ON GIVING

“For it is in giving that we receive.”

St. Francis of Assisi

Guidance and assistance are the most precious of human gifts. As one oftentimes finds him or herself entangled in a web of troubles, having known hardship and struggles, lived through untold obstacles, one learns the importance of giving. For without the caring help of a peer, one could have not made it through.

***

Three years ago, my family and I were evicted from our social housing. It was one of the most traumatic experiences of my life, a mentally harsh day. Getting evicted, deprived of my “home”. Witnessing the multiplied struggles my parents had to endure without being able to do much. Seeing all of our belongings being packed as rubbish. Observing years of memories vanishing in the blink of an eye. Not having a house for months. And also living such a nightmare without people to confide in, people to help me escape from this emotional nightmare at times, not any close friend of mine. However, during that time, we were surrounded by some very inspiring people who showed me the beauty of art in the dark. We wrote quotes on our now former metal-covered door about ‘doors closing’ which was the beautifully therapeutic idea of one of our neighbors. She lent me “The Prophet” by Gibran which became a profound source of inspiration as well. She gave us her time to fill in all the paperwork. We had family friends who opened to us the door to their house. They give us their time, sometimes money, attention, and commitment to help us out. Without these people, I wonder where we’d be right now.

“We rise by lifting others.”

Robert Ingersoll
Barcelona, Nov. 2019, GC

Oftentimes, the concept of giving means much more than merely sharing material belongings. There are, indeed, many different ways of achieving that charitable act. For, giving one’s time, one’s love, one’s soul without limit is a deeply personal yet universal action. It is, in fact, during the darkest hours that one can observe the brightest stars.

***

It was an odd Christmas day for me. The wind was softly blowing. The sun had already set in the very early evening. Sitting on a beach, a book in my hands, I was feeling a little worn out. I had pondered on the way I was adjusting to this new life when this old man came talking to me. I told him I couldn’t understand what he was saying and only caught a few words. He kept on talking to me in this language I could barely speak. It made me smile. I managed to say somehow that I was here on my own. What I got from his final words was that with such a smile I would undoubtedly make friends over here. This episode reminded me that connection can be one smile away, whatever the barriers. This man had given me some of his presence, his enlivening words of encouragement and precious time. Most-likely unknowingly, he generously taught me a lesson of wisdom that stuck with me to this day. This was his way of giving.


Giving a part of oneself is thus the reminder that we were all born equal, susceptible to endure the very same human experiences. As one writes to share his perception of the world he lives in, one is also willing to give a part of himself, selflessly disclosing his true self to the audience. We read books and watch movies because we relate to the emotions expressed and highlighted by the plot. We share the same stories, slightly differentiated by the varying personas and the interchangeable life phases.

One ought to never forget all of the helping hands he ever touched, show constant gratitude for the kindest souls he met and never cease to lend his own hand even to the oddest stranger encountered. For no one ever knows what the oh so uncertain future will bring.

what does giving bring you?

Song for someone. Vertical Horizon.

ON EXILE

“Is it possible that existence is our exile and nothingness our home?”

Emil Cioran

 

In a recent interview on French television, author Velibor Čolić offered the audience his entrancing interpretation of exile as follows: ‘I did not come, I stayed ; exile is more about staying than leaving’.

Indeed, we leave as emigrants but we stay as expatriates. Is the reason why we fled our home country ever more important than the reason why we choose to stay? Wouldn’t the positive aspects prevail over the negative ones?

***

I never planned to leave London. The city had for so long puzzlingly mesmerized me and deeply transformed me. I had learned life-changing lessons of wisdom and growth in a place I so fondly cherished. Its cosmopolitism also gave me sublime encounters with people coming from all corners of the globe. Whilst my time in the British capital endowed me with the most genuine of friendships, its openness enticed me to discover other cities and countries. I might have loved being all settled there, I had to embrace change and the possibility of falling in love with countless other places. 

Was this just another exile? I do not believe so, for every time I have the chance to come back, I still feel home, safe and sound on cloud nine.  

Perhaps, I had always planned to leave my home country. Although I never believed that I would be able to do it so young, I always knew. I had never felt truly at home in Paris, somewhere none of my family came from. I had come to dislike the metropolis profoundly. Moreover, I had always been torn by the fact that my father was from another country, which in the end I did not know well — something I regretted very much. I had kept a dream of London for a long time since childhood, for a reason I never grasped. And as I fell in love with the city, I later became bewitched by the concept of expatriation. 

