Farewell to the 24 year old Henley

Many people wouldn’t have managed to cope with the hardships of the past year like you have. Although there was a lot to be thankful for, life has a strange way of keeping things in balance. It involves a number of hardships in addition to all the positives.

I witnessed a man scale his small family business into a brand known across his hometown. I listened to a man’s frustrations over low funds in the bank and celebrated financial ease after he landed a well-paying job.

I cried with a young man who lost his grandma to Covid. I’m sorry you had to witness the woman who practically raised you, be taken away by an unfortunate disease so cruelly soon.

Despite how agonizing it was to be far away from you, I developed a new respect for your guts seeing you maintain your strength while grieving and starting a new job at the same time in a quarantine facility.

I don’t think I could ever thank you enough for being there when I was going through the loss of a close friend of mine. The quiet comfort you’ve provided as we struggled to make sense of grief and loss together was a crucial part of my grieving process.

Seeing each other after what felt like forever was a strange experience. I was so accustomed to seeing you on a screen, and being able to hold your face gave me a certain warmth I’ve almost forgotten. I had to relearn the patience of living with someone (and we’re both working on that still). Compromising what we can, and setting boundaries for what we need.

You were truly humbled by what happened in the past year, and I am glad I was there with you, from a distance, and now within arms reach. I enjoyed getting to know your 24 year old self, and I look forward to meeting the 25 year old one.

Happy Birthday.

With my purest love,

Shamoy

Lockdown Anxiety and Toxic Positivity (hey that rhymes!~)

The past week has been a whirlwind of strange, and at times incoherent, emotions due to my impending period(TMI, sowie), as well as the announcements of new quarantine protocols (similar to what “lockdowns” are in other countries) which starts today, August 1st.

Can’t imagine a more fun way to start a new month.

Having been experiencing this malaise, all I could think about was removing myself from the dreary conditions. Which then got me thinking about the whole idea of “toxic positivity”.

Toxic positivity is an obsession with positive thinking. The belief is that people should look at all experiences positively, even the most tragic ones.

I for one am an advocate for feeling emotions freely. Accepting the emotions and embracing them for what they are and the lessons they bring rather than suppressing them, forcing ourselves to focus on “how lucky we are”. Yeah right, says the chronic escapist.

Yes, I believe it’s easier said than done, but I’m making a conscious effort of managing my emotions in a healthier way.

And let me be honest, it is a struggle. I sometimes find myself tangled up in conflicting ideas of drowning in sorrow or counting my blessings. Do you experience this too? Where do we draw the line between being anti-toxic positivity and anti-negative thinking?

Will I be answering my own questions? Yes… I have ruminated enough about this over the past week so you don’t have to!

We use rationality to draw that line.

Take my current anxiety level as an example…

I feel absolutely terrified of the possible effects of the lockdowns because I’m reminded of what transpired during last year’s lockdowns. The new “delta variant” has been described as having increased transmissibility and deadlier effects, and it’s making me unbelievably paranoid.

But when I think of this rationally, I was in a terrible and unsafe position last year because I had no job, and I was stressed out because I was far away from my partner which absolutely terrified me because I had no idea what I would do if he got COVID.

In contrast to my current circumstances, where I have a stable, decent-paying job and have reunited with my partner, there is no reason for me to be concerned about the same factors. That leaves me with facing the paranoia brought on by the new delta variant.

Which is a simple case of getting us all vaccinated and looking for interesting indoor activities.

There you have it, my solution. Although I am not wholly dedicated to positivity, I do aim to keep my anxious thoughts in check and maintain a sense of reality.

I hope this makes sense. I am off to read a book… 

Which reminds me, I’ve neatly placed “Brief Interview with Hideous Men” on my DO NOT READ shelf and gave up on it with no regrets. I am now in search of a book club I could join. Let me know if you know one that suits my taste. I’m quite fond of philosophy, classics, and just weird and unpredictable plots.

I read anything that can make me care for the characters as if they were my friends. That is my only criteria. Add me on Goodreads!

If you want to form a book club with me, I’d definitely be willing to!…. Like really… I would give you a 5 minute hug.

Awesome. K. thanks. Bye.

Deliberately choosing to suffer through the most hideous piece of literature I’ve ever stumbled upon

More often than not, my TBRs pile up twice as fast as the pace in which I devour pieces of literature. Why? Because I am obsessed with consuming content ABOUT the act of reading, just as much as I love reading itself.

I spend a significant amount of my mornings and the little spare time I have in between work, watching booktubers on YouTube. And just recently, I’ve developed a new obsession for what is called “BookToks” in the strange yet fascinating world of TikTok. This is now my main source of what books to add to my already towering pile of TBRs.

