life

Birthday Thoughts

BirthdayThat would be a photo of myself and my niece this last Friday, April 10th, when I “celebrated” my 23rd birthday. I don’t know if it’s a culture thing that’s only present on the Balkan, but around here in your early twenties it’s expected that you get your Uni degree, you find yourself a permanent job, and you get engaged or married so you can settle down with a family. For better or for worse, I can say I’ve done none of that, but it doesn’t bother me. If all goes well, I’ll graduate this June. On the job front, we’ll see how things go eventually. And on the relationship part, why rush anything?

The only things I consider important in life are those each individual person wants to do. Things that make you happy, things that fill your soul, things that keep you thinking and improving as a human being. If everyone else is happy with getting those things by the age of 20-something, then I’m glad they’ve found joy and I wish them all the best in life. I can only hope they would understand that as much as we’re all the same in many ways, we’re completely different in other ways and we can’t all lead the same life. That would be ridiculously mundane and likely very harmful for humanity’s progress and evolution over the years.

But I’m not asking for any permission or acceptance. Currently I consider myself happy, and that’s the only stamp of approval I need. Whether others question my choices or give me side-way glances doesn’t matter to me, we all make sacrifices in life and I guess that will be one of mine. Heck, if that’s the only price for happiness, sign me up for a lifetime supply of it, I will take as much as I can if it means extra happiness.

On the other hand, it’s been one crazy busy week with the Easter holidays, this birthday, family and relatives visiting, Camp NaNoWriMo, and all sorts of other things. Which isn’t necessarily good, because when it comes to birthdays I pretty much share the same thoughts as Ron Swanson.

“I don’t like loud noises and people making a fuss. And I especially don’t like people celebrating because they know a piece of private information about me. Plus, the whole thing is a scam: birthdays were invented by Hallmark to sell cards.” ~ Ron Swanson, Parks and Recreation

Sorry, Not Sorry

To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson

We’re all born the same way and we die the same way – alone in a vast world filled with all of these other life forms around us. Some like to think they’re the center of that world, but the truth is, we’re all very insignificant in the larger picture. We’re not even fragments of the larger picture, we’re tiny granules and it takes thousands and thousands of us to create a fragment. Which is not to say we’re not worthy or replaceable. We are who we are, we do what we do, and that can still make all the difference in the world because change comes individually. Yet if we all change in an individual manner, then everything has changed as a whole. Unity is what makes the difference, but that unit begins and ends with each one of us.

But the world nowadays doesn’t work that way. You’re born and you die alone, but in between you meet and forget lots of names, lots of faces, lots of characters. Some of them accept you for who you are, others don’t agree with who you are; some of them want to change you for the better, others want to change you for the worse; some of them won’t even pay attention to you, others will give you all the attention in the world. And while it’s up to you how to respond to any of those groups, you should never give up your own individuality and your own character.

“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.”
― Bernard M. Baruch

In a world where you’re being pulled from one side, pushed from another side, chained from a third side, and harmed from a fourth side, the impossible task is not allowing any of those sides to define who you are. Not allowing anyone or anything to alter what you stand for and what you want to do. Which is not to say you shouldn’t keep an open mind, without that you’re the equivalent of a stubborn mule not making any movement or progress at all. But your thoughts and your voice should forever remain yourself, and you should be the one who decides where you go, what you do, what  and who you accept and what and who you deny.

It’s impeccably difficult to define yourself, and for that you need to be alone. You shouldn’t be lonely, you should learn to be and live alone, you should accept and enjoy your own company. You should discover what you love and what you hate, who you trust and who you don’t. On the other hand it’s ridiculously easy to forget who you are. It’s easy to get swept in the masses when all along you were trying to go opposite of them. And you can fix that by being alone and reminding yourself what you stood for.

“When you are content to be simply yourself and don’t compare or compete, everyone will respect you.”
― Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching

I may be away sometimes. You may not see me in a while, you may not hear from me in a while. It doesn’t mean I’ve forgotten who I am or who everyone else around me is, quite the contrary it likely means I’m reminding myself of that. Maybe I should be sorry from distancing myself from everyone and everything, maybe that’s wrong and I’m making mistakes, and maybe I should even feel bad about it. But I don’t, I’m not sorry. I’m fine and I’m happy, but if I ever need you, you know where to find me.

