MC's Whispers

Whispering Silences

Riding in the plane with noise

aerial-view-vi-airplane-flying-over-valencia-in-spain-headed-east-towards-the-mediterranean-sea-john-a-shironFedra was traveling for the first time after news of the serious plane crash had surfaced in the media. Although she was a very frequent flyer and never faced any severe plane-related episodes other than the occasional turbulence during bad weather, this time she was a bit afraid. Falling planes had become a kind of a notorious trend lately and the media depiction of the situation was not helping. Just in case, she took a light sedative before boarding.

Everything had proceeded normally. So far.

She noticed the flight was full of many foreigners. And old people. But she took no notice. What difference would it make anyway?

As soon as the plane took off, though, it began.

The noise. The unbearable noise. And it was not coming from the engines.

It was emerging from the old ladies sitting exactly behind her. They were separated by an old man who was unlucky enough to be seated in the middle of this missile exchange of very loud words. Foreign words of a language Fedra could not detect. Maybe something Arab-related? Or perhaps it was Dutch? For some reason the unfamiliarity of the words also made them sound all the more louder. She couldn’t understand whether the women were excited of traveling, of being on a plane, or simply chatterboxes. But they were so loud, even the person ten rows further down complained. Not even the flight attendants could do anything about this. The old ladies couldn’t hear well either, so even telling them to keep it down had to be done loudly and then everything simply became worse.

People all across the plane were hoping food would be served soon to get them to shut up. But that didn’t work either.

Food just made the old ladies even louder, as they were munching and chatting at the same time, probably criticising the food, the service, and who knows what else.

Then the on board purchases had their round and the old ladies got so excited that they stopped the cart and were asking to see things – mostly jewelry – for about ten minutes. The stewardess was not able to accurately decipher what the old ladies were saying, as their foreign language differed greatly from English, and this caused even the stewardess to sigh numerous times. She eventually walked away fifteen minutes later without having managed to sell anything.

The noise continued though.

Passengers trying to get some sleep were now complaining of living a nightmare, while literally everyone was checking the time, hoping the plane would land soon so this martyrdom would end.

It is unavoidable to travel with noise. It is part of human behaviour. But why have we all become so insensitive to every one else around us that we simply do not give a chicken’s feather what anyone else thinks, or if we are causing them discomfort?

When the plane finally landed, the pilot himself opened the cockpit door and requested to see who was making all that noise. When he saw two elderly women picking up their canes and holding on to the unfortunate old man-in-the-middle, he was stunned. How so much noise could be coming out of such a feeble “container” was a mystery to him. And to the control tower to whom he had been reporting.

What the old ladies (and the other passengers) didn’t know, is that right behind them sat a reporter from their hometown who had been recording everything they were saying. Something which he later used for his own reportage. Fedra still didn’t know how, but a few days later she had seen the two familiar faces on a foreign news bulletin during a TV zapping surge one afternoon.

The moral ending is, be considerate of others around you. If nothing else, you never know who might be listening and what consequences that may have.

Also part of Daily Prompt: What a Twist!

An intricate loop

lost ringShe suffered from being too organized. If that ever was a sickness, she was the number one patient. Victoria was obsessed with having everything in order. She felt it was the only way she could control whatever life threw at her. That is why she succumbed to a panic attack when she realized that afternoon that she had lost it.

The ring Danny gave her.

She never took it off her finger, unless she was washing clothes by hand. Then she would place it on the little shelf under the mirror on top of the marble wash-basin and she would stare at it, daydreaming, as she scrubbed the delicate clothes clean. Once she had hung the clothes to dry, she would return, soften her hands by rubbing on cream, and replace the silver ring to its rightful place on her finger.

But today, something went wrong. She realized the ring was missing from her finger when she reached for a piece of cake during afternoon coffee with her friend Emily who had come over to share some gossip. What ensued could only be described as havoc, as an anxious Victoria stormed the bathroom and then paced nervously around every room of the house, re-tracing every step she had made – and which she remembered – in order to find the lost jewel. Emily could do little to console her friend.

It’s hard being a perfectionist. You can never take anything lightly. And never let anything go. Not even when Danny said the ring could be replaced. But for Victoria it would never be the same.

