You don´t know this, but lately I have been writing a lot about setting myself free from my own expectations and stopping to put constraints to the things I want to do. Because the last semester that I went through turned into a living hell. And as close to the literal description as you may come. It wasn’t so much the exhaustion from never ever sleeping or the constant reading-writing dynamics that seemed to never change, never end. It was the fact that I didn’t live. I turned not only my social life, but my will to have a social life on hold, and I disappeared into my couch corner/cave and saw no one and did nothing but study. I got annoyed when people wanted to see me, I got annoyed by people that saw each other, I basically shut everything out of my reality. I had to go to the hospital twice because my body simply said no and when the semester finally ended I just slept and talked to no one for several days in a row. I gained lots of weight and still somehow I looked like a corpse with all the shadows in my face. I got wrinkles and I am not even kidding. No, I don’t ever want to go back to that.
So over the last weeks I dedicated all my time to doing the opposite. I started working out again, I saw friends that I hadn’t seen for months, I had coffee in cafés without reading, I even got drunk a few times. I had a normal life. And then I made a promise to keep on having these things in my life, even as the last semester of my master’s started.
And now, as the last semester HAS started, I have done fairly well in keeping that promise. Two weeks have passed and I have actually done things from time to time. And I have let myself enjoy them. I wish I could tell you that this was the end of the sunshine story where I managed to get the stress off me, but in fact, this post isn´t even going to be about stress and uni (well, directly anyways). In that case I could have just done a few copy-paste maneuvers from all the crap that I have half-way written but not posted over the last months, and ta-dah! No, the thing is that I had an emotional wakening today, while I was preparing myself mentally to get out of my pjs and get to studying.
There are several dimensions of what you might consider life, I suppose. One is that miserable state that I just described to you, where no doubt you are still alive and breathing but not so much more than that. There are no aspirations to drive you forward. Another one might be what I am doing now, where you enjoy doing things with people and you have a fairly balanced routine, and you feel like you belong to the masses again. I don´t mean to complain, but I don´t think I ever saw that as an option for my life, either. And today I remembered that.
You haven´t heard from me in a while. It is not just a cause of lack of time, but a direct consequence of a mental shutdown. There has been nothing that I have wanted to make the effort of putting into words. When you stop formulating things they become mere vague shadows flickering past you, nothing to hold on to, nothing to capture. See, the thing that happens when you abruptly stop writing because you simply cannot keep it up, is that you go through a process of forgetting to miss it. I guess it´s some sort of self-defense. First you become shy. All those thoughts that you used to just put out there without caring, without even reflecting about if people will agree or not, suddenly start feeling controversial, or even senseless or boring. It begins with the longer texts, such as the things I write in this blog. Then it starts getting to your shorter statements, too. You start questioning WHY you need to communicate all these things. Who asked you to, anyways? Who will care, anyways? You type something on Facebook and then you delete it all. Then you type it again because somehow you still want to get it out. Then you delete it again. Don’t be silly. That was only important in your head, for a while. Then you come to the state where it´s not insecurity that blocks you anymore, it´s laziness. I mean, if no one is interested in reading what you have to say, why should you bother to write it? Why should you bother to formulate it so that others more than you will understand your line of thought? Why should you think it?
And so slowly, you kill off the ideas that you had, the passion that you would feel for things, your will to pass things on. And I know that it sounds exaggerated, but somehow this part of you falls asleep. You can feel it, daily, there is something missing. You used to be looking forward to these moments of creativity, you used to spend every free second planning a dinner, or writing down random sentences that sounded good or that captured a thought. It used to be in the back of your head even when you did other things. It fed your spirit and it made your days pass way faster. But because life doesn’t stand still you don´t have time to reflect too much about that hole. And so you keep on doing your things, and you don´t reflect too much about them. It´s not that you´re not enjoying what you do, it´s just that you don’t think so much about it anymore.
Then there’s a spark. You see something that reminds you of who you were, no, rather, who you could be and who you always thought you would be. All those thoughts and aspirations that you managed to suppress they come to life for a split second. I just saw cauliflower in orange tempura on Pinterest. I mean, it’s not the most mind-blowing thing I have ever heard of, but it caught my attention. And since Pinterest has that effect that makes it impossible to just look at one thing – that secret rule that obliges you to open at least 20 different links before you have to literally throw your cell phone away in order to stop – well, one thing led to another and all of a sudden I was watching all this amazing food and I remembered what it felt like to have an idea for something to cook, and then go home and do it. Just like that. No wondering what it would be like and then decide that it would be too expensive-complicated-circumstantial-messy-unhealthy-time consuming and whatever else lame excuse I can come up with.
(Right about here I start to think that no one will want to read this crap about cauliflower, but I will persist and not delete)
And looking at all these different pins I realized two things at the same time: 1) I am way out of my game. My cooking is becoming my dancing and at some point I will not even bother to pick up the pieces because it will feel to far off. There are ingredients that people use as if nothing, THAT I DON’T KNOW ABOUT! And I live in an f-ing tropical country! I used to frown at the limitations of people´s creativity, and now I don’t even know what they are cooking with. 2) I am looking at recipes. For the same reason as the above, I never looked at recipes and felt excited about them. I used to find details in them and then I would change it all. But I would never look at an entire recipe. I know this makes me (my past me) sound like an arrogant piece of (*tralalalah*), but really I was just very good at making weird combinations and presentations taste amazing. Ok, and also I was a little arrogant, or maybe even a lot. But I think you need that in order to throw yourself out there and not care about anything else. This, when failure is not an option – not because it cannot happen, but because you know that it will not.
The funny thing is that the second I realized these two things, or maybe it was remembering the feeling of experimenting in the kitchen, I felt an urge to write this. And I simply sat down and did it. And while writing in my blog might not be the highest level of creativity, I believe that all channels of creation and recreation are intimately connected and loosing the tightness of the restrictions that you put on yourself in one end will let you open up on other levels, too.
I don´t think that I will be making food marvels this year. I also don´t think that I will write that novel that I have been sort-of-building up in my head over the last couple of years, either. But I am rather determined to start paying attention to that side of me again, because it makes me feel more alive. No, it makes me aware that I am living, and it makes tiny useless details into triggers of high-flying daydreams, some of which might actually be possible to make true. I think we all need a bit of invincibility to get somewhere. And no one can decide for you what makes you feel that way. If cauliflower makes me want to fly then maybe cauliflower should be in my life. Maybe cauliflower will make sure that I pursue some of my dreams. Those tiny signals might not only be hard to detect, but they might also feel ridiculous. But only we truly know who we are, and if we spend too much time caring about what other people think that we should do and like, then slowly we will lose that spark that drives us forward. Today´s obvious-but-still-true fact: You cannot fake a passion (just like you cannot reeaally fake an orgasm), and you cannot replace it with someone else´s dreams (in the same way that you can definitely not replace your own orgasm with someone else´s). You might not be able to live up to all your dreams, but you can let them help you on your way.
So I´ll get dressed now so that I can go study. And maybe on my way, I´ll manage to get hold of some cauliflower, orange and rice vinegar, and start heading back on that track that allowed me to believe in my aspirations.