MC's Whispers

Whispering Silences

Archive for the month “May, 2016”

An act outside the circus

http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/life/images/attachement/jpg/site1/20090120/00221917dec40adf8adc01.jpgYou could feel the tension with every tic of the second hand on the clock. It was almost seven in the morning and the sun was already up for almost an hour now. So were a few hundred customers ready to leap like hungry jaguars into the store.

It was the annual big clearance sale. One like no other. Because prices were literally slashed to half-price or even less. Everything was a bargain. As long as you were lucky enough to find anything before anyone else snatched it.

Almost everyone was prepared. They had done their research well in advance, noting down what they were after and on what aisle or corner the desired products were located. This was no time to stroll, see and decide. You either knew and decisively went for it, or you got trampled over. Sometimes – well, most times – you got trampled over either way.

As soon as the clock struck seven, it sounded as if church bells were singing hallelujah. The store employees neared the locked doors, and you could almost see the fear reflected in their eyes. It was not an easy job having to open gates to an ecstatic mob that was determined to not let anyone or anything stand in their way. It was certain that they had no way of escaping the crowd once the doors were opened. The only thing they could do was stand petrified right there on the spot, hoping that as few injuries as possible would be incurred upon them.

It was like a stampede.

And soon, all the orderly placed items had been flung around, displaced, ravaged out of their packaging, some even damaged already, now laying ripped or broken on the floor. Labels and tags were torn from their original products and if you didn’t know exactly what you were looking for, there was no way you would find it.

Security guards marched like wardens up and down the aisles, trying in vain to restore order in what had clearly become a jungle. “Lady, please don’t take the products out of their packaging or try them on”. The phrase was repeated like a pre-recorded message. But just like such ads, it was completely ignored. “Lady, what did I just say? Who am I saying these things too anyway?” The security guards felt like teachers in a kindergarten of rowdy children, their despair echoed in the sound of their exasperated sighs. “I’m almost done,” the lady in question barked back. Done with what exactly, no one knew. But she continued to do precisely that which the security guard had grown tired of voicing.

The store employees who had gone to open the doors, were now finally freed, and most were still standing. They turned around and saw a circus. The store had in the blink of an eye transformed into a huge ring, where in the absence of a ringmaster, all animals had broken loose and were frantically trying to defuse the tension that had accumulated for hours inside of them. Items were being thrown around, with some shoppers acrobatically leaping and sliding across other persons to grab hold of them. People were pushing, shoving, pinching, beating, hair-pulling, even bruising each other, simply to get closer to their listed items. Insanity had taken over and blinded these buyers, who like in a trance could see nothing beyond their golden target. The frenzy was intensified by shrieks, cries and insults being tossed around just as easily and loudly as the items that accompanied them.

It took five hours for the performance to wear out. Some shoppers remained there for the entire time. Others had retrieved their treasure and left. But those few who had persisted right until closing time guarded their loot and searched for more, like lions wanting to relieve an insatiable hunger.

The employee who went to lock the door after the final customer left had a ripped sleeve dangling on his left side. His shirt was torn under his right pocket and he had lost two buttons.

“We’re not paid enough for this,” he sighed as he turned the key, glad that this circus act was over.

 

Also part of Daily Prompt: Circus

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The measure of wealth

https://www.extracobanks.com/img/measure-tape-money.jpgJoy was a girl who personified the meaning of her name. She was a wave of optimism walking into the room. Her eyes sparkled when she smiled and her good mood easily transmitted to those around her. She loved to please people, to entertain and have a good time. But most of all she loved the preparation for it: the elegant clothes, the glistening jewels, the chic hair-dos. They all belonged to the process of feeling good and showing it. Yet, these were all things that required money. Joy didn’t have a problem with that, so she didn’t really take into account how much she was actually spending each month on these “little luxuries”. She had the ability to do so.

Until she didn’t.

It was one day at the end of winter that was resisting the imminent arrival of Spring. The company manager called all the employees into the glass conference room and announced solemnly that the end had come. The company could no longer cope financially in the increasingly competitive market. So it was letting everyone go and was dissolving overnight.

People didn’t immediately realise all the consequences this involved. It was not just the fact that they would become another statistic in the rising unemployment rates. It was not that they would have to face an uncertain period of idleness. It was the fact that without an income, they would all have to start counting their pennies. Literally.

When that thought struck Joy’s mind, that is when the clouds set in.

Because, now, when her friends invited her out and expected her to show up glowing and glittering under the stars, sipping cocktails on roof gardens, and dancing in extravagantly decorated ballrooms, Joy had to maintain appearances. She had to continue living up to her name, despite the fact that her sparkle had faded. She was no longer carefree, because she witnessed day by day her bank account shrinking. And until she found another source of income, she had to restrict her outings. She was confused, though. She couldn’t stay in and do nothing, see no-one, out of financial fears. How did everyone else do it? All those others who earned so much less than she did?