——————–

It was a beautiful afternoon in the park and Vincent had taken Buster out for a walk. The golden retriever basked in the sun for a few minutes, then sprung to its feet and called for a game of Frisbee. Vincent loved this game as his dog always made the most unaccepted leaps, catching the Frisbee in his mouth, no matter how far it went. So he always tried to throw it as far as possible; for him this was also a very good way to make new acquaintances. And Buster was on his own so adorable.

The Frisbee was heading for the lake when Buster made a leap worthy of professional jumpers, and caught it with his teeth glistening in the sunlight as he fell in the waters with a grand splash, cooling everyone who happened to be around the scene. Vincent ran to apologise to the surprised onlookers, when he saw something small glistening at the edge of the pond.

It was a silver ring.

He picked it up and read the inside engraving “I will love you forever, Danny”.

Someone must be very concerned this is lost, he thought. But on the other hand, what if it was intentionally thrown away? What if this was a love story gone all bad? Sometimes love doesn’t always head in the direction the heart wants, he pondered, as Buster joyfully bounced to his side requesting another round of Frisbee.

——————–

She had done this for ages. It was a profession carried on for generations, for as long as she could remember. Her mother had taught her how, and she was in turn trained by her mother and so forth. They roamed the country practicing it and she had learned to read people better than she read the cards before her.

People came to her seeking a glimpse into their future. They wanted to feel the illusion of being able to control what would arrive. The majority never really believed the fortune-teller and they all thought that she was just taking their money in exchange for a few positive words that had no reasonable basis. Yet they still went. People are like that. Silly and gullible.

Yet they are also longing and hopeful. And this is what the fortune-teller relied on.

She only remembered the cases that most strongly made an impression on her. And there was this one couple she could never forget. Not even five years later. She had felt their aura since before they had entered her tent at the local fair. The young woman had convinced the man to go see her. She had said it would be fun. They were newly-weds and you could tell by the sparkle in their eyes, by how they gazed into each other so lovingly, by how in love they appeared.

The first thing the fortune-teller noticed when they sat before her was the silver ring on the girl’s finger. There was something about it. It had brought them so much love and happiness, but for some reason it would also bring them so much pain and suffering.

She pretended to look into the crystal ball and began to tell them that they would have a long and happy life together. The couple smiled and squeezed each other’s hand. But the fortune-teller was not telling the truth. It was one of those rare instances that she looked into the ball in her hands and felt a déjà vu. She felt her vision become misty and could almost see what the couple’s future would be – it was cloudy and grey, shadows had creeped over their rays of sunshine, and it was all caused by a small circle, a loop, a ring.

Hold on to each other, but not too tight, or else you will lose one another forever,” she said as the couple walked out of the tent. The girl looked at the fortune-teller as she turned to leave. She said nothing, although her smile had faded.

The fortune-teller looked back into her crystal ball and saw a reflection of her own dark complexion staring back. Fate was never something anyone could ever foresee. Or control.

Also part of Daily Prompt: Weaving the Threads

The Origins of Health

1_imgsize.aspThere is nothing better in life than good health,” wrote the poet Menander (4th century BC) and rhetorician Lucian (2nd century AD) agreed that “there is no benefit in possessing every good if health is absent”. Ever since the dawn of its existence, humanity has strived to achieve and maintain good health, while seeking to understand the causes of illnesses and searching for solutions to treat them. This remains one of mankind’s primary concerns – just consider the most common drinking toast (“to good health”). In an exquisite archaeological exhibition entitled HYGIEIA: Health, Illness and Treatment from Homer to Galen, The Museum of Cycladic Art in Athens, Greece, offers an unrivalled journey through the evolution of medical practices from 1200 BC to the 3rd century AD, with the aid of 282 artefacts from 41 museums in 7 European countries. But it is not just the artefacts that matter here, it is the knowledge residing behind them.

