On Drama, and The Awkwardness of Doing Nothing

I’ve met several people lately who complain about the ‘drama’ in their lives. For a while, I sympathised with their woes, although as time goes by I am beginning to realise something strange about this thing called ‘drama.’

I’ve also been debating with several friends about the concepts of having more or less positive people in our lives, and what this really does for us. It seems we’ve all been sensitive to the positive and negative tendencies displayed in those who surround us. Friends have commented how stressed they feel at times because of this, and we’ve been wondering what is better; to surround yourself as much as possible by the positive, or allow for the negative to show us other perspectives we may not always consider from our positive attitudes. At the end of the day, each one plays their part, but we can make conscious choices that will attract more of one or the other.

So, just as we carry positivity inside, so do we have the potential to carry drama, although we don’t always look at ourselves as the source of that drama. We tend more to externalise it, blame adversity on others, and ignore deeper issues that lie within ourselves, and which we could often control if only we didn’t put ourselves in situations that have the potential to cause us stressful moments.

I also find it hard to understand how certain people, with seemingly headstrong characters, often tend to shy away from confrontations that would actually ease up tensions that keep them on edge about certain people or situations.

So the next time you find yourself stuck in the middle of a nightclub, absorbed by tensions of those around you, ask yourself how much of that stress you may have caused by simply not being able to let go of old emotions. Or perhaps we feel that somebody is interested in us beyond friendship, and we are scared of being alone with them for fear of being caught up in something awkward, but are we really scared of them or are we actually unsure of our own desires and reactions? Some people will choose to distance themselves in the hopes that the other person will ‘get the point’, but being evasive can send the wrong message, and the only way forward is to be verbally clear and honest all around.

It may not be easy at first, but until we take full ownership of our energy, we will risk being hypocrites far longer than we would ever wish to admit and get caught up in a vicious circle of our own short-sightedness.

But Seriously… How Are You?

A lot of people will quickly complain about how superficial we have become when we greet each other these days.                

“Hi, how are you?” seems to have lost its meaning for some, becoming more of a light-hearted comment in passing as we cross on the street but don’t stop to converse in depth. We hide behind these fleeting moments, never quite facing or admitting how we really feel. Obviously, time is at a premium and most people don’t like to deal with deeper issues unless they are closer to someone.

We clearly don’t stop to listen to each other enough these days, let alone ourselves, which is why many individuals end up paying someone else to do just that. There is something very special about watching a person’s eyes light up when you give them the time of day or night to hear how they truly feel.

Talking to a friend this evening sparked a new question though. Even when we do take the time to listen to friends and family answer our probes as to how they are, when was the last time we asked ourselves that question? Truly. Deeply. How are you

We get so caught up in daily routines, work, outings, relationships of any kind, taking interest in our surroundings, travel, health, environment, worrying about politics and finance… all of these things make up our lives, but they don’t define who we really are or how we feel.

I will confess that I often soldier on through hard times, without necessarily stopping enough to look back over my shoulder and congratulate myself on certain achievements, or even stop to let my ‘self’ breathe. It always seems as though life keeps pushing us onwards that we don’t remember to take that time to reflect. The same happens when we don’t assess how we are feeling on a daily basis.

“Good morning Me, how am I today?”

We’ll ask our partners how their day went, but do we ask ourselves the same and answer honestly?

“Good evening Me, sit down, put your feet up and tell me all about it…”

We all talk to ourselves – whether we keep that internal monologue within our head or allow it to escape in innocent conversation with nobody else around to hear. But a lot of times we indulge in verbal diarrhoea, spewing out wasted words and thoughts about what we have done, what we should do, or what we would like to do. Go shopping, do the laundry, take out the garbage, get up early enough to go to work, charge up the phone, take out money for rent, watch the news, go for drinks with friends, call home, put that letter in the mail, add more salt to the pasta sauce… we talk so much trash to ourselves we ought to put our brains in the garbage sometimes. No doubt, we would realise our foolishness very quickly and want fresh air again.

Fresh air to recognise that we are happy or sad, fulfilled or missing something, motivated to search for that something or heal from past experiences, confront challenges and let hard times wash over us because we know they will come to pass.

