ON RISKS

“There is freedom waiting for you,
On the breezes of the sky,
And you ask ‘What if I fall?’
Oh but my darling,
What if you fly?”

Erin Hanson

Have you ever been in a situation in which you felt stuck and sensed some unfairness, be it a lifestyle routine or a job position? For instance, when one finds themselves in a work environment in which they feel undervalued and quite disrespected, yet remain dubious about deciding whether or not to quit abruptly in hope of landing somewhere healthier.  Did the option of escaping it seem harder to achieve and less bearable than the thought of trying to get over it, to get used to it?

Having gone through that exact position several times myself, I have always perceived the latter as a faint-hearted decision. However, it has not been without difficulty that I have able to come to that conclusion. Learning to take risks is not an easily achievable task. It takes time, effort, and practice. It does thus require a certain dose of fearlessness, and in certain cases a well-developed intuition.

Risk is a gamble that can occur in varied areas of life, from the tiniest, most random to the greatest, most meaningful life event. It is taking a chance, regardless of the status quo. It is taking the leap, regardless of the likelihood of instability and insecurity. It is fighting against any plausible regret and having faith in unpredictability.

Oftentimes, if the cards are played right, the outcome will result in the shape of a reward. For, indeed, even nowadays in our ever-changing society, the strength to stand up for your rights and dignity is not as common as it may sound. This is why it is so common to stumble across the countless and similar stories of people in their forties going through existential crises for having settled in a life where their hearts were never really in.

“So we shall let the reader answer this question for himself: who is the happier man, he who has braved the storm of life and lived or he who has stayed securely on shore and merely existed?”

— Hunter S. Thompson

***

Furthermore, taking risks does not necessarily mean diving into the complete unknown. For, having a back-up plan according to the situation may be moral-boosting support, if not a crucial safety net to hold on to.

It is only by pushing our boundaries that we get to live new experiences, that we grasp who we truly are within, that we learn and that we grow. Staying in our comfort zones in edgy circumstances is, in fact, the trap we oftentimes fall into.  Of course, there will be failures on the road, times when we got overexcited, and end up in unforeseen affairs. Yet, failure entails a twice more important lesson than a risk that ends in soundness.

Being able to believe in uncertainty means also being ready to accept new challenges, defy the odds, and shoot for the magical and surprising wonders that life holds. Believing is emboldening. Believing is receiving, one way or the other.

Personally, I’d rather choose the path less traveled.

what’s the greatest risk you’ve dared taking?

Better than this. Evie Irie.

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 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 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?

ON TRAVEL

***

Traveling is that thing that makes you tickle when you come across the departure signs at the airport. That one ticket that you’ve been waiting for. That one destination that you’ve longed to see.

Traveling is falling in love with the journey rather than the destination. The highs and lows. The car rides and footsteps. 

Traveling is moving forward. Always forward. Moving on and looking backwards with the slightest, purest form of nostalgia. 

Traveling is feeling it all. Accepting it all. You can alter your path but the road cannot be changed. Accepting it all as it is. Every soul, every word, every inch of flesh. Letting it be.

Traveling is letting go. Letting go of a past that cannot be rewinded. Letting go of the hands touched, the eyes met and the places encountered. 

Traveling is feeling different. And also feeling we still belong. And yet, it is feeling the same. A reunion in opposites and resemblance. 

Traveling is accepting that we are the stranger, the foreigner, the outsider. And still, it is being ready to dive right in.

Traveling is taking a leap into the unknown. Being brave and fearless when fear seems to be determinate to take all control over us. 

Traveling is getting lost. At times almost drowning and yet continuing on breathing, surviving.

Traveling is being close. So very close to our own identity by being reminded of our former surroundings whilst in similar ones. 

Traveling is being close to oneself. So very close, when on our own, the only human presence we may feel is our reflection in the mirror. 

Traveling is being far away. So far away and yet so very close as well, connected heart to heart, always.

Traveling is discovering. Walking on the path that plenty before us, hundreds or seconds ago, have walked tirelessly. 

Traveling is fully experiencing and sensing sunsets and sunrises while being absolutely aware of the possibility that you may never be in the same conditions ever again. 

Traveling is opening up our eyes to a whole new dimension. Observing in awe or disgust. Exploring with acceptance. 

Traveling is accepting, yet again, each and every challenge that is thrown at us. For this is the only option that remains.

“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.”

Augustine of Hippo

***

Travel is evanescent.

Travel is acceptance.

Traveling is feeling.

Travel is discovery in every form.

Traveling is taking the leap.

Traveling is the human condition.

Traveling is the long, rich, flickering and never-ending self-discovery journey to the soul. Traveling is a soul-searching quest, a quest for the meaning of life.

***

Amalfi, Aug. 2019, GC

Indochine. Black Sky.

how does the word travel speak to your soul?