Staircase

I was in a hurry to get there on time – I had registered to a course in painting and drawing a few weeks ago, but it turned out to be a busy week and I had had to stop working without completing the task I was currently working on. I just had to get going quickly to get there. I had never been to that house or that room, I had to take into account some time to find the right place. I found the house some 10 minutes before the course was to start. I went in to the door and found myself in a small old entrance room with two further doors. One had sign for another company on it, the other had the sign of the Art Academy I was enlisted to.

That door was locked.

Locked..? There had to be a course starting in ten minutes!

Upon close inspection I found a doorbell with a speaker amongst motley of partially torn ads and announcements. I pressed it. Someone answered on the speaker, asked about where I wanted to go – and right at that moment someone came out the door and I could go in. I hesitated for a moment – I still was not that sure, whether it was the right place – but I went in nonetheless after saying everything was OK to the speaker.

The moment I got in I felt there was something wrong still. I found myself in an empty staircase. After the first afternoon  warmth of summer the staircase was chilly and gloomy. I went up to first floor, found the door with Art Academy sign – but that door, too, was locked. Now I found the doorbell more easily, but this time there was no answer. I waited for a while and pressed the button again. No luck.

Giving up, I looked around at where I was. The staircase continued up for a few more floors. I thought maybe they had a room upstairs somewhere for that course and started up. There were several doors with no signs on them. My steps echoed in the stone, walls had random drawings on them. The bleak stairwell reminded me of 3D shooter games, where you have grey-grey rooms and nobody anywhere to be seen and you have to figure out how to get out of this room – on to the other levels – with the items you have gathered previously. I was hard pressed not to start searching for hidden doors or kicking open any door that seemed to be hiding some room I could continue my quest in. And I have not played such games for years. Vigilant, careful, I sneaked up to the upmost level, where the staircase started to be dangerous, with no railing. I had found nothing useful up here. I was getting desperate.

I looked at the clock – five minutes until the course was supposed to start. Was I really in the wrong place? I remembered the course description – there was no room specified, just the address and Art Academy. I had not printed the description, could it be, that I didn’t notice some specification for the location? Maybe they had official location here but the course was to be held in some other rooms?

I went back to the door with their sign, pressed the doorbell again – with no luck. In addition to my agitation about my course, not being in the right place, the staircase with its floors upon floors started to frighten me as well. I felt haunted and strange, I rather went outside. In the sunlight it seemed strange that such a desolate place could be hiding right beyond that cosy-looking historical house. I used the wonders of our technical age there to get the phone number for the course organisator, to call her (she didn’t answer) and just then, as before, someone stepped out of that door and into the sunlight with a sign “Drawing and painting course” and started pasting it to the door. Happily I stepped in again. Through that door, that was locked before, but now had a carpet stopping it from falling closed; through still bleak corridor and up the staircase to the door, that had seemed the likeliest before. That, too had the sign for my course on it.

Later, after our teacher had spoken to us about how to use skechbooks and sent us out to try it out, draw in it some things we felt strongly about, I went and I couldn’t do anything else, I just had to keep drawing that staircase and nothing else but that.

Posted in about me, art, everyday story, painting | Leave a comment

300 words a day – can I do it?

I just joined a writers club – 300 words a day. I’ll paste what I wrote them:


I don’t know what you expect from this first mail. I’ll write something I feel has to be written right now.

I am not a writer. Yet? I hope so. I wish I was one day. I have been wanting to get off from procrastinatination and daydreaming. When I was a child I dreamt about being an author for some books one day. I knew

they had to be eliticist, the kind that literature critics adore – but as an adult I have been terrified of doing that first step and being no good as all beginners must be at first.

I have a blog. Many who have read it, have said I write well and I have good English (not my primary language). Not many have read it though and I haven’t fed the ones that have. There have been months and months I haven’t written anything there. Yet I have ideas. Ideas I know I have to get out of me, out into the open. Ideas for fun, ideas for serious texts, ideas that might grow into full books…

It’s the same about drawing and painting. As a child I wanted to be an artist as well. Ideas are here, in my head, wanting to get out…

I think I’ll try. It’s time.
Maybe some days I’ll tell about a painting that isn’t ready yet. For me, that counts for something as well.

I hope you’ll accept me amongst you.

liriel

PS: Not really 300 words this time, though. I’ll try to do better tomorrow.


I’m terrified. I hope I can do it. I hope it is good news for you, who will receive at least some of those 300-word essays…

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pisi-mõte töö ajal arvuti kaudu suhtlemisest

Tihti teen ma tööd ja samal ajal vestlen seltskondlikult mõne sõbraga arvutis leiduva tarkvara abil. See on omamoodi kummaline… Siin väike vestlus sel teemal(vestluse avaldamiseks on luba küsitud, vestluspartneri nimi ära muudetud vastavalt tema soovile):