We don’t all have to take up yoga, meditation, or any similar focusing techniques… we can find our little soulful nirvanas even knitting a hat or watching rain fall… but we have to make more of an effort not only for our own sakes, but for the sakes of those around us, especially the people we care about. We may never fully understand ourselves, because this is the magic of change and mystery, but we were born to learn, and learning only comes from listening and observing. And in this way we build our strength and relationships with others.

So the next time you ask another person how they are, just make sure you asked yourself that question first… and don’t be afraid to answer.

The Insult of Being Polite

Most of us would agree that there is no need for rude attitudes these days. If you recall that it takes less muscles in the face to conjure up a smile than a frown, then it is a wonder why we waste so much energy when we could all bask in a little effortless happiness. And it is certainly not as concerning to some as hugging trees.  

Most of us will remember how our parents taught us to mind our please and thank yous… whether it be by harsh reprimand or ‘that serious look’ on their faces. Depending which schools we attended, our teachers may have applied the same principles as well. Thankfully, a ruler never fell swiftly upon the palm of my hand.

We would have also been told to respect our elders, or anyone in general, for respect is only gained when shown to others. I know many will contest this, including myself, but when applied between intelligent people, it really does work. I remember attending a funeral in Spain a few years ago, and was humbled by the sight of an elderly man stopping in his tracks to take off his hat as the hearse drove past him, in a show of respect towards the departed. Nowadays, youths will leave their caps on while they have dinner at a restaurant, and nobody seems to care.

We may have been told not to scream, because it was bad manners, especially in public. Hold doors open for people. Stop to let others pass in front of us. The list goes on, but over the years, I have come to learn that being polite can sometimes be the greatest insult of all.

A very simple example to start with is this one. We’ve all had that crumb on the side of our mouth that nobody bothered to point out at the dinner table, leaving us to find it when we go off to the washroom to freshen up and feel like idiots when the little element of discord snickers at our reflection in the mirror. What does it really take to make a silent gesture to tell you about it? In essence, nothing. In practise, obviously too much for some to bother. And they just grin or feign ignorance because they didn’t want to embarrass you at the table… Pardon me?

Then there are those who, finding confrontation difficult or uncomfortable, avoid telling you they no longer want to be in your company just by stepping back and hoping you will figure it out from their silence and absence, or relying on a grape from the vine to whisper it in your ear. This is probably the most irritating and insulting of all, especially if you were very close to one another for a time. Grown ups who never quite grew up…

Or those who, after falling out of touch for a long time for whatever reason, continue to hide in embarrassment and choose not to get back in touch. This goes beyond politeness, but I actually don’t know what to call it as I’m still trying to understand it. Yet some people are so cemented in their ways that they will stubbornly block their own growth, rather than allow for change. Even when a simple, “I’m sorry I haven’t kept in touch. Now… how are you?” could work wonders.

Whether it is a matter of pride, fear, lack of people skills, or whatever one wishes to call it, one thing is clear; being polite often involves having to do things we are not comfortable with. In the same way that many people will obscure the truth because they are afraid it will hurt somebody, the pain will be greater because of the attempt to hide things or soften the blow.

I’ve had my fair shaire of truths, half-truths, and un-truths. And I really don’t like hurting people, but I’m learning that sometimes it is better to pull that tooth in one confident yank instead of several mild attempts, which build up the awful blunt pain that seeps its way to the bottom of your stomach and pulls you down.

And I am grateful for the friends who challenge me in healthy, constructive ways, even if at times I have to deconstruct a part of myself in order to rebuild it for my own improvement.

Of course this poses the question, at which point do we start saying we cannot change, when essentially we are the only ones with the power and responsibility to change ourselves?

Through Thick & Thin, or What You Believe In

Although admittedly naïve, Dostoevsky’s famed ‘Idiot’ Prince Myshkin no doubt represents all of those who try to live honest and honourable lives. It is difficult to find people like this nowadays, who have not been battered and bruised or left jaded and bitter ‘forever’. Likewise, it is hard to watch people ridicule these so-called ‘idiots’, thinking they are worthless, foolish individuals holding onto supposedly outdated beliefs. But when did essential morals and ethics that provide us with the solid foundation by which to be good people die?

The world is stupid, some might say. On a bad day, I add ‘fucking’ to that sad little sentence. But deep down I still believe that we all have the ability to overcome our own self-ambushing tendencies.

