Tuesday, May 25, 2010

A Library in Motion

On one of my trips to the new King Shaka International Airport, I noticed a book among the the leaflets on a brochure stand: Hot Head by Simon Ing. I thought it was lost but on picking it up, I noticed a sticker that informed me that it was not...

There is a global library in motion called Bookcrossing, with the motto "Make the World a Library". What happens is a person lets out a book, by leaving it somewhere (maybe a park bench or a telephone booth) with a message explaining Bookcrossing. Someone finds the book, logs into the site and confirms that the book has been found. They read and then leave it to be found somewhere else.

These books may travel across the world, and with the site, you can watch the book move across boundaries and cultures or go hunting for a book in your area and join the 'adventure'.

There are currently 48 books wafting along in South Africa. One lying at the Durban International Airport among the leaflets on the brochure stand. Two in Gauteng, three in Freestate and 42 in Western Cape... all justwaiting to be found and read and then sent on another journey.

It's not only technology that's bringing the world together... in fact, technology isolates the world. You can't hold up your laptop and feel or smell the words off a page or letter.

I think Bookcrossing is a fascinating concept. To find out more, or perhaps to go hunting for a book, check out the site: http://www.bookcrossing.com/about

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

"Have no fear of perfection - you'll never reach it." Salvador Dali

Salvador Dali, "Swans Reflecting Elephants," 1937
A couple of hours ago, I felt stifled by myself. I had missed an important phone call in my few hours of cell emancipation and now have to wait until tomorrow to find out whether the call was to deliver good news or bad. My mind couldn't help but convince me that it contained news of the latter description. Then I thought about 'The Secret' and how believing that it was news worth celebrating begins with acting as if you already know that the news is to come. Something like that. The thought crippled me. I wandered through multiple 'what if's' until I chose to do nothing. It was fear speaking. Fear that I will do everything that I can and that the news tomorrow will just disappointment me. Fear that I am not good enough. That my attempts to create an impression, huge enough to transform tomorrow's phone call into a much awaited one, were mediocre and no where near brilliance or perfection. I feared being a failure before I could actually fail. I wanted to do nothing; to sit in front of the television and melt into non existence.

"Intelligence without ambition is a bird without wings." Salvador Dali

Then I remembered Salvador Dali. The first time someone mentioned his name to me, I thought that he was a type of art style, much like fauvism and impressionism. When I was greater acquainted with his work, I realised that he was, in his own way, and to me.

Salvador Dali, "The Persistence of Memory"

When I chose to do art as a subject, I was afraid that I had made a mistake. My dad had wanted me to do accounting instead, and my marks for art were not proving that I had made the better choice. Then my teacher gave us an assignment: to do an ink drawing based on a collage of pictures. I had loved the elements of Surrealism in writing at the time and figured that it would be a good style choice for my art as well. I combined images from different Dali paintings, along with other images from paintings ('The Scream', 'The Escalator' and gollum)  and some of my own created images (the robot-headed butterflies and the cage shadowed with the words 'dream' and 'taciturn'). [Note, none of it was traced or stuck on - it was all drawn free-hand]. I added some lyrics (Metallica - Nothing Else Matters and Dave Matthews Band - The Space Between). I received 100% for the art piece...

It's a really bad photo of it.

Dali's drawing that first inspired my Surreal ink drawing

In Matric, during my final art practical exam, I hit that artist's wall. It was a piece on death inspired by one of my class-time-walk-a-bouts to the library. A friend and I went through dozens of books on World War 2, fascinated by the brutality portrayed in the photos. So I photocopied them and glued it all to my Masonite board and shadowed it with a thin layer of white paint. That was when I reached a creativity block. I disappeared to the library once more and stumbled upon Dali. Since then, he has always been my greatest source of inspiration; whenever I feel like I am at a dead end, his work reminds me that there are no limitations to one's mind. My piece of art was later displayed at the KZN Matric Art Exhibition.

A bit more than two years later, on my tour around London, I stumbled upon his museum. As I walked in, I felt like crying. I remember experiencing an inability to breathe yet a need to scream at the same time. I wanted to share my findings with the world, but knew that no one would ever really understand. At the time, I was going through my own rough patches and, once more, he reminded me how to take the next step forward. On going back to campus, I changed my degree in set forth in my new direction.

