On Failing

Truth be told, we have failed.

We have failed to be honest with ourselves.

We have failed to remember an important day.

We have failed to pass an exam.

We have failed to make someone smile.

We have failed to persevere.

For most of our lives, ever since our very first experiences, we are encouraged to list our successes. In school, good grades are celebrated and highlighted by the teachers, almost as though the bad ones remain unnoticed. A negative perception comes as a result of it. Our ego seems hurt, our self-esteem scarred.

Yet, foremost, we have failed to see that failure was a success, one more step towards the achievement, one part of the story of this accomplishment. All in all, failure is an intrinsic part of a success.

***

When we fail, we learn to embrace the darkness. For, without darkness, there is no light. Failure is a springboard. When we fail, we are meant to grasp where it went wrong. We are meant to understand there was either an unsuitable choice made or merely bad timing involved.

Failing is learning. Failing is strengthening oneself. Failing is climbing one staircase ahead, not falling one floor behind. The act of failing is comparable to the climb of a ladder, uncovering one more layer of your very own self. To a certain extent, failing is a self-discovery.

Failing means trying. And what greater gift is there than being endowed with the boldness to take a leap of faith and dive straight in? Failing is thus what makes the journey ever more meaningful.

“Failure is the condiment that gives success its flavor.”

— Truman Capote

When we fail, we learn to embrace the darkness. For, without darkness, there is no light. Failure is a springboard. When we fail, we are meant to grasp where it went wrong. We are meant to understand there was either an unsuitable choice made or merely bad timing involved.

Failing is learning. Failing is strengthening oneself. Failing is climbing one staircase ahead, not falling one floor behind. The act of failing is comparable to the climb of a ladder, uncovering one more layer of your very own self. To a certain extent, failing is a self-discovery.

Failing means trying. And what greater gift is there than being endowed with the boldness to take a leap of faith and dive straight in? Failing is thus what makes the journey ever more meaningful.

Failing at making the attempt might in the end be the greatest failure of all.

Oscar Anton. Cereals and milk.

ON AFFABILITY

“I define connection as the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship.”

Brené Brown

It all started when news report, worldwide, starting mentioning the words ‘social distancing’.

However substantially, first and foremost with the rise of social networks this past decade, new technologies seemed to have reinforced our social bonds, the following emerging phrase appears to have crushed it significantly as well: social distancing.

Social distance: to be away from society ; or in other words: to be secluded.

In the first place, governments all over the world started implementing regulations forbidding any social gathering, with close to complete lockdowns, which largely lasted for about a month. Afterward, the new measures of setting a certain reduced capacity in all public spaces appeared. As one leader was enacting such new rules, another elsewhere seemed to follow. New lifestyles had to be taught and learned, dismantling the system of each social activity in order to reinvent it.

***

SOCIAL : late Middle English: from Old French, or from Latin socialis ‘allied’, from socius ‘friend’.

PHYSICAL : late Middle English (in the sense ‘relating to medicine’): from medieval Latin physicalis, from Latin physica ‘things relating to nature’ (see physic). Sense 2 dates from the late 16th century and sense 1 from the late 18th century.

The adjectives ‘social’ and ‘physical’ are therefore not synonyms. From its etymology, we can denote that to be social means to be everyone’s friend. It signifies being courteous, expressing common civilities, greeting people, and using closing formulas when leaving a place. Furthermore, it is important to emphasize the fact that being a social being (i.e. the definition of ‘human being’) does not necessarily mean being a social butterfly.

And yet, lately, staying away from other people has broken all social bonds between people, regardless of how intrinsic it is to human nature. A friendly handshake has left, only to leave the place to fear. Fear of the other, fear of the unknown, fear of other people, fear of society, fear of closeness, and intimacy. The already existing climate of fear between individuals ruled by differences (whether that be racism, homophobia, or any other prejudice) has been cultivated by the fear-led speeches of administrations throughout the world.

