Category Archives: Life

Being single

Essentially, I think that’s all we ever are: single. Maybe not in the exact way that the word connotes. I don’t want to repeat cliches like, “we are born alone and we die alone”, but that doesn’t make any of them less true. We are all fundamentally alone. We touch lives and we share lives, but that doesn’t make us not alone. It just makes us not lonely.

There’s an indispensable difference between loneliness, and being alone. While loneliness describes being destitute of companions, being alone just means being apart from others which we all are. Mentally, emotionally, physically. Everything and anything which we don’t say out loud, whether it be with words, with writing, or with the emotions that do surface, is our own and it is isolated from everyone and anyone we share the world with.

Relationships allow you to experience this world with someone you care for. But this feeling of companionship is slightly more illusory. Other people can only vicariously comprehend your life through their own eyes. You are never not alone.

So, being single should come like second nature to us, right? Being single should be nothing but mastering the art of being alone, which we all fundamentally are. Doing things for yourself, and striving to be a better version of yourself everyday, that’s what being single should be about. Until you get lonely.

Most often being alone morphs into loneliness. When you start getting tired of discovering and re-discovering both the world, and yourself, and begin feeling unsatisfied with your inability to share your progress with somebody, things get gloomy. You want someone to take interest in your passions, someone to flourish with. Someone you can grow to love, because it gets lonely at the top. Cliche, I know, but maybe cliches are worth more than immediate dismissal. They exemplify common thoughts. And in this particular case, perhaps they offer a reason for us to feel less lonely in our conviction to master being single in adulthood.

Perhaps then, the underlying difficulty in getting over a break up, or forgetting about someone, is to do with all the sharing rather than all the loving. Maybe what we struggle with is not the absence of the hand of a loved one, but the absence of a hand that we grew used to holding, and the absence of a soul to listen and adore the things you adore. It’s not evident at first. You fail to see it through all the brooding. But when all the heartbreak is over, we start longing for that overwhelming warmth in our hearts. We seek a new partner to experience new things with, to share with.  How did that old saying go again? Sharing is caring? Told you cliches are worth more than immediate dismissal. 

The next time you find yourself struggling to move on after a break up, or you feel overcome with the desire for a significant other, remind yourself that we are all alone, and if you start to feel empty, it’s not because you’re alone, it’s because you’re lonely. And hey, guess what? There are so many lonely people. Ergo there are so many people who can’t wait to share their lives with others, to interact, to communicate, and possibly do all of this with you… All you really have to do is listen.

 

 

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De Stijl

aka neoplasticism. 

Having lived in Holland for 12 years, I was under the impression that I had a fair grasp on Dutch art history. I was familiar with names such as Rembrandt, Vermeer, Van Gogh, and Mondrian from a young age; I even have a distinct memory of  making a collage in the style of Piet Mondrian during my  primary education. We had learned about his preference to use primary colours in his works: red, yellow and blue.

Last month, I was back in the Netherlands, revisiting memories and growing nostalgic over my town of birth. While I was there, I decided to visit the Gemeente Museum, where they have a continuous Piet Mondrian & De Stijl exhibit. I thought that this would help enhance what I already know on the artist and his style. Much to my surprise, I walked out of the exhibit thinking, ‘Wow, I knew almost absolutely nothing about this guy!’

Piet Mondrian was just one artist among several who were united under De Stijl, a school of art founded in the Netherlands circa 1917. The theory and practice of De Stijl group shook the foundations of modern art on an international scale.

As I previously mentioned, Piet Mondrian embraced painting in black, white, primary colours, and straight lines. His early works, which for the most part reflected reality as he perceived it, transformed gradually and became progressively abstract.  What influenced Mondrian the most was one of many avant-garde movements: cubism. Cubism was primarily characterized by the use of geometric shapes and a monochromatic use of colour. Although Mondrian’s early work is realistic, over time he becomes inspired by the cubist style and adopts his own style.

The school of art which is now recognized as De Stijl, was not only embraced by painters but also by sculptures, and architects. In fact, one of Holland’s most famous designers, Gerrit Rietveld, designed an armchair inspired by Mondrian and De Stijl. This design which has gained world-wide fame is known as Rood-Blauwe Stoel (translation: Red and Blue chair). 