liriel ütleb (11:03): teen siin kõrval vaikselt oma tööd eksole..
K. ütleb (11:03): einoh muidugi, nagu minagi… vähemalt natukese aja präast
liriel ütleb (11:04): see on nii kummaline, kuidas suudab siiski suhelda hoolimata sellest, et tegelikult samal ajal tööd teed.. ja nii häiriks, kui sedasi teeks “päris elus”
K. ütleb (11:05): “päris elus”?
K. ütleb (11:05): ahjaa, sa mõtled näost näkku
liriel ütleb (11:06): just
K. ütleb (11:06): jaaa, see on omapärane, aga nuh, mõnes mõttes on võib olla asi selles, et sa oled kirjutamise “modes”
K. ütleb (11:06): et sa kasutad sõrmi ja mõtled kuvaril või nii..
liriel ütleb (11:06): see oleks päris kummaline, et räägid kellegagi juttu ja samal ajal teed oma tööd rahulikult edasi
liriel ütleb (11:07): ma arvan, et osaliselt on asi ka selles, et siin vaata ei ole jutuajamine nii sujuv, on mingid hetked, kui sa ootad teise vastust
liriel ütleb (11:07): et kui juttu räägitakse, siis saad sa
liriel ütleb (11:07): jutu
liriel ütleb (11:07): kätte
liriel ütleb (11:07): jooksvalt
liriel ütleb (11:07): sõna
liriel ütleb (11:07): haaval
liriel ütleb (11:07): või
liriel ütleb (11:07): lausa
liriel ütleb (11:07): häälik
liriel ütleb (11:07): haaval
liriel ütleb (11:07): tegelikult
liriel ütleb (11:07): eksole
K. ütleb (11:08): oeh
K. ütleb (11:08): see on jah päris jube tegelikult
K. ütleb (11:08): rääkides pead sa kogu aeg keskenduma, siin keskendud sa sel hetkel kui sa ise kirjutad või vastust loed
liriel ütleb (11:08): jah.

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Social vices

One of the biggest surprises in connection with my son’s first year in school has been the depth of my feelings when my son has reprimands in his diary. Every one of them I feel to be a reproach to me, that I have been the one to do something wrong; and on the other hand I see it as my son’s way of repudiating me and my teachings. Of course, I know, some amount of reprimands is to be expected of a normal boy (and I should worry more if there was none – and there hasn’t been a reprimand every week or so many that a sensible person should worry), but every reprimand is still a painful disappointment.

The most painful of all the reprimands my son has brought home this winter, have been those two where teachers have complained about him having cursed. As strange as it is, these have been more painful than the times he has brought home colorful descriptions of the gravity of injuries he has (accidentally?) inflicted. Only thing more painful than that would have been (and maybe can be in the future – if my son won’t be able to resist the temptation) information, that he is using drugs, even the most common cigarette. Common! I despise smoking and I am ashamed of the times when my hormones (or I-don’t-know-what) have got the better of me and I haven’t acted accordingly. I hold my breath when someone smokes in front of me on the street; me, who isn’t very brave to call others to order in any other situation, will point out the no smoking sign to those who try to do it in bus pavilions… I have deliberately acted decidedly scowlfully and I hope that this has taken deep enough roots in him to stay away from this vice even when at some point in his life somebody will offer the cigarettes to him.

Still I doubt it – smoking is a socially expected and deceitful, encouraged in the gangs at a certain age. I know that I had doubtful moments as well, when I would have tried it had the situation played out otherwise; it’s possible I would have even become a permanent addict. And yet I was a very well-behaved and socially little integrated child; I couldn’t even imagine proving myself in a social hierarchy with such a show of courage. Still I knew that it was expected and that this is expected in a certain – popular – circle, it is confirmation of you belonging to it. At age sixteen I started being more interested in the phenomenon from the social aspect and I began asking everyone I discovered having a smoke, the question “Why are you smoking?”. There were some different answers, but actually they confirmed my conviction that there is no good reason to be smoking. This is just a bad habit and all the smokers advised me never to try it if I asked them seriously and privately. In that I got the affirmation that it is stupid to be smoking and I don’t ever want to do it myself.

In a way it is very similar to cursing. It is expected as well socially in a certain age and to be popular in certain circles. It is also a kind of confirmation of the bonds and a test of courage. I have despised it even longer than smoking. Smoking I considered an interesting phenomenon until the age of sixteen and I was even studying it in a way, but cursing has always seemed coarser than I ever want to be, even before I was finished with half of the primary school. I don’t think I have ever truly used obscenities, but I remember a knowing decision – or rather bacoming to an understanding – that I am not the kind of person who would use them. Simple damned still slips over my lips but I never use any of the stronger words. I couldn’t if I wanted to (there have been a hateful moment or two). I rather not put those feelings into words – I might express them using primitive and universally understandable grunts or cries instead -, which accomplishes the goal without soiling me and the people around me.

Somehow this decision is more difficult to justify than my disdain of smoking. There is nothing unhealthy about cursing – it is rather considered an effective way of getting the feelings out – and repressed feelings are certainly a source of unnecessary stress. Still I see that the more educated and smarter the person the less you hear obscenities from them. For me it is – just like it is with smoking – always a big disappointment to I hear obscenities from someone I otherwise respect. I feel a painful stab in my heart each time I hear disappointment or pain turned vulgar with some obscenity, sometimes by someone I have considered my friend, in whose intelligence I have otherwise no reason to doubt.

Every time I hear them lowering themselves with coarse language I think whether I want to stay friends with them. Do I want to be close with someone who would pour the most repulsive imaginations into their closest ones upon some bad luck? Who doesn’t find better ways to express their feelings than obscene metaphors from areas where nobody would go willingly? Is it really possible that for them the frequent use of those words have diluted their meaning so much that they don’t understand how much damage they are doing to their image in the eyes of other people by cursing? Or maybe they are still on the level of eight-year-olds who would prove their greatness through demonstrating how careless they can be of others and the rules by using the most vulgar images and the most obscene words about them? Can one hope that they might still get out of this social level – understand what it means to show respect and consideration towards their companions and how to act accordingly; why those social rules have been set in place or developed and how hard the situation has to be for their breaking to be justified? There is a good article about it in The New Republic (Steven Pincher) (thanks, Vetikavabrik, for referring me there!). The article does write that if used skillfully, cursing can be interesting, even piquant – like a tiny amount of chilly in some dishes I’d say – but it is not something to pour over everything indiscriminately, hiding everything but its own taste; and the fame you could get by spreading such poison is questionable. By the way, I have practically quit using chilly as well.