One night, when the full moon lit dimly over the city’s so-called “high society” or wannabe-elites, Joy stood in a corner of the room and paused. She looked around, observing the crowd that had become part of her usual outings. Their clothes, their shoes, their hairstyles, their hand gestures, their body postures, the intonation of their voices, their fake smiles. She wondered when she had allowed herself to become so superficial, thinking that because of the money she so carelessly threw around, she would “fit-in” and become likeable. She had become so drawn-in to this lifestyle that she had forgotten the true meaning of her own name.

She ran out, saying goodbye to no-one.

She rushed home and called him. Him, who was always there for her through everything, but whom she so often failed to acknowledge.

“Let’s go get lost,” she said to the other end of the line. Her voice was trembling with excitement on the verge of shrieking. “Let’s just go there, to our island, to our room-to-rent by the beach and retreat away from it all. There on our balcony gazing at the sea, with the breeze blowing gently and the waves crashing on the rocks. You can work online, and I’ll write a book. On how the real measure of our wealth in life, is how much we would be worth if we’d lost all our money and were left with only the things that can’t be bought. I get it now…”

 

Also part of Daily Prompt: Countless

Stronger than you

https://daabrams.files.wordpress.com/2015/01/img_8403.jpgEvery person has a story to tell. And unless you know what that story is, you really are in no position to judge, criticise, or make fun of them. No matter how light-heartedly it may be. Because you surely don’t know what the person hides behind the smile they constantly wear, or the glimmer that is so apparent in their eyes. You can’t tell if what they are laughing at may be burning them down inside.

If you take a moment and observe the world around you, the people with whom you are surrounded by each and every day, you’d be amazed at the vastness of different tales that exist. Personal tales of courage, of strength, of survival. People who have fought diseases and won, others who are fighting them every day. These latter ones are perhaps the boldest, because it is harsh knowing that what you have cannot be cured. At least not yet.

That is what the theme of today (25 May 2016) is: #WorldMSDay. It is about raising awareness about an illness that creeps slyly into people’s lives and sticks with them, no matter how insistently they try to shake it off. Multiple Sclerosis is an autoimmune disease, one that has been described as the disease of 1000 faces, because it affects everyone differently. People are forced to live with it and go along their lives, working, partying, exercising, like everyone else. Just not. Because they have to fight harder. They also have to face the uninvited and unintended (sudden) onsets of fatigue, of somewhat intense mood swings, of becoming more introvert at times. Now, if you’re a woman, once a month you face similar reactions in a more insane manner. But it’s not the same. And it is certainly not something that is easy for others to understand. Nonetheless, like this year’s theme (#StrongerthanMS) demonstrates, people diagnosed with MS can also be productive members of society, just like everyone else – athletes, politicians, actors, educators, professionals, musicians, anything – and here is a list of celebrities diagnosed with MS to prove it.

You don’t really fully comprehend any of this until it becomes part of your life too. A few years ago, I met a person giving his own battle daily. And he is one of the strongest people I know. Because it takes courage to make your private story public. To let people in to your thoughts and make them aware of the challenges you face. But like C.S. Lewis said, “hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny”. Because sometimes, things happen so we live a better and fuller life. And people who realise the futility of most things we anguish about daily, are the ones who know best how to appreciate the small things, the simple moments that make life great.

It is not the people who run after the spotlight who deserve it, it is the ones who fight alone in the shadows, for they are the ones who offer inspiration.

 

Also part of Daily Prompt: Pensive

The boundaries of sanity

https://lessonsfromtheendofamarriage.files.wordpress.com/2015/09/tennis-court-443267_1280.jpgIt is a line, mostly a mental one, that marks the limits of a person’s capacity, tolerance, sanity. It’s called setting boundaries.

There are boundaries and maximum (and minimum) limits to just about everything: from fixed prices, to metrics, to country borders, to endurance, even to one’s patience. There is a reason for it. Boundaries keep us sane. They keep things under order, otherwise chaos would ensue and we would all end up psycho wrecks.

Boundaries may be seen as a recognition of personal space. They are normal and necessary. They are part of the process of self-care and maintaining ourselves calm and healthy.

We all often dangle on borders. It’s a natural thing. “Boundaries are to protect life, not to limit pleasures” (Edwin Louis Cole). Certainly: there is a time to play and a time to work. When we are able to distinguish between the two, we will be both mentally healthier and more productive.

You teach people how to treat you by what you allow, what you stop, and what you reinforce” – Tony Gaskins

 

Also part of Daily Prompt: Healthy

Awakening a soul

playful dogSome things just fill your heart without even trying.

