Sketching

Self-Made Boundaries

I think I’m a reasonable person. At least most of the time. But still, pretty often I find myself doing a very strange thing. I procrastinate.

I know what I like to do and why. I know what goal I want to achieve and what exactly I have to do to get there. But I don’t do it. I used to look for excuses, like, I have no time, I am not ready, I need to learn more about how to do it… Now I know it is all crap. These all are made-up reasons not to do what I have decided to do. So I don’t look for an excuse anymore. I just don’t do anything. Yep, as simple as that. I don’t even promise myself I’ll start next Monday. I know so well that Monday will come and go, and I won’t move a finger.

I believe every psychological issue has a root, and there’s no sense to try to fix yourself until you find this root, the seed that caused the whole problem. Looking for this seed, I have read so many articles explaining reasons for procrastination. They all make sense, but something is missing. I understand why people procrastinate, in general; I understand it, really, but I can’t apply this knowledge to change my own route, my personal approach. All those ready answers, like fear of failure or fear of success, don’t help; they don’t seem to be right or personal enough to explain what forces me to sabotage my own plans when I have developed a step-by-step strategy and a strict schedule. Am I that lazy or don’t I care enough? Maybe my goals are not really mine? Maybe I’m nuts and ask too many absurd questions?

“My doctor told me I shouldn’t work out until I’m in better shape.” This is my vicious circle. Thank you, Steven Wright, for putting it in words for me. I can’t start changing until something changes, who knows how and when.

Can it be that procrastination is my destiny and all I have to do is surrender? I think it can be, especially if I choose Steven Wright as my best adviser. “I bought some batteries, but they weren’t included.” Yeah, exactly, I know what he’s talking about.

 

The Daily Post

Sketching

The Turmeric Turmoil, or The Danger of Easy Solutions

“I look old and I hate it,” I say to a friend over Skype. “Should I try some fancy anti-aging cream?”

“Try a homemade mask,” she says and sends me a Youtube link. “It’s a Brazilian woman, she’s very popular.”

I don’t speak Portuguese but click on the link anyway. The ‘Brazilian’ woman is blond and speaks English with an Australian accent.

The recipe of the homemade mask that promises youth and beauty in ten minutes and forever is simple. A tablespoon of turmeric powder, some milk, two drops of oil. The ‘Brazilian’ applies the mix to her face to demonstrate how smoothly it looks. Then she washes it off and claims that, due to this mask, she always looks young and fresh and pretty without any make-up.

“Well, she is young and fresh and pretty,” I think. “She barely needs any mask at all.” But I have an hour before my son leaves school so I decide to give it a try. What do I have to lose?

I prepare the pumpkin-colored mix and spread it over my face. When the mask dries I rinse it off and look at myself in the mirror.

My skin looks fresh and smooth and pretty. And it’s bright-yellow.

“Oh my god!” I’m ready to faint. “I have to leave in half an hour! And go outside! Where there are people!”

I grab face cleanser and nervously rub it into my face. My face is still yellow. I grab soap. It works. The yellow turns green. My skin is still surprisingly soft and tender. I could be the most attractive corpse in the cemetery beauty pageant.

“I have to leave in ten minutes!”

I call to the friend who sent me the damn link and skip all the preambles, “My face is green because of this stupid mask! Was it a prank?”

My friend sounds innocent and surprised, “Has it stained your skin? Really? They should inform about this, don’t you think?”

“I’ve no time to think! What can I do?”

“Uhm… Well… Maybe, try olive oil. They say it cleans the skin.”

I hang up. I won’t add greasy glitter to my already olive face. I take a deep breath and think. Then I grab a bottle of baby cream and a roll of kitchen towels. After five minutes of aggressive scrubbing I sit before a huge pile of dirty paper, and a desperate red face with greyish-green spots all over it looks at me from the mirror.

I give up. Seven blocks of shame on the way to school are inevitable.

In the street, I fix on the tips of my shoes. I don’t look at people. They look at me.

I rush into the school, grasp my son’s hand and turn to leave.

“Are you all right?” My son’s teacher stares at me. “You seem… agitated.”

“Uhm… Yeah… I don’t feel well.” I put my hand on the stomach to prove it and pull my son outside.

We almost run home and bump into Mrs. Gossip right next to the house.

“Hi Joan! Have you heard what happened to…” She breaks off and stares at me for fifteen long seconds.