For me the decision not to curse was intuitive and without a real justification. It was so self-explanatory that I have never considered it as something I should talk about with my son. I didn’t even think that my example wouldn’t be enough to avoid such vulgarity – and there is where I was wrong. Of course he still is an eight-year-old and is right now living through the ways the hierarchies develop in social circles and how to be popular there. It doesn’t justify cursing, it is just as lame as it is in grown-ups. I have tried to explain this to him, now. I really hope he will soon reach the understanding of what is going on socially and what is really meaningful there and what is even harmful. And I will try to stay calm in the meanwhile.

Posted in about me, children, self-help | 1 Comment

Shining people, hidden

The first painting I did ever do by myself (not under the guidance of somebody else), years ago, was “Of Who I Am” (see right, click to see bigger, sorry for bad quality). That one surprised even me with how shining the colors were and how right it seemed about me. But it also got me thinking – I don’t think people perceive me like this. Actually, a friend once told me how surprised he was that my paintings always have such vibrant colors and dynamics. That he would have thought they would be darker and gloomier. And he is a friend, someone who knows me quite well!

What is truer then? The picture I drew myself, from inside of me, which I felt was true to the last line – or the picture those closest to me had of me? It took me a while to realize that they are both right. They are not distinct and different, but the same person seen from different perspectives. Just like the parable about blind people, who describe an elephant – one touches a leg, the other an ear, etc and so their descriptions do not and cannot match. That was the same about me and other people. I, the extrovert inside myself, can see myself – but others see my dull and blurred gloomy shell that I have laid layer by layer on this interior.

But why have I hidden it so well? And then I did another painting, Nothingness on the offensive (see right, click to see bigger). That is when I had realized, that I am not the only one that is so shiny, vibrant and dynamic inside. Everybody is. Everybody is special, trying to show that vital self but also frightened of the possibility that somebody could see it leak out. Frightened, and hiding it. Hiding it and dulling whatever is left of what is seen by the others, pretending it is not what it is. Showing only vague glimpses of themselves to their most trusted ones.

I saw this bright self most clearly when my sweet child was just learning to live in his first years. How brilliant he was, how passionate! How spontaneous, how direct, how trusting! And that is how it shows, the shining, vibrant self.

At the beginning we all are like that, even the introverts like me. We try to connect, to share what we feel to be ourselves, but we are not always welcomed to do so. We cannot be so selfish, we are thought – even before we know the word. We cannot do everything we want, we do not always get what we want. We are thought to behave, to follow orders, to do the way it is done.
It couldn’t be any other way. If we want to live together we need the rules, we need the limits, we need respect for other beings that are older and more knowledgeable – or weaker and uninitiated in the ways of human social life. We are called to order, we are taught the right behaviors. This can be done lovingly, carefully, without damaging the self inside, without hiding the real personality inside, let it be open to others still, but in a socially acceptable way.

But others are not ourselves, they are themselves. They can themselves be hiding, they might themselves have trouble protecting themselves, intuitively growling and biting to protect what they perceive as an attack against their most precious treasure. They can be busy living the way it is done, they can be busy acting properly, they can be busy distracting themselves from their true life. They are not really sharing themselves any more, they are afraid, hidden in the shell. That is why too often the tempering goes farther than is needed. Our ego gets bitten, our passions are ridiculed, our notions are laughed at, our thoughts dismissed.

The pain of the denial of that primal closeness that we feel to be our birthright! The pain and loss of that precious shining self! There is no bigger pain than losing part yourself! There is no bigger fear than the fear to lose yourself! And we’ll shelter it intuitively. Shelter it from the hurt, shelter it from the loss. We will lay the layers of the shell, we will hide ourselves behind the proper behavior – or in our bitterness and pain lash out to those that we think can help us be ourselves. We lay the layers one by another, we learn from the disappointments one after another, we cut our tentacles that are trying to reach out still to others, trying to connect the others and in that connection brightening ourselves. Some shelter it so hard, hide it so well, that they themselves even forget that it even exists.

How difficult making that connection can be from inside the shell! How difficult to entrust someone else with something from inside it! The shell is there to make it difficult, but still we long for it. We long for the connection with family and other people. We long for the unity of all people through connected vibrant selves. We long to share and take part. But only in showing yourself can this connection be made. So we show glimpses of it in hope the others will not diminish us and accept the connection. If not, the shell is hardened even more. If they do, we have made a connection, gained a friend and we might be encouraged to carefully show them more and more. And this is what we long for, that sharing of ourselves. This is what we love, the inner selves of others when we have in their passion given a hint of what it might be.

But nobody can share all of what they long to share – the shell is there, the shell is forever. The shell is needed. We cannot share it all. We must always be at our guard, because even the closest friend has their own shell, their own self to protect – and in doing so they might harm ours. So we share only a little, something that is just barely visible through the shell, but is there nonetheless. To be seen, to be heard, to be connected to. And we hide it – behind belittling it ourselves, behind lies, behind pretension. We do this dance of showing and hiding, tempting and then escaping, forever, never really opening up all the way.

And vice versa – we long to see the passion in others, we long to see their inner self, yet we know we cannot break in to get it. We need to give a piece of ourselves in return to get the other opened up voluntarily. And more than that we are afraid that what is offered is rejected – ridiculed, belittled, burned, bitten, torn. And so we’re afraid of it, so some of us don’t.

