Reminiscence and the 90’s – A Wallflower’s Way of Recalling the Greatest Decade in History

Reminiscence

/rɛmɪˈnɪs(ə)ns/

A narrative recall of events now past, that welcomes an indulgence into dreams, desires and days that once was. An enjoyable recollection of the tangible aesthetic of a moment captured in memory. A vivid reflection to the time elapsed in reading the world when it told a different tale.

There are a few facts that I have come to accept about myself…

Granted, calling anything a fact these days is basically akin to inviting a firing squad to pepper you with scrutiny. I gather though, that it is safe to assume that any insights you collect that pertains to the structure of your own personality can safely be labelled a fact – especially if you have spent more than a decade to put the validity of your self-knowledge to the test. I learned once, in developmental psychology, that you are considered an expert in a craft or field if you have spent roughly ten years engaged with the knowledge that underpins it. Well then, I guess at 27 one can at least confidently assume that you can consider yourself quite proficient in navigating your own idiosyncrasies.

What are these facts then? Well, they are the integral parts of the gestalt of deeming myself a wallflower. First, I am an introvert. Quite simply put, it means that I find energy from spending time alone as opposed to being charged by social engagement. Secondly, I am an HSP (a highly sensitive person). Closely related to introversion, but not to be used interchangeably, it means that I am one of roughly one fifth of individuals with a sensitive attunement to the world and that I become more stimulated by vicarious thoughts, feelings and overall experiences. Largely, this is because of a deeper level of processing. Thirdly, I am an idealist. Basically this means I am a dreamer: someone who gets hopelessly lost in the nuances of possibilities, creativity and imagination. As a fourth fact, I am a thinker. Whereas the previous facts may have alluded to this notion, it at best conveyed that I spend time by myself thinking, engaging in the hobby actively to make sense of what I experience – and that this thinking can become imaginative. But being a thinker actually implies that there is a joy found in the very thinking to be done.

So that makes me your average hybrid wallflower composed of recluse Van Gogh, nuanced Emily Dickinson, Shakespearen dreams, and Socratic pondering. They all break bread together 5 minutes before midnight keeping me awake a tad longer, and contemplate the poetic script that will paint my dreamscapes.

Nontheless, they shape my perception of the world, and leave a vivid memory in its wake.

This brings me to the fifth little fact that also boldly leaves its mark on my narrative. Sometimes, when I lay awake to wait for the supper of the greats to retire from the executive parts of my mind back to my unconscious, another uninvited (though always welcome) guest joins the gathering. It is the part of me that is undeniably what I would deem to be: a reminiscer.

And without it, the fabric of being a wallflower just would not appear to be cut from a different cloth…

On the Topic of Reminiscence

Now if you dabble in a bit of psychology, a little light reading in the field of gerontology (a study of old age and the challenges and developments that surround it) will reveal a great interest that has been evident in studying reminiscence since the ideas of a life review in old age was posited by Robert Butler back in 1963. P. T. P. Wong and L. Watt furthered this quaint investigation by seeking to establish the types of reminiscence that is seen in successful ageing.

  • Instrumental reminiscence looks at the past as a goal-directed continuity that strecthes into the present and holds answers to competent problem-solving.
  • Transmissive reminiscence (also a storytelling reminiscence) seems to harbour value in tapping into the cultural and traditional wisdoms of the past to inform the future.
  • Escapist reminiscence discredits the present to elevate the desire for the past and its exagerated value. It is also referred to as a defensive reminiscence to implicate its qualities in helping the indivual cope with present difficulties by applauding the past.
  • Obsessive reminiscence encompasses the intense rumination over the past in which one is preoccupied with thoughts of guilt and feelings of being unsatisfied.
  • Narrative reminiscence (also called informative reminiscence) presents itself as a simple recounting of the past to relate facts within the present, seeking to simply describe history instead of interpreting it.
  • Integrative reminiscence seeks the reconciliation of past events to yield a meaningful and coherent value to the present; it integrates and deeply interprets the spectrum of such events (good or bad) and ties it to an enduring personal process of finding purpose.

I believe that any proud reminiscer can count themselves lucky. The past, and history (to be more encompassing), is a grand scheme from which to make sense of, guide, and even predict present and future behaviour.

  • It holds an accountability over the problems that humanity has faced and most often created, and in so doing presents a framework of solutions (instrumental reminiscence).
  • It is a source from which to access proud traditions that allows you to take root in your cultural identity (transmissive reminiscence).
  • It offers a coping mechanism in the way it archives the pleasant memories of a time that may be in contrast to the present difficulties we face (escapist reminiscence).
  • It holds the key to tapping into the fount of our present guilt, shame or even trauma which likely shows us the need for healing – because it preoccupies us so (obsessive reminiscence).
  • It records humanity in all its detail, allowing us the ability to reconstruct key phases in our development (narrative reminiscence)
  • It helps us find meaning in a past rife with hidden wisdoms – insights that we seek to make part of our own compelling narrative (integrative reminiscence).

The Value of Reminiscence

Now, it all depends on your perspective as to the stance you would take on this matter. Many goal-directed individuals relentlessly busy themselves with the future, and surely have little use in looking back to old ways of thinking, feeling or even behaving. There is no use in applauding old achievements when new ones are to be made. Yet, these same individuals create an amalgamation of anxiety-inducing schedules and deadlines that siphon the joys they may have once held for their trade.

In comparison, those who dwell in past thoughts find great inspiration and encouragement for their present challenges, and even feel a fleeting joy at the longing they feel back to a time that may have seemed more prosperous. History is after all the custodian of all that is human. But these are the same individuals that often wallow in depressive pits because of their yearning to return to the way things were; doubting that they will ever relive those golden moments.

Whatever way you look at it, it feeds into the dichotomy of the feelings that reminiscence inspire (or that drive it in the first place). And perhaps I have lived on both ends of this dichotomy as I reflect back on a time when I felt all was well within my own soul, as it was in the world. Let me take you back into the nostalgic realm of the 90’s…

The Decade of Liberty

Yuval Noah Harari put forth a riveting statement in the first chapter of his book 21 Lessons for the 21st Century.

By the early 1990’s, thinkers and politicians alike hailed “the End of History”, confidently asserting that all the big political and economic questions of the past had been settled, and that the refurbished liberal package of democracy, human rights, free markets and government welfare services remained the only game in town. This package seemed destined to spread around the whole world, overcome all obstacles, erase all national borders and turn humankind into one free global community.

Yuval Noah Harari, 21 Lessons from the 21st Century, Page 11

Now sure enough, in the now tumultuous economic, ecological and socio-political climates that affect our time before the turn of another decade, it does indeed seem that the nostalgic 90’s held a large collection of pipe dreams. And it may well have been seen differently depending on where you were situated. Contextually, not all countries were feeling the momentum of development all at once. But in the wake of those developments that had a global impact, things were indeed coming along. America was a global superpower that managed to end its armed conflicts either diplomatically or without any escalation. In fact, the Clinton administration seemed more focussed on negotiating resolutions rather than fuelling disputes. It was not so much that wars never took place, but they did seem to end – such as the 1991 Gulf War in Iraq or the Black Hawk Down incident which saw the military returning home from Somalia before anyone knew it even became violent. Even the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 seemed to herald the dreams of liberation that could be held in the years to come.

Back in my homeland, South Africa’s political arena was also being cleaned up. The horrors of the Apartheid era gave its final sputtering breath, paving an open road which could be tread by new ideals of freedom and equality. The democratic era welcomed the inclusiveness of the collected strength of a rainbow nation, it celebrated the beauty of diversity, and allowed reconciliation, forgiveness and the building of a new generation that would move beyond the mistakes of the past. And heading this ideal was an icon of tolerenace, forgiveness and leadership in the immortal likes of Nelson Mandela.

Markets surged, the economy boomed, and the job market held enough opportunity to actually see rates of unemployment drop. World peace seemed to steadily ensue as years of conflict between groups of people dwindled away to allow a consideration of more peaceful alternatives. Technology was seeing an unprecedented growth that involved a steady shift in how people were living their lives and spending their free time. Household computers became mainstream by the end of the decade; the internet brought the world into a vast matrix of information and connectivity; and even fields such as film and music started revolutionizing entertainment. Then there was the achievements of science, such as with the launch of the Hubble Space telescope; till this day, it proves itself vital as an astronomical boon and research tool while in low Earth orbit. Institutional dimensions were not only building vertically toward their high-end goals of success and actualisation, but expanding horizontally to become more diverse.

