MC's Whispers

Whispering Silences

Archive for the tag “different”

Empathising difference

All happy families are alike, but every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way”, wrote Leo Tolstoy in the beginning of Anna Karenina in 1878.

Misery has many forms. And this is true for all people.

We don’t realise how insignificant or trivial our problems are until we hear what someone else is facing.

But what we often fail to acknowledge is that we don’t understand what other people are going through no matter how much they (try to) explain. It’s usually because we don’t really want to empathise. We’re better off worrying about our own microcosm-shattering problems: where to go out, what to do to pass the day, who to call for an outing, what to watch on TV, where to go on holiday. We quarrel among ourselves because we can’t coordinate to have fun, yet other people are facing evictions, money problems, job security; actual issues of survival.

It puts it all into perspective, doesn’t it?

Well, it should.

There is a truth in that in order to survive you need to be thick-skinned. You need to be somewhat insensitive, allowing things to slide, and refusing to be affected by them. If you’re too perceptive and impacted by everything, you’re the only one to lose.

Because no one really cares if you’re struggling – with work, with family, with pretty much anything. If you can’t follow suit in the fun and the expenditure, you’ll soon be cut off. And no one really cares what or how you work. It’s simple: if we don’t understand what you do, we’ll consider it as not very important, so you can always ‘leave it for later’ – but certainly not for the weekend or a holiday, or for when we already have plans.

We have a tendency to only view life through our own lenses. We obstinately refuse to walk in someone else’s shoes, or even make the slightest of efforts to share their perspective of reality.

And it’s a shame. Because united we could achieve so much. Instead, we ravage each other as if we’re trying to free up space in this world we’re destroying.

Instead of lifting each other up, we’re surreptitiously trying to tear each other down.

Zitti e Βuoni

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People often have a weird tendency of not saying what they want at the time they’re supposed to. We tend to come up with all the right comebacks and arguments much after an incident occurs; the so-called l’esprit d’escalier (the predicament of thinking of the perfect reply too late).

Often it is much easier to say nothing in fear of provoking an argument. And as kids, we are usually told to be quiet and behave no matter how wrongly or unfairly we feel we’re being treated. We grow up with that attitude. With the notion of saying nothing because it’s ‘frowned upon’ or due to concerns of what our reaction may incite. So many movements have grown nowadays exactly because of this mentality. The most recent #MeToo incidents have sparked the question of why now and not then; yet regardless of the answer, there is the concern of why we don’t speak out at all, not only when or even after things happen. Things that are worthy of our voice being heard.

Italy’s winning song at Eurovision 2021 sent a loud message that difference matters and that making some noise may sometimes lead to something good; a change that everyone longs for but few actually act upon. In a performance that literally rocked Europe, this group appeared in controversial clothing and make-up to state that “vi conviene stare zitti e buoni” (“you’d better shut up and be quiet”), but adding the truth that people often don’t really know what they’re talking about (“Parla la gente purtroppo Parla non sa di che cosa parla”), and recognising that “Siamo fuori di testa ma diversi da loro” (we’re crazy but different from them”). Perhaps it is this boldness to be different that most appealed to the European public.

Because we all want to make a change. But few are courageous enough to do something. It’s easier to be quiet and concede to the norms, rather than speak out and disturb the status quo.

A gargantuan feat

We live in a world where if you fall, you’re more embarrassed about it than injured. Where everyone is disbelieving of one another for no apparent reason, but because everyone seems guilty until proven otherwise.

A world where “trust is good, but control is better”, and everyone is seeking to manipulate each other, to exploit each situation to their own benefits, to appear superior in every way.

Where money accounts for more than happiness. Knowledge counts for less than contacts. And kindness is viewed suspiciously.

Where it is a gargantuan feat to survive if you’re different.

Also part of Weekend Writing Prompt #195

Generation Gaps

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You know, when we were young, our only way of communicating with each other was if we were both home and both had a landline. Otherwise we were sort of lost in our own worlds”.

The young girl looked up from her mobile phone.

She was astounded by the truth of her grandfather’s words. She lived in an age where you could communicate with anyone anywhere in a matter of seconds. She didn’t know what it was like to not have a phone in hand and for her it was unthinkable to not be able to find out at any given time where anyone was and what they were doing. Mostly because her generation voluntary gave out that information online.

So what happened if you wanted to find out about someone but didn’t want them to know?” she asked coyly.

Well, you would have to ask someone who knew them too”.

But what if you didn’t want anyone to know?”

Like stalking?” her grandfather put it frankly.

Well, sort of…” she blushed.

There was no such thing in my time. If you’re relationship broke with someone, you tried to fix it. And if that didn’t work then you just got out of touch with them. And that was the end of it”.

The girl said nothing. She looked at her grandfather trying to imagine what that was like. Her generation was used to stalking each other on social media and getting obsessed with each other’s posts, overanalyzing, overthinking and overstressing. Everything in exaggeration. What was it like to not have to think about all this? To simply not care? To be calm?

