They say home is where the heart is. Given how absent most of us are, would that make us homeless? My heart always tends to yearn for something more than it has. A moment in time, an emotional connection, or a place with a specific ambiance and scent. Whenever I get nostalgic, those are typically the scenes or memories that stir my emotions. An unexpected scent or an old tune from days long gone and often forgotten, until the nostalgic bug bites.

In a previous post on nostalgia I was reminded of the influence and exclusion that my younger years had on shaping me into the troubled adult that I am today. We’re all troubled, but only some of us are bold enough to embrace it. It’s the troubled souls, the restless ones, the ones that hold a firm conviction that it can always be better, they are the ones that drive this world forward while the complacent remain pacified with what is, because it can always be worse. It’s odd though that in contemplating both what could be better or worse, we lose sight of what is. I think it’s then that home becomes elusive.

Too often I’ve noticed how many around me judge themselves harshly for a moment in time when they wish they had done things differently. I used to do the same until I realised the awkward truth of such futility. It reminds me of the prophetic tradition that says that whatever came to pass would not have been avoided, and whatever was avoided would not have occurred in the first place. Quite simply, the wisdom behind this confirms that if I were to relive a moment of my life, the reality of that moment would dictate that I would not have known better, I would have felt the same emotions I did given the way my life experiences shaped me up to that point, and I would have made the same decision given the knowledge or insight I had at the time. The sum total of variables influencing that moment would always result in that moment concluding in exactly the same way.

This prompts me to wonder why it is that we judge ourselves so harshly about a moment that is long gone, as if what we know now could have been applied then? As odd as it may seem, our egos play amazing tricks on us. The only reason I can imagine this being a necessity, if in fact it ever could be a necessity, is if we desire for the perception we created of ourselves in that moment to be changed to one we would have preferred instead. We judge ourselves harshly sometimes because we need to believe that we deserve nothing less in our present moment which makes failure that much more bearable, while at other times we do so because the sense of bitter remorse convinces us that we’re still human and not totally insensitive or impervious to the pain and suffering we may have imposed on others. However, even that has an egotistical side to it. I think subconsciously we feed our egos when we convince ourselves that we are or were capable of imposing such damage on others. It makes us more powerful. It makes us more significant.

Who would have thought that arrogance could be reflected in failure? It’s the same arrogance that robs us of home. That place that makes us feel composed, significant, or at the least, at ease. If home is truly where the heart is, why is it that our hearts are rarely where we’re at, but is always yearning for a place, a moment, or a space that is not available to us at that point? The moment we accept that we’re home, we have that much more to lose. The stress of losing it prompts us to protect ourselves preemptively from the loss so that we don’t appear vulnerable to those around us. The more we trust them, the less likely we are to feel threatened by such vulnerability. The less we trust, the more defenses we need to keep the facade of aloofness and composure in place.

Home, for me, has never been about a moment in time, or a place. It sometimes hinted as a connection with others, but never fully landed me in that space. Home, as elusive as it remains, is always closer to my present state than it is to my present location. The comfort I have in what I stand for, and how I subscribe to those beliefs in the face of opposition is what leaves me feeling at ease, or at odds. Nostalgia wreaks havoc with my mind when I lose sight of this. It tugs at my heart strings prompting me to want to recreate a moment in time that by definition is impossible to recreate, and in so doing, leaves me chasing dreams and fantasies while remaining oblivious to the gift of what is now.

There is no shortage of memes or chewing gum wisdom about the gift of time and the gift of the present moment. Everyone is so busy recognising the importance of the present moment that most don’t live it. They’re still focusing on recognising it. It’s ironic that we lose most of life to reminiscing about it instead of creating new memories. Even more ironic is the fact that we often end up reminiscing about times when the gang was together and reminiscing about times when the gang was creating memories that were worth reminiscing about. (That actually is not a typo. Read it again if it doesn’t seem sensible.)

Right there is how we lose the plot, and eventually lose our way home. Home is not a defined place. It’s the composure we feel about the space we’re in, coupled with the experiences it gave us, and the emotional growth or grounding that that offered. It’s sad that so many people spend their lives trying to recreate something they experienced at some point in the distant past. For some it’s a relationship, for others it’s a childhood memory. The only common thing between the two scenarios is that in both instances those memories were created while we weren’t focused on creating memories. Those moments formed while we were living, and not contemplating the beauty of a life that may be lived.

For me, the idea of being home will never be fully formed in this lifetime. In fact, striving for such a fully formed experience suggests a finite end to a life that could easily extend beyond that. Suppose we actually achieve that space called home. What then? Do we stop living and start savouring? If we decide to pursue any goals beyond that point does it imply that it was not home to begin with, or does it mean we’re abandoning our home?

