Why wasn’t it enough? What wasn’t it enough for you to change? Why wasn’t my sadness enough for you to change? Why wasn’t my sadness enough for you? Why?
It’s not enough. Forgiveness is not enough. My forgiveness is not enough. My forgiveness is not enough to heal us. My forgiveness is not enough to heal us from your absence.
I have no confidence in you.
I trusted you. I gave you room. You didn’t want it. Don’t hate me for taking my life back. You had that space. I trusted you.
I trusted you. That is when you should have wanted me. That is when my sadness should have been enough reason for your concern. Then, forgiveness would be enough.
Don’t remorse. Your sadness is not enough. Your sadness is not enough for me. Your sadness is not enough for me to let you in — again.
I am used to not having you around. I will find love elsewhere, though I don’t trust in love anymore.
These words came through me while I was responding to a call for submission for a student publication. The good part is the group accepted it. The other part is I’m not a student anymore. What to do …
I was conditioned to diminish myself in order to gain acceptance. Demanding respect interfered with the acceptance I received. I carried that with me though my relationships into my adulthood. I’m shedding that skin now.
Praise the mighty divine spirit for everything that’s brought me here. Thank you, humans, for helping me experience a new reality.
When you try to erase your mistakes, you erase yourself.
What I lost during university was clarity. Clarity left when I couldn’t trust my own thoughts and desires. Slowly, life in general become smaller and narrower, and the excitement I once felt for living faded. I think it’s because when I started university, I already had something else in mind, and that distant life was so real.
I remember talking to my parents about how I wanted to benefit from free education and stay in high school for another year after my graduation. There was so much I wanted to learn. They were thinking about my future and felt that staying another year would put me behind. I talked to them about moving to Toronto and learning how to dance. They asked – sarcastically – if I wanted to be a stripper or scrub toilets for the rest of my life.
As an 18-year-old, it was difficult to not know where to go for help and support. I was trying to gain the approval of my parents while at the same time, trying to stay true to my ideals and muster up enough courage to value and honor that vision. They said I could pursue dance, but they wouldn’t support me. It was difficult to hear and to receive their doubt and their lack of confidence, but their doubts were logical. Admittedly, I didn’t know much about what life as a dancer would be like. All I knew was that I had a strong desire to dance. It was almost consuming and it still is. I wasn’t dancing with a studio or taking classes before university – not because I didn’t want to, but because of accessibility issues: the bus fees, the time to take the bus, the money that I didn’t have. I’m still finding my place.
** the growth***
A huge part of this process has been learning when not to listen to other people. Being too understanding and sympathetic of other people’s views was a detriment to finding my own voice and confidence in my own views. People don’t have to believe in me. I don’t have to believe in me. I just have to be continually attentive and responsive to what’s moving and unfolding within me. It’s not for me to say whether it’s important or not, or whether it’s more important or less important than another person’s expression. My only task is to keep the portal open.
It’s becoming increasingly more real that I can build whatever life I want for myself, even if it takes a few years. Especially if I view my life in its completion, as the whole of my life, starting from the end, it’s easier to recognize that I have time and I have resources. So long as I can identity what I need to do, it may take a few tries and a lot of time, but it’s all possible. There is a place for me.
When I came back from traveling in April, I gave myself until July to become fluent in French. A friend of mine reminded me I have been trying to learn French for years, and this time needed to be different to have a different result. Since that chat in early April, I’ve been trying to focus on as few things as possible as to give myself a fair chance at accomplishing my goals. It’s been one month and I’m much more comfortable conversing in French than I use to be. Becoming fluent in a month is a stretch, but it’s still amazing to see an end and a fulfillment to something I didn’t think would happen so soon.
Similarly, as I’m allowing myself to invest in dance, seeing my technique improve and my body change it’s becoming increasingly more and more real that my ideals could become reality, though there’s still a huge distance that I need to travel.
If I could identify one thing that has helped to get me closer to these once-distant goals, it’s imagining myself in the future, having already achieved what I wanted, then thinking backward about what type of work was required and what needed to happen in between now and the future.