An enduring message seemed to be echoed in the 90’s: a recurrent theme that was shaped by the outcomes of national and international strides toward liberty, democracy, development and creativity. Hope.

Tap into a bit of Eriksonian theory on psycho-social development, and hope is regarded as the enduring virtue in resolving the crisis of developing a basic trust over a mistrust of the world and one’s surroundings. In other words, the world could be seen as a safe and reliable space that provided consistently and met needs responsively.

Being a kid born in the midst of such soaring ideals and mindsets truly set the trajectory for the way I perceived the world. Vibrant messages of such hope valiantly prevailed over a past that people wanted to forget – a past that most had the luxury of remaining blissfully ignorant of, because the world was changing. So in effect, we didn’t need to be reminded of it just yet. History was a heretics harlem that one could now look back onto as a mere phase that finally seemed passed. And whatever the future held appeared nothing less than positive. If mindful engagement had become a coping trend in westernized contexts in recent years, then people were already doing it unawares in the 90’s. Everyone just seemed hyped and ready for the changes that were happening, and likely to happen. And most people were just enjoying it!

The testament of my 90’s childhood fell nothing short of the expectations that the decade allowed people to entertain. I remember being a fairly carefree kid in blue jeans and sneakers who expertly crafted pretend play to a legendary level. The hope infusing 90’s gave birth to the immortalised legacy of pop culture icons like the Power Rangers – a handful of unorthodox protagonists who were nothing more than a bunch of teens who accidentally stumbled upon the monumental task of safeguarding the planet. It reignited the hero genre for every bright eyed kid who just imagined morphing into a brave maverick to turn the tide against imaginary foes. Anyone could become a superhero, regardless of your playground reputation. Kids entertainment like this inspired a whole generation of millenials to be more confident than they actually probably were. Imaginary foes symbolised playground bullies. Super-selves were embodiments of the confidence that every kid had buried deep within himself. And that stick that had become a power sword during symbolic battles in the garden (at least until suppertime), became the pipedream of millenial young adults in the 21st century who kept on pursuing the fantasy that they could become anything they set their minds to…

The 90’s also saw the construction of the grandest scheme that could ever be given to the shape of any childhood with the Disney Renaissance. If the end of the 80’s signified this shift in giving a mermaid a voice, the 90’s burned a path of success in its wake in making a bookworm yearn for adventure in the great wide somewhere; allowing a street rat to discover his inner worth; reminding a king of who he was and what his destinty held; making two people from different worlds paint with the same colours of the wind; seeing a hero go the distance; or inspiring a girl to follow the duties of her heart. The Broadway- like musical stylings that remarried traditional animation created some of the greatest masterpieces in film and entertainment that would forever change the way fairytales were being told. It captivated all audiences with its expressive characters, its self-empowering songs, its heartfelt tragedies, and its relatable struggles that mirrored a spectrum of human battles that people were facing. And still it allowed the hero-complex to surge through its plot line to eventually skyrocket to a happy ending and a set of persevering life lessons in all its colour and song. It was these lessons that kids picked up on in all their 90’s driven, hope-fuelled idealism; and a happiness that people (me included) still recapture in quiet nostalgia with stay-in movie nights and the creation of restorative happy niches.

Fads blazed through childhood in a thousand different toys, collectibles, games or pastimes, making regular hobbyists out of a generation who would grow up to expand the field of work with their diverse interests. All manner of childhood stimulation was aimed at fun, innovation, marvel and imagination. Best of all: all these seemed to be progressively structured toward family involvement and engagement. There was more happiness to be created, greater bonds of love to be deepened… people were reigniting the inner flame of youth in all it’s excitable, laid-back and imaginative splendour.

And these same values fed back into a film industry that invested in glazed romances celebrating love in all it’s ridiculous, fantastical, and glorious themes.

Music echoed the applaud of this free and creative era, giving birth to genres that showed the diversity of culture, relevance, background, and artistic freedom. This was seen in anything from R&B, hip-hop, death metal and grunge. People were acclimatising and celebrating difference in unique, colourful and statement-driven ways. It left a firm and evergreen impression that would cascade right into the new millennium to witness even more individualised styles that have been shaping genre-blurring icons to overcome old labels and own their creeds.

Liberty Lost?

The ideals of the 90’s did not translate in it’s full integrity into the new millennium. Events such as 9/11 sparked the horror of terrorism and threatened the tenuous peace that had seemed likely to spread as the decade of prosperity unfurled. Failing models like capitalism had disastrous effects on different households and families as it made the economy fall into the recession. Trust seemed a feeble construct in a world that was likely to harm you – a world that now appeared unsafe as new armed conflicts erupted along with civil wars; as people were displaced from homes to become immigrants and refugees; as careers were blindsided by monetary disaster; or as hate groups flared to spark hysteria in sporadic skirmishes of violence… People became more cautious and prone to suspicion and less likely to open up to one in earnest regard. And with the advent of social media, interconnectivity and authentic bonds between people appeared to be dwindling even more. The timing could possibly not be more off with a rising ecological and climate crisis that begs for the joint cooperation of a world population more than ever. Ironically, it appears to direct its plea for help to a population that is left disheartened and disillusioned by the dawn of the 21st century.

On all accounts, the situation seems grim. The question then begs asking: does it serve our purposes to reflect back longingly to reach for the fading memory of the decade that seemed to hold so much promise? Coincidentally, I came across a compelling statement made on the account, Shower Thoughts, on Twitter. Being a platform known for its blunt dissemmination of thought-provoking content that can be anything on the spectrum of humorous to shocking, a statement was left that was worthy enough to give anyone pause.

Powerful stuff. And taking a more careful look at the inherent implication that effuses therefrom, one could deduce that human ignorance seems to indeed be the preferred default to blissful existence and contentment. The world would surely seem more peaceful if we were unawares of the more covert shifts in global affairs.

If we take the argument back to the views on reminiscence, then such longing seems escapist at its core. The favourable regard for the past over the present may well set loose a chain reaction of retrospective thoughts and intense preoccupation with the paradise decade. What was mere defensive reminiscence steadily grows into an obsessive sort with the added unsatisfaction of not having lived life when it was seemingly at it’s best. Many might share this very same incentive; those who have come to bear witness to the unfolding problems of the modern era.

The View of a Wallflower

Yet despondency cannot exist with such ease. I recall a quote. As a lover of fantasy novels, I have at times been confronted with the criticism of wasting time on the unrealistic nature of those books filled with marvel, mystery and magic. However, a lesson I have taken from life was that perspective-taking is an invaluable tool in trying to understand a contradicting world. Seeing things in a different light comes near effortlessly for the wallflower, who mulls with their observations on the daily. Naturally, I would find great affinity to works of fantasy that portray very human struggles within a completely fictional situation. In fact, every work of fantasy in its essence makes epics of those experiences of humanity that seems so mundane in its run-of-the-mill occurrence. With this change in context, comes a change of view in the way we would have seen these grappling issues otherwise. In essence, books in the fantasy genre seem to portray wisdom very imaginatively.

So, back to the quote…

In the Fellowship of the Ring, well into their journey, Frodo comments to the wizard Gandalf on the nature of their mission and the burden that rests on him as the ring bearer.

“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.

“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.”

The Fellowship of the Ring (The Lord of the Rings, #1) – J. R. R. Tolkien

Consequently, Tolkien fictionally portrayed this wisdom in a time of writing, since 1937 till roughly 1949, when the Second World War was uprooting the lives of countless people. At the same time, in a part of the world that sharply contrasted the setting of a scholar, Viktor Frankl was a prisoner in a Nazi concentration camp trying to survive the experiences that would inspire his writings for Man’s Seach for Meaning. Within his set of ideas, was proposed a similar notion of not having control over circumstances external to oneself, but control over one’s reactions.

Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.