Life Maintenance

It’s an easy, simple, and catchy motto: “Life is wonderful!” Not always and not for everyone, but essentially most of the time one can find a positive side of any coin. If you can’t, you’ll just reassure yourself that a new better coin is coming eventually. That’s how motivation works and we need motivation to keep us going with every activity we partake in, including life itself. Of course life can be wonderful. It can provide us with beautiful moments and memories, it can fill our hearts with joy, warmth, and love. But life can also be horrid. It can be painful and difficult, it can put us through terror, fear, and coldness. Life has variety and complexity. It is not a static straight line and cannot be labeled only as “wonderful.”

Someone may be at a beach with a gorgeous view enjoying a cup of coffee with some ice-cream on the side. Someone else is hiding under their kitchen table with their arms wrapped around their child, expecting the worst because an intruder has broken in their home. Life’s just that screwed up. You can touch the sky and you can hit the ground, moments apart. It tends to happen one after another, though not always in that order. And it’s always different for all of us, despite the fact that we like relating to each other’s pain or happiness. Certain individual elements may be similar or even the same for two people, but never a series of events, let alone their whole life.

But that’s another train of thoughts, the current one is about the path we walk before reaching whatever wonderful goal we’ve been headed toward. Prior to that special day that one’s wedding is (to each their own, I find most weddings a rather pompous waste of time) or the day we bring our offspring to this world we’ve led a portion of our lives. Most of us finish a certain degree of education, find a job, if we’re lucky we stick with it for a while and try to earn a bit more than just for a living. Essentially we put quite a lot of effort into establishing a home in expectation of the family we intend to create. The goal’s wonderful, but the path’s thorny and painful.

Or if we take a more simple and shorter example, an average day of ours is filled with tasks and chores we have to complete. These take away time, effort, energy, and are rarely enjoyable. Yet they’re crucial to our existence and without them you cannot have wonderful moments. Often times even socializing can be a bore or may simply not be the thing we want to do. But relationships of any kind, whether with a partner, friends, or family, are important and we sacrifice our time for them. We take away time from our hobbies for events we don’t want to go to. We talk with people we do not like to keep up formal appearances. We do work we dislike because we need the money. We do chores we hate because they’re imperative for our everyday living. We throw ourselves in bushes covered with thorns solely because of the hope that we may find a lovely red rose in there.

It’s not that it is meant to be that way, it is simply how it is. The common opinion is that if you’re not happy with something you should move away from it, find something else you find joy in. In reality, however, moving away is not something we can easily do. We can’t just flap our hands and fly away to a better place (trust me, I’ve tried). It tends to be a long and costly procedure and far more complicated than one would have thought. As Bill Hicks used to say, “if you think you’re free, try going somewhere without money.” That perfect vacation one imagines they’ll spend on the Hawaiian Islands is definitely wonderful, but it turns out it isn’t cheap at all so it won’t be happening any time soon. I may find happiness in sleeping but I can’t spend my whole life under my bed covers.

So at the end of the day, life is all but wonderful. It’s a series of stressful, dangerous, difficult, and painful events. But along that black and dreadful chain there are white links, beautiful stuff that brings us joy. It may be why it is easier to think of the wonderful things in life — they’re fewer. But I’d like to think that they’re also stronger than the bad things. Our memories of happy moments tend to be more vivid than the ones we find painful or sorrowful. Everything we go through for a few hours of happiness may just be worth it. It has to be, right? We have to fulfill our dreams, even if it means we go the depths of hell and back to do it. The journey might suck, but the feeling of achievement would be amazing. It would be wonderful, even if only for a moment.

The Clock Ticks Life Away

anniversary-1xTwo weeks ago, on the 1st of June, WordPress was kind enough to remind me that it has been two years since I registered with this account. Granted, I didn’t start blogging right away, mostly because back then I was unsure of the direction I want to steer my blog toward. Not that I am putting all my attention to a single element nowadays, but hopefully my writing is focused on fewer interests. And I most definitely did not keep up with my writing throughout those two years, there were frequent monthly breaks and one dark period of a long, six-month absence. But as much as our past is nowhere near perfect, sometimes we need to revisit it in order to move to the future, take a step back so we can jump forward.

