Taking a step back

A moment of serendipity. A leap of faith. How scary is the perspective of a trifle being able to change the course of your entire life? In the past six months I have counted at least six potentially life changing crossroads. In each of them a slightest turn in my decisions could have led me to an entirely different place. Workplace, university, people, city, even countries – in past six months I’ve had three of them to live in.

Having a hard time to decide on either one of the theories of human destiny; whether your faith ultimately brings you to a place you are supposed to end up in, or is it that you are on the road, surrounded by a vast net of choices, each and every one leading to different outcomes. Eighth dimension of all the parallel possibilities in which your life could go.

 “History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce.”

– Karl Marx
The resolution that has evolved recently is one good teacher about taking a step back in order to take a step forward. By following the gut feeling, looking for the unknown, I have found myself right where I am supposed to be. I’ve seen myself taking chances as fast as they arise, knowing they are, ultimately, trifles. The choice itself is a trifle. What scares us is the aftermath that follows. The Pareto Principle, or the 80/20 rule, states that roughly 80% of your happiness is an outcome of 20% of your actions. Only a fifth – how scary is the perspective of a trifle being able to change the course of your entire life?
What scares us is the different reality we will never see, having made a choice.
The reality is that the first decision, the easiest solution that seems to appear for you right in front of your eyes is the best one. Had to swallow my pride in order to go with it, and at this moment I am hell damn satisfied I did. Even though the road is never straight when you wander with your curiosity and stumble on your mistakes- but man, it’s hell of a ride. Driven by curiosity for all the unknown possibilities in life. Driven by wanting to know all the scenarios, I have cracked at one point, took a step back, moved forward so much more than I thought I would have done otherwise.
“We all think that we are running away from insanity. In reality, we are all running circles in our own asylums.”
-Avinash Wandre
It’s the realization that the plot of your life doesn’t make sense to you anymore that can cause you to take a step back and set your life back again on the track.

Spotting the trains

        Train station in Rotterdam, Netherlands. One after another, yellow aerodynamic-shaped tubes rush into the station accompanied by typical Dutch hoarse wheezing, drawing out of the shielded speakers. Breda, Dordrecht, Vlissingen, Venlo. Spoor 1, 2, 3, all the spots here are dots connected by yellow smudges in the rain. And each of of them carries hundreds of passengers connecting their points of the journey. It’s a matrix of connections that is virtually never put much thought to. Board the train, wait, get off the train. You’re just a short line from point A to point B.
        Train station in Rotterdam, Netherlands. One after another, tall and short, fat and skinny, white and black passengers rush into the station together with distinctive conversations they are in the middle of, their voices pitching in different tones, accents, intonation, languages. Dutch, Polish, German, French. Spoor 1, 2, 3, all the people here are dots connected by grey, ground-embedded station. And each of them carries hundreds of stories, hundreds of directions to go to. A matrix of connections they do not normally think of. Board the train, wait, get off the train. Your attention spans over a short line from point A to point B.
        Get off the train. Airport. This  is the visible culture melting pot, forcing you to notice other people; no longer the meaningless dots. Where, in this moment, is the plane that departures in three hours time? How many people are carried from that place to a point where you are, waiting to exchange seats with them? Who, among those waiting, will go where? Now you have the opportunity to see the couple drinking coffee next to you direct themselves to a gate annotated with a board sign Copenhagen; spot that eccentric-looking guy in a large hoodie sitting under the board informing you, Lisbon; skim through all the faces in a queue for Manchester. Different languages, looks, clothes, shoes, bags are boarding different airlines, airplanes, times, gates.
        While my graphical metaphor of a train station is a line, airports seem to be depicted by convoluted knob of twisted lines, interweaving together as each line asks one another, Where’s Gate 4?, Excuse me, which way should I go for the information desk?, Do you need some help, Would you like some coffee, would you please direct yourself to the baggage reclaim.
        Airports are the knobs of places and stories. You can meet anyone, you can go anywhere. Suddenly, London is not that far away from Berlin. And Warsaw is just 2 hours away from Eindhoven. And the lady who served coffee to the Danish couple is French, as indicated by a placard on her shirt. Presence of ‘the everywhere’ is embedded in everyone around.

Choose a life. Choose a job. Choose a career. Choose a family. Choose a fucking big television. Choose washing machines, cars, compact disc players and electrical tin openers… Choose DSY and wondering who the fuck you are on a Sunday morning. Choose sitting on that couch watching mind-numbing, spirit crushing game shows, stucking junk food into your mouth. Choose rotting away in the end of it all, pishing your last in a miserable home, nothing more than an embarrassment to the selfish, fucked up brats you spawned to replace yourself, choose your future. Choose life… But why would I want to do a thing like that?”
― Irvine WelshTrainspotting

Connecting the dots.

It’s funny how the life goes. Once you switch on to the open attitude, say ‘yes’ to more and more things, give more of you to other people, follow every impulse, trust your intuition. You let go of the steer in your life and paradoxically, it gives you control. You devote your time to other people, help them and listen to them, realizing how this is the only way you can have it all.

     I’ve been seeing that on all of the events in my life recently, more and less serious or important, each and single one of them contributed to creation of the overall picture I have in my mind right now, typing these words.

“When he was turning thirty, Jobs had used a
metaphor about record albums. He was musing about
why folks over thirty develop rigid thought patterns and
tend to be less innovative. “People get stuck in those
patterns, just like grooves in a record, and they never
get out of them,” he said. At age forty-five, Jobs was
now about to get out of his groove.” 