On a scale of karmic economy and evolution, we are admittedly at different levels, and it is this tug of war that keeps us on our knees sometimes. You might say that in a less populated world we had more ‘space’ to deal with our issues and resolve them, but now that we have escalated to such a push and shove, sometimes we don’t really know if we are juggling our own emotions or somebody else’s. And we can’t all physically retreat to a mountaintop to figure it out, but we have to learn to filter regardless.

When we become closely involved with someone, inevitably there is a sharing of energy and emotions, and we become vulnerable to both the positive and the negative. So unless you choose to live a completely sheltered, abstinent life, you’re going to be in for a ride whether you like it or not. Look at the whole journey though, not just the road-trips.

I don’t believe we can choose all our battles, because that is not what life is about, and the majority of us would learn nothing. I do, however, believe we can choose our own warriors, but sometimes we will have to confront one another in order to better understand who we are as individuals and be able to fight back to back with confidence.

I know couples who have struggled for years to stay together, eventually emerging from an unknown silence that kept them alienated from their respective partners. Or those who thought they had fallen into a bad situation out of eagerness to claim a certain social status or sense of belonging.

Some have stuck it through, feeling they had no other choice, resigning themselves to an uncomfortable situation through financial dependence on the other person, or just plain fear of stepping back into the unknown. Others held firm to their belief that things would get better.

Many people have been more than pleasantly surprised when this kind of situation turns right around and graces them with the happiest time of their lives, either disproving their despondent views or confirming what they believed in at long last. This ultimately applies to any kind of relationship, personal or professional.

It’s never easy to know when to go on fighting, and when to raise your hands in dignified defeat. We must go boldly forth, but a river can stream through many meanders no matter how deep and wide the main channel may be. Who’s to know which rivulet we may have to navigate temporarily until we are led back to our main stream?

And while we do this, is it entirely fair to another person to cut them out so we can deal with our own issues, when it is only human nature to share and help each other? Our shoulders may be large enough to carry many burdens, but it doesn’t mean we have to.

The urban jungle is selfish. The tools we use to survive now are more likely to be cunning and deception than communal spirit and dedication to self-awareness, quite often having to second-guess each others’ actions so that one can be a step ahead of the other in this infamous rat-race. Go figure, we compare ourselves to rats… doesn’t that explain a lot about the way people feel about themselves these days? When did belittling ourselves become a habit?

Humility is a virtue, but don’t confuse it with denying yourself a wonderful life just because you’re afraid to have more than others. Remember everybody has a different history and their own rivers to navigate.

So, while we may strain to figure out exactly what we want, sometimes this is the easier challenge. Afterwards, we are faced with finding out how to achieve what we want. And this is where life throws us both safety nets and dead weights. It is up to you to decide what to do with each one.

It is also up to you to choose who fights with you, because no great warrior ever fought completely alone.

What You Believe InTake That

What am I to you and what are you to me?
Are we getting better or did we used to be?
What of the songs we used to sing?
Where are the souls we used to carry in?
What is a sail without a hurricane?
What is a hurt without someone to blame?
Show me the sky and I climb the stairs
Give me something ’cause I’m losing it

Give me what it is you believe in
’cause I give to you my truth
I got all my faith in you
I don’t know which way we are going
Doesn’t matter anyway
Just as long as you will stay

Tell me the word and I’ll shout it out
For what is a voice when in doubt?
The world has changed
The world will change
Oh give me something ’cause I need to feel

It’s all good you know
I still love you so
And you don’t have to do this on your own

Are You With Me?

I was numb today, pushed into a corner by emotions that seeped in through a rough night’s sleep, and a few that were thrown across an ocean for me to catch. They glimmered at me like the sun plays on the waves, until finally I was able to figure them out.

I have been struggling with the concept of time and distance for a while now, consciously and not so consciously. Life has a quicker knack of throwing me curve balls now when I ignore deeper issues at hand, and I am learning to acknowledge them faster.

Throughout the years we are transported from one experience to another like a human-powered chain of buckets of water to put out a fire, until at last we quench it and find our peace. For some, this journey takes us across countries and oceans, while others remain forever in their place of birth, travelling without moving but still managing to fulfil their personal destinies.

