Changes

I am back! Looking through my blog, I am realizing that it has almost been two months exactly since I last posted an article here, which might make it seem as though I had given up on the resolutions I had set for myself in Magic Number Ten. Such is not the case though!

First and foremost, I wanted to thank everyone who has followed this blog, commented on posts or liked them in the past year. It means a lot to me and if I can spread the slightest bit of joy, warmth, help or even beauty into the world thanks to what I paint, draw or write, then I am happy.

The past two months have brought a lot of changes into my life. I was quite busy teaching and thinking about the direction I wanted my life to take. I travelled to Auvergne, in the mountains  and sleeping volcanoes of the centre part of France, and I moved into my very own little flat. I also discovered meditation, which has been very helpful. It proved a perfect way to start heal some old wounds and clear a number of blockages that kept me from moving forward. At first, it felt like an explosion, or rather, an implosion that I gave colour to.

Implosion

Now, I am a lot calmer and driven. I could always feel, deep down, that living in a place of my own would improve my mood and concentration because I would feel much freer, but I was far from imagining how true it was. As I am presently almost done arranging the flat, I want to take up the list I had written two months ago.

“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.”
Mahatma Gandhi

Restless musings

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Restless musings
No calm of thought
Body – distraught
Endless callings…
Out!
They have no form
Yet –

Music echoes
Down on my cheeks
Melody flows
As my heart speaks
Out
Into the storm
Wet

The waves rushing
To the calm shore
Of my longing
To express more…
Still,
They have no form
Yet.

Restlessness… Agitation… Unrest… Continuous movement of the mind… musing… calm… quiet… meditation…

I cannot pacify the raving storm of my thoughts, and yet, I am collected and content. Old convictions come to be re-placed and re-shaped…Newer ones develop. The ideas will not stop rushing, and gushing, but they are not ready to take form… That is where the anxiety lies – ideas, like golden birds, are waiting to take flight…

Magic Number Ten

Time flies… Benjamin Franklin said that “time lost is never found again,” and one day, I know I will wake up realising that my life is coming to an end. The thought doesn’t make me feel depressed or sad at all, but when that day comes, I do not want to tell myself that I simply let life pass me by without ever making a single one of my dreams come true or any of my passions fully come alive. That’s why this year, I want to try and concentrate on ten things that I really want to do. I am not pressuring myself into making it all happen, but I want to at least try.

Then, ten is a good number to start a cycle with. In number symbolism, it represents completion and is related to the earth. It is also the basis upon which we created our counting circle.

I hope that next year, if I look back to this post, I can proudly say that I made it, with the help of magic number ten 🙂

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  1. Spend more quality time with my loved ones.
  2. Paint once a week
  3. Write more poetry
  4. Work on my dissertation more
  5. Travel
  6. Practice drawing everyday
  7. Finish writing the stories I started
  8. Read more
  9. Start studying Russian again
  10. Blog more often and post my artworks

 

No more looking to the side now, I’ll look straight ahead!

The Greatest Love in the World is Unconditional

Unconditional

Love sure is the strangest thing
For some, the feeling will be fleeting
For some it endures – ever-lasting.

Some call her Agape sweet
Disinterested, she lies in the souls
That see beyond themselves – so discreet
Are they, soothing the deep-rooted holes
Of those hearts left incomplete.

Some say his name is Eros
Holding passion in a hand and fire
And pleasure and interest and chaos
Consuming, uplifting, giving power
To create and fulfil desire.

Some will find other names yet
Philia covets the mind – friendship
Is her twin. Family? Don’t forget
Storgê who presides over kinship
First among relationships.

But what is this sensation?
I can’t voice the words to describe it
Is it a distant intuition?
I can’t brush the hues that explain it
Will I know my direction?

When I closed my eyes tonight
No darkness – no doubt fell over me.
I had known no peace and no respite
But for all my reason this harmony
Kept playing, unconditionally.