** the healing***
I feel so close to myself when I dance. An entirely new world reveals itself, with its new ways to connect, feel, and understand. It’s scary to put this into writing and open it up to people who may not care or value my pursuit – gentleness is so difficult to find these days – but I feel like it’s something I need to try. I find immense value in understanding the world through my body and through movement. Descartes says “I think, therefore I am”, but I think now, as times change, we need to learn how to be open and present with each other, first and foremost. Our way of living – the overwhelming sense of connectedness, of globalization, of mass information – has the potential to detached us from what’s happening around us and the consequences of our lifestyles. Now, perhaps “I feel, therefore I am” is more fitting. I take up space (and I influence the space around me), therefore I am.
I sometimes fear that I’ll regret spending so much time, money, and energy on something that society doesn’t value, and something that’s deemed less valuable than other, more ‘serious’ pursuits. But I think learning to feel – along with the awareness, discipline and gentleness it requires – is so natural for humans yet so foreign from my own experiences when interacting with people. In our age of technological advancements and anti-oppression movements, we continue to struggle to communicate clearly and respectfully to each other, and not just with those who are different from us. We’re all in the same mess and maybe adding a bit of humanity back into the mix can do some good.
Choosing something like dance causes me to question a lot about the ideals of success in society. I learn so much about how to connect to people and how to connect to myself (but maybe only because I’m looking for answers and connection). Dance is my current way of easing the sense of separation in the world by easing the sense of separation within myself. I’m giving myself permission and space to grow, and that will make it easier for me to offer the same kindness to someone else. I’m sacrificing the need to be known by others for the need to be understood by myself, which I view as more basic and fundamental to my well-being (though the two are by no means mutually exclusive).
My pains and my hopes are mixed together. I really hope that I’ll find people with whom I can exchange life with and who can honour and support me on this path. I can see a lot of healing in the future, and I know that whatever I gain will be one of the few things that truly belongs to me.
I feel like I’m constantly surrounding by the idea that if love is real, it will last forever.
But “if nothing lasts forever, what makes love the exception?” Hey Ya?
Although I will not share my personal stories here, I do hope that these words will help you on your own journey to finding out what love means for you, as it’s probably the most important and the most difficult thing that we will ever do.
What I have come to believe is that although the object of love may not last, the influence of that love will. The physical person or thing only act as a portal to shine light on a new vision and reality of how things could be, and we are then responsible for what we build from that vision.
Imagine that a good friend gives you a wooden boat that she made herself. Over the years, the painted planks start to chip and rot. You start doing some repair work on the boat, changing the old pieces with new ones. Eventually, perhaps a decade later, one repair at a time, every plank, every screw, every piece of the original boat has been replaced by something new. When someone asks you about whose boat it is, you still answer that it’s the boat that your friend gave you, the one she made herself
For me, the analogy illustrates how we understand things through structures and relationships more so than through the purely physical, isolated components. How might this affect how we understand love?
One definition of love is the desire to see something live and strive, to want and to support their existence and growth. In this view, I can see how the cherished and loved aspects in me have grown in response to people’s love, even when they were absent. As a by-product of their love, I have become more resilient and more willing to appreciate myself. I have found more strength and reason to live.
When someone sees good things in me, it gives me permission to claim those qualities as my own, as they already are. For example, I viewed myself as inconsistent and easily distracted before I got to know someone who loved my constant questionings and fascination with life. They saw value in something that I disliked about myself, and their love allowed me to stop fighting and fleeing that part of me. Their love became a mirror and portal through which I came to understand and eventually accept myself. Their love allowed me to look at the shamed parts of me with more ease. And as Rilke says, their love provided a rare occasion for me to be seen and to truly be with myself.
I think the main question I have for myself now in regards to love is how to carry and preserve the love that I’ve been shown. It’s so typically for people to say that they wasted time on a relationship that ended. In response to that, we would do well to take more responsibility for our own experiences and also how we let those experiences influence us.
So, back to the beginning: does love last?
This one is a paradox. Love is alive in the same way that life is alive, and things that live change and develop. Things change and love changes. It doesn’t mean that it’s not real or that it wasn’t real. Its end does not equate to its insincerity or some other hurtful thing. In any case, we do have a significant amount of power to decide what we remember, and thus how we let our past shape our present and future.