Man’s Search for Meaning, Viktor Frankl

Both serve as priceless drops of wisdom; even today, as a drought of knowledgeable views appear to follow those contemporaries who are more likely to hold answer to alleviating the trepidations posed by the present problems of the world. And in the act of seeing this as wisdom, the reflection on these notions of the past could be classified as integrative reminiscence. Meaning is sought by finding the value of these past views in a presently unfolding life, essentially helping us to discover a purpose coherent with our own goals and aspirations. One might be as bold as to even say, although we do not wish to recreate the horrors of inhumane actions to inspire reflection, that we wish for more such moments of synchronised and momentary epiphany – where meaning is inherently found in the circumstances that are presented to us.

This means, that the past holds value. Instrumental reminiscence would then be evident in showing us that history has instances that ultimately mirror the present. Similar, but inverse in perspective. It can offer answers that may aid in solving the problem.

So, is there any real value in looking back on the 90’s as a great decade? Is it worth anything, that we even aim to long for it? A man named Clive Staples Lewis may hold the answer in his description of joy.

All Joy reminds. It is never a possession, always a desire for something longer ago or further away or still “about to be”.

C. S. Lewis

Understanding what Lewis meant here requires a deeper understanding of the shape of his life – a life which led him to define it the way he does. But in essence, he defines joy as something that lies in the act of longing itself. And any thing that inspires longing typically assumes that it was first experienced at one point or another. So by that account, the 90’s – as the source of desiring (in this case) – inspires joy (understood as the act of desiring). Taking it a step further: if we look at the ideals of the 90’s, and what it emulated, then what we desire is the peace and prosperity that seemed to run through its many dimensions. What we desire, therefore, is the hope that underpinned all that the 90’s promised in its progressive nature.

Ultimately, in that act of desiring hope, we experience joy. Hope must have indeed then be something that enlivened many during this time when so much happiness was going around.

What we should come to realise, is that an enduring value is attached to the 90’s by our yearning for its more simplistic milieu. The longing for hope evidenced that people still, two decades later, believed that it was not a frail enough construct to exist. It was real. It was even tangible. More importantly, it was possible. Hope was possible.

Perhaps the lesson to be learned from the 90’s is not a cautionary tale of idealism. To me at least, the message of hope seems to be a far more laudable lesson coming through in its confluence of feelings that it inspires through memory.

The Wayward Wisdom

History, in fact, is suffused in evidence of human adaptability that substantially fuels hope. Wars erupt as cold tensions finally thaw into fiery conflicts; yet, it burns itself out at great cost and leaves in its wake the ashes of deep regret – a regret which makes groups reconsider the shape of its diplomacy and openness to understanding. Perspectives narrow themselves to physical borders, egocentric group think, and cultural institutions. Curiosity counters such tendencies and drives humans to assume more labile points of view that transcends a mere foreclosure to tired ways of thinking. Logic, reason and pragmatism has proven to trump the limitations of emotional reactivity, effectively discounting our psychological authenticity by working according to schemas. However, unpredictability and creativity reminds us of this humanity, and how it is these differences in our chaotic natures that have made us truly progressive. Push and pull. Ebb and flow. The world has had its ways of restoring balance. If anything, the 90’s was a convergent point of all that the past attested to, finally offering a more global moment of reflection to how things can aspire to be. The 90’s was a balancing point.

And perhaps, this was more important than any of us ever realised. In his Nobel Prize acceptance speech in 1950, which recognised his inspiring writings at the height of the Atomic Age, William Faulkner made powerful statements in his lecture that echo its truths even now…

Our tragedy today is a general and universal physical fear so long sustained by now that we can even bear it…

…Because of this, the young man or woman writing today has forgotten the problems of the human heart in conflict with itself which alone can make good writing because only that is worth writing about, worth the agony and the sweat.

… He must learn them again. He must teach himself that the basest of all things is to be afraid; and, teaching himself that, forget it forever, leaving no room in his workshop for anything but the old verities and truths of the heart, the old universal truths lacking which any story is ephemeral and doomed – love and honor and pity and pride and compassion and sacrifice. Until he does so, he labors under a curse.

William Faulkner, Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech, 10 December 1950, Stockholm
Willaim Faulkner – Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech

The verities of the heart” … Faulkner calls to action the young minds of a generation to rekindle the connection with their innermost selves, and not look to their external world as the exclusive architect to their realities – should . Therefore, fear – even though valid – should be acknowledged to the extent to which it can finally be placed aside. This leaves open a mindful space of investing in the fundamental principles of belief that truly deserve our attention. It is a fair and beautiful statement of not only caution, but of hope; and it justifies perhaps our means of looking for these answers in an age when valued knowledge was more forthcoming.

The retelling of the 90’s is a move towards narrative reminiscence by regaling the shape of the decade. But in recalling its facts, we find that the acts of this reminscence becomes transmissive as well; once we discover that there is something to be taken from this time. In this sense then, reminiscence may also be instrumental. In the light of modern difficulties that have metastasized, then psychologically at least, there is a purpose in looking to the shared feelings that permeated the collective consciousness of societies in this period. The possibility of hope can be a galvanizing force that can work alongside the immediacy that appears to be required of us in modern times. Thus, by the very act of recognising hope as the recurrent theme throughout the decade, our past reflections have given us a likely solution.

Perhaps in remembering the 90’s, it may also be true that we seek an escape. But if what we escape to is in the act of reclaiming a lost virtue melded in the idylic patterns of the past, then its purpose for the sake of coping and resillience is priceless to say the least. Perhaps we may even obsess over the time lost to us in this decade with its unique feel, shape and energy that seems so impossible to recreate. But then again, this distraction posed by the decade may in fact tell us something about what we are facing right now… perhaps our yearning is rife with the clear message that what we are posed with currently is deprived of something fundamentally crucial to our capacity of acceptance.

If the 90’s taught us anything, it is that human conflict eventually paves its way to resolution. It taught us that we are in possession of an immense capability to restructure the faults of history to broaden and build on our perspective for the future. It showed us how the quality of hope shapes our views and memories, effectively transcending right into our deeper psychological structure. More importantly, it serves as a template from which to value the sixfold nature of reminiscence, proving that our reflective remembrances of the past can ricochet right into our process of meaning-making, mindful awareness, and act in the conserving the most frail, yet redeeming, parts of our character.

Reminiscence is much like a ship that tempers its hull against the tides of time, anchoring us in the harbour of preservation and by the docks of old wisdoms. We need only board it.

Love and light fellow bloomers.

The Art of Sensitivity as Told at 27 – The Birthday Blog

Sensitivity

/sɛnsɪˈtɪvɪti/

A quality of an increased receptiveness to one’s surroundings, heightening the intensity of sensory experience and moment-to-moment thought repertoires. It prescribes a finer finesse to the mindful reflection extended on the moulding of perceptions, and thus an increased vulnerability to the nuances that abound in abstract encounters.

The room felt alive with the sounds of the night. Beyond the sliding door the concerto of cricketsong melodiously intertwined with the rustle of trees that busied themselves in adjusting their crowns. The timbre of midnight musings gently caressed the ears, alongside the touch of the evening breeze that was chill to the touch. The moon cast its light from somewhere in the sky, diffusing softly between the bedroom drapes that was the only veil against the night. And steadily that pearly hue rolled over crisp white sheets, and refracted against his marble figure as he lay there silently on his back, with muscles rippling beneath skin that had been kissed by the sun on many a rising of day. But tonight he was bathed in silver, a sheen that hugged the curvature of pure physical power embodied in his form. And in that silence that seemed deafening in its serenity, was the deep and vibrant breathing that made the air around us shudder with the rise and fall of his chest.

I was in the nook of his embrace, with head resting where his shoulder met his arm, and I remember a distinct comfort in the warmth that radiated from his fingertips, from his caress, and from the gentleness of his hold that was betrayed only by his massive frame with clearly hidden Herculean strength. This magic seemed so completely untethered to reality in that private moment. And yet… nothing was private, with the night so intertwined in its enshrouding presence.

