Quote of the day

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“The good life involves much beside virtue—intelligence, for instance. And conscience is a most fallacious guide, since it consists of vague reminiscences of precepts heard in early youth, so that it is never wiser than its possessor’s nurse or mother. To live a good life in the fullest sense a man must have a good education, friends, love, children (if he desires them), a sufficient income to keep him from want and grave anxiety, good health, and work which is not uninteresting. All these things, in varying degrees, depend upon the community, and are helped or hindered by political events. The good life must be lived in a good society, and is not fully possible otherwise.”

Bertrand Russel – What I Believe, 1925

Any thoughts?

Quote of the day

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“In all stages of education the influence of superstition is disastrous. A certain percentage of children have the habit of thinking; one of the aims of education is to cure them of this habit. Inconvenient questions are met with ‘hush, hush’, or with punishment. Collective emotion is used to instill certain kinds of belief, more particularly nationalistic kinds. Capitalists, militarists, and ecclesiastics co-operate in education, because all depend for their power upon the prevalence of emotionalism and the rarity of critical judgment. With the aid of human nature, education succeeds in increasing and intensifying these propensities of the average man.”

Bertrand Russel – What I Believe, 1925

So damn useful!…

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Anyone else out there feeling guilty about doing what they like? Anybody else afraid of indulging their needs, constantly second-guessing their decisions and sabotaging themselves? Anybody else under the impression that they have to be productive at all times, useful to all, monetizing every opportunity, mentally enslaved to duty every waking moment, anybody feeling that they need to ace everything to prove themselves worthy of their time on this earth?

Yes? Well, then this articles is for us:

https://psyche.co/guides/how-to-wander-free-and-easy-through-life-by-being-useless


Ok, I’m not saying get being useless down to an art, but can we please break this overpowering utilitarian cycle? (“…at least once in a while…” squeals the timid voice inside my head).

When you chase a goal obstinately, you become its instrument. We are more than tools. Can we remain fully human without leisure, joy, and time to reflect?…

Weihnachten

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Die Kirchenglocken haben eine Weile geläutet.

Jetzt nicht mehr.

Die Leute essen zu Mittag hinter

geschlossenen Türen,

jeder für sich oder

in ganz kleinem Kreis,

kein Gesang hörbar.

Über die Auen und Felder,

die Einsamkeit schwebt wie eine Nebelwolke,

saugt alle Gedanken auf.

Allein ein Vogel durchsticht das Grau,

wie ein Friedenslicht leuchtend.

Heal, heal, heal

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It’s that time of year again,

time to crawl under my blanket and set out

on pilgrimages of forgetfulness.

North of here is the tomb of simple goodness – vandalized.

South of here is the mausoleum of easygoing fun – in a pile of rubble.

I mourn them both with a solemn bow,

angry visitors pass me by with their bows

and their arrows, pointed, pushing.

Their eyes overcast, not a drop of kindness trickling down,

just a grey drizzle of me, me, me

Maybe we simply mourn in different ways, I tell myself

and I turn on an old Romanian Christmas folk ballad.

It fills me with sorrow.

It fills me with loss.

It is like listening in on paradise past.

When was the last time we sang to each other and felt

like living matter that needs

to be kept warm and fed –

– fed as in nourished?…

Nothing but machines, now, between us,

nothing but machines between us and everything,

coldly feeding us

to their anger.

I close my eyelids and let the tears roll,

roll on down,

until I’m drained and the pillow is soaked

I drift into visions of the vanished

I forage through conjured-up hereafters

I dream things of glory

I sleep, sleep, sleep…

The Heron

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You know you live in a wholesome place when you bump into a grey heron at the employment agency on a sunny December afternoon in Upper Bavaria… and a handful of people stop their errands simply to watch and congregate.

All of this on December 1st, the National Day of Romania.

It was very calm, for a very long time. Slowly and quietly, I got within 10 feet of it. It explored me with inquisitive eyes, then it took flight and settled on the opposite bank of the rivulet. What splendor!

It’s like my two identities are finally at peace with each other… 🙂

#birdwatching #herons #wildlife #industriallandscapes #nature #sunnyafternoon #specialmoments

Quote of the day – On social support and healing

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“(…) safe connections are fundamental to meaningful and satisfying lives. (…) Social support is the most powerful protection against becoming overwhelmed by stress and trauma.