Great! Now all neighbors will talk about my green face.

“You look… somewhat younger,” she finally says. “Have you used Botox?”

I search for sarcasm in her eyes but find only disapproval and envy. She keeps talking about how inappropriate it is to do what I’ve done, but I don’t listen. She said ‘younger’! The mask works! I’ll have to do it again!

Sketching

Coming Back to the Road

I’ve been blogging for about half a year. By no means it is long enough to say I am an expert or anything, but I have felt comfortable with my own writing routines. Or it seemed so a couple of weeks ago.

I spent last two weeks away from the blogosphere revising my aims and goals, and it made me lose connection with the writing habit that I considered to be pretty solid. It feels as if I was going along a road that I knew would bring me somewhere, but then I stepped aside, just for a moment, and sat down on the grass and looked up at the sky, at white clouds slowly float above. And when it’s time to get back to the road I am not so sure anymore if the path that seemed to be mine is really mine. I don’t know if I have chosen the right direction or if I actually want to go anywhere.

I kept asking myself whether I should blog if I am not sure why I am doing it.

Today I got up at six in the morning. I had no reason to do so, but I woke up with a sudden wish to jot something down. Does it mean that I have been missing writing all this time and that I need to take to it again? Probably yes. In the end, it doesn’t really matter if I know where the road goes. It goes somewhere, and, while I enjoy walking, why not pace along?

There were several times in my life when I felt an unexplained urge to do something new. I never questioned it, I just followed it. And years later, when looking back, I can see surprisingly pleasant results those initial impulses brought me to, although then, in the very beginning, I had no idea of what would await me ahead.

I guess it’s the same with blogging or writing in general. I don’t know where it will bring me. But I can go on and see what happens. When something pushes you from inside you should give in to that urge even if you can’t decipher the message of your inner self yet.

It is so easy to shut down and lose the habit of expressing yourself, especially after a couple of discouraging remarks from people who judge you by your words. But the truth is you don’t write for anyone else. You write because you want to say something out loud, to let go of the ideas and feelings that boil up in your head; otherwise they will have to steam out through your ears and nostrils or run out as tears through your eyes.

Come back to posting your tiny little thoughts, I say to myself. You need it, so just do it. As simple as that. Keep telling what wants to be told. And even if your way of expressing yourself is awkward and full of silly mistakes you still have the right to speak. While speaking aloud, you learn to free your heart and be who you are.

Sketching

No Time To Think

centipede

Life is too short to think too much.

When I start thinking about something too seriously I stop acting. I become an alive illustration of an old story about the centipede that decided to figure out which of his legs should go first, and after that he couldn’t make a step. My portrait exactly. When I plan something too carefully I get paralyzed by the amount of details I have to work through and by fear to make an unforgivable mistake. So I don’t move at all.

Knowing that about myself, I try not to overthink things but act right away. Plunge in and see what happens. It probably won’t work for everyone, but I have to adopt this motto. If not, my short life will end up in infinite hesitation and pondering, “Which way is it better to do?”

The Daily Post

Sketching

The Pine Kingdom

Image Credit; Kim Daniels / Unsplash
Image Credit: Kim Daniel / Unsplash

I was eleven months old when my mother brought me to a camp in the pine forest. The photo of me sitting on the ground and staring at the trees with my mouth open was lost, but this image is safe and vivid on my mind.

After our first travel to the camp we would go there every summer which explains a great variety of memory pictures. I am running in the grass on the sunlit lawn. I am eating berries picking them right off the bush. I am walking along an endless woodland path. I am playing in the sand with a boy I’m in love with at the age of four. It’s a slide show of my childhood.

One of those memories is about my first acquaintance with ants and unfairness. My mother and I walked in the forest and found a big anthill. My mom told me that ants crawled around looking for food, and I decided to give them a wild strawberry I had in my hand. I put it on top of the anthill, and one of the ants bit me. I cried for half an hour, and I still hold the grudge even though my mom explained me then that I should have simply dropped the berry instead of pushing it on ants to try and convince them how yummy it was.