Her grandfather was almost 100. He would still go out for long walks and had the patience of a mule.

She was agitated by even a fly’s buzz.

One time she had asked him if he never worries about anything. His reply was: “would it help?”

“To be calm is the highest achievement of the self” – Zen proverb

In another epoch

https://wallhere.com/en/wallpaper/1198419

In a different time

Another epoch

There would have been something else

Another form of you

An alternative me

There would have been more

Maybe even less…

Also part of Weekend Writing Prompt #146

Searching for allies in our head

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It was a cold, winter day with north winds howling through the window. The cold crept indoors, no matter how tightly shut the airways were.

He was moaning about how freezing it was even inside.

She had her mind elsewhere to pay too much attention. It was just the start of winter; more cold would surely follow.

Each person has random things hovering inside their mind. Things that grasp their attention at times when they should be focused on something or someone else. But we don’t know about them unless they are shared with us. Unless that someone else lets us into their mind, and on condition that we are empathetic enough to understand how and why whatever the problem is, is causing so much concern to the person next to us.

We are all different. It is inevitably so. And as such, we don’t all view the world in the same way. Problems we see as “end of the world”-type disasters, to someone else may be negligible mishaps. It is difficult to find people who share our point of view, our perspective, let alone our values. The meaning of “important” is not the same for everyone. That is why it is often challenging to explain what it is that is draining our energy and our mental health.

And that is why people often choose to bury themselves in a shell, rather than speak out. Because it is easier to shy away than try to make others understand.

He left, once again, as he always did when he couldn’t – or didn’t want to – understand her.

Just an hour later, the central heating in the building was turned on, presenting a strong ally against the cold.

The vicious circles we feed

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There is a place in the heart of the city where people go to disappear. It’s a place you often pass by on your daily route to work, shopping or whatever else you choose to spend you time, money and energy on. But you don’t realise they are there. You pretend not to see them. Not to know that these neighbourhoods are different.

We fear different. We oppose and react to whatever we don’t understand.

We don’t even try to change things. We simply acknowledge that they are not how they should.

And so, we continue our lives, and more people simply disappear out of theirs.

Because it is not easy to actually live. To have a life that fulfils you and completes you. People are used to existing. And documenting their existence to prove to others that they are doing things worthwhile. In reality, trying to convince themselves that they matter.

We close our eyes to those who need help. Because we don’t want to assume the responsibility of change.

And then we protest that nothing ever changes or improves. Like a vicious circle we ourselves feed.

Social norms

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.

Perfectionist Problems

https://image.shutterstock.com/image-vector/perfectionism-perfectionist-removes-nonideal-berry-260nw-337563263.jpgThe greatest problem with being a perfectionist is that you are never at peace. And the main reason you can never find tranquillity is because you are never satisfied. You always believe there is more, you can do better, you can achieve greater things, you can aim higher. There is no limit, no ceiling, never anything enough.

And that is a problem.

When others are satisfied with the bare necessities, you are always seeking for more. Something more extravagant, more original, something different. Ordinary is boring. You comprehend that fully.

But that means you are also disappointed when others don’t see as far as you do. When they don’t take risks, don’t try harder, don’t exit their comfort zones.

The problem with being a perfectionist is above all that you are different and have trouble fitting it with the crowd.

That is also your strength though. And it should be your greatest asset.

Life is a journey not a destination

http://www.wns.com/Portals/0/Images/HeaderBanner/desktop/1087/53/travel_HD.jpgIn an interview, renowned architect Renzo Piano said, “when you are born in a city surrounded by water, the only thing you think about is that the water will become a path to take you away, to explore the world”. It is true. As children, we all have that feeling of wanting to discover what more is out there. You feel that your surroundings constrain you and you need to leave, to meet other places. As adults, we try to find the time and money to travel. But what we often forget is that “travel is not a reward for working; it is education for living”.

There is a saying that “we travel not to escape life but for life not to escape us” and it is certainly true that “travel is the only thing you can buy that makes you richer”.

We travel to grow. To allow our mind to grow and expand at all the new things we learn while in a different place. We find out that the world we live in is more vast that we acknowledge and that it is impossible to see it all in a lifetime.

We travel to get away. To discover new places, new people, different customs and other mentalities; but at the same time to (re)discover ourselves. We change places in the hope of finding serenity, calm and understanding when we lack it at home. With the optimism that we will rethink certain aspects and manage to find peace in a surrounding that is different to the one we see every day.  We travel to make ourselves better, in every way.

We travel to reinvent ourselves and ultimately to become richer – particularly, in the mind and soul. It is indeed better to “fill your heart with adventure not things. Have stories to tell not stuff to show.  Because one thing is for sure, when you return, you are never the same person you left.

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