For you to see the stars, you need a dark sky. That is the only allegory suitable to describe how to remain optimistic and patient in order to see the positive in a gloomy and tragic situation.
“Staying positive, doesn’t mean you have to be happy all the time. It means that even on hard days you know that better ones are coming”. That is something we need to remember now more than ever.
Because around the globe, restrictions of movement, closed borders, bans on public gatherings etc, are all commonplace at the moment. We are all self-isolated….together. We are all in this together. Most of us are called to fight an invisible enemy in an unprecedented war from our couch. Others are on the frontline working night and day in hospitals, witnessing the painful consequences first-hand. All we are called to do is to #StayHome, #StaySafe, so they can help us out of this.
Viewed in another perspective, the whole world is frozen at the moment. As if someone pushed a ‘pause’ button and ‘regular’ life simply stopped. For how long, nobody really knows.
Sometimes even the hardships serve for a higher purpose. It is during the hard times that we realise how strong we truly are. (“We all have an unsuspected reserve of strength inside that emerges when life puts us to the test” – Isabel Allende) And we acknowledge what truly matters. The Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic has proven that everything around us is so temporary. Things we revolved our lives around: our work, gym, cafes, malls, cinemas, society itself, have all become irrelevant as we are now learning for weeks to live without them. It has taught us that we are so technologically advanced we can actually work from home, i.e. anywhere, and we can remain more connected than we believe. It is in our own homes and families in the end that we will remain safe. We learn that distance cannot keep emotions away.
But when all this shall pass – because it will – we will come out reborn, we will have learnt (hopefully) to not take anything for granted, to appreciate everything and everyone we have more. Because it is in this distance and isolation that friendships will be tested and relationships will either be reinforced or shattered.
Like Victor Hugo said, “even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise”. Every day is a lesson: the good days offer happiness and the bad ones, experience.
No storm lasts forever. But if we can stay positive in a negative situation, we win. It is up to us how to manage the situation we are in. “Fear has two meanings: Forget Everything And Run or Face Everything And Rise. The choice is yours”.
We can’t change how all this started. But we can change how we deal with it from now on. And certainly what we will learn out of it. To become a bit more humane, empathetic and less selfish. To value the little things in life. To be kind to everything that is alive. And above all, to wash our hands.
And there, at the end of a day that touched upon the verge of “this was too much” and “when did it already get dark”, you experience something that changes you. That affects your mindset so much that you begin to see things differently.
In every period of our lives, we tend to seek people who are going through similar issues and have a similar take on things. It is our natural inclination to seek allies, because in them we find the compassion, empathy and understanding we long for.
When we meet people who inspire us, we are mentally and psychologically elevated. We begin to realise our own true value. And that is when we acknowledge that people drown not by falling into the river, but by remaining in it.
So take a deep breath and change things. People either inspire or exhaust you. Get out of situations you don’t like or agree with. We are the only ones who can save ourselves.
Life is unpredictable like that. We don’t always get the answers we seek or think we deserve, and we need to just accept reality for what it is and move on. Because things do happen for a reason, even if at the time we don’t see it. But the truth is, we can survive more than we think possible, and then we’re amazed by how much stronger that makes us.
Things and people come into your life the moment you need them, to help you get on the right path. To help you realise the value of your own worth. The only person who needs convincing is yourself.
There is a saying that people are either flies or bees. The bee will be able to find a flower even in a rubbish dump. The fly will be attracted by manure even in the most beautiful of gardens.
He looked out of the window at the cloudy skies. He was physically in his living room, sitting on his couch. But mentally he was far away. Perhaps even on that airplane crossing the sky.
He had never been on an airplane.
He had never even left the country.
He was afraid to leave. To take a risk. He was too much a coward to change his life. He lost too many opportunities and people because of this. And all he had left was to dream. But even that was too much. Because he knew deep inside that those dreams of flying away would never be realised.
On that very plane, there was a girl who travelled all her life. She knew very well what it was like to change environments every now and then, yet longed for somewhere to settle. For some place and someone to call home.
She had just finished reading the romance Erotokritos, the rhymed verses themed around love, honour, friendship, bravery and courage. It was the story of a young man who fell in love with a princess and did whatever he could – even facing exile and sacrifice – to gain her love. But to the young reader, it symbolised more than that. It was an allegory that true love surpasses every hurdle encountered; that when there is a will there is always a way; and that it’s not about finding someone who chases you incessantly or who evidently ignores you, it’s about finding someone who never stops caring or fighting for you. It’s a story about someone who feels deeply and has no problem in showing it in every way possible.
Life is the sum of our actions. These are what make us who we are. What we have the strength to do and what we don’t. What we choose to change and what not. It is who we want to be and who we have the power to become.
Two years had already passed since she decided to leave the
city for a provincial town.
She still remembered how much time and anguish she had
experienced; her mind a whirlwind of thoughts pecking her brain with all the
things that could go right or wrong.
It was hard to change your entire life. To exit the safety
of your comfort zone, of everything you are used to and feel comfortable with.
But if you don’t, if you never take the leap, you’ll never know where life can
She never regretted having found the courage to alter
Women are like cats. They like attention but not too much
and on their terms, are independent and self-sustainable, move around a room
like they own it, like to sleep as much as possible, like to cuddle but only
when they want to, and can disappear for hours doing their own thing with no-one
really knowing what that is.
Women are like cats in that they can claw their way out of a
fight, just as easily as they can start one.
But most of all, they are like cats in the sense that they
can reciprocate the love you show them and be the source of your serenity.
Charity was the most cat-like girl Jessop had ever met. He
could almost swear to hear her purr when she fell asleep in his arms. She
fought for her autonomy and demonstrated that she could handle her affairs on
her own. But every now and again she would crawl to his side and press into his
chest for a tight hug, something that would make all the troubles she didn’t
share just go away.