2_AsklipiosIn his epics, Homer refers to Asklepios as a mortal King of Trikke in Thessaly and a peerless physician. However, according to ancient myth, Asklepios was the son of god Apollo. He is later referred to as a demi-god, one who possessed the unique ability to grant health. From the 5th century BC onwards, his cult as the foremost healing god spread rapidly and endured even past the advent of Christianity to approximately 500 BC. Asklepios was that tall, mature, bearded man often figured clad in a long robe, leaning on a snake-entwined staff. A snake is a “chthonic” element, it crawls on the ground and is well aware of the herbs and nutrients the earth breeds; thus, also capable of distinguishing between the good and bad – in fact, in Greek the word for medicine (φάρμακο) is just an intonation away from the word for poison (φαρμάκι). The snake, however, is also the symbol of renewal because of its ability to shed its skin. It therefore became the sacred animal of the healing god and today is the international symbol of medical doctors.

Such symbolism is abundant: in the Ancient era, the trademark for physicians was an ancient medical cupping vessel, named “Sikya” because of its resemblance to the tubular fruits of the sikya plant. Trefoil juglets that stored opium resembled inverted poppy capsules (the ones that when slit leak out opium-bearing latex), while they also featured a snake on their handle, cautioning that opium may be used in small doses as an anaesthetic and for soothing pain, but in larger doses can cause damage due to its hallucinatory effect.

4_AsklepieioIn the ancient healing sanctuaries dedicated to the healing god and thus known as Asklipieia, patients seeking divine cure would be bathed and aromatized (a purgatory ritual to ensure good health and ethical purity). They would then sleep in the sanctuary (incubation), experiencing a divinely-inspired dream, where Asklepios would appear and offer advice. In the morning this would be interpreted by the sanctuary’s priests and the illness would be physically treated.5_ Hygieia

The incubation process was inspired by another symbol: one that depicts Sleep – the brother of Death – as a winged child at the feet of Hygieia found at the very entrance of this exhibition. Hygieia (Health) is one of the daughters of Asklepios and the goddess of good health. It is from her name that the name (and concept) of “hygiene” arises. Asklepios’ entire family was related to the health-treatment process: his wife Epione was the comforter of pain; his two sons Machaon and Podaleirios took care of injured Achaeans in the Trojan War; while there were also the daughters Acesó (goddess of the healing process); Iasó (goddess of healing); Panacea (the all-healing goddess); and a younger son Telesphóros (he who brings fulfillment and protected coalescing patients).

This “theurgic medicine” was so widespread because prevalent belief had it that the gods inflicted illnesses upon humans as a punishment for impious acts. 6_Anathima STATUE-570And since the cure of every illness was similarly godsent, people tried to appease the gods with prayers, magnificent sacrifices, and purifications. These also included votive offerings either before or after treatment, which took the form of objects (or ailing body parts) as a supplication to the gods. Centuries would pass before the divine provenance of disease was challenged and treatment dissociated from divine intervention. This occurred with the teachings of the Pre-Socratic philosophers (6th c. BC), which served as the foundation for rational scientific medicine. However, votive offerings still remain an integral part of Christian belief, especially in Greek Orthodox Churches.

Hippocrates (460 BC – 370 BC), today considered as the Father of Scientific Medicine, recorded about 60 ancient treatises in what is known as the Hippocratic Corpus. The medicinal use of healing herbs still used today, originated from thousands of years ago. For example, laurel as an antiseptic, emollient and cathartic; Crocus (or saffron) used for eye inflammation; Lykion (or Goji Berry) extremely well-known for its healing properties; Mandrake used as anaesthetic in surgeries (today is the emblem of the Hellenic Society of Anaesthesiology); and Mastic used, among others, to clean teeth and as a regenerative factor for a radiant complexion.7_ Iasis 1

Hippocratic physicians also emphasized the importance of diet in maintaining health as well as in treating disease. In antiquity, the word diet was not limited strictly to food, as it is nowadays; it expressed a broader concept, which also encompassed – and always in moderation – drink, physical exercise, baths, massages, sleep, sexuality, and a person’s habits and way of life in general.

According to Hippocrates, the human body encompasses four fluids or humours (blood, phlegm, yellow bile, and black bile). The balanced proportion of all four fluids, known as Eukrasia (good mix), is a main characteristic of good health, while the disruption of this balance (Dyskrasia) leads to the onset of various diseases.