Yes, unconditionally –
Yes, but with sun warmth, with heat too
With splendour, shivers of agony
Is how I love you.

Yes, unreservedly –
Beyond my existence or my pains
Beyond purple sunsets blurred with rains
Is how I’ll love you.

I will keep a safe place for you
To weep, whenever you need to
And a merry place for your heart.

When you’re afraid to fall apart
I’ll help you collect the pieces
Till, at last, the aching ceases.

I will play, laugh and dance with you
When boredom comes to upset you.
I’ll be who you need me to be.

A lover, a friend, a memory
A partner, a joke, a mystery
If it protects all of your dreams
If “you’re happy” is what it means

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I probably talk about love too much, and too often, but love is the strangest thing. We all have a different definition for it, and sometimes, it makes it extremely difficult to understand someone else’s point of view on the question, because deep down, we probably think that love, being universal, should be experienced in the same way by everyone.  I don’t know what love is. But I know what the greatest love in the world is to me – and it is the feeling I hold for this one special person.

I hope you all have a wonderful day,

Love,
Sacha 🌟

A specific intuition

A specific intuition

Trust intuition
Trust! She has spoken!
Easier to ignore
Oh, granted – for sure.
But she comes back more
And if she tells you
Repeatedly
Specifically
Then maybe you
Should hear, listen to
The little voice meant to
Save you
And protect you,
Here to guide you.

Not sure I want to see

     Not all of us feel intuition the same way. According to the Myers-Briggs test, some personality types rely on intuition to make decisions and others don’t, but in all things linked with research, creation and feelings, I cannot help but think that it plays the most important role in guiding us and leading us to the right path. Sometimes, I just have a sense of things and I know, deep down, no matter what my logic and reason tell me, what I have to do and how I must do it. It applies to human relationships, but also to the choices I make in research for my PhD and to the way I teach my students or handle them in class. And I am not the only one.

William Wordsworth wrote: “Faith is a passionate intuition.” 

Albert Einstein said: “The only real valuable thing is intuition.”

      A poet and a man of science who agree on the power of intuition – what could be more beautiful than that? It not only resolves the mind/sensation conflict, but also the ridiculous separation we force ourselves to make between art and science. Even psychology accepts that intuition must be used as it creates a link between our reason and our unconscious and our instincts, making us more aware of ourselves and probably happier in many ways.

       Lately, I have been overwhelmed with a very powerful intuition and gut instinct about a number of things and somehow, every time I went against it, I felt sick. Now that I have embraced it, I feel more at peace with myself and perhaps it is the best thing I had to do, along with avoiding self-deception.

I hope you all have a wonderful night/day!

Love,

Sacha ⭐️

Why honesty engenders renewal

Being a lover of honesty and of powerful literary quotes, I could not resist reflecting upon this one extract from The Brothers Karamazov: 

“Above all, don’t lie to yourself. The man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to a point that he cannot distinguish the truth within him, or around him, and so loses all respect for himself and for others. And having no respect he ceases to love.”
― Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov

I have not read this classic of Russian literature yet, but it is on my ever growing list and of course, one of my resolutions for 2017 is to read more. I have already talked about my hopes for the coming year in another post, and today, because the new year is upon us and synonymous with renewal and new beginnings, or at least because it should be, I would like to try and think about the relationship between self-honesty and self-recovery.

This past year, I have had to face myself a number of times: it was a question of moving on, of improving and of refusing to delude myself. It was hard. It was truly nerve-racking to just sit by myself and accept that I was not honest; to find the truth, embrace it and build on it instead of against it. When my girlfriend left me, I wanted to stay friends right away; I thought I was strong enough for it and that I was not actually expecting for her to come back to me. Obviously, that was a big fat lie, and because of it, I could not recover from my heartache and started acting somewhat erratically. Then, I accepted what I did not want to see. I opened my eyes at last and saw the extent of what was happening to me – only then did I begin to heal. Only then did I start respecting myself again. Only then did I feel again. And only then could I realize that I was doing well on my own, even if I still miss her and still want to be her close, perhaps her best friend. And I am confident it might not take as long as I think before we can talk. But that is not for me to decide, I must let time do its magic.