Social support is not the same as merely being in the presence of others. The critical issue is reciprocity: being truly heard and seen by the people around us, feeling that we are held in someone else’s mind and heart. For our physiology to calm down, heal, and grow we need a visceral feeling of safety. No doctor can write a prescription for friendship and love (…).

Isolating oneself into a narrowly defined victim group promotes a view of others as irrelevant at best and dangerous at worst, which eventually only leads to further alienation. Gangs, extremist political parties, and religious cults may provide solace, but they rarely foster the mental flexibility needed to be fully open to what life has to offer and as such cannot liberate their members from their traumas. Well-functioning people are able to accept individual differences and acknowledge the humanity of others.

Bessel van der Kolk – The Body Keeps The Score – Mind, Brain and Body in the Transformation of Trauma (Penguin Books, 2015)

Do we suffer from too little reciprocity? From too much selfishness? Is the hyper-individualistic lifestyle of autonomy at all cost, isolation, and “every man for himself” making us miserable and sick?

How many of us feel truly seen, heard and understood? How many feel forsaken? Trapped between anger and absence? How many of us self-medicate (or are medicated!) just to cover basic human needs like safety, forgiveness, acceptance and connection?

How many live a life without rapture, life as rupture, as opposed to the healing powers of love, kindness, joint experiences, of breathing, movement and touch… What does it take to feel agency, to overcome duress?

This book has been a revelation and I cannot recommend it warmly enough. You’ll understand your body and brain like never before.

Quote of the day – A possible link between Romania’s COVID disaster and its communist past?

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“Totalitarian propaganda perfects the techniques of mass propaganda, but it neither invents them nor originates their themes. (…) Everything hidden, everything passed over in silence, became of major significance, regardless of its own intrinsic importance. (…) Mysteriousness as such became the first criterion for the choice of topics. (…)

They (the masses) do not believe in anything visible, in the reality of their own experience; they do not trust their eyes and ears but only their imaginations, which may be caught by anything that is at once universal and consistent in itself. (…)

What the masses refuse to recognize is the fortuitousness that pervades reality. They are predisposed to ideologies because they explain facts as mere examples of laws and eliminate coincidences by inventing an all-embracing omnipotence which is supposed to be at the root of everything visible. Totalitarian propaganda thrives on this escape from reality into fiction, from coincidence into consistency. (…)

The masses’ escape from reality is a verdict against the world in which they are forced to live and in which they cannot exist (…)

Before the alternative of facing the anarchic growth and total arbitrariness of decay, or bowing down before the most rigid, fantastically fictitious consistency of an ideology, the masses will always choose the latter and be ready to pay for it with individual sacrifices (…)”

Hannah Arendt – The Origins of Totalitarianism (1951), Penguin Classics pp. 459-461

A possible explanation why Eastern Europe is rife with conspiracy theories and a distrust of the state and its official communications, especially during this pandemic. Communist regimes have always played the game of blaming their failings on some Western or world conspiracy against them, “fitting reality to their lies”. In some parts of the world, this has become a reflex.

The Levee

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a man, a dog and the pond at the bottom of the levee:

brown reeds, an egret and a few muted gulls, scattered.

winter lurking.


a man stopping, crouching, gazing into the distance,

holding on to that taut leash

for dear life.


his eyes across the water

weighed down

heavy

whole

with the solitude of the world.


in my headphones,

Adele belting out:

Remedy.

#creativewriting #poetry

Freedom

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Night was falling in the coppice-wood

Each strand of light threadbare and bluish

Thinned out into mystery

The path darkened, populated by shadows

The clock in the church tower struck

The hour of the owls

Something shrieked in the distance

And a human shape approached on a bike

I clutched my umbrella with sweaty palms

My pulse quickened

Fear

Terror

Excitement

A frightening moment all my own

Seductive, scary

A flirt with danger

An out-of-body experience

A de-individuation

Dilating, not shrinking

Expecting to turn into a leaf or a slug to escape it all

Or to simply sit still and dissolve into a breath or a breeze

But then there you were

My phone lighting up with your number

Asking if I was OK

The man on the bike pedaled on

And I was left alone to settle into the peace

And the exhilaration.

#poetry #creative #writing