Still some have so desperately sought the connection that whenever they see a glimpse of the other’s they want to get it so much that they engulf them with everything they can, to incorporate it in their starvation for connection, to rip this tender self apart in the need to connect to it.

Still others have hidden it so well they have forgotten it’s there. They ridicule the notion it exists, they have a shadow of a connection through shared vicious denial of the possibility and then call it friendship. Yet they are always on guard that somebody in their midst could find out they too have that self hidden inside. Some of those say that it is negligible and they want to end their whole life – yet they come to say it to others, searching for connection with others through the impossible notion of giving up the possibility to live – and receiving only pity or contempt, which do not come close to that friendship they inside themselves had envisioned.

But everybody has it, whether they recognize or not, whether they show it or not. Here, here you have part of mine. This shell doesn’t have to be that thick and dense. It might let some of the light through. It might let you connect with friends; it might be your biggest strength instead of a liability to be hidden. This inner self is what gets things done the way you need to be happy. This inner self gives you the source for creating your meaning in life, for connecting with people you wish to connect to. Without it you are nothing. Go search for it inside you! Nurture it, love it – and you will get the connections you long for. At least I believe so. I am not there yet, but I am on my way and I can sometimes thin the shell to give a glimpse – though I am afraid, I am very much afraid of doing so.

Posted in about me, art, self-help, soul | Leave a comment

Auto portrait in shadows

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Distraction

Years ago when I still had a boyfriend, I went to cinema with him. I don’t remember who chose the movie we watched or why, I rather think it was just a chance that it happened to be this one. I watched it, eyes on screen at all times. It was exciting, it was full of action, it was fast and risky and adventurous. In the end there was even an unexpected love scene.

I remember walking out of the cinema and wondering – why did I watch it? There was nothing in it for me. I just lost about 90 minutes of my life and gained nothing. But I couldn’t say it wasn’t exciting or anything. But why should I care about these quite random characters in the movie I couldn’t really find anything similar to me? There was no reason why this would be educating or fun. Even the fact that I shared this eyes-on-screen time with my boyfriend didn’t make this time worthwhile. I could have spent more exciting time with him at home or just walking outside or anywhere.

At that day I decided never to watch action or comedy in the cinema. Why should I pay for it? I can understand sometimes relaxing in front of TV at home, but not paying for it specifically. No comedy or pure action movie is worth paying the high price the cinema charges for a seat, the smell of popcorn and hearing rustling of wrappers. And even at home, rather choose some movie to actually make you think.


When I was at home with my son, while he was still a baby, I had a hard time. I had post-birth depression and I had been used to getting over any unwanted feelings by digging myself into some book or a TV show. When I was inside, it was very hard for me to get out again, to live my life as people should. I had been used to reading a book intensely – I immersed myself in it, I read fast and didn’t put it down before it was read to the last cover. I’d ditch my responsibilities. I ‘d ditch everything. I would hide myself where nobody would find me and just read. Even when I had to sleep. Even when I was hungry. I just had to read as long as there was something to read, I had to forget myself for as long as it was possible, then I would forget the feelings as well. Everything would be better once a happy end was absorbed.

My son, he taught me to see how unimportant these things really are and how attached I am to them. When he woke crying, there was nothing else to do but to go and greet him, deal with his problems, deal with life and those closest to me. The one most important to me. It was abnormally hard to get up from the couch and do it.

But I did. It is hard to find something better to motivate you than the cry of someone you love.

I stopped watching soap operas. It is just disgusting to me now. I sometimes have no choice but to see them, to hear them anyway. It is frightening, how alluring they are still. The emotions, the intrigues! You watch and you stop living your life. You stop.


When I moved to my own apartment, a first for me, I discovered an addiction: I couldn’t bear silence. At first I was quite bent under the weight of the mortgage, too, and I couldn’t afford to buy a radio, a TV or a computer to give myself that background noise. I had hardest time when I was sitting alone in the mornings to eat. I had everything one should need – something to eat, something to drink, a stool and a table… Yet I felt anxious and confused, I felt the need to do something right now, I just wasn’t able to sit peacefully alone at the table, eat, drink and enjoy. Even though it was the only time in the day when it was possible by the outside conditions to be so. At first I hurried my eating, ate more in my anxiousness than I really needed. But after a while it got me thinking, why exactly is that so.

First and foremost and obvious – I was used to some background noise. A radio was always playing in the kitchen at my parents’ house. Not in the night, but from the time my mother got up from bed to the very late evening. I was used to be distracted by the music on the radio when I ate. It was reassuring to hear it throughout the day when I was moving around in the house. It was homely.

But I didn’t like to be addicted to noise, I wouldn’t like to be addicted to anything and noise isn’t something as primary to life as to be normal to be addicted to. The noise is not important, this addiction is not something I would like to admit about myself – so I started to accustom myself to be without it. I was in silence whenever I could. Even when my parents took pity – or rather couldn’t bear it themselves while they were here – and brought me an old radio from their house, I continued being in silence as long as I was alone or only with my son.

It was masochistic at first, a torture for myself, maintained only through discipline and perseverance. It was not understood by anybody I told about it – but after a while it did pay off. I started thinking. I started understanding. I understood how the background had always given me something to think about, something to occupy myself while I wasn’t busy with something practical to think about. I was so used to being distracted all the time that I missed it when there was nothing to distract me. I was even afraid of being without it. Without the distraction, only with my thoughts. I started being there, in the moment, conscious, active, alive, like I had never been before. I started to understand how I had forgotten myself into the books, into TV or radio, never really living only zombieing through life. I started to understand, why I always found a book whenever I felt angry or rejected in childhood. I started to understand so many things, because only then did I really think about them.