One random afternoon, I came across this BookTok that mentioned this book called “Brief Interview with Hideous Men” written by David Foster Wallace. The title piqued my curiosity, not because I’m into hideous men… I mean to be fair, my choices in men have significantly improved over the years, and perhaps there remains a tiny bit of toxicity lingering in my head that urged me to download a copy of this book. But ANYWAY.

I’ve been meaning to learn more about Wallace’s work and was thinking of reading Infinite Jest, just because I’m vain and I think I’m smart enough to understand the text. But because I’m actually quite dumb, I chose to read Brief Interviews with Hideous Men instead. Boy did I not know what I was getting myself into…

It’s basically an anthology—a series of interviews with, as the titles says, “Hideous Men”. And it has most certainly lived up to it’s title. I almost want to throw my precious Kindle across the room because I just CANNOT WITH THESE HIDEOUS MEN (but of course I would never).

And nope I’m not done reading it.. I might even stop when I finally realize this is too triggering for my taste, and believe me I live to make myself suffer.

I just got done reading one of the chapters(Nutley NJ) where the character talks about the human Dark Side and taking a “knee-jerk” attitude towards violence and degradation especially in the case of women. I’ve got VERY STRONG OPINIONS on topics like this because I have once been victimized by a sexual predator. Won’t go into details, I’ve moved on.

Because I’m too fueled with hatred to even describe what this stupid ass person goes on to say, I’ll just quote a few of his most triggering sentences.

“Alls I’m saying is who are we to say getting incested or abused or violated or whatever or any of those things can’t also have their positive aspects for a human being in the long run….”

“What she knows is that the totally most terrible degrading thing that she ever could have even imagined happening to her has really happened to her now. And she survived. She’s still here. I’m not saying she’s thrilled, I’m not saying she’s thrilled about it or she’s in great shape or clicking her heels together out of joy it happened, but she’s still here, and she knows it, and now she knows something. I mean really knows. Her idea of herself and what she can live through and survive is bigger now.”

First of all, we have no right to define how one should suffer/heal through trauma. It’s different for everyone. And the fact that he compares how Viktor Frankl was able to live through the horrific Holocaust, to the experience of a women getting a wine bottle shoved into her to the point where her kidneys break, is indicative of this man’s lack of proper feeling.

“We have no right to define how one should suffer/heal through trauma.”

There’s so much talk about how a victim should move on and heal, but never enough talk about how we can stop these atrocious acts of violence from happening again. Something as little as teaching your kids to respect others can go a long way. These little efforts will ripple through generations!

This will take a collective effort. Please start by creating an environment where victims feel safe to speak up and be allowed to feel however they want to feel. Learn to listen, or simply sympathize with them. I honestly cannot say this enough.

Don’t be like this dumb guy!!!

I hope my point is clear. And if you’d like to find out whether I’ll get to finish this book or not, follow my Bookstagram account @showermayreads on Instagram. Drop me a message and let’s talk about BOOKS!!!

Done. Bye!

(sorry for the super long and winding intro, I’m still trying to get better at this—be patient!!!)

Nothing lasts.

Earlier this week I had made it an urgent task to write about this unfamiliar but buoyant sort of energy I was in for the past weeks or so. Quite contrary to how I have been feeling all throughout quarantine and for most of my adult life I guess, I finally feel like I’m heading towards the right direction.

By this I mean I feel like I have finally identified or am fixated on a specific goal or dream and I have never been this determined before. And no, I do not think I have it ALL figured out, but I guess I can say that I’ve gotten some parts figured out.

Today though, I feel as if there is this strange and heavy cloud over my head that’s blocking my view of the beautifully vast sky. Something so wide and immeasurable that despite not knowing what lies beyond it, gets you enraptured in all its mysteries. This is how I see life today, ever so full of surprises. I am not afraid of uncertainty like I used to. It empowers me now because I know in myself that with this drive, I can achieve anything.

But it’s not all rainbows and butterflies, like for instance today. I am sad. But not helplessly sad. It’s just this weird silence in my head as if the voices that has kept me motivated have gone on a day off. AND THAT IS OKAY.

We are bound to have days like this, but it’s important to keep in mind that nothing lasts. Tomorrow things could be different. And that’s it, that is part of how life is so mysterious. This is why I am excited. We cannot be sure that we will fail. We can never be sure on anything.

So I’m just gonna keep this short and simple. A little update to let everyone know how much I wish I could share this new found mindset to you all. I hope that this virtual hug I am about give is felt from all the other screens out there that gets to stumble upon this humble arrangement of words that wants to give out encouraging energy.

Nothing lasts. You get to choose which way you want to perceive that.

