MC's Whispers

Whispering Silences

Archive for the tag “options”

Roundabout questions

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So, what do you feel like doing tonight?

It’s a question that entails the freedom of decision, the willingness to abide by it, while also placing the ‘burden’ of finding something to do on the other person.

For indecisive people, this is a challenge.

“I don’t know, perhaps see a movie? We can either go to the cinema or order in and watch one at home”.

He smiled. She wasn’t finished. So he held back his reply a little longer.

What do you prefer?

The question-bounce-back, that returns the responsibility of choosing an activity to the original question-setter. Like a boomerang returning to the one who threw it.

If the person who initiated the conversation continues the questioning of the type, “whatever you want” or, even worse, poses another option, their indecisive interlocutor becomes lost and even more agitated by the daunting task of having to pick an entertainment. And doing something fun suddenly becomes a chore.

Let’s go out. I know you want to see the latest blockbuster and go for a stroll around town tonight”.

And just like that, peace is restored, tranquillity reigns and the smile returns to her face.

He was used to reading her mind even when she herself couldn’t.

The “or” in choices

http://simplymusic.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/fresh-perspective-1024x336.jpgThe day began a bit strange. Because it should have begun the way it usually does. With the alarm buzzing and her hand emerging from under the covers to slam it silent. Then she would roll over the other side. And two minutes later jump out of bed having just realised she was supposed to get up and go to work.

But today it was different.

The alarm didn’t go off.

Or rather. It did. She just didn’t hear it.

And she suddenly found herself wavering between options. Or rather dilemmas. She could get up and go to work, making up an excuse for her tardiness. Or she could stay in bed and call in sick. But then she should also cancel her coffee appointments, in case somebody from work happened to see her. Or she could change them to house calls instead of café meetings.

She could chose to get up and deal with the world. Or she could stay in bed and pretend it’s all hushed away.

Either way, she had to make a decision.

We all do. There is always an “or” in whatever choice we need to make. It just depends on the perspectives we see things at any given moment. And how we choose to react to the options that lie before us.

 

Also part of Daily Prompt: Or

Healthy Summer Food

Summer foodIt is quite difficult in those scorching summer months to find something light yet filling to eat and satisfy your taste buds. Because under the heat and the need to simply relax and do as little as possible, cooking becomes one of our lesser-thought-of chores. It is during the summer, though, that we re-consider our nutrition choices and re-instate the determination to eat healthy.

The summer months have the added value of offering a wide range of succulent and ripe fruit and vegetables, which we can use in all sorts of combinations and recipes, with exquisite results.

This is when being a vegetarian pays off, because of the abundance of options broadly available.

Take for example this all-natural recipe (photo): potatoes, aubergines and courgettes, cut in thin layers and lightly cooked, placed below a layer of slowly-cooked natural tomato purée. Best served with feta cheese and fresh bread.

But why would your choice of nutrition have to be seen as a handicap? Why is it that in some places, when you say you don’t eat meat, you are treated as someone who is picky, quirky and fussy? Why is it that when you ask for a “special meal”, due to your vegetarian needs – whatever reason these may come by – you are suddenly presented with some water-boiled vegetables, as if that is the only thing that may be available to your “demanding requirements”?

It is actually not very difficult to cook up food that can suit everyone’s dietary needs. All it takes is some imagination and some compromise. By accommodating nutritional preferences, it would also demonstrate respect for people’s options and choices.

It may be a small thing, but such issues open up even bigger ones, underlining the need to relish in the passions we share, as well as accept the differences that characterize us.

We all have different levels of intelligence, perspectives, tolerance, and patience. And it is true that nobody is perfect, but in our own little ways, we all to some extent can touch upon our own version of perfection.

 

Also part of Daily Prompt: Perfection

Hope is a waking dream

Dare to dreamAlison went to bed with a dilemma: should she make the call the next day or not?

Should she appear bold enough and take the risk, her heart pounding as she dialed the number and waited for someone to respond; her throat drying up as soon as she heard the greeting at the other end of the line; and improvising whatever she needed to say, although she had already practiced it in her head so many times?

Or should she just forget about it all? If it was meant to be, they would call her themselves. Wouldn’t they?

Should she just leave it up to fate? Or should she give it a push herself? Maybe they did need a reminder. But what if they thought she was too forward by calling?

She tossed and turned in bed, unable to sleep, the “what-ifs” circling in her head.

Alison managed to sleep for a couple of hours.

In the morning, the dilemma was still in her head. But in the spur of the moment, without thinking too much about it, she took the phone and dialed. All she could do now was hope.

If it worked out, great; if it didn’t, then at least she tried.

“Hope is a waking dream” – Aristotle.

Raising a castle from the ground

CUORE-DI-LEONE-FRONTMy grandmother always told me that you should never give women a response as vague as “do what you think, dear”. Because if you do, she is not responsible for the surprise you will receive.