When my son was two years old, I gave him a photo camera for playing one day. These days using technology is so simple, even this small a child could easily learn to point and click to do whatever images they liked; and doing a digital photo doesn’t cost a cent (if you don’t count the energy). When we downloaded the pictures I was shocked at how this little child saw the world, because that’s what I saw on the pictures – another way to look at the world. Okay, on some of the pictures I could see him imitating me – finding something absolutely unimpressive and trying to get a picture of that. In this category there were pictures of the floor and the ceiling, of common household items or messy corners of the place we live in. These weren’t as artistic as they were supposed to be, but at least they were a start and these made me smile.

But I was shocked about the others: there were many pictures of TV or computer screen and some, the most shocking of them all, about the family he lived with – us. I think many people wouldn’t have thought twice about just deleting the pictures about TV and computer screen and seen as cute and loving the ones taken about the family. I didn’t. Pictures about the family were really deserving of a name “Contemporary family life” – and that in a bitter meaning. There was a picture of me reading a book. Another of my mom at the computer. And a picture of my father relaxing on the couch, apparently watching TV. Nobody noticed this little spy and so there wasn’t any happy masquerades of closeness, only plain painful truth.

Family life..?! There was no interaction! There was no “family”! Everybody entertained themselves any way possible, but alone although in the same room. Did we talk? Did we do something together? No, if you don’t count being alone together as doing something together. It would have been too much of an effort. Seeing that, it was not at all surprising that loneliness is the top-ranking complaint these days. People entertain themselves and do not connect with one another even though they might be physically together. Even the pictures of the TV and the computer screen were part of it – these items were just as important and close to this small developing child as the members of his small family…



“This is boring!” says Ziggy. I have never seen him so bored before.

Stephanie concurs, “Yeah, let’s go play”.

“But we ARE playing!” says Pixel, the techno guy, who has just invented a remote control, that can make anything do anything he wants. Quite fascinated, he is making a basketball do all kinds of tricks without moving more than pushing a few buttons on the remote.

“No we’re not. This is boring! We want to play with our hands, our feet, our bodies!” exclaims Stephanie, the sportiest girl you might have ever seen.

“Yeah, this is like … like watching someone else eat your candy for you!” says Ziggy, the one who is best described by one of his previous quotes “Eating candy, yeah, that’s important.”

Lazytown, the children’s TV show that promotes healthy lifestyle

This one started haunting me. Watching someone else eat your candy for you. I have done it, more than I should have been. And I don’t mean only watching TV – I have cut watching it quite a lot since the childish voice started repeating the sentence in its annoyed way every time I tried to. I didn’t watch it very much before it did as well. And now I never watch it when there is something else I’d rather do – for that end I don’t read the TV guide, to be able to choose the other activities first and only when I feel tired and powerless to act, do I turn on the TV and see what is on.

There are enough channels that there is almost always something. I only watch if it is somehow educating or interesting. How it’s made. How things work. Engineered. No news, I get them from internet at daytime. No sports – what is there to learn from information that someone was able to run a few seconds faster than anyone before? Or that a group of people somewhere was able to win some other group in some game? Yes it is entertaining, it is exciting to watch, it is giving the satisfying distraction from your own pitiful life. It is just soap opera for men. I’d rather go running myself or play a game with my friends or son. This would be a challenge, enjoying your own muscles flex, having good time with other people, being exhilarated by your own adrenalin.


Hugh MacLeod, gapingvoid.com, \

© Hugh MacLeod, gapingvoid.com

But at the same time I also understand Pixel. I have a long history of being tempted to watch and not act. I have a long history of being excited by technical gizmos, that are really just devices to make yourself entertained, alone. I understand the lure to watch others act and get the second-hand taste, the story has been done for you, now you only have to imagine to be in the shoes of the one you see on screen, only imagine that you taste the candy he is eating for you.

The real world doesn’t advertise itself. And most of the time, doesn’t cost as much either. It doesn’t make you pay with yourself, it makes it possible for you to think instead. It let’s you open up your potential, it let’s you shine in the light of the fabulous being that is  yourself, it let’s you be in charge of your life, be the driver not the passenger in the boat of life. But it is hard work. It is frightening and tiring. It is real, it is hard. It is the only way that changes the world.

Oh, but the temptation to just let go, to just let the others decide. Somebody will make it right, somebody will know what to do, somebody will take action. I don’t want to make an effort but live like a good worker bee – wake up, go to work, work, come home, hide myself in TV, let myself be entertained, reproduce, sleep, repeat. Forget that there is evil in the world – good word wins the evil might, isn’t it right? I have had a hard time so long, why can’t I just relax and hide myself from the truth? Why can’t I just hide myself inside all this noise, why do I have to remember, that this world is not a paradise? Why must it be me who makes the change, let someone else do all the work…


A friend told me about his nightmare one day. He saw himself lost somewhere. There was a soft rubber floor, no walls and no ceiling visible anywhere. There were no sounds, there was nothing to be seen – only him and this endless floor. He didn’t need anything to eat or drink, he knew he could just stay there and be. He knew that he could go any way he liked, but the scenery would stay the same. There wasn’t anything to do, there wasn’t anyone else.