Jessop liked that she was dynamic and feisty. But he loved
it more when she became the vulnerable, chirpy girl he fell in love with. After
all, every man adores being the protector of his girl.
But over the past weeks, something happened. It was as if
the cat inside her curled up and hid from the world. She wouldn’t talk much,
her smile had faded and she barely ate. She wouldn’t respond to his questions,
even getting agitated by them and would retreat to her bed, sleeping more than
the usual hours.
One morning, Jessop woke up to find a note on his bedstand:
“If I show you I need
you, take it seriously. It means more than just the words you understand. I do
whatever I can to never have to depend on anyone, to avoid showing weakness and
fear. But if I tell you I need you by my side, it means I am trusting you to catch
me when I fall”.
The note was stained with droplets of tears.
Jessop sprung out of bed, got dressed and left.
He knew where she was. Cats always have a safe place.
Somewhere they think no-one knows about, but if you follow them closely they’ll
let you find them.
Distance is a strange concept. Because technological evolution
has made it possible to feel close to people who are oceans apart from us. Yet,
sometimes, the distance that separates our minds with people who are right next
to us is often unsurmountable.
Distance is often a way to see things differently. To view
situations in another light or from another perspective. It shows us things we
don’t want to see, we ignore, or we fear of acknowledging. But it also gives us
a clearer view. People think they are the centre of the universe, yet from
space we are just a dot in a vast solar system; we are too small and insignificant
in this infinity.
In the end, it is not the kilometres that divide us, but the
emotional distance, that which makes the feeling of loneliness all the more
intense. It is said that distance is only a test to see how far love can
travel. It is what enhances patience and expectation, sometimes even
reinforcing the very feeling of love.
According to Tennessee Williams, “time is the longest
distance between two places.” Physical distance can easily be overcome. But time
We usually blame the distance for things we don’t want to do
or for situations in which we need to justify our behaviour. We curse our fate
for the difference caused in our lives by distances of all sorts. Yet, as Democritus
said, “people invented lady luck to justify their own lack of will”. It is not
distance that separates people. It is the lack of will and the silence. Because
in our modern, evolving world, where there is a will, there is a way.
In everyday life we are surrounded by all sorts of signs.
Not only literally, but metaphorically too. In most life-changing decisions we
take, we unconsciously look for signs to reveal to us we are on the right path,
or to help us choose which route to take, what move to make.
However, no matter how many signs are thrown our way, we
usually only see what we want to see.
Often we ignore even the warning signs that things are not going well, the ones
that serve as precautions, as awakenings trying to draw our attention to
something, calling us to change.
We choose to ignore the signs that try to help us because we
don’t want to see them at that moment. We want to believe in something
different and we refuse to accept that sometimes things don’t always turn out
the way we hoped or planned.
That is until one sign hits us hard like a slap in the face
and we are forced to see what we’ve been pushing aside for so long. It’s a sign
we can no longer ignore, revealing that a cycle has been closed and we need to
find the courage to close the door to it and move on.
It’s only when we’re
ready to see the signs that we accept their presence. We just have to be brave
enough to let them guide us, but not dictate our next moves.
We live in a society that even inexplicitly wants us to
follow rules. Unwritten regulations that are the norm. If you go against them,
it is not only frowned upon, but you are seen as a reactionary, even an
outcast. Simply because you don’t conform.
But it is not those who follow the path of the masses who
ever accomplished anything. It is those who don’t fear to find a way of their
own. Who have the courage to be different.
But until you find the strength to do something out of the ordinary, most of the time you are forced to live in hypocrisy. To socialise and be polite to people you are not even fond of, to behave “appropriately” according to context, to press “like” on social networks even if you don’t, to make positive comments even when you don’t believe them, to act constantly out of the character you know you are, simply because this is what is “socially acceptable”.
We live our lives in
fear of “what others will think or say” of us. And as such we end up
suppressing our potential, hiding our true feelings and at times even dumbing
ourselves down because the level of those surrounding us is so much lower.
What if we didn’t do all of this? What if we didn’t oppress
ourselves the way we do? What if we didn’t care what others would say? What if
we simply did what would make us happy and make us feel satisfied and proud of
who we are? The world would definitely seem a better place, if only because we
would feel more comfortable in it.
She would often wander in a world no-one could understand. The real world made no sense anymore. She would retreat in the attic and later in the bedroom or living room. She would watch the time run by as she lost herself in books or let her mind gaze at TV series. She didn’t care anymore if she was alone. Now, it was something she actually looked forward to.
In the cold winter days, she would sit on a couch wrapped in a warm blanket with the company of her fluffy soft-toys. In their big glimmering eyes, she would find comfort. In there, she saw the reflection of who she wanted to be; who she was striving to become; who few would appreciate or, even more, understand.
Perhaps that was what was most disappointing. That no matter how much she explained her point of view, hardly anyone would see it. It is easy to put the blame for everything on someone else; it is even easier to dismiss all their views as wrong simply because they don’t agree with yours.People only listen to what they want to hear. And whatever you say, they will only focus on what they think is important, rendering everything else unsaid. She was tired of having to repeat herself so often, and not being heard. She was not understood. And that was perhaps worse than not being appreciated.
So, she drifted away. She had grown weary of trying to change a world that so adamantly refused to do so. She stopped insisting. Her grandfather once told her that people should fear a woman’s silence, for a woman who stops moaning and more so talking is one who has simply given up. A woman’s silence is her loudest cry. But few can truly realise that. Even fewer are bold enough to do something about it.
It’s easy to keep demanding that everyone else changes. The real courage is to admit that you need to change too. And to do it.