Archive for September, 2018

Years ago, just when the internet burst into our lives with the ability to communicate via emails, I went to live in another country for a few years. I felt a sense of loyalty and want to keep in touch with friends back. By then, life taught me that given my personal history, I had to be the person responsible for keeping in contact with no demands from others to respond. For a while, I wrote weekly emails full of typos and grammar errors. Moreover, they were full of so many details that some friends loved them, while others strongly disliked them, and felt entirely bored reading them. I tried to find a balance. I kept those emails saved in Word documents. Why? Why did I keep all those emails? I can’t remember.

Four years later, I fell in love, three times with the wrong men. Those loves stopped me from sending emails. I didn’t want to share my love stories out of shyness, a desperate need for privacy, and fear from an evil eye. Evil eye? Yep, I hoped that the relationships might become durable and reliable, and I feared that if I shared any details, that sharing might jinx the relationships.

***

During the last few weeks, I’ve decided to get rid of all these emails I had sent and received during my stay overseas. I read each one of them and selected only expressions or descriptions I liked and then deleted the emails. I’ve started writing short blogs around the saved material and post them though I don’t try to market the blog. Another “Why?”

I’m faced with a few surprises while going thought these emails:

I don’t remember all the events.

I don’t remember a few people with whom I exchanged emails. They were fleeting appearances during my stay.

While reading, I noticed with amusement, that some people, back in Sydney, never changed. Those who were happy at that time, were happy when we met again upon my return to Sydney. Some wrote as if they have always been victims, despite becoming successful. They are wonderful individuals though they view themselves in that light of being a victim. Others changed and now, are now happy minds, leaving behind the worrisome selves.

Some emails interactions come back to mind, and my answers are now as if mirrors into which I have to look. I am reading and I can’t believe my answers, quite a few being much too long and hence careless as a reaction to their issues and questions. I will not lose sleep or bash myself up, but Boy!

What I wrote above is the answer to “Why did I keep those emails?” To now face myself to find out what I remember and not, how I connected, sometimes appropriately and sometimes sooo wrongly, delighted with myself at the time.

Shall we keep diaries and all our communications?

I think so. Though, I hope that nobody finds them after we are gone.

‘While happy, but unsettled…’ 

Posted: September 26, 2018 in Musings

Wise Friend,

Yesterday, I sent a short email to a group of friends. When I posted it, I was feeling happy and full of energy. I started with ‘While happy, but unsettled…’
I was playful, trying in just a few words to explain my current convoluted situation.

I know which friends of mine would have had a problem to experience cheerfully the same, somehow tumultuous, events.

Some people answered my email, others called.
Some read the word ‘happy’ and sensed the playfulness. They acknowledged with energy and love. For them, it was contagious, and I felt it in their answer.

Some didn’t notice the word ‘happy’, and they noticed the word ‘unsettled’.
Among the latter, one friend called me frazzled, some consoled me, or even called my writing neurotic. One expressed so much sadness and felt so depressed for me, that I had to ask her: “Why are you so sad, as I feel happy—what’s the big deal? I don’t experience a tragedy. I’m blessed to be able to move, to see the world and try. ”

Happy friend,

I sensed the lightness of the email.

Wise friend,

For a while, I’ve noticed the way people react to my emails, and I’ve identified an interesting pattern. The ‘sad’ people would never acknowledge the word ‘happy’, nor the happy feelings–not only this time. This time it was so evident as the note was concise.

One friend called me and told me I am in denial and I must be in a horrible emotional state.
“I’m not—as it happens, I’m in an excellent mood.”
“No, you are not.”
“How on the Earth, would you know where I’m now, better than I know?”
“I know, I have been there. Unless you are in therapy, you can’t feel well in your current situation.”

I didn’t try persuading her. I didn’t think I had to. However, I considered this as incredible chutzpah. Somehow, she was conveying I was forbidden to feel light.

Lovely friend,

Hey! We share experiences which help us become empathetic, but we don’t share the same identical experiences, and we react differently to the same message.

Well, maybe this is related to the concept of normality. Does normal mean according to the norm or, according to what the most people feel? Is this a law of average? Is normal also sane? Do we want to be average, and thus normal in our reactions? Is this somehow similar to the question–do we want to be “averagely” intelligent? Not a very lovely thought, is it?

I can visualise an audience where I ask people:
“Please stand up. If you want to be normal, please sit down.”

Wise friend,

Still looking, still searching, still hoping, but Hey! For the time being, I’m basking in the lightness of the soul.