I remembered the safety I felt in that moment frozen in memory; that crystallised sense of security that was tangible on every physical level, but also a cushion to the feelings that were constantly roiling beneath the surface and demanding of my cognisance. Somehow he stilled that tempest, and he brought me to the eye of the storm. And yet, he was a mere visitor to my narrative. Forever a guest to my future reminiscence, and only someone who was passing through my life story. I knew it then, laying there next to him. I knew it even before I met him for a casual drink that night. But then, I had met few people I could trust with such reckless abandon of my reservations. I had met few men who wielded so much raw force to their spirit, yet were masters in taming that energy. I think, that night, I had met a sage. And god knows they were scarce out there.

As his fingers played through the strands of my hair, his deep whisper broke the silence that had settled momentarily between so many other drifting philosophies that had occupied our minds through that balmy night lost in the memories of late summer. “You are a very gentle soul. You have this tender spirit.” He looked at me slowly then, his grip tightening ever so softly. “There are two types of people you’ll meet: those who would cherish it, and seek to protect you, and those who would seek to misuse you for those qualities. You need to be very careful.”

It was a scene that joined many of my other vibrant recollections. There seemed to be so many; and I could not fathom how to be honest. ‘Life’ surely had an abundance of experiences awaiting me in its treasury. I was, after all, still in my 20’s: young, starry-eyed, naive, distracted, lost, intense… wise did not seem to be in the line-up of those descriptions very soon. And yet, I felt the slightest brush of the quality in my narrative. I felt it in single moments that stood out in their scintillating flashes of people, places and picturesque gestalt. I felt that my memory was filled to the brim with moments of reminiscence, and from each was taken something of considerable value.

I felt heavy with those memories. I still do. I so wished to quiet those ruminations and remain quiescent in thought. Yet somehow my mind was constantly floating high amidst so many amorphous musings, and the Florence Welsh lyric from a Sky Full Of Song seemed to bounce of the inner walls of my skull to capture my mood, “Hold me down, I’m so tired now.” At the age of 27, is it possible for your spirit to feel weary?

It appeared to be one of the signs of being an old soul. And perhaps in understanding the transient nature of one’s reality, and the limits that it imposes, perhaps I was deliberately collecting these moments in time. Perhaps, I was deliberately paying attention to how the milieu of these moments were pieced together in pastel imagery, olfactory nostalgia… in tactile desires, and in phonic harmonies. Perhaps I was desperate to make permanent the memory of the ambience, for a desire to recreate such character and impression to satisfy the longings for such memories that would arise once it was played out. Once it too, had passed. Perhaps there was something to this disposition of mine… that of sensitivity.

In his psychological expertise, Jerome Kagan would have undoubtedly placed me in the category of high-reactives when it came to temperament. This greater mark of sensitivity to the cues around me proved to be more than enough stimulation to push me into persistent bouts of withdrawal. Typical of my introverted nature, I needed to collect all environmental input and process it. I needed time to mull through its many meanings. But managing sensory information was something altogether different from the management of emotion. And when you are sensitive, you run the risk of great personal harm when those emotional projections come from people that have a particular flavour to their intensity.

In that line of reasoning, I knew that my gentle nature was perhaps a residual manifestation of my sensitive orientation to the world – that world so filled with bright colours, assailant sounds, perpetual movement and powerful feelings. I really did need to be careful…

But then, I was convinced that there was a mastery to be attained of this sensitivity. Yes, it presented a dichotomy. On the one hand, it intensified perceptual experiences to the degree that simple passing instances of one’s day was painted with such vivid character that one was really made to feel alive. So what others would regard as a mere lovely autumn day for example, would for me become a masterpiece by nature’s hand. I would be intensely aware of the soft textiles that hugged warmly against my frame: a metaphorical fortress to the discomforts of seen and unseen chills of both heart and mind. Why did a simple scarf feel like a defense against the greatest of tragedies? How did these soft fabrics provide so much comfort on contact? The sun would shyly wink between cotton clouds and illuminate earthy treetops in a thousand goldens shades that seemed to lend its warmth to the day. The very boles of the trees would sigh in tired anticipation of their winter’s rest, while the wind carried the crisp lullabies of forgotten seasons to sway the earth to hibernation. And I would wonder, how it was that I could hear the light refracting through molecules in chiming melodies; how I could feel the texture of the shifting season by its earthy colour… I was enveloped by this synaesthesia and by the composition of the day, and I was lost within it. Yet, audience to it as well. This was how I saw the world…

It was as if Demeter herself was steadily becoming aware of the impending sorrow of bidding her daughter farewell for another half-year (the Greeks really had a beautiful way of explaining the changes in season). Autumn became devine, the day become a meaninful reflection of that divinity, and I was relishing the million idiosyncrasies that presented itself in a million different variations. This was truly what was meant by the savouring of experience.

And then there were people… God. Now here we had an altogether different conundrum. Vibrant beacons flitting through the already occupied spaces of sensations around you. Each a light or shadow sewn together from so many misunderstood feelings and perceptible falsehoods. Each a construction of architectural beauty with visible loose strands of chaos. Did anyone really understand the ‘lonely’ child? Was he not preceived as the most sociable denizen on the playground by keeping to his own devices in conjuring fantasies overflowing with imaginary company? Was anyone truly looking at the old woman sitting at the corner coffee shop as she was gracefully swaying her eyes across the social sea that churned around her? Could no-one comprehend the acts of this wizened goddess in her exercise of reminiscent recollections because she was wealthy through the bank of her own memories? Or was anyone catching whiff of the pervading desperation that clung like an odour to the social wolves within the night club – those prowlers who wore their confidence as a pelt to ward of the chill of the slightest posssibility of rejection? Was anyone, ANYONE, really seeing any of this. And what of I? What did my embodied self communicate? Was my off-to-side positioning truly seen as shy? For I knew this as a strategic position from which to observe with even more vigilance, and assimilate greater meaning to my experience through other encounters playing out around me. Was my arm-crossed demeanour a gesture of defensiveness? For I felt a comfort in metaphorically hugging my concentration closer to my very being, to keep myself attentive and fortify myself from distraction. Was my stalwart expression and stern cast to my face really seen as discontentment or even anger? For I was merely immersed in a crystal focus on the ecperience at hand. Why was I seeing a sensitive thinker, when some saw a lost antisocial? Was our world really structured to this kind of ignorance to intensity? Perhaps they were protecting themselves.

For yes, on one hand of sensitivity lay experiential immersion. But on the other lay a susceptibility to the dangers held in the self-preserving pursuits of others. In such cases, that keener awareness and heightened reaction to experience proves burdening. For in their hardened state, people have become reacquainted with inherent cruelty. And I was a deer gently grazing in the headlights of many social predators. I knew this, because I felt unsafe nearly half of the time I would reveal myself to the world honestly. I knew this from how hard I took criticism to those qualities I regarded as strengths. I knew this from the false interest people took to my thoughts, only to talk over my vocalisations of them. I knew this from the genuine interest I had in sharing my version of the beauties I perceived, only for others to take no real heed. I knew this from the backlash people offered when they did not have a constant stock or grip of my mind. I knew this from my interactions with family, from friends, from lovers who moved on, from passers-by. But their mistook grip on my gentleness was not a fault of theirs. It was not an everlasting point to highlight as guilt-inducing criticism against a lack of their virtue. Not at all. It was a mismatch of energies; and in understanding such energies, I was merely being directed unknowingly to be in greater acceptance and understanding of my own.

At 27, I have come to learn that sensitivity is an art. And like any art, it takes practice. Boy, does it take years to just even realise that it needs practice: to expertly lay down the strokes of one’s complicated views on the world; to create with subtlety, to weave with nuance, to understand such executions to even begin with! And then, to survive it in its most primal unabashed form when enshrined in people, or abused by them.

In fact, for years this very quality was frowned upon in the face of the very hypermasculine communities I had the ‘privilege’ of growing up in. Gentleness was an affront to robustness; emotional intelligence was seen as an overcomplication in “trying too hard” ; and sensitivity was seen as a reactive response rooted in insecurity. It was seen as weak. But what I saw was a quality that, with its risks, still posed an immense asset to the enrichment of experience. It was a trait that kept me in connection with my emotions. It was a quality that I could not begin to imagine in its subdued form, much less its absence.

