Tag Archives: Freedom

Never Grow Old

28 May

She raced around the house in roller-blades.

She sang out loud in the street.

She picked icing off the cake the whole way home.

She read her book sprawled across a trampoline.

She danced to Madonna in her bedroom, when everyone had gone to sleep.

She ate half a pack of crackers and the last gherkin.

She helped herself to a handful of cherries at the market “to check if they were ripe”.

She drew a smile on her thigh, making a pair of eyes out of her two black bruises.

She was thirteen, and she was the best example of freedom that I had seen in my life.

Sitting in a Quiet Room Alone

21 Jul

All men’s miseries derive from not being able to sit in a quiet room alone. ~ Blaise Pascal

Time. How little we have of it. I only truly understood this a few days ago, when I realised that I only have four full days left in my ‘new’ home and in my ‘new’ life until a whole new phase will begin. With a month of travels just around the corner and a new job (or no job) waiting for me when I get back, it looks like this is the end of a small, but still significant era.

Half a year has gone by since I moved to my new country, yet I feel like I am only starting to settle in. The sudden realisation that I will be leaving soon made me realise that I don’t really want to leave. Is there any other place that I could love more than here? I found myself asking.

Yes, I love this new life. I love the plants on the balcony, the coffee in the morning, the magazines on the kitchen table, the notebooks on the bed, the wine in the evening, the silence, the trees around the house, the long car journeys, the siestas, the lazy afternoons, the spontaneous ideas for meals, the new-found pleasure for baking, the week-ends at the beach.

Simplicity.

The thing I love most about this new life, and the thing that scares me most about it. Simplicity is not something I was taught to ‘aim for’, simplicity is not a quality that I have heard a lot of praise about, simplicity has never been coined sexy. Simplicity must surely be like love – you don’t know what it is or how important it is until you experience it.

Freedom.

Nowhere to go, nothing to do, no one to be. No one to impress, nothing to prove, no statements to make.

Time flies by. Life is never as we expect it.

In mid-June I jumped into the cool sea and couldn’t believe that a whole summer of sun and sea was waiting for me. A month later, and I have only been to the beach a few of times and I’m still as white as an Arctic fox. There are so many things I wanted to do, so many things I wanted to be, gosh, even so many things I wanted to blog about, but somehow, time got there before me.

I did learn one thing though – how to ‘sit in a quiet room alone’. And that’s a lesson worth more than any amount of suntan, right?

Embracing the Unknown

30 Jun

Three weeks have gone past since my last post. A whirlwind of events, thoughts and feelings provoked a natural pause in any ‘creative’ activities. In the past three weeks summer arrived unexpectedly, friends came and went, I grew a year older, I gave my month’s notice of resignation, I was reunited with people who I haven’t seen for two years, I cut my hair shorter than it has ever been, I saw breathtaking sunsets, I cried from happiness on several occasions, I came across confusing and irrational conflicts, I prayed, I listened, I got unexpected answers from unexpected places.

I am once more at a time of the great unknown. Yet for the first time, I welcome the unknown like a friend. In the past few months, the unknown tested me, challenged me and took me out of my comfort zone. The unknown revealed parts of my character, both positive and negative, that I had never known; it revealed desires to which I had never admitted; and it made me stronger by showing me my weaknesses.

It is not in my perfectly planned and organised life that I learnt about myself, but it is in moments of uncertainty, of turbulence and of absolute incomprehension that I managed to grasp, even a little, at my true essence.

Our first meeting with the unknown is like our first meeting with silence. It seems like there is nothing but emptiness Footprints on Beacharound and no matter how loud we scream our questions, we get no answers, except for an echo, in return. Yet is is not from silence that we should expect a reply, it is being in silence that allows us to hear our own answers. In the same way, it is not the unknown that will guide us, but our inner guide that will emerge once we’re in it.

In today’s society, we’re used to receiving answers and advice from a variety of external sources, whether it’s a GPS, an agony aunt, Google or a phone call to a friend. We rely on other people to tell us how we feel, what decision to make and which route to take. Yet what would we do if we got lost in a foreign place with no street names, no map, no phone and no passers by to ask for directions? What if we had to find our way without any external help?

In the past few weeks I came across a problem to which I had no answers…about which I didn’t even have a clue. I needed help, advice, guidance, yet I couldn’t think of who or what could offer me help in such a situation. I felt that rationalisation, discussion and writing out pros and cons would not be good enough. This was not a matter that the mind could solve. This was a matter of the soul.

And so I prayed. I sat in silence and I searched for an answer deep within. And something unexpected, something that no one else would have advised, yet something that was so perfect for the situation came to me. My intuition gave me an answer that I couldn’t have received from anywhere else.

So today, I will rejoice in the unknown, because it is the unknown that makes me listen to myself, that helps me understand myself and that gives me freedom.

A quote has been running through my mind all these weeks, which truly captures the beauty of embracing the unknown:

“We must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planed, so as to have the life that is waiting for us” ~ Joseph Campbell

The Art of the Essential

13 Jan

“Are you rich?”
“I have everything. I no longer even have possessions.”
~ Malcolm de Chazal

A few months ago, I met a guy in Paris whose only possessions were the ones he could fit into his rucksack. Ever since reading L’Art de l’Essentiel (The Art of the Essential) by Dominique Loreau, I have been trying to achieve a similar sort of thing.