I noticed one of my first ever posts getting attention lately, an old Harry Potter fan-fiction piece that was probably shared somewhere, and for a moment there I considered deleting it or fully rewriting it. It’s ridiculously short, poorly written, and overall it seems like I had put no thought to it when I wrote it. To sum it up, it’s an embarrassment. On the other hand, it shows just how much things have changed over a time span of two years — it made me feel better about some recent written works (which I have not shared here, not yet at least). There is just as good as there is bad in every experience that we go through, regardless of how we feel about certain things from the past they all contribute to who we are. At the end of the day we’re just a collection of short stories, books whose pages are filled with the tales of our lives. For a few of us, those stories may live on forever, should someone somewhere decide they’re of great importance. For the rest of us, those stories will eventually be forgotten. They’ll still be there, no one can take away your past, for better or for worse, but they won’t be the topic of discussion among our successors.

One could say that ultimately it’s all down to perception and attitude, since they would define whether whoever takes a peek in our life sees the good or the bad in our past. Would someone who reads that specific fan-fiction piece think of how bad a writer I have been, or think or how much my writing has improved since then? I do not believe leaving a note of any kind would lead the reader toward the good side of it, you can give directions to anyone but they can choose to ignore them, they might believe you’re trying to trick them and will go elsewhere instead, or they might go in the opposite direction just to spite you. You can try though, and you can hope. You can always try and hope for the better even if everything seems to be going bad. It might not be much, but often it’s the best you can do.

If I could, I’d list the changes that have taken place during this two-year period, but I honestly would not even know where to start from and it would be too big of a list. Lots of memories, lots of wasted time, lots of shared moments, lots of loneliness, lots of happiness, lots of sadness, lots of rewarding times, lots of painful moments — lots of this, yet lots of that. When you’re going on with your everyday business it seems like time is literally crawling, I’ve caught myself hoping time could move faster whenever I’m busy with work. Yet when I look back I wish time didn’t fly so fast, I wish there was a way we could turn time back. The idea is not to relive everything, but to go through those years with my current state of mind, so unfortunately unless someone has a time machine they’re not sharing with the rest of us, the truth is it isn’t going to happen.

What we can do instead, is take a glance at the stories from our past sometimes and remember who we were and how we got here. Remember what we’ve been through, remember the good and the bad times, and find a way to avoid making the same mistakes. Find a way to improve our lives because we owe ourselves that much. We owe it to who we were to put the effort of making our stories in the future greater than the ones our past tells. One way or the other, the clock is ticking. But time doesn’t matter, we are not slaves of some grand clockwork design. It’s all about the stories and making the new ones better than the old ones.

Happy belated two-year anniversary to the Phantom Child, I guess. Hopefully some better writing pieces of mine in the future will overshadow the bad ones from my past. I’ve found a plethora of fantastic blogs to follow here, I only wish I could read every single post you folks have shared and find a way for my blog’s content to match the greatness of yours. I’ve made quite a few friends through this blog, and a golden rule says never disappoint your friends. Hope you’re all enjoying your weekend!

2 Steps Forward, 3 Steps Backward

A few weeks ago I read this article, basically asking why are people always portrayed so weak in works of fiction, specifically when it involves other species. For example, why does everyone think that if there was a zombie apocalypse human kind would be helpless to defend themselves? Or if aliens were to show up, why wouldn’t they be afraid of us instead of the opposite scenario? Do we truly believe human kind to be that inferior to other ‘possible’ species and why so? We’re so advanced and have all of these tools and various technologies at our disposal, so why would anyone even image a scenario that includes our downfall? I’d like to think that the answer is fairly simple and obvious: lack of integrity.

“We are only as strong as we are united, as weak as we are divided.”

It seems that despite the ridiculous number of years we’ve had to evolve, we have not seen much improvement in how we interact with each other. It’s almost as if all our focus has been to bend the environment for our needs, when all along we should have worked on taming the beasts inside us. All our primal instincts are based on survival, but at some point long time ago we should all have realized that survival can no longer be individual. No single man can ever be the ultimate survivor, we all have our expiration dates and sooner or later will bid our farewells. What can and should live on is the community we create throughout our existence — it’s the whole point of our existence, leaving a positive mark on the world with the hope that it helps create a better tomorrow.