“Life will break you. Nobody can protect you from that, and living alone won’t either, for solitude will also break you with its yearning. You have to love. You have to feel. It is the reason you are here on earth. You are here to risk your heart. You are here to be swallowed up. And when it happens that you are broken, or betrayed, or left, or hurt, or death brushes near, let yourself sit by an apple tree and listen to the apples falling all around you in heaps, wasting their sweetness. Tell yourself you tasted as many as you could.”

Louise Erdrich

The world has forgotten about human connection; the core value of everyone’s life. To share ideas, values, experiences and connect on a deeper level with one another, no matter the gaps between social, ethnic, professional or cultural background.

Life is a journey to be shared, otherwise, it is one that shall remain purposeless. Trying to reinforce our social bonds through social media and constant online messaging services may resemble a productive attempt, and yet may as well result in a failed endeavor. In recent years, leaders in new technologies have put the main focus on bettering relationships between people separated from a physical distance. However, the inference drawn today is that the offline, real-life connection has thus been neglected and strongly negatively impacted.

And although loneliness can be embraced, it cannot be the sole ruler of our lives. For eventually, through any way, life is meant to be shared.

what does social life mean to you?

Blinding Lights. The Weekend.

ON GOODBYE

“Parting is such sweet sorrow that I shall say goodnight till it be morrow.”

— Shakespeare

Good bye is serene. It is embracing the end. I means looking back with gratitude. It is the expression of good wishing when parting ways, or having already parted ways. Saying goodbye means being wholeheartedly ready to face the plausible absence and the fear. More than a peaceful farewell, goodbye is the gift that one can make a close-one. It also can be the gift that one offers to themselves.

Goodbye is not similar to the violent movement of a door being shut in your face. And perhaps; up to a certain extent, to the most desperate; uttering and feeling the word’s weight plainly embodies the wondrous hope of a reunion. Goodbye is not the French adieu.

It took me a while, almost a year, to be precise, to finally say goodbye. It took me a while to realize that saying goodbye was not a bleak action but a positive one. It is not the tearing of parts, as forever still binds two beings in one part of their lives.

It can at times be the bravest thing you can do to honor your self, your self-worth — the harshest accomplishment and yet also one of your greatest.

Goodbye is letting go. Goodbye is freedom. Goodbye is love.

We tried hard to utter the word
eventually, we did say goodbye
in the midst of our storm
we let it all out
perhaps not face to face
but still, heart to heart
soul to soul
life to life
in each our very own ways
we faced the darkness
and embraced the remains of light
in truth
and regard
we offered each other
respect and reward
whichever way we would part and thus
we embarked on this
forthright path
once named
bona fides.

Izal. Hambre.

what does goodbye mean to you?

ON DARING

In a world filled with restrictions and governed by fear, to be daring seems to be, today, a rebellious act. To push one’s boundaries is not as praised as it used to be. To be daring is not a feature that is considered overly positive or necessary to teach to toddlers. As a matter of fact, it is a quality that tends to be excessively overlooked and barely mentioned in any self-description.

“Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.”
― Andre Gide

***

About five years ago, I embarked on this journey of jotting down my thoughts and share it in the open space. Concerned by the fact that someone whom I know might come across these pieces, I decided to write in English, and not in my mother-tongue. To a certain extent, it was my strategy to camouflage myself. It went on for moths and as of today still sticks with me, although my fondness for the language eventually outshone the will to hide. Out of the blue, a year later, I resolved to share an excruciatingly therapeutic piece I had barely written with my real life acquaintances. Despite the apprehension and mixed feelings, I dared to take the leap. I was determined to make people see whom I believed to be the ‘real me’. Without that one seemingly simple act, I would not be confident enough today to assert myself as a writer and share my writings blatantly, with no more fear of judgement. This one simple act made me evolve, not only as a writer but also as a person.

To be daring means to accept life’s doomed realities ; it means not hiding from life itself. It is standing up for yourself and honoring your existence’s worth. Daring is accepting yourself, embracing vulnerability. To be daring to be oneself, fully and shamelessly. It means reflecting resilience. To be daring is to embrace your real power. It is pushing the boundaries, rejecting the preconceptions and societal stereotypes. Daring to do something in particular in whatever way one chooses, daring to be seen in a new light reminds us of the importance of non-conformity. It embodies the quintessential value of human beings: uniqueness.