Life is not finite, except when death arrives. Why then do we place so many finite constraints on it while trying to live it? Home is not where the heart is. Home is where my mind and body are at ease with the present moment. Where the past doesn’t feature, but only informs, and the future is still a jewel worth courting. If any of those cease to be true before I die, I would truly be homeless and spent, and worse than this, I will be a liability to those around me, and not a blessing. I pray that I never succumb to such futility or impotence.

Reverse Engineering Life (Take II)

The previous post feels like I over complicated a really simple concept, so here’s my second attempt at clarifying it.

It’s really as simple as this. If you wish to understand someone, look behind their eyes, or their actions, and embrace the vulnerability that is required to see in them what you know to be true of yourself. If you see them angry, remember when you were angry in a similar context in your own life. Then seek to understand yourself in that moment, so that you can establish a basis on which to understand them, or at the least, attempt to.

When we take this approach we benefit in two ways. Firstly, we stand a better chance of understanding them and therefore being able to meaningfully engage with them. Secondly, it allows you to benefit others from the struggles of your life, instead of just feeling as if it was a personal growth cycle and nothing more.

If life is really too short to make all your own mistakes, and I believe this to be true, then the only way to live more than you otherwise would have would be to avoid pitfalls by learning from others. But that has to be reciprocal in a healthy society. So the more you hold on to the insecurity of others seeing your flaws and using it as a basis to judge you poorly, the less likely it is that you’ll be able to either learn from them, or allow them to grow from your experiences. Why would it prevent you from learning from them? Simple, the more you protect yourself from being discovered as a whole person with warts and all, the more you’re inclined to believe that your personal struggles are so unique that no one could possibly understand them.

So the more you allow yourself to open up, the more you’ll realise that in opening up, you actually solicit sources of wisdom that benefit you, rather than weaken you. You’ll also reveal a side of your humanness that will attract the compassionate and tender-hearted ones that you most likely wish to embrace in your personal space. But none of it is possible if you keep everyone at arm’s length because of the mistaken belief that your weaknesses are not shared by others.

We’re all so great at putting up facades that we’ve even convinced ourselves that no one else has them. Like I’ve always said, your assumptions about others are a true reflection of yourself, rather than them. However, such a reflection is inversely proportional to the reality of your self-image. So chances are that those that judge themselves to be weak assume that others are stronger, while those that embrace their weakness, see others as equally flawed, but not necessarily weak. I guess this is one time when the mirror cannot be trusted, because the eyes always filter what the heart needs to feel. Unless we stop to test the assumptions that the eyes make, our hearts will always be nourished by a tainted diet of reality.

Every heart sings a song, incomplete, until another heart whispers back. Those who wish to sing always find a song. At the touch of a lover, everyone becomes a poet.

Plato (via misanthropyaddict)

To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket- safe, dark, motionless, airless—it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable.


 C.S. Lewis quotes (British Scholar and Novelist. 1898-1963)

Even the most cherished heart, if left without a home, will die of exposure.

Cynically Jaded

Suicide of a Romantic

What is it that stops us from affirming others while they’re alive, as opposed to waiting for their demise before singing their praises? Perhaps we’re afraid of being held accountable for our kind thoughts which denies us that ever convenient exit of ‘I knew it’ or ‘I told you so’ or ‘I should’ve known better’? Or maybe we lack the belief in our own virtues and would rather not have people peering so closely that they may see in us what we despise about ourselves?

Maybe it’s just that we’re so afraid of being hurt, that we’ll do anything to prevent others from getting too close, so that we don’t ever give them a view of how much they mean to us? That would give them far too much power to hurt or manipulate us. So instead, we create our defenses and do it so well that we end up believing that how we present ourselves to others is all we have to offer.

Heaven forbid we should live a romantic life. It is possible you know. To live a romantic life and still remain functional and practical about all life’s challenges. But it’s easier to fit in with the jaded crowds than to be true to ourselves, because the risk of failure is too great a source for potential embarrassment. POTENTIAL embarrassment. But the reality of the joy that we’ll experience if we lived romantically now will forever escape us because of our fear of embracing what we desire, lest it be stripped away from us in an untimely fashion.

So we set ourselves up for heartache and failure, all the while pretending to be comforted by our superficial success in worldly endeavours, ensuring that not another living soul will ever see the romantic fool in us for fear of being mocked or ridiculed for that which is closest to our hearts. So fear drives us to suppress the romance, and embellish the facade so that it becomes the reality of our existence, when in fact it’s the reality of our deception. Sad, isn’t it?