Yet it seems that most of us forget this, we’re so divided among our selves that we’ve become our own worst enemy. Should zombies or aliens attack Earth, it’s not them we should fear, it’s not them who will destroy humanity, but human kind itself. Take The Walking Dead as a hypothetical example. In a world filled with zombies, it’s not the zombies that do the most damage to a group of surviving humans, but other groups of surviving humans. If the world was to come to an end tomorrow, people would turn against each other so as long as it meant that they will ensure their own survival. It’s as if years and years of turmoil, terror, and slaughter are too little to show us we need to start working together with each other instead of competing one against another.

It’s not all so black though, threads of grey and signs of white can be seen through the people who lend a hand to others in time of need. Which is all good and fine on its own, it shows that a good number of men are willing to provide aid to those who require it most. But we need to move on to the next step, we need to reach the level where we are all open to combining our forces for achieving common goals. As it stands now, the majority of people would push ahead of others, or rather push others down, just so they move forward, just so they ensure their own survival. Yes, it has always been like that. Yes, it’s not possible to completely erase this. Yes, society basically enforces this on people. But it does not have to be that way and it can be at least minimized. We’re not some primitive monkeys fighting over a banana tree anymore. Did our ancestors build these communities to live together, or for easier division of the people who live there?

We suffocate ourselves in labels, we have them for color, for religion, for politics, for sexual orientation, for physical appearance, for mental conditions, for habits and hobbies, etc. And to some extend the ‘labels’ are needed in order to make a difference in description, just like a lamp can be white, or black, or tall, or short, etc. It’s okay to know our differences and our similarities. What’s not needed is the division, discrimination, and hate among those groups. If your life depended on this other person, would you refuse their help just because they’re somehow different from you? We breed like our existence depends on it (ironically, it does, but we’ve reached a point where honestly having a child is no longer some miracle) but our life also depends on everyone around us, so why cannot we treat everyone as a miracle? A miracle would be to raise a kid in today’s society with proper values, to teach him or her how harsh this world has become and that retribution in the same manner is not the right course of action. To teach that child that the world is suffering and the only way to help is to help others, or if they’re not in a position to help then at least to treat everyone with respect.

Over 7 billion people live on Earth but those numbers alone cannot make a difference when so as long as everyone lives individually. Survival of the fittest may have worked when human kind lived in jungles among vicious predators, but we live in communities with other people now. We can’t allow ourselves to become the vicious predator. You don’t have to trust everyone or open up to everyone, but you have to at least be respectful of others and help them when you can. Remember that you have an expiration date just like everyone else and that your mission is to create a better world for those yet to come, for which we need less division, and more unity, less hate, and more love. You cannot be one in 7 billion, but you can accept your role as one of 7 billion. You cannot defeat 7 billion, but you can win as part of 7 billion.

Small Update

It’s been almost 2 weeks since my last visit at WordPress. I’m all fine, if anyone got worried, I was simply taking a break from writing and reading blogs. And I still am, I’ll be back in a week or two tops. I’m just waiting for my life to calm down from hectic to fine so that I can devote more time to blogging again.

I watched the Olympic Opening Ceremony, and I must say that JK Rowling and the giant Lord Voldemort were fantastic on the scene. Though the best moment was definitely Rowan Atkinson’s performance (Mr. Bean or Johnny English if you will).

The Queen’s face lacking a smile through the whole thing produced some good “Off with their heads!” and “I’m not amused.” jokes. I think the company is what made it really worth watching.

Anyway, I’m still seeing my great share of True Blood (up to Season 4 now), Modern Family (gonna start Season 3 soon), and Family Guy (up to Season 6) among other things. Meaning there will be lots of reviews when I finally get back, along with many stories to tell and hopefully pretty photos to share.

I’ll be catching up with your blogs then too, don’t think I’ve forgotten about your blogs – you can’t get rid of me that easily. 😛

21st Century in a Quote

Nowadays people know the price of everything and the value of nothing.” ~ Oscar Wilde

No need for further explanations, I think the quote sums it up quite nicely. Humanity has lost its values, nowadays it’s all about the price. Money truly rules the world.