ON KNOWING YOURSELF

The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are.
–  Carl Gustav Jung

Who are you?

I do not mean ramble on what is your personality like according to the Myers–Briggs type indicator, nor to prattle on the origins of your family name or your zodiac sign. These are details that, of course, do contribute to your identity. How attached to them are you? Doesn’t the importance you give to them hinder you from achieving potential change?

When undergoing a self-assessment of his personality, one tends to remember better the positive aspects. This makes sense as one shall generally choose to introduce himself to new encounters through a favorable light in order to make a good first impression, rather than denigrating his own self. As one thus keeps presenting himself according to the very same set of values, the negative parts are often left out of the equation, making a seemingly very little mark on his mind.

Isn’t it human, after all, to simply choose to focus on the good rather than the bad?

At times, concentrating on the favorable elements in our lives is indeed the only way to perceive the end of the tunnel. In some cases, it may even serve as a life-saving action. Yet, one ought not to forget that as human beings we are works in progress. Life means constant evolution, embracing changes, undertaking new experiences. This means learning to navigate through the ebbs and flows of life. In order to manage it, one has to accept that there is a balance in the way he is, but that shall not hinder him from modifying its weight. 

We have to dare to be ourselves, however frightening or strange that self may prove to be.
– May Sarton

oouui
BCN, May 2020, GC

Aren’t you willing to grow?

I recently fathomed out that the great and prime patience I, for so long, believed I had was not truly reflected in my actions. I can be quite impatient at times and with my stubbornness, it is often likely to lead me to waves of anger. It is never pleasant to realize that you possess such and such flaw, let alone acknowledging it to your peers. And yet, it is also the only way to work on it. It is always the first step to take in order to progress.

It seems needless to say that this is not an easy task, for it requires a constant self-evaluation. Moreover, it demands a certain kind of strength to accept ourselves in our most vulnerable state  – the most genuine and authentic. Many people, as frightened as they are to conquer their fears, are not willing to confront themselves. In the same way, they could be intimated to disclose their true self in front of their peers.

Indeed, it takes a lot of courage to be authentic but there is no other alternative to self-growth. Perfection is unattainable. One cannot forever hide beneath the covers of an illusory self, as they eventually fade. This does not mean proclaiming all of your defects from the rooftops, but simply not pretending to be someone you are not and thus not lying to yourself.

***

All in all, to fully know know oneself requires to, sometimes, shift the focus, see yourself through a different lens and be ready and willing to evolve.

Do not worry, the universe will test you and if you pay enough attention will always show you the way.

how well do you truly know yourself?

Le Canzoni. Jovanotti.

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 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?