Monday, January 26, 2015

Looking at the Rulebook

I want to break a few rules. I want to raise a little hell. I want to see what happens when you take a walk on the wild side.

This post will be brought to you by Neal Caffrey (as portrayed by Matt Bomer) because he has that suave touch that I want in my life.

The thing is though I don’t have anyone to show me the ropes. None of my friends really walk on that wild side.

I’ve spent my life following the rules. I quite like the security of it all – the soothing repetition of my habitual life and the calm serenity that comes from knowing what the day will bring.

I've watched the first three seasons of White Collar. I enjoyed them. Good fun. Nice suits. I even like the hat. I've chosen Neal to be my guide into the 'wild side'. 

Obviously I’m not looking to become a criminal mastermind. I’m thinking baby-steps. But what should those baby-steps consist of?

As I evaluate the rules that surround me I feel overwhelmed. It’s hard figuring out which ones make sense and which ones should be ripped to shreds. When is it OK to not give a flying fuck about the rules?
Only someone as charismatic as Neal could pull off wearing that hat. And doing hat tricks. I mean - seriously? I do have a hat. Maybe I'll try to copy that. Maybe it will bring me closer to the wild side?

In society, rules are nothing more than the guidelines that keep things working. I go to work in the morning. I pay my rent. I pay for food. I sleep in the night. I wear appropriate attire. I say the appropriate things in social situations.

I play by the rules.

Some of these rules can be easily broken and with minimal consequences. I could cut of my hair and be bald. I could eat breakfast for dinner. Wear shoes in bed. There’s no limit to the small things I could do.

Look at that suaveness. Those cards are gonna fall on ground and he just doesn't care. Yeah. I can for sure copy that. Ok. Hat and a deck of cards. I'll add that to my bag of tricks that I carry around.

I could refuse to pay rent, but the consequence would be my likely eviction and subsequent homelessness. Not an ideal solution.

I could develop a grey moral compass and be careless with other people’s emotions. But I like my integrity and I’d like to keep it intact.

Actions have consequences and a likelihood of that consequence to materialize itself.

So what rules should I break? What rules should I bend? And what rules should I respect?

I’m still figuring it out.

That hair looks so soft. Maybe that's how he gets away with his cons? He dazzles people by being pretty? I'd like to learn that trick.

What rules shape your life?

Friday, December 19, 2014

Chasing Failure - The only way to actually succeed in life

I've been thinking about the purpose of life and how to achieve your goals. And it's all rooted in the simple idea that we as humans control our own lives.

But maybe I've been coming at this from the wrong angle.

What is life?
Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans. We’ve all heard that quote.

I call bullshit on that.

Life is breathing in and out. It’s something you do without even noticing. You can’t NOT live. It’s simply not possible. You also can’t NOT pay attention to your life. It’s there. You’re in it. There’s no escape. So the idea of life happening somewhere outside of your perception? That’s just madness.

No matter what you do, you will be in your life, and you will live it. And unless you’re in a coma, you’re gonna notice that you’re living it. You might be disappointed or feel inadequate or a thousand other things – but as long as you breathe, you live.

But what about the things you do in your life? The meaning of it all?

Ah yes. Doing something in your life besides breathing is expected from most of us. A shame really. I quite like those days when I do nothing but breathe. But at the same time, those days make me feel horrible as well, because I feel like I’m wasting my potential and my limited time on this planet.

So, we’ve uncovered some more aspects of life: Expectations – from others and from yourself.

Let’s move on to the next key word: Control.

What is control?
Control is to exert force over something or someone to achieve a goal of some sorts.

If we agree that life is simply breathing, what is the goal we’re trying to achieve through the use of this control? Breathing in and out will happen regardless, so clearly that’s not our focus.

Oh no.

We aim to achieve a goal, set by our expectations, in order to achieve a level of satisfaction and accomplishment.

This goal will inherently be meaningless. Because life is short and no matter what you will die. Even the legacy of great people such as the pharaohs of Egypt and the emperors of China has been eroded by time.
Nothing lasts – not even humanity itself.