"Mistakes are almost always of a sacred nature. Never try to correct them. On the contrary: rationalize them, understand them thoroughly. After that, it will be possible for you to sublimate them." Salvador Dali
To be honest, I know very little about Dali's life. You can read about him on the Internet, and at some point in my past I had read up on him but have forgotten everything other than the fact that his work as been a reoccurring source of inspiration for me. Because of him, I have surprised myself. So, maybe tomorrow will bring good news. If it doesn't, it will only serve as a step towards my true calling. Failing doesn't make me unsuccessful. The trick to success is to stay inspired, even when everything is crumbling around you. So tomorrow will just be another day that I continue Waiting for Dali... 
"The thermometer of success is merely the jealousy of the malcontents". Salvador Dali
Salvador Dali, "Metamorphosis of Narcissus"

Friday, May 7, 2010

The Secret

I used to think that the concept of The Secret was common knowledge, spun into something bigger than what it was in order to make money. It's the capitalist way. No one really cares about you; they only care about increasing their profit. I dubbed it The Gossip, because that is how it spread.

Person to person: "Hey have you heard about the book/dvd/concept The Secret? No! You have to read it, it will change your life!!"

It rolled like a snowball, getting bigger and more powerful... When it finally reached me, I spent a day on it and then tossed it aside. Positive thinking! Wow revolutionary! This is really going to change my life.

Today, in my desperation, I turn back to it. It states that there are three steps to follow in order to use The Secret:

Step 1: Ask
You have to know what you want, and when you do, just ask... once is enough.

Step 2: Believe
You must believe that what you want is yours the moment that you ask for it. Believe in the unseen. Live your life as if you already have what you want.

Step 3: Receive
Feel good: as if you are about to recieve it. "When you feel as though you have it now, and the feeling is so real that it is like you have it already, you are believing that you have received and you will receive."

It's that simple.

That is my inspiration for today: believing that what I want will come true. At this moment in time, believing involves the letting go of many things in my life... detaching... I've been questioning the repercussions of such a bold action... but questioning inplies a lack of belief. So, here goes nothing!

In the dark, for a while now
I can't stay very far
I can't stay much longer
Riding my decision home

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Letting Go

I decided to add a song to each blog post; one that is in my head or that compliments the mood of the post. Today's song: All the Way Down - Glen Hansard

I have been browsing through some old papers and realised (as I have done many times before) that life has left me jaded - I used to be passionate about everything and anything. I remember going to Europe and London with my aunt and uncle and annoying them with my overwhelming curiosity.

You have broken me all the way down
Down upon my knees
And you have broken me all the way now
You'll be the last you see

Life changes you. When things don't pan out as you wish they had repeatedly, you build a shield to protect yourself from getting hurt.

When I first started working (mind you, it was a minimum wage job in a clothing and accessory factory store), I was psycho obsessed. I would be excited to wake up every morning and be ready an hour before work. I never took lunch breaks, and I was usually the last person to leave. I worked fast, I worked hard, and when there was nothing to do, I found something. For example, the entire back wall of the store had cubicles in which jeans were folded and arranged in size, style and brand. Each cubicle held an average of ten pairs of jeans, but most of the cubicles were empty. So I went to the manager and asked him if I could do an entire clean up of the jeans. He told me I was crazy and that he didn't have enough staff to waste time on replenishing jeans. I went ahead with it, shifting jeans that were already on the store floor and bringing down stock from the store room. It took me a week, but in the end I had brought down over 300 pairs of jeans, had them size tagged, folded them and arranged them into cubicles according to size, style and brand. I admit, I did not do it all on my own, but most of the time, it had just been me. In the end, I felt as if I had achieved the greatest thing ever, and that made me happy. No one else cared. However, I did.

Forward three years, I had moved to the cash desk to work as a cashier. I started of as the fastest cashier and the few times that I had made a mistake, I would go home and torture myself over it, trying to work out how I could have made such an error. No one liked me except the managers and the casual staff who didn't really care much about the job. None of it mattered. Then, I started campus and was only worked weekends. The store was quiet, there was nothing to do and I was tired of hearing other staff members constantly complain of their lives. The spark within me had died. I had lost the motivation to do more than what was required of me.

Passion fades. When I was a kid, my uncle told me that passion is like taking the first sip of passion fruit juice and swirling it around your mouth. Allowing each taste to tease your taste buds; feeling the pips crush under your teeth; and pausing after you swallow to acknowledge the lingering after taste. Passion, in his eyes, was something worth savouring.

Another area in which I had recently given it my all is love. I loved this guy completely for years. I went all in; given him every piece of me. My entire campus life revolved around him; not that I had stalked him, but I had arranged my life around him. I walked out of an examination once without completing it because I had seen him walk out and I had wanted to chat to him. I once changed my timetable so that we could be in a lecture together (ironically, it was that lecture that allowed us to become friends). When he spoke to me, I was insanely happy; and when I didn't see him, I felt like I wasn't complete.

When the friendship failed catastrophically, I felt as if I had failed. As if I was defected and inadequate. I blamed myself - which only augmented him into something more perfect. The spark within me that let me love everyone and everything had faded. I would even get annoyed with my pets and friends, yearning to be alone in my misery. My talents became mediocre. My life seemed worthless. The passion had faded.