To be daring means displaying the all-encompassing package of your being. It entails to cast fear aside, be it coming from yourself, others or regarding your surroundings. It means setting yourself free from your own mental blocks. It is refusing to hold back for the sake of tranquility, for, it is not supposed to be encapsulated by the film title alluding to life as ‘a long quiet river’.

To be daring means being ready to live life to the fullest, no matter what is at stake. Boldness is indeed the pathway to life-changing opportunities.

“All serious daring starts from within.”
― Eudora Welty

Película. Siddhartha.

What is your definition of daring?

ON LOSTNESS

It seems to be the circle of life: falling down and getting up. We get stuck and, if we are lucky enough, we embark on attempts to escape the rut. We may be led to more colorful times and unexpectedly comes the downfall. Once again, we are lacking directions. We feel trapped in a maze we’ve never walked through in the past.

There is an odd perception, nowadays, of this pitfall. The constant changes that surround our lives are resulting in an everlasting feeling of lostness. Brains in continuous activity. Minds overloaded with various flows of information. It has become demanding to cease all activities and press pause. The clock is ticking. There is no time to stop and rest. All in all, not to know has turned out to be pernicious. To be lost is deemed an affront to the concept of life. One has to be anything but lost.

And yet, is not lostness the epitome of life itself? Does life not equal the search for meaning, the path to fathoming all of our universe’s intricate mysteries, and growing on that journey?

“Not until we are lost do we begin to understand ourselves.”

― Henry David Thoreau


***

What if you know and yet at the same time don’t know? What if all the options offered to you, the countless directions you could head to are blurring your mind?

What if you lack the resources to clarify what your heart truly yearns for?

What if time is all you need to get through the lostness? For, there is nothing more powerful than a tranquil mind meekly waiting.

***

Bristol, June 2019, Giulia C.

“Not every soul wants to be found, because not every lost is lost, some of them found something or many things or even everything in their lostness!”

― Mehmet Murat Ildan


Being lost means finding yourself. For, in lostness, one finds resilience. For, it is in lostness that are made the most precious of discoveries. For, it is in lostness that one awakes to the meaningful and most intriguing questions. For, it is in lostness that one can learn to master the tough art of pushing their boundaries. Lostness means acknowledging and embracing the uncertain. It entails acceptance, complete, genuine, and understanding. It is an opportunity to unravel a myriad of unforeseen possibilities. Lostness is not an imbroglio. It is the road that leads to metamorphosis and epiphanies.

It is navigating through a sea filled with species never encountered before. It is the treasure trove that gives rhythm to our existence. It is meeting with your one, true, and previously concealed self. Lostness is the voyage, the odyssey.

Lostness is the quintessence of human nature.

What did you find in lostness?

La banalità del mare. Pinguini Tattici Nucleari.

***

ON AUTHENTICITY

Attaining pure authenticity is a life-long effort to be pursued. Although some situations tend to neglect authenticity, due to the ever-lasting pressure to conform to societal expectations, there always will be a certain occasion when we’ll be able to embrace our purest and truest self. Whether it is through art, by expressing ourselves without omitting our shortcomings, or ultimately thanks to the companionship of friendly acquaintances which may eventually forge an imperishable love for showing our true self. As varied as the forms of our newly born authenticity are, these can never leave us.

Writing is, from my viewpoint, the very moment when I feel the most honest towards my own self. Besides the worshipped therapeutical effects conveyed, I believe that writing only enables one to question themselves to a certain extent. The process itself unfolds naturally, from describing one’s feelings to sharing emotions and additionally uncovering one’s fears. In the end, the writer acknowledges his complete self. There is no doubt, only asserted certainties. There is no debate whether the flaws should be left aside, the thought doesn’t even have time to arise in the writer’s mind as it flows so soothingly. Each and every feature is taken into account, no cogitation required.

Nineteenth-century British poet William Wordsworth exhorted in a letter to his wife in 1812 : “Fill your paper with the breathing of your heart.”