Letting go
This is turning pretty bleak. I don’t mean to be discouraging. I’m just trying to paint a picture where this idea of needing to be in control is utterly ridiculous, because in the end, it won’t make a difference.

The only thing you can actually control in this life is your breathing. The rest is just illusions of control.

Realize your insignificance in this life that you have. Embrace it. And start carving out the little piece of the world that you want to spend your time breathing in and out in.

I still believe you need to set yourself some goals – something you want to achieve. But don’t attribute the failure or the success in your life to yourself. Instead, embrace the inevitability of failing. Even if you succeed, it will not matter in 100+ years after your death.

So if you are going to spend your life failing at something – what do you want it to be?

Friday, November 7, 2014

It's time for an existential crisis

I’ve never had an existential crisis.

Not really.

I’ve always believed in my core that the world made sense. There was a plan or some sort of glue that would hold it all together. It was just a matter of figuring it out.

The Universe will give me what I need. That used to be my mantra and my way of comforting myself.

I’m shaking my head right now, ashamed by the level of self-centeredness and naiveté needed for such a belief to make sense.

Needless to say, I don’t feel that way anymore.

This is gonna be a not so happy post. So I'll fill it with Jensen Ackles fan art. Because I figure that will offset some of the darkness of this post. Source.

I’ve always loved Coketalk’s way of viewing life: That you should look into the abyss and laugh at it.

This is the first time I’ve ever really looked into the abyss. And I'm not laughing (not yet anyway).

Life isn’t fair. Shit happens. And it doesn’t make sense. There isn’t a pattern of any kind.

The abyss is bleak. And it is savage.

It doesn’t scare me. What’s the point of being scared?

It doesn’t intrigue me. There’s nothing to figure out. Nothing to anticipate. It just fucking is.

And then it isn’t.

The world hasn’t changed. It’s the same as it has always been. But I feel like I’m seeing it for the first time.

It’s not a cruel place – not by any measure. That would entail a sense of intent behind the causes and effects that simply does not exist. Such an intent is merely a projection of my own sense of identity.

There is no meaning. There is no sense. There is no pattern.

Maybe this is just a phase and I’ll emerge later with a new sense of purpose. But I doubt it.

We’re all just talking animals, inventing complex systems to live in, all to distract us from the fact that we’re going to die.

I’m not sad about it. I’m not happy about it either. I’m just seeing it as a fact. The earth revolves around the sun. The universe is unimaginable big. Gravity keeps my feet planted on the surface of the earth. And there is no point of it all.

I mean, life and all the systems we’ve created within the abyss are still marvelous. Wondrous. Beautiful, even. I can appreciate the beauty of this existence on the brink of madness.

I don’t quite know how to act in this world that I’m seeing now.

With kindness and grace I guess. Because when all else fails, all we have are each other.

And in an instant it can all be over.

I’m trying to avoid jumping to any conclusions. Life might be pointless. But I’m still figuring out if living a life is pointless as well. I’m leaning to a no right now.

Maybe I’ll laugh at the abyss next week. For now I’m just staring contemplatively at it.

I suppose laughter will come. Until it's my turn, please enjoy Jensen's laughter below.

I don't know who made the original gif but I got it from this post (source). If you like a smiling Jensen you should go check it out. It made me feel lots better.

This post was dark. I'm not sorry. I will find my way back to the light. Ask me tomorrow how that's going.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

No answers here this time

I’ve been having a hard time, lately. Harder than usual.

I lost my mom last week. I’ve written some unfiltered posts about it on my tumblr. You can see them in chronological order here: day 0day 3, day 7, day 8, and day 9.

That last one I wrote a few hours ago and almost posted to this blog. But I didn’t. Because it reflects a view of reality that I don’t really like. It might very well be how I feel right now, but it’s not how I want to see the world.

I don’t want to be hopeless.

But I’m afraid I am right now.

My world has been shaken to its core and I’m still trying to figure out how this new world works.

It’s clear that fairness doesn’t matter. Neither does individual will or hard work. Destiny or a higher power is a load of bull-crap too.

Doing the best you can, will not get you what you want. The world – at its core – does not care about you.