Passion may fade, but passion may never die. We become afraid of failure and we prevent ourselves from getting hurt. Our safety mechanism is to hold back; to stop caring; and to self-indulge in our own pity.

Today's inspiration: rekindling passion.

Last night, I stared at my computer screen, trying to complete preliminary tasks for this job that I had applied for. The tasks were mindless, and I barely understood what I had to do (maybe I was just complicating something simple). I ended up not completing it after coming up with a list of reasons for why this job was not suitable to my needs and capabilities.

It made me think about campus, about school, about work. For some reason, I don't remember ever giving 100% of myself to learning. I remember not doing homework since I was in grade 3. I always left studying for examinations for the last moment. It was not because I was lazy or uninterested... but because I was scared.

The thing is, when we don't put in everything that we are into something and we fail, we can always say that it was because we had not tried our best. When we do push ourselves to our greatest potential and we fail, our entirety fails. There's nothing to blame but ourselves.

There is no point to life if we don't live life to the fullest. There is no point in doing things halfway and letting them slide as if we never cared. I believe  that if we want something, we should do everything that we can to get it, regardless of how many times we fail. I apply this philosophy to relationships (family, friends) as well. If you care about someone and things go wrong, you should to everything that you can to fix it (however, within limits). 
Life is short. We need to learn how to let go of all the pain and fear that hinders us from living passionately. When you learn how to let go, you will learn how to live. Nothing will be able to put out the passion within you.

Life is beautiful. Don't let it slip away. Deactivate your protective shields and allow yourself to feel, to savour every aspect of life, be it pain or love or happiness.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own

And it's you when I look in the mirror
And it's you when I don't pick up the phone
Sometimes you can't make it on your own

Yesterday I dreamt about my deceased uncle. There was supposedly a wedding and I was dressed incorrectly in black. I went to my room to change and there he was, sitting in a corner, shining my bedside light at me.

They say that dreaming about a wedding symbolises a death of some sort. And there was. Somewhere around midday my grandmother phones to ask my mother to take her to a funeral. A distant relative of mine had passed away, one that I had never met and, since I avoid funerals, one that I will never see.

The day before yesterday, my mother was telling me about a pedestrian who was killed by a taxi that swerved onto the pavement. That pedestrian was an old Indian lady... that old Indian lady was my distant relative.

Today's inspiration: the randomness of life.

In my current unemployed position, I often think about where I would be if I had done things differently. For example, what if I had gone to an advertising school instead of university? I may have a job now. But then I think about all my friends; the people that I would never had met; the things that I would never have done or seen; and the experiences that I would never experience. I would be different person...

I have two regrets in my life, and both involve the death of people that I have loved. Other than that, every idiotic thing that I have done has led me through specific alleys and avenues that have made me who I am today. As much as I am not perfect, I love who I am... well, on most days... Even the people who have made swift appearances in my life have played a role in getting me where I am today. Whether they screwed me over, whether they drifted away, whether they stayed and helped me out or whether they didn't... I am a product of every tiny moment that has occured in the last 23 years.

Life is random. We often focus on the negative things that happen to us and waste time wishing that we could go back in time and change it all instead of seeing the positive change, the things that we had learnt from the experience that the ways that that new knowledge could help us in the future.

Life makes us who we are, and life should inspire us to be the fullest possible selves that we can be. Even when times are tough and we have little hope that things will get better... Who knows, someone may randomly appear to lend a hand and pull you out... or somewhere you may see a light...

Monday, May 3, 2010

You can see my heart beating...

And you can see my heart beating
You can see it through my chest
Said I'm terrified but I'm not leaving,
I know that I must pass this test
So just pull the trigger..... BAM!
Rihanna - Russian Roulette

Today feels like a day of disappointment. Not all around, but in the area that I was most hopeful. I woke up this morning thinking that today would be the day that I get a job, or at least an interview. I woke up feeling like something would happen today that would move me into the right direction, that will take me one step forward... Nothing.

However, I did have an awesome day with one of my best friends. We went to see Iron Man 2 which, while entertaining, was not amazing. Robert Downey Jnr, however, plays the role of the fast-talking, quirky 'genius' (Iron Man, Sherlock Holmes, Ally MacBeal, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang...) to perfection. It's a character that I love and seek in the non-fictional men in my life but have never quite found.So, for now, I'll just have to crush on the brilliant actor that is Robert Downey Jnr... Or rather, the character that he plays so well.

The character however, is often a jerk who has some lovable qualities. For example, in Iron Man 2 Tony Stark is the quintessential self-absorbed, arrogant jerk who just does whatever he wants to, whenever he wants to... Noone else really matters.