Sometimes, I feel like a new-born puppy; it feels like I’m seeing and experiencing everything for the first time. From an outsider perspective, I probably look like this:
In a literal sense, it’s entirely accurate because everything is constantly changing – familiar but continually renewed. But the problem with being consistently sensitive and aware of my surroundings is that I start developing a love and interest for many things. Coupled with the desire to dig deep and master each one of these interests, I often find myself not having enough time to do everything I want to.
My choices may appear to lack coherence, but below the surface, all my pursuits link to the desire to understand and taste life through my own senses, my own experiences, and my own body. More specifically, to be able to communicate effectively is one of my primary (though hidden) motives – whether through words, visual arts, or movement. If I cannot feel something or understand something within my frame, then I’m not sure how I can portray the same sentiment and understanding to someone else. All that is to say, there is order to my madness.
Still, I have troubles finding a way to reconcile my seemingly divergent interests. I often reflect on the Greek Myth of Atalanta and the Golden Apples for perspective. The (very short and brief form of the) story goes, Atalanta was abandoned by her father because she was a girl and raised by a nurturing bear. She became a huntress, a great runner, and a breathtaking woman. The suitors came running, but she refused to marry after an orator prophesized that marriage would be her downfall. Atalanta may or may not have developed the best rejection method: any suitor can challenge her to a race. If they lose, Atalanta kills him (yes, slightly dark), but if the suitor wins, he marries her.
None of the suitors won, until Hippomenes. During their race, Hippomenes would throw golden apples in Atalanta’s path. Atalanta, intrigued by the golden apples, slowed down to pick them up. In this way, Atalanta gained three golden apples but lost the race and the life that she imagined for herself.
There are so many ‘Golden Apples’ that get thrown on my path. When choices and opportunities bloom, it’s important to be able to say ‘no’ to good ideas that do not fit or serve the final goal. An indispensable part of building a cohesive life is to reject otherwise good ideas that do not contribute to an integrated whole. Just like decorating a room, incorporating every cool piece of furniture and décor into one single room does not guarantee a well-designed room. On the contrary, a room needs space and only things that contribute to its function – just imagine a stove in a washroom.
If you don’t have an ideal future that you can imagine for yourself, then it’s perfectly okay to say ‘YES’ to the ‘Golden Apples’ that come rolling your way; it’s okay to be like a puppy. But once you can imagine a good future for yourself – and this can include anything from a nutritionally healthy lifestyle, to how you connect to people, to finding work that’s coherent with your beliefs and interests – remember Atalanta and her Golden Apples. If you have your mind set on a particular future already, why strive for something you don’t care for and can still loose? Fear disguised as Practicality, as Jim Carrey says, and we all find ourselves there sometimes.
I will end with this quote:
A good designer isn't afraid to throw away a good idea.
Just because an interesting idea occurs to you doesn't mean it belongs
in the building you are designing. Subject very idea, brainstorm, random musing,
and helpful suggestion to careful, critical consideration.
Your goal as a designer should be to create an integrated whole,
not to incorporate all the best features in your building
whether or not they work together. […]
Save your good but ill-fitting ideas for another time
and project - and with the knowledge that they might not work then, either.
- 101 Things I Learned from Architecture School, Matthew Frederick
Judging oneself to be inferior to others is the worse act of pride,
because it is the most destructive way to be different.
I don’t know if I agree with the above quote, but it has a point. I also realize that what I’m about to say is not about being inferior to others, but being inferior to yourself, to the person you can be.
I watched the movie “The Imitation Game” a while ago.
It really opened my eyes to my own pattern of thinking.
During the Second World War, a British man named Alan Turing came in charge of the task of breaking the German encryption code. It was deemed an impossible task, with millions upon millions of possibilities, and the encryptions changed daily. If they broke the codes, then the allies would know what the Germans were communicating to each other, promising them an enormous advantage over the Germans.
Turing invented the idea of software. He created the first reprogrammable computer to solve Enigma, the German encryption device.
The allies knew every attack that the Germans planned, every detail. They could have intercepted every attack. But they couldn’t. If they did, if they saved everyone, if they stopped every attack, then the Germans would know that their encryption codes have been broken. They would change their communication methods and the all the works done by Turing and his team would be lost. The allies’ advantage would be lost.