We are all going to die. It's just a matter of when.

I know there is freedom somewhere in this realization too. Freedom to let go. Freedom to spend your time however you please. Freedom to not care about trivial shit. And freedom to find joy in the simple things.

But I’m not there yet.

Instead I’m sitting at the edge of a black hole, wondering what the point of it all is.

If I ever figure it out I’ll let you know.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

What to do When Your Passion Doesn't Exist

I get so tired of people telling me to go after my dreams. Because what dreams are we talking about here?

The one I had when I was a teenager and wanted to be a YA fantasy writer? Or the one I had when I was 6 and wanted to be princess? Or is it the one I had last night when all I really wanted was to road trip in the USA until the end of time?

Take your passion. Make it happen.

It’s even in a god damn 80's pop song, for crying out loud.

I grew up on this shit. Go confidently in the direction of your dreams and all that jazz.

And I get it. You’re supposed to go after what you want. You are not supposed to be paralyzed by fear or feel like you don’t deserve good things in your life.

But what if you just don’t know what your passion is?

Like. I really love eating icecream, but somehow that doesn’t translate to being a passion. I also really love reading fiction. I love shopping for clothes. I love browsing etsy for cute stuff. I love tumbling through tumblr and seeing the beauty of the world from the comfort of my own bed.

But none of these things qualify as being my Passion – with capital P.

So what am I supposed to do?

There are countless posts out there for how to achieve your goals. There are people out there who will give you tools for how to become more productive, how to overcome your tendency to procrastinate, how to network your way to your goals and so on and so forth.

They all seem to take for granted that you have a goal. And I feel like a failure because I can’t even manage to define what my passion is. It’s this first step on a thousand mile journey and I can’t even do that.

I’ve failed before I’ve even begun.

This is depressing.

I googled “how to find your passion in life” and 9,350,000 results appeared. So at least I’m not alone in this quest.

The top three results were about ‘finding’ your passion, insinuating that it was just a matter of uncovering this thing that already exist within.

So apparently there is a passion somewhere inside of me, waiting to burst out, like some sort of alien, and show me the light.

I don’t buy this line of thought. There isn’t a premade passion inside of me just waiting to blossom. If that was the case, then if would have appeared by now. I’ve listened to myself. I’ve asked myself the ‘tough questions’. I’ve brainstormed. But still, nothing.

This view of Passion with a capital P is also limiting in my view, because it implies that you have a ‘true passion’ out there. The implication of this is that anything else you do is false, and most likely a waste of time.

I don’t like dichotomies like that. I don’t like splitting the world up in a ‘right’ way to live (where you follow your capital P Passion) and a wrong way (where you’re complacent and/or blocked).

I’m not blocked.

I just don’t have a freaking passion. That doesn’t mean that I’m broken.

It just means that I’m a bit confused. And that I’m working on figuring my life out.

And I don’t need these condescending articles telling me that it’s just a matter of asking the right questions in order to discover this Passion that exist within me.

Anyway. One of the articles had the point that passion isn’t something that you are born with – it’s something that you cultivate, and nurse into existence.

Based off that logic, the author of the article created this formula:

(curiosity + engagement) x time = passion

The article explains the formula rather nicely. Basically you need an area you are curios about, you need to let yourself explore this area, preferably with people who also find this subject interesting. And then you need to devote yourself to it over time. 5 minutes isn’t enough.

I like that it takes a more pragmatic stance on this weird passion-thingy.

It takes some of the pressure of to just focus on an area where I feel a sense of curiosity. It doesn't have to be my passion. It's just something I'd like to know more about.

So that would be my advice to you guys. Forget about following your passion. Forget about finding your purpose in life.

Just find something that you are curious about. It doesn't matter what it is. It could be silly. It could be something you think is completely useless. It could be totally impractical. It doesn't matter.

If you like, tell me in the comments something you're curious about. If you find it interesting, somebody else probably does as well. Maybe even me.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Pies and Crumbles – Or How to Live a Lie

So I tried to make my words into actions.

I tried to convince myself this week that I was a pie-making enthusiast. That would be the lie that I was gonna live.