Galen (129-216 AD), a prolific Physician from Pergamon whose theories dominated and influenced Western medicine up to the 17thcentury, tried to explain human behavior according to the fluid that prevailed in each human being. So, for example, a Sanguine person, in whom blood prevails, is sociable; a Phlegmatic person, in whom phlegm prevails, is relaxed and quiet; a Choleric person, in whom yellow bile prevails, is tense and aggressive; and a Melancholic person, in whom black bile (melaina cholé in Greek) prevails, is moody and introverted.

9_760374_Iasis_Installation_3In the ancient era, physicians were seen as the “healers of evil” and were greatly respected in society. They enjoyed an elevated status because of their specific skills. They were considered craftsmen, as well as “demiourgoi”, i.e. workers who labored for deme, the public good. Physicians were considered servants of mankind in general and travelled from place to place to practice their craft and offer their services to community. This is also what today’s doctors vow to do through their Hippocratic Oath. To continue practicing medicine, whose origins, as is evident, stem from centuries ago. And despite the fact that people – in their majority – no longer believe diseases are godsent punishes for irreverent human actions – deep down we all hope that someone can find a way to reverse them, to treat even the most incurable ones, and soothe the suffering for all.

 

* The exhibition “HYGIEIA. Health, Illness, Treatment from Homer to Galen” runs from 19/11/2014 until 31/5/2015 and a short video can be found here.

The tree that continued to burn

burning_tree___better_by_schorschi19There was once a tree in the middle of the forest. It wasn’t just any tree. It was tall and sturdy, with its branches extending over an entire perimeter. In bloom, it was the most beautiful tree in the forest, visible from miles away. From above, pilots flew around it in circles as it appeared like a lily in a pond of frogs.

The tree knew it was extraordinary and that it was admired for its exquisiteness. It took care of its body, assuring enough sunlight and water reached its stem and leaves. Yet soon, attention gave into narcissism. And the tree became so vain it repulsed the forest animals and bugs. No one wanted to be around it anymore because it had become so obsessed with itself. With its looks, with its bushy appearance, with its dominance in the forest. The other trees were overshadowed by this one, as it stood tall and swayed in the direction of the light, hungrily consuming the sun’s rays, while its deep roots lapped up the majority of the water in the soil.

Soon, the tree had ruthlessly devoured most of the nutrients and elements required for growth and the forest was starving. The other trees had become feeble and dried to the point that they were withering away.

The forest was resembling a patched blanket as the trees perished leaving behind gaps of rubble where they once stood. Yet the conceited tree remained firm in place, concentrating for itself as many nutrients still remained.

One day, a mocking jay flew above the forest with a sparkle on one of its legs. The tree looked up and smiled, jeering at the bird for its meagre appearance. At that moment, the bird dropped its sparkle right onto the tree.

It was a small piece of burning coal.

With water being scarce in the forest, the tree too was becoming severely dehydrated and it was not long before it caught on fire. Its abundant branches ablaze, the tree could do nothing other than watch itself burn. The fire had rapidly spread across the forest gulping up any remnant of a tree that it found in its way. Now all that remained was a towering tree in the middle of scorched land, glaring from the intensity of the flames.

The tree was too proud to call for help. So it kept burning.

For days, weeks, and months it burned. It combusted even when it thought there was nothing left to consume.

When it decided to curb its egotism and finally call for help, it was too late. It no longer had a voice with which to yell. And anyone who saw the great tree aflame in the once forest, thought it was too late to save it. So no action was ever taken.

The tree learned the hard way that some things should be more carefully considered. And it vowed that if given a second chance it would do things differently. It would use its strength to protect the forest instead of contributing to its demise.

When everything seemed lost, the mocking jay returned.

As soon as it flew over the tree, the flames were miraculously exterminated. And by the time the tree thanked its dear friend to whom it also apologized for being so inconsiderate before, a green shot bulged from the carbon-infested tree trunk.

The tree was given a rare second chance. And it was determined to live up to its vow this time.

That indecisive moment

Continuity-KeypadCallie was standing in the room in silence, phone in hand. Her mind was a movie theater, replaying all the moments she had spent with him over the past four years. She remembered everything so vividly, it was as if she could see it all projected right in front of her. Every emotion felt, the ups and downs, the thrill, the excitement, the sensations in all their glory. But also the heartbreak, the fights, the arguments, the sorrow. She could feel it deep into her marrow. Now she was standing there pondering what to do.

