MC's Whispers

Whispering Silences

Archive for the tag “inspiring”

Treasure troves of magic

©Ted Strutz

It’s a place of magic. There are so many different worlds to travel to. So many personalities to impersonate. Here, you could be anything, anyone, at anytime, anywhere.

Libraries, she was taught, “are more than just a storage place for books, they are treasure troves filled with creativity and knowledge. And that knowledge can be empowering(R.L Hemlock).

Libraries open windows to the world, inspire us to explore and achieve more, to contribute to improving the world, and thus change it for the better.

They are parts of life’s necessities, reminding us simultaneously of the excitement of being a kid.

Also part of Friday Fictioneers

Reason without justice

She still remembered the tenacious grip of his words that “justice has no reason”.

They were during her first day as a junior lawyer, assisting in a media-exposed case.

She was certain their client was innocent. But he was a lamb up against a pack of wolves. The other side would always find something believable to counter any claims.

It’s not fair”, she complained to her mentor.

Life’s not” was his defeated reply.

Also part of Weekend Writing Prompt #192

Sparking joy

His name was Elfy and he was…well…an Elf. He lived in the North Pole ever since he could remember. He was born there, actually. His father had been appointed head of Santa’s tech team and he transferred his entire family there just months after Elfy’s older brother was born.

Elfy was raised in the most wonderful place in the world, according to most children – and some adults too. He grew up near a person many didn’t even believe existed.

When he was young, he did not understand why so many people worked so hard all year round for just one day, and why so many material things were created to be used scarcely and to then demand even more of them.

Elfy disliked the entire process for another reason as well: he was born on Christmas day.

Having a Christmas birthday is both a blessing and a misfortune.

But one year, he realised that things only take the perspective you choose to give them.

He was handing out presents on his birthday, even though he received few – if any – in return, most even forgetting it was a particularly special day for him.

Those closest to him though would find ways to make him feel grateful.

For example, his best friend who was called Gnome, although that wasn’t his birth name. He was short and chubby and everyone burdened him with chores, because he would just not say ‘no’ to anyone. He was the type who would give his whole self, but nobody gave back anything to him. But that did not stop his good nature.

Elfy loved him, although he sometimes felt Gnome was allowing others to exploit him to the maximum.

When they were still children, Elfy didn’t know what to give Gnome for Christmas one year. It was a problem when you had it all. Literally. He remembered though that Gnome usually complained that his feet were constantly cold and he couldn’t sleep at night. So he got him a fluffy pair of woollen socks, beautifully wrapped up in a box with a red bow. Gnome was surprised and emotional at the sight. It was a present that was useful to him and signified that he had a friend who cared and above all, listened.

It was then that Elfy realised that giving a gift could spark joy just as much – or possibly even more – than receiving one. Because in giving you get the chance of making someone else happy. You create happiness and spread joy. And that is the entire point of the holiday, anyway.

“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give” – W. Churchill

The harmony of a puzzle

Going through life is like making a puzzle.

You have to face the bafflement of having all the pieces muddled up in a pile before you and not knowing where to start.

You need to get organised and comply with a plan to get started. You first dig through the pile, carefully searching for the pieces with a straight edge that will form the frame of it.

As you complete more pieces, you learn to become more focused searching for specific aspects: a side bent awkwardly, a strange shape, a distinct colouring.

You find that once you begin and get drawn into the whole process, you become more concentrated, devoted to your target: one more piece that will fit.

You manage the irritation of having to twist and turn the pieces around, trying and failing endlessly until you find the right one.

But then, you are able to fully appreciate the satisfaction of everything falling into place as you find the pieces that perfectly attach to each other effortlessly.

The way you handle a puzzle may also be seen as a metaphor for life.

It teaches you to be patient, to have a plan and be organised, to be methodical and concentrated, to focus on your goals, to try and fail numerous times without giving up, and to value every success, no matter how small and how long it takes to achieve it.

But most of all, it teaches you that harmony comes with trial and error, that it is the small pieces that will eventually compose the bigger picture, and that sometimes you need to attempt with the wrong ones before the right ones come along that will fit perfectly into place.

Inn of Hearts

People choose to stay at an inn to escape reality.  So it should be a place where they feel welcome and comfortable. But it should also transfer them to somewhere else. A place that only exists in their dreams. Until they come here”.

It was how her grandmother described the inn she managed, ever since Hazel could remember.

Hazel, named so because of her distinctive brown-coloured eyes, spent most of her summers at her grandma’s inn in the New Zealand countryside.

It was a place that combined nature, green valleys, mountains and beautiful beaches. The summers there were memorable. She would always find something adventurous and exciting to do, be it from simple gardening to trekking, gliding and rock-diving, so that by the time she entered adulthood she was already saturated with experiences.

