MC's Whispers

Whispering Silences

Archive for the tag “modern life”

The longest distance

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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 needs courage.

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.

And ultimately, even distance is just a number.

Shine and sparkle

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The Christmas-New Year festive season gives us the opportunity to rethink a lot of things in our lives. Least of all, who our real friends are, who are the ones who actually care and with whom we want to spend these special days with.

But the season also grants you the chance to view life in a different perspective. To set goals and ambitions, to consider how many of your wishes have already been fulfilled and to become more determined about realising the others. It makes you stop for a minute and think what we really need to be happy and satisfied with ourselves and the life we lead.

In the current times, what is perhaps most important is the time you spend offline. Those moments you don’t post online for all to see and envy. The hours you spend away from your screens and without the temptation of needing to look at your phone every now and then.

You feel special not because of the digital life you pretend to have, but because of the people who actually surround you in reality. Who truly show they care and who go out of their way to surprise you simply to see you smile as brightly as the lights over your head.

It’s the moments that make you shine and sparkle that make your life complete.

And we should always make it a New Year’s Resolution to have more of them.

Everywhere and nowhere

https://cottagelife.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/3034764-slide-s-20-tk-of-the-worlds-most-jaw-dropping-rural-cabins-and-hideouts.jpgThere is a ‘dare’ going around online, prompting you to consider if you could live in an isolated cabin without internet or TV for something like six months. The prize would be one million dollars (or euros or whatever your currency is). To some this seems like torture. It is an unthinkable feat not designed for the modern age. Because nowadays our mobile phone runs out of battery and we run around in panic like headless chicken searching desperately for a charger, something that will keep us connected to the (virtual) outer world.

The problem is that a few decades ago, people did survive without internet and TV. In fact, they probably had a better quality of life too. We don’t appreciate that, let alone acknowledge it.

We feel the urge to be everywhere at once, to do everything even when it is beyond our capacities. We want to show that we are around, doing things, being places. But in the process, we are everywhere and nowhere. We do things simply to cross them off our lists, or to post them online, or simply for the sake of doing them. We don’t enjoy them, though. We don’t revel in what we’re doing. We drive and think of the other things we need to do in the day. We go on a trip and consider what we need to do when we get back. We dream of holidays but don’t experience life.

It is a shame. Because in the age where anything is possible, where we have the infrastructure, resources and technology to do so many things to help us move ahead, we choose to remain backward. Both in mind and in society as a whole.

Admitting to the problem

https://img.fotocommunity.com/sehnsucht-nach-meer-e5071e7c-1c5a-4ce7-88e1-8e87a1f6e2ce.jpg?height=400They say that the first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem. In fact, it is true that more people would learn from them mistakes if they weren’t so busy denying them. In the same light, in order to begin to find some peace of mind, we need to acknowledge that we have none.

In our modern age, being (too) busy is a problem. But the thing is, we think that it is a privilege, an asset, or even something to be proud of – we actually boast of being busy. Of not having time for anything, not even of living.

We have lost touch of the things that matter. Instead of talking to each other and trying to help one another, to learn from each other and mutually improve, we have become so competitive that what dominates our relationships is hypocrisy and shallowness.

What is more, we don’t know how to relax anymore. We have become so obsessed about constantly having something on our minds and in our hands that we turn into inexplicably nervous freaks when we are faced with “doing nothing”. Keeping calm is not a concept the modern world understands. Yet, we so love to cant about it everywhere, we have drawn numerous gifs and images and posters and anything you can imagine, that begin with “keep calm and…”.

Let’s face it. We have become a troublesome kind. We are so afraid of being left out of pretty much anything that we create trouble where there is none, do things we don’t really want to do, and adopt styles that don’t fit us simply because they are the current trend. In the process, we choose to follow the crowd than stand out in our own unique way. And, like everyone else, we criticise or adore whoever and whatever is ‘in fashion’ at the time.

We don’t think anymore. And that is perhaps the most pitiful and severe problem of us all.