In her book, Loreau outlines the Feng Shui principles of space clearing that bring peace into our lives. Excess or unnecessary possessions can have a negative effect on our energy, slowing us down, making us depressed or lethargic, and eventually making our possessions become the owners of our lives.

Just before the new year, I managed to clear my shed of eleven years’ worth of junk. Clothes, books, films, music, jewellery, stationery, a bike (that I rode once, six years ago), roller blades, a tent (that I borrowed from someone five years ago), and other similar things. Friends came and took what they liked, and the rest went to charity. I followed Dominique Loreau’s basic principle: if you don’t need it or you don’t love it, let it go. Unsurprisingly, I didn’t experience any remarkable feelings of loss or regret when I parted with these things.

It was a different thing, however, when I started going through my university folders. Ninety-five percent of four years of work went into the recycling bin. Four years’ worth of lectures, homework, assignments, essays, notes, photocopies and research proved to no longer be of any worth to me. When I’d finished my first round of recycling I sat back in horror… “What was my education for if only months after finishing it, I am already throwing it away?!”. I remembered my endless battles with philosophy (one of my BA subjects) and how I thought about giving it up a few months into my first term at uni. But I didn’t, because I thought it would be ‘good for me’ in the long-run.

Sitting amongst all the philosophy papers that I was about to trash, I decided then and there never to do anything with the hope that it will be ‘good for’ or ‘useful to’ my future self. I realised that we can never guess what we will want or need in the future, so the best we can do is to make the most of the present – that way, our best possible future will unfold naturally. If we hold on to objects that we don’t use now, we ruin our present by being tied to things that have no relevance to the life we would actually like to lead. If we spend our time doing things we don’t enjoy, believing that they will be ‘useful’ for our future selves, we will end up losing opportunities to do the things we genuinely love.

Living with only the essential brings freedom and peace to our lives. We are defined by who we are and what we do, rather than by what we own. When we learn to effortlessly let go of material things, we find it easier to let go of situations, places and people.  Happiness does not lie in the things we own, but in the things we give.

 On the same topic: Art of the Essential Part IIArt of the Essential Part III 

Love Whomever You Want

11 Jan


“Paint who you love, Love whomever you want”, these song lyrics of a Russian pop/rock band Khaki* run through my head. The first time I heard this song, I was filled with an unexpected yet overwhelming happiness. The simplicity of love suddenly became clear to me: we can love whomever we want! I was astonished at the beauty of this idea; just imagining loving whomever I wanted made me want to run out onto the street and kiss passing strangers out of sheer joy.

Yet why should a simple thought like this have caused such an extreme reaction in me? Simple: I had never heard of such a thing being possible. If I were to tell Western Society about my new discovery on love, She would laugh and say something along the lines of:

“We can’t just love whomever we want! Firstly, love is uncontrollable – you just fall in love, whether you want to or not. You could fall in love with anyone and not have the least say in it. Secondly, everyone has rules on love, whether it’s believing that you should only love someone who is good looking, or wealthy, or intelligent, or from a good family. And then think of all the people in the world who aren’t allowed to love who they want, because of religion or race or class or any other such issue. And even if we don’t take any of these things into account, and we do start loving whomever we want, most of us would be pretty screwed pretty soon, because the other person isn’t guaranteed to love us back! My darling, believing that we can love whomever we want is just being naive…life isn’t a fairytale, you know!”

That’s the message we have been hearing our whole lives from left, right and centre. In books, films, adverts, songs, television dramas and magazines we hear about unhappy love, or forbidden love…or, worst of all, unrequited love. We have been made to believe that we can only be happy if we’re receiving love; otherwise, our own one-way love will only cause us misery, pain, sleepless nights, agonising days and loss of faith. In this light, loving whomever we want seems like a joke, because we expect the other person’s feelings to make our own love whole.

But what if we were to take no account of external factors? What would we get if we wiped away our family’s expectations, the rules of our class and race, the laws our gender and religion, and the existence or non-existence of the other person’s love? We would get a child’s pure love.

Children do not know who they ‘should’ or ‘shouldn’t’ love. They don’t even mind if you don’t ‘love them back’. We’ve all seen a child love a stranger. If a child loves you he will approach you, play with you, draw pictures for you (or about you), give you presents, hold your hand and want to spend as much time as possible in your company. Children don’t expect anything back from you, they simply enjoy that moment of happiness that they have with you.

Being able to love whomever you want, doesn’t mean: “Loving whomever you want and being loved back by them”, or “Loving whomever you want and being able to share the rest of your life with them”, or “Loving whomever you want and being forever happy with them”. Loving whomever you want simply means that you are free to love whomever you want in you own heart. Even if circumstances do not allow you to give or show your love to the person or people you love, you are still free to love them inside yourself. Even if your love for someone isn’t openly spoken about, if it is silenced by tradition or religion, customs or laws, your love still exists inside your own heart. And that is the beauty of it.

We can love whomever we want because our soul is capable of loving anyone and everyone on this earth.

Being able to love whomever we want is considered as one of the greatest freedoms. Yet we don’t realise that we already have this freedom; we have always had it and always will have it. We could and can and always will be able to love whomever we want, because the true love inside us is infinite and unconditional. It is a child’s pure love.

*Sorry, no English version of their site is available.