In the movie, a brother of Turing’s co-worker was on a ship that would soon be attacked by the German forces. The colleague insists that they inform the ship to deviate from their path, thereby saving everyone onboard, including his brother. Turing insisted that they COULD NOT do that. If they did, the Germans would discover their years of code-breaking work. The brother died.
Turing had a choice but given their objective to win the war, that choice was not the best option.
So for two years, until the end of the war, Turing and his team “played God” – decided who lived and who died. They did statistical analysis to save as many as they could. The whole time, Turing bore the burden of not being able to save everyone he “could.”
Ultimately, the revealed information assisted the allies to end the war years earlier than it would have, saving millions of lives.
Before his machine was functional, Alan’s team felt like they were making no contribution to the war effort, trying to solve an impossible code. Their boss was undermining the importance of Alan’s work, saying that he has accomplished nothing, he has made no progress, and he has nothing to show.
In Turing’s perspective, for a long time during the war, he was a war criminal. He was “killing” innocent people by not preventing preventable attacks. But he really could not stop them because there was a war to win. He could lose a battle for the sake of the war. This situation, in part, explains the problem of evil. Saying something is evil assumes that what happened was the worst-case scenario, which is something no person can say for with confidence. More than the actual event, what makes something evil is the intention to harm, that whatever (or whoever) was in charge did not care. Turing cared, but he had to make the best choice. In a limited frame, his decisions can be deemed heartless and evil.
There’s induced trauma, but there’s also just the trauma of living, of not knowing if you’re doing the best with what you have. More honestly, believing (or knowing) that you are NOT doing the best with what you have causes us to condemn ourselves. Seeing others doing better with less, seeing others living happier with less, seeing others producing more value with less than we are blessed with, is traumatic. This causes self-condemnation. We conclude that we don’t deserve what we have.
I think what I’m trying to say is that we don’t know. There’s no way of really knowing if we did enough. We can only keep living and keep working. We can only do the best that we can, not the best we could. After that point, we leave the questions of “did I do good enough?” to the still-mysterious forces of this world. There can’t always be a certainty, and at that point, we can only trust that the universe is benevolent and that things can come together for the better without our careful observation. So be kind to yourself. Some questions can’t be answered while we’re still living.
“everything is permissible, but not everything is beneficial.
Everything is permissible, but I will not be mastered by anything.”
Today, I danced with a guy with a tattoo on his forearm that read: “it’s all allowed”.
I’ve been passively thinking about what I would need in a partner, and dancing with him taught me a lot about what that might look like.
We played with the spaces between us and with the ways that we made contact and stayed connected. I liked the times when we were spatially distant and doing our own thing – it communicated some kind of confidence. We remained attentive and responsive to each other, but still kept to our own movements. There was no unnecessary tension, no thinking about where to go next, just open to the possibilities of each moment.
The difficult part is that being “open to the moment” is that it works in the same way as luck. To be lucky, you have to be at the right place at the right time. Most importantly, you need to have done enough preparations so that you can “seize the moment”. You have to be the “right” version of yourself at that time and place. Scott Peck touched upon a similar idea in “The Road Less Traveled”, where he mentions that a long, loving relationship is only possible if both partners are mature and loving already (By mature, he means taking responsibility for their own actions and choices. By loving, he means expanding and extending oneself for the spiritual – or mental – growth of the other). A lot of individual work is required.
I stared at his tattoo until I figured out that it was English.
If everything is permissible, then everything is a choice, because there’s always an alternative possibility. You may still choose to do something you don’t like to do, but still, you’re not forced to do it against your will. On the contrary, it might be your strong will that’s making you do what you don’t want to do, so that you can gain — or keep — something you really want.
In speaking about love and relationships, I think love (or anything) only has value if it is willing chosen amongst a sea of alternatives. If and when love becomes a commitment, it’s helpful to remember that love continues to be a choice, meaning that you have to choose to commit to that choice everyday.
No one likes being confused. But what I discovered is that I’m fine with being confused. More specifically, I’m fine with having unanswered questions.
However, I’m not fine with feeling like I SHOULD NOT be questioning. I think the most difficult part about working through difficult questions is feeling like there should be no struggle at all, or that the struggle should be over already. My frustration does not come from not knowing, but from not having a supportive space to explore my questions. It’s feeling like that there is no space to question, no place where my questions are encouraged, and no place to explore.