A House that Haunts

I had a dream about a house last night. It was old, tired-looking, and cold. One could sense the unwelcoming air that filled the atmosphere and even as I tried to swing the door open the creaking was deafening I needed a moment to compose myself. You’re going to regret this. You are not ready to see what’s within. I was surprised to hear no sound coming from my footsteps and as I looked down I saw that my feet were not on the ground. I was levitating. This place knows no gravity that allows control. It was pitch dark inside but somehow I was aware that the house was bare and I wouldn’t have to worry about bumping into things. I went inside this room and I could hear nothing almost like I was underwater. This is the part of you that refuses to listen. Overwhelmed, I ran to the other side of the house and found myself in a small faintly lit room full of books. I took one out of a pile and flipped through the pages but it was nothing but colored paper bound together devoid of words. This illustrates your inability to describe your artistic ideas with words. Relentless tears were falling from my eyes as I walked out of the room but it was strange because right then and there I felt completely emotionless. I tried to rub my eyes and when I opened them I noticed a room with a red door. I went inside and it was the only room with a window giving a perfect view of the night sky. The full moon limned each corner of the room, exposing the irreparable state of this home. This represents your depth of perception, you see and understand everything. Hauntingly aware of all the misery that fills your life.

(I was unbearably sad today and wrote this)

What I learned from my __ years of existence and what I wish for myself for the journey beyond

There is nothing more toxic and fictitious than that sense of control all humans constantly obsess over. We rely so much in knowing as if this is the only thing that could bring us peace when actually in most cases, it doesn’t. If anything it brings more feelings of anxiousness. One of the most common things humans feel the need to have control over is our emotions.

This is what I learned from my __ years of existence and I had to learn it in some of the most unpleasant ways, at least for me. I prefer not to compare my experiences with those of others because I don’t feel the need to invalidate what I’ve gone through like that. And vice versa. We will never understand the path in which others are fated to experience their unique lives. This is because we are beings of limitations. We can never completely understand.

And because of this, I came into terms with letting go of the idea that I NEED to have control over certain situations. Don’t get me wrong, I do not expect for this to be a piece of cake but because I know we are beings of limitations, I don’t feel the need to be guilty for having a hard time letting go. As long as I’m making progress then I’m good. Am I making any sense?

With letting go, I am choosing to be unapologetic about what I feel. Emotions are part of being human and again, because we are beings of limitations(I promise this is the last time I’ll mention this LOL) we can never control our emotions directly. I mean we can try and I applaud all those who have mastered this skill.

But unfortunately, there are still some who just can’t help but feel. I believe it’s important to let ourselves feel these emotions one at a time so that we can draw whatever lessons and understanding we need out of it. By one at a time I mean experiencing an emotion without having to feel guilty at the same time. Guilt can come after, it always does anyway right?

And I honestly do not like how guilt has always been perceived as something that we should all avoid. I think it’s good to feel guilty because that means we understand and we know that there is something wrong.

What I wish for myself for the journey beyond is to be surrounded by people who would choose to understand me despite all of my mistakes. To maintain respect towards our individual emotional boundaries and allow each one their own time and space to feel whatever they need to feel.

I wish to lend ears absent of undue judgement because humans sometimes just need to be listened to. People often underestimate the power of listening to one another. Most don’t even fully understand the definition of listening.

The world could definitely become a better place if we all just chose to understand or at least respect one another enough to refrain from judging another based on emotions that may seem foreign to us.

I hope this was not too much of a mess to be beyond comprehension. If it is then I’m sorry.  

Shower thoughts and the eternal struggle of keeping my shit together

I shower everyday (let it be known HAHA) and during these showers, I let myself drift away in my pool of arbitrary ruminations. One of my most recent thoughts, or should I say one that I can actually remember, is how quarantine has exposed my inherent struggle with sustaining the grit that my goals require.

Three days is probably the longest time I can maintain the burning passion to perform all my tasks and when that time is up, I am back again with wallowing in my misery, practically crippled and unable to function. I often ask myself, am I the only one who goes through these sudden spells of sadness? Do successful people go through this too? And if so how do they manage???

Upon thorough self-evaluation and pondering what probable factors have been contributing to this problem, I figured that I’m perhaps not as strong-willed as most people and I am deeply affected by the feeling of disillusionment with myself or my situation. But why am I like this? And how do I change?

The feeling of longing for a place that is not here, or a time that is not now, is one of the major contributors to my misery. I sit on my computer working and wishing that I could just lie down and read all day. Especially being stuck at home with the lack of new scenery, I find myself spending a significant amount of time daydreaming about the beach or trekking up a mountain, basically places that are not here. One of my primary coping mechanisms is escapism and that may or may not be due to the fact that I am a voracious reader because I have always thought of books as a temporary escape from reality. I never thought it could have a negative effect to my well-being.

I guess this is what they meant when they said “Live in the present moment”, “Be here, now”. We see things on the internet that compels a burning desire or craving for things that are currently not in our possession. And as the world becomes more and more fast-paced, we also gradually lose our patience. We are discontent and we feel helpless because of the illusion of not having enough time to achieve our goals. This kind of reminds me of the Tralfamadorians mentioned in Kurt Vonnegut’s book called “Slaughterhouse-five”. Tralfamadorians are aliens from the planet Tralfamadore and they have this peculiar and quite disparate concept of time compared to that of the human’s. (I strongly recommend you read it if you have the time)

“That is a very Earthling question to ask, Mr. Pilgrim. Why you? Why us for that matter? Why anything? Because this moment simply is. Have you ever seen bugs trapped in amber?’

‘Yes’ Billy, in fact, had a paperweight in his office which was a plop of polished amber with three ladybugs embedded in it.

‘Well, here we are, Mr. Pilgrim, trapped in the amber of this moment. There is no why.”

― Kurt Vonnegut Jr., Slaughterhouse-Five

I suppose I should envision the future positively, like a drive to persevere, not as something to be sad over. So yeah, I will start by being 100% present in the now, or as much as I can at least. Then eventually I can focus on fostering a more headstrong approach with life and its subsequent drawbacks.

Again, I hope this is intelligible. If not, I’m sorry.

mistrust and misery

I cannot describe how awkward it is having someone witness/know about my incessant emotional episodes of the day then afterwards try to lift the heavy dampness in the air left by my tears of frustration.

What if this trusty person starts to think ill of me or judges me based solely on this momentary sadness? What if this person starts to say the wrong things in hopes of trying to lift my spirits? No one will ever understand. Such are the thoughts that fester in my already muddled head. This is exactly why I rarely ever open up to people. Hell, I even double think before letting my emotions out to my closest of friends. The fear of being judged often gets in the way of relieving yourself from the emotions that are eating you up and it sucks.

We are all unique, and we can never impose our personal truths upon others who have truths of their own. On my side, I would like to keep in mind that not everyone is horrible and are out to inflict pain upon me. That the mere fact that I chose this person to open up to means that I can fully trust this person and that he/she is a true friend that would rather listen to me ramble on about my misery rather than have to prepare a eulogy for me at my wake.

My heart could never be thankful enough for the people who have always been there, ready to listen, never judging, and respectful enough to know not to pressure me into opening up to them. The world needs more people who are good at listening. And to those people like me, always so skeptical about people, even the people who’ve been nothing but kind to me, try to loosen up a bit. Keep in mind that they feel the same kind of compassion you would have for someone if it were you who were to lend a listening ear.

Always hoping that this makes sense.

Byesies.

The gift of time

The first few days of May have been a maelstrom of pain and contemplation for me.

(Pain)

I guess you could say that being under quarantine for a significant amount of time has turned most of us(by this I mean myself) into choleric and extremely sensitive beings. The internet has become this medium where one can easily pontificate his beliefs without taking into consideration the effect it has on the feelings of other people. Isn’t it off-putting that right now, we have all the time in the world to analyze our hasty judgments, yet we fail to do so and carry on babbling about whatever we feel like saying, unchecked by reason? In other words, we have left no room for kindness and compassion, despite having all this space for it. Am I making any sense? Hahaha. I mean, of course, yay freedom of speech and democracy, but that’s no reason to be callous and unkind towards other people. Especially when it involves sensitive topics like oppression, violence, and rape.

(Contemplation)

My reaction to all these posts and comments has made me realize that I should accept all these statements as one comprehensive fact. That not all humans can resist the ego’s emotional cravings and it’s okay. That if the world cannot foster empathy, foster it in yourself. Be the simulacrum of kindness, even if you’re the only one trying to. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that we should be perfect, all high and mighty. One is allowed to stumble and make mistakes every once in a while, and I guess that’s where you appreciate the gift of time when you can ponder upon your wrongdoings and improve yourself.

I really hope this makes sense.

byesies.

The privilege of stumbling upon quotes from people of the past

I came across this quote today:

“The gears of poverty, ignorance, hopelessness, and low self-esteem mesh to create a kind of perpetual failure machine that grinds down dreams from generation to generation. We all bear the cost of keeping it running. Illiteracy is its linchpin…. Frederick Douglass taught that literacy is the path from slavery to freedom. There are many kinds of slavery and many kinds of freedom. But reading is still the path.”

It’s disheartening when people choose to remain illiterate despite having all the means to educate themselves.