“No person is ever content with their own lives, should they be filling the gap in other people with what they should be filling into themselves.” – Modern Romanticism I have treated pain as the source of my creativity. Though, these days, whenever I write a poem, it is not from inspiration. Sadness has always […]Personal Post – “From Instability to Stability” – 10/17/2020
I was born in Lebanon during the civil war (1975-1990) and I grew up to the sounds of bombs, which back then seemed very normal to me. Even today, I ask myself how I was not scared, how was I able as a child to find bombs and hiding underground a sort of an amusement. In 1990, Syria occupied Lebanon until 2005. It was a dictatorial occupation, an iron stranglehold which gave a lot of security to the country and some economic growth. Since 2005, we have known peace and turmoils, and now an economic and financial crisis like never known before; some says it is a reminder of the eve of WWI.
On parallel, Lebanon has always been the party place of the world. We party all day. We party for any reason. We party for no reason. I guess we love wars and partying. Some might say it is resilience or probably denial. There is a fine line between resilience and denial. Resilience is the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness. It is being mentally flexible to adapt to difficult situations in order to survive. On the other hand, denial is trying to self-protection by refusing to accept the truth about something that’s happening in life. Maybe, we are both and any Lebanese somehow is both wherever they live.
Turmoil and party may seem contradictory but it is not. On this, I like to refer to Nietzsche in The Birth of tragedy where he explains the relationship between tragedy and music.
Life to Nietzsche is essentially tragic and tragedy can happen to anyone. The ultimate tragedy is death; the latter gives meaning to life. Knowing and accepting tragedy can only result in a celebration of life. Therefore music and partying are a celebration of life; a life lived on the edge of tragedy. When the day is gone with its worries and tasks, here comes the night in its gravity and depth, the drunkenness of love and beauty. In other words, only a joyful night can make an enjoyable day. Because, whatever we do, tragedy is around the corner.
Is this attitude resilient or a denial? I guess it is neither nor. It is the attitude of anyone who lives on the edge where every action can be like stepping on a landmine.
Ever wondered how come The Global Wave Protests in 2019 (and still on in 2020) were born? Going back few years ago how was it possible for the Arab Spring to occur amongst brutal dictatorships? And on a smaller scale, why would a peaceful protest turn to violent riots?
On my previous post (https://maylynno.wordpress.com/2020/07/04/), I pointed out a link between desire, desire of recognition and mimesis. Humans are driven by desire and by competition which is an underlying desire of recognition, leading to envy, to jealousy and to imitation. These social dynamic concepts are intensified by the infinite mirror of the word that is social media. Social media is the production (one can use the word industry) of mimesis. It takes one massively broadcasted happening protest on social media to trigger many other protests around the world. Also, it takes one individual violent act during a strike to turn a peaceful march into a war zone.
I have spent half of my life protesting down the streets for all kind of rights. I know for a fact that once in a crowd, the energy level of each participant is intensified. There is a crowd bath that makes all people function like one body. Fear of being attacked becomes a rage of attacking. The boiling energy, as any energy, will eventually burst out, especially when awaited solutions are delayed. The more they are delayed, the bigger will be the possibility of violent acts. The rage of one person will trigger mimesis or the rage of every marching participant. This happened in Black Lives Matter movement (The US riots: a mirror of the world), with the Gilets Jaunes, in Hong Kong, in Lebanon Protests (Revolution and emotional wreck), in the Arab Spring, in Ukraine, in Sudan and elsewhere too throughout history until now.
However, this mimic violent act, mostly caused by rage and energy of protesters, is the desire of the government. Violence is responded by violence. And who has based its power on the “legitimate violence” (Eric Weil)? The State has. “The legitimate violence” is incarnated by the State’s armed forces. Forces of order will mimic violent protesters and sometimes it is vice versa, depending on the situation. Everybody imitates everybody. It explains why Mahatma Gandhi was so powerful in both his silence and his stillness down the streets along millions of his Indian followers.
The question remains on the importance or not of violence for a protest’s success. There is no one size fits all type of answer. Sometimes violence works and sometimes it turns against protesters. What is a common ground to any violence act in the world, whether in protesting or in wars, is mimesis and the desire of recognition.
2020 is definitely a weird but interesting year, a year like no other years before. I firmly believe it is a doorway to a different decade, therefore to a different way of life. Every morning, while having my strong black unsweetened filtered coffee, I stumble upon many small truths; most of the times I choose to go on as if nothing happened with an eager desire that things will go back to what they used to be before. Being aware of the useless nostalgia, I am trying to process the present which is, just like the German philosopher Gottfried Leibniz describes it:
The present is saturated with the past and pregnant with the future.
The truths I encountered are clichés but practically crucial. Some of them are repeated daily, almost mechanically. Some others are theoretically true but difficult to execute. The beauty of them is their simplicity. The simplicity to face the ultimate inevitable truth: the tragic of life. Death is what makes life tragic and what gives meaning to it. So, what are these “truths” to handle tragedy?
- Health, family and friendship are strong pillars to the monument of life.
- Joy found in dissonance and disharmony in doing exactly the opposite of what we are told to do and makes us joyful. I can see you smiling while reading this: did it remind you of a teenage silliness? We need to go back to the teenage heart and follow it. LAUGHING OUT LOUD.
I am talking about joy and not empty abstract harmonious happiness.
- Pleasure in every step of the way. Seek it.
- Consumption leads to waste.
- Breathing and moving are the best therapy.
In conclusion, time is wasted by “small truths” of required tasks to survive. “Big truths” are found in silence and stillness, at night when nature wakes up, in tragic scenes and scenarios. Don’t hate them and don’t try to forget them. Tragic is the meaning of life!
