On certainty

img_6174A clock somewhere is ticking. But it’s being dragged. I feel like Sisyphus, but I’m not carrying a boulder up the hill. I am carrying time. I am desperately trying to move it forward; I have fooled myself into thinking it will somehow bring something different the next time it falls on my head or rolls away from me.

I’ve been waiting for something for far too long. I am now done. I have accepted my defeat. I have laid down my arms and I have surrendered. I have surrendered to a higher power: time.

I don’t doubt anymore. I am done. Now I am certain.

Our software dictates hope and optimism even in dire situations (maybe even more so in desperate times: another type of survival instict). That’s what I’ve been doing for more than a year, hoping. Now, even this very sentiment has become a joke.

An objective observer would have urged me to lose hope long ago. They would have given me an exit strategy and coordinates for an emergency evacuation. I have finally become objective, and I have my own coordinates. Now all I need to do is plan the route and start walking (away).

On doubts

2b64e9e23719b0523f315745c580119bI am sitting on a beach, on an island, in the middle of the Mediterranean sea. Hundreds of people are all around me, it is surprisingly quiet, though. I can think, read my book and listen to music on my headphones. I can doubt everything in peace. Why do we sometimes doubt and other times choose to believe in something or someone? What parameters affect our decision to either be true to our human nature and even question our happiness, or wear a mask and proceed in the dark…trusting, believing and without fear?

I am sitting in my desk chair, on the third floor, in the middle of Athens. No one is around me, it is surprisingly loud, though. I can’t think, read or listen to music with lyrics on my speakers. I found a playlist with instrumental music, mostly piano. Ambient, they call it. I can hear a sombre violin now. I can still doubt in peace.

It is a violent state of mind. It permeates every pore of hope and optimism. Doubt trumps fear. Fear is palpable, honest, reasonable even. Doubt is crippling in its effervescence, for it sighs uncertainty and distorts the validity of knowledge, even the one based on experience. You tell it what you know and it sneers. It rescinds all your senses and shamelessly welcomes you into a rabbit hole it has created just for you: underground rooms of memories, warped just enough to spawn disquiet.

Doubt is an ethereal beast, forged by the hand of vacillation. Its edges are blunt, its core lethal. It is a trickster. It keeps the doors open for it knows you won’t leave, not once you’ve entertained the idea of its existence. So you roam inside its kingdom and you become its slave; willingly, whole-heartedly, almost gratefully, for you’re convinced of its veracity. Your chains are customised, your blindfold weaved in your own image.

You choose to stay there for the truth you doubt no more is much more painful. At least in doubt you can be something instead of nothing.

On chances

take-at-least-one-chance-quote-1When we think about chances we usually have two misconceptions: one is that they come crashing down in front of our eyes, wrapped in Christmas lights, bearing a neon sign with an arrow pointing at the words: TAKE IT; the second is that they are infinite.

Neither is true. There are many, but they are not inexhaustible, and most of the time they appear incognito. It’s not that things can never be easy, or uncomplicated, or straightforward (which , let’s face it, they rarely are) but that from some point on we have to be willing to see them for what they are, or at least risk it and find out.

What we don’t realise is that by becoming risk-averse we are slowly becoming life-averse. As dramatic and hyperbolic as this may sound, it is sadly true. The trap is set in the lethargy we let ourselves lie in. We cocoon ourselves in the putative and comfortable slowness of time and we wait, postpone, wile away, wander, roam, meander from one familiar act to the next, squandering chances.

Tomorrow is always going to be there, so why sweat it today? Does it have to be right this moment? Surely not. IT CAN WAIT: and that is our live’s neon sign, if there ever was one. I can almost imagine chances as flies, buzzing around us, resting on our skin, and us nonchalantly, but always with a slight annoyance, waving them away.

I’m trying to remember the last one I blew. It was three months ago. It was something small, possibly inconsequential, but looking back now, I would have liked to have taken it. No matter where it led me.

For chances are like choices: they either reward you or come back to haunt you.

On confessions

Forgive me Father, for I have sinned. It has been a lifetime since my last confession. I have been callous with my thoughts, and even more so with my actions. But what I am most ashamed of are my inactions. My inaptitude: to understand in time, to acknowledge the significance of absence in everything.

I spent three seasons thinking myself to death. I died repeatedly. I was born every time simply because I never stopped breathing. My damn heart proved itself indestructible. My mind did not. I still find pieces of it under the couch, inside my pillow, deep within my pockets, in between pages of my everyday life. I put them in a white, glass bowl. Every few days I pick them up, spread them out and try to put them into place. They are all mine. They were all me at some point. Even if they only crossed my mind but never stayed, they still belong to me. I am forever liable. I have to face them.