I was enraptured by his vision. I told him how great and desirable that was. Alone, without any restrictions! The absolute freedom to do whatever you wanted! The perfect source for creativity, the nirvana Buddhists yearn for, the balance within! I would remove from this vision the material things that were there still. I would remove the rubber floor and imagine myself inside void, weightless, directionless, with no Up or Down. And I would remove the body and leave only a mind with no perceptible shell. And then I would spend eternity within the fantastic images I would imagine around myself. With this mind I would create myself an universe of things, everything I’d ever need. I told him about the start of a book I once wrote and that is unfinished still. I told him about how God felt at the start of creating the Universe.

I told him, it feels great to think.

Soundtrack – none

Posted in about me, self-help | Leave a comment

Why you shouldn’t tell me about your dreams

I have written up many of my dreams – as in, dreams you have while sleeping at night-time not day-dreaming – some of them already in early teenage years. At first the reason was that I have had deja vu moments so often, even in a way that I remember having told about that dream to someone specific and it happens later in a context that I couldn’t have guessed to be possible at the time of telling about it. But, of course nobody ever remembered what dreams I had told them about. So I started to write them up in hopes that in the future I’ll have a proof that I really head seen this in a dream before. That proof is still to be found although deja vu happens to me just as often as at that time. I have learned to ignore it now, and people around me probably don’t even notice that I am experiencing that at the moment.

Now I have read about tests where deja vu has been induced by influencing certain areas of the brain and that has, of course, convinced me that there can’t be any predictions in those dreams I had previously written up. Not a prediction about a definite situation in the future (even though this isn’t impossible theoretically, oh I’ll have to get to explaining why I think so, but this isn’t the topic of this post) nor a prediction by interpreting the symbols seen there (for example, seeing money in a dream means an accident etc). Though while writing about them, I have often found connections between those dreams and what I have been living through at the time, what I have been thinking of, what I have been fearing or hoping.

Again, that New Scientist has broadened my knowledge about what is a dream. Getting asleep doesn’t happen by some on/off switch – a person is asleep or not. As much as I understand it, it is considered sleeping when certain areas of the brain are resting, getting there is a smooth process where more and more of the brain cells turn into resting mode. Which means that some part of the brain is stull active and awake while you are seeing dreams. That is important. REM-sleep, e.g. the time when people see dreams, is that part of the sleeping, when brain is most active. These are some of the pieces of knowledge that have reached me through different articles.

I am deducing from that and from my experience while writing up my dreams, that dreams might not be important as predictors, but they are important and meaningful nonetheless. I have started to think that a dream is the way the awake and active part of the brain tries to think based on partial information and tries to find something logical from that thinking. Of course the result is extremely absurd, because some part of the brain, that would be important to think that thought usually, might be asleep and doesn’t give its part. But then again that absurd vision can tell much about the seeer. Especially to a person, who knows them and can see the thinking patterns characteristic to that person in the vision, make connections to the facts that are known about their life. Because what else can a brain put into its thoughts than what the person is thinking anyway, what they are afraid of, hoping for, dreaming about…

And that is why you don’t hear me telling about my dreams very often. They are my secret world that I don’t want to open up for anyone – who knows what they would be able to read from them about me. It may well be something I haven’t recognized myself yet. And maybe I would keep quiet if I did. But you will find me listening to you telling about your dreams attentively and interestedly. They tell stories about the person, what they really are about – and this is why I am associating with you at all. Your contents. These are stories that are bigger than the moment they are told at; they are pieces of a puzzle that will be added by you to a whole in an unexpected moment. And all of you, you are so open and honest in telling those seemingly absurd and unimportant dreams that it is so easy to find the right place for that piece, and the results are ever more exciting.


It may seem strange then that I am continuing the practice of writing up the dreams even now. It’s only that in that brain, that is only halfway working, thoughts are created that you can never think of while you’re fully awake and having all the usual thinking patterns and limits. To exemplify, I am going to tell you a bit about one of my favorites.

The idea was that in that dream there was a God, who had a son. The son was a teenager and absolutely out of control – people called him the Satan. He was everything that the Christian religions have always described Satan to be like. Sensual tempter, awaker and promoter of all society’s vices. He lived a life of enjoyment – drank, injected and brawled, party was after a party -; he beat up, killed, raped and everything else that ever has been imagined as a vice; and above all he was promoting everybody to do that with him.

The important fact was, that in my dream they had this close bond of relation between them. I think that only those that have children themselves can understand what that really means. At least I gained a new perspective on my parents after I gave birth to my son, although I loved them before that as well. That means that you love your child no matter what he or she is like. It is absolutely irrelevant. And that is how that allpowerful and allknowing and allwhateverelse God his son the Satan. Oh yea, he could have kept his son on the leash or swipe him off in a way that nobody would even remember him. He was allpowerful after all. But because this was his son, he loved him. His punishments were mild and were rather on the level of a warning. The son was of course afraid of his father, but then again knew that nothing fatal or final couldn’t happen to him from his father, because the God was allforgiving, at least where his son was involved. What he was like towards usual people this dream of mine wasn’t telling about.

The knowledge of that close relationship put the God’s followers, that had to fight the vices, in a very complex situation. On one hand you had to fight with evil because of what the God has taught them, have to fight Satan and his ideas. On the other hand you couldn’t hurt Satan, who was the son of God after all, because if you don’t know how even the most timid parent protects their child, doesn’t know much about the nature. Not to mention someone as allmighty as the God. So it was, that if you were hurting Satan, then you had followed the God’s specific orders, lived by the rules given by him, but on the other hand you risked the God’s anger for having pestered his dear son…

I was a monk of that religion, and I was just fighting the Satan…

Fantastic dream! Reality is so similar to that, that I am really sorry that Christianity hasn’t added that nuance to its tellings, that would explain many an illogical turn of events, and at the same time would help understand life and what anything’s good for, better.