Wise friend,

Years ago you wrote about Annie Dillard’s book “An American Childhood”.

Lovely friend,

I looked back at my notes about the novel. Many times, when I read books about children, I wonder, “How come their young life was so rich?”
Fair enough, it’s a style that makes such books attractive to adults. It is the adult who remembers things and adds to the child‘s thoughts and feelings, who understands one’s childhood from the adult point of view. The author would relate the story using the words and language of a youngster.
These touches lead to sweet memories, cause the child look as if much more mature, more intelligent, and well in touch with own emotions already at a very young age.
Probably, I project quite a lot when I read. So, I recognise myself in that child. When I‘m looking from the eyes of an adult to my childhood life, I now perceive the richness of those feelings and thoughts. I didn’t have that experience, neither her commitment to her own childhood projects, nor the parents of Annie Dillard, but I see about what she talked, and I enjoyed the reading.
I plan to re-read the book.

Wise friend,

Talented fiction writers exaggerate real people when creating characters. Otherwise, readers get bored.

***

Do interesting fiction characters, even if evil and immoral, or good and moral need to be active, fighters, moving from doing to doing?

Wise friend,

It worries me that I’ve not heard from you in a while. Remember, I keep having these back-alley flashes of muggings and the like – silence is definitely not good.

Lovely friend,

As you know, time flies when one is busy, and we are amazed that we are already in September. It genuinely seems like yesterday when I departed, but I am sure it is not the same for you. Our mind is so extraordinary; we are able to telescope time in or out depending on our personal experience.

Wise friend,

Now I know you’re OK, not horizontal in some alley, I think the difference between me worrying about your and your mum worrying about you, by the way, is that my worry is not built on a sense of you being incapable, but more of the malevolence of the world. Does that make sense? Lovely to hear your voice.
I’m proud of all your achievements to date – the driving license being just one. By the way, I did not get the email you sent which was a reply to mine – try again? Are you keeping a diary?

Here things are plodding along. I have a huge amount of work, which is both good and bad. I don’t need to explain the reasoning here, sure you know. On the home front, I take each day as it comes. I still suffer a bit from reality shock. I woke up the other day having had a dream that my marriage was over. I shook my head in disbelief and fog and said to myself “silly thing – it’s only a dream”; I got up to splash some water on my face and remembered. It was like this after my father died. Also, I’m starting to get waves of anger. I don’t know what to do with them.

I’m in the middle of things here – lawyers and settlement and stuff like that. Feel beyond stressed and quite strung out. It’s a bit unreal. I want it OVER. I want to emerge from this with some dignity. But I don’t know what to do with these feelings of abandonment that I have – and of being so alone in the world…

I was also talking to a counsellor, so I had acknowledgment and a right to this layered anger, and each layer was touching the same buttons. One layer follows the other, and it might take too long. I was waiting for that anger to surface; otherwise, it would have eaten me from inside. What did I do? I was writing almost like obsessive poems about what I am angry. This, however, takes too little of its power.

Lovely friend,

Sorry, you are in a foul mood. Like you are continuously sliding back on the ladder.

During the last years, my greatest luck has been when either worry or anger steps in, I manage immediately to ask myself, “Where is this coming from?“ Does it help? Most of the times, I turn to these questions automatically.

After a while, I reached a stage where I could watch myself, and I just told myself, “Here the demon comes again, maybe write some words and go to a walk or swim.” However, some residues of anger will always be there. One has been deprived for years of accomplishments of dreams, manipulated into seeing the angelic side of the being while ignoring the malicious one. How can I completely forget all this, when we cannot turn time back, and some things are more difficult to achieve with age?

Wise friend,

Walking by water used to help me. I’ll try walking by the ocean – see if it helps. By the way, it’s no doubt that this city is magnificent and where we lived we touch a piece of Heaven.
It’s good that your conversations with your son are okay. You’ve yearned for that for some time I think.
My main feeling these days is of having been abandoned – you know – all alone – the only people who ever loved me are dead…dar dum de dar…
It’s good that you’re a long way away – I’m a lousy company at the moment.
Work is OK though. Now have 4 books on the boil – which is exciting.

Wise friend,

Why was “Fifty Shades of Grey” so successful?

Friend,

I don’t know. I heard it is poorly written. Some women told me they were fascinated only by the sex scenes, calling it ‘soft porn.’

I didn’t even open the books though I had them for a short while. I watched the first movie out of curiosity. While I could accept to waste ninety minutes of my life to satisfy some of my curiosity, reading the book would have taken me weeks to read it.