This certainly was the only real exile of my life. Leaving, on grounds of exhaustion from not belonging. 

Verona, July 2019, GC

I never planned to live in Spain. In fact, when I was younger, I loathed the fact that people would make connections about me and the Iberian peninsula as if I had any lineage from that part of the world. This was due to the fact that half of my family was from the other part of the Mediterranean, Italy. For instance, in school, I had chosen to learn Italian as a second language as an act of rebellion against the majority of pupils who enrolled in the Spanish class. Yet, for some reason, I ended up here, along this charming and lively coast. 

***

Traveling is somehow a quick getaway, a break from your day-to-day life. One discovers a new town from a, usually, brief period of time and through the lens of the tourist, the foreigner, the stranger. Becoming an expatriate is very different. One has to make himself belong to the community, to learn the local rituals and lifestyle. It means to accept all the differences that exist with what one has been accustomed to. The longer one stays, the better one actually gets to know the culture.

Thus, traveling as much as possible is not a dream of mine, rather a past time. However, a dream of mine is to live in as many different places as possible. There’s one challenge to accept: the one of leaving everything behind, be it good or bad, and starting over, taking a leap into the unknown. I never thought I would end up living in sunny Barcelona, Spain. Perhaps I’ll stay here for a year, just the time for me to learn Castilian, or perhaps I’ll be bored soon enough. I am not setting any deadlines, for I let everything go with the flow. One year on? I have no clue where I will be. 

This is the magical part of life (and open borders as well). You meet people from all over the world and someday you suddenly realize you wish to move elsewhere. Perhaps, five years from now, you’ll be living on an island you never even knew existed or a continent on which the climate you never believed would fit your lifestyle. If you’re open-minded enough, you accept the core value of life: change and evolution; and thus you trust in letting go to embrace new ventures.

In the end, everywhere you go, you bring a part of the place where you used to live — and this place, you will forever be able to call it home.

 

Una casa al mare. Thegiornalisti.

what is your exile?

ON TIMING

“Time is an illusion, timing is an art.”

Stefan Emunds

How did you feel when the school year was coming to a close and it was time for the goodbyes and the embraces? When the plane was about to take off and you could look through the window after spending times of wonder over there, when it was your last day of work and you barely had realized how you had so keenly bonded with your colleagues, when the time had come for you to give back the keys to your house — how did you feel when it was time to leave?

Certainly, the exhilaration of new ventures coming ahead must have prevailed in those very moments, for otherwise your being would’ve remained stuck there, in this uncanny place filled with nostalgia and bittersweet feelings. At times, it also occurs as the only option available. Indeed, it seems so elementary to get caught up in our technology-driven world. Twirling, incessantly — the planet we found ourselves on. Interminable gazes, the perpetual echo of modern-age machinery, the back-and-forth mobility of the people. Unstoppable is the definition of time. Time flies, as the saying goes.

As I boarded on the infamous cross-channel railway a few years ago, with a strangely light suitcase by my side, I felt a sense of excitement and eagerness. The last final straw had passed. At last, I was leaving behind nineteen years of troublesome experiences. I was fleeing this city which for so long I had believed I cherished. I was taking off with all the scars inflicted by what I had endured. In that respect, it was the easiest goodbye I had ever had to make, the easiest chapter that I was closing. For the first time, I could let go, peacefully, without any remorse or sentimentality.

Paris, Aug. 2019, GC

**

“There comes a time in your life when you have to choose to turn the page, write another book or simply close it.”

Shannon L. Alder

Yet, what happens when the sky gets brighter? Everything is not so wretched, hope is restored and life seems to finally make sense.

It’s like the blooming of the flowers after spring’s arrival in March. Our mindset seems to have shifted. A newborn focus emerges. Novel opportunities arise. One becomes aware of the possibility of change, of the promise of freshness. Perhaps, it is in fact in all of that resides the definition of change itself.

***

This epiphany came forth around that time last year. Once more, it had hit me unexpectedly hard and I perceived my life as if it was all in shambles. After some time, for we say that time heals all wounds, my observations seemed to get clearer again and I lingeringly recovered. I had become aware that, although I had just gone through some grim times, this place had granted me with countless more opportunities than my home country ever had. I had gone back to ‘normal’. The feeling of belonging had returned to me. And yet, I realized that I still wanted to leave. I was feeling utter joy reminiscing the last years in this city, and sometimes an ounce of nostalgia too whilst walking past some memorable places. Nonetheless, I felt ready to leave it all behind. Leaving behind the delightful encounters, the familiar rainy streets and all of the memories. When I thought about it, it had been a rosy-painted time all along living there. I was ready to let go. It was the time, and it was about time as well.