I was also surprised to discover that there was another founding father of De Stijl movement: an artist named Theo van Doesburg. Doesburg was a man of many talents, practicing poetry, painting and architecture. Unlike Mondrian who’s version of this avant-garde movement was called neoplasticism, Doesburg preferred calling this movement elementarism, as it emphasized linear and geometric shapes with subtle shifts in tone and angle. This different perception of the style is perhaps what led to Piet Mondrian and Theo van Doesburg’s split in 1924. Doesburg  believed that the power and importance of abstraction lay in the harmony which could be achieved by it. He also felt that despite elementarism being a simple and minimal approach, on a spiritual and moral level it is uplifting. This is particularly visible in his work, The Dancers.


It’s funny how you can live in a place for so long and think you know about its cultural background, but then years later you can turn back and realize that there are many gaps to fill in.

 

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Places to find hope:

in the books you read,

in the music you hear,

in the everyday tune of life,

in the people you meet,

in the strangers you catch smiling on the streets,

in the eyes of a baby that won’t stop staring at you in awe,

in window reflections,

in the sea,

in the sky,

in the stars,

in the daisy strewn gardens,

in knee-high fields full of dandelions,

in the ladybird that may have just landed on your hand,

in yourself,

 

 

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New Year’s Resolutions

I should have been posting this on the 1st of January, but I was too busy being overwhelmed by the events that took place at a nightclub 1km away from where I live. 

Despite that any last bit of hope for this country has been sucked out of my system by a man with a kalashnikov, I am thankfully still alive, and still breathing through the cracks of the walls that are closing in on us. 

Living here is paradoxical. There’s so much irony trapped in that one word: living. Because are we really? Biologically, yes. But am I actually doing anything extra as to living? I cannot even wander the streets without the possibility of exploding into a million pieces crossing my mind. I speak of it comically because there’s really no other way, unless you want to lose your mind completely. 

Then I think about Syria, or even just eastern Turkey and I realize how pathetic my thoughts are in comparison. They live in death. They live in rubble. They live in the remainders of what used to be. 

I am digressing. What I’m getting at is, I have to keep living. We have to keep living. Our hearts have to keep beating. Because there simply is no other way. I will not go about as if nothing has happened, but the more they try to take my hopes away the more I will hope and the stronger I will dream of a better place and of better days. 

So here’s to my new year’s resolutions:

  1. Live and live more.
  2. Love and love more. 
  3. Write and write more. 
  4. Embrace the woman that I am and that I am constantly becoming. 
  5. Take photos. 
  6. Never stop until your heart stops beating.


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Don’t Apologize for Existing

I’m sharing this post mainly because I found a little bit of myself in it. I apologize a lot, I apologize all the time and I apologize for things that I don’t need to apologize for. I never really noticed until people started pointing it out. I’ve thought about it a lot, and I managed to figure it out for myself, but I’ve never been able to put it into words like this. And some parts of this really resonates for me…

Sorry. 

Sorry. 

Pardon. 

Excuse me.

Sorry.

With the onset of my depression and anxiety, “sorry” became my favorite word. Sorry for bumping into you, even if you hardly noticed. Sorry my hair sticks up on one side and I’m not wearing makeup. Sorry I’m so thin when you’re trying to lose weight. Sorry for thinking about how hard it is for me to maintain weight when you’re trying to deal with your own problems. Sorry the gift you bought me doesn’t fit. Sorry.

Sorry. 

Sorry. 

Sorry for being as smart as I am but not pursuing a career in medicine or engineering. Sorry that my leg bounces up and down and it distracted you. Sorry you feel you need to stop wearing your perfume because I’m having breathing problems.

Sorry for taking up space. Sorry for being sad or scared. Sorry for not smiling as brightly as you expect me to, or for not paying you the attention you deserve when you tell me about your day. Sorry for needing a ride instead of growing up and getting a license. Sorry for finally getting a license and not always parking perfectly or taking turns smoothly. Sorry for drawing instead of looking at you because I’ve become too anxious for eye contact.

I didn’t realize how much I was doing it until my dad said, “Stop apologizing for existing.”

“Sorry,” I said, proving his point.

Depression and anxiety told me I was worthless. They told me that I was responsible for fixing everything wrong with the lives of my loved ones. They told me I needed to stop making mistakes. They told me I needed to participate in conversations and get a social life (but they also told me not to hog the spotlight). I always needed to become better or smarter or something. Depression and anxiety told me I was never enough.

They’re still telling me that. And some days, I still believe them.

But on those days I remind myself that depression and anxiety are lying. No one is perfect, and even if I’m not good enough (or so they tell me) I still have value; I can contribute in a positive way to the lives of those around me.

If depression and anxiety are lying to you, that’s OK. Just remind yourself what’s true. And most importantly, don’t apologize: for taking up space, for living your life, for being you.