That is what Ivana felt every time she walked through the door and he was there waiting for her. There was so much joy in his eyes. It was almost as if the love he held in his heart was so vast, he could explode with emotion. And he was so honest about every single thing he felt.

He would show it all – when he was upset, when he was hungry, when he wanted to go for a walk, when he just wanted to lie down, when he wanted to pick her up instead.

Ivana knew that he was the one person who would always be there for her, rejoicing in her excitement and empathizing in her pain. At times, he was all she ever wanted.

Until the time he left. As suddenly as he had appeared.

That was the only fault she had found in him in his fourteen years. That his life was too short.

Her dog was more than just her buddy, her friend, her partner, her therapist, her family. He was her whole world. She was constantly trying to be better, because he made her believe she could. She wanted to be the person her dog thought she was.

He was someone who motivated her to play, to laugh, to cuddle, to be curious, to seek adventure, to love, and to be loyal.

And that look in his eyes whenever she came home – no matter if she had just popped out to the kiosk around the corner – it was priceless. It made her believe that this is the only creature in the world that may love someone else so much more than he loves himself.

They say that dogs have a way of finding the people who need them and filling a space we didn’t even know we had. They have an ability of demonstrating true happiness, unconditional love and absolute loyalty, making our lives complete. But they also have a way of nourishing you with the strength you need to carry on, when they move on to another world.

 

“Until one has loved an animal a part of one’s soul remains unawakened” – Anatole France

 

Also part of Daily Prompt: Buddy

The agony inside

http://www.downgraf.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/Inspirational-Portrait-Photography-3.jpgThere is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you,” said Maya Angelou. We all hold a story within that we are yearning to unleash. It is the need to express our thoughts, our emotions, our dreams and our ambitions. To feel that we are supported and encouraged in every way.

We have become so used to valuing appreciation by the number of “likes” we receive on social media, by the “sympathy count” of our digital existence. But does this really matter? There are so many voices nowadays out there, that the world seems to be a cacophony of opinions – about anything and everything, no matter how important or how meaningless these are. Everyone has the right to be heard, but not many listen. So, if you are certain of the power of your own words, and by the belief that they do touch people anyway, making a difference, isn’t that more important? Isn’t that the point of it all?

The world will change, they say, one person at a time. And as James Baldwin wrote: “A country is only as good… only as strong as the people who make it up and the country turns into what the people want it to become…We made the world we’re living in and we have to make it over.

It is a great strength to feel something so deeply that it becomes a passion. And you should never underestimate the power of such an emotion. Because it takes more than passion to follow your dreams. It takes courage too. And the confidence not to underestimate your potential. You can do more than you think. And you can reach further than you see. You just have to believe it too. And feel it with all your heart.

Like Baldwin adds, the “collision between one’s image of oneself and what one actually is is always very painful and there are two things you can do about it, you can meet the collision head-on and try and become what you really are or you can retreat and try to remain what you thought you were, which is a fantasy, in which you will certainly perish”.

There are too many inspirational sayings rampant, stating that if you want something, go do it. Most are right. Don’t tell people your dreams. Show them. And certainly never underestimate the determination of a quiet person. One who keeps an untold story agonizingly locked inside.

 

Also part of Daily Prompt: Underestimate

Five minutes to survive

http://newoctobersky.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/breathe.jpgIt’s a wonderful feeling when you are finally able to loosen the chains that so tightly gripped your insides that you were unable to breathe. Robin knew it well. She was an observer. A person who would closely study human behaviour, the way people socialize among each others, their characteristics, their hand gestures, their unique movements. She was also the kind of person who gathered anger inside of her like a hay ball picks up speed. And it could easily become the cause of her consternation and, worse, suffocation.

All she needed was five minutes every few days.

It was a requisite that enabled her to lash out on everything and everyone that bothered her. To blatantly express whatever was on her mind, without prejudice, without fear of being criticized, and above all, without the constant need to restrain herself lest a “diplomatic incident” may emerge.

It was five minutes of pure and unabashed liberty.

They passed by quickly, almost with a single breath of air. It is surprising how much one person can maintain bottled up inside of them. Out of fear of what may happen if those thoughts became externalized. Out of concern that others won’t understand them. Out of simply the lack of the right person to listen.

But those five minutes were vital for Robin’s survival. It was the time when the toxin could be released, the noose could be relaxed, and oxygen could freely run back into her veins filling her heart with a deep relief.

It was the five minutes we all need to stay sane, to relax, to remind ourselves what truly matters. And to just let it all go. No matter how difficult it may be.

 

Also part of Daily Prompt: Survival

Teaching how to disassemble the chaos

http://www.newyorker.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/O-Neill-X-Games-on-Ice-1200.jpgShe screamed something incomprehensible, slammed her hands on the table, sturdily got up and left the room. If there were a door, she would have slammed it in anger.

