Existence and Sisyphus

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It seems to me that there has to be more to human existence than the incessant, repetitive pursuit of wild dreams and interminable goals. Regardless of the character, the motivation and the beliefs that fuel the never ending need or desire to achieve certain things, a human being seems to be leading an existence akin to Sisyphus’ punishment.

You set objectives for yourself and you need to climb mountains to reach  your target. Sometimes, the climb is over a low, pastoral hill, but at other times it is over steep and rugged cliffs. Once you have made it to the summit of the mountain, you find yourself right where you started, at the basis of yet, another mountain. Climbing to the top of the mountain by graduating, getting a job, obtaining a good salary, changing to a different job, buying a car, replacing the old car, finding love, forming a family, kids, travelling through the country, then on the continent, after through the whole world – no matter what your desire or goal is, it will always be promptly succeeded by another one. Each human being is a Sisyphus who perpetually climbs mountains until the day she/he draws her/his last breath.

Now, there are those who overcome the climb, who choose to stop on the path and by doing so, they shatter the matrix they are caught in and manage to see behind the veils of mundane existence. They set aside the wild goose chase and they achieve feelings of peacefulness and bliss through their spirit. The place of balance and contentment can be called heaven, nirvana, Valhalla, the field of Yalu, Elysian fields, the Summerland, etc. and opening its gates, ending the repetitive climb equates to escaping samsara. Leaving aside religious branches, the type of beliefs or spirituality you might have, if you can see beyond this earthly, cumbersome existence then you have a belief that is justified because it aided you in transcending your role as Sisyphus.

Then, there are those who graciously enjoy the mountain climbs, who overpower obstacles along the tracks and who enjoy brief moments of respite. They are the ones who breathe in until saturation the fresh mountain air and the ones to whom the constant climbing is not about conquering a final peak, but about the adventurous journey. This arduous journey offers gifts clad in small bites of happiness.

And then, there are the rest, who suffer and who are subdued by the burdens they carry up the mountain.

Thus, during our existence on Earth, we have a few choices. We can surpass our roles as Sisyphus and open the gates to a new realm, where contentment, balance and peace reign. We can also acknowledge our roles as Sishyphus, but perceive the stones we bear as light and revel in the little things along our path and in the climb itself on various mountain ranges. Or we can, as a last resort, pity ourselves in our roles of Sisyphus and succumb to the weight of the bundle and to the strenuous climb.

 

Wise poet, Su Shi

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During the Song dynasty (960-1279 AD), China experienced a flourishing period in arts, culture and poetry. The wise, multi-talented Su Shi, 蘇軾, (1037-1101 AD) was a poet, calligrapher, painter, writer and politician, who wrote many exquisite poems that deserve attention and close analysis. However, today I want to share with you a small excerpt from one of his articles, that contains the essence of Middle Ages Chinese wisdom on destiny and the infinite beauty of nature.

“In this universe everything has its rightful owner. If something does not belong to you then you shall not even have a bit of it. However, the fresh breeze over the rivers and the bright moon above the mountains are exceptions. If you can hear it, it is a sound for you. If you can see it, it is a sight for you. It never ends and it is never exhausted. It is the infinite treasure that nature has for both of us to enjoy.”

The crib of desires

 

From the moon inside your eyes

Grant me favors!

You, enchantress, with your vibes

Feed me,

Need me,

Lead me!

From the atman of the ancient,

Wise and omniscient

Tree of life,

Roots of power,

Rife…

Flood my being

Drain me whole

Shatter dreams

And tear my hopes

Of futile existence,

Of perishable resistance.

Let me sip the flavors

Escape my role of slaver!

Praised divinity,

Allow me to slumber

In the crib of desires

Allow me to savor

The creation of the saver,

Ayahuasca in the woods

Banish this world’s falsehoods

Crush the incessant routine!

From the war of jungles deep

Fashion this grey, tedious scene

Into magic green!

Bring about the fantasy, the mystery

Free me from the shackles of vanity

Stir the foreseen

The sanity, the profanity

We summon the sacred

To wonder as fated

In a maze of visions painted!

Fancy Pantsy and Company!

 

 

 

Bubble wrap,

Wrap your head

In tin foil and fish oil!

Cook your smile

For a little while

In scented candles

Cinnamon sticks,

And all that crap!

Bourgeois baloney.

Swim in a whim

Become a shark’s fin!

4D, 10D, 107 million D

Immerse yourself,

Forget the spirit.

5G and a pumped-up

Steroids-full, plastic-looking geezer.

His name is Deezer

Just swallowed

A few dozen of Hello-Kitty

Fig-wine flavoured Xanax.

The Rhythm of ‘Requiem for a dream’

Causes anxiety

Women wanna be equal

But women wanna be slim.

Your grandma’s underwear,

VR, trendy HR

Neurotic creatures, empty-headed ghosts

All those highly functional

Individuals.

Zombies, feeding on residuals.

Ingesting, digesting, dependent on

Life coaches, hogwash success stories

Drown in consumption.

Too much information,

The pace is the race!

Forget the assumption

That life is deduction.

Goods and goals

Kill our souls!

Linger

 

Words, swords, crowds

Laugh together!

And they mingle.

Drink hot coco

Sniff the roses.

They stain the porcelain cups.

Dive deep in lakes of tea

Emerge spotless.

The journey continues,

This mixture of paraphernalia

Slides down the left ear

Of a grumpy, white cat.