After a while, I did. I packed my many more suitcases and left. It was a leap into the unknown for one who had always had such a hard time saying goodbye to people, places and even things. There was no grand wave of nostalgia hitting me, as I had expected, and barely any tears.

There was only the reminiscence of elating moments, the rejoicing of upcoming reunions, and the trusting that time is our ally.

Time heals the wounds and clears the mind. And thus, timing is fate in disguise.

For, only time will tell, timing shall, in the end, connect all the dots.

do you trust in perfect timing?

Lost in my mind. Rüfüs du Sol.

*please fill in this quick reader survey*

ON INTUITION

Intuition, commonly known as the ‘gut-feeling’ is oftentimes portrayed as a superpower, a tough virtue to nurture, a sixth sense or a divination. But what is it exactly? How often does one encounter it? Is is really an inner source that calls for cultivation? Or is it barely an esoteric and frivolous idea? 

***

“The ancient Icelandic word for intuition is “innsæi,” but in Iceland it has multiple meanings. It can mean “the sea within” which is the borderless nature of our inner world, a constantly moving world of vision, feelings and imagination beyond words. It can mean “to see within” which means to know yourself, and to know yourself well enough to be able to put yourself in other people’s shoes. And it can mean “to see from the inside out” which is to have a strong inner compass to navigate your way in our ever-changing world.”

I do not recall undergoing any epiphany as a child which years later would lead me to move to a different city. All I know is that for some reason, still unknown to me to this day, a specific city would remain stuck in my head, on my mind, in my heart for a long period of my life. Perhaps this is why it seems as though in the blink of an eye I took the decision to leave everything behind and move there, after realizing I had to take responsibility for my own dreams and wishes. But why there?

As I look back, trying to piece together the memories, nothing in particular calls up to my mind. There was no movie or documentary about that place that seemed to have struck me. There was no story I had heard that could have impacted my younger self. There is no reason I can exactly pinpoint why I chose London. All in all, London did choose me, as it transformed me too. And yet, all this time, the British capital embodied a dream of mine. Thus, I pulled up stakes. I followed my dream. I followed my heart. It is only after things truly starting shifting in my life that I became aware of the real explanation behind this life-changing occurrence: intuition. 

***

“Intuition is the whisper of the soul.”

Jiddu Krishnamurti
BCN, Nov. 2019, GC

***

Many people consider intuition as a mysterious and scary word, an otherworldly term. In a culture in which risk is predominantly seen as harmful, daring to follow your intuition seems to be rarely encouraged and supported. Indeed, it takes a great deal of courage and bravery to do so. For, intuition is, in fact, very much rooted in the spiritual dimensions of one’s world. It is a mystical sense, an enigmatic and cryptic gift. To decipher the meaning of one’s unconscious calling is more often than not a laborious task to achieve if it is ever attained. 

Intuition is diving deep into the unknown. Intuition is a hidden awareness. Intuition is a powerful force that can drive you to channel your inner self. It is a singular tool that requires time and careful practice to be eventually mastered. But it is also a gift that needs to be cherished and cultivated. It is a decision to be made: to follow one’s heart, at one’s own peril —yet most-likely at one’s own benefit. 

Intuition is one’s inner voice. It is one’s best teacher. It is the most meaningful sense you connect yourself with. It is uncanny gleam in the dark. It looks like an outlandish path on the map. It is a concealed trait in one’s soul. Thus, tuning may require efforts, yet the results display best its value. 

The key element in mastering one’s intuition is belief, almost extraordinary belief. In fact, it demands faith. It necessitates believing in the imperceptible, the unknown, the illogical. What a grand faculty, indeed, to be able to literally believe beyond belief. Believing fully into something, without needing any material proofs. 

For intuition is merely trusting your inner self genuinely, leaving space for that little voice inside your soul to erupt from your being, and utterly trusting the universe. 

Dream. Jain.

did you ever follow your intuition?

ON PURPOSE

“Purpose is spirit seeking expression.”