I imagined it would be fun tinkering with cake recipes, making magic in the kitchen. I love the smell of a cake in the oven and I love eating cake. So I thought it would be a fun lie to live for a little while at least.

I decided I wanted to bake an apple pie. It’s fall after all and I’d been wanting a slice of warm apple pie for weeks.

Then I realized I don’t have a stick to roll out dough, making it extremely difficult to make a pie crust. I usually use empty bottles, but I didn’t even have that.

So I began to look for recipes that wouldn't necessitate such equipment. I settled on baking an Apple Crumble. This recipe.

After I had added the ingredients for the crumble together I realized it was for twice as much apple as I actually had.

And as I began to cut up the apples and prepare them with cinnamon and sugar, I realized I’d used all the sugar in the crumble and forgotten that ½ cup of it was supposed to be mixed with the apples.

I felt like such an idiot for not even being able to follow a set of simple instructions.

Then came the actual creation of the Apple Crumble. Of course, there was way too much crumble compared to apples, but I just piled on what could fit, stuck it in the oven and hoped for the best.

The result? A nice Apple Crumble – a bit on the sweet side. And an extra bowl of crumble that I decided to make cookies out of a few days later.

All in all? A success. But it was a frustrating process, and I certainly didn’t feel like a success afterward.

I also don’t think that I’ll be trying to live that lie anymore. Yes, I like to bake, but I fumble along when I do it.

Like I do with everything else in life, apparently.

But I had yummy Apple Crumble to keep me company for a few days, which was nice.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

What lie do you want to live?

I watched Sabrina the other night. It’s was the 1995 version with Harrison Ford. The old one with Humphrey Bogart and Audrey Hepburn is much better, but sometimes you deliberately do things that might seem out of character (like watching a remake when you know the original is way better) just to see what happens.

The movie is so unremarkable that it was hard finding a picture that captured the essence of the plot.So I settled for this because of the bikes. I love bikes.

I’ve been watching a lot of romantic films lately. I don’t know what that tells you about me. I think maybe I’m looking for answers. What the question is I’m not quite sure though. I think I’m searching for that too.

Even though this version of Sabrina is pretty forgettable, one part of it stuck with me.

It was when Linus Larrabee (played by Harrison Ford) confesses his true love for Sabrina (played by Julia Ormond). He explains that his love for her started as a lie, which grew into a dream, and now he was standing there hoping against hope for the dream to turn into reality.

I remember when I was a kid and people would ask me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I would tell them all sorts of things. I tried to be consistent, but to be honest I had no clue what I wanted to be.

I quickly learned that wasn’t an appropriate answer.

So I started to get creative.

I told them I wanted to become an archaeologist (after having watched Indiana Jones). I told them I wanted to become a writer (I love books). I told them I wanted to become a journalist (the more respectable version of a writer). I told them I wanted to become a lawyer (I blame Ally McBeal).

Now at the time I didn’t think of these stories as lies. But looking back I see that they were.

As we get older we’re told to be reasonable. To only take calculated risks. To not live with our heads in the clouds anymore. And I guess we’re told these things with the best of intentions. But why aren’t we allowed to be dreamers anymore?

It happened gradually, but the result was not to be mistaken: Playing pretend – or lying – became something you weren’t supposed to do anymore.

As an adult it’s expected that you have it all figured out – or at least pretend that you do. Somehow that lie is still accepted.

I don’t know what I want my life to become. I don’t know what I want to achieve. But maybe I can start with just telling myself a few lies. Just to see how they match the color of my eyes. And maybe one of these lies will stand out. I’ll think about it more than the others, imagining it in more and more details. Until it’s no longer a lie, but a dream – a goal.

Sometimes it’s necessary to deliberately tell yourself something that you know is not true, just to see how it fits. How else do you grow?

I don’t know if that’s how you’re supposed to do it.

I don’t even know who the lie is for – the one you’re telling it to? Or yourself? I suspect the latter.

So ok.

For the next week I will live a lie. Why not?

It shouldn’t feel too different from what I’m doing now.

If you could play pretend and live a lie - what would your lie be?