Which leads me to the question: Am I one of those women who always falls for the 'bad' guy?

No. However, I do hate... and I mean HATE... nice guys. Nice guys are spineless, and while they may appear to be perfect, they are all but. For one, nice guys don't know how the draw the line between being nice and being annoying. They don't know how to assert themselves. They obey every command until one day they either have an explosive outburst, they disappear or they retreat into their little cave and hide. Nice guys are really just annoying guys... or players trying to get into your pants.

I've got screwed over by more of  those token nice guys (that is smart, caring and awkward... with an almost good sense of humour) than bad guys.

Without getting into that tragic tales, let's consider the 'bad' guys.

This morning I received an email from a man I used to work with; every single staff member considered him to be a player, a snake and a man not to be trusted. I myself fell for the vicious rumours. One day, while stuck in an elevator, he kissed me. I being the virgin and somewhat saint of the store, did what a player would normally do: I pretended that nothing happened, and that it meant nothing. The next morning, he came up to me and jokingly said, "Why didn't you call me? I was staring at my phone the entire night, waiting for you to call." I thought he was simply mocking how women generally react to such a situation but I simply smiled and walked away. In his email, he told me that he hadn't been joking that morning; he was testing the waters, afraid that I would reject him... And I did, but only because I thought that he was someone he wasn't.

Like seriously, can men get any more confusing.

When the bad guys turn good...

photo from http://gremlindog.com/
Even Darth Vader had a good side that made us all like and feel sorry for him.

It is this notion that often leads women to hang onto men who treat them like krap, in the belief that the man would eventually 'change'. They believe that bad guys are essentially nice guys pretending to be tough so that they cannot get hurt. Which is true in some cases... like men who pretend to be overly confident when they are really extremely insecure; men who actually lie about themselves because they feel that inadequate. Men seem to easily juxtapose contradictory characteristics as if it were normal and then blame women for overanalysing things when they merely try to work out WTF is going on with their man.

Men are the complicated ones. Women talk. They reveal who they are and what they want at the very beginning. Men pretend or disappear into their caves without a word. In the end, men are men. They are neither nice nor bad because they are generally both at the same time!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Dancing with Myself

I work up this morning with Dancing with Myself by Billy Idol in my head after spending a week singing Take it All - Marion Cotillard. I hadn't slept last night because I was suddenly overwhelmed with the inspiration that I had so desperately been searching for in the last year and a half. It flooded me, until my thoughts were buzzing at such a high speed that nothing made sense anymore. Additionally it was 5am,  and at 5am, ideas fade into a lesser brilliance.

I wanted to write again. And all it took was one word, "Yip".

Of course the story surrounding that one word that blasted the obstructive 'spanner' from my brain's idea making machine is one of self-sabotage, delusion and denial and is not important. But the result has left me dancingly happy, fill of hope and free.

One word was all it took to fight off the sumo wrestler that had been sitting on my shoulders for the last year. One word made me wake up to an over-enthusiastic puppy (actually a frisky 14 year old dog) and not want to lock her in some room so that I could have space. One word had me jumping out of bed after less than two hours of sleep and feel like dancing.

Scruffy, my 14-year-old puppy started
dancing with me!
And I danced, to Dancing With Myself, with the over-enthusiastic puppy joining in for some much needed attention. And I watched her, and I laughed from the pits of my stomach as she wriggled on the floor like a break dancer and then moved towards me on her two hind legs. She was moving too fast for me to take a clear photo, but as I tried repeatedly, I realised that I was living in the moment. Appreciating the tiny things in life. All the bigger issues that have plagued me over the last few months had ceased to exist.

That is happiness.

Sometimes we get so caught up in our misery that we begin to feed it so that it grows to engulf us. We become so lost in misery that even if we adjust our perspective to face the sun, the joy it brings is shortlived.

And yesterday, the word "Yip" blasted away that misery in the same way George Clooney's character, Lyn, in Men Who Stare at Goats burst the cloud in the sky. Hopefully, this is all I needed. Hopefully this happiness will remain.

Yesterday I disgruntledly began this blog after a woman told me that the only way to write was  to write. I didn't know what to write about; I thought of a million reasons why I should not write. Today, it seems less daunting. The woman told me that I should commit to writing one piece every day for a year. Being the commitment phobe that I am, writing every day for a year seems impossible. So I will attempt writing every day for a month... about things that inspire me in some way or the other.

All stretched out, cats really do have the life
Today, it is the small things that fuel inspiration. My dog eager to get some attention. the word 'Yip', the awkward position that I found my cat sleeping in and the song that I woke up to... Today it's the little things that make me happy....