As countries are preparing to go back to normal life, I can’t help looking back to the lockdown experience as a period of time where I was forced, like the rest of us, to new habits and ways to survive and live through this strange pause. I have learned important lessons for life whether there will be another wave of Covid-19 (I hope not) or not.
Here are the lessons I learned:
- Step away from news. In stressful times like these, being constantly glued to your computer or phone and reading/watching news is not the best thing to do. In spite of being tempted to do it, and just for the record, fake news outnumbered the true ones. So, let alone being obsessive about knowing more can cause stress, but also not all is true. I limited myself to one hour per day to read or watch the news.
- Don’t binge eating/drinking/smoking. This is the time not to mess with your body for the sake of immunity. adds stress to the body which decreases immunity.
- Have an activity, a hobby that makes you happy doing it on your own. Whether it’s gardening or drawing or cooking etc., happiness is achieved first in solitude then shared. If you only rely on others to make you happy, then a lockdown will make you bored to say the least. Boredom is another word for anxiety.
- Learn DIY skills to fix and repair things in times where you cannot bring in any helper to do it for you. And in general, learning new skills is good.
- Don’t underestimate the importance of a great novel to make days/nights shorter and to shift your mind to a different world.
- Keep the contact with the loved ones. Nothing beats human warmth even if it is virtual. Physical distancing is required, not social distancing.
Again, let’s hope and pray that a second wave of the corona virus will not show up. Until then, stay safe.
It is cloudy today Heavy clouds full of rain The sky looks like me today Sometimes covered, sometimes uncovered Shy sunlight in the groovy blues Shall I dance for this matching? No big, no small, only a coincidence That the sky looks like me today Or is it a self-projection? Thinking is blurry, like the sky Repetition kills the mind Eye folded spirits on survival mode Waiting for another unknown Waiting for the misfit rain Feels chilly warm A wintery spring day in the pausing world Life goes on in silence In the groovy sky looking like me
Smoking is fading away And all i can think of is smoking Emotions on a roller coaster From agitation to numbness The smell of coffee sends madness to my soul Smoking is fading away For the lion in a cage Taken into captivity by the invisible Is the devil always invisible? Life is lighter with the devil Suddenly time is stretching out Energy turned to a furious ocean Thoughts are running in my head Into one direction Even a poison can be sweet The lion in a cage is dreaming Of colorful smokes going up my head Innocent souls can never understand How to be possessed by the devil
Where do we go from here When the mind is not clear The night is long But the sun is shining bright The storm is within And birds are singing Darkness isn't that dark Where do we go from here When streets are empty Faceless people behind windows Staring at the sky Feeling the heat of the sun Waking up their souls Motionless bodies Where do we go from here When streets have no name When death has no face When spring feels like winter Tomorrow is another today Humming the same song Playing the same games Doing the same things Repetition makes absurdity Outside the sun shines Inside the heart is cries Scream into the scary silence Run into the wilderness of your dreams Maybe foolishness is what we need
There is nothing wrong with sitting comfortably and meditating, just like the common taught method of meditation. However, I feel there is something in this that doesn’t work for me. Meditation is an individual practice, although done sometime in groups. The meditative experience remains different to each one of us. This is a why a seated meditation doesn’t work for me.
Longtime ago, thousands of years ago, when meditation was invented as a technique to calm the mind and bring awareness to people, life back then was totally different. People used to walk all day to bring water and food and walk back home carrying whatever they gathered. They laboured their lands, picked fruits and vegetables, hunted animals, cooked and cleaned, guard their herds. Surely at the end of a long active day, they needed to sit down, close their eyes and meditate.
Nowadays, especially in big cities, life is busy in a different way. We sit down for too long, counting on machines and vehicules to do the daily chores. Food is abundant and easy to get, as long as we can pay for it. Then, why to sit even more just to meditate? We should meditate while moving more.
Meditation is commonly refered to as a prolonged concentration on breath and on being present. Which means it can be done in any activity. Put your heart in it, concentrate on the present task, focus on your breath and you are meditating.
No one likes stillness; it is unnatural, taking into consideration that movement defines us. Stillness is socially abnormal since we are constantly asked to move, to be social, to commute, to be active. Consciously or not, stillness has not a great reputation socially speaking.
Why do we fear stillness? Does it remind us of death in a way? And what is the link with containment?
Yes it reminds us of death. Life is noise and action. Stillness is the anti-life.
However, the power of stillness occurs when there is a shift in perception. Take for an example the picture above, or any picture you have; it is an action or a moment that stood still in time. Without this stillness made possible by the camera, the moment refered to wouldn’t have been immortal. We wouldn’t have seen details, often blurred by movements. Worse, we wouldn’t have concrete memories.
Whoever tried a Yin yoga class knows what I am talking about. Yin yoga is a slow paced yoga where a pose can be held up to 3 minutes. It’s a test for the body and for the mind that can go crazy. Before almost crying, a shift in the mind can happen, a call for discipline and focus. Benefits will be felt at that moment of mind shifting.
Containment is a sort of spacial stillness, a self-imprisonment. Normally speaking, imprisonment is a punishment. Ironically, it has become the only way to save ourselves and the world! Just like in Yin yoga where the body and the mind feel in captivity, containment is quite the same painful experience. Only a mind shift can turn containment into something positive.
Then what is exactly this mind shift?
Simply put, it is focusing on ourselves, on our inner growth. On our intellectual developement by reading that book that we once bought and we never read. On our connection with the loved ones. On our inner child who wants to play and creates. On our plants. On everything that makes home the place we love to be in. But also, on our body by optimizing it and taking care of it. Last but not least, we need to focus on our mind, on our mental health. If you focus on all these daily, time will fly quickly.
Boredom is a state of mind. Anxiety is a state of mind too. Both are not needed. In time of crisis, positivity and reasonability can save us.