It is strange, what we consider to be ‘sinful’. It is relative. It is highly subjective. If the divine or the religious is extracted, a sin is still “any reprehensible or regrettable action, behavior, lapse, etc; great fault or offense.” It’s a sin to waste time, Dictionary.com states as an example…and I have wasted so much of it.

I’ve had this conversation before, a million times. The range of excuses varies to an astounding degree. ‘People live as if they have a few more lives to waste,’ someone told me recently. ‘No,’ I replied. ‘Don’t you get it? Even if they had a thousand more, they’d still live it the same way.’ It shocked him. It shocked me too.

What if we were given a time machine? We’d all act the same, fearful of changing too much. The butterfly effect would once again render us static. You needn’t fear, though. Scientists have claimed that even if we do acquire the ability to travel in time, we will only be able to do so into the future.

Would you take a look, Father, if you could? I would rather not.

We’d rather be inactive for we cannot be judged. We’d rather be absent for we leave no trace. But just like silence, inertia is a choice; and we, as Sartre proclaimed, are our choices, Father.

On lessons

Henry Miller once wrote “everything we shut our eyes to, everything we run away from, everything we deny, denigrate, or despise, serves to defeat us in the end.”

I teach as a profession, and yet I never fail to learn. People will always teach you something. They show you who they are, every single moment; even in those moments when they’re trying to hide it. I’ve been watching closely lately. I’ve been speaking less. Even less than usual.

Most don’t notice. Most of those who notice don’t care enough to ask. Those who ask don’t always get an answer. Those who do, don’t follow up. So what’s the point?

What do we shut our eyes to? What do we denigrate, despise or deny? Everything that scares us, challenges us, takes us out of our comfort zones. Whatever bursts the bubble we are in. Our skins so fragile and yet we live to be a hundred. A piece of paper cuts through us as if we were butter, and yet we remain whole. Money is made out of paper, and yet we never lose it, misplace it, or act carelessly towards it. Necessities have become relative. We have all become expendable.

For the longest time I thought that people were mostly fake, pretending; now I realise the truth is uglier. The are all simply, deeply selfish. ‘Isn’t that more honest?’ you shall ask. ‘Yes, yes it is,’ I will reply. ‘Isn’t it also sad, though?’ My generation was taught to hope, and then it was rewired to believe that everything is futile, so you might as well be an asshole. Everyone else is, why not you? And so they shed every last bit of shame and blossomed into the assholes they always dreamed of being. What’s more liberating than ceasing to pretend that you care?

A weight was lifted. The jig was up. Finally, they were free. Or were they? Tell me…are you?

What does freedom mean to you? What does it entail? Does it tear down walls or put up fortresses? Does it liberate or create little boxes with captions that compartmentalise even the tiniest bit of meaning?

When has freedom ever given you escape?

Isn’t it freedom that you deny, denigrate and despise?

On masks

An array of masks is all I see. A circus with beasts, monsters, ventriloquists, tamers, dancers, and magicians. The point is to impress, divert attention from what is real, create and illusion; the point is to be anything but yourself.

The audience is wearing their ‘spectator’ masks. That too is a form of escape. I feel like one as well, watching a dystopian story unfold before my eyes. It’s one of those narratives where the protagonists are unaware of the impending doom. Their world is destroyed, their lives wasted. A time machine arrives. It takes them back. It doesn’t matter. They repeat the same mistakes, make the same choices, every single fucking time.

They’re stuck in an endless loop of misery and un-lived lives. Yet they wonder what went wrong (from time to time). Or do they? When are those moments most lucid? What causes the doubts to surface and what are the mechanisms that bury them again so deep inside a cavern of regrets, wishes, and unfulfilled images?

Our plight is now the temporary value we attribute to everything and everyone. Regardless of our expiry date, we have all become expendable. Replaceable. Reimagined. Recreated. For if we all wear masks, no one is actually real.

On emptiness

Why has it been impossible to breathe lately? Why do I stop just before I inhale? Why does oxygen feel so damn toxic? I don’t need my lungs anymore. Nor my heart. My mind has become the only source of my existence. It breathes, thinks, decides, destroys and builds empires, without my consent. I have become a slave, a mere subject in its kingdom. My body is simply its physical extension. It too has been transformed into a vessel of overthinking and under-doing.

Imagine being locked inside a car whose control you lost when you made it independent; when you dared to share too much. Imagine it hasn’t stopped driving for years. Imagine that every turn it takes is new on a road it has built itself. Imagine you are unaware of the destination but recognise the way. Imagine you know everything except where you are going. The windows are open despite the cold. The music is either too loud or too absent. The silence is deafening…as are the clichés I keep using.

The colour keeps changing so I cannot be found. Then again, no one’s looking for me. I have said goodbyes in silence and I’ve heard replies coming back to me in the absence of action or words.

It is strange to stand alone by choice. It’s confinement in freedom. It’s a savage hold on emptiness.