We all have friends or family who moved away, or we were the ones to take that leap of faith and leave the comfort zone that we call home. Either way, we struggle to come to terms with our ‘losses’ and adapt to change. Suddenly, gone are those short-notice café rendezvous, the family get-togethers to celebrate another birthday, those group outings that feel so damn comfortable, or that familiarity with our friendly neighbourhood grocery store owner is replaced by service-oriented smiles from people we will never really warm to. These perks all disappear and are never fully replaced in our new environments, and yet we need to embrace the new ones for they will continue to enrich our lives.

Even though being farther apart certainly re-shapes the way we relate to one another, it is actually time that separates us more than distance. And yet most people hold onto distance as being that determining factor to cut off relations as an easy way out of facing deeper truths.

We tend to forget that life beckons us to focus our attention elsewhere, and this is not to say that we ignore one another or stop caring.

I could walk into a bar and meet a sparkly-eyed stranger in a new place who makes me feel as though certain things are understood without speaking. Or we could have been inseparable during our youth and now we are strangers tied together by a common surname. We live with the uncertainty of whether our experiences will make us grow closer or send us off on separate trains to different destinations, for a little while or forever.

What is certain, is that whilst conquering the world is not for everyone, conquering your own world is. It’s a tough responsibility but we have to honour it come what may, because growing up never ceases. Even after coming of legal age, getting married, waging wars, setting up our own business, or travelling around the world. Although some decide to pause at a certain point and expect things to just happen for them. It is alright to pause for breath, to look back at our achievements and review our intentions, but we can’t afford to lie flat for very long or let indecision dominate our ability to take action. Sometimes we shy away from making decisions for fear of how they will affect others, forgetting that those same people make their own choices that likewise affect us. Or we chew through every last detail until we tire ourselves out thinking of all the possible outcomes and end up lost in limbo.

Whatever we do, however we do it, as long as it is filled with honesty and some sense of conviction, it will take us where we need to go. Even if we’re not quite sure where that is yet.

And don’t let the thought of growing pains scare you, because whilst growth is essentially eternal, the pain just comes and goes. So turn your worries into your allies and grab another bucket.

Growing UpPeter Gabriel

folded in your fleshy purse
i am floating once again
while the muted sounds are pumping rhythm
all the walls close in on me
pressure’s building wave on wave
till the water breaks – and outside i go, oh

one dot, that’s on or off, defines what is and what is not, one dot
two dot, a pair of eyes, a voice, a touch, complete surprise, two dot
growing up, growing up,
looking for a place to live
growing up, growing up,
looking for a place to live
growing up, growing up,
looking for a place to live

my ghost likes to travel so far in the unknown
my ghost likes to travel so deep into your space

three dot, a trinity, a way to map the universe
three dot
four dot, is what will make a square, a bed to build on, it’s all there,
four dot

my ghost likes to travel so far in the unknown
my ghost likes to travel so deep into your space

all the slow clouds pass us by
make the Empire State look high
as you take me in your sea-stained sweetness
it spills, it tingles and it stings
all the pleasure that it brings
’til the door has let the outside inside here

well on the floor there’s a long wooden table
on the table there’s an open book
on the page there’s a detailed drawing
and on the drawing is the name i took

my ghost likes to travel so far in the unknown
my ghost likes to travel so deep into your space

growing up, growing up,
looking for a place to live
growing up, growing up,
looking for a place to live
growing up, growing up,
looking for a place to live
growing up, growing up,
looking for a place to live

my ghost likes to travel
my ghost likes to travel
moving inside of your space
my ghost likes to travel
my ghost likes to travel
moving inside of your space
my ghost likes to travel
moving inside
my ghost likes to travel
moving inside of your space
my ghost likes to travel
moving inside
my ghost likes to travel
moving inside of your space

the breathing stops, i don’t know when
in transition once again
such a struggle getting through these changes
and it all seems so absurd
to be flying like a bird
when i do not feel i’ve really landed here

