“The most fantastic thing about the present time is that we’re actually still here.”
Another day, another year, another lap around old Sol.
This past year has probably been among the best years of my life, despite all the tragedy and confusion taking place over the world. We lost a whole slew of Great Artists, the like of which I’m not sure humanity can produce still.
My life went from calm and carefree to super-busy and full of responsibility.
Photo by Timjan Dahlén
I know it’s cliché to say it, but parenthood really does change you in ways you can’t fully understand until you are there, holding a helpless little human who somehow managed to hijack your entire existence.
The journey of self-discovery and self-reconciliaton I began last year entered a new phase, and so did my creative pursuits.
As a result of everything else, the blog here had to take the back seat. But that’s okay. I started it mostly for myself, and even though I’ve managed to get some very loyal (and highly appreciated) followers I still write as much for my own sake add for anything else.
Life changes, but it keeps moving forward – relentlessly – until with a little luck we are too old to die young.
“May you live in eventful and interesting times.” –Chinese curse
Happy midsummer’s eve, Dear Reader – if it is happy…which I doubt…
I know, I know – the solstice was three days ago, but here in Sweden we always celebrate midsummer’s on the weekend. In not much in the mood for celebration, though.
Midsummer marks the point after which the days grow shorter, and we are indeed heading toward darker times – metaphorically as well as literally.
This morning it was announced that Britain has voted to leave the European Union and the GBP dropped eight percent. Now, I’m not a big fan of the EU in general, but for all its shortcomings it comes with a lot of benefits as well. I haven’t studied the issue will enough to predict if the UK will be better off outside the EU or not, in the long run. It seems clear, though, that there will be a host of problems to begin with and with both Northern Ireland and Scotland murmuring about independence, ‘Great’ may soon be even less suitable as an epithet for Britain.
But the real tragedy here – the real darkness – is not the vote to leave and it’s consequences. The real tragedy here is the forces that made it possible.
We live in an increasingly divided world.
On the one hand we have the growing right-wing opinions fuelled by fear, nostalgia and personal gain. On the other we have the left-wing idealism fuelled by hope, compassion and globalistic ideals. Both sides suffer from the same ailment: naively being swayed by personal emotions and a sense of righteousness. Neither side seems capable of critical thinking when it comes to their own views.
We live in the Disinformation Age.
In this global grapevine that is the Internet it is far too easy to sway public opinion by appealing to emotion rather than intellect. Any one can publish any thing and make it look like fact. Any one can find something to support their personal delusion about the world, no matter how implausible. This is nothing new, of course – humans have reacted this way throughout history – we are just seeing it on a much larger, faster, and more pervasive scale.
That will be our downfall.
We are living in increasingly eventful, interesting, darkening times – and that, Dear Reader, is why I won’t be celebrating today. Well, that and the fact that I am stuck at work until after midnight…
On a more personal note:
I have been quiet here – too quiet – though only partly for the obvious reason: adapting to family life. We have actually established a surprisingly successful routine – one that sends to be holding up decently even to Junior’s whims. So far.
No, the main reason for my absence has been my creative pursuits. I just finished the first draft of a short story which will soon go out for consideration, and I have been busy with preparations for a much bigger project. I’m not sure when I will be able to post about that, but hopefully it will be soon.
“He loved her, of course, but better than that, he chose her, day after day. Choice: that was the thing.” ―Sherman Alexie
Happy Valentine’s Day, Dear Reader!
I hope you have someone to celebrate the day with, be it a friend, lover, spouse or perhaps a new interest.
Valentine’s day can be full of pressure and expectation, but it doesn’t have to be that way – we can celebrate our love for each other with just a short message of appreciation.
Two years ago I was single and not really dating anyone, so instead I wrote a Valentine’s letter each to three friends who had meant a lot to me during the past year, telling them how much I appreciated having them in my life and how they had improved things for me.
Today I encourage all of you out there to write to a friend or loved one and tell them what they mean to you.
One of those friends has since become so much more to me.
What started out as a deep and intimate platonic friendship slowly grew to something more, and since about a month we are living together.
Every twist and turn along the way has strengthened our bond, and I can not even imagine a future without her in my life.
She means the world to me, and I fall in love all over again every time I see her smile.
I choose her, always – moment after moment, day after day.
Ten days remain of NaNoWriMo and the daily word count I need to make my goal has doubled. Since I’ve averaged about 600 words an hour so far this means I’d need six hours a day of pure writing.
I can do that. But I won’t.
There’s too much else I need to do, for one. Also, my brain is fighting me.
The project I’m working on is a three-part coming-of-age story inspired by events in my own life – a fictionalized auto-biography of sorts. It is the first part of a much larger project and it has been building up inside of me for a long time. It’s a story I’m quite passionate about. But now that it is finally coming together my brain refuses to co-operate.
As soon as I try to shape my writing, my brain suggests other projects.
There’s a list of things I want to write which can be grouped into three larger projects; three themes. It seems no matter which of these I pick, another demands my attention.
The harder I try to focus, the more my brain rebels against me.