This quotation quite simply elucidates the quintessence of writing. The writer gives his whole self to words, he plays with them and perverts them, nevertheless he never loses himself in the process. He becomes the paper, the words. Therefore, he cannot cover the shady elements. Black and white it is. And that is how authenticity is imprinted in writing.

This is how I feel whenever I pen something. There is no time to question myself, I am solely absorbed  in the piece I am giving myself to. 

“Only the truth of who you are, if realized, will set you free.” Eckhart Tolle

There will most-likely always be some kind of tribulations to hinder us from being honest with ourselves and from being satisfied of sharing all the parts of ourselves with others. But, at least for now, we should hold onto that these things that allows us to be authentic, no matter how tiny they seem to be. There is no greater pleasure than having this one little thing that makes us who we are, which reminds us of who we are, and which enables us to expand the perception others have on us by showing who we truly are. This not so little thing is a step towards the ultimate goal of being fully authentic, always.

Nevertheless, to remain authentic in our day-to-day life seems a much harder task to complete. To live in perfect harmony with our convictions is a challenge in our society ruled by capitalism, under some sort of new plutocracy. Additionally, being able to be outspoken about our values and clearly identify ourselves in relation to them in public seems to be increasingly scarce nowadays. 

To live by one’s values, from the diet we follow to the things that we consume, aware of the diktats society is attempting at forcing on us and yet rejecting them, more than being an ever-lasting endeavor, is a fiercely powerful act of authenticity. Authenticity endows one with the most precious reward: freedom. Being authentic means being brave enough not to hide beneath layers of false reality.

Which value do you believe you best live by?

P.S. This is an up-cycled version of a piece written in 2015.

Mi lugar. Sinsinati.

ON COMMITMENT

‘Cease chasing it and it will come to you naturally’ is a commonplace widely spread nowadays. Indeed, in recent decades, society has contributed to the emergence of the idea that the ‘chase’ is an obstructive action, close to a sinful one.

One shall not chase a person or a job position to optimize their chances to actually attain it. One shall not chase money or happiness, for all it would entail is a blockage. In that regard, pursuing these desires is oftentimes referred to as an impediment. We put the blame on the ones who vigorously attempt at fulfilling those by emphasizing so-called greed.

Yet, is there anything so morally wrong about going after what one wants? Does not this condemnation comes from a place of bitterness? Is not the chase merely an act of devotion?

***

‘Commitment is an act, not a word.’ — Sartre

It is important to denote that chasing, be it a person or a job opening, means following a trail, that is our emotions, sensitivities, intuitions, or aspirations. To chase is also to fight. It is believing how powerful one can be if they stick to their goals. It simply is taking action and acknowledging that there is an accomplishment that will fulfill their life and is thus worth pursuing. Chasing represents the idea of grasping wholly one’s inner world, understanding their needs, and their wants. It thus indicates a strong knowledge of themselves and their potential.

In other words, we could refer to the chase from a more positive perspective using the term ‘commitment’. For, trying to reach what we desire requires a great deal of work and patience. As Bukowski once formulated: ‘If you’re going to try, go all the way / Otherwise, don’t even start’. To pledge to live up to our dreams and expectations demands one to be authentic and true to themselves.

Nevertheless, the unbounded will for commitment does not tend to be prevalent in our society. Conversely, the types of commitment that solely revolve around one sphere of life, such as the contract binding two beings in marriage or partnership, do appear to be more frequent. In fact, possessing this eagerness to fully immerse oneself in an endeavor is strenuous. It requires resilience, perseverance, and a prominent keenness to live fully that few individuals are endowed with or struggle to maintain all three at the same time. One needs to invest their time and their persona in order to commit.

***

***

Without a genuine interest, without a spark, without passion, a venture is drawn to a close and given up on. Is it ever worth it, however, to abandon a project on the road without adding a sufficient amount of effort to convey our truthful longing?

All in all, chasing means being passionate, confident in our dreams, trusting, and dedicated. And yet, in spite of that, one still needs to wisely choose the battles they wish to fight. For it is most likely not worthwhile it losing oneself in commitment.

which commitment are you most proud of?

Que electricidad. Carlos Sadnesss.

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?