On The Possible Death of Romance

Somebody recently posed the question of whether or not romance is dead. This stirred up fervent replies in its defence from the few who overheard. And just the other day, I was asked if I’m romantic. Like a pile of sand swept out of sun-baked lethargy by the wind, the subject seems to worry a lot of people these days. First of all, some might say, “Romance? Why don’t we just start with being nice to each other again?” I hear about people who don’t think twice to help others in need, and I realise on a lot of levels many people have become isolated and scared to reach out.In fact, in this so-called Age of Aquarius, we principally tend to share our love only with those close to us, or strangers who captivate our motherly instincts, as in my case these last few days having no voice. I have been offered tea and healing advice by the bucket-load, and whilst it is endearing, it made me wonder how and with whom we ‘share the love’ these days.But I won’t question Aquarius today, and shall return to this noble and oft-ignored trait that can qualify us or not as lovers or re-ignite jaded relations…So, am I romantic, and what does that really mean?I bow down to the literary mammoths of yesteryear… Leo Tolstoy, Victor Hugo, P. B. Shelley, and countless other writers who have lured us to tears over twists of fate, lovers gone astray or set the foundations for love’s philosophy. I listen to songs that could send diabetics into a panic. I am a dreamer who grew up surrounded by the Arab and Roman heritage of my country, and carries these influences with me wherever I go. A little piece of Andalucía sits on my window ledge, 8,000 kilometres away from its place of origin.

But whilst I tie words together in a particular fashion at times, or drift away to distant worlds with lulling music, I am a firm believer in actions not over-coated sugary sentiments, and the more selfless the more genuine. I am known to do ‘stupid things’ for people at certain times, but these have not been limited to lovers. And I believe that showing them off is presumptuous, which is why I rarely talk about what I have done in the past. The curious will have to wait patiently and decide for themselves.

For me, it’s not a case of listing your accomplishments hoping to win somebody’s favour, or constantly fabricating ‘romantic scenarios’ because this would be contrived and potentially confuse the reality of one’s feelings.

The essence of a true romantic does not lie just in waltzing away to the Blue Danube or indulging in candle-lit dinners for two. Romantics often display their abilities in all elements of life – burning through adversity, courageously breezing past obstacles, washing away somebody’s pain simply by holding their hand, or planting their humility firmly in the ground where others brashly claim the spotlight.

Some of us may not consciously make time for romance the way others see it, but sometimes the simplest, most innocent gesture will be worth more than all the glasses of wine or sunsets we could share.

Romance is magic – that certain something you can’t always put to words. The impulsive spark that surprises you when you least expect it.

Ultimately, romance speaks for itself. And it is certainly not dead.

Anybody who wishes to challenge me on that is welcome to place their bets…

Calling All Stations

I’ve only lost my voice twice in all my life so far (and in the span of one year), so this forcefully imposed silence is still quite a novelty for me.

Once has admittedly been out of foolishness, staying out far too long and speaking far too much with an already-strained throat in a loud club… but the first arose out of, apparently, nothing. I simply woke up one morning and could not speak.

So it made me wonder why this happens. Many people these days are allowing themselves to think below the surface, embracing a mind-over-matter philosophy in life that, whilst some still may opt for a quick-fix solution and medicate themselves to overcome these obstacles as fast as possible due to time constraints, draws us closer to our mental-emotional reactions to all that we are experiencing.

Sometimes, we lose our voice when we most need to express ourselves. So it could be the case that losing one’s voice is beckoning us to find an alternative way of expression, and I don’t mean this in a physical sense. Perhaps we have some issues that require our attention, and we ignore them hoping they will resolve themselves. This stubborn silence will force us to revise this approach when we can’t communicate anything at all.

Don’t get me wrong, I am a firm believer in the magical power of how silence can communicate better than any word or action at given moments – but whilst I generally know how to utilise it for myself (or how it affects me), I’m still learning how to interpret it in others.

Such a blockage could be an accumulation of concerns that pile up together and imprison any one in particular from release – much like racing cars speeding off at the green light, only to bottleneck at the first corner to avoid collision. Inevitably, it slows us down. Telephone conversations are practically eradicated overnight, resulting in slower methods of expression such as email, text, or gestures. This deceleration permeates our minds – allowing us to filter those very issues that have caused this to begin with.

Silence can provide answers while we pause for the reflection that can be often overlooked.