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The problem that poses itself when you try not to lie to yourself, however, is that it is terribly painful. First, it means you must accept to face yourself and to find yourself alone with your soul. It means you cannot seek solutions outside yourself, or in a lover, or in relationships and sweet nothings. It is a “me, myself, and I” sort of situation. It is lonely. It is hurtful. It is sickening and might make you feel a little mad until the skies clear. Second, it means that if you are asking for advice from friends and family, you must be ready to listen to what they have to say. And I mean really listen, not hear with one ear and then seclude yourself into your own fantasy world right after. If you do so, what will happen next? You will resent them, think they do not understand you or that they are against you. You will reject them, perhaps blame and hate them. But they don’t. They are trying to help. They give you their honest opinion but will let you make your own decisions because they believe in you. But really, if they think you are deluding yourself, they’ll hope you open your eyes before it is too late. Before you’ve passed the point of no return. The last thing will be sorting everything out. What you truly want, what you truly feel, what is right and what is wrong, what is acceptable or not. What you are willing to wait for and what you are not ready to do. And many, many more things. Until finally, you can stand on your own two feet and say: yes, this is real. This is not an illusion I have created for myself.

That day, you’ll be better. And being honest with yourself does not mean you cannot dream, or imagine things. Honesty is not synonymous with dullness and lack of creativity, but it does come with strength and courage; it means letting go of fears; it is a way to make yourself come to life again and to find your own paths towards happiness.

Tough Questions: breathe and find direction

     Yesterday evening, when I opened my WordPress reader, I saw that the Discover challenge offered by the The Daily Post this week was “Tough Questions.” I immediately felt drawn to the idea, as I have been asking myself a lot of these tough questions lately. I tackled a few in my last blog entry, The Culture of Love?  But there are still many more inside, some ransacking my mind, others fluttering peacefully there, some still waiting for a reply after many, many years of thought and consideration: what is love? what is happiness? what is truth? and beauty? why should people hurt? why is there so much suffering in the world? how can I help this world be a better place? and what is a better place? how do I become a better person? and what is a good person to begin with? why are people mean to each other? am I enough? am I good? why are we here? will I love and be loved in return? how can I assuage the pains of others? how does anyone do it? is there such a thing as fate? is magic real? why are war and hatred the answer to so many of the world’s problems or complexities? why don’t governments do more to improve the lives of their people? and what about climate change? what is the difference between perception and reality? how do you ever reach the slightest understanding of reality when your own world is determined by what you perceive and when it is so difficult to feel the perception of others? when others won’t open up so you can reach this level of comfort and intimacy that should serve both parties? are we alone in the universe? what is the best way to teach school kids? is curing all diseases actually the right thing to do? where is the mystery? why so many screens?

I could go on, and on, and on with questions about the past, and the future, about people, about ideas, about myself too, and my friends and family… the people I have loved, the way they hurt themselves and others in the process, the way I do that too, sometimes. It is really frustrating to know that I cannot have a definite answer to any one of these questions. But perhaps one way to carry on, and stand the burden of the mystery is to take a deep breath and figure out where you want to go from now on.

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Breathing deeply calms the mind and eases the heart
Vision becomes clearer, newer – you can connect
With the world.
Others; sorrows, struggles – you must never forget
I ask myself, what can I do? What is my part
In this world?
Choosing it, chasing it, finding it, a fresh start
Direction, connection, reflection – I protect
This vision.

I hope you all have a wonderful day 💛⭐️

Sacha

The Culture of Love?

Why did heartbreak hurt me so?