I think she was the one who invented this rule.

Grandfather was always specific with his responses. He never said “do what you think”, but always presented her with at least two options. So, for example, if she would ask “what do you want for dinner tomorrow?”, he would say “how about some fried chicken, or perhaps some lamb stew?”. He had realized that if he offered two options, he would at least get the one. But there were always times when grandmother decided to implement a third option that she herself had decided upon.

Women are crazy and insistent like that. There was no way you could understand the manner their minds worked. Grandfather said it was not even worth trying. You would sooner be driven crazy than even begin to comprehend them.

Grandfather had learnt his lesson when during the early years of their marriage he had gone off on a three-day hunting trip with his friends. Grandmother was left alone in the house, having plenty of things to do and being content with simply running the household.

But she soon got bored and on the second day called grandfather to ask if he wouldn’t mind a few changes being made in the house’s construction. He gave the unfortunate response of “sure, do whatever you think is best, my dear”.

Grandmother kept herself busy, frantically and excitedly creating in reality what she had already constructed in her mind.

When grandfather returned two days later, he had to run around the house twice, thinking he made a wrong turn somewhere and ended up at someone else’s house. The house he had left, that simple, stone-walled maisonette he had departed from, had disappeared and in its place there had been erected a renaissance-style villa, with fifteen steps and a huge porch leading to the two-doored entrance of a three-storey house. The back yard featured a stable and a hencoop, while the entire perimeter was confined by an elegantly crafted wooden fence. Grandmother rushed out to greet him, beaming with joy. “Do you like the new changes?” she asked, obviously rhetorically. Grandfather was speechless. Grandmother took it to mean he loved them.

Women are crazy like that. They can raise castles out of molehills in less time than you need to go to the market and return. Yet they will always ask for your opinion, even for something simple as the colour of their shoes, but never listen to what you say. Either way, you have to admit, life would be really boring without them.

The voices in your head

voices_in_head_xlargeYou know those voices in your head, the ones that appear every time you try to rationalize a decision? The ones that you picture like two tiny “you” like cartoon characters dressed like an angel and a demon standing on each of your shoulders? Those voices that either agree with you or (vulgarly) disagree with you? What? You don’t have them? Everyone does. It just depends on how much you listen to them, that you keep them alive and present. Marcia knew it well. Because she conversed daily with the voices in her head.

But it usually got her into trouble.

Like today.

Last night Alan had told her on the phone that he had something to tell her, but wouldn’t give out any more details. He said he would tell her in person today. Being a naturally very curious person, Marcia could hardly sleep all night. She kept thinking what it was that Alan wanted to tell her.

Alan was the next-door neighbor Marcia had a crush on ever since she moved in. He seemed to flirt with her every so often but Marcia had read signs so wrong in the past that she didn’t really know what to think. Unless he came straight out and blurted to her that he liked her, she would never feel certain.

But, what was it that he wanted to say to her? This is when the voices took center stage. The angel would say that he would ask her out on a date. Or he would make a romantic gesture. Or he would confess that she stole his heart from the very first look they shared. Marcia was delighted with the prospect. She could already feel her heart flutter with joy and her hands shaking with excitement.

But then, the devil took over. And he filled her with doubt and suspicion. That he already had a girlfriend and wanted to ask her to house-sit while they went away for a romantic weekend. That he wanted to tell her he was moving out. Or even worse that he was getting married and wanted to invite her. The horror. Marcia could feel the heat rise up and strike her head, just like the opposite of a brain freeze, if such a thing even existed.

She began considering what she would say in each occasion. She had to be prepared. Being caught off guard for bad news, especially when you were hoping for good ones, is the most embarrassing thing that could happen to you, according to Marcia. So, she spent the entire night and all through dawn quarreling with the voices in her head about what Alan wanted to tell her and how she would respond.

She got up today having hardly slept at all at night.

And when Alan appeared at the door all smiling and bright, Marcia was such a nervous wreck, she broke down in tears and slammed the door in his face.

Alan was dumbfounded. All he wanted to say was that the book Marcia had been expecting for weeks now had finally arrived and he had signed for it. He simply wanted to give it to her himself because he loved how her eyes lit up with the excitement of even simple things like this.

Who knew he would have been beaten by two little voices in her head?

Sliding doors – Granting Pennies

straw hatThe sun was waking up from behind the grey clouds as the wind howled from within the door cracks. Martha, stretched her dirt-black hands and used the only clean rag she had remaining to wipe the morning dew from her eyes. She was the old widow who was left homeless and alone after her husband died and the state seized their house due to unpaid debts. She lived in the spaces other people left empty. She was the shadow that filled the empty enclosures. The silent presence in a seemingly fine world.