Another of my dreams can be read in one of my previous posts, Beautiful and magnificient beings.


Disclaimers:

I’m bullshitting you. I am not a scientist and this is only an intuitive feeling about that topic that I know only as much as I have read in some popular science articles 🙂

And another: I am not religious, but this famous story has been interesting enough to get aquinted with it. So don’t expect me to regret such sacrilege. For me this is just an interesting idea to spice up an interesting story.

Posted in about me, religion, violence | 1 Comment

Beer: the drink of the ****s

Now there’s a topic you wouldn’t expect me to think on after going to a rock festival. You’d think I’d rant about the awful weather, the incomprehensive choice of artists or a praise about the interesting people met there. Yet its the topic of the drink, most specifically beer, that got my attention as a topic this festival.

I had just jumped and danced myself dripping, had sang and yelled and cheered my throat dry – and then had drank most of a half-litre bottle of water – and I needed another drink. This time I wanted it to have more substance to it, though I didn’t want anything sweet (which ruled out cider and gin and Jägermeister, which were my drinks this time) and I didn’t want too strong a taste as well (which ruled out wine, which is my favourite alcoholic drink otherwise). I had a nagging feeling that beer would be the logical choice – not sweet but a bit bitter and refreshing. And I fought this feeling with all my might – and this fighting was the peculiar thing that brought the case to my attention.

I didn’t know why I loathed beer so much.

So I started giving some of my brainpower to dig the reason out from the layers and nooks and crannies of my being.

The first and most apparent answer was that I didn’t like its taste. This was the answer I had given to many beer evangelists previously, and at this festival as well. But to be fair and scientific in my approach – I don’t like the taste of most of the things I eat or drink, not particularly anyway, and wine is really the only alcoholic drink I would drink even if it wouldn’t get me drunk or wasn’t the cure for cold or the socially acceptable habit – wine is just so enjoyable. But I do drink other drinks. And actually I have loved and even bought some beer at times (the dark variance mostly)… So the taste can’t be the reason.

Dig deeper!

While I was drying there and moaning about it (and about my inablity to decide) I was – again! – suggested I should opt for a beer. Which gave me another obviously right answer – I don’t want to drink beer because of the cult surrounding the drink. Certainly, my experience is limited to the people I know and spend time drinking together, but it has become traditional for some people (that drink beer often) to suggest beer as the only right choice as a drink, as the solution to all of the problems – and to despise all other drinks. It sounds religious and it is quite common – even many people that I know to be unfamiliar with eachother act similarly independently. Of course, the reason might be that different (groups of) people have discovered independently that beer actually is the only right choice, the solution of all problems – and the other drinks are not comparable – yet in me such religious frevor, such intrusive propaganda, such consistent and unargumented belittlement of the alternatives raises only defiance and awakens my creativity to find considerable alternatives.

On the other hand – I shouldn’t judge the book by its readers, I shouldn’t deny the possibility that they are right and exactly that moment beer would be the right choice. I had ruled out other drinks sold there and I shouldn’t discriminate against it – right? At that moment the vigour of the beer evangelists had somehow reawakened and I asked for a sip to try it out.

They must have felt pretty jubilant because I was cheered as being on the verge of giving up my opposition to beer, brought as an example to my sweet friend, but just then they actually lost me again. With that taste, with that smell the memories of all my experiences of drunk jerks flooded me and at that decisive moment, when my senses were tuned to be quite selective and fine, I knew I wouldn’t stomach a full canful of the stuff. I do know many great people that do drink beer, many of my dearest friends among them, but I have met too much jerks that do as well. This taste brings to my mind uncultured, coarse and obtrusive jerks that I have had to suffer from. This suffering has etched into me the loathing for the drink and at that moment I knew that I had controlled the feeling automatically with my friends – I let them make such choices for themselves as long as it doesn’t intrude with the friendship. And then – the cultured beerdrinkers are not expressive enough about it to change the association. I knew then that altough I shouldn’t judge the drink by its drinkers, I would have too hard a time suppressing the association to make it worth the while.

I did take another sip then. It wasn’t better, but it did quench my thirst. I knew I could find it in myself to get used to the stuff, enough to appear to enjoy it – but for what end? There would be times I could fairly easily control it, forget the past and live for the moment, but there would be other times still, when I would be more sensitive and then it would be just as horrible again. Could I grow to like it? I wouldn’t say never, but it is unlikely. Could I go out with beerdrinkers? Yes, I have and will again, presuming they have proved themselves worthy otherwise. Now that I know the reason I can control the resulting revulsion more easily. And that is the only thing that really has changed.

Posted in about me, alcohol, everyday story, religion | Leave a comment

Opeth: an outsider’s concert review

It has been a busy month for me, concert-wise. I have gone to listen to some very different types of music and, generalist as I am when it concerns music, I have found something for myself from each of those styles and artists. However, in one aspect the concert today was totally different – I felt I had to write about it just to collect my thoughts and get a more defined picture of my experience. It was so multi-faceted as to make me avoid any comments about the concert in general to my friends on-site.

At first I want to say, I am sorry – I am not writing this post for your sake. I’m writing it for myself and only publishing it because it has a meaning for me. You, without the background knowledge, might not understand.

1.