Lately, I have been thinking a lot about love and relationships. I am not sure I should say “lately,” because in a way, I’ve always thought about these issues a lot, even as a child. Yet, I have never been the kind of person who hops from relationship to relationship or contrives to make people fall for me.

When I was a teen, I always found myself “feeling in love” though, and of course, I never loved people I could actually be with. I have “loved” one of my professors, and the best-looking boy in high school and a few men who were older than me. I remember asking my mother why I could not have a boyfriend or a girlfriend as the other kids at school did. Her answer was quite simple, but I think she was right and only formulated a truth I already knew but did not want to see. She said: “That’s because you’re not in love with anyone. What you love is the idea of love.”

It was easier then to be in love with love than to actually try and be in a real relationship. There would be no rejection and no pain. I could create all these beautiful stories inside my head, and no one could ever take them away from me because I was in control. But then, one day, I really did fall in love, with a girl. And it hurt. I fell in love again, with another girl. And it hurt more. And then again – and on the moment I felt my heart crack open and shatter that time, I thought I would die. This is not just a frozen, cliché image. My heart was pounding; I had shivers down my spine; I could not eat, could not sleep, could hardly breathe…

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At that point, my only thought was “Don’t be fooled dear, there is no such thing as LOVE.” So I started reflecting on the idea of love once again. What was it that had made me so dreadfully hurt? What could possibly have caused such intense suffering? I am happy when I am alone. I don’t feel the need to have a lover or to experience these fluttery feelings you get when you first meet someone. I do not crave it. So what was it? Was it my pride that had been wounded? Was it the idea that our culture imposes on us that if you do not have a fulfilled love life you have accomplished virtually nothing, even if you are successful at work and have good friends because our society seems to tell us we must have it all? EVERY SINGLE LITTLE THING? Or was it so painful because even though I did not need my lover, I actually had made a conscious choice to be with her? I just wanted to be with her and share with her?

The pride issue I think I have resolved. Of course, I am not a perfect angel of selflessness and disinterestedness, so yes, my pride must have been hurt a little bit. I guess that is just natural. What really hurt me though was being told that I was perfect and still losing the one person I loved so dearly. How could I be “perfect” and still not enough? How could perfect be discarded so easily and so quickly? It took me back to my own childhood fears, when my mother told me, even as I got straight As, that I could do better. That when I was naturally kind and loving, I was told that my love was not there or was not real. That my kindness and generosity were a social manipulation. That I was only good because I wanted  people to love me because I did not love myself at all. That all this so-called perfection was either fake or still not enough. I felt worthless and started questioning who I was and whether striving to be the best person you could possibly be (because I don’t think I’m perfect. No one is. And I don’t want to be perfect) was actually worth it.

When the rush of emotion had washed away a little, I came to the conclusion that I should not let my pain harden me into becoming a more selfish and nastier person though. Then, I would actually hate myself as I would not be respecting any of my personal beliefs.

So I wondered about the other questions. Yes, society wants us to have it all; and our culture sells us a image of love that is all passion and thrill without pausing to consider what love is. Love seems to have become just another product we want to consume. Of course, that is not how everyone sees it – I personally don’t and many of my friends do not either – but it tends to be presented in that way very often. Just think about all the love quotes on the internet!

And finally, there was the difference between needing and wanting. No, I did not need my lover to be happy. When I met her, I even knew being with her would probably mean problems and drama and hurt because I could feel she was troubled. And I was right. Still, I chose to stay because I loved her and I wanted to be with her, and I was ready to accept her for who she was, with the good and the bad because relationships are not just about the thrill, they’re about building something. One of my friends told me that you do not find the love of your life, you create it. And I think she’s right, so perhaps the grief of heartbreak was only enhanced by the feeling that the safe place I was trying to build for us together with her was being torn apart. It felt like watching my favorite poem or the painting I liked the most burning away. And it reminded me of all the hurt in the world that we cannot control – all the destruction… So I thought to myself: “the world is already so full of weeping, why would anyone want to add to it? Why generate devastation when you can build beauty?”