Seeking courtesy

http://www.hemantlodha.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/Honestly-Be-Polite-62.jpgCommon courtesy – the act of being polite in even the meaningless of situations – is a trait we all have, yet very few choose to use. Take for example any phone call you make to any service, public or private. Or every time you walk into a store or an office seeking assistance. You are almost always left wondering if people simply like to be rude. If it is innate or if it comes to them more naturally than simply being kind or, at the least, fundamentally polite.

Nothing is ever lost by courtesy. It is the cheapest of pleasures, costs nothing and conveys much” (Erastus Wiman).

There is a saying that “courtesy is simply doing unto others what you would like them to do unto you”. Yet it all comes down to one simple thing: upbringing.

Our behaviour is an aspect that we obtain first by mimicking and then by observing and repeating what we see around us. It is a reflection of what we are taught and how we are raised. Of what our society and culture represent. Hence, having manners and being polite is something that makes us shine, to put it simply. The opposite easily places us on someone’s list to avoid.

Being well-mannered does not cost much. Just turn the frown into a smile and say a kind word. What you will get in return will be gratification alone. And everyone will be left in a happier mood. Isn’t that worth it?

“Politeness is a sign of dignity, not subservience” (Theodore Roosevelt).

Can’t or won’t

https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=images&cd=&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=2ahUKEwiDt6jJ6o_dAhUEJ1AKHWfKCWEQjRx6BAgBEAU&url=http%3A%2F%2Farmork9.com%2Findex.php%2Fblog%2F2016%2F05%2F11%2Fpellentesque-habitant-morbi-tristique-senectus%2F&psig=AOvVaw1AZNmBgu2nruT8EkyL0EV3&ust=1535548617443937A principle element in education is rejecting the saying “I can’t”. In fact, we are drawn to believe that “there is no can’t, but rather won’t”. That it is not a matter of not being able to do something, but of not having the desire to.

As such, the difference between can not and will not is of physically being incapable of and of simply not wanting to.

We are brought up to be certain that “can is an attitude”. It is like Star Wars’ Yoda said “Do or do not. There is no try”.

It is true, that the level of success depends on a person’s determination, their willingness to keep trying, to change things, to do more, to persist into achieving something positive.

Dean Graziosi had said that “if you tell yourself you can’t, you won’t” and similarly, Henry Ford stated “if you think you can do a thing or think you can’t do a thing, you’re right.”

Maybe it is all a matter of mentality. But every time we say “I can’t” for something, we should consider how much of “I won’t” or “I don’t want to” lies within it.

Keep calm

https://www.mindful.org/wp-content/uploads/Calm.jpgCalmness is the cradle of power” (Josiah Gilbert Holland), that is why being calm – having a clear mind and a patient heart – is nowadays considered something like a superpower.

Never before did mankind need so many motivational resources on how to be calm, find calm, calm down, and all the likes. Earlier generations considered being calm and having time to relax a given. But in this one, when everything moves so rapidly, when you’re away from a screen for an hour or less and new developments have already taken the course, people don’t have time to relax or slow down. Or so they say. In essence, we refuse to do so out of fear that we may miss out on something. That is mainly why youth are so attached to their mobile phones, checking social networks every so often. It is the very fear of missing out that stops us from actually living our own lives. Of doing something memorable that you don’t need to post on the web because it would lose its significance that way. Not every moment we experience needs to be demonstrated on line. We don’t cease to exist when no one is watching.

That anguish we have of what the world does or sees is also what keeps us so much on edge. Why we can’t stop even if we try. Why we sit on a couch at the end of the day to watch something irrelevant on TV and still find ourselves thinking about a million other things or be skim reading on our tablet or phone. It is also why when we do manage to switch our brains off, we instantly fall asleep. It is an accumulation of prolonged tiredness.

There are a series of “inspirational mottos” about pretty much everything. They begin “Keep calm and…”. Because we need to be reminded and prompted to calm down.

Apple has even created an app for that too. It was named App of the Year for 2017 and it is called “Calm”, offering “Meditation techniques for Sleep and Stress Reduction”.

Isn’t it ironic how we need an application to remind us to “breathe” or “do nothing for 15 seconds”?

Maybe we all do need some “mindfulness”, that “basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us”.