She missed him. She missed the life they had. She missed sharing her joy, her success, her anguish, her pain with someone who understood simply by looking into her eyes. She had gotten so used to him being the one to talk to about everything that now she felt she was returning to a house of silence, like a protagonist in a silent film.

Her fingers dialed his number mechanically. Some things are so imprinted in your heart and mind that even if you try to forget you can’t. Like phone numbers of loved ones. (Yet your pin number you keep forgetting.)

All she had to do was press the little green symbol that would dial.

But she froze.

She wanted to call and tell him how much she missed him. How she longed for him every day. How she yearned for their conversations like a trapped mouse yearns for cheese. How she ached to feel loved again, to feel an array of emotions flood her system and make her happy and not simply content. How she craved for an exchange that was more real than any online interaction could ever be.

Nothing was the same now. It is inevitable for people to move on in their careers, in their lives. To strive for more. To engage in new things. To embark on new adventures. But it is also a human weakness and a simultaneous strength for us to desire to share everything with a partner. And that perhaps is the thing we long for the most.

Her finger lowered onto the button.

But what if? What if he didn’t want to talk to her? What if he had already moved on? To a new job, to a new life, to new interests? The ache was unbearable. The negative what ifs of her mind soon suppressed and quashed any positive hope her heart had created.

Her finger pressed cancel instead.

And nothing changed back.

Seeing is believing…or maybe not?

Don't believe everything you see - Abe LincolnHarold led an ideal life. He was the Gladstone Gander of the real world. He graduated college top of his class with businesses lining up with offers for employment. He found the job he wanted as soon as he had his diploma in hand, lived in a penthouse in the city centre, and had a vibrant social life. In short, life was good for Harold.

Or was it?

This is what Harold boasted on social media. That everything was going according to plan. That he loved his job and colleagues, that he was remunerated more than adequately, that he won every scratch card he got his hands on.

But this was far from the truth.

Because as Takehito Koyasu says, “You shouldn’t believe everything. What you see isn’t always right….The truth is in a place you can’t see.

In reality, Harold was unhappy. He barely graduated college because he had a miserable student life, with roommates he did not get along with, subjects he did not find interesting, and motivation that was lacking. Once he graduated, he worked as a waiter for five years, before landing a job at a company that paid a little over minimum wage and allowed him to attempt to practice what he studied. His social life was almost non-existent because of the very few friends he had and due to his introvert nature. He lived in an apartment on the ground floor that cost more than it was worth. And what is more, Harold never won the lottery or any scratch card he invested his money in.

Social media is an easy way of creating the life you wish you had. Because no-one can prove what you assert; and given the right angle or photo-shop, anything can appear skewed from the truth. It is just another demonstration of how gullible we all truly are. People will believe almost anything, even without proof. Why? Maybe because deep down we still want to believe in the good nature present in all, that we won’t lie to each other, because there is really no point in doing so. In the end, we are only lying to ourselves.

Surviving the jungle

volcanoIt’s amazing how the smallest of things can trigger the biggest outbreak you’ve ever had. How all that sadness and anguish that for so long you’ve been burying inside of you can come trickling out like molten lava from a dormant volcano that suddenly erupts. It doesn’t really take that much in the end to make the world tremble.

Sometimes, no matter how much or how far you run, emotions catch up with you. And it usually happens faster than you think. And certainly when you least expect it.

So you’re up from the break of dawn one day sending emails and catching the wrong bus, trying to orientate yourself in this jungle we call world. You go about your business, suppressing any thoughts that might jeopardise this pretentious sanity that you demonstrate. And then suddenly, when everything seems to be going right for you, you take a left turn. You accidentally fall onto an old message. One that reminds you of tender times. Of just a few months ago when everything was so different.

And then it comes.

The eruption.

You begin to question everything.

And can forget nothing.

The tragically funny thing is that we always run back to times when everything was OK, forgetting the hardship that we once had to go through to get there. Because in the end that is not what matters. It is not so much the bad, but it is the good that remain imprinted in your heart. The hard moments are there to make you stronger, wiser and more resilient. They are there so you can learn to appreciate more the good times.

So all you really have to do is ride out the storm. The sun will shine again soon enough.

