition on anyone and I will exchange body in a jiffy if possible. My dream and fantasy of becoming a successful writer is now replaced by wishing a day without pain. How’s that? 

This is me now. There is nothing I can do about that. I’m still alive despite all the troubles. I can still write though it took me three hours to wrestle this post which normally I did in a quarter of an hour. I know there are people who are in a much worse condition than I am. Stephen Hawking for example. I bet he will gladly trade his genius for a proper stroll in the park or a normal tumble in the hay. 

I better leave it here or otherwise God knows where we will end up. Enjoy every each day of your life, every passing moment because who knows what will happen next. I will try to do the same. Promise.

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Abstract

I saw these three abstract statues/sculptures at the front of a police  station in Almuñécar – a municipality in the Spanish Autonomous Region of Andalusia on the Costa Tropical Granada Spain. At first sight they look almost the same but each one of them is different from the other. See if you can spot the difference.

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Locked

You probably already noticed that I don’t write as much as I used to, stories like this  and this seem to be things of the past; I can’t produce them anymore. Like most of you I have list of excuses why I am not able to do it, in my head they are all plausible and valid.

I keep telling to myself it will change, that I will find my groove, my muse, my mojo back. All I have to do is… what exactly? Divorce, be young again, go back to the past, move to another place, be unfaithful and most of all be healthy.

I can’t sit for a longer time these days. My fingers won’t cooperate, my sight failing (I’m still waiting for my computer glasses) and getting worse each day. My multi-focal eyeglasses is not even a year old and I already need a new one. My components are deteriorating faster than I can absorb the sudden constant changes with my body. I can’t concentrate. Pain is everywhere and I lack inspiration and motivation.

I used to be free. I can come and go wherever/whenever I want. I had the time and means to do it. Life was a constant adventure. A roller coaster of feelings and emotions. There was never a dull moment. Every second counts.

Twelve years ago, I decided to land and settle. I needed a rest, a sanctuary, a haven. The most smart move I made is also the biggest mistake of my life; I become a prisoner of my own decision. I had an inkling that ordinary boring existence is not for me, but I never realize the extent of it and how it would affect my life in general. I lost everything but everything including my freedom- the only thing that is more important than my two children- I sacrificed them for it. Now I have nothing.

I can’t find inspiration in my current situation. It is monotonous and boring. Predictable and bland. Limited. No excitement no passion no surprises. I hate it.

What can I do? Start all over again? Fly away and exchange certainty/security for the unknown? Is it doable in my current physical condition? Dreams and fantasies are alright but would the reality resemble it? Would I regret my sudden change of heart? 

Sometimes I think/believe that everything is better than this. That it is better to suffer than be dead while you’re still alive. That I have only one chance to live this life and if I’m not going to do it I will spend the rest of my remaining years unhappy and miserable. Numb and a vegetable. Sometimes I think I have to be content with what I have (which is plenty) stop chasing my fantasies and accept my destiny/faith. Realize that people do get old and have to grow up and be responsible.

But everything in me is screaming for freedom. Every fiber of my body longs for a change. My feelings tell me that this is wrong, wrong, wrong. They say follow your heart and it will lead you where you want to be. Believe me, if I follow my heart, I will be out of here in a minute with only the clothes on my back. I did it once before. It brought me here. Not my first choice but the only sensible ( and still is the best) choice. But I’m dying here. Literally. I am not afraid to die but not this way, meaningless and slowly rotting away.

When I look in the mirror these days I can’t recognize myself anymore. I am not even the shadow of the man I used to be. I become a totally different person with different priorities, set of morals and values. This is not me. I am not a caged domesticated bird nor a hothouse flower. I was wild, I was a gypsy, I was free.

Now, I am locked in my golden cage dying slowly…

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Nothing is here…

When I was small – I sought a home,
a place to go and rest my bones.
Then founded something, of my own,
I lived among the restless stones.

If seeking leads you back to evil,
what good is that, I asked a weevil.
He said a home is what you make,
it can’t be real, if it is fake

And if you wait instead of seek,
will you find love, or something bleak?
I know (myself) for I have found,
a beauty, hidden – in a sound.

Waiting is boring.
And so is exploring.
A smile is sometimes all it takes.
And then your whole world simply breaks.”

~ Will Advise

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Fake

“I despise the rituals of fake friendship. I wish we could just claw each other’s eyes out and call it a day; instead we put on huge radiant smiles and spout compliments until our teeth hurt from the saccharine sweetness of it all.”
― Jody Gehrman

“You will never find the real truth among people that are insecure or have egos to protect. Truth over time becomes either guarded or twisted as their perspective changes; it changes with the seasons of their shame, love, hope or pride.”
― Shannon L. Alder

“Sincerity – if you can fake that, you’ve got it made.”
― George Burns

“Cruel people offer pity when they no longer feel threatened. However, kind people offer compassion and understanding regardless.”
― Shannon L. Alder

“You don’t look fake when you unconsciously pretend.”
― Toba Beta

“Silk is a fine, delicate, soft, illuminating, beautiful substance. But you can never rip it! If a man takes this tender silk and attempts to tear it, and cannot tear it, is he in his right mind to say “This silk is fake! I thought it was soft, I thought it was delicate, but look, I cannot even tear it” ? Surely, this man is not in his right mind! The silk is not fake! This silk is 100% real. It’s the man who is stupid!”
― C. JoyBell C.

“I’ve perfected the art of the fake smile. It’s not so difficult when you are completely numb.”
― Bethany Griffin

“People reject what they do not understand because it makes them feel small. They would rather believe in some other reality, even if it is only an illusion, so long as it makes them feel bigger.”
― Suzy Kassem

“Wearing fake happiness is as good as smearing foundation. A bit of moisture drains it all.”
― Aniruddha Sastikar

“Here too it’s masquerade, I find:
As everywhere, the dance of mind.
I grasped a lovely masked procession,

And caught things from a horror show…
I’d gladly settle for a false impression,
If it would last a little longer, though.”

– Johann Wolfgang von Goethe