Instead of fighting back, I’m trying to trick it. I give my mind a taste of what it wants: an idea to run with, a piece of information to research, an image to describe. Then, as that starts taking form I dive in and put pen to paper on the current project. Part of my brain keeps working on the problem I gave it, and another part starts trying to figure out how my current action ties into that other project.
In letting my mind veer of course I twist it to work for me as well as against me.
Having two different things at the forefront of my mind at the same time can get confusing sometimes, but luckily I’ve had a lot of practice. I’m not sure what diagnosis I should have, if any, but my mind has always done this. I’ve always had several trains of thought running parallel, on separate tracks. Sometimes it’s been a boon, sometimes a curse.
I’m finally learning how to make that into a creative advantage rather than a hindrance.
“If you can’t do the little things right, you will never do the big things right.” ―Adm. William H McRaven
Dear Reader – have you ever considered the impossible entity that is us?
The complex web of human interaction stretching across this globe in order to make the modern world go ’round? How every day, millions upon millions of humans are working toward one single goal; for one single purpose? From the ranch hand in Kansas to the miner in China to the broker in Tokyo – every one, connected.
We are interdependent yet truly replaceable cells in the neural network that makes up mankind.
We all have a purpose and a role to play – every uttered word, every shaken hand, every loving touch is a signal in the network, holding us together as one.
Now, imagine every person as a glowing point on the globe.
Imagine every interaction between those people as a lingering thread of light connecting them. Imagine the incomprehensible series of such threads – events and interactions – that created the device you read this on, the surface you sit on, the clothes on your back, you. How many lives have worked in concert to create everything within arm’s reach; to bring it you, here, now? Thousands? Millions?
Through your mere existence here and now you are connected to all of them, Dear Reader.
Some of those threads have gone unbroken through centuries, bringing you the music of Bach and the ideas of Aristotle. Others have been twisted and turned and spliced together over the years to create new things out of old ideas.
Take a moment now and visualize that web.
It spans not only the globe but the years: a living, moving, pulsating oneness connecting every living human being, now as well as then. And into the future. Ideas travel along the web, taking shape and multiplying, and bit by bit they are realized and created. A computer wouldn’t exist without the technicians, designers and manufacturers who create it; wouldn’t be created without the prospectors, miners, and refiners who gather and create the materials – and if not for the entrepreneurs, investors and businessmen who run the companies there would be no one to pay for it all. Then there’s the transporters, advertisers, sales people, and so on and so forth.
No single person in the web is more important than any other, really.
If one falls, another will take it’s place – or the chain will be broken – and every link on the chain is in turn supported by other people. Family, friends, co-workers, doctors, teachers, role models – they all connect to make us who we are and place us in our unique spot in the network.
We are Legion, for we are Many.
We all rest on the sum of all history and we all support the creation of the future. We all have power to connect, inspire, create, influence, instigate and change people around us – even if the effect is ever so small to begin with, it can end up determining the fate of the world. We can never know in advance what our tiny action today will lead to in the long run: a kind word, a helping hand, an inspiring art work, a comforting touch – that single action might start or re-start a chain of events that changes a life, and by extension the world. Every single thing we do or contribute to carries with it the weight of all that has led up to this moment. Every thing we do, every minute interaction with another, counts.
“Don’t be dismayed at good-byes. A farewell is necessary before you can meet again.” – Richard Bach
It’s remarkable how intimately our sense of smell is linked to our memories.
The other morning on the bus into town I sat engaged at reading, silently enjoying that pale golden shade of sun you only see in early spring or late autumn, when a young woman sat down next to me. As the scent of her perfume filled my nostrils, my mind filled with memories.
Sixteen years ago almost to the day, the sun coming through her windows had the exact same silvery-golden quality and my nose was filled with that exact same scent. It was the first night we had spent together and I had not yet fallen in love. As I lay there drowsily admiring her sleeping form, trying to decide if I should hold on to the moment or if I should wake her with a kiss and a hope of repeating the events of the night before, her eyes fluttered open and she smiled. We kissed. It was every bit as full of sparks as our first kiss had been, some seven hours earlier.
A few weeks later she told me that she loved me. I watched her sitting by the window in the light of the spring sun, eating muesli mashed together with banana. I felt proud and guilty at the same time, wondering if I could ever feel the same way about her. Later on, we kissed in public for the first time – a big step for a woman not overly fond of public displays of affection.
A few months more and we had slept together for the last time – though neither of us really knew it at the time. I was in love, but knew we had an expiration date. Ours was an entanglement of poetry, flowers, art and breaking rules. It was not meant to last. Having never really been together, we never really had to break up. There was no last goodbye – not even when she moved away, not even when we spoke a few years later, and all the memories I have of her are happy.
The first time I smelled her scent on another was on a crowded city street. All of a sudden my body was alight with passion and I was back in her sun-lit bed, her body pressed so close to mine it almost hurt. I’m back there every time it reaches me, her scent from the past.
I cannot for the life of me recall what scent it is and I’m afraid to ask. I fear the magic will be ruined if I know.
In lieu of finding an engaging and witty blog entry to repost, I will share a post on the exceptional northern lights we had yesterday – sadly I barely got a glimpse myself, but these pictures were taken by luckier people: