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 Awkward Moment – A Tale of The Introvert Problem

We are multidimensional. It is one of the only fair and truthful descriptions to afford ourselves. Sewn together from biological blueprints and structured patterns of thought; dipped into a cosmic mix of creativity; and left to dry in the light of undivinable uncertainties… all of it has left us a mass of contradictions that defies comprehension.

Image by Classical Art Memes

Yet, our curiosity ceaselessly drives us to achieve greater clarity on the human experience. Categories and mental tick boxes are the vows to a wedlock with sanity. Meaning: we basically need a way to structure our thoughts, feelings and behaviours if we intend to pursue a life with reason.

So, we satiate our sanity with a collection of patterns that help maintain that order. And what a delicate task this is. Thoughts tend to be sharp due to their edgy logic. Emotions are dirty little things that have a knack of leaving a stain on immaculate moral records. And behaviours can culminate into any number of consequences depending on their shape, reach, and influence. And in wake of such important realisations, we instill virtues that we religiously pursue, relating to the self: self-discipline, self-restraint, self-monitoring, self-control… reminiscent hammer-beats to temper the human spirit into pseudo-selves to present to the world. All to be acceptable. Who doesn’t love a stellar moral citizen that keeps their cynicism on humanity in check… Am I right?

Image by Classical Art Memes

What about wallflowers though? Oh well; they tend to be especially thorough in mulling through their cognitive, emotional and behavioral repertoires. Sideline bloomers are adept at staying out of a situation, remaining partial to the daily drama’s of our counterparts who prefer blossoming in the show garden right at the centre of life. Not to say that we never showcase ourselves, we are just a little less vaudevilean in our attention-seeking behaviours. That is, until we feel more self-efficacious in taking centre stage in the show. Other than that, we have some streetsmarts about blending in and prefer a soliloquy with ourselves as audience…

But every so often, a hitch works itself into our prospective schemas of steering ourselves – unnoticed – through a particular situation that involves people. As a wallflower, you may still be chilling on the sideline; you may still be busy intuiting a given moment that may possibly present itself. And for a short while, you may actually entertain the idea that you are riding the wave of a conversational flow, or sailing smoothly through a social gathering. There is no real need for an extemporaneous show of your social skills, just yet. That is until you are caught with your petals out of place in the wondrous little spark of cosmic unpredictability called the awkward moment.

An awkward moment is a beautiful little human catastrophe that worms itself into your self-representational sphere every now and then, offering its fair share of a little strife, existential dread and embarrassment. It’s a bit like engaging in a unintentional, self-destructive, social calamity, where even Karma thinks you are so deep in that she may need to give you a break during the next cycle of a Mercury retrograde. It’s so bad in fact, that your guardian angel files this in the backlog of messes you get into when they are on sick leave, because no amount of divine intervention can deal with that degree of perplexity. It’s a bit like your self-esteem stepped on a Lego brick. Its quick, its jabbing, and a 200,000 pain receptor volley worth of agony. Afterward, you recollect what is left of you in a measly little mass of melancholy and shy away to the nearest corner to close your bud for the rest of the show to suffer in silence. Oh honey, every awkward moment endured surely has to be an investment in a well-deserved peace for one’s afterlife…

Inage by Classical Art Memes

Well…perhaps that is overdramatic. But the consequences can feel nearly as intense in my expert opinion.

So let us imagine the situation for a brief moment. Nothing quite saturates a description like a hypothetical little simulation. Maybe I dreamed this; perhaps I imagined it. Maybe this is stored somewhere in my private memory banks or in those relating to a friend (one that just led to a great deal of identification). Whatever the case may be… I recall a distinct example. So I am fairly sure this happened…

Storytime!

I was minding my own business at this party I had no real intention of attending…

Image by Classical Art Memes

As a proud introvert, I was probably stuck in the section which I would like to call, “The Island of Misfit Toys”, where people are too shy, drunk, stoned, or asleep to pay much heed to any need for actual mingling (I thought they were beautiful). But never you mind: everyone was thriving in their own way. There was a vibe going, and everyone was digging it. And there I was, just sipping away at my garnished G&T on the rocks, legs crossed, eyes cruising, and engaging in a bit of adult supervision over the playground of outcasts.

Image by Classical Art Memes

Now, one drink in, my observational skills were running optimally with all the customs of sobriety. To add, quite frankly, I was also too engaged in a sophisticated snapshot moment that felt much too sacrosanct to be overturned by just any bit of loquacious repartee (fancy little word for striking up a convo) with the commoners. The King was on his throne baby, and he was sipping from his goblet.

Soon though, my drink was starting to get a little low as my steady sips slowly siphoned away at the hours, and so I thought it opportune to make a prompt exit from this social hibernation to rectify the matter. And what a perfect little corner of the club to stealthily sneak in a bar visit without notice.

You see, after a highly stimulating week that had it’s fair share of interpersonal engagement, I became pretty stoked at the idea of spending the night in. But, if you are me, it is likely that your more gregarious circle of friends took it upon themselves to try and spoil the world with your demure presence. And it is not to say that their arguments for this little excursion is particularly convincing. It is just that their overwhelming energy needs to be dialed down to a malleable level for you to survive the night, so being agreeable just appears less taxing. Its a hard knock life…

Image by Classical Art Memes

If your an introvert that was socialised in a world celebrating the extrovert ideal, then you have become reasonably equipped to manage yourself effectively in situations like this. You just pop out that survival guide for the highly sensitive, own your best smile, and quietly plot your way through the superficial social gathering about to ensue. “Blessed are the meek”… or something like that. I just did not want to be bothered much.

Image by Classical Art Memes

So now I found myself at this party, mosied up to the bar, and busied myself in the recall of another one of my referenced short-form dialogues to politely ask the barman to whip up another little pop of inebriating magic. So not the drama… That is, until HE walks up…

Yes dears, this is yet again a story about a man…

One who had the exact same idea in mind by coming to the bar. Now, I was tending to my own petals when I caught a glimpse of him. He was a well-groomed charmer that totally seemed to have lost his kind on the other side of the club, because I could not imagine why he would come to cast his magic dice for a gamble on the dating scene here. And boy oh boy, was he ever ready for a mating dance. A classic pompadour hairstyle with a fade, buttoned down shirt, tight-fitting jeans, and a chest cut as deep as the Mariana trench; this man had aspirations. He was a strapping vision, with a jawline so square that there was no way of cutting corners around that mouth if he started talking. And he was about to wet those lips with a bit of liquid seduction before he started prowling the club again, I could tell. Opportunity was out there. Except of course, when opportunity was a wilting little wallflower just waiting to be watered with some whiz-bang seductions slowly served on the ice. And that was when he looked at me… and I realised that my casual observation had become a stare about two descriptions in. Damn it! I whipped my neck back to the front so hard that every reincarnation of mine would experience neck spasms from that moment out.

Oh, but if anything, that just gave him the warm welcome he would have probably taken himself if I was not so generous with my curiosity. So he pounced. That’s right, hang on to your cocktail umrellas ladies, because the bartop weatherforcast predicts a smooth opererator is about to blow you away.

Image by Classical Art Memes

Now god; you know, I could only venture a guess as to what any other wallflower may be going through at this particular point. But there I was – just a boy that sauntered his way to the bar to wet his whistle (with no intentions of using it for idle banter), only to have a strapping Adonis swerve in from Olympus for a weekend of introvert hunting. Clearly the gods are less busy these days… And damn! These deities get cheeky on their little earthly excursions. To look at him was something different altogether… He leaned on that bartop with such a casual flair that he shifted the whole perpendicular angle of every other object in that room. On top of that, his now steady gaze had its lazer focus direced on my poor and unsuspecting self.

Unsuspecting. Well, that was perhaps not completely truthful, considering this whole description was spiced up with a serving of acute predictive detail. But, I guess that a very small part of me desperately wished that the clear social cues would not lead to an actual fruition of his plan to interact with me. Wishful thinking, right? And what the hell was wrong with me in any case?! A hot guy just comes to burn up the stratosphere of my private little world out of nowhere – that is any lad’s dream.

“Hey”

Oh f*ck. Great. Confidence. Suave. Good looks. Undeniable sex appeal. And then that voice… with the smooth tang of an aged bourboun… I say that as if I knew exactly how to expertly describe whiskey, but I guess any bar rookie could probably describe bourboun as smooth for lack of any other description. Smooth? what did I expect, that his words were going to choke me?! The only thing I was struggling to swallow was my own sense of self-awareness. It’s all good Gernus, just offer a sweet and simple hello back. The man is waiting. “Hey”.

Image by Classical Art Memes

“I haven’t seen you around… Where have you been hiding yourself?” Oh, you know, hiding behind my forgotten and forlorn fantasies of a quiet night in while perching on the armrest of that couch there in the shadows. Damn it. He caught me at my game!

I was duly reminded of one mechanism behind this encounter from an insightfull little post that highlighted the four aspects of a stressor, as posited in research done by the Centre for Studies on Human Stress.

  • Novelty
  • Unpredictability
  • Threat to the Ego
  • Sense of Control

I believe this beautifully summed up the parameters of that particular incident that so gloriouly represented how real the struggle truly was. A new encounter…striking me from the blind side… to thoroughly draw my capabilities into question… in regaining a hold over my cool little sideline gig I had working for me so far. Yeah, it was rightfully labelled N.U.T.S.

Image by Classical Art Memes

Oh my sainted aunt… Just answer the poor man! He asked you another question!

“Well, where have you been looking?” Teasing smile, calm composure. Well done wallflower! Where did you pick that one up?! Have you been spending some time waiting at streetcorners during the witching hour? Because your flirting game is just enchanting! Maybe you’ll be ok after all.

[At this point, mental asides became a crucial coping mechanism… As you can tell.]

Crooked smile in response, and with eyes lighting up, he edged closer in this little spell I just conjured. Well, that just worked…

“Clearly I haven’t been looking hard enough.” Wow. Alright. He came locked and ready with a heavy arsenal of swoon-worthy artillery. He probably could have said about a hundred different things after that. But why would he need to? His eyes spoke a whole other language that shared volumes of insight to where his mind was leading him as he took a good look at me from bottom-to top. Ending at the eyes. Classy. we may just have a gentleman on our hands.

“Guess you deserve a drink for the recent victory then.” You see, this is when things started to go a bit south. Why did I say that?! He obviously liked that, but that little comment made me aware that I was on a slow departure heading right into a Humility Heights. I could not keep this up! I had set the expectation bar far too high!

Now look… I threw a perfect one-liner as rebuttal a moment ago. That didn’t secure me an effortless pass to this little back-and-forth with this fellow. He was a master at the game. I think I was not even worthy as a practice run for his best pick-up lines. Not to pull my own self-worth into question, but I knew that my capacity for social engagement was near depletion by that particular Friday. I was an introverted HSP that just needed a little recharge and a self-prescribed dose of alone-time.

Image by Classical Art Memes

But here I was: just living it up like the sex symbol socialite and nightclub high roller with the two-drink bartab that I clearly didn’t know was flourishing inside me till that evening…

“Sounds like a plan. What does a guy have to do to get a drink around here you think?” He nudged another teasing look at me. In hindsight, the cues were simple, obvious, and even without hassle. There was a simple courtship schematic to follow here, honestly. As a wallflower, I should have known that silence followed by agency would buy me a one-way ticket into the next leg of this conversational journey. My friend had just recently reiterated that actions truly speak louder than words.

But in that neon light the nuances disappeared into the netherworld of neverminded reactions, and that pesky little mouth of mine just adopted an altogether different mindset. My grandmother use to say that the guard in front of her mouth was gone… well mine just cashed in on an early weekend leave while I was left to deal with those lips that were about to move in all the wrong ways. So I answered him instead: “Oh…well…you can just ask the barman…”

“Ask the barman…” For f*ck sakes… Stellar answer Sherlock! Why don’t you just remind him to come back here for a refill when his drink is getting low! I am sure he would appreciate the info to make his life easier…

Image by Classical Art Memes

The regret was immediate. Flabbergasted, he gave an odd chuckle, his pace of approach completely broke, and the vibe we had going just slowly and torturously evaporated until a lovely silence lay in the void of a missed opportunity. If he was about to flirt, what in the name of Aphrodite would he say? God, I basically just dismissed him in the shake of lemon wedge. And boy, I bet it stung! Damn it.

Oh but there I was, still on the bandwagon to this sudden uncomfortable encounter, waiting with dire desperation that my drink would just arrive. I was triggered… I just shot myself in the foot after all. The humiliation was setting off a synaptic disaster in my executive brain. And I knew that the systemic overheat of grasping for another topic to save the moment was causing a blush that would leave any make-up mogul shook. The awkward moment had flowered in my garden… and it smelled of self-defeating shame, sounded like the nervous tick of fingers on a countertop, and tasted like cheap gin. Beautiful.

He tried his approach again as the barman magically appeared. No sooner had that drink made its landing on the countertop, when my hand shot out with a such a desperate need that the glass was knocked over… effectively spilling my coveted drink, my saving grace, my dignity, and the final hopes of walking out of this accident unscathed.

He tried to say something, but that was amid the full blare of deep house and EDM. It resulted in my repeated apology for my lack of ability to hear anything that he was trying to say. Honey, the walls of Jericho had already fallen, and blowing anyone’s horn was not exactly going to build up what we had going. You might as well give up. He was handsome. But neither his looks, nor the faint memory of my five seconds of competent banter could save what was futilely lost.

For a fellow like me, these awkward moments have a higher probability of occurring (at least to extent of my own experiences). Overstimulation, sensitivity to minute detail, excessive processing, and high reactivity are but a few of the reasons to why an introvert such as myself (that draws energy from quiet time) would stumble upon the awkward moment in social engagement. Even more so if you happen to process information more deeply (by being an HSP). The two traits mutually influence one another to create the perfect conundrum of dealing with difficulty – if your are not smart about it. “HSPs simply process everything more, relating and comparing what they notice to past experience with similar things,” says Dr Elaine Aron, author of The Highly Sensitive Person. So our minds are pretty occupied at times – perhaps too much to keep our mojo flowing in all the right ways.

In fact, our very perception of the present moment is tied to activity in a small brain region called the insula, that seats self-awareness – which has shown increased activation in HSP’s according to research by Bianca Acevedo and her colleagues. And taking to account then how a wallflower may process a given moment, fully in touch with their inner flows and feels, this seems to explain quite a lot.

But that is just the science speaking – it tends to help with those spurts of post-rationalisation that occur for nearly a decade afterwards…

However, I always believed that awkward moments were humbling. (Well, saying always may be a bit of an overreach… I certainly had my doubts in the past when my confidence sputtered like a candle burning in a hurricane). It seems to reallign the internal gyroscope of awareness, reset one’s attentive functionality, and even to reboot the set of social systems with which one operates. Above all, it negates the penchant to pontificate, especially because it makes us so aware of our humanity. Very, very aware… One often has a sit-down simulation with oneself to prepare for similar conundrums in future…

Image by Classical Art Memes

As always, turning experience into insight seems a beautiful route to follow here… So, in dealing with that cosmic malfunction called the awkward moment, remember this:

Eccentricity and oddity is the spellwork behind your inner magic; just as idiosyncrasy is the spellbook to your individuality. Wield it without woe, and be the wizard to weave your way amid your own quirks and charms.

Love and light fellow bloomers!

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Images drawn from the amazing Classical Art Memes, that in their humour really managed to bring life to this tale. Follow them for a daily dose of legendary laughs.

For a sliver of psychology, visit Mental Health @ Home and The Highly Sensitive Refuge. Experiencing the insights of both platforms have been valuable in stitching this story together.

The Novice’s Guide to Constructing Inner Worlds – Part 2: A State of CALM

Well, here we are: at the threshold of another deep dive into the recesses of our minds. And right there, tucked away beneath layers of reflection on the givens of daily life, lies your magic escape from the mundane. This is your inner world. Or, as I once aimed at describing it in Part 1, “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.”

If you are reading this, it means you are in acknowledgement of your potential to wield your creativity. You are willing to use this long-neglected tool to build a mental fortress to withstand the siege of a near barbaric assault of anxieties, responsibilities, ruminations and societal internalizations. In part 1, a great deal of time was spent in dissecting the conundrum of the truth, and deconstructing the myths that we have so readily convinced ourselves of. And what you know, is that giving truth governance over your mental domain is the first step in laying the cornerstones of a mental retreat that can be an effective coping mechanism in modern living.

This is the truth with regards to your self: your holistic being – pieced together from your talents, your strengths; your character, your personality; your hopes, and your fears. It is the truth that pertains to what you not only desire, but what you essentially need. It is the truth that surrounds the thirsts of your mind, body, and soul. Regardless of where this truth is directed, your spirit understands the shape that it assumes and the message it conveys. And in acknowledging this truth, you create an imaginative realm that offers you substance in its security.

In this space, you chip away at those concerns that plague you within the real world. You make them manageable. Your inner world was never meant to be an escape, but a retreat. This space is, at times, a mere temporary fall-back when the battle cannot be bested. In calling it a retreat, you imply a return to the fight. But only after a cognitive reconnaissance. That means: you better make it count.

But how do we even attempt such a feat?

Freedom and Responsibility

Indeed, you may have triumphed over your habit of dishonest appraisal of yourself and your situation. You may have even come to recognise the complexity of your pedigree. You may have finally become more truthful.

Yet, in that act, you have set loose a host of horrors in your head; horrors uninhibited by the internalised blockades that is the brainchild of your socialization. A free flow of thought needs to be steamied before the stream becomes a torrent.

You may ask yourself: why would I seek control over my thoughts when I have worked so hard to obtain its freedom? And the answer would be to simply rephrase your own meaning of control as you have come to understand it. What you seek through that control, is to merely reign in your flow of thought to garner the chance to offer it guidance, lest it becomes overwhelming. Training your mind is no sin. The great injustice would only be enacted when you try to impress upon your private world the arbitrary expectations of a society you are taking a break from.

In sum: playing god in your own mental creation does not give you a kick-back ticket on the seventh day dearie. Your omnipotence is a shabby little thing, and you may need more time to tame the tides of thinking…

In the Eye of the Storm

So there you are, right in the middle of your mind scape. Meta-thinking is a bit like an oil-spill. Basically, you are watching chaos erupt around you in big, beautiful and shifting hues. Your thoughts are coalescing colours that sunder with the shifting viscosity and the nature of each idea. Sure, from the outside you had control. But in your head… there is no surface tension that keeps these musings level. So what do you do? Somewhere you need to be in charge of the ethereal movements of your thinking.

Wallflowers show a particular precocity when it comes to taming the tumultuous tempest that is their minds. They call it CALM. And surely this very term would spark unrest in its matter-of-fact simplicity, especially among those horses of a different extroverted colour. But before becoming your own raging nightMARE (you galloped right into that pun sweetie), let me explain how a sideline bloomer takes root in this almost meditative state – a little thing I like to call: The Serenity Cycle.

(C)ollect – (A)ccept – (L)iberate – (M)oderate. It seems simple enough, yet, it is a mindful and engaged process that requires your attentive custodianship over your own contemplations. Mastering the maelstrom is not easy. It requires a patient navigation through waves of unpredictability, and a gale of uncertainty that can steer you off course.

You Need To Calm Down

We love quoting subheadings from the hits of millennial music starlets…

You’re in for quite a session, so start off with a little Taylor Swift moment and marinate in her socially aware pop for a hot minute…

Now. Time to calm yourself.

Phase One: Collect

Collecting churning broodings in one place is a good start in cultivating an awareness of what it is composed of. From a truthful acknowledgement of your nature, comes the recognition of your doubts as much as your confidence. Collecting these in one place allows you to see the difference with greater clarity. Or else, you’ll be faced with a beautiful chaos that seems mesmerising in its shifting spectrum. Similarly, it allows you to distinguish your stress from your comfort, remove the barriers from your desires, and seperate the remaining myths and falsehoods from the truth you had so carefully curated.

For a wallflower, this is a patient endeavour to which they tend to with sustained focus, as the sideline bloomer is faced with a great amalgamation of information that they have processed since their last mental hiatus. Being highly sensitive observers, wallflowers perceive and test their present versions of self against an external world with a laudable opinion. Every experience is continually stirred into the cosmic collection of theories and feelings, awaiting assortment and comprehension. With a sensitive disposition, this means that situational input is intensified in effect, making them powerful ingredients to the mental mix.

Phase Two: Accept

Then comes the harder part: the unconditional acceptance of what you have regarded as your flaws. In the darkest abyss of your unconscious, where little light reaches the surface of your impulsive spirit (in its entirety) to reflect its blended beauty, lies repressed a deep shame of what in part defines us. We regard these as shortcomings, as weaknesses, as faults. Our shame has the consequence of leading us to the concealment of that which causes us discomfort. Thus, we repress it to a place where it can remain deeply hidden, and where we can be consciously unaware of its presence and influence. But these very parts of us that cause this shame is also rooted firmly in who we are as a core individuals. In our own minds, we are damaged deities seeking to build dynasties that magnanimously encapsulate our ideal sense of self. And yet, in that damage, lies our niches of improvement; our restorative spaces that allow us the opportunity to come to closer and closer approximations of the best versions of ourselves. But at that very moment, standing witness to the present image of ourselves in its complex mesh of virtues and vices, there is no immediate action that can fundamentally change our perception of who we are. It takes time. Therein lies the beauty of mindful acceptance.

To allow that present version of yourself to be. To see those flaws as realms upon which to improve, instead of areas as criticism. For in every passing moment thereafter, that version is reshaped, realigned, rewritten – and every developing narrative is based on what has come before as an experiential backdrop. Thus, THIS version of who you are – the version you struggle to come to terms with – is a necessary and invaluable stepping stone to a greater form.

Wallflowers have to be continually accepting of misperceptions that creep in among the environmental feedback that validates their strengths. In truth, these perceptions are dispositional and situational attributions. These attributions are bound by context due to the people we interact with, some who understand our need for quiet reflection, and others who misconstrue this as social withdrawal (situational attribution). Yet, these attributions also result from our delayed pondering on such feedback, often leaving us to question whether we are the ones that are in possession of some fundamental flaw that lies deep in our genetic weaving (dispositional attribution). So, we reconcile our views with a truthful understanding of who we are, accepting that such misperceptions will happen as we seek to find our place in the world. But it takes time and patient perusal, and the utilisation of a fitting context from which to draw energy.

Phase Three: Liberate

After this peace accord with your holistic self, comes the liberation of the negative energy that was harnessed in the self-reflected emotions and thoughts about who you are. The enemy at the gates is but a projection of our own mental imagery as to who can challenge dominion over your personal conceptualizations. In the real world, your fabrication of a public persona is a product of your attentions being paid to a collective opinion – a pseudo self, created for the purpose of affirmation and approval. And for adaptability within one’s outer life, this may indeed be necessary. But in your own mind, where you are omnipresent to your own flow of thought, your greatest crime would be to acknowledge such input when you are seeking a retreat therefrom. And in that knowledge, a blinder removed can often reveal that our greatest adversary is ever ourselves – distorted into a picture that we don’t recognise. It questions the reason as to why we pay heed to such an unrecognisable and unliked part of very beings in the first place.

For a wallflower, time is never wasted in the reflection over what they are posed. If opinion, critique, or feedback do not resonate with us on a deeper level, then giving it any degree of validation will surely cause dissonance and discomfort. It destabilises the foundation of the truth. It then becomes important to free ourselves of unnecessary burdens (false attributions, misperceptions, criticisms, self-inflicted insults), as they serve no purpose in the greater scheme of heavy cognitive and affective labour that we invest in constructing our inner world.

Alan P. Downs spoke of the concept of validation in his book, The Velvet Rage. Through our daily life, we vacillate between that which we are willing to accept and that which we truly need. What we need, is authentic validation, as it is crucial for our self-growth. In turn, this self-growth is necessary to combat these enduring areas of shame that we face with regards to ourselves (a topic he also addresses in his book). In our interaction with people, we sometimes settle for false or low-level validations. We are noticed and acknowledged, or else complimented on qualities that are vague, vapid, and most likely attached to the public façade we have pieced together in order to cope. Our high-level validations are flattering and boosting, and we attach value to them. Yet, even a compliment given with the intent of reciprocity will starve us of the truthful considerations that we need. Your inner world, now free from lies and untethered in its possibility, can not be anything short of authentic. It is there, where we have collected both our shame and pride, then accepted our shame (and now seek to liberate ourselves from its source) where we need to confront it with an authentic validation where it is most vulnerable. For only then, can we liberate ourselves from the parts that shackle us.

Phase Four: Moderate

We are then left with what remains. Having collected a holistic perception of ourselves, accepting the disparate parts that makes up that perception, and having liberated ourselves from those shame-bound views that offer no room for growth or meaningful reflection, the task is set to us to manage what is left. This includes the perusal of a unique blend of qualities worth appreciating: our hopes, our aspirations, our unfolding collection of life stories. We are left with our doubts: about our capacities, our skills, our core faculties – all tested through momentary blinks through our narrative. It is these that we seek to moderate, and reduce in their influence. We do not seek to cut off our awareness from the presence of such doubts, simply not to experience them at the level of amplification we were exposed to when we first confronted them in the zestpool that was our untamed meta-cognitive realm. When the storm abates and the wind ceases its howling inside our cranial caverns, we manage to focus with greater clarity on the resources that are available to build our realms of imagination.

Life is a constant act of engaged self-monitoring for a wallflower. Our introverted energies have lead us to seek control over our minds, so as to better police our ruminations. But in doing so we deny the very value in such deep levels of thinking. We suppress the vibrancy of our imagination or the intensity of the feelings that have allowed us the opportunity to reach useful epiphanies. Until we learned, that moderating the impact of such thoughts make it bearable. So we take our time and deal with our thoughts and its accompanying emotions slowly. In so doing, we yield the feeling without allowing it o overpower us.

Completing the Cycle

As your wellspring of good intentions are poured out into the world, the harsh, vitriolic, and unappreciative nature of some of its recipients will mould and distort the treasured thoughts from which they stem. The power of a wordly malice is a looming threat that drives our musings wild like cornered animals. The rampage is set loose as ruminations stampede through our minds, desperately seeking purchase. Retreating to your inner sanctum should leave you blissfully untroubled by the run-of-the-mill concerns that form the gestalt of your daily outer existence. Calming the mind is necessary, and acts as a boon to retake agency, and make your mind ringmaster to its circus of ideas.

Call it an act of meditation, a renewal of focus, or simply one of the ways of the wallflower… a state of CALM is a weapon to beat down the watchful dragons of our mental bounty, before they ravage the free-bound landscape that is yours to shape. Inner battles were never meant to be waged unchecked across the delicate peace of your private domain.

And so…

Serenity serves to steady the thoughts that soldier on through a mind at war.

An inner world is meant to be a space from which to confidently allow the voice of your intuition, and to discard the hesitations in choice that limit you in your outer world. Your goal is to broker peace for the fruition of your imagination…

Calm thee tender tempest, the greater storm 
The caged wail, echoing blindingly,
As white noise settles to deafened ears and screaming eyes.
Settle now the howling beast that in its freedom hunts sanity.
May peace be the sentinel
As thoughts unyielding
Prowl the waking pondering.
- Gernus Oosthuizen

Love and light fellow bloomer.

Bittersweet Bravery and the Ballad of a Broken Heart

Your very soul stirs the shift of a season...
And in the winter of your absence...
I find a comfort in the summer of your memory.

Bittersweet

/ˌbɪtəˈswiːt/

Adorned with the quality of awakening a sensation of pleasure, tinged with traces of longing and heartache. The description given to that indescribable mix of emotion that preludes the dichotomous state of heart.

He stepped out of his car in a sizzling vibrancy. The very air was permeated by his presence, and it felt almost electric. A high voltage of anticipation coursed through my frame. His intensity was tangible, even in the dark. The sun had long since set behind the high hill in the distance, and thus was lent a mystery to the way the night draped itself over our awaited encounter.

As he closed the gap of the few feet that lay between us – which but a moment ago still felt like a thousand leagues to gather myself in a single functioning piece – my ribcage nearly bent with the rapid pounding of my heart.

Get it together man! It’s just a date… Adjust your petals, and stop blushing. You’re not a damn rose…

But a rose by any other name could be as red… And as he offered a hand in greeting, I organically leaned forward instead to draw him into an embrace. Well done Wallflower… way to start it off on a good whiff of your savvy!

I could not help myself though. I was immediately drawn to him, and somehow I did not mind any awkward first impression at all… But he gave a playful smirk, a deep chuckle and then was more than willing to return the gesture.

… a moth drawn to the flame…. and I hoped that, whatever the consequence, I was not about to burn…

He took a few steps into the alleyway leading to my front door as I closed the gate behind us. In that momentary solace where I had my back turned to slide the bolt back into place, I caught my breath and turned down the heat a bit to help me get through this not-so impromptu date. As a wallflower, my sensitivity to minute detail was functioning at an optimal level tonight, and boy… my feelers were just picking up all kind of wavelengths from this guy that I had not anticipated. He was on a completely different frequency than I was ready for, and his radioactive presence was unraveling the DNA of any cool composure I had hoped to maintain during the evening.

In the stairway light that illuminated the climb up to my first-floor apartment, I must have seemed all a fluster with a freshly formed flush and audible palpitations. Because clearly the episode earlier was not to be an isolated event! My feet felt like lead as I dragged them up step by step in the small perpetual ascent to what would truly be our first face-to-face encounter. The landing brought us to the kitchen, and as he stepped around the counter to stand on the side facing the living room, he turned and we locked gazes for the first time that evening.

He was casually clad in a windbreaker, a pair of blue jeans and a NYC baseball cap that shaded a playfully knitted brow and dark mischievous eyes; and with his slightly crooked smile that was a one-way ticket to my wildest fantasies, I knew I was in trouble. F*ck… this was going to be hard… He was all at once the man I would introduce to my father and the man I wanted my father never to find out about! A chivalrous bad-boy, with ambition and courtesy, who speeded across the spectrum of stereotypes and enigmas within the realm of dating types. It made me dizy and made any coherence to my free flow and façade evaporate in the heat of his wisecracks and warm eyes. I think I was so deep in the seductions of his sorcery that any resistance was futile from the get-go. And we had not even sparked up a flow of convo yet.

Now for a wallflower like myself, dating pretty much comprised of a careful and patient observational game. One develops a sharpened eye for bodily cues, the shape of social exchange and that overall intuitive feel of the other’s presence – rich sources of information that undergo any number of layers of processing. Paradoxically, your date is not an objectification of your interest, but yet they are an anomaly that is novel, different, and ready for exploration. So, metaphorical notebook in hand, one steadily soaks up the complexity of their character and prods their personality, testing how well it meshes with your own. And if by some divine providence or stroke of luck you come across a handsome, tall drink of water… you may want a refill of their company very soon. But being introspective, high-reactive, sensitive and perceptive, your multidimensional spirit becomes selective in matchmaking. You are open-minded to the nuances, yet at the same time you have a fine-tuned set of filters in place to simplify the great volley of observational input. Pretty empirical for a common game of courtship, right? Well, for a wallflower, the quest for love can be an over-stimulating odyssey, so having some way to map the matrix is pretty handy.

It was not about to work on this guy though… He was entirely non-reducible to a set of simple descriptive mental shortcuts. The great irony was that he was a pretty straightforward kind of shooter stitched together from an open-hearted and direct demeanour. And his judgment was undeviating and honest. Simplicity was certainly an architect to his pedigree. Yet, I had hardly met a man who filled me with a more complicated kind of reaction. And damn, I was so shy when he glanced my way… In his way…

I was possibly his opposite in nearly every aspect, but that merely bred a magnetic attraction that was steadily growing unchecked and much faster than my proud pondering self could keep pace with. I was certainly fast becoming a moth drawn to the flame of his wildfire suave; and I hoped that, whatever the consequence, I was not about to burn…

A defence was but the delay of an assault…

But I had taken a keen sense of foresight for such predicaments early on. I had a nice little DMC and sit-down with the Universe, and set the record straight as only a gay man could. She was not about to make my love life a divine comedy! That was simply not the constructive approach with me. She had to understand that the Karmic bus was going to require a renewal of her driver’s licence before she came speeding through my parade!

But I think my well-positioned pleas and plans got lost somewhere in that little spaced-out encounter with this guy. The tell-tale signs were rapidly becoming red flags waving frantically and it brought my soaring ideals in for an emergency landing. So I had to fall back on that beautiful prehistoric programming that imbued us with a deeply innate ability to navigate human courtship: instinct.

Little did I know that was like bringing fire near gasoline…

I had this little habit of downplaying emotional intensity with a little bit of humour (well… a lot, actually). I was a little queer (pun unintended), weird, imaginative… living it up in my inner world. I could throw a quip, even a little bit of playful banter. It just helped to steer the situation a bit and keep things lighthearted and amicable, while not displacing the topic.

The tables turned however, when the metre of his jokes seemed to match my own, and we realised that we had met an interesting predicament where we played set match on the sarcasm scale of our deflections, serves, and verbal volleys. It was like an immovable object meeting an unstoppable force, and the titanic clash left us with long silences which teased at our composed temperaments. The tension was tangible, and it oscillated between the small gap that separated us on the bamboo-framed two-seater that was digging into our backs through the cushions (he was too much of a gentleman to ever attempt to address that uncomfort).

God he was handsome… he drove me crazy, he drove me wild… and I wonder if he ever really knew that I had already succumbed to the siege of his smoulder.

Hours had passed in which we had carefully trodden this situation. Refined and reserved: that was my way of approach, but for all that was good and sacred… I wished so desperately for a misstep or a Freudian slip that would give away my patient game. And that got me thinking… why was I playing a game? Why was I so intensely focused on this process of self-monitoring?

A defence was but the delay of an assault, and I was clearly feeling heavily bombarded by this situation. I was myself, and yet, so unlike what I felt I wanted to be – around him. Some deep part of me yearned for him to see that the blossom was not the bud – that this wallflower was already blooming in the shadow of my own hesitations. He was living proof that chivalry was not dead, and yet he was an unapologetic bastard at heart (God I loved it!). A diamond in the rough for sure, but a priceless rarity amidst the mining ground of male eligibles. He was not about to overstep in any way, but the gleam in his eye spoke of a playful side that could take you for quite the spin on the playground. But did he even comprehend the precise allure of his personality? His charisma was a flame that licked at my defences and melted my cool exterior like so much ice. And perhaps, just perhaps, I was trying to futilely postpone his near effortless victory.

Your pattern will be broken…

Another awkward moment seeped it’s way into the exchanges. Nearly every story ended with a deep moment of contemplation, a placid pause or an amiable look that left us both grappling for words. My mind raced desperately to look for another hot topic to play with, but he looked at me again and snatched my mind in another direction with that cheeky smile in his eyes. “Hey, what’s up?”, he teased (not for the first time). God this self-restraint was unbearable! And all at once the elastic tension that had stretched past its cue for the night forced some action, and finally snapped. I gave a final quiet laugh, amused by my out-of-character bravado which was making me turn toward him, and then lean over…

And somewhere during the evening, navigating past the thorny silences and the ridiculous amount of terrifying attraction, a kiss was planted that would grow to encumber any other hindrance to the inevitable affinity of our desiring spirits. My hard-earned strategems were undone. My petals were pried open. In all the ways of a wallflower, no hidden wisdom prepared you…

It did not prepare you for that realisation… that:

Among an infinite set of impossibilities, you will meet a soul – a being who will unravel the cosmic stitching within the fabric of your life. Your pattern will be broken. It will quake you to the core and force you from the toppling walls of your inner fortress. It will force you right into the arms of the most familiar stranger…

…and oh the force behind that collision. For it sent us both toppling backward and blind into the unknown ether of our unconscious wishes. “The heart wants what it wants” they say.

We drowned despite the warning…

And when his kisses spoke of a requited desire to be closer, to feel more connected, and to break the barriers, I could not help but feel a surge of joy as our bodies talked with a similar cellular diction that made every nerve ending spark with excitement.

But a veil hung over the already rosy hue of the scene that had begun playing in all its intensity, and further obscured the logic that remained to keep those same hearts intact. It loomed at the back of our minds even as we allowed ourselves the sweet surrender to feelings we had long since forgotten. Beyond this moment of chaotic perfection – beyond this new impenetrable space created with one another – awaited an inevitable parting. It was this moment that was about the only thing we had foreseen before the dice were cast. Yet, we took the impulsive plunge into the depths of each other’s eyes. We drowned despite the warning…

He was not from here. This town was no longer his home. Long ago, he had sought out his adventure in the great wide somewhere. And we knew, that a goodbye was an imminent reality that neither of us could truly change. We knew we were lost amidst the oceanic vastness of this encounter, and if anything…we circumnavigated the Bermuda triangle of our denial in a desperate hope to be lost in that moment forever.

We were caught in the throes of a bittersweet impasse.

How exactly do you resist the call of passion, when it is crisp, clarion and clear. We sheathe our souls under layers of refinement, ego deceptions and self-doubt to ultimately restrain us from our natural affinities. So often, we miss the call of passion. We miss the chance to become ridiculously infatuated with all it’s beautiful and disastrous consequences. Consequence is, after all, a harsh, yet nurturing teacher; a teacher that imparts its lesson to a degree measurable to the act that preceded it.

We knew all to well the shape of the consequence that lay before us – me and him – yet the result was not one of immeasurable heartache. It was a parting made bitter by the very injustice of having to say farewell; but a parting tinged with the sweet knowledge that such a stir of emotion is, in fact, possible – even if rare. It imbues your outlook with hope. It is restorative to the cynic disbelief in an emotive magic. And it reawakens the romantic that you had long thought to be exiled from your forced maturity – a maturity validated among a generation that relentlessly strives to rationalise all affective repertoire.

We were caught in the throes of a bittersweet impasse that required of us to face the music; yet, the melody of this ballad was not about to end in the happy sentimentality of giving in to the truth. And the truth was evident in our electric proximity; in the many whispers exchanged within our bated breaths. I had once said, in another writing of mine, that the truth permits growth sooner than does misdirection. But to say we were in love… Now that was a truth that neither of us wanted to admit for fear of the hardship it would afford us. Whatever the lesson was, whatever the insight from this experience would be, neither of us wanted to deal with the hurt in reaching that epiphany.

But as love rewrites the self-imposed conduct and personal rules we set to ourselves, so does it rewrite the caution we would take in trying not to crack our own castles of glass.

This heart is a fractured melody... 
And in the soft chimes of the gleam
That played on the prismatic edges of every crack
Was the reshaped yearnings of a forlorn feeling.
And as I teased at the old stir of memories, I picked up broken shards that had once been
My impregnable castle of glass...
That has so easily succumbed to the siege
of your eyes.

“What did you do to me?”, he asked tenderly, echoing the thought that had crossed my mind so many times since that evening. The words had left his lips in a heavy sigh, reverberating with the deep tragedy of an attraction that would be tensed over miles in but the count of a few days. And as the weeks had passed, that moment had become a a crystalline memory that captured the tremors those words had sent into the small pocket of air that seperated us when we were together.

In the test of bravery those idle hours afforded – knowing that it would soon be time to say goodbye – I did not regret the dutiful response to my heart. The experience of love is not regrettable. The heartwrenching hurt of the farewell to the object of that love, is not regrettable. Our time invested in love, is not regrettable. What is regrettable, is the minutes wasted in giving stock to the suppression of love when our time to experience it is so finite to begin with.

Especially when the lesson from that love, is that you are not a bud to be plucked when you have not been permitted the time to bloom. And as a wallflower, you want to bloom unabashed amid the field of your lush vibrancy. You want to absorb the natural freedom emanating from your will, and then bask in the light of another who permits you the security and acceptance to express that energy. Love is a prototype to the tending we feel we deserve, lessened only by the perceptions of what we have been made to think we deserve.

And for a brief moment, he made me feel like I was the only one that ever mattered…

Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.

Lao Tzu

So what lessons are left to us in this near irreparable state of heart? Perhaps this: beware not the battle to be bested. Bitter may be the bravery in overcoming a broken heart, but sweet is the ballad that sings of its memory. Love in all its consequence allows us a divine brush against the best versions of ourselves.

Therefore, resist not the pull of your heart, as the tide does not resist the pull of the moon. Your attraction is a natural alignment of your celestial energy. Be one with the flow of your experience, and surrender to the lessons of limerence.

Love and light fellow bloomers.

AfrikaBurn – Seeking the “Golden Repair”

Freedom permits us a space that is rife with the possibilities to disassemble, break, and destroy, in order to remake, reshape, and realign. But the acceptance of such a faculty demands a great deal of vigilance from those who desperately sought it out in the first place. In truth, when we seek freedom, we do not often preemptively strucure our sense of agency and act with forbearance. We untether ourselves from any and all expectation. It is only then that an experience seems more visceral, more intense, more memorable. And that is a significant insight to reach in one’s musings. Why is it that we so seek to gain a heightened intensity from our experiences? Is it perhaps that we hope that the memory would last us longer? Or do we hope to obtain enlightenment?

Yes, these are the musings of a wallflower. For in the view of such a being, a surface level reasoning is simply not enough to kickstart the carousel of an adventurous day. To overthink, to ruminate and to ponder – these are the givens of existence for any proud sideline bloomer. And perhaps the best way to describe it, is by embellishing it with a “day-in-the-life” type of walkthrough while in the Tankwa.

So there I was…

A dim hum assailed my ears on my first awakening at AfrikaBurn. We were new arrivals only but the past day, and the morning promised a quaint little expedition for the bold. So well-rested and with a sparkle in the eye, I emerged from my tent ready to set forth on an unexpected set of adventures. The Tankwa was breathing deep and heavy sighs from an early hour, and the heaves of air sent plumes of dustclouds rolling over the Binnekring.

… And you basically had to be driving one of these bad boys to own that playground… Yes, you may not have seen any better, but squinting from the driver’s seat would have looked a lot cooler…

The plain was committed to testing its desert dwellers on that day with its myriad of dust storms. So I thought it fitting to don my Sun God apparel to see if I could contest the blazing sun through the almost opaque air of the Karoo landscape.

What do we say to the god of the desert? Not Today! This was AfrikaBurn. Valar Dohaeris! All men must serve (women too… and their children, their elders, their ancestors, their imaginary friends… you pretty much had to convinve everyone to share in the communal effort of making magic in the desert). Even when the elements converged to oppose you, no citizen should shy away from the rugged landscape that beckoned.

So I pushed my tentflap aside, and emerged with a suncrown proudly donned, a bandana or two, a scarf, and some other accessories to change into my first divine desert guise… but… I had to break the glory of the moment by going back a couple of times to readjust all the pieces.

The wind was pretty merciless, so having your paraphernalia flying around was not going to feel all that ideal. My fellow campers had the same challenge, and yet the degree of their actual struggle seemed completely masked by their near effortless navigation beneath the gazebo.

Afterwards, having mounted our steeds, we cycled into our street and off into the haze of the party… And it was literally a haze; the dust was everywhere. I was convinced I found parts of the Tankwa all up and between my bits and in places I did not even know existed!

I lost myself in a kaleidoscopic blur…

Tankwa Town and the Binnekring was already fully awakened from its short hours of slumber, and so were the sleepless… aimlessly wandering across the barrens in search of some form of worldly orientation.

… though some discovered that ‘worldly orientation’ was simply a snake in the grass (or was it the dust?)

You basically knew you were at AfrikaBurn when your perception, of place, space and time was not bound by your accustomed celestial cycle. And tracing that day by means of the sun and its casted shadows seemed near impossible with the churning dustclouds galloping across the open plains as far as you could dare keep your eyes open. Yes, a watch may just have helped. But is keeping track truly ANY fun when the fandango is in full swing?

I was already entrenched in my inner world though. Any possibility of keeping track with the schedule of reality (even in a fantasy world brought to life, such as the Burn) proved futile when contested with my own unique knack of getting utterly lost in my own thoughts. It was a little comparative exercise that I had grown accustomed to – taking the multi-sensory experiences back to my minscape and seeing how it measured up to all of my imagined reality. Yes, even the magic of AfrikaBurn could not hold the right of succession to take reign of my imagination. And, obviously, in that imagining I realised that I had brought quite a list of expectations to this place…

So here was the conundrum. In TankwaTown an expectation was a bit like common sense: it is a flower that does not grow in everyone’s garden.

My expectation of finding common sense…

And for that matter, it was a flower that did not take root well once it hit the rock just beneath the topsoil of the Karoo. The very nature of the event and what it placed out for the offer was mutable. Your very next adventure was likely to be changing with the dynamic energy of the day, and you would be left sorely disappointed if you clung to fast-held notions of what exactly you would be finding next. And yet, there I was with my typical wallflower mentality – I was observing and hypothesising and making ungrounded deductions of what this day would offer.

… even a wallflower needs to unroot themselves from their mounted garden on the wall…

So, this pattern needed to be broken. I was pretty much following this automated construal of the world 24/7 when I was back home. So something had to be different here, didn’t it?

We winded through all kinds of colourful folk until we reached a camp called Sonskyn en Wyn (Sunshine and Wine). It certainly seemed to be the perfect little spot, with a coy enough name, to convince me that it was meant to help us unwind and just freely associate. Thus, we were welcomed by a thriving little dancefloor bustling with gyrating bodies and beautiful creatures, and set ourselves the task of hanging out for awhile. We played a claw machine to get ourselves some styrofoam cups, gifted any of the extras to strangers in the queue, and set about to the bar to fill our bellies with some warm, red swill to induce a slight sense of inebriation and loosened inhibitions.

“Take us to that afterparty! … We are five steps ahead.”

I started noticing some boys, so I guess something was starting to work…

Trying to throw ‘subtle’ hints to get attention…

I soon saw that dancing was not yet something I had developed a unique, extemporaneous talent for. I was not yet whipping out the Drunken Giraffe or Crazy Train for good measure (and if you don’t know those moves, then I may need to come over for some community service). So until we were ready to rumble our temples, we had some work to do before the Burner spirit was ready take the wheel of this dirty little joyride. Just loosen up sweetie… you’ll be living your best life soon…

“Just pose in front of that sign first, that’s it…”

Perhaps the day called for another impromptu adventure. So, a little way down the road, we found a new initiative called together known as the Vagabonds. And here we found our next activity for the morning: Silent Speed Dating. Now by all the Old Gods and the New, I was basically a demure maiden when it came to taking up arms in striking up a flirty connection with someone. Even with my suncrown blazing and reflecting my self-ploclaimed, novice Burner glory, I was still a pretty reserved, blue-eyed lad when it came to what constituted the theory of attraction. Though, something I ingested happened to leave me with a drop of courage…

The whole activity required of those present to wander around the tent and find eligibles to vibe with in silence for a straight two minutes. Mostly, this involved staring point blank into the eyes of your temporary date for what felt like a small eternity. And if you were lucky, you walked away having caught something in the depths of those big, awkward, luminous orbs staring back at you. Some just stared, some smiled, some initiated more tactile ventures of excitement… but we all were laid bare in some way or another. Fun right?Well, I walked out of that little gathering with my sunrays bent haphazardly in all directions, a disheveled bush of hair, and a fogged up pair of spectacles that seemed to betray my virtue and innocence. So I guess it was a merry little time…

… The selfie of atonement after the walk of shame…

Now I mentioned luck, but this ‘dating’ game was not really intended to create discomfort or even walk away with a soulmate. I admit though… Did I notice the raven haired, bearded beauty who graced that tent with his broad bare torso, and lively dark eyes; that man who had a smile that could be a beacon to any one lost on the dust-shrouded Binnekring; that excuisite fox who showed me the twin suns that he had shaved at the back of his head? Of course I did! And I still reprimand my inability to have sought him out thereafter! I remembered him perhaps more clearly than the rest. His hugs were especially thrilling! (by the way, if you are him and reading this, drop a guy a hint)

But it was besides the point. The speed dating was intended to break down reservations. The whole purpose was to find a vestige of some beauty in the presence of the other and, for that matter, to expand on our very notions of what beauty can comprise. I saw another wallflower who unfolded her petals in her quiet confidence; I saw a woman who had enough love to nurture the strife of the world; and a shy young lad who adjusted his crown as he tried to be a confident prince of pride…

And in all that searching, I wondered and teased at what I saw of myself – reflected back in those many strange cosmic eyes I had felt compelled to drowned in for the briefest amount of time. But I remember walking out there, feeling particularly… lonely…

For if we all face our demons at some point, this was surely mine.

Strange isn’t it? How you could find time for such a thing as idle mind-wandering and then feel lonesome in such an unconditionally accepting and immersive place created by 14 000 people. And yet, there it was. A small seed of awareness had started germinating the moment I stepped out of that tent. Though, it was not something I attempted at giving much thought to. That would just be way too meta so early in the Burn game. To think about your thinking.

And yet, the feeling would hit me like a freight train with a full cargo moments later…

When I became inexorably, hopelessly and disastrously HIGH.

Now a few more things did fill the gap between the late morning and the afternoon when this level of ‘fun’ hit home. My fellowship played some naked tennis. Then, we organically drifted into a tent or two to curiously check things out. Afterwards, we managed to send out our warm thoughts of love (and miss an opportunity to write my will and testament) on postcards for those back home…

And you thought sending ravens were cool…

And I think we may have had a drink and a bite to eat afterward.

… Maybe if we found the sheriff I might have been spared the trouble I was about to get in…

But things started to take a slightly different turn a few hours later. I remember it starting as a unique burning sensation at my core, as though my solar plexus had decided to implode and then expand in a searing light that sought to beam right through my chest. And as that volatile energy sought to leave my body in a somatic ruin, it set in motion a chain reaction of synaesthesia that sought to rewrite every cerebral code that was keeping my mind intact.

Now, I was in for quite an unforgettable experience. Imagine this: sanity, consciousness, inner turmoil, and your body… all fragmented, coalesced, detached and collided together in a seemingly endless cycle producing a little asylum theatre for whatever audience happened to be present. Meanwhile, inside you’re head, you are just having the time of your life trying to keep all your dragons in their dungeon. Yes. I was tripping irrevocably and I think I plummeted right past Alice on my way down the rabbit hole… (the bitch thought she had mastered psychedelia…).

Visually, you felt like you were caught up in the plotline of The Pagemaster, about to be consumed by the colour maelstrom when the dome artwork from the rotunda melted.

…remember when this was was your biggest childhood fear in the library?

You then fight to survive an audial assault as colours swirl loudly into a unique palette of oblivion. As you try to steady yourself by making contact with anything solid, your tactile turmoil kicks off due to the delayed fire of nerve endings. Eating anything was particularly interesting. The distinction between your palate, tongue and whatever you were ingesting seemed to undergo a molecular fusion with every chewing motion as particles made contact and then seperated in an indistinct gustatory puzzle. Time slowed torturously while your awareness and body seemed to be chasing one another in circles until they smashed against one another at unscheduled untervals causing tremors to contest the Binnekring loud zone. I remember feeling as if I felt like I was clinging onto rails on the edge of a playground roundabout – spinning uncontrollably before coming to an unexpected halt. Repeatedly.

Looking back, it is hard to say what exactly may have induced the buzz state where my mind was being scrambled like an unsolved Rubik’s Cube. Perhaps I inhaled too much glitter that had worked it’s way through my cortical folds to play havoc on my amygdala and substantia nigra (because we all love contemplating a bit of biology in rationalisation of our actions). That Vagabond tent was pretty crowded with a couple of shiny fairies, so the theory seemed plausible… Or perhaps I was bewitched by a dame whose love spell backfired. I mean, my t-shirt said “Wizzard”, but I do wish someone may have told her that her act of courtship was a move at barking up the wrong tree.

It could also be that my thoughts were just churning about so violently already that my mind just got sucked into that vortex of discombobulation . Or, maybe it was a UFO; one was making the rounds on the Binnekring Road. That was definitely it. I am sure. Damn extraterrestrials!

Indisputable evidence (top right) – I couldn’t make my photo safari and espionage too obvious…

I mean, there were so many strange encounters after that cookie… it could have been anything really…

One thing was for sure: I lost myself in a kaleidoscopic blur, where iridescent hues melded in a wonderfully chaotic ruin, and distant melodies morphed into a tribal cacophony; my wild spirit never had a better cue to go and dance wildly in the dust…

Photo Credit: Rohan Roberts
Instagram: @burner_astro
https://www.instagram.com/p/BeH58_6lXQy/?igshid=9022dzrwrf35

And boy, some part of me sure was lost for quite a bit before it decided to come back; so that may just have happened. And the rest of me was left behind to enjoy a party for one in a lumpy little shaking heap of disorientation and a seesaw state of consciousness.

From witness accounts (only two, thank God), it seemed that I remained in a near catatonic cycle of rocking back and forth with my hands pressing down on my skull to keep everything contained. All sensation had slowed to a point where minute moments felt elongated, lengthened, stretched out, stretched thin, and even perpetual…

… possibilities to disassemble, break, and destroy…

So what was really happening in that shred of consciousness that was left to me that day?

Cue a throwback to the Vagabond tent, with my little “lost-in-thought” moment and feeling of being lonely, and I realised I actually was tangent to a deep truth that I was maybe attempting to suppress. It was certainly something that was playing at the edge of concern that day. But in this very instance, that bleak little monster that represented that strange feeling was a dark, numbing wraith that wrapped ghostly tendrils around my inner defences… and shattered them. I was sure that spirits danced across the Binnekring when the ancient Karoo night unwrapped itself at night to reveal the mysteries that lay beyond the stratosphere, but I wondered what ghosts each Burner carried along with them. For I sure did not intend to encounter this kind of adversary in this magical place…

But what it was, what it represented, and why it was particularly isolated to draw my attention with such vehemence, remained clear.

It got me wondering, for weeks afterward, at what skeletons decided to snatch onto everone’s luggage when they decided to open their closets for packing. For if we all face our demons at some point, this was surely mine. And I was facing it now. And who knows how many others among the desert horde faced theirs that night as well. For in that altered state of consciousness, all else is stripped away, revealing the very darkest parts of you to be more clear and more vulnerable than they possibly may have ever been before.

And perhaps my acceptance of the perks of being a wallflower did have this small consequence: to get lost so effectively due my idle mind-wandering so as to be isolated in the barrens of the unconscious… where no one could join or tell me that they left a light on if I decided to return…

How many scars remain invisible and unacknowledged as they spread through our souls in our inability to give stock to our hidden desires and conflicts? As our daily hassles tax us; as our life struggles drain us; and as we are challenged to acknowledge more authentic versions of ourselves, how far do we go to escape the island of misfit toys – that self-created realm where we rationalise, over compensate, and repress to cope with our broken selves? And what is more, does AfrikaBurn become our metaphorical Kintsukuroi (金繕い, “golden repair”) where the history of our breakage becomes part of our enduring beauty? Was this one of the dreaded expectations that creeped its way into consciousness when one found oneself in a place that could offer some sense of healing. Did we need healing?

… in order to remake, reshape, and realign…

It did set in motion a little mental hiatus to engage in some reflection. In fact, the crucial importance of this period was almost sacrosanct in its significance; paramount to whatever I clearly needed to face. My preference for my inner world may have removed me too much from a place that required my presenence and mindful engagement.

The truth is that even a wallflower needs to unroot themselves from their mounted garden on the wall, especially when magic is being made.

But here is perhaps, the catch-22. Dismounting from your high horse and riding from you realm of comfort does not imply that you go seek out your dragons in places that you are not prepared to face them. I had posed the question at the start of this entry of our tendency to so desperately strive for the intensity of our experiences, and if we perhaps sought that this intensity would secure its permanence in memory. But as was said, reserving an expectation for an event such as AfrikaBurn was prone to lead to discontentment. So in other words, pushing too hard in a desire for novelty, change, and even healing was bound to be a staggering plotline that would leave you as the playwright sorely rattled and despondent. To state it even more simply, perhaps I had plunged to deep into my own ruminations… and the conduct I perused to achieve that dive set me into maelstrom of my own inner conflicts.

Most importantly fellow Burner, remember: just because a Bad Trip can be made to sound like an epic undertone to the Divine Comedy, don’t try this at home kids! Dante’s Inferno is not the only place where you will poetically discover that hell has nine levels!

For me, that confrontation stole close to half of that fateful day. It found me stumbling out of my tent to find the rose and gold hues of light glowing softly on the horizon. I knew I asked myself more than once why the sunset was in the wrong place? It was only after my companions discovered that their wallflower had drifted out on the street again, that some alarm spread through our little camp. I mean, I could have lost myself anywhere really… if I had not fully recovered. I could have just ventured on into our neighbour’s little boudoir, and they happened to be a tribe of lost boys already.

It was also after some gentle guidance that I was made aware that it was morning.

Ah… So that was what ‘a sunrise’ looks like…

The loud zone of the Binnekring was an interesting little role player in this perception of time, as music never ceased through the night and continued right into the morning… a faint and distant rumble powerful enough to alter your perception.

All in all, I think I was broken in quite nicely if I do say so myself. Donning the guise of a deity, while hyper jumping right into my unconscious turmoils to face my abyss until the early morning hours. All before the crack of dawn! I would say this was shaping up to be quite the formative experience.

Until the recounted tale continues…

Love and Light fellow bloomers.

Rattle the Cage and Break the Shackle

Freedom

/ˈfriːdəm/

A courageous state of challenging the status quo and internalised perceptions that keeps one enthralled to a certain creed, mindset or way of living. A liberation from the self-imposed hurdles and personal fantasies that staunches growth and development. The emancipated position of assuming responsibility for one’s own choices, the acknowledgement of truth, and picking up the cloak of self-authorship in moulding one’s own narrative.

The air was reverberating with the gentle chimes of porcelain, steel and glass. In between those melodious waves drifted the steamy whisps and ambrosial aromas from hot baked bread and confectionery. Sunlight streamed through large paned windows that made browns seem golden and whites appear silver. And words flitted around the room in kaleidoscopic poetry without thread or meaning. It mingled with bell-like laughter, deep sighs, shifting timbres and deafening silences…

“.. Gernus could tell us a little more about that. “

Wait, what?

https://me.me/i/i-cant-lie-im-not-even-listening-fam-15791726

“Oh, not here at all” my friend commented teasingly as she touched my arm and looked knowingly at the others. I knew she was referring to my absenteeism in conversation and my idle mind. She looked at me again with a half-teasing smile. “You are quiet today… We were talking about that film you watched this weekend.” Oh, still just that? I thought we had changed that topic?

One should not be made to feel guilty for lack of attentiveness to the immediate situation. It simply means that attention is invested elsewhere. And surely that space must be more important.

I was lost in thought again. Or had been. This was not an uncommon occurrence at this point. My friends already had a partial understanding of this. Being lost in one’s inner world and all… Or rather, them losing me inside it.

Of late this was more frequent than I had myself anticipated. I think I was perpetually untethered to the flow of the mundane routine that was playing out around me. Chats and banter just did not stimulate me enough any more to keep my attention. But in admitting that I probably seemed… haughty, maybe even vain.

And yet, I could not bring myself to assume that description. Because these talks I found myself engaging in, this company, was not lacking in depth or in fascination. I was just not present, not really. So that would just make me susceptible to mind-wandering. Perhaps it even made me lost. And once I may have felt guilty due to a misguided construal of why I was feeling that way, but not any longer. One should not be made to feel guilty for lack of attentiveness to the immediate situation. It simply means that attention is invested elsewhere. And surely that space must be more important.

Though, regarding the place my mind did take me when out with friends, being mindful of the ambience of the restaurant certainly did not seem to be the crucial task at hand here. And yet, in that moment I felt it to be the most important task to set myself in escaping the thoughts that were actually lamenting for my attention. And these thoughts were trapping me. In fact, that scene of daydreaming was but one of many variations of me trying to lose myself in streams of thinking that coursed away from harder reality.

I was in a bit of an impasse. Much of my life had felt fabricated (yes, I use this word very deliberately) according to a very specific formula that I believed was truly working for me… and I felt my pedigree attested to that. The cornerstones of my personality were patience, commitment and self-control. And I firmly believed that consistent effort directed toward the attainment of a goal was key to success – in my career, my relationships and my mental health. I may have been a bit of a prude…

https://en.dopl3r.com/memes/dank/when-you-see-photos-of-yourself-from-5-years-ago-oh-honey-no-what-were-you-thinkin/35379

I think, back then, I believed a lot in that which kept me in line with a very “blue-eyed, golden boy” label that was attached to me. And what I have learned is that labelling serves as one of the many jailors to one’s perceptions. But there was something else. There was an influence that seemed more intrinsic in nature and firmly seated at my core. Its dark and numbing tendrils often reached out to play havoc on my amygdala. And though it was susceptible to outside influence – where it was either being reinforced or alleviated due to the flow of my surroundings – I knew that it was rooted within me primarily. Fear.

https://sayingimages.com/oh-really-meme/

Thomas Hobbes had an interesting thought on the whole concept of fear when reasoned about in society. To him, fear was a kind of binding element in people. Because of the sordid reality and complicity prevalent among human predispositions, we aim to escape this by revoking the crippling power that it holds to a civil society to maintain the order. So, the fear is localised in an institution, such as the state. And so holds a social contract tradition

https://blog.ezoic.com/title-tags-work-best-new-posts/willy-wonka-oh-please-tell-me-more-about-the-content-no-one-is-reading/

But let us rework his theory. We agree that human nature has great potential to cruelty, brutishness and loneliness, and that does invoke distress. But such behaviour is bound to manifest in us as well of we are not careful. So, we surrender to more careful perceptions; we foreclose ourselves against the unknown by regressing to what is well within our scope of knowledge; and we nest all too leisurely within our very own comfort zones. We surrender that power of fear to something we believe we cannot change – perceptions. And thus, we withold ourselves from truth.

Now this is significant to understand. This page has talked extensively on the topics of truth and its link towards taking greater stock of personal potential and worth. And it has done so in the premise of knowing what your position of strength is an honest appraisal of your personality and disposition. And standing firm in those confessions when in interaction with others.

But the truth was: I was lying to myself as to what was truly making me happy. And to add to that truth, I could discard humility for but a moment to admit that I think I was too smart to lie to myself as to what was truly making me happy. Was I really going to add self-deception as a core skill to my resume?

We surrender that power of fear to something we believe we cannot change – perceptions.

Here was my thing: fear. It was a cage. But it was also a familiar space. Somehow, it was a space that I knew as well as my own inner thoughts. In that familiarity, it felt safe. It felt safe, because it felt known. It was a space well explored, with boundaries drawn out. Hypothetically, it was most possibly the lesser of two evils: remaining within a limited space as opposed to venturing into the unknown.

In fact Luvvi Ajayi captured perfectly what I had intended to say for the longest amount of time. Where we need to get comfortable with the idea of being uncomfortable and to say the things that need to be said. Doing the very “anti-me” thing by going against the grain. In this case, I was allowing a false truth to protude through the sense of a more direct honesty that I knew was what I needed to hear. And what I needed to do was say the things to myself that I knew would be hard to hear.

She also talked about realising that you may be the most powerful person walking into a room to admit to certain perceptions, and that the realisation thereof may be important to effect change. But we don’t admit that, do we? And by doing that, I was denying what was possibly a primal kind of power that could pull mountains from flat stretches of land. What I was denying (among so many other traits) was my imagination. And more importantly, the extent thereof. And I realised this when I started writing. But we are reluctant in admitting to our own core potentials, and thus converge on mediodcrity as a default.

In fact, people and systems count on our silence to keep us exactly where we are. Then we keep ourselves there as well. Because of fear of what a broken system might afford. Its the whole conundrum of uncertainty, and that is just too much stimulation. And a wallflower facing this predicament has a particularly acute difficulty in dealing with this plight. High-reactive temperaments and sensitivity heighten our receptiveness of the consequences of unfamiliarity, and so we feel highly insecure by venturing into the world. But then… I cannot claim the role of narration for the lives of my fellow bloomers. I just knew that my own petals were closed in a tight bud against the uncomfortable realities of breaking the mould of all I knew. But something was prying it open with force.

Suddenly that cage I was in did not feel safe any more. In fact, it began to feel more like the barrier that it was in reality. And I needed desperately to break free. These old mantras were no longer effective. These old perceptions did not seem as wise. And this fear was beginning to feel more like frustration.

You could say I was in a bit of an existential crisis. And it seemed pretty holistic in its scope. In terms of my career, I had relentlessly invested hard work and effort to try and reach a goal that no longer seemed to be the dream. Socially, I was beginning to question the tangent points of interests between me and many of those I called my friends. What is more, my romantic views were becoming ever less tolerant of the excessive hubris that reigned among potential suitors. Cognitively I was filtering through views that seemed to cause me more dissonance than inspiring any sense of commitment. And spiritually I was yearning for something fulfilling, but that was unbound by the doctrines (no matter how open-minded they seemed) of the belief systems that abounded in society.

A hot mess, right? The inputs of others were not exactly relieving me of much of the confusion I was feeling either. Attemts to share these ruminations often resulted in very matter-of-fact replies. What was hurtful was that these replies sometimes came from those I invested trust in to remind me of the very truth that I knew I needed exposure to, but was blindsided from due to their careful perceptions maintained in order to solidify a sense of security. “I am glad you are finally taking this route. You need to do what makes you happy.”

https://me.me/market?s=pop

What was more, these views seemed often shared in a presumptuous manner, as if these truths were insights I should have become aware of long ago. “I knew you would find your way. I always knew that you would eventually take this route once you experienced a few things. But I did not want to impose. But it is amazing how you came to discover this all on your own.” My oh my, thanks for caring… No… Really…

https://m.imgur.com/gallery/igxfxWW

You are there because your truth is valued.

If you have been reading these blogs for awhile, then you know that these reflections hardly ever come without an attempt to extract a lesson to share with my fellow bloomers. And even though a few have made themselves evident, let me at least highlight something from the last mentioned points. Though respecting the freedom and independence of your friends is a show of great respect, withholding perceptions or sharing half-truths with them are not. You are not being helpful when you feel the need to pose a warning, but decide against it for fear of imposing. You are not being wise by withholding a sense of meaningful guidance by thinking that it is best discovered by an individual themselves. You are not empowering anyone when you have a valuable investment to scaffold an effort, but leave someone to their own devices. You are not being a good friend, partner, lover or any significamt support in another person’s life by digressing even a slight bit from your unique view of their situation. You are not taken into confidence (as someone meaningful in another’s life) to share a view that they would have likely convinced themselves of. You are there because you challenge it. You are there because that challenge initiates growth. You are there because your truth is valued. And that truth needs to be told. The fact remains that advice is something we feel inclined to give regardless if it is actually wanted. We should not attempt its denial or suppression. We could simply adapt a mindfulness as to how we convey it to those we care for. Besides, just because it may be good in perspective does not mean that anyone needs to stand in agreement thereto.

Always listen to the advice offered by another. You may not choose to follow it, but just pay heed to the degree of value it may hold in your life.

If you have a wallflower to tend to in your life, then you can be assured that they are fully present to whatever energy you are presenting to them at a given moment. If your role is then shaped toward the assumption of a guiding influence, then feel free to allow this expression – whether it be out of concern, or care or even a confidence in what you believe. If your inkling is to give advice, then you were likely pressed to provide it because of some perceived cue. But you may be met with reluctance from those who stand in reception of your views.

I have been a prime example of someone who despised the (what I regarded as) arrogance of another to prescribe my actions. I was quick to regard any advice as a direct display of another’s entitlement to my own life choices. And though such individuals certainly exist to test one’s patience, perhaps I was unfair to many a friend who only sought to offer help. From this I offer you another lesson. Always listen to the advice offered by another. You may not choose to follow it, but just pay heed to the degree of value it may hold in your life.

Once more, I knew where this frustration in accapeting guidance came from. It felt like another trap set to snare me. It felt too much akin to the other boundaries of mind that was in place in my life… It seemed too much like the cages I was already rattling to escape from. While, in truth, these may have been keys dangled in front of me to unlock my mind to different possibilities.

Wow, what a process to reach a meaninful insight to life…

Barack Obama Fun GIF by Obama - Find & Share on GIPHY

Just like advice, opportunity had the same penchant of presenting something desirable that we need not pursue. We could consider it, but we need not accept it. And a display of such freedom seemed brazen in a society that valued a grateful stance toward opportunity. Or rather, that valued the opportunity to grow and develop. And though such pursuits are noble, whether in one’s career, social life or even spiritually, grasping opportunity that goes against the flow of your own intuitive direction is not a display of open-mindedness. It is a surrender to normative behaviour. And allowing oneself to be guided by intuition is not a surrender to fear, but instead an honest appraisal of one’s wants and desires. A greater move to a sense of joy.

The sollution is simple. If something is not making you happy, then you should not be interested in expending your attention, energy or time therein. And sometimes a sacrifice is not just a means to some more divine ambition. There are times when a sacrifice of one’s energy to more dilligent effort; one’s time spent on a virtuous amount of patience; or one’s attention directed to the apparent sagacity of others, are no longer a means to a greater end. Sometimes, that kind of sacrifice is simply just a loss. And the question that is posed to us (to you or me) is this: how much more are we willing to give up before we decide to break the shackle?

Love and light fellow bloomers. And have courage to rattle the cage!

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

The Hemlock Cup of Expectations

Expectation

/ɛkspɛkˈteɪʃ(ə)n/

A contract mentally written in the ink of the beliefs, suppositions or conjectures harboured by a person, the premise of which is crafted from the intuitive dispositions and life experiences of the individual. A strong projection that may be directed at oneself or another, enrolled across the spectrum of appearing just and fair. It is dependent on perception and attribution. It may be bane, boundary or beneficence.

It’s important to meet people where they are, not where we want them to be. There is a tendency, in many, to re-characterize people’s experiences without being asked. You tell them you are feeling badly, they tell you all the reasons you should feel good. You tell them you are challenged by your circumstances, they tell you what they think you can do to make things easier. You tell them that you have a plan to do something, they offer up another plan for you. There is a place for these offerings – particularly when requested – but often times they just make things worse. In fact, we are more likely to arrive at the next best place on our journeys when someone actually attunes to where we are at, without making any effort to improve upon or re-frame it. We don’t need to be saved- we need to be seen. That’s the healing, right there. I hear you, I see you, I honor your choices, goes a long, long way…

Jeff Brown

I was in an autumn of my life…

… a life in the colour of a shifted season. A season regaled by the blur of falling leaves, and the stolen crowns of tree groves… all thrown stark against the depth of an endless bitter blue.

And after a gruelling day that had shaken any attempts at better analogies, I found myself behind the wheel of my car… sparking life to the engine with a slight of hand. The silence was louder than that familiar hum, and my limbs conjured forth its last bit of energy to nimbly bat the gear shift in a familiar fashion within its socket. With idle mind, and eyes that had lost their summer, muscle memory brought me to the threshold of my own front door… eventually.

I knew back then, that I was committing the greatest injustice that a wallflower could upon themself. I was disappearing so far back into that wall, that I merely became woven into the pattern and the backdrop of a story I never thought I would be part of. I was not tangibly blooming where my beauty would be noticed. But blossoms know they fare poorly against the chill… and when their lives are in another season, they know they need to withdraw. Close the bud.

But I remember sitting there, burdened with a lethargy that weighed me heavily into the fabric of my seat. I knew my mind was an arid landscape unable to bear any frugal thought. And God, my eyes… Those eyes that I had allowed so few people to really look into; those eyes that held such magic in reserve to be cast on the new memories that I thought I would make; those eyes that had counted stars and stirred the cosmos because my dreams weaved between constellations …

… those eyes that were now dying celestial bodies. The magic in those eyes was all but gone now. But no one had yet seen. How could I allow it? And in that space of grey oblivion, that scene that felt devoid of colour, there was some reckoning of peace. It was unfathomable; but, it was real. And there was nothing but that moment – that moment when expectations lose their power.

I never allowed that specific autumn to become a winter. My emotions had fallen like a myriad of leaves, each colour distinct and yet… so indifferent… from the others. Yet, those colours were the soft and warm hues of the last drop of afternoon sun. There was still light. The chill never really did set in. Not wholly…

Because I did not expect of myself to allow that to happen…

As a wallflower, the power of experience is bound to the intensity of the emotions it affords us. Without it, the true value is lost upon us. So what we expect are emotions that throw us into the void of ignorance, only to spew us out with blossoming philosophies to reshape worlds – inner worlds – of which we are master architects. But to allow such beauty, we cannot permit ourselves to be lost among the nuances of such feelings for too long. So we draw boundaries, we set limits, and we create clear expectations of ourselves. But are often lost as to the words with which to describe them. But expectations are not merely an inner construction. They are held by other people.

When he fell out of love (because only that emotion ever truly births the stars in our eyes, or dim them in its absence) my autumn set in. And the very boles of my values were shaken by the cosmic affront…

So yes… This is about a man…

Why was this? Well, it was another expectation. But this expectation looked different. It took the guise of a belief… a belief that love was this altruistic striving, this incorruptible dream. This feeling that once found, it could clear the endless uncertainty that we so desperately seek to shed through our lives. So, imagine if that expectation were to be broken….

It did break. For me it fragmented into countless shards, which imploded and scattered across the ethereal planes of every hope and fear I ever held on the feeling. This was all, a game of expectations…

Let me allow you another look at the nature of Jeff’s words shared at the start. What he was saying, in essence, is that our frame of perception conveys an expectation that is impressed upon another – one which is often unwelcome. When our views are shared at the right time, such opinions/statements/beliefs may plant the right seed that can be fostered into meaningful growth. But when this view is shared in an untimely way, incongruent with the person’s readiness and orientation to life, then we are being unfair. And we may be preventing the growth of another.

Let’s root out the word once more: expectations. It may be a beneficial driving force when one regards it as a belief on the coveted outcome of a directed effort. It may be a boundary to protect against the undesired behaviour of another. Or, it may be a bane when muddled with a lack of clarity, communication, honesty and even… insecurity. Expectations are the building blocks to the many forts that represent our relationships. It may build, strenghen, maintain; yet, it may also weaken, or destroy. It is a double edged blade that requires a master swordsman. And it is near impossible to handle in the face of the beast of unpredictability, such as love. But darling, that certainly never doomed us from trying.

We tried. Me and him. But he did not share his expectations. The ones he really had. So he set others; ones that did not attune to the person I was. And ones that lamely substituted those he should have made known. He could not set the right kind of expectations. And so, in response, neither could I. Because I did not even know what to expect from myself. We were lost amid the vicious cycle of overcomplicated caveats and unjust assumptions. It was all based on reaction and impulse. It made the rosebed of romance thorny with the lack of half-grown honesty it was being nurtured with.

The line was drawn. I needed to communicate more, and with the necessary thrift and immediacy when I was presented with a conflict. I needed to pluck myself from my garden of inner thoughts, reservations and reflection and plant myself squarely in his line of sight with emotions bare and exposed. I needed to show a greater vulnerability, and harden against his extroverted siege of words that energised his assault. I needed to root myself in firmer, simpler, and clearer beliefs that bound themselves to the normative reality. I needed to catch the breeze that was this false sense of positivity and optimism that agile mind shifts and denial affords one. I needed to feel better now and not when I was ready. I needed to not be in my head so much (because he did not know how to get in). I needed to know myself better, and gain confidence in who I was.

There it was… His contradiction was the clearest sign of a lack of truth… but he could not unring the bell. I was alert. And I knew something else was at play. But with all that warning, I simply found out too late.

But this is not a story about him. Not wholly. This was me, a blossom in the face of adversity. This was about me, trying to redefine the nature of expectations by attempting to create my own.

So we are back at the moment of my silent reprieve from a burdening day. I sat there and I was not thriving. I was flooded first with the freedom permitted by the very lack of expectations that being heartbroken affords you. There was only this feeling first, uncomplicated and yet powerful. It was dealing me a suckerpunch, but there was a hard and needed healing in that surrender. Secondly, the K. I. S. S. principle was wondrously at play. The situation was simple: I was the one that was dumped (lets drop the poetry, because the main premise is the same). I could not save something that he regarded as lost. I could not decide on some of the emotions that I was intended to naturally feel. What I could do, was decide how to react and move forward. What I could do, was take accountability for the thing I could mark with influence: myself. What I could do was expect myself to bloom… again.

But only in the truths to which I felt a resonance to. The harm in his expectations were the fact that they poisoned, instead of having remedied. But his words were being bartered in a golden chalice, instead of a clear crystal cup. And inside was swirling (though perhaps unintended) deceptions. I was being confronted with issues that were not part of the problem. I was being confronted with variations of his truth, informed by his frustrations. He was pushing the whole principle of reality, when he was not sharing the reality of the problem. And he was expecting me to open the doors to my Narnia, and get back to his world riddled with war. Because he could not get in where the magic was. And only later, when fire and brimstone was rained on his toxic extrovert ideal – the moment he pushed me too far – was the moment when the real expectations came a little too late.

And yet, I was perhaps not the scapegoat, but by no means the innocent on trial. The more he was projecting these perceptions of my secluded mind, the more I was drawing a veil over every thought and emotion that fit the crime. Self-fulfilling prophecy or perhaps projected reality…

Our personalities were never compatible. But that truth was hidden behind so many variations of perceptions of the truth (to which I was also contributor), that we were withholding each other from life journeys we had both respected.

I learned key lessons then. One among them was that the ‘quiet revolution’ is not a war we wage by never speaking our mind. It is a display to the power inherent in silence of which the essence is to avoid conflict, not to stir it because we are incapable of accommodating a louder world. We are wallflowers, and thus we must learn enough from our observations to be able to adapt to a degree after all. But in the second place, your personality is not a commodity to be traded in compromise. That expectation is altogether selfish, and cruel, and best countered by assuming a peace with such violence and setting an expectation of a different sort. Darling, these are called boundaries. And you best f*cking defend these with your last breath! Vocal sports is a practiced game and it has its champions. But silence is an inborn talent that knows no equal! (Insert Simon and Garfunkel here, and let us relaunch this debate some time).

My petals took on a different colour after that day. Self-talks are beautiful little gardening tools to repot our roots within a more congruent mindset.

Attunement is a skill the wallflower cultivates and makes part of their daily practice. How? Because we observe; because we reflect; and because we then feel what parts of ourselves need expression. We know what to expect of ourselves, but we cannot always rely that the expectations of another will allign. And this is Jeff’ s concluding remark:

We don’t need to be saved- we need to be seen. That’s the healing, right there. I hear you, I see you, I honor your choices, goes a long, long way…”

So to all those wallflowers out there, or to those that tend to them:

Avoid the self-administered bane that is expectations out of touch with your own fragrance. And then, deny the drink from the hemlock cup filled with the unjust expectations offered by another (avoid offering it to another yourself) . For if your opinions are not being watered for growth, your particular season of spring is being shown dishonour.

Love and Light fellow Bloomers! “I hear you, I see you, I honour you…”

K. I. S. S. – A Lesson in the Art of Simplicity

Simplicity

/sɪmˈplɪsɪti/

A principle that emulates the return to the bare necessities of living. A lifestyle by which an individual renews their awareness of their own desires, which are then given expression with the necessary act of decorum to avoid the backlash of self-imposed expectation. Its about getting back to basics.

It’s storytime sweeties!

It was one of those slow and sublime Saturdays – the type where birdsong beckons and soft sunlight strokes your cheek, and no damn Disney heroine could ever match your gliding strides and your penchant for song…

And then you really kick it up a gear with a steaming mug of strong black magic (no, this is not an aphrodisiac, its coffee), play that one song that you just sucked dry since having it on repeat since last summer (still not knowing those lyrics), and grace the world with its first look at you in that sleepwear that just screamed to be left in your teenage fantasies (the world never really is ready for that kind of beauty on a sleep-in day). But darling, its like you have care! You feel you are winning at life!

My expectations of the day were few to none. I was about to rock it out in my leisure suit for a big one, doing what any sane human would do when the world wasn’t going to ask much of them: figure out how to heal the world; have a talk with myself; maybe relocate that one bit of clutter on my desk for the next time I am productive (have a laugh with myself, because I know that desk was made for that clutter); have that other talk with myself; reflect on the purpose of meaning; and take that late morning nap (because, you know, its not like I just had a good ten hours of sleep – and sleep hygiene is a thing).

So amid my third self-talk (because the other two got a bit intense and hurtful things were said) my phone gave that familiar set of vibrations of someone chaining their messages so that you obviously give notice…

Well f*ck. Now I had to look. I mean, you don’t get that kind of attention often… And who in God’s good name would ever think of messaging me while I haven’t even gathered my bits by midday. I mean… I must be special. Give the people what they want I say! Bless them.

So it was this fellow I had been chatting to for a while, after he had found and messaged me on social media a few weeks before. Since those early days where that approach just marinated in stalker vibes, he actually turned out to be down to earth and a pretty nice guy. So, a coffee date was proposed…

Of course I went! Who knows where that third self-talk was leading to… It was already scratching at childhood traumas… And… I was bored. Added, curiosity is a nagging banshee when she is not attended to!

So I whisked my hair into something resembling windblown spun gold (it did not resemble that at all); slapped on some moisturiser like a beauty influencer ready to look snatched (or because I felt that I needed something to resemble a get-ready kind of feel); and threw on a button shirt, denim jacket and some teal cargo pants. Oh… cargo pants, and in teal. Yes, I was about to crack Olympus and not even the gods would dare come down to handle all this glory!

Now at this point, I was already having hesitations. This do-nothing day was long in the coming, and I was about to give it all up for a coffee date which could have any of a number of turnouts. And this was sparking up a fourth self-talk. So here starts the lesson sweeties. When that fourth discussion rears its big ugly head, you know you are cracking the lid of Pandora’s box and should just leave things be. Especially when you are a wallflower who reserved themselves on keeping their petals closed for the day. Simple enough… right?

Yeah well, so is vanity. And after a soliloquy or two of glorious self-aggression, your main flower right here just needed to feel he could bloom a bit. So you only have that wise epiphany of going AWOL during your fifth self-talk and then the drama is already done. But like I said, I was bored. And FOMO (fear of missing out) has been my nemesis for years!

In her humorous TED Talk, The Magic of Not Giving a F***, Sarah Knight introduces the wonder of the “NotSorry Method”, where you can escape the trap of feeling obligated to do things that you don’t feel like doing. In essence, you can learn how to stop giving a f*ck (representing your time and energy) to things you do not really care much for. Well sweeties, it appeared as though my savings on f*ckbucks asked for a handsome deposit into something gloriously undesirable on that fateful day!

So lets fasttrack past some tedious details: I hopped in the car; dropped that other beat that I had on repeat since that one wedding; got to the meeting place; was welcomed by my date (whom we shall call Othello for good reason), and we were off to build some chats over a Cup of Joe. But Joe was a homely bastard that gave you diabetes with the amount of sugar my host added, and had a questionable ethnicity due to copious amounts of milk. I had after all sipped its cousin that morning, a little blend of ground El Salvador. Now he really seduced me with his exotic undertones!

But this is besides the point. So my date was not the best at conjuring up a cup of coffee (travesty as that is) , but he was of a genteel character regardless, and a gracious host. The necessities of hospitality were accorded to, and pleasantries were exchanged. And he asked me a few simple questions that showed a mild interest in my life at the least. Note: all these were already covered in extensive text messages, but we needed to follow the proper form during this meet-up after all. (My word but I hate small talk!)

So there we were, two blokes about to venture into a deeper introduction in the life of the other. A nice mutual reciprocation of shared stories, experiences and philosophies. This I could handle. All my reservations was for naught! We were about to have a spiffingly good time, I was sure.

God, I wish. I cracked the lid to Pandora’s Box remember, and this b*tch was about to release all the horrors of the world onto me! Oh and did he…. I had a front seat to the glory that was his entire beautiful trauma of a backstory. If my life was filled with monologues, than this guy would have had enough for a whole new act to make Shakespeare rethink his poetic prototype of a tragic hero! He would have this knack of building up a beautiful life event to a hopeful climax, and then create this disaster of a denouement that went crashing into an iceberg with many, many casualties.

Still, all of this was… Fine… In a very very patient backlog of my mind. But what really got me, was that Othello here did not hit pause for nearly two hours. And this wallflower came out to bloom darling, so I needed some watering as well… you know… a chance to actually respond! But gracious me, this fellow was raising his garden, calling a spade a spade and just making a big muddy mess by digging up his dirty drama! My petals were shook!

Darling, we’re talking family drama that would move Game of Thrones to Disney Channel. We’re talking sprees with lovers that would make him fill the self-help section in the book store on the psychology of love and relationships (none of which would be best-sellers, since he is writing so many… ). And then there was his claim to a German heritage that really upset my pollen. The last trace of a German practice in his family was nearly three generations removed, and he did not understand a single word of the language to boot! I guess it was his little histrionic habit of making himself seem more exotic.

He was so the drama. But a good raconteur, I’ll grant him that… being a lover of stories myself. But this story was effectively planting me back into my inner world… you know… where all the magic happens. So I was about to bloom there for awhile to figure out this dilemma.

Let me sketch this picture for you. Within a quaint little living room with two armchairs, one two-seater and some other questionable furniture, we were positioned accross from one another: me on the couch, and Othello having grabbed one of the armchairs facing me. The lighting was warm and ominous, making the whole room seem like some harlem to harbour many dirty little secrets. And I swore, I caught whiff of the traces of the seductive scent of spices in the air. There was obviously a mood here; there was a milieu I had not yet picked up on. See, here is the thing. At this point, my interest and attention had steadily wilted under the pressure of the drought that was my boredom… and my disbelief that so much strife could befall poor Daddy Drama across from me. My eyes were strained out of their sockets to keep up the appearance of attentiveness and investment, yet my thoughts were lost in the ether of “what the hell did I get myself into”.

But at this point, his story came to a screeching halt, and it threw up enough dust and gravel to blind my preparation on a response. Oh but not to worry, his mouth was revving its engines again! But this time it was a steady and idle hum in the utterance of: “So what do you really think of me? You must be overwhelmed with all I just said…” (no really, you think?) “but how do you feel about me?”

Cue dioalogue to self…

Sweetie, I think you are a hot mess, and you haven’t been to the therapist in a minute! Me: “Oh, well… Uhm… You have been through a lot. I can see you have faced your trials and tribulations, but you have shown commendable resilience through it all. I like that.” Please silence yourself. “And I can see you have gone through so much self-reflection with regards to your experiences in relation to others. I really think that is a mark of strength and that makes a man attractive.” Fool, be still thy tongue! “And considering the power of the events you have had to endure, it surprises me how you have managed to keep your smile.” For the love of the all that is good and sacred in big beautiful world… shut up you blithering idiot! “So I don’t think you have to be a product of the past, (he should revisit it though, poor lad needs to pull out those problems by the root!) and you can rather just try to enjoy to be the independent person you are instead of fixating on things that are long done. Because you are cool, and have done well. I mean, that certainly makes you likeable. ” Well, good morning Mr Affirmation, how the hell are you doing? I see you have done a stellar job with your psychology index so ready at hand… Still having trouble with honesty I see?

What happended here was what I like to call the “Daisy Dissociation”. The name blossoms well on the tongue of the wallflower admitting to their faults, but is also a playful tag on the female character in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s magnum opus The Great Gatsby. In the novel, her character often struggles with an honest appraisal of her own feelings and thoughts when the situation becomes white hot, and withdraws into her status and world of materialism to escape the overwhelming demands of the scene. In this case, I was hiding squarely behind well chosen words eloquently and sensitively conveyed.

But I was stuck between a rock and a hard place on this one. My hardwon pedigree and practice of being a gentleman risked dissolution, and yet I was so keen to unashamedly confront Othello here with his talents in procuring so much (easily-avoided) sorrow… Do either, and the behaviour does not match the thoughts and feelings behind the alternative. A classic case of cognitive dissonance if you are interested in a bit of social psychology.

His response was a coy smile of contentment that brought me right back to the situation to really start smelling the roses and figuring out his angle. He excused himself for a moment, and made his way to the kitchen…

His claim to being German was about as legitimate as my claim to being Houdini’s successor, because there was no way I was escaping this as soon as I had hoped. And heaven forbid my weak stock of available alibis at that point, because I could think of no reason that I needed to excuse myself, but a million reasons why I wanted to. And intuition was shouting to me that something was afoot!

And then he strolled back in with a peculiar gait. Oh there was definitely a shift to the ambience, the lights seemed to dim at his very presence… And the foreboding of something fragrantly awkward was setting the scene. His pace slowed, and he gave a glance back at his chair before drifting over (unwelcomed) to sit next to me on ‘my’ couch. Yes mine, as in, I was seated in this ridiculously large throne, and the jester was not entertaining the king. And when I said end of the couch… I mean nearly on top of me. Oh no honey, you are stepping on the wrong flowerbed.

He scooched closer, and I lamemted to the heavens why the blood of Athena was not coursing through my veins that day to grant me more wisdom. He took my hand, and my whole essence cringed into perpetuity as I damned that trickster Cupid for his bad aim on this poor fellow. And from the depth of my navy-blue eyes, my soul cried rivers for the desperation of any flight-or-flight reaction when he neatly positioned the following words: “I think I really like you, and I think we should give this a chance”. I think I was two-thirds over the armrest by then… A deer in the damn headlights of damnation… with my own little bohemian rhapsody in questioning the borders between real life and fantasy. WHAT?! “Something like this does not come along often, and I think we have something special”. Au contraire my disillusioned little friend, this comes around quite a few times for you it seems, and special does not even BEGIN to describe it! I just bet you say that to all the boys… For shame!

So sweeties, at this point a few other lessons dawned on me, if too late. The first is awareness of your environment. Never sit on a seat that allows more than one occupant – especially on a first date. You never know when you need to jump the boat… or the couch for that matter. Secondly, drizzle a little less honey on your words and serve your tea piping hot, but with that touch of refinement. Thirdly, avoid self-talk on Saturdays… And don’t get so excited by things that vibrate in the mornings… LORD!

So I turned my gaze to look him squarely in his bespectacled eyes, twisted the rest of my body to face him in the least seductive way that I possibly could muster (which was hard, because you should never underestimate the desires impressed upon others by teal cargopants), and said. “Look, I think you are nice… good job, keep at it… and I am flattered that you would want to be with me… Literally, no one cares! Spill the tea sis! Throw that pot right at him! … but I am just really not ready for a relationship right now.” Oh for f*cksakes

So here is the problem with that line: ‘right now’ does not take into account a ‘later’ or a ‘one day’; your lack of feeling ‘ready now’ does not account for your possible readiness later; and your habit of dishing affirmations can turn an open and neutral comment into a hopeful prediction… for the other party. Basically, he was about to take his time sipping the tea I was serving, and would bounce RIGHT BACK with his advances once he finished his cup. I had delayed the drama…

And he looked about ready to consider other ways of convincing me… sooner (since I had not used my pronouns effectively in explicitly conveyeing my disinterest in him)… And his eyes were trying to strip me bare of my inhibitions. But he gave a nod, and what I believed was an understanding smile, and gave my hand a pat (as if I just earned a gold sticker on my report card) and went back to his own seat. “Maybe we can get to know each other for now. I think you’ll come to like me”.

I think the nerve endings of my hand flared back to life about a week after… But boy were those neurons firing in other places sooner to conjure a self-directed caveat for dating.

I carefully tended to the scenario which planted a few key observations in memory after that day. Firstly, my words were blunt shears if ever their intention was to convey hard truths without a hint of consolation or simply to knip the problem at the bud. I preferred the trimming of a situation with well-chosen words. Normally, I applaude this little disposition within myself, but when it comes to those particularly uncomfortable situations fellow bloomers, your escape is only imminent when you sharpen the blades. Speak your truth!

Secondly, we are entitled to our judgements or opinions, but that does not permit anyone to be an arse. Actually, you are permitted to be that as well, but the likes of approval do not then becometh you. However, you may not care about approval, in which case you would proceed regardless. But a blossom blooming alone amidst arid views, is wiped away by the flood of criticism. But roots entertwined with that of a few others, could perhaps just stem the tide (we all need friends, so be careful of what you say).

The moral of the story, is that honesty should be cultivated carefully, but allowed to bask in the sun when the situation calls for it. Truth, if dealt in a timely manner, is never unwelcome. It permits growth sooner than does misdirection. So fellow bloomers, learn to say no to invitations that ask your energy to be invested in those things you care little for. Resist hiding behind the words that sweeten the circumstances too much that you need to drink in. And… for f*ck sakes… when you reach that moment where unnecessary complications need to be weeded out, be your own bloody valentine and give yourself a K. I. S. S. …

KEEP IT SIMPLE SWEETHEART

Love and Light fellow bloomers!