The camp where we lived was set up near a beautiful lake with grayish-blue mountains rising on the other side. I spent days in the lake and taught myself to swim in the warm summer waves when I was about five. In the evening all kids grabbed little torches and wandered in water near the shore looking for crayfish that hid under the stones. Almost every night campers gathered on the lakeside around the fire to share their stories and worries. Accompanied by the droning sound of their conversation, children watched sparkles fly up to disappear in the dark and toasted pieces of bread pinned to long wooden sticks. The bread got usually burned on one side, but you could not imagine anything more delicious than the black-smoked crunchy crust. Well, one thing was yummier: potatoes baked in the coals of dying fire. When potatoes were ready, we rolled these hot balls out of fire and gave them a minute to cool down a bit, then peeled them, soiling our hands with black coal coating. After that we dropped a pinch of salt on steaming white pulp and bit into it, slightly burning our lips and tongues.

In the daytime we made little boats of the pine trees’ bark and then shipped them into the lake. The wooden boats with leaves for a sail rocked on the waves and headed away. We stood on the shore and watched them disappear in the glittering distance and imagined big adventures. I loved pines and believed they were travelers in their core, and that’s why today, when I look at their tall and straight trunks, when I breath in their spicy resinous smell I feel as if I were on board a ship, next to the solid brown masts that reach up to the sky and stretch its infinite sail.

Childhood memories are indelible. If someone tells me today, “Imagine your favorite place where you feel calm and happy,” I close my eyes and immediately see myself sitting at the foot of a tree, on the soft carpet of fallen, yellowed pine needles. In the realm of my vision, I look up at the blue that shows through the lace of green branches, and I want to stay there forever.

Sketching

Odd Memory

As a kid, I had a very strange reaction to the news of death. When I heard that somebody had died I wanted to laugh, and my lips created a creepy grin that shocked me, myself, infinitely. I knew it was wrong to smile, but I couldn’t help it, I felt like laughing.

First time it happened when I was in the second grade. The teacher entered the class and stood at the blackboard. Some boys in the back of the room didn’t notice her and kept giggling over some stupid joke one of them had made.

“Who can laugh on such a tragic day!” the teacher suddenly yelled. The boys in the back of the room got quiet, and the rest of us looked up at the teacher in silent surprise. “Don’t you know that a member of the government died last night?”

I didn’t. But when I heard it I wanted to laugh. I didn’t know why, it wasn’t funny, and the teacher’s angry face looked scary, but my mouth betrayed me and started creating a smile. I bit my lip and lowered my head to hide my face so that nobody could see it and think that I can laugh on such a tragic day.

The teacher decided that I was deeply moved by the sad news. She came up to me and stroke my head. That was tough: I wanted to laugh even harder.

Years passed. I don’t smile at the news of death anymore. On the contrary, I get upset when people I love leave this world. But when I think of that day when the member of the government died I still can’t imagine what was in the teacher’s head and why she expected small kids to care about some total stranger’s destiny.

 

The Daily Post

Sketching

My Two Cents

Today is Blog Action Day and everyone discusses inequality. I guess I can add my two cents.

I believe we all are not equal to each other. And I’m not only talking about social differences like economical status of your family or your race, ethnicity, religion, gender etc. These characteristics are obvious, but to me, they don’t really matter because they don’t describe a person behind all those social labels. I truly don’t care about them, but I believe in inequality although I see it from a different perspective.

Inequality makes life interesting. We are not equal. And when I say that I mean we all, from the very beginning of our lives, are given different abilities. Some of us are extremely talented in mathematics while others are totally hopeless in adding three to one. Some are born athletes and others can’t grab a ping-pong racket properly. Some paint from childhood and grow up into great artists and others never learn how to draw a simple line. We are not equal. But is it bad? Not at all.

Inequality makes us different, and this is a wonderful thing. If we all were the same, if we looked the same physically and had the same pack of skills we would want to do the same, we would have one profession for all of us and we all would have to live the same life. It’s hard to imagine a society made of mathematicians or athletes only, but that’s how it would be. We would be a planet of multiple and extremely boring twins. Who needs that? Nobody. Such a monolithic society would never survive.

Inequality has another side that’s called uniqueness. If you are not able to do something that others do so easily and you envy them day and night it still doesn’t mean you are worse than those ‘lucky’ ones. It just means you have your talent hidden in another place. And if you cling to the idea that you are not equal to those who can do something you can’t you will never give yourself a chance to find out what makes you different, what makes you unique and special.

So I would say don’t care about being similar or equal to somebody else in anything, from social status to everyday habits. Find what is unique about you, what you have that nobody else has, and your inequality to others won’t ever bother you at all.

 

The Daily Post