But then, her career-driven self got carried away by city life and the business routine that meant having a leave but never actually taking it, and working incessantly.

It was only after her grandma passed away and she inherited the inn she loved, that she returned to it after years of neglect.

From the minute she stepped back on the porch, Hazel could feel her grandmother’s presence and all her childhood memories rushing back. She could feel it all in the air around her.

She decided to renovate the inn to its former glory, fixing what was broken and treasuring what was worth saving, while using eco-friendly resources to give back to nature that had nourished her childhood so well.

And in this she had found help. As if sent along deliberately by a higher force to remind her of all that she had forgotten so abruptly growing up.

Roger was a man who returned to his roots when he discovered that fixing old things helped him restore the broken parts of his soul.

It was inevitable that they would fall in love.

The inn brought them together into constructing a dream home they never knew they shared.

They kept its former name: “The Inn of Hearts”.

Chasing a perfect life

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Do you ever wake up after a bad night’s sleep and you’re angry with the world and everything in it? There are certain moments during the day, week or month, when the slightest thing can make us snap and lose control. We need moments to alleviate the tension we’re building up inside by holding everything in so as to be ‘proper’ and sane. Or at least to appear to be calm and, well…’normal’. But what is normal, in a world that so forcefully tries to convince itself it is embracing difference, uniqueness and diversity?

People interpret words and circumstances differently. It is unavoidable. And it all comes down to how each of our minds functions.

We are so used to complaining and moaning about all the problems in our lives, most of which are created by our own negative thoughts. We fear of letting them go, of taking a risk and being happy, because we are unfamiliar with that sentiment. We have clenched such a strong grip on the unpleasantness in our lives that anything else seems too much of a leap into uncertainty.

It’s almost as if we persuade ourselves that this stance of misery is the norm. That this is how it should be and we inflict shame upon ourselves for not being someone else, for not being more or less of what we picture as an ideal, of what society illustrates as how people should be. And that shame brings numbness to every emotion. Because, as we try to block out our feelings of grief and embarrassment and irritation at not being perfect, we also numb those of joy, satisfaction and lightness. We refuse to accept our vulnerability, out of shame, and instead shut ourselves down from the inside, alienating everyone around us in the process.

In searching for meaning and purpose in our lives, we may turn to self-help. We think we can fix ourselves and be happy if we follow certain books of wisdom and guidance on how to live. It’s an industry worth $11 billion, but does it actually help? In her witty, poignant and inspiring book Help Me!, Marianne Power goes through a dozen self-help books in a quest for perfection and happiness. But she also goes through a breakdown – or ‘spiritual awakening’ – as she gets too close with the thoughts in her head. She discovers that humans have an innate need to love, be loved and belong, and rejection hurts because we rely on the approval of the group for our survival since our cave-men days. She notes that self-help creates “unrealistic standards about how great life should be, puts unrealistic pressure on yourself to change, and creates self-obsession”; but the more you try to improve who you are, the more you are aware of the flaws, and the more you chase happiness, the unhappier you become.

In “The Power of Now”, Eckhart Tolle reassures us that we all have a voice in our head, which is usually mean and talks us down. It is one that takes us away from the only thing that is real and will give us peace – being right here, right now. If we can quieten down the voice, we’ll realise we are perfectly happy in this very moment. And like British playwright Dennis Potter said: “We tend to forget that life can only be defined in the present tense”.

In her very inspiring TED speech, Brené Brown explores the depth and source of human connection, understanding vulnerability, feeling empathy and confronting shame. She explains that we’re all constantly afraid of not being good enough, with the underlying fear that we won’t be loved, and so we strive harder to be perfect. But instead of chasing perfection, she says we should be seeking connection, to empathise and understand each other, to talk honestly and openly about our fears, insecurities and doubts. “Healing comes from sharing your story with someone who is worthy of hearing it”, she states. “Connection is why we’re here; it’s what gives purpose and meaning to our lives”. And it all centres around this. For shame, is the fear of disconnection, of not being worthy enough; the “gremlin who says you’re not good enough”. But for connection to happen, we need to allow ourselves to truly be seen, to expose ourselves and be vulnerable. Those who achieve this are whole-hearted people, ones who are courageous enough to show their authentic selves (‘courage’, after all, derives from the Latin word ‘cor’=heart), who acknowledge they are imperfect and who demonstrate compassion by being kind to themselves first and then to others.

The path for a whole-hearted living, according to Dr. Brown’s research, is to be willing to let go of who we think we should be in order to be who we are. To be willing to plunge into something where there are no guarantees, to invest in a relationship that may or may not work out, to practice gratitude in times of terror, to believe we’re enough, and ultimately to simply stop controlling and predicting life and just…live it. She concludes that “joy comes to us in moments – ordinary moments. We risk missing out on joy when we get too busy chasing down the extraordinary”.