Kevin Cashman

Do you remember your very first childhood dream? The first wish you had, the first thought that crossed your mind when adults were asking you what you wanted to be as a grown-up? Who did you want to be? Did you want to be an astronaut and later on realized that you were far from wanting any of what that entailed? Perhaps you were so doubtful, endowed with such a peculiarly wide imagination that a legion of thoughts navigated your mind.

Or did you always know? Did you know it so well that this idea never, for one single instant, left your mind?

We are, nowadays, trapped in a society in which we are constantly pressured to live by firmly defined beliefs and standards. To remain faithful to our innermost ambition is not only a challenge but also requires a potent strength of character. One can find a way to live accordingly, or one can struggle while attempting to find a way out of the societal spiral in order to reach their yearning.

***

It is quite an uncanny feeling to experience, I have to acknowledge. Being aware without knowing an actual way to live according to our true purpose. There is a chance to be able to thrive while experiencing only half of what we truly are meant to achieve. And then, this odd feeling of not belonging does not add up.


All of a sudden, it did not seem to make any more sense: to be stuck in that training room, unbearably reminding me of the school’s classrooms, being harped on a topic I was so very lightly hooked on. It was upsetting, almost harrowing. For, at that very moment, I realized that this was not what I was meant to be doing. I was meant to be sitting at this desk, in the same manner, only with a different intention, aim, purpose. I was meant to be writing. I am meant to be writing, to use my words in a unique, mighty way.

Thus, the following days were not as smooth as the beginning, when all I had hoped for was a fresh start and new opportunities. The epiphany that I had to undergo an experience that could not define my self, my being, my soul, at all was the explanation.


***

“The mystery of human existence lies not in just staying alive, but in finding something to live for.”

Fyodor Dostoyevsky

This is a double-edged sword: to be aware of your calling whilst almost feeling like a failure given that you are not fully able to live it, at the present moment. We recognize that we could be utterly thriving if only we had followed all the right steps, scored all the points and finally attained our goal. But we are still working on it, walking our path tediously, with fluctuating motivation.

And yet, there is still some magic to it. We ought to consider ourselves the lucky ones, for countless other souls seem to be lost trying to find their true self, their true purpose and the meaning of their existence. We are fortunate enough to know where the road is going to lead us, whether we are currently looking for the right path or already found it. What a joy to have discovered the burning fire that is fueling our soul. What a delight to let ourselves be driven by passion. It is a chance to know our purpose and it is our duty as well to never cease to honor it, for, to latch onto it is our most compelling force.

Whether we have already grasped our purpose or not, we ought to remember that we all possess one. It may be hidden under layers of self-doubt or in the hands of a loved one. Hereafter we shall be prompted to seek it, regardless of how. And in the wise words of my father: remember that each and every sacrifice will pay off in the end. Aim to live with a driving force that will make your heart pound blissfully.

what is your own calling, your purpose?

Soleil noir. 47ter.

ON CREATIVITY

“Creativity occurs in the moment, and in the moment we are timeless.”

Julia Cameron, The Artist’s Way

For a long time, writing had been my little secret. Not only did I not want to share my pieces, but I was not willing to barely speak about the fact that I wrote. It was my safe haven and I needed to keep it hidden. Over time, I opened up and discovered that sharing entailed growing, evolving. I have encountered some very interesting and fabulous personas who have taught me how dwelling about our passions is a way for mankind to lift each other up. 

To unveil the mask we have had to put up with for a long time is never an easy task. It means being ready to be under the spotlight, ready to be vulnerable and disclose the most authentic parts of ourselves. One has to be prepared for the potential judgements that may get generated as a result of this exposure. Thus, one has to fully accept who (s)he is in order to face all that artistry entails. For creativity is much more than mere individuality. It is a common power possessed by each and every one of us.

It is by attending an open mic for the first time ever recently that I grasped how much vulnerability can teach us. Vulnerability, in fact, is a teacher of acceptance. It was quite an eye-opening experience for me to realize that whether one could relate or not, enjoy or dislike a piece of art, it was not nonetheless demeaning its essence, this act of inventiveness and expressiveness. 

“Mystery is at the heart of creativity. That, and surprise…As creative channels, we need to trust the darkness.”

Julia Cameron, The Artist’s Way
BCN, Feb. 2020, GC

***

Creativity is not merely art in it’s widely known definition. It includes talking, walking, researching, everything that we do, and everything in between. 

Creativity is an inquisitive and open mind at work. 

Creativity is engaging with others. 

Creativity is questioning our human nature.

Creativity is defying our belief system. It is going against, and with pride, societal standards.