At 27 what I learned, or rather… what I realised, was this: that a resonance to the tone of the world is a sound that most would mute for the sake of a faith in their secure sense of sanity; that the truth of perception is a sharp arrowhead that is feared for its accuracy, and the value in the shot would most likely be evaded. That complexity would be bartered off for the first offer of simplicity, merely because of an ignorance in how intricacy is used. And that sensitivity is a craft that humanity is beginning to lose, because of a culture of disconnect and defensiveness that stifles the creativity of savouring experience.

Sensitivity is not frailty. It is an oculus that looks past the fickleness and denial of emotion; that reshapes the aesthetic of one’s surroundings; and that teaches a navigation of the world through emotional agility and poetic brilliance.

At 27, sensitivity has become an architect of my pedigree.

Love and light fellow bloomers.

An Admonition to the ‘Wolf’ – When the Guy Code Backfires

Admonition

/ˌadməˈnɪʃ(ə)n/

A stern rebuke of non-negotiable standards and conduct, that meaningfully administers a warning to the culprit of such actions. A denunciation of harmful beliefs and practices that serves to reprimand the wielder or agent of their actions. A harangue that firmly draws boundaries and makes another attentive to their disillusionment.

Let’s talk openly for a minute (or perhaps a couple – let’s face it, these posts get a tad lengthy). The wallflower has been tending to memory, and a few stories have been brewing in that garden. And one among them, calls us to be frank. So lets get to it then: Men

Ah yes. How are you doing Mars? Going in retrograde soon? Because your sons just need to calm the f*ck down on old Big Blue next door… They are becoming a bit brazen, and we are not living for it!

Alright… we totally are. I mean a little bit of self-certainty and attunement to desire goes a long way to tickle our fancy…

… but toning down that extra bit of assertive self-confidence and blazing sex drive might actually give the rest of us a damn breather from the Spartan directive.

Now, this is not meant to be hypocritical. I mean, I am of course a man myself. And perhaps (if not without doubt) much of the critique that can be launched towards the typically rough, untactful male in his prime is surely returned to me in certain instances. I can pretty much be a ‘typical’ male at times too…

But for the most part, I would love to think that I am successful at evading the brunt of male stereotypes that many men heroically assume by choice. So let’s jump right into one. The beautiful little phenomenon called: The Bro Code (also referred to as Guy Code).

I’ll leave you a little educational tool to help you. Here you go…

Perhaps you prefer such wisdoms as shared by Barney Stinson (any How I Met Your Mother fans?)

Basically, men have a mutual consensus as to the proper form of conduct by which their construal of the world is conducted. These rules of etiquette, or ‘the code’ as contemporary lingo now addresses it, is the cornerstone of the unwritten understanding between men from all walks of life. It guides their perceptions, scaffolds their interpretation, and thus their actions show fealty to the sacred oath imparted by an ancient blueprint. And women have their own version too (or so legend holds).

It’s comforting right? Knowing of a few key life hacks that could calibrate that gender compass so you rock the boat (or the bed) in all the right ways… Well sure. Mainstrean society has not really given their full investment to the whole “gender fluidity” bit. Our minds prefer schemas and wrestle with spectrums, so if something is not one thing or the other – male or female – then we pretty much have a bit of difficulty keeping up. So, the gender codes are still pretty fierce in relevance.

And, oh… you know. They work just swell and all… until you’re pretty much a straight guy expecting your fellow raging homosexual to abide by the same rules. Yeah, things hit a snag then, and the issue becomes a bit thorny.

Storytime sweeties!

So yes, I was this raging homosexual. Well, raging is a strong word… perhaps a bit extra even. Its not like the pride flag is refracted in my iris. But rewind the old clockhand to my early years at university, and I was just an innocent young lad that had to learn many of the basics of an altogether different code: the gay code. But we’ll leave that to another blog.

As for the unwritten contract of my male counterparts who grew from more heteronormative roots of thinking, I was already an expert as to the ways of the “straight” male think-tank. I graduated the class honey; but like a good graduate candidate, I am applying next to none of much of that knowledge in the real world!

I received that rude awakening one evening when a friend of mine was fuming in his quiet rage in the passenger seat of my car. I naively asked him if he was angry, adressing the obvious tension that was hanging so thick you could cut it with a knife. I did, after all, consider myself to be empathetic and caring. His response was a cold lash of words that whipped me into attention of the crime that I was culprit to: a violation of this Bro Code

And to be honest, I did not even now I was at fault and thus at the mercy of the jury from the heterosexual pantheon.

Lets backtrack a bit…

There I was… all cool and collected on a quaint little evening, getting ready for a nice and relaxing dinner with friends. Perhaps I was dressing a tad ‘fancy’. But we were uni-folk sweetie. ‘Dinner with friends’ was not exactly one of those hobbies and interests we listed on our resumes – we were working on a budget! But even on a budget… we were about to fan out our tail feathers. So I straightened out that button shirt, slipped on that chino pair to give a little love to those assets, gave those boots a quick polish, and conjured a bit of spellwork with a haircomb. To me, grooming and dressing was just plain fun. This was not fine dining, but we weren’t doing drive-thru tonight! Lets work with a little TLC. So this was all fine, but nothing compared to my housemate and his get-ready efforts at the time.

https://memegenerator.net/instance/41500206/look-son-a-faggot-look-son-a-legend

So down the hall, the sacred ritual of male heterosexual prepwork was unfolding… queued by the fog of Axe bodyspray and ceremonial 90’s boy rockband music alternated with 2010’s rave club remixes – about sweating bodies and sex. This was not even embellishing it with exaggeration. That spray can opened, clicked, and dispensed so many times that a new Texan-sized hole in the Ozone was forming. Environmental NGO’s probably lost sight of our location in the dense mist. And then there was little old me, feeling like I was just winning at life by rocking a little scent of Eu de Par-Moi (smelling like myself).

I mean, I really wasn’t getting this. We were about to be four people, just eating out for the night. Us two lads, and two girls that were sort of becoming friends. But clearly I was missing the cues of straight-male impression building. The slaughter of subtlety that was occuring down the hallway could probably be allowed. And I am sure the hetero gods, now appeased by the acts of their acolyte, looked proudly upon their son that strutted out of his room: with upper shirt buttons loosened, hair that traced its heritage to the super sayans, musculature peaking through all the right places… and the whiff of raw masculinity that was testament to Darwinian theory. “Lets go!”, he said like some superhero catchphrase, as if epochs of his great feats were about to be written. Oh god…

https://me.me/i/the-floor-is-being-straight-i-made-a-meme-16877158

So we drove over to the girls. They met us in the driveway to their house, decked out in a little casual wear and paid some attention to the detail in their glam. They were pretty by all standards. And me being me, gave each a nice and friendly sideways, one-armed church hug.

https://www.buzzfeed.com/amphtml/katienotopoulos/you-know-who-else-hugged-hitler-thats-who

But my buddy, well… he drew them in for a full-on chest-contact moment that just oozed of desire. He and the dark-headed gal were getting real ‘friendly’ of late… so perhaps my hetero gene had just been in stasis for too long to recognise the so-called cues. But… I was caught up to a degree…

So off we went, and on arriving, we grabbed ourselves some choice seating and started a chat.

The topics of that banter escapes memory. I guess we were batting around the idle pleasantries, the adult-novice life theories, and the odd jokes that you only question afterwards. We were just being university students. But then I distinctinctly remember the subject of dating arising among the present company. And here I knew we were treading though some dangerous waters. No seriously, I was actually close to having an angina… and uttered a few private benedictions for the peace that had been maintained at that table.

https://memegenerator.net/instance/61273755/orange-is-the-new-black-jesus-take-the-wheel

Because: we had two girls here that manifested as amazons at the slightest misstep to their honour, and a guy who truly believed he was God’s gift to women in the making…

Now, my housemate was really of that special breed of man that believed in the dating coach biz. Basically it came down to the whole belief that dating is a game, of which the rules require ownership by the player. As a guy, you can basically be trained to talk to, hit up, and date any girl that you like with a few key formulas of conversation, demeanor and self-beliefs. Thus, women were reducible to quite a couple of key traits that needed to be understood, navigated, and managed. This was not to be confused with social-skills training, which is a mode of therapy all itself. What I was dealing with was a classic case of PhD level guy code, which manifested in very unique ways within the male-female dating dynamic. I later realised that I understood this according to a different curriculum within the gay code, something we happen to do in gay-man undergrad called, emotional intelligence and women. To us, it is about circumnavigating female emotion, which we then realise is actually pretty similar to our own. So then we pass that school with the understanding that it comes down to ‘feelings’ and that it is not a gender-bound thing at all. So we drop the bigotry, chauvinism, and robust male emotional exterior and realise that it is all really about not being an arse. And voilà! History created the camaraderie between gay men and straight women that has been mutually beneficial ever since. All because of that enlightenment. But our relationship and symbiosis with our own sex has been a bit slower in the making. We can just all blame toxic masculinity right now’ and leave that as discussion for another day.