And like Marianne Power eventually realizes – happiness depends on getting up in the morning and being a decent person. Or like her Irish mother, eloquently put it, just “do no harm”.

In the end, there is a truth that when we stop pursuing happiness and the ‘perfect’ life, we will encounter all that matters and we need.

Fly away with me

©Ronda Del Boccio

Please forgive me; I won’t be able to make it again. Work is chaos. I’ll make amends, promise”. His voice was an amalgamation of despair, anguish, guilt, and exasperation.

She sighed trying not to be heard. She understood it was hectic at work but did not agree that he allowed his entire life to revolve around it. She said nothing more than “OK”.

Two days later, he led her blindfold to a cliff. She trembled, not knowing what to expect.

How about you fly in the sky with me for a while and I’ll show you the world from above?

Also part of Friday Fictioneers

Whisper it Seven

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Seven is a special number. It is considered lucky because we have an affinity for it: most people consider seven their favourite number or choose it when asked to pick a number between one and ten.

Seven is prevalent in our daily lives too: seven days in a week, seven continents, seven oceans, seven vertebrae in the neck, seven colours in a rainbow, seven wonders of the ancient world, seven deadly sins. In fact, some researchers argue that human memory works best if it remembers up to seven items.

Seven also features strongly in the religions of the world: in the creation story of the Bible, God made the world in six days and rested on the seven, thus scholars believe it represents perfection or completeness. In Judaism, there are seven heavens. In the Islam’s holy book, the Koran, Muslims making the pilgrimage to Mecca walk around the Kaaba seven times. In Chinese culture, seven represents Yin and Yang combined with the Five Elements (water, fire, earth, wood and metal), while in Confucianism this combination is believed to represent harmony.

Seven is, therefore, an important number and most often a lucky one.

Seven years pass by in a flash.

I have written a lot during these seven years (794 posts on this blog) and a lot has happened. It is enough time to reflect, to grow, to mature, to experience new things, to change the way you react to situations, to learn how to deal with life especially when things don’t come the way you plan or hoped they would. It is time that allows you to become stronger and more resilient. And one way of doing this – for me – is through writing, right here. By making my own experiences and observations into fictional stories. By writing motivational stories that I would really like someone else to tell me. By drawing optimism and positivity from the words that fill a page on a screen.

Seven years may be many or few, depending on how you look at it. But they are part of what makes us who we are and a chance to reflect on where we are, according to where we want to be.

So here’s to many more, with the wish to never run dry of inspiration and creativity!

The bleeding of a pen

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People who write share a secret. They know how to view the world in different lenses. They think too much, overanalyse, create scenarios that may hardly correspond to reality, and feel too deeply. They have a vivid and often wild imagination. But often, that is exactly what helps them survive.

The best part about meeting other authors, is that you realise you are not alone in your weirdness. Authors are exquisite people. They shine a light on aspects you never thought of before someone pointed them out to you.

They are the ones who put words on a page, coherent ones, linked together and invite you to form the images in your head. Every book is just that. But every reader has a different playout created in their mind. And that is precisely the magic a pen can fashion.

Writers are not as competitive as people of other professions are. They will urge you to write. They will inspire you. To believe that you can do it; that you can accomplish whatever you imagine. Because they know what it feels like to sit alone in front of a screen, fighting with and for words. They have gone through the anguish of trying to promote their work for the masterpiece they believe it is. They have faced their demons of fear, of not being good enough. And they understand. They know that you need to write something first to come to believe that you can actually achieve your goals.

The best thing about meeting a writer is that you gain an insight on why and how they write. Sometimes the reason is the simple fact that they were bored and wrote a book. Other times it is because they wanted to say something. They want to make readers think, to enter a world that is unknown; to escape a reality that is sometimes better than we imagine if only we see it in a positive light. But every writer wants something they never admit: to make the reader feel they are not alone.

A book is the best company you can have. Because it opens up worlds you never knew existed and expands your mind more than anything else ever can.

Searching for that lost…thing

motivation catWhen your personal trainer tells you “good job” you’re motivated to last a little longer, to try a little harder, to take your limits a bit further.

We all need that encouragement. It’s a boost to reach further than you think you can.

But, similarly, we all need the acknowledgement of a job well done. A recognition of your efforts, be it in the form of a verbal gratification, a written thank you or a monetary compensation.

We need the demonstration of feelings to be satisfied with our own selves. Because just as we often cannot hide what emotion is overwhelming us, in the same context, we would like to be shown that we are admired, sympathized, liked, loved, or even despised. But we want to be clear of what we have to face.

Once in a while, it happens to all of us, though. Losing your motivation or will to do anything creative. And no matter where you search for it, one thing is certain: you’ll never find it unless it comes from within you. Unless you start to do something that’s yours, that expresses you and fulfills you.

Remember, you only fail when you stop trying.

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