 

Also part of Daily Prompt: Set It To Rights

Words of the wise

roller-coaster“Do you remember what it was like the first time you got on a roller-coaster? The excitement you felt when standing in line, the thrill that engulfed you as you took your seat, the adrenaline rush, the fear and the nausea, and the pleasant relief at the end? Life is like that. Like a roller-coaster. Love is like that too. In time you learn to become stronger and wiser. But that does not mean you stop loving. Or living”.

Grandma May always had a way with words. Her voice was as soothing as a hot cup of chamomile tea. And she always knew exactly what to say at precisely the right moment. Tricia could think of no other person to turn to whenever she needed a word of advice, a shoulder to cry on, or simply a hug.

Ever since she was a young child, she would run to Grandma May whenever she scraped her knees and needed consolation, whenever she would fight with her parents for some reason or other, whenever she felt betrayed by her friends, and, above all, whenever she experienced a heartache. The latter was Grandma May’s specialty. It was not everyone who could mend a broken heart. But Grandma May knew all too well what it felt like, enough to be able to convince even the most heartbroken of creatures that they will survive. She never told Tricia what she herself had gone through in life. Even when she outright asked, Tricia would never get a clear response, only some sort of wise-person talk, like something Yoda from Star Wars would say.

“How can you be so sure that a love like that will come again? What if that was it? If you had your chance and you missed it? Where will I ever find someone who loves me as much? Who will care for me so? Who will I find to match with so perfectly?”

Tricia was firing out questions as if her torso was a machine gun that had been kept silent for too long. Tears were rolling down her cheeks as she lay in Grandma May’s arms and wondered how life can go on after such intense pain.

Grandma May had brought tissues, tea, cookies and a blanket. And she decided to tell her a story.

“A long time ago, when there were enough women and men to form communities, the first heartache appeared. For now, people were free to choose who they wanted their partner to be. When a pair was formed it was usually for life. But on rare occasions, the couple split. They simply decided they could not continue on the same path together because their thoughts were heading on two different trains. I know you’re probably wondering what these prehistoric people were thinking about, but I’ll have you know that ever since our hearts began to beat, our minds began to think. The couple who split up ran to their own families and asked exactly the same questions you do now. It is natural. Everyone does. It is part of the process. The wisest man in the village – he also happened to be the eldest – took each aside on separate occasions and told them this: In our lives, we all must pass through different stages in order to grow. Just as we go through extreme jubilation when we are happy, we also go through severe depression when we are sad. But our minds and bodies have developed their own mechanism to deal with these roller-coasters. It is something you may know as the Kübler-Ross model, or more simply the five stages of grief. It consists of the stages we go through in order to, in a sense, mourn for a period of our lives that has passed. In these five stages we go through denial (refusing to accept that this phase in our lives is over); anger (at everything and everyone for having led to this); bargaining (in an attempt to make things right if something else where to be done or if we tried harder); depression (because you begin to realize that you have to go on alone, no matter how much you may miss your previous life phase); and acceptance (when you truly acknowledge the fact that life goes on and you must rejoice the memories and become stronger through the experience). It is our process for recovering, becoming more resilient and moving one. Above all, however, it takes time. And just like every heartbroken soul that came after this couple, we all survive. It takes time and patience and lots of strength, but it does work. Keep yourself busy – but don’t forget. Learn new things – but don’t regret. Become tougher – but don’t stop being kind. You will get through this. Everyone always does.”

Tricia was watching Grandma May dumbfounded. She had stopped sniffing and sat there mesmerized by her words. She had nothing to say. No words could come forth to be uttered at this moment. Maybe it was better that way.

So, she got up and brought a board game for her to play with wise Grandma May.

On being happy and being content

happy penguinWhen you meet someone either by chance or intentionally, the first question that usually flies in the air is “how are you?”. It is usually one intended to find out the state of your health. Physically. So the answer that often follows is “I am well”. Hardly anyone will ever come up to you with the first question they are eager to ask being “are you happy?”. Yet being happy is intrinsically linked to the positive state of your health. We just sometimes choose to ignore it.

We all know it is important to be happy, or at least try to be. And it is not only because of the cringe marks that you get when you frown. It is because when you’re happy, you feel like you’re flying. Like you’re weightless and floating on a cloud. Feeling happy makes you view the world in a brighter and more positive light. And given the problems and stress that are constantly weighing down on us during these times, we need to feel happy.