Creativity is taking risks.

Creativity is being daring to go into the unknown. 

Creativity is being willing to revisit the past, acknowledge what has been created and recycle an idea in our most unique way.

Creativity is uncovering the deepest, shadiest parts of ourselves.

Creativity is unveiling our personal truth.

Creativity is the path to self-awareness.

Creativity is the honesty which makes us break free.

Creativity is deconstructing and rebuild on the ruins.

Creativity is understanding.

Creativity is being equipped to provide advice. 

Creativity is welcoming our mentor’s pieces of advice.

Creativity is exciting our senses, challenging ourselves.

Creativity is giving meaning to something, at times unawarely.

Creativity is spirituality.

Creativity is a fire burning inside your soul.

Creativity is giving.

Creativity is sharing. 

(book recommendation: an absolute inspiration.)

***

Sharing is indeed the core of human nature. We aim at making great memories with our loved ones, telling one another our personal stories, sharing the journey all together, hand in hand. This is thus the reason why we are all creative beings, whether we know it or not, whether we hide it or proudly proclaim it.

How creative are you? 

Lolita. Ash Kid.

ON FEAR

“Do the thing you fear and the death of fear is certain.”’

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Have you ever been paralyzed? Have you ever bailed right before doing something you had longed for and yet, at the very moment you were going to take action, felt so overwhelmed that you could not move forward anymore? I did, umpteen times, when I was younger, encounter that dismaying feeling. It was as though, submerged, my being was suddenly stuck, as if it were drowning in a sea of fears. 

Letting the fear take control over me was the easy way out, as I believed I had no willpower stronger than the fear I was facing, whatever that may have been. This was up until the end of my first year at university. For summer 2016 did not only turn my life around but also transformed me. I referred to it as ‘The Day It All Came Crashing Down’ in a piece in which I shared this harrowing episode of my life, in an attempt to be as concise and raw as possible to convey my feelings. There was still some anger, strain, and shame at the time I wrote it, three months after the situation was seemingly sorted out. And it is only later on that I realized what that day had really meant for me.

The long hours of this 28th of July represented a paralysis. It was being powerless, facing such a shock, while witnessing these actions we could not defy in any sense. The immobility was striking. There was absolutely nothing we could do at that moment. 

I never wanted to feel so impuissant ever again. As I fully grasped the meaning of that day, I had my own very real epiphany about myself. It occurred to me again the countless times I had described myself as a ‘puppet to my own life’, for all I seemed to be doing was witnessing life happening to me, whilst I was staying in my comfort zone, avoiding as many opportunities as I saw appearing before my very eyes. Eventually, with that realization, I knew. I was finally becoming aware of all that it entailed. 

All in all, this meant I had to face my fears, each and every one of them. 

Portsmouth, May 2019, GC

Barely a few weeks went by. I packed my suitcases, wrote a note to myself that however daunting this experience might be I would survive, and I never looked back.

Perhaps I took the best step possible to move away from my fears. For, over time, even though I was lacking a great deal of self-confidence, I did overcome the most trivial of fears, and learned how to handle each kind of fear. From moving abroad on my own to conquering numerous other fears, I have learnt that fear can be a powerful source of joy. How exciting to do something that scares you. How empowering to achieve it. How encouraging to realize that the best things can happen to you out of fear.

***

Fear holds one hostage from the myriad of potential outcomes. 

Fear is the disguise that self-esteem issues take.

Fear is the voice of doubts and insecurity in your head.

But fear is also what leads one to a state of enlightenment. 

Fear is the path of progress. 

Fear is the symbol of the first step boldly taken.

Fear has the power to turn everything around.

Fear is the embodiment of your former self, as well as the creation of your future self.

What if you asked yourself: would I rather be stuck with my present self or be aware that there is a new me waiting on the other side of fear?

Too often we praise the so-called fearless ones. Yet, fear is human. Indeed, one does not have to be fearless, but merely use their fears cleverly.

Fear is my driving force. And it can be yours too. 

Pomme. Anxieté.

what is your greatest fear?

ON STORYTELLING

“The Universe is made of stories, not of atoms.”

Muriel Rukeyser

It was on a special Monday morning for me. The sun had not yet risen. The willingness of getting was not quite present. The lack of sleep was heavily discernable. And most of all, the fear and anxiety of attending yet another new yoga class, alongside strangers again, seemed almost irrepressible. Oddly enough, some force took me back to reality and brought me closer to my beliefs. Being able to overcome my fears had constantly been my strength. As I succeeded in facing this latest challenge, we all ended up bonding over breakfast afterward.