You are worth more than that. You don’t have to be sorry.

 

Dragon Harris

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Not so happy, and not so new

I woke up this morning to the terrible news that there had been an attack in Istanbul in a night club. In fact not just a nightclub; one of the most popular and renowned nightclubs of Istanbul, a nightclub that is about a 10 minute walk from where I live, a nightclub that is at the heart of Istanbul.

It saddens me that I am not so surprised by this grotesque massacre. At 00:00 last night I hoped with all my heart that nothing ‘bad’ would happen. Sadly though, what is the new year but just another day? And what better day to attack than on a day that we are overcome by restored hopes and dreams: the early hours of the 1st of January. One man with a gun reminds you of the prevailing presence of fear and hopelessness humanity has become well acquainted with.

Speculate all you want. Do your politics. Shut down Islam. Whatever. It doesn’t change the reality.

People are dying. And some guy with a gun just shot down your hopes too. 

 

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01.01.2017

The first of January. It’s usually a day spent curing hangovers, maybe doing a little bit of reminiscing, and maaaybe a day to get going with some of those new year’s resolutions. It’s also a day when a lot of media outlets publish a ‘best-of’ for the year that has gone by.
So, I scrolled through my Facebook page and it’s mainly covered in blood with a tad of happiness here and there. Attack, after attack, after attack, after bomb, after bomb, after bomb, after death, after death, after hashtag, after hashtag, after hashtag.
We are the world and the world is bleeding.
We are a planet. We are Earth. And the way I was taught, here on Earth, every life counts for one . Nobody’s life is more important than that of another. Everyone is different and everyone is important. Everyone is a heart. And together we are supposed to be one big fat beating heart. We are supposed to have a mutual understanding that we are all different and that that’s okay. Do you know why? Because we all share this planet, and it is just as much mine as it is yours, and it if just as much mine as it is a panda’s; and because much to NASA’s dismay, there aren’t any other planets that we can live on (yet) so we might as well just quit striving for hegemony, pointing fingers, and nit-picking.
(Because like it or not we’ve all got to fucking share.)
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Death was sly, sad, and lonely and I was trying to add colour with my crayolas.

The first time I met death, I must have been around five. My neighbours daughter got us acquainted. She had passed in her sleep.

I couldn’t really grasp the idea of someone being dead. All I really understood was that she was gone, but I resolutely believed that she was gone some place else; not gone absolutely.

I remember my mum telling me the news. I took my crayolas and drew pictures of a blonde girl on paper torn from an old 1998 agenda. The blonde girl was their daughter, though I had no clue whether she was truly blonde because I had never actually seen her. I was trying desperately to say goodbye to a person I’d never met. I presented my ‘art’ to my mum who told me to give it to my dad who would be attending the funeral later on. So I did. I don’t know what happened to the drawings or what I expected to happen to the drawings but I imagined she would receive them one way or another…

Death was sly, sad, and lonely and I was trying to add colour with my crayolas.

I’m 20 years old now. It’s been some 15 years since then, yet here I am trying to deal with another passing. I don’t have crayolas anymore. I have a black biro and I’m scribbling on blank sheets of paper trying to make sense out of what we call ‘life’.

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Assess, address, adjust

For the first time in my life, I’m starting to face my problems. I’m admitting them out loud… and proud. Addressing the issue, that’s the beginning of everything, right? It’s difficult. It’s also not exactly relieving at first. On the contrary, initially, you’re like ‘shit, is my mind really this screwed up?’ or like ‘why the fuck do I do the things I do?’ but then you realize it’s not necessarily because something is actually wrong with you. And even if it is, at least you’re realizing it soon enough to do something about it. I swear confronting my issues sometimes makes me want to tear my hair out; it makes me hate the person that I was. But only for a minute. Or maybe for an hour, maybe even two! It passes; eventually. You feel better.

So what? Sometimes we go through things that make us act a certain way later on in life. Or sometimes the way we were brought up has a negative effect on us. But there’s no point in blaming yourself for all the messed up wiring in your brain. There’s not even really any point in blaming your parents or your parent or whatever. It’s not like they were given a tutorial of how to raise you either. Just quit pointing fingers, ‘cause it ain’t gonna solve the problem. I get that it feels better to say “it’s all your fault” but ultimately you can’t go back and change the way they did things. What you can do, is move forward. Assess the damage, address the issues, and look into solving them. Find your inner peace. You don’t need anybody else to account for the damage done to be able to fix it.

Assess, address, adjust and move on.

 

 

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