Her day relied on the friendliness and compassion of strangers. She had nothing else left to hope for.

As she shook of the dust from her worn-out dress, she tried as best as she now could to make herself presentable. She put on her straw hat with the still luminous green bow, and stepped out into the busy street.

That day was different.

There was a lot more people rushing by than usual. It left Martha wondering whether something had happened, or if someone important was visiting.

Either way she carefully observed passers-by and the minute she detected a hint of sympathy or a sip of kindness in someone’s look, she would approach and timidly ask for assistance – “even a two-pence will do” she would plead.

Sympathy is a strange thing. No matter how much you may hurt or empathise with someone’s suffering, it is hard to reach into your pocket and actually do something about it.

And that day, no one did.

Martha was left standing in that very spot she had begun her day. Only now she was hungry, tired, and emotionally drained. It was unusually cold that night too. The rain and thunderstorm that ensued covered up the beating of her weary heart as she lay on her hole-filled blanket to rest, in a sleep she would never wake up from.

 

But what if her day had been just a little different?

There was a lot more people rushing by than usual. It left Martha wondering whether something had happened, or if someone important was visiting.

Everyone seemed to be rushing to go somewhere.

Martha carefully observed passers-by and the minute she detected a hint of sympathy or a sip of kindness in someone’s look, she would approach and timidly ask for assistance – “even a two-pence will do” she would plead.

Every once in a while, some kind soul would appear and make the difference. You simply had to be ready to accept it.

Martha found this in the face of a young woman. She wore a blue sleeveless dress, with a white belt suited at her waist, and elegantly covered with a blue trench coat. Her eyes were as blue as the ocean, but they seemed to reflect the grey of the clouds that covered the sky that day. The woman stopped in front of Martha. Their eyes locked for a moment that seemed eternal. None of them spoke. They did not need to.

The woman reached for her bag and pulled out an almost overflowing envelope. She placed it in Martha’s hand giving it a squeeze as she left it there, smiled and departed.

Martha watched as the woman turned the corner and disappeared.

She opened the envelope and gasped. Inside were hundreds of money bills. Enough to repay her debt and get her house back. Enough to regain a decent living. Enough to reclaim her life.

What Martha never knew was that that woman had just won the lottery. And decided to give the money to someone who she judged needed it more than she did.

Sometimes even the smallest gesture can change someone’s life. You just need to be bold enough to make it.

Also part of Daily Prompt: The Kindness of Strangers

Will Juanita finally marry José?

telenovelas (2)During a period where news is dominated by politics, economy and crime, people turn to light-hearted television shows in order to get their minds off reality. They seek entry into another world, a different culture with ‘other problems’ in order to escape their own mundane routines. As such, telenovelas are the most preferred TV option, with these distinct soap operas being exported from (mostly) Latin American countries to all around the world, causing millions of viewers to fixate over them with anguish as to what happens next.

But why are these telenovelas so popular? Because they provide an entertainment option that keeps you asking for more. Because you get drawn into the series as if it is part of your daily life; you become acquainted with the characters and learn to love them (or hate them). You want to know what happens next, what will happen to Bárbara? Will she finally get punished for all the evil she’s done? Will Alejandro marry Leticia in the end? And what about Eva? Will she reunite with her family and find out Pedro is her brother? And what is in Dolores’ past that is now haunting her? It’s exciting, often nail-biting, and simply…different. It’s exactly what you need for an hour a day – to escape from your reality and enter into the lives of someone else – to become part of their reality, their problems and their dilemmas. To take your mind of yours at least for those 60 minutes.

Telenovelas are so successful because they make you feel part of these families, so close to them that you share their feelings and emotions. And sometimes this is the closest you can live in experiencing a fairytale. But most importantly, because in the end it makes you think about your own life and what you truly want to do.

I too love watching telenovelas (given that they’re not dubbed – that just ruins it). They’re great because they give you all you expect from a 60-minute series – an adrenaline rush, a good cry, fear, empathy; it’s a roller coaster ride from your couch.  It often includes it all – romance, comedy, drama, mystery, murder, passion – a bit of everything. And the best thing is that no matter the predictable storyline, you know you’re going to remain glued there till the very end. Because telenevolas are concise, and do not run on indefinitely. Most are written with a complete story in mind right at inception, which means they are conceived as a limited-run program, generally less than a year, with a well-defined beginning, middle, and ending. The storyline often carries a strong sociocultural message and is invariably laden with drama and emotions.  And the best part – it is perhaps one of the most efficient ways to learn the language! Pure, everyday language. As well as getting a great insight into the country’s culture, particularly through the social messages it puts across and the music and traditions it depicts.

So next time you want to escape from the ‘serious reality’ that surrounds you, how about tuning in to watch the life of Débora and Carlitos? It is guaranteed to make you feel better.

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