What seemed very near to be a daunting idea to me led up to become yet another grand opportunity to share stories with like-minded people. For minutes I had felt ill-at-ease, barely speaking up, as if I were indrawn. Suddenly, as a flower blooms through watering and sunbeams, I had opened up. I, too, was sharing my own story with my companions. Again, I felt the empowering impact of storytelling.

What is all the meaning behind storytelling? Is it merely a way to express our craving for being heard? Does it only reflect the means for us to categorically display our imprint in the world, and to make it so indelible? What is the significance of telling stories?

Paris, Nov. 2019, GC

In the words of Joan Didion, ‘we tell ourselves stories in order to live’. I utterly believe, indeed, that we need stories. We need them to connect. We need them to feel like we belong. We need them to feel human, as simple as it sounds.

We often suppose that storytelling is the mere fact of conveying our own story with our peers, be it through a written piece, a song or a movie. But I believe it is much more than that. It is sharing a part of ourselves and seeking someone to relate to our discourse. Storytelling is feeling free to share the uncanny, the eerie, the joyful bits of our experiences, whether it is through fiction or not. It means accepting the reactions. Storytelling is being open to receive, to learn from another perspective.

All in all, storytelling is sharing. It is creating a bond — between author and reader, conversationalist and listener. It is exchanging experience. It stands both for narrating and listening, for there is no story without an audience. Of course, this applies deeply to the practice of writing, as well as all forms of art. We do write to connect, with the intention of creating a bond that will hold meaning. But as human nature is, all of our communication revolves around that principle. As listeners, we are endowed with the ability to see and sense the world through someone else’s lens and thus acquire knowledge, clarity, and awareness. Whilst as storytellers, we give a part of us, magnanimously and freely. Indeed, after any worthwhile conversation, we are provided with the opportunity to regain a sense of self, or even somehow reconnect to our higher self.

Stories build bridges. When the story ends and the teller’s voice is silenced, the bridge between teller and listener remains.”

Elaine Blanchard

As the discussion with my instructor drew to a close, having opened up about my journey and heard about hers, I felt a new energy. It was as though as I was anew, feeling refreshed. The meaning of a meaningful, deep conversation sprung to my mind. More than learning from someone else’s experience, I recalled my own story. It kindled in me more confidence. And thus, I knew…

Storytelling shall prompt in each and every one of us inspiration. Conversations shall set up a spark in us. They are an opportunity to light up our minds with great ideas and insights. Storytelling, as a matter of fact, a path for us to uplift one another.

Ecris l’histoire. Grégory Lemarchal.

do you feel the compelling power of both fictional and true stories?

ON STILLNESS

“Within you there is a stillness and a sanctuary to which you can retreat any time.”

Herman Hesse

Whether it is on a cold wintery day or during a heatwave, after wandering through some streets or inside a park, I delight in stopping and observing the world around me. Both children and dogs take part in merry amusements.  Buskers are seeking a new audience and some random benefactors. Photographers are out to catch a glimpse of today’s sky while I sit on bench. I put my book or my earphones back in my purse. I am just by myself. I am simply doing nothing. I am still. And I rejoice in it.

 

At times, I can deeply feel the stares on me. I do not bother focusing my attention on them in worry and disturbance. I let it go as I watch them withdrawing. I let it go as each and every passerby that walks by, as each thought that enters my mind and departs from it. Similarly to the introvert who in a group interaction may become dull, I step back from my own thoughts and remain still. 

Bristol, June 2019, GC

For many people, this idea of doing nothing is considered meaningless. To partake in such an activity appears to be a synonym for idleness in our western culture and for the aspiring over-achiever whose time seems to be limited. In fact, in our world in constant motion, one is discouraged from having the luxury of time-wasting.  

And yet, remaining in stillness for a few instants embodies the whole idea of time control. Furthermore, it represents utter freedom. As I lean on the bench, I am free. Free from the judgmental looks I sometimes receive. Free from movement. Free from society. I am free and I can feel in my every thought and through each cell of my body.  I am free from the responsibility that was somehow, anyhow, given to me by societal standards to achieve something — anything, from the meaningful to the most trivial — at every breath I take. 

“When you lose touch with inner stillness, you lose touch with yourself. When you lose touch with yourself, you lose yourself in the world.”