He remained staring at the empty seat. Motionless. Unreactive. He had become accustomed to such bursts of anxiety, as he called them. He knew that she would soon blow off steam and come to realise that he was right all along. But that was something she should do on her own. She needed the space to calm down and process it all. He knew she could do more. She just had to believe it too.

She soon returned embarrassed but full of thirst for more. He had succeeded in awakening her desire to improve. To reach the potential he had seen in her from the very first day.

She loved ice-skating. It was the perfect combination of dance, expression and imagination. And on the ice, she felt more liberated than ever. It brought some tranquility to her otherwise chaotic life. Because no matter what went on at home, during her busy schedule, or in the world in general, on that ice rink she forgot it all, and got lost in the music, allowing it to drift her away, into a parallel universe, a utopia.

She was a smart girl, craving knowledge, demonstrating a general interest in everything that surrounds us, and with a fantasy as large and open as her heart.  She generally respected her teachers, especially those who inspired her and taught her to love learning. Those who showed her where to look, but left her to see things for herself. The ones who taught her to be critical of everything she heard, and, no matter what, to always try and improve; to compete, not with others, but with herself.

But the one who she loved the most was her ice-skating teacher. He was the once who acted as a mentor, a guide, a psychotherapist, a friend, a family member. He was so much more than a teacher and that is why she could so freely unleash every emotion in front of him. Because she knew he would understand. And he would support her either way.

Like Albert Einstein had said, “it is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge”. Because it is a fact that the (right) teachers are the ones who create all other professions, the ones who inspire you to be the best you can be, and to find some order in the chaos that is our world.

 

Also part of Daily Prompt: Chaos

Those little life moments

http://www.travelagentcentral.com/files/travelagent/nodes/2013/42654/carnivalmarketing1.jpgRemember when as a child you make list of things you want as presents for your birthday, or any other potential occasion? Remember how easy it is to get upset about material goods – about not having them, about losing them, about breaking them? Remember how easy it is for such occasions to ruin your mood? And then, later on, you feel worse that you allowed such instants to take complete control over you?

It is only as we grow older that you realise that the point of life is to appreciate moments not things. Because it is in fact the little moments that make life big. Those moments you spend with your family and loved ones. The ones that take your breath away, when your stomach muscles ache from all the laughter, when you brainstorm for ideas together, or begin to examine insane theories, or engage in long-drawn discussions that only end because someone has to go to the bathroom. It is the moments spent making each other smile and thinking that there is nowhere else you’d rather be. It is those exact moments when – at this time and age – you forget to look at your phone.

It is certainly true that sometimes you will never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory. It is when you begin to miss things that you acknowledge their worth. So as long as you still have time, the best thing to do is manage it as best as possible, to reap as much as you can out of the moments that make you happy.

Don’t wait for those moments to come. Create them. All it takes is something small – a thought, a gesture, a random act of kindness, that is enough to make someone feel complete and a life worthwhile.

Rumors and hearsay

http://www.gannett-cdn.com/-mm-/141517f253ab9e1241ebf6f00e11909b0df2beac/c=194-0-1726-1152&r=x404&c=534x401/local/-/media/2016/05/02/USATODAY/USATODAY/635977841744798894-3535.jpgRick had fulfilled his childhood dream of becoming an astronaut since he joined the Space Agency’s training programme from a young age as one of the most promising members who had ever passed through. Now, being one of the most prominent young astronauts, demonstrating potential, skills and responsibility that were rare for his generation, he eagerly awaited his first grand mission.

It was not long before he was assigned it.

Once astronomers discovered a planet 40 million light-years away that could possibly have sustained (or is still home to) life forms similar to those of Earth, Rick knew this was his mission. He had dedicated his life to this and was ready for the launch.

Space orbiting offered a solitude like no other. It was a confinement that, despite the responsibilities and work that had to be carried out, provided ample time to think, to literally gaze at the Earth from a distance and revise his perspective on everything.

But once Rick was in space he knew that his mission and the next – uncertain – years of his life would be spent chasing a reported discovery, which could not be proven unless someone reached its core.

Back on Earth, conspiracy theorists and alien fanatics relied on rumors and hearsay to strengthen their arguments.

So did pretty much everyone who was too lazy or naïve to search for a holistic approach to everyday developments. As a result, people remained restrained in their perceptions of what they heard, accepting news without questioning anything and allowing themselves to be manipulated by anyone who was a bit more devious and cunning than the masses.

And all the while, the spaceman was skidding through the solar system in search of a rumor of a planet that may very well have already vanished…

 

Also part of Daily Prompt: Solitude

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