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 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 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 BRAVERY

Courage isn’t the absence of fear. Courage is feeling the fear and stepping out anyway.


What is that makes one brave? Many define bravery as a trait that seems to be only perceivable from the outside. It is as though when one turns inwards there is no way he could think of it.It is as though a restriction existed on that adjective to be used as in self-descriptions.

Did we cease to see bravery as a quality at some point? Did our society condition us to assume that all paths were predestined to be filled with sorrows and suffering? Did we thus get accustomed to the idea that a human being is inherently a warrior, designed to overcome life’s harshest obstacles? A concept that would also happen to be the explanation behind the fight or flight response.

We have come to deprecate the value of courage as if it were one that most people own. Yet, truth is, although anyone can acquire it, one is not magically born with it. Perhaps, to find courage, as we phrase it, is the only approach to cope with unendurable experiences.

Oftentimes, we hear the recurrent line of thought in the testimony of individuals who have triumphed over the greatest hardships: ‘I did not choose to be this way, to keep going, I simply had to, it was my only chance of survival and I just perceived it as living.’ Strength of character does not arise overnight. It mainly requires heaps of efforts and every so often painstaking actions.

BCN, May 2020, GC

One is more likely to hide behind all of his strengths than publicly acknowledging his former battles and showing off.It is almost as though we carried a sense of shame if our past victories were painlessly confessed. Years ago, believing that the attention-seeking aspect prevailed most of the time, I used to be continuously suspicious of people who were, for instance, openly dwelling upon their personal troubles in the media. Perhaps this was merely the result of a very long time of bottling feelings up and not being able to confess my own issues.

I came to the realization that not everyone has to deal with the same problems. Everyone will someday encounter the same amount of pain than his peers but, for now, one may have no clue what this affliction means. And this is fine. Life is not linear as some like to consider it. As the French say, la roue tourne.

Perhaps this is the reason why courage can only be gained. At some point in our life, we all should get to proclaim ourselves ‘brave’ and we shall accept the label without guilt or embarrassment. Nevertheless, some beings still encounter courage more often than others and it becomes a practice – a ritual, a faith, a way of life. The only way.A part of their mind, body and soul.

Then, we warriors of light must be prepared to have patience in difficult times and to know that the Universe is conspiring in our favor even though we may not understand how. 

Paulo Coelho


And sometimes, bravery is the countless other things that we tend not to ponder on.

Bravery is believing despite all the bumps encountered on the road. Bravery is hoping beyond belief. It is constant perseverance. It is confronting fear, be it knowingly or not. Bravery is accepting to be honest and therefore vulnerable no matter what. Bravery is being yourself in all circumstances. It is remaining a genuine being at all times. Bravery is moving on, going forward, through thick and thin. It is catching the last beam of light in the darkness. And at times, being brave merely means being aware, in the bleakest moment,that you have held on thus far and realizing how brave you are.

what makes you brave?

La vie ne vaut rien (reprise). Tim Dup.