     It takes 30 days for anything to become a habit. My opinion is, you should never let that happen when it comes to your life- take risks, change, and most importantly, never let the fear dim your decisions and choke you as you’d stay in the same job you hate, same house for years even though your eyes almost bleed the moment you look at it, same and unchanged image of you yourself, unknowingly making you love yourself less. 

Don’t you want to take a leap of faith? Or become an old man, filled with regret, waiting to die alone!”

     From my very own and recent experience I can tell the image unveils to you with hindsight. You will never see the whole way home while driving at night. But you drive anyways, your headlights showing you only three meters ahead of you. Seeing this distance you go, push further, drive on and ultimately reach home. 
     And you will never see the big picture while it’s in its creation. It is only after you can connect the dots from one person to another, one place to an event, event to a catastrophe, catastrophe to a lesson, lesson to another event. The big picture emerges as you start to accept this is the one and only way you will be able to see it.
 

Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature,

nor do the children of men as a whole experience it.
Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure.
Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.
To keep our faces toward change and behave like free spirits
in the presence of fate is strength undefeatable.”


 
     Funnily enough, when my phone has been stolen, it brought me more amusement than worry, having to write my best friend’s number on my arm with a sharpie whenever going out, convincing strangers to let me use their phones, noting down their numbers with a pen on the palm of my hand. And, actually having to remember their names, instead of finding them on Facebook right away. I stopped looking for excuses and stopped saying ‘I need to‘, ‘I should”, instead, had a multitude of sleepless nights filled with doing everything that was coming to my mind, instantly. We cooked, danced, stumbled our way to the beach to see sunrise (where we’ve been greeted by Cloudy & Rainy Sky Always, est. in Scotland of course) and done every thing that we thought of doing- just for the sake of doing it.
     Nothing could surprise me anymore at this point, I reckon, as I know ANYTHING may happen. I do not wish or hope for anything, hence everything that comes is amazing as it is. After all of it, the big picture that emerges afterwards makes me say “I love life” almost all the day, making strangers and friends to think I am perpetually drunk.
    
      And I would never wish for that image it to be revealed to me in other way.

Integrity, being true in what you do and what you say.



– …, don’t you think so?
– Yeah yeah yeah.
(I didn’t hear what you said so I’m just gonna say yeah and hope it’s enough)

     In my attempt to break out of this, I have said these words exactly; “Oh, I didn’t hear what you said anyway, was hoping my ‘yeah’ was enough of an answer“, completely changing the whole feel and pace of the conversation.
     How is that many, when asked a question, do not give you a clear answer, but just elope? If you were to try to describe what was their message, you probably would not even know how to put it in words- did they just shrug their shoulders, or remained silent? Or said just anything, but an actual answer? I know that sometimes people just do not want to speak about certain topics. I totally understand it. But have enough dignity to say “I do not want to talk about it”, instead of just keeping silent. Instead of eloping. Your language, and ability to communicate should be a tool to you to speak your thoughts, for that your thoughts are your most inner and true version of yourself.
    Other example, “solving” a problem by just walking away from it, with no sentence or word of explanation is just a cowardice. Running away from it always makes it worse; this statement must have been repeated enough times so to become the truth. How is it that some people dare to stop a friendship within couple of days by just floating away? And even worse, acting like nothing is changed, like everything is just fine and normal. Well guess what, it’s not.
     Speak up. Explain yourself. The reason why you want it – to change a job, end a relationship, sell the house your salary has been working for so hard, or leave the country you live – should be the only one, that allows you to think and act with integrity. It is how you feel. At any point in your life, when something does not feel right, you should ask yourself “Am I happy?”, and if not, then saying “Because I am not happy” is a damn well reason enough to change job, end a relationship, sell house or do any thing in this world that you truly feel like doing.
Other than that, never try to avoid giving a clear answer. Do not leave the issue without resolving it. You do not want it to remain as an unfinished puzzle never to be solved. Be honest with yourself, be mature enough, and have enough respect for you, and the other person, to resolve whatever needs to be resolved. Do not go around pretending everything is fine when it’s clearly not.
Be Impeccable With Your Word. Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.
(by Miguel Angel Ruiz)
   Why would you start investing all your time and effort in somebody if then, suddenly, you stop speaking with them and not giving a clear explanation? Why bother at all? It is called integrity that is needed so to not leave any unfinished business. So to not leave the other person hanging onto a hope. So to actually do what you’re saying you will do. And, sometimes, ‘saying’ is not necessarily put in words, but in actions. When actions are true with what you want and plan to do.
     If you are not sure you will do something, say so, say you are UNSURE. And finally, if you don’t want to do it, say it. Say no. Be true to yourself instead of making meaningless promises, whether it’s by your word or actions. Those are worth nothing but a medal of immaturity, borderline with worst kind of dishonesty.
Have the courage to say no. Have the courage to face the truth. Do the right thing because it is right. These are the magic keys to living your life with integrity.
(by W. Clement Stone)
     If you suddenly change your mind, having second thoughts about any place or situation you are in – feel free to ‘untangle’ yourself out of it. Ask yourself, “Am I happy in it?” and feel free to walk away at any moment, but always explain yourself. You do not need to feel obliged to sacrifice your own self for the sake of someone else all the time.
Respect yourself enough to walk away from anything that no longer serves you, grows you or makes you happy, as said by Robert Tew, but I would take it further. Walk away, but do it in a mature, proper way. Changing your mind and turning a place upside down if you need it is not wrong, but the way you do it- this is what really counts.
Never elope. Some people, instead of clearly stating “I will not speak about this”, they mastered the skill of speaking their way out even out of straight, clear Yes/No questions. I could probably give a shout out to some politicians for this skill.
     Switch to disarming honesty, please. Switch to your own integrity in what you do, what you say, what you think.