How are you?
It’s a question we are likely to hear multiple times each day. But its meaning can vary wildly. When a person asks me how I am, more often than not, I respond with a single word: good. After that, I usually reciprocate the question by asking how they are, and I receive a similar answer. In this case, the question is like a ritual: a scripted piece of dialogue with which we are all familiar. It doesn’t carry much weight with it. Neither I nor my companion have really gained any new information, but we have said the things we were supposed to say. Now we can talk further or continue on our way, with the knowledge that we checked off a box in the expectations of common courtesy. We asked about them and we cared.
The question can also mean another thing, requiring a little more detail. In some cases, How are you? is translated as How are you doing? or perhaps What are you doing? There is nothing intrinsically wrong with this. We haven’t seen a friend in a long time and want to know what they have been up to. They tell us the evident things: the activities and achievements that are easy to explain and offer us a little window into the external of their life. These things are important, and knowing these things are important to any friendship or relationship.
But I wonder if it is enough.
I want to be a person who doesn’t care about success.
Success is such an incentive for so many of our actions, but definitions of success hinge on fleeting concerns with which the world supplies us. We are told something matters, and so it does. It matters externally, and yet we strive to adhere to this external standard with the notion that it may make us happy if we meet it.
Most of these ideas of success revolve around the concept of control: of being able to control one’s own fate and steering it in the desired direction. Success conjures up images of responsibility and hard work, of unceasing effort and a refusal to accept one’s limitations as the farthest extent that one can go to achieve the pinnacle of all their hopes and dreams (or what they have been told should be their hopes and dreams).
I never want to forget about beauty.
I never want to forget about light- any kind of light… the way it gleams through cracks in doorways and glistens through the blinds. Colours dancing on the walls, and soft and peaceful shades. I don’t want complacency to keep me seated and sure in things in which I have found nothing before.
Even when joy flickers on my eyelids, I blink and only darkness. Only for a second. But I let the evil enter. I listen. I let it shade my solitude, allow it access to my thoughts. I want to control or to ignore it. Control is fleeting, because I cannot attain it, though I try with endless run-throughs and sickly waves of guilt. Ignorance is no better, for it smothers my joy, holds her back just a little. It puts restrictions on my freedom, imposes limits on my peace.
This is not the life I want. This is not the choice I want to make.
Happy Christmas Eve!
This time of year is so filled with hustle and bustle and duties and distractions that many may feel surprised that Christmas is already upon us. And yet Advent, the season preceding Christmas, is not about business or endless lists of tasks and various stresses. It’s about waiting.
Waiting. I feel like today this is a word that we don’t like all that much. It may even be a word that we aren’t very familiar with. The world encourages us to expect what we want when we want it. Why should we have to wait? There are things that we need and we need them now. Besides, waiting seems to suggest silence, and who has time for silence when there are so many things to be done?
Advent is about waiting.
I want to say something that has probably been said a million times before. It’s about reading- in case you couldn’t tell from the title- and why we could all benefit from doing more of it. I hope the following words don’t simply sound like a hollow advertisement, a brochure about the importance of books, especially in this “modern” world.
So how do I create something new out of a message that is tired and overdone? Maybe I won’t accomplish this feat at all, but I think I’ll make my attempt by detailing my own reading experiences. I have always loved writing, so perhaps it goes hand in hand that I’ve always loved reading as well. The two are closely related, obviously. From reading, I have learned a lot about ways to weave words together, and through reading, I continue to gain new insight that helps me to hone my craft.
Why is it so hard to live in the moment? It is a commonly spewed piece of advice we all generally acknowledge. No, it’s not healthy to dwell on the past, nor is it beneficial to hover over our expectations for the future. Yes, living in the moment is what we are supposed to do. It’s what we tell others, what we tell ourselves. But sometimes I wonder how much time any of us really spend there. In the present, that is.
I often feel like it’s easier for my mind to flit away in the midst of happiness. It seems backwards somehow. Joyful days should consume those fearful thoughts and dissipate them. But whenever life is good, I feel more terror at the prospect of it getting worse later.
If there’s something I’ve been learning this summer, it’s that there is a lot of beauty in the quiet moments. After all, most of life is made up of them. No one can exist entirely at the pinnacle of excitement and adventure. Life consists mainly of the “routine” daily happenings. What we make of them is what matters.
I find that some people strive to certain goals or aspirations simply to say they have done them. What is the point of that? Doing something just for the sake of doing it… It seems to me that such a pursuit merely involves reaching for a title… nothing more. But perhaps to some, life is just a long list of titles: of conquests and shallow triumphs.
I don’t want to feel I need to do something simply to check it off a universal list. In fact, I don’t think there is a universal list. I have my own path, as we all do, and I want to follow where it leads me. Not every moment is remarkable. But even those unrepeated stories do not fade.
Writing a novel is a lot like life.
I’ve realized this, or at least it’s been coming to me slowly, as I work on my latest book. The idea seemed to float through my mind months ago, but then it was only several strands… unconnected, undefined. It began to play out in my thoughts, becoming clearer and more colourful as imagined situations took shape. Before long, I was excited, ready to begin on what I already knew to be a lengthy and arduous journey.
Perhaps what I’m saying is that life is that journey. We don’t have the power to plan out our lives like a writer who structures the plot carefully around their action. We really don’t have much control at all. But we do have dreams. Our minds flit to possibilities that are endlessly appealing, and imaginations are often unbridled. We see the way we want our life to be and expect it to fit within our mould.
That time of year has come again. Valentine’s Day. The day on which a lucky few receive chocolate and flowers and are lavished with love and affection. The day on which the rest of us wish we were on the other side.
What is it we feel we’re missing? Love may seem like the obvious answer, but we still have family and friends who care about us deeply. So where does the stigma of being “single on Valentine’s Day” come from? And why does the absence of a significant other qualify one as “alone?”
One of the utmost longings of the human heart is the desire for love. We want it. We crave it. But what is it about love that draws us in? Although most of us have been loved since the moment of our birth, those childhood attachments somehow seem insufficient.