It’s ticklish, it makes me giggle!

Whispered the cat!

As sleepy as I ever was

Just let me linger.

Take your flight!

But it is too late,

A cultural revolution enthralled

This dusty room, this lazy cat.

Let us erase Shakespeare!

Let us forget Keats!

The fate of art is to linger!

The fault in our relationships

Today’s topic of reflection is relationships. Relationships are basic components of our lives as highly social beings. Probably most of us are part of several relationships at the same time, but it can often be hard to glimpse behind their thick layers. Frequently, relationships are extremely complex and can easily become a source of great pain. I was wondering how people unconsciously cross this invisible bridge between happiness and the point where their relationships are mostly filled with heavy feelings of sadness, anger, frustration and shame. Any kind of relationship, either with family members, friends or with a partner can, at any given moment in life, seem like an inescapable labyrinth that weighs down on you. You can, all of a sudden, find yourself in a relationship that seems absolutely broken, in a lonely place where the person who used to bring the most joy to you is now floating on the parallel bank of the same river. If in the past you used to walk hand in hand, in the same direction, reaching for the same goals, now you feel alone and misunderstood. Or worse still, you feel like you are not being cared for or listened to attentively. It is a strange situation dominated by feelings of isolation and disconnection even though you might be sitting right next to other people. At this point, any attempt at communication is a complete failure because you and the other person in the relationship are on different frequencies. It is almost like you both want to transmit a message and receive a message and you do your best to put together a concise message that can communicate your feelings. However, you fail because you are using distinct communication mediums. Say, it is similar to one using a phone and the other using an email. It ends in a connection error.

I started to brood over relationships after watching a few Romanian short films (available on http://www.cinepub.ro with English subtitles, if you are interested). These shorts portrayed exactly a tangled spiderweb of painful and damaged relationships that suddenly explode and discharge cruel words and agonizing sounds. We can all agree that this type of extreme communication is damaging, but once in a while it sweeps over us, almost like a cold taking us by surprise each autumn. Sometimes, humans reach their limits and they need to release all the anger, the frustration, the anxiety, the shame, the bitterness, the despair, the jealousy, all the feelings that have been piling up inside of them. When we arrive at the point of utter fragility and desperation, our relationships become so dramatic that the tiniest of things can set us on fire. It is not about what has been said or what has been done, it is just the last blow, the icing on the cake or a mere raindrop added to a violent inner storm.

Dramatic portrayals of characters and relationships in the short films: a woman choosing solitude over attending a New Year’s Eve party because her friends invited her in the last moment and she felt betrayed (ask: what are your expectations of a friendship?; what is your conception of friendship?); a couple blaming each other for tiny mistakes or sudden actions during tense external occurrences; siblings fighting because of an unequal distribution of responsibilities in the family; an overprotective father and his daughter keeping secrets and fighting for her freedom; disagreements and shouts between spouses on how to treat their child; a man expressing his anger over the fact that he feels unsupported by his wife, daughter, brother and parents; a woman being ignored by a husband who is so taken with reading a newspaper and feeling invisible in her own house , etc. All these intense portrayals of relationships and the feelings that arise inside them illustrate examples of thwarted communication. We could argue that they are intensified or dramatized in order to create more artistic films. However, I suspect that the shorts can have such a strong impact on the viewers exactly because they feel so real. I can identify the intricate details inside my own relationships and in the relationships of people that surround me. The ultimate feeling that arguments, fights and miscommunication bring to an individual is that of isolation. Imagine being in a dark cave, completely alone! You are withdrawn from the world at that moment. It is as if your partner, friend or family member is not concerned with your feelings at all. You feel as if no one listens to you, or rather that they appear to be listening, but your words do not reach them.

Each of us have been, are or will be at some point in a situation where the way we communicate is not functional anymore. Our desires, needs, wants, goals, feelings and thoughts dissipate in the air and the person near to us seems so distant, so removed from ourselves. Maybe communication is not the problem, but rather our connection. The fact is that maybe we need more time to look within ourselves to find solutions, to listen more attentively to our feelings  instead of looking to the other person for solutions and advice. In a way, we are very self-absorbed and everything is about we, we, we…how we feel, how we suffer, how overwhelming the feeling of loneliness is, how bad was our day, our week, our entire year. Maybe it is better to start taking small steps for improving the connection in the relationship by doing pleasurable things together and by actively listening to the other. I believe that we have, in general, become so selfish that we don’t really know how to actively listen to people with an open mind and heart. We listen in order to reply and to advance our points of view. Let’s direct our attention towards our inner selves! Let’s listen and understand more!Let’s identify our painful feelings at the incipient stages and express them in a thoughtful and loving way! Let’s try to deal effectively with the fault in our relationships!

 

 

Murder on the Orient Express

Orient Express: My dream, my fantasy, my inspiration.

 

An international affair,

Murder and le bon air,

Velvet, stockings, lace and silk,

A moral hazard,

Retro crimson shoes,

The sound of soft steps,

Tak, tak, tak, tak…

On the Orient Express.

Candlelit dinner,

La Belle Époque,

Mischief,

And a well-known thief.

Lips are sour,

The witness swallowed a flower.

From Paris to Constantinople

Mystery, my dear sire!

The truth shall never transpire!

Silence is woe,

Secrets and snow,

Dwell in the shadow.

Spring emerges

 Crime, it purges!