Eckart Tolle

Truthfully, one is not able to reach this state time and again overnight. It takes patience and practice and may need to come out of another experience. To me, this state of stillness had much to do with the experience of contemplative or meditative walking that I have undergone for years now. 

Stillness is refreshing, it is discerning life unfolding before your very eyes from a new perspective. It is taking the time to step back from a never-ending flow of movement. It is pausing to reflect upon the things we are most accustomed to. It is questioning ourselves and our frame of mind. Stillness means letting go in its purest form. It signifies breaking the pattern in order to expand ourselves. In stillness, we find again and anew our authenticity. 

Cease everything. Take a deep breath in and out. Watch the world around you and see yourself again. Your soul is still. You are born again. Anew. As pure as ever. Authentic living.

Illusion. Ben Mazué.

do you ever practice stillness?

ON POSITIVITY

“That’s the way life works: gratitude and appreciation just bring more goodness. Remember: Everything we give out comes back. Gratitude has all sorts of little, surprising rewards.”

Louise Hay

It was around 2003, I was five years old when my mother got diagnosed with a cancerous tumor. Did I know it at the time? How did my parents break the news to me and my sisters? I cannot recall. But as the disease came round again a few times during my childhood and teenage years, I grew to be more aware of it and all that it entailed. Along with additional tough experiences that my family and I had to go through, as well as my own struggle to fit in at school, I shall admit that these were not serene circumstances to grow up in. 

For a long time, because I had endured several hardships through the years, I believed that positivity was a character trait that had never left me. Certainly, the many struggles I have known have strengthened me and did make me evolve on a personal level faster than the average. Yet, the fact that I always held on to hope and looked forward to a brighter future does not mean that I had a positive mindset, although I did have a positive outlook on life. I prided myself on being optimistic whilst I was carrying anger. I believed in something better, however I was bitter, at times easily irritable and even jealous. I was wondering how many more battles I would have to fight. 

***

The epiphany came up as I realized that I was indeed strong, surviving and always persevering no matter how hard life hit me but positive didn’t seem to be an accurate label anymore. I began questioning myself. I had always thought that I was a very generous person, but could I be more kind to people? Yes, of course. One is never too kind. 

With a brand-new lifestyle, I took some drastic changes of mindset recently. I chose to welcome each new day with open arms. I chose to believe, more intensely than ever, that something good was about to occur, that each day was going to be filled with opportunities. That each day brings an opportunity to fulfill me, my being and my soul. I chose to start again with my gratitude jar, urging myself to write one note per day, however tiny it is. This is how I started noticing it. 

BCN, Jan. 2020, GC

It is the power of attraction. The more open one is, the more signs the Universe sends your way. It is about shifting the focus. It is questioning whether or not you were actually in the right mindset before. And in fact, it is not an easy task to admit that you were wrong, that you were not exactly the person you proclaimed to be. 

***

Positivity is a more tricky subject to dwell on that one might think. For it is not burying all the troubles we face in our daily life and pretending like everything is alright, which is something I used to believe when I was younger, but that is defined as denial. It is not either accepting it as a normal occurrence as if everyone else endures it too, for even though we can relate to each other’s stories, we haven’t undergone these similarities in the same way and our story is evermore unique. 

“Be mindful. Be grateful. Be positive. Be true. Be kind.”

Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart

On the other hand, being positive about our battles signifies not being ashamed at all, either of it or of expressing it. Throughout middle and high school, I came to find it very difficult to bottle up all of my worries and insecurities because I had no one to confide in. Afterwards, I started writing everything down and shared it in the open space. I needed to share what I was going through. I needed someone to hear and know my story, for I am only human after all, seeking affection and support too. To a certain extent, I believed that I was going too far and it occurred to me that I may have been oversharing. I felt guilty. Guilty to make it a little too much about me and about trying to share a lesson I felt not entitled to share because of my young age. And yet, this is all what defines negativity. I still firmly believe that one is free of doing and being anything they want. Thus, I came up to the conclusion that I was merely being fully authentic with myself and others. And therefore I kept on writing, for honesty is being oneself.

All in all, positivity is being mindful. It means acknowledging the tough times and being aware that we will make it through. Flawless and perfect do not define positivity, for one has to agree that nothing in life ever truly is. Positivity is recognizing any wrongdoings you might have and knowing that it is alright. Positivity is believing still.  

Toujours debout. Renaud.

what does being positive mean to you?