The first surprise of the concert was visual. I had come to enjoy the intricate graphics they promote their band with; admired the emotion, the harmony and artistic feeling of the eerie pictures. Even before the show started I was admiring the big O of Opeth that was trying to recreate the feeling in this “field” setting. How delicate and graceful the lines! How precise and perfectly balanced the motive! How hypnotising its design of spiral in the circle!

The O was later enhanced even further by the light show. At times the light made this background decoration glow as to reveal a rose in its design; at other times bringing out other lines and other connotations. The lightning was well-planned in more ways than this one – it was emphasising the right musicians at the right times, it was helping to convey the feeling the music was expressing.

But the visuals I have described this far were not a surprise for me. Knowing how little I know about this or any other band, it is strange to admit that all this was absolutely something I had expected from this band. It is exceptional that I had any expectations at all because mostly I don’t know more about a band than the music – and even then I have trouble naming the band or the names of the songs, and often I go to concerts without any other prior knowledge than the name and place can give. But these expectations I did have and these they fulfilled – as much as it was reasonable to expect in this rebuilt-factory setting. I imagined them playing in a gothic era church, one specific I like more than any other, one that is light and graceful despite the darkness of those long-gone times, and it might have been even more overwhelmingly “they”, but unfortunately these kinds of places don’t like these kinds of bands.

My real visual surprise was about the band members themselves – they looked just your average guys, nothing spectacular. I probably hadn’t seen any pictures of themselves. Or maybe they didn’t bring their stylist who has managed to create this imago of spectacular visual intricacy and precise dark feeling, but simple and everyday they looked in their simple T-shirts and a bit shy behind their jokes about being the Backstreets of Metal and a little bit distant when they communicated with the listeners. I am not a stylist, I don’t know what I expected in this regard. I don’t even condemn them for this. It just makes me feel like they are still hiding something while on stage or in their everyday life, not fully expressing the passion I feel in their music and see expressed in their ubiquitous graphics. Or maybe they feel that this is enough, this is where they draw the line – they express themselves in the music and this they give us, but they don’t want to give more than this, they want to keep their lives private. I don’t know that it is so (or is not), and it is a rare feeling about any band, but I feel like despite all they are already giving, they could give even more. And I would very much like to experience this part as well, this part that now is kept hidden inside them, at least for us.

2.

I guess I have managed to scare away anyone who might have hoped for a melomaniac’s or metalhead’s review of the concert, and a good riddance, too. I know little about music, this genre or others, and less  still about this band. They will probably find reviews more to their liking in other blogs or environments. I can only share my outsider’s experience of a music I didn’t know just a few months ago.

That is, before I heard about Opeth coming here I had really listened to only one of their albums – Damnation. For a long time I was doubting whether to go or not to, because all I knew about their other albums was that “they are absolutely different”. I managed to get hold of two of them then, and reached two very opposite conclusions – at times I would hear them and decide that this is not my kind of music and so I shouldn’t go; at other times I would stop working because I heard something interesting in the music, and would think that I might like the band if I caught the feeling on the concert as well – and this no matter which of the albums was playing at the moment. This difference was in itself intriguing and that was my main reason for going to the concert at all. I hoped to get the answer, which is correct, there.

From all this you can imagine that I expected to feel little to no connection with their music on the concert. I knew I couldn’t name them as the player if I heard their song playing somewhere; likewise, I knew I most likely would recognize just one or two songs at the concert. And knowing that familiarity is mostly what creates the feeling “I like it!” I had very little to expect.

But this is where I was wrong. Maybe I had familiarised myself with their music enough or maybe I am right and they are masters of creating intuitive music that I connected with more on the concert than before. I just recently read about how the formula for creating enjoyable music is very simple: if a listener hears something he or she expects, it creates a positive emotion, and vice versa (I am sorry to have absorbed the knowledge and forgotten the source – please correct my ignorance in this if anyone can! I really don’t like to fail to give due credit…). That is the reason why simple rhythms and tunes go well with masses – they create a positive feeling because if it is simple then anyone can predict what comes next and gets a positive emotion from it. That is why only after getting aquainted with these can you really enjoy something more complex – it is harder to predict these more difficult rhythms and tunes. Practice is what makes the listener perfect.

I think that is what happened to me at this concert as well. Thanks to I., I have been indoctrinated to similar music in the last few years and I feel I have just reached a new level in recognizing the patterns in it. The surprise was that at this concert I felt with the songs as I would with more familiar bands, and I did feel the “Aha, I knew it was coming, I like it!” feeling. I even found where the “not my kind of music” part fit in the overall designs of the songs. And I saw how the Damnation album was not so much different than the others, not where it matters that is.

I would like to liken the music I heard and recognized at that concert to a piece of fine fabric, that has an intricate design embroidered into it. I see a seemingly random pattern that is a pattern nonetheless, giving the watcher an intense feeling that cannot be pinpointed. The pattern is obscured – and controversially also defined – by some coarse strands of dark colour. Most parts of the pattern are intricate and intervowen, delicate and graceful, but the coarse strands are these that make the first impression and give the best hints about the whole meaning.

Just like this imaginary embroidery, I heard the sweet and delicate on this concert alternating with roaring instruments. At times even the vocals degenerated into an instrument for me – but that is actually how I prefer my music at these times: abstract, wordless. I like the idea of using human voice as just another instrument – though I am not certain that this is what was planned by the band themselves in this occasion. For me the prevalence of other instruments certainly played a big part in how much I enjoyed the music altogether.

That is also how the music matches the graphics I mentioned earlier in this post. These so much convey the feeling I get from their songs that the surprise no. 1 was greater than the revealation of this more interesting music and more waiting for me in the future.

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