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But perhaps I am too much of an idealist and an optimist… And I know that the heart wants what it wants. It can’t be helped, but still, I’d like to hold on to these ideals.

Sorry about this terribly long post… I hope you enjoy it! Thanks to anyone reading  💙

Have a wonderful day,

Love,

Sacha

Make it art!

Transcending pain and suffering through form-making…

First, there was dull anxiety. A peculiar, arrhythmic beating of the heart and feverish tingles running down my back.

Then, it became oppression – lungs that seemed to breathe in no air and a knotted stomach that would accept no food.

It morphed into angered hope and delusions – heart pounding and parching tongue, shivers and fevers, a confusion of overwhelming, unexplainable sensations and numbness, both somatic and mental.

The colours and the poetry have deserted me; I cannot hold my pencil to make form; my brush will not apply the paint; my eyes refuse to read. I am filthy.

Comes the time of silence. My pulse is low… I can no longer hear the heart that beat so strangely before. I can only feel the tears flowing endlessly down my cheeks. It seems the weeping won’t ever end.

But still, I must work. I must read. As I force my eyes to focus on the words through the salty mist they are clouded with, they begin to reach me. I am reading Poetry and the Fate of the Senses, a wonderful piece of work written by poet and scholar Susan Stewart.

The first chapter, on which I was concentrating on, deals with the human fear of darkness and the rise of poetry as a way to counter the formlessness of darkness through form-making, that is, through metaphor, which is a fuel of poetry writing. In the process of describing the birth of poetry since Ancient times, Susan Stewart tackles the subjects of laughter and weeping, of grieving, of loss… of pain.

So I start thinking about the relationship between pain and poetry, and about the transformative power of art, which can make even the filthiest object a thing of beauty and transcend the greatest suffering. Stewart quotes Adorno:

“The substance of a poem is not merely an expression of individual impulses and experiences. Those become a matter of art only when they come to participate in something universal by virtue of the specificity they acquire in being given aesthetic form”.

Adorno, “On Lyric Poetry and Society,” in Notes to Literature.

With poetry and form-making, then, individual experience becomes universal as much as it remains intimate. It crosses the thresholds of individual existence creating intersubjectivity: I write with my “I”, but as you read my “I” aloud, “I” becomes you. It stops belonging to me – it is universal. The discussion continues and explicates the links between the lyric and love and suffering. What is the role of poetry in all this suffering? What can poetry teach me, after all? And art?

Susan Stewart then teaches me what I feel I already knew deep inside – she does not quite teach me then, but she verbalizes intuitions I could not give linguistic form:

“The enunciation of pain at the origin of the lyric must appear before the emergence of a self-conscious sense of one’s own subjectivity. […] Pain has no memory; its expression depends on the intersubjective invention of association and metaphor. The situation of the person resides in the genesis of the memory of action and experience in intersubjective terms – that is, the articulation and mastery of the originating pain […]. Yet, the mastery of pain through measures and figures is not merely repressive, it is as well a matter of coming to knowledge and expression.”

Susan Stewart, Poetry and the Fate of the Senses, p. 46

It dawns on me… From what I cannot comprehend, I can learn and through mastery of experience, gain knowledge and understanding. I can thus ease the pain, and produce explanations similar to the process of myth-making.

There is pain and suffering. In my life, in others’. Sometimes as I think of all the injustice and strife there is in the world, tears well in my eyes. Sometimes, it is my own, intimate heartache that troubles me, selfishly. But I can transcend these feelings if I make them into art. I will not claim, like Ezra Pound proudly did, that I want “to make it new”. But I will perhaps too ambitiously, yet quite humbly, exclaim: “Make it art!” 

And doing so, you may help yourself, and if you do reach someone else’s soul, may help them too and infuse this personal experience with altruism as you share it with the world.