This tiny, shrinking space for exploring my questions suffocates the mystery and wonder out of life. it also enforces this imaginary deadline to “get your act together” and “figure everything out”. Then after a few days, I would typically start to dread life, becoming tired of trying. I start avoiding life and anything that takes effort. Apathy becomes my best buddy. I eat a lot of cheese and everything else I don’t usually eat. I see people all around me, and I feel as lonely as ever. They live in the same environment as I do, why are they NOT overwhelmed? Me no understand. Are they enlightened or just also tired of trying?
Struggling through stuff becomes so much more bearable (any perhaps even enjoyable) when I know that it’s okay to questions and spend time with my questions. I just need to know that my questions – and the process of questioning – are valuable and are supported. Then, I could be ‘confused’ forever and still be sure of many things. I could be filled with questions yet still without a heavy burden, maintaining an excitement for life.
It’s easy for us to measure worth by quantifiable things. I wrote this while working for a company I didn’t really care for, but making good money. I thought: maybe my time is worth more than what they’re paying me… . I can tell you that many people there felt like they were in a golden cage – they would leave if only the company would treat them a little worse.
My views about how to measure worth are changing. With it, what I think worth is, or what is of utmost worth, is changing too.
Time is money. Time is great. Time is all we have. I heard it said that the worth of something is how much life you give up in exchange for it, where life is equivalent to time. I like to add that we can infuse extraordinary worth into our daily, perhaps mundane, actions by how we choose to fill our time.
Instead of thinking about time as a quantity – in years, months, days, hours, minutes, or seconds – think about it as an empty vessel waiting to be filled. Fill up time with the how you do the things you do: with connections and relations you make, with being sensible to yourself and others. Filling it up with the love you show, the type of love that builds courage and transforms good intentions into reality (It’s a constant experiment for me; there’s a lot of things that are called “love” or “loving”, but i’m still confused as to what love is and what it’s not). Fill your time up in a way to communicate universal truths, in a way that surpasses time.
So, the worth of something is dependent on how much worth we give to it.
This post was also partly inspired by a song called “How We Do It” by Lights, where she says
“Time isn’t wasted, it’s waiting to be filled.”
There’s a dead man inside me. He feed me lies. And since the dead have no part in this life, he tries to pull me down and keep me from living. You’ve heard this voice, and you know it well. “You’re not enough.” “You’re not going to achieve anything.” Some even mistaken him for their true self. He thinks he knows us well. And we do too – we too think he knows us well. We welcome him and ask him to stay around. “No body understands you.” “You have nothing to offer.” We find his words to be comforting and calls him a friend.
– – –
I thought about this after having this awesome conversation with a friend on the topic of schizophrenia. Though I don’t hear voices, I do have thoughts that aren’t truly mine (because they are against me). Those suggestions enter and sometimes make a home in our minds.
Half-truths make the best lies. Yes, no one completely understands me, not even myself. Yes, I don’t always have much to offer. Yes, I am not always enough. Yes, my achievements will be forgotten, and even their value is arbitrary. But these lies purposely forget some parts. For example: I don’t understand myself fully, but the point of living is to bring that stuff out, to let my experiences teach me who I am all along. I don’t fully understand myself so other people can be my mirrors, and their love will clear up some misconceptions that might have clung onto me.
Things don’t come together by my careful observation. It is not for me to judge what I am, but just to be myself, and try to live with the most love in my heart as I can. Life still thinks I should be a part of it (as in, I’m alive still). It is not for us to judge our contributions to this life.
As Gandalf puts it
“all you have to do is decide what to do with the time you’re given”.
When I was in the desert (for school) and lost my voice, I felt alone. I felt small and insignificant, but at the same time, I felt loved and taken care of. I felt small, but I knew that I had a place, a place where I would be in my element. I felt insignificant in that all this beauty around me will continue to exist when I die, just as it has always existed. It was like I was being welcomed here rather than asked to offer something. It’s amazing how so much can be built on so little. And it’s amazing how much “so little” is.
Words stolen from a friend:
Two things I can know for sure
I will sometimes fall short of my objectives and who I know myself to be
Grace will always meet me if I’m willing to accept it