So back at the table… there he was: geared with his strong perceptions surrounding women, about to drop the bomb with some far-out views on how girls in the dating scene actually operate, and how guys tend to approach them. And, call me a rookie, but I was not sure that guy-code actually prescribed that you reveal some of these ideas that are bound in the holy book of man. I mean I thought this sh*t was like sacred! But there he was, sharing some pretty unforgiving ideas with the subject of conversation gaining some intense momentum. In fact, it was turning out to be on the brink of becoming a fully-fledged bloody war! Our friends were not exactly impressed by his views, and you could get ready to place some saucers of milk in front them, because they were about to get catty! He was on the tangent of making a point that women are graced with a rating by the divinity of male specimens that roam the dating field. Based on a couple of physical traits and a few environmental clues, women were deemed worthy of approach and as target to flirtation. A woman’s natural beauty (basically her looks), her body shape (meaning her weight), her social standing (how popular or well-known she was), her accentuated features (her grading of ‘sexy’), and what she did for a living (how interesting she was to talk to) determined how coveted she was by a guy on the prowl. Then there were added bits like a best friend who acted as gate keeper; and how tactics needed to change when her rating is particularly high (because she can get any guy she wants). Basically, his whole premise was not built on what he personally found attractive (which no one can be blamed for if they have their preferences), but rather on a male pack-mentality of what is socially deemed as more valued in their small microcosm. He was laying down his truth as if the two women (did I mention we were trying to build a friendship here?) sitting across from us were the naive little underlings in the dating foodchain, and as if he was doing everyone a favour.

He then loaded his crossbow with a killshot bolt to quiet the table the f*ck down by saying: “Girls who are anything lower than a 5 or 6 have no chance of really scoring a guy out there.”

https://me.me/i/gay-silence-5687c74b135c45638c3eb19b5ddf0134

Yeah, the brunette looked about ready to have at him across the table… And I remember thinking that Girl Code must be really legit if it evoked that kind of gleam in your eye. We are talking about a look that threw daggers!

Now, if you knew anything about warfare, you knew that a crossbow needed some time to reload in battle. That was exactly when the girls verbally charged his defences, and basically started to rip him apart. And f*ck… I mean I had to spectate. I don’t know if the fumes of his ritual chamber back home had scrambled his chemistry of logic, but I knew better than to come up with all these screwed-up hypotheses. Damn bro, did you you want to be blood-eagled by a shield-maiden! (because it may just be the little dark fantasy moment any proud woman would have on dealing with a man who think they fell from heaven).

A battle of the sexes was taking place at table, and my mate was being forced to swallow the foot he was putting in his own mouth. I was audience to a tirade that was reaching legendary proportions, and they were going at him where it hit hard: right between his cerebral knockers, effectively putting an end to his fertile imagination that was spewing disillusioned creeds (though I actually think they insulted his equipment as well). He was outnumbered, but he didn’t feel he was alone (as I found out in the drive back home). Because there was, after all, another guy at the table. Oh… he meant me. My sincere condolences for your thinking old sport…

https://imgflip.com/i/i6mve

So cue my reaction to this whole spectacle, and what you found was the heathen to the straight religion who was finding this ‘playful’ exchange a bit of a joke. I mean, everyone was surely not taking all of this too seriously… right?

He was clearly very talented at saving face during this whole debacle. He did not flinch, stutter, or halt his advances even once. So I was like: he is a big boy, he can handle his own little mess he made. And for heavens sake, you know… I did not come for this little ego show. I came to eat. So while everyone was clearly busy, I was paying heed to my meal like a normal little human being struck with famine and a dash of awkwardness, while the rest were clearly engaged in a bit of loquacious repartee spiced with sarcasm and gender-tinged innuendo. And I had to reiterate: no one was really taking each other that seriously, RIGHT? This was all good fun?

https://imgflip.com/i/21qgss

Well, I might as well have been put to the cross or some other torture for believing that. He was resolute in his conviction to the date-hunter subculture, and he was setting back the women’s movement by 50 years. This was clearly so the drama! And he at least, had one clear expectation from me – one he did not share though, but clear in his own mind – be a bro, have your bro’s back, honour the code. Well how in the all encompassing f*ck was I suppose to know that?!

Cue the moment back in the car, and this entire reasoning was presented to me in a little heated speech he had clearly been working on since the first time I snickered at one of the biting remarks by the girls. And boy was he pulling some straight old-fashioned scolding on me to clearly impress his male authority. And how I clearly failed at honouring the call of having another man’s back. I was, flabbergasted…

https://dailylolpics.com/when-he-raises-his-voice

… because… first of all b*tch… how the hell do you call for the enactment of the guy-code in that situation? You were basically preppeing yourself to be roasted!!! Second of all, when your damn rulebook says anything about women, you are basically signing up for dismemberment and decapitation when you want a gay guy to be your wing man! And if some manage to actually learn the trade, then my apologies, but asking me to be a wingman is like moulting your soaring chances of ever actually finding happiness. PERIOD.

So this brought me to really reflecting on the issue at hand here: The Direwolf-Fallacy. Haven’t heard of it? Oh don’t worry honey… it is my little invention, aptly named because it encompasses a wide array of character faults that should be extinct, but have survived the millennia to manifest in those textbook larger than life alpha-types. It is a key trade of robustness and primal instinct tied with man since age immemorial. This should-be extinct collection of traits is revived in the fantasies of certain social circles on the belief of superiority held by certain males for their dominant virility. It is singularly associated with those ambitious hunters in the courtship realm, that includes characteristics of misguided cunning, brute approaches, stereotypical attributions, misjudged rivalry, and a dissociation with the realities of conveyed social cues. And a label proudly assumed by some men for its defining capacity in their lives, guiding action, diction and thought and their personas in the their social relations. Basically you are an egotistical narcissist snapping your maw in the wrong wilderness. So my friend here was believing he was howling at the moon…but darling… he was barking up the wrong tree by blaming my ignorance of his ‘sacred’ code. Quite frankly, I was getting bored with his little rant…

http://www.picturequotes.com/im-too-tired-to-slap-you-bash-your-face-against-my-palm-would-ya-quote-302512

My younger self was, however, clearly livid at this injustice. And I was about to lay down some proper gay retribution to force him into a bit of humble penance! No one told him to go full-on alpha in the conversation, relaying his personal fantasy of prehistoric courtship practices. That was all him. And besides, he was asking me to choose sides to a debate I really had no personal investment in. I really didn’t care. The pain he felt was not my stab into his back, it was him falling on the point of his own f*cking sword!

Lets lay down the obvious truth: I was not about to be a proponent of an unwritten residual practice of hegemonic masculinity. His strong views on the male privilege to harbour such ridiculous views on an entitlement to brazenly classify a women’s worth by merely her appearance was basically unacceptable.

But above that, I was a f*cking wallflower! I came to bloom and relax a bit, not be planted squarely in the crossfire of their heteronormative drama. What’s more, how did he ever expect me as introvert to willingly enter a conflict situation with guns blazing (putting aside the point, for now, that any idea put forward in support of his views was basically social suicide to begin with).

In short… If the Karmic bus was not about to hit him square in the balls, then I was about to take the f*cking wheel and make sure it did!

We have talked a lot on this… it’s about expectations, the art of simplicity, and giving some stock to inner truth. All contracts have loopholes sweeties, especially when they are unwritten. Do not align your actions with a request that was not vocalised or shared, nor do so if such wishes asks you to grant faculties that you are not willing to invest. If the drama is not yours, then do not add to it by becoming a playwright to the scene. And if the wolf comes howling at the wrong moon, then eclipse his misguided belief and make him see a different light!