All we really need is to live fully, deeply and constantly and let our mind wander whenever it can. But in the world we live in, being calm and relaxed has become some kind of superpower.

Living with/in social media

asocial-networkingIn an age where everything is public, everything also inevitably affects us no matter how much we deny it. We are so hooked on our digital existence that we really can’t see to be without it. It is as if we don’t exist unless we document our actions and share it online for the world to see. No matter how trivial or silly these may be.

The problem with social media nowadays is that nothing is truly private anymore. The confines of personal space and data have become blurred. Once information is “out there” it can literally never be retrieved and re-hidden, regardless of how much it is deleted.

We live in a period when our pass-time is spying on one another online. We may never speak in real life, but have the closest virtual connections and know all about one another’s life – or at least the image we each want to portray – solely from what we post online. Fake or real, our lives have been transferred onto a screen, be it big or small. And it is in that, however, that we’ve lost our human emotion in an attempt to gain more communication. The digital evolution has undoubtedly advanced communication through the certainty granted by the distance provided by the screen, and the time allowed to work on the expression of your views; because otherwise we would seemingly drown in all those things that would have been left unsaid. Yet, filling up with words and flagrant demonstrations of actions, we have become void of sentiment. We have lost the ability to talk, to gaze into the other person’s eyes and speak without saying a word. To understand through the tone of their voice, the message of their heartbeat. To comprehend their state of mind, simply by observing their body language. There are so many things that a screen can still not convey.  And it is through this smartphone and digital media addiction, that we have brought upon us the death of conversation, panicking like drug addicts experiencing withdrawal symptoms when we are found without a device in hand. It is a necessary evil of the modern age, but like everything in life, we need to be able to control and take hold of it. Not allow it to be the other way around.

 

Also part of Daily Prompt: Panic

What to do in a blackout

http://www.greentechmedia.com/content/images/articles/blackout_1.jpgThere you are, enjoying a steaming hot shower after a freezing cold day. You take your time, reveling in the warm water running down your shoulders, allowing you to relax and feel rejuvenated after a tiring day. A flicker of light gets you worried for an instance, but you decided to think nothing of it. And just when you lift your foot to get out, the lights go out and you find yourself in a total blackout. You can see absolutely nothing, so it is good you already know your way around. But what do you do?

Firstly, you need to put something around you, if only to soak up the water dripping from you. Then you need to find light of some sort – be it candles, the computer screen (for as long as the battery lasts), or even a torch on your smartphone (see, it is smart after all).

Voices are heard in the corridor, because it is not just your flat that lies in darkness, but the entire building. You half-open the window shutter to witness that the entire block is out of power. This is interesting.

It might take a while to get back the technology you are so accustomed to, so what do you do? You mainly appreciate the silence, acknowledging how much noise electricity actually makes – well, you did have the fridge, computer, television, radio, heater, and tea kettle on.

Then you begin to wonder what would people do without electricity? Sure, you still have your computer and phone working, but for how long? And there is no internet, so basically you are cut-off from that form of communication.

Are you dressed yet? You need to keep warm.

There are noises outside, running up and down the stairs. At least, someone is trying to fix the problem.

You head to the kitchen for a snack. There is no use staying hungry all through this ordeal. Find something healthy, like wholemeal chips. That will keep you busy while waiting in the dark.

You hope the power will return before the battery of your savior-machines bails on you.

And all of a sudden, there is light! You can hear the fridge sounds return, the TV turning back on, the modem signaling it’s on, the computer plugging in, the radio singing, the heater warming up again. You rejoice with the “return to civilization”. You exhale a sigh of relief, as your boredom ends.

But it is short-lived, as the blackout revisits. Apparently, the problem was not fixed.

So you sit and wait, until the power eventually returns for good this time. And as you watch the candle light casts its shadows in the dark, all you can do is acknowledge how addicted we have become to things we take for granted. Things that we can now not live without. Things that may help us, but at the same time have converted us into technology-junkies vulnerable to any situation that does not involve their use. Because, be honest, how many of you took a photo during a blackout to post once the power is back on?

 

N.B. Based on a true incident, Athens, Greece, 30 November 2015 (apart from the blackout selfie).

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