Tuesday, February 24, 2015

What I like about: Arrow

I’m sitting at a newly opened Starbucks and sipping my chai. Starbucks makes the best chai.

It’s the fourth Starbucks to open in Copenhagen. I’ve of course been to all four. But for some reason this one feels more American than the others.

I bounce between being sad, being happy, being stressed, being indifferent. Is that how life is now?

To be honest, that’s how life has been for a while.

I don’t want to talk about my head anymore. It doesn’t change, anyway.

Instead, let me tell you about my current TV-obsession.

The show I look the most forward to each week is Arrow.


For those of you who don’t know it, is a superhero TV-show placed in the DC universe (so no links to all the Marvel stuff).

The main character (and titular hero) is Oliver Queen, millionaire young man turned vigilante after being shipwrecked (among other things). He was assumed dead for 5 years, before he returned with a mission ‘to save his city’.

The story of each episode consist of a storyline taking place in present day, and then a storyline taking place 5 years prior, explaining the experiences of the shipwrecked Oliver Queen and his transformation into a vigilante.

When I first started watching the show I didn’t particular like it. I thought the actor playing Oliver Queen was wooden, and fake, and I couldn’t understand his need to constantly lie to the people he loved – his family and friends. Why not just say ‘Yes! I’m a Vigilante! Support me!’ Even when directly confronted he refused.


His sister, Thea Queen, desperately tries to break through to him, but he insists on keeping his secret.

Back when I first saw season one I was annoyed at this act of martyrdom.

But I get it. He came back from a Hell he didn’t think he would survive. And the Oliver Queen that first disappeared? He never made it off the island. Oliver Queen came back broken. And to protect his family he shut them out, afraid that his darkness would consume them.

I’m trying to avoid spoilers, for any of you still considering watching the show. I highly recommend it. But suffice to say that Oliver Queen as a character does eventually grow. He does connect with people and let them see who he has become. And I guess in the process learns that he’s still Oliver Queen.

We’re in season 4 now and a lot of his darkness has been transformed into – I wouldn’t say hope, but maybe self-acceptance? That and healthy relations with people who know him.

For me, the central relationship on this show is between Oliver and Thea Queen. Brother and sister. Bound together by blood. Both having to let go of their notions of who the other should be, and instead accept the person in front of them now.



An alarmingly high number of people who know him end up dead, though. A character in the latest episode said the following: “How many people can Oliver Queen lose before there is no Oliver Queen?”

That line still sits in my head, bouncing back and forth.

And that’s another reason why I love this show. It’s not afraid to get dark and gritty. It’s not afraid to show the suffering that death brings. How it ripples through every relation the dead person had, and creates different reactions.

I re-watched parts of season 1 the other weekend and it was so weird to see all these people being alive and well (or maybe not well – but at least alive). And seeing Oliver being as damaged as he was. He was completely devoid of mercy back then.

It was this contrast between season 1 and season 4 that really showed me the journey of that character.

And that’s one of the most important things of any show for me. I need character growth. I need to be able to see how the character adapts to his or her situation. What works for them. What doesn’t. And how their choices and actions change the person they are.

Oliver Queen had to learn to let go of his rulebook and his black/white view of the world. He had to let other people in and let them help him. He had to learn to trust other people. And to hope. Hope for a better world.

So yeah. A PTSD suffering vigilante is my source of inspiration in terms of dealing with my life.

Let’s not dwell too long on that.

My favorite hobby

I watch a lot of TV-shows. Not as many as I used to, mind you. But it’s still one of my key hobbies. To sit back, relax, and be taken into a different world.

For some reason, watching TV-shows is not really thought of as a worthwhile hobby. Oh no. It’s more something you do to avoid thinking. To avoid existing. It’s basically wasting your time.

A while back I was at a work-dinner and my boss asked me about what my hobbies was, just to make conversation, and I was stumped. I’d only been there a month and still trying to make a good impression. Was I allowed to say that my idea of a great weekend was no plans, pajamas, and a long list of TV shows to catch up on? That my preferred hobby was to find new TV-shows worth watching?

Heck, even reading has a better reputation than watching TV, despite being arguably just as inactive and passive an activity.

Just recently in The Flash, Barry Allen (the titular main character), said that his social life consisted of running at super human speed and Netflix. It was obviously not something to be proud of.

I hate that watching TV has gotten such a bad reputation.

But it should also be noted that part of the problem are the social circles I move in. I’m 28, well-educated, and working at a prestigious company. My colleagues spend their free time sailing, playing squash, training for marathons, and being apparent super humans. It’s exhaustive.

I don’t get why some hobbies get the stamp of approval while others don’t. It’s about the dominant culture of the society we live in and maybe one day I’ll write about that as well.

But I enjoy watching TV-shows.  And I’ll keep prioritizing doing that. And it’s not about just passing time. I love spending time with these characters. I see their struggles, and how they deal with impossible situations, and it gives me hope that I’ll be able to deal with my own issues.

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.

image
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.