Love and Light fellow bloomers!

The Novice’s Guide to Constructing Inner Worlds – Part 1

Inner World

/ˈɪnə/ /wəːld/

A haven far removed from those mundane concerns that are woven into the fabric of reality. A realm blueprinted from the dreams, ideals, and hopes of a soul in reflection; thriving on the creativity, novelty, and life-infusing forces of imagination and marvel. It is the product of a spirit in resonance with their drive and desire, and intuitive idiosyncrasies; the result of a mindful being fully in touch with the most subtle of vibrancies, both within and without.

There is an art to being lost in thought… Lost in such an absolute and complete manner, that an almost transcendental experience befalls body and mind.

Imagine. The day muses softly as the peaceful hum of life pervades space and time with its presence. Drops of golden sun trickle through the canopy of leaves that rustles in the caressing breeze that clings to your frame; that cool crisp shirt draped loosely over those familiar jeans. Your feet in connection with the earth, lifting and rerooting to firm soil amidst the ebb of swaying blades of grass that spark a million sensations through the synapses at your base. Every breath is a marriage of your being to the very essence of loam pervading the air, both a comfort and fortification of the spirit that seems so untethered by the whimsy of the day. And as your surroundings create that perfect meditative pocket in space, your imagination courses bright and iridescent past your tempels and tingles across those cerebral folds. Then it occupies those spaces once filled with cold, hard and unforgiving logic.

And you slip ever into that gentle embrace of your nebulous thoughts; cosmically bound to the drifting abandon found in a daydream…

Darling, basically: Narnia is sparking up a winter thrice as magical in that wardrobe, yet the Pevensie children just wish they could slip through a front door to your mindscape instead… because you just discovered your own magic. Aslan’s whiskers are quaking, and the Ice Queen is shook!

You just stepped into your private little kingdom; your sanctum of reflection; your inner world.

And, being an introvert, a spirit inclined to reservation and observation… as a wallflower, the enriching power of being monarch in my own little fantasy has been invaluable. But, why construct one in the first place?

  • Because I can. Let’s Keep It Simple Sweetheart. When you are gracefully disposed with that talent to shape a mental retreat in which your wildest dreams can roam with your most novel musings, you are damn well going to prance along honey. People out there deliberately make arid landscapes out of their minds; the scorching heat of their self-criticism unforgiving. Are you really going to exit the nourishing oasis of your own thoughts? The choice seems simple. So take that trek out of the desert.
  • Its called self-care. This world (as in, the one you oftentimes grind through to get a scrap of fulfillment) affords us little in the realm of ‘me-time’, and we hardly permit it even for ourselves. When you face that dilemma of giving back to yourself in more tangible ways, you at least want to let your mind drift to a space where you can get a little bit of an escape.
  • Doing ‘nothing’, is actually given meaning. When you are sitting there, removed from the pressure of your obligations and those expectations that can serve or oppose you, your mind is not idle. Your mind is simply switched to a natural free flow of thought wherin great originality and insight thrives, and your curiously grasp at the whisps of those ideas and give them more clarity and solidity. Especially for introverts, whom Susan Cain observes in her book Quiet, prefer to work independently, and where solitude can be a catalyst for innovation. You are thinking, and you finally have the space to do it. Its marvelous!
  • Its cheap therapy sweetie. Lets face it, that daily/weekly/monthly dose of psychotherapy has probably smoothed the creases of your f*cking ruffled life, but you know full well that there are some weeds that pop up in odd places regardless of the ones you actually pull out. And, you actually DO NOT MIND. Its cracking through the pavement, and it has proven that its going to stick around just like the lesson that it is probably teaching you. And it is kind of beautiful… So accept it. Weeds grow in tough places. And so can you, if you take it to the right space…

Well… The list has actually just started. But this is only part one after all, and we have a lot to cover.

As a novice to the art of shaping your inner world, you are going to share bed with the idea of adaptability. Because a thought is a wild mustang that does not like to be penned in by your old ideas of order and rule-governed flow of thinking. So just drop that lasso sweetie. Or else you’ll have a nightmare of it (get it… nightmare…anyway). There are going to be some hitches along the way. Knowing that will make you less irascible and susceptible to frustration. Weeds appear to spoil the flowerbed, but what prize are you really signing your mental garden up for in any case? You’re in your head sweetie. Give yourself a ‘green-thumb’ badge on your boy scout sash if you want praise! Point is, things aren’t perfect.

  • Your inner world is a playground, not only for idle play of thoughts, but for rumination, and an idea lab to solve your real-world problems. Be honest. If you are really in touch, then you know that the dimensions of your life are interwoven in influence. Your problems are yours, and they’ll continue to follow you. So why not keep them in sight, and just bring them to a space where you can actually deal with them? Rally them into the corral, and tame those broncos with confidence.

Basically, you have this rugged, untouched landscape tucked away somewhere amidst the border where your unconscious mind meets your aware sense of self. It is begging you to pull up mountains with a thought that peak at your dreams, to make lush the valleys with your creativity, to populate the land with your wild philosophies, and then to crown your creation with that authentic self – that perfectly imperfect being that need not suffer the banishment from paradise. And if you did not yet realise, you are the omnipotent presence here honey (its very meta, I mean, it’s your own mind – but it’s true). And f*ck, you are walking through creation and it’s time to be awestruck at what your imagination conjured, you beautiful little upstart world weaver!

This is the genesis b*tch. And you are the supreme deity floating over a primordial landscape that is your messed-up mind to sequence the madness a bit into a beautiful chaos. So yes, there will be order to your inner world. But if you don’t make space for that lack of predictability, then are you even having fun?

If not, then for god’s sake… cue your latest theme song, take a hit, hug a tree, hang loose, kiss a stranger… Or do something to loosen the f*ck up. Earth was created in seven days sweetie, but Alpha and Omega are not exactly your middle names, so your inner world is going to need your attention a bit longer – and you need to damn well be at your best. I mean – this is FOR YOU!

I mentioned being in touch. But, what does that mean? Well, the craft does not have a shorthand instruction manual that can be shared right here (or as attachment), so we’ll leave that to another blog. But in essence, its what the layman would refer to as ‘balance’. And maintaining it takes contstant work. Mindfulness is a buzz word that people often then bring in here, but how even this will manifest in your life is a very personal journey.

Its a matter of awareness. Awareness of your strengths, of your virtues, of your weaknesses, of your vices… Its a perception of yourself that is balanced out – a big, bold, and beautiful planetery mass of contradictions that tips the axis of the galaxy while trying to remain in controlled rotation.

Your first step is thus to accept the raw intensity of your authentic self. And an acknowledgement of the TRUTH. Why is it raw? And why is it so intense? We only ever have the capacity to fathom either our strengths or our weaknesses, but never in tandem. We are praised by our strengths in the light of success, or confronted with our faults in the shadow of our failure. But we fail to see the beauty of our imperfections because of the presence of both. And our awareness of that is powerful, and hits us where we feel most sensitive. But it is necessary. So perhaps it is time to start the holy inquisition of your warring mind and purge that idea of control that so shackles you. Society imposes enough of its barriers, but it is time to be iconoclastic in the face of the constitution of your own thoughts.

Why do you need to do this? Because you need an even ground to lay the first cornerstone of your inner faith. You need a balanced view of who you really are. And overesttimating you abilities, or being blindsided by your shortcomings, destabilises the foundation. Thus, your inner world will be a collection of megalomania in celebrating virtues that you do not possess; or it will fail to contribute to the catharsis of dealing with lessons forthcoming from our faults of you don’t acknowledge them. Your inner world allows you to be a hero, but it will not make you infallible as a figure due to any self-serving bias. Your inner world is a realm of honesty; but, you can determine the method in which truth is administered.

But sacrificing authenticity, and breathing lies through silver, has its own consequence. Take a look again at my last post.

There is a tale that depicts perhaps the tragic reality that we have come to live in.