The man (in the book) demands specific intricate details of how their sexual encounters should develop.

I read a few Facebook commentaries from people I respect. I assume that the book is about that emotionally dangerous dream for which many women fall prey: the power of a woman’s love to change a man.

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Surprise surprise, the movie ends with the man falling in love with her; eventually, he seems to change his approach to their relationship: love will shape the relationship, not tricky, masochistic and sadistic sexual encounters. I’m rolling my eyes.

Yes, we all know about situations where the intense love for a woman changes a bad man into a good man. This, however, is not because thus the woman wants. That would happen if his love for her, opens his mind, matures him, and heals most of his wounds.

Women err when they confuse their desire to change a man under the “spell” of making him love her, with accepting a relationship with the man and defining clear boundaries. It amazes me that the same woman errs with such ideals more than once.

Wise friend,

I can’t talk about the sex scenes in the book. For that, I have to read the book. Forget about that!

We all know that during intimacy men and women perform acts about which they would not talk with others.

Wise friend,

Like what? Whipping!

Friend,

Not so far, necessarily.

Through my life, I heard from women and men intimate moments within their relationships. I won‘t mention those details in writing. These mere acquaintances ended up trusting me more than I was interested. Each time I ended like a deer in the headlights, listening and wondering, why they shared such moments with me. My face wouldn’t betray my surprise.

Wise friend,

Gosh, I might have lived in a different world.

Friend,

Many of us do. When one least expects, love and playfulness allow or push people when in love with some partners only, to do these little sexual things that don’t define them, otherwise. Those silly moments when we decide, “So what! It’s just nothing, and it makes him happy! I’ll never share with anybody what I’ve just done, with this guy.”

I guess, that “Fifty Shades…” describes some of such moments. Readers would be happy, even may be relieved, and therefore happy reading them. They would love that.

***

Well, is it pretentious of me to assume so much without reading the books?

Wise friend,

I hate networking, especially going to bars, with their sweet smell of stale beer.

Sensitive friend,

Hear me out: networking is just a job technicality – one has to treat it as work.
When I was at the Paris conference, I met a guy, around 55-60 years old, who manages the office of a competitor of ours. This guy was very nice, and we talked a lot. He explained how he planned his marketing material and even gave me a copy so I can draw ideas from there. He also told me that earlier in his career he lost ten years of his professional success by not networking enough with his colleagues.

For example, he couldn’t stand bars, and he could be incredibly bored with these types of socialising. He avoided them. Later, he decided that he had to join his colleagues, but couldn’t take it later than 19:00, and he left early. It took him 10 years to see that that was foolish, and he learned to accept that this type of socialising was a technicality of the job and that needed to be there and network. Since then, his career took off.

Doing your job very well is never enough. Networking creates an atmosphere of comfort. Therefore, one has to treat it as work. I could fully understand what he said as I felt, thought, and acted the same. So slowly, slowly I had to change. Many colleagues go to footy. This month I’ll give up my refusal to attend, and from time to time I’ll join and treat that as work.

Years ago, I befriended the head of a charity in our city. He is a typical secular guy, sent by a charity organization from abroad. I asked him how he coped with going to the weekly religious events of the community. He was calm about it. The community would not accept an ‘outsider’ who would not partake in some activities strictly related to the religious traditions, such as the main holidays, weddings of others, and religious events for his own family. His company sent him to succeed for this charity in our city – it was part of his job description. He treated attendance to religious events as technicalities and didn’t feel any burden as one is not to expect to enjoy every moment of one’s professional life.

I advise others. I failed at networking. You?

Wise friend,

Every day something odd or bad seems to happen.

Sensitive friend,

Since forever, people, couples had a lot of problems.

Wise friend,

Yes, but they seem to have had many rituals which give them comfort.

Sensitive friend,

How many times, people have been lost in rituals without meaning? With ethics what you feel is irrelevant. With ritual what you feel is relevant. Ethics are an end in itself. Rituals are means.

Well, how do you guard ethical instructions? Most of the time, we need a few layers of safeguarding; each layer shielding another layer. Thousands of years ago, it was easy for communities to believe that holiness guarded ethics. They assumed that holiness and goodness are fragile. Every layer protects another layer.

Alas, beliefs always change.

Nowadays, people turn to the broken windows theory of James Q. Wilson. Others call it a fallacy and not a theory.
However, let’s accept the argument for a few minutes. If a community allows smashed windows to stay unrepaired, then it will enable crimes to continue. Profanity is a broken window as well, and once used, it gets worse. There’s nothing unethical about using profanity.