But more often than not, we aren’t happy. We are simply content.

We may be satisfied with the life we have, what we achieve, and be pleased with ourselves overall. But are we truly happy? Do you feel that spark in your eyes when you smile? Or that flutter in your stomach whenever you see a loved one? Do you have a skip in your step? Do you see the world clearly in a dazzling light or is it dim in your eyes?

Being happy and being content are two different things.

Happy is when you indulge in the fascinating world of a book, when you mingle among the characters, discover the very depths of their beings, and are anxious to learn all their dirty little secrets.
Content is when you turn the last page of the book and re-emerge into the real world, which you realise is nothing at all like the one you just read.

Happy is watching a movie. Being so immersed in it that you block everything out. That you feel part of the plot itself, so close that you can even sense the warm breath of the characters down your neck.
Content is when your viewing is interrupted for some reason and you have to wait to see the ending. And then, it is after witnessing that emotional rollercoaster and acknowledging that life is nothing close to that movie.

Happy is being close to your family; sharing emotions and experiences; and holding long conversations about anything and everything.
Content is when you realise that this family is all you have, as you’re too afraid to go looking for someone who could become part of a new / extended family.

Happy is achieving your dreams and ambitions and being acknowledged for the work you do.
Content is having all that, but no-one to share it with.

Happy is one of Snow White’s seven dwarfs. He is bubbly and bright, friendly and cheerful.
Content is not one of the dwarfs, or any other character for that matter. Being content implies a limitation in the feeling of satisfaction and certainly does not radiate the perkiness of someone who is truly happy.

So, you see, for the sake of the dwarf alone, it is worth being happy. And although there is so much written on how to achieve this, what to do and what not – including the fact that being happy is simply a decision you have to make – happiness will truly flow into your heart when you allow it to. When you stop overthinking, over-wallow, and oversulk, and just be. Don’t compare, don’t compete, just be the best you can be.

The dress and an escape from the truth

the dressIn the last week, we have been arguing over the colour of a dress (blue/black or white/gold?), have witnessed llamas run loose in Arizona, and have been baffled over a Senator’s questioning of the effects of climate change by tossing a snow ball as evidence.

All the while, it has been revealed that the masked Islamic State (ISIS) militant known as “Jihadi John”, seen in the videos beheading Western hostages, is a Kuwaiti-born British man from West London, while ISIS militants ransacked Mosul’s central museum destroying thousand-year old priceless artefacts.

Meanwhile, Eurozone countries continue to bewilder each other on account of their increasing economic problems, leading to internal strife, while the fighting in Eastern Ukraine is ongoing and getting worse.

It is interesting to how we chose to see as news what is more enticing and entertaining to us. The fact that conflict is rampant across the world no longer surprises or even affects us (unless we are in those impacted areas). Nor are we touched by the world’s financial problems, even though these affect our own economic state and employment status. These are things we seek to get away from when surfing the web.

Instead, we’ll click to watch Madonna fall at her Brit Awards performance, we’ll enter the worldwide viral debate on the color of that dress, and we will laugh at the videos of animals doing the weirdest yet cutest of things imaginable.

When we enter the world wide web, we seek to be informed, but at the same time entertained. Our attention span diminishes rapidly when we begin to read a long political analysis on the state of affairs – simply put, this is boring. We want something that draws our attention, that is quick and easy to read, and that is entertaining enough but enlightening at the same time.

We like to engage into quizzes on what your choice of wine says about you, for example, read the daily horoscope and cartoon strips, and be inspired by a quote someone famous said long ago.

What we don’t like, is to be reminded that nothing seemingly works as it should pretty much anywhere; that those who were elected to represent us are sometimes just as corrupt as the people they criticize and place behind bars, and that corruption and clientilism are two trends that may possibly never be transcended.

So we turn to entertainment. To momentarily forget the harsh reality and drift into a realm where all there exists are celebrities falling from grace, animals proving they’re smarter than us, and meaningless chatter on trivial issues.

We all need to get away for a while, and if this is the way to achieve some serenity of mind, then so be it. Just remember, The Dress is the colour you see, and all that says about you, is that you can at least see there is a dress.

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