So whilst I try to bulldoze myself through this with copious amounts of tea, honey, ginger, lemon and anything else that will pacify and heal me on the physical plane, I can’t ignore my emotional responsibilities towards myself and others. And I would hope that the next time you are literally speechless, you take a little time out to question where you fell out of sync with yourself.

In the Company of Strangers

Sometimes, I get tied up in emotional knots, and my best release is the feline instinct of seeking solitude and distance. So I took one of those typical long walks to nowhere in particular (which in retrospect I haven’t done for quite a while), and ended up keeping mostly my own company amid strangers in a bar. The random conversations and joviality of this company somehow untangled me from the unforgiving dilemma that overshadowed my generally mellow mood – not to mention the wine, which enabled the ensuing peaceful slumber to which I now succumb.

Sometimes it seems that becoming fixated on one thing is too draining, and allowing ourselves to be flooded by a multitude of random events and images is just the right thing to dissipate this overwhelming feeling. Specially when uncertainty prevails. So raise your glasses, enjoy diversity, and a little bit of Pinot Noir…

Fighting For Your Rights

In an ever sensitive world as this, our convoluted 21st century, today’s post is dedicated to those who sit back complacently thinking that nothing new will surprise them. Find ye here a small taste of what the human rights snowball is rolling past you with…I was just reading an article about two co-habiting sisters who have lost their legal battle to avoid paying an inheritance tax bill to the UK government (see article here) when either of them passes away. They are both over 80, and demand protection of their property as siblings, requesting the same rights as married and gay couples. Strangely enough, their surname is Burden, and a great one they carry with them after this sentence from the courts. My point of interest in this item, however, is not about their specific issue or the verdict, but rather my reaction as I could not avoid squinting with intrigue at a remark made by one of the sisters stating that, “If we were lesbians we would have all the rights in the world.”If only lesbians did have all the rights in the world…

The most immediate reference to ‘gay rights’ that springs to mind is that of marriage, which spawns inheritance issues among others. Luckily, certain countries such as Spain, Canada, The Netherlands, Belgium or South Africa have same-sex marriage rights. In other countries, there are civil union rights which don’t fully qualify as ‘marriage’, but are an encouraging step away from complete legal chastisement. Immigration issues are equally sensitive, if you consider for example that in the US, a ‘straight’ US citizen who marries a foreign partner is eligible to bring that person into the United States, whilst long-term same-sex partners in similar situations are denied those very same rights, forcing foreign gay partners to find temporary visas or face separation. So, suffice to say that ‘all the rights in the world’ have not yet been served upon the L, G, B, T or Q communities.

What I do find interesting and inspiring, however, is the fact that the tables are slowly turning with respect to how people view anybody’s rights. Whilst there are still many cases within the gay community pushing for change in legislation and way of life according to the ‘straight world’, it is now the rest of the world that is using gay rights issues as examples to fight for other equal rights.

And this, in the name of human rights, should be a matter of pride for everyone.

The Best of What’s Around

Every time we undertake to clear through old belongings, be they mementos, papers, and whatnot, we inevitably greet old ghosts. Some we carry with us for the rest of our lives, whether or not we have eventually discarded all the material elements that remind us of when they walked into our path.

I believe I can safely say that, no matter the pain some may have brought, if at the end of the day one can smile and shed a happy tear for the good times, we can wave goodbye to these ghosts and know that if they ever enter our lives again, we will not look upon them with remorse or regret, but simply with a more knowledgeable nod and some gratitude for showing us another step along our way.

The Best of What’s AroundDave Matthews Band

Hey my friend
It seems your eyes are troubled
Care to share your time with me
Would you say you’re feeling low and so
A good idea would be to get it off your mind

See you and me
Have a better time than most can dream
Have it better than the best
So we can pull on through
Whatever tears at us
Whatever holds us down
And if nothing can be done
We’ll make the best of what’s around

Turns out not where but who you’re with
That really matters
And hurts not much when you’re around
And if you hold on tight
To what you think is your thing
You may find you’re missing all the rest

Well she ran up into the light surprised
Her arms are open
Her mind’s eye is

Seeing things from a
Better side than most can dream
On a clearer road I feel
Oh you could say she’s safe
Whatever tears at her
Whatever holds her down
And if nothing can be done
She’ll make the best of what’s around

Turns out not where but what you think
That really matters
We’ll make the best of what’s around