According to a 19th century legend, the Truth and the Lie meet one day. The Lie says to the Truth: “It’s a marvellous day today”! The Truth looks up to the skies and sighs, for the day was really beautiful. They spend a lot of time together, ultimately arriving beside a well. The Lie tells the Truth: “The water is very nice, let’s take a bath together!” The Truth, once again suspicious, tests the water and discovers that it indeed is very nice. They undress and start bathing. Suddenly, the Lie comes out of the water, puts on the clothes of the Truth and runs away. The furious Truth comes out of the well and runs everywhere to find the Lie and to get her clothes back. The World, seeing the Truth naked, turns its gaze away, with contempt and rage.
The poor Truth returns to the well and disappears forever, hiding therein, its shame. Since then, the Lie travels around the world, dressed as the Truth, satisfying the needs of society, because, the World, in any case, harbours no wish at all to meet the naked Truth.

Picture in History

The idea of an inner world, is thus to invert the image of the dishonest reality which we soldier through every day. Fair, that not all that manifests in this world is indeed lacking of truth, but there are many beguiling variations of such truths that make us prey to misdirection. The magic of your truthful dreamscape, is that it becomes a space of trust where you know what the healing effects of a self-prescribed truth medicine is, and can rely on its effects and its directive influence. Thus, it enchants you with dreams and ideals you truly want to aspire to; or it can offer you the guidance that you perhaps need and would be receptive to (because you know how to not be too hard on yourself).

The point I am making, is this. An inner world has a blueprint drawn in the ink of self-knowledge; an honest knowledge, that is constructred into the pedigree of your authentic character. Lies are deceitful tyrants, whereas truths are the benevolent ambassadors. So choose wisely the rule of your beloved kingdom.

Your quest for self-knowledge begins now fellow bloomers! I meet you at the next leg of your journey, in part two.

Love and Light

Greetings from a Quiet Bloomer

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The beauty of ‘being’ should not be brushed aside…

Wallflower
/ˈwɔːlflaʊə/

noun

An introverted soul with the magical disposition to see, to listen, and to quietly understand the kaleidoscopic vibrancy of the world in which they have taken root. A silent specimen inclined to bloom in the light of rare company and when the scent of the moment is right.


… One afternoon…

… As I rarely plucked one of the books from among my garden of good but untouched reads… I finally started on the page-turner that was Susan Cain’s riveting homage to the value of all introverts: Quiet – The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. I was but a few pages into the introduction, when I came across the line that convinced me that the book would be a resonating account of my world view:

Now that you’re an adult … you’re told that you’re ‘in your head too much’, a phrase that is often deployed against the quiet and cerebral.

Of course, there is another word for such people: thinkers.

Heard that?…………………………………………

That was the sound of my mind being blown…………. (I am sure you have some cartoon audio file tucked away somewhere in your greymatter for the right effect)

Simple… Yet profound enough to reignite a vestige of memory that I thought I had worked hard to displace, having regarded it as a criticism once upon a time.

“In your head too much…”

Well, that was a simple truth, as much as I might try to deny it. What is a reserved little boy to do after all, in a big bold world that provides more than its share of overstimulation. Those words were a reminiscent hammer blow that echoed across the memory of countless tedious lectures, parties passed in a blur, the long and laborious longevity of the voices of chatty Cathys and talakative Toms… and enough experiences with awkward silences to add another thesis topic to my repertoire.

But, is being in your head (even if “too much”) truly a bad thing?

Well dears, damned be the day when I allow anyone the authority to permit me my self-allocated playtime within the little flower patch of fantasies that I call my inner world…

It is too darn magical!

And once you adopt that pretty little penchant of expressing these enchantments of your inner life in a few well-chosen words, the talent really starts to make love to you! (Honey, you should really start taking your breakfast and coffee with a side of the Oxford Dictionary) Lesson #1: never underestimate the power of a descent vocabulary (It is one of those raging little quotes out there that remain unclaimed in credit, but adopted in its truth…) It breathes life into an idea.

So, there I was… Reading that piece in Cain’s novel, with nebulous sparks of recognition whizzing around the fort of my most reserved perceptions of self. And dazed as clear understanding dawned on me yet again of how much I valued being a quiet idealist, a dreamer… a thinker (as the book had so generously labelled me with merit). There really was something to this quiet revolution.

And then, we had been called adults as well (sigh). I am still exuding a daily effort to completely dissociate from that little assigned life-role (well… the effort in trying has been noble at least…) Oh, I am thriving! Responsibility: we don’t know her! (That is a lie… We definitely know her. She is a bitch that comes screaming just as loudly as Karma at our slightest misstep with Freedom. So be sure to invite her along to the party every now and then. She likes her playtime as well)

So in an era filled with generations accustomed to the buzz of free speech, being the ‘silent’ type often becomes a challenging position to assume. For within the crossfire of entitled opinions and the need to be heard… I have often felt that few come to actually listen. Society has become a pretty vocal zest pool of impulsive opinion. So the drama!

Don’t get me wrong…We need the brave camaraderie of more outspoken spirits out there in the world to spark the discussion, and remedy the world with a dose of honesty that has also been denied its place. But the situation becomes a bit muddy, and the flow of conversation murky, when a view that is shared is not set out to dry and see the sunshine for awhile. Or, if it does not pass through at least a couple of filters. God forbid, it seems as though the candid one-liners out there just call for the suspenseful panning of a camera to make the moment centre stage to some reality show! Reality does not call for cant or slush dears. Lesson #2: it is not always your circus; your tongue may be the whip that cracks at the wrong beast…

So I have rather come to see myself as an observer to the ways and whiles of the people that happen across my life. Gentleman that I try to be, I have felt inclined to allow both the misgivings and epiphanies of others with great courtesy and empathy. These experiences are then planted in my collection of stories, all nurtured and enlivened in the greenhouse that is my memory.

It makes of one a raconteur (what a beautiful word… I have been teasing the idea of taking French because of it). One comes to revel in the capacity for riveting storytelling. And in that beautiful scape of memory and the million filters it passes through as time lapses, a humility is beckoned forth among the bemused thoughts of considering how beautiful a narrative may be despite its outcome. What can we truly be but humble beasts running through the wilderness of a life where uncertainty is the only certainty… and where the winds of change can do such glorious things if we let the breeze take us on those flights of fancy. At the end, our opinions just seem to become more measured, more mindful… and heavens, less extra!

Poetically put, but what am I trying to say here?

Well…

Firstly, I am inclined to reserve all judgement. (That is a Nick Caraway quote right there… anyone give The Great Gatsby a read?) The judgement? Oh it is certainly present. I flirt with it in the backdrop and whisper dirty little things to it… but it remains within the harlem of my thoughts.

Secondly, the purpose was to introduce the ways of the wallflower. A beautiful little collection of hallmarks and habits that allow a holistic perception of the feels of the moment. Having cultivated the humble silence of quiet experience – and perhaps with a little moondust in my backpocket to sprinkle a dull situation with a bit of magic – life has become quite a breathtaking bouquet of opportunities in which memories are to be made and in which ‘thinkers‘ are applauded for their reserved voices. That is, until the moment sprouts with a need for it to be heard!

As I see it: gone are the days where the wallflower is a shy little sideshow… Instead, these mystical beings are the seasonal signs of sound sayings, who tweak the necessary cadences of their thoughts so that it may find its way to the assailed ears of loud society.

And perhaps this is what this blog is all about…. Thoughts and tales fully bloomed to become the centerpiece of attention for you, as the reader, for the briefest of time while frolicking in your own little pocket of reality.

A kindred spirit and soul sister parted ways with me after one of those spiffingly splendid sagacious sessions of sharing wild philosophies and philanthropic fantasies over a 420… and with these darling words: “love and light” . How magnificent is such a goodbye?… To leave with someone not only the whimsy of what was the teasing traces of your company, but to wish upon them the necessary truths and hopes revealed in the light, and the million beautiful variations of a diverse feeling such as love….

So I have adjusted my petals dearies, and turned my face to the sun, and allowed the beauty of ‘being’ and quiet contemplation to water my opinions with forbearance and sound judgement… for only then does the fragrant freedom of experience open its beauty to our enjoyment, and a love informed by self knowledge and understanding of life make itself available.

Thus, love and light fellow bloomers.

And welcome, to the inner sanctum of a wizard of words…