Human connection

I tried a little something different this time.

And writing. Writing helps too. At least it helps me.

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Dancing in the rain

That’s not an activity I usually engage in, but the weather has been such that we barely saw any sun lately and thus I found myself dancing in the rain at an Amy MacDonald concert.

I’ve known about the concert for months and not-so-subtly hinted to my brother that a concert ticket would be well received as a birthday present. He doesn’t always know what gift to get me and I thought I’d make it easy on him.

So, I ended up with two cards, which is what he does. The person I would have loved to take, however, was not even in the country, which I’ve also known for some time. But my brother hadn’t known that.

I had invited him and his significant other to Hamburg and as it happened, they planned to come the weekend before the concert. My brother ordered another ticket online and sent it to me and we were going to go together on the 24th of July.

Alas, circumstances prevented the visit and I found myself with two spare tickets all of a sudden and no idea who to take or whether to sell them.

In the end a friend of a friend was very happy to come along and she brought another friend along. I knew one of them, at least, and they both made for good company. In any case, I was quite happy not to go by myself.

Summer in Hamburg can be hit and miss. Last July wasn’t great either, but August turned out quite alright. Thus far July has resembled April more closely than what you’d expect for this season. There’s been lots and lots of rain and the occasional thunderstorm.

Monday managed to keep dry until the early evening, but as we were on our way to the concert, which was to be open air, the heavens opened up and a deluge poured down on us. Thankfully it wasn’t too cold, but when parts of you are drenched (especially your feet) then you will get cold eventually.

We had to swap umbrellas for rain ponchos, which was just as well. And eventually the downpour did ease up, but it kept raining all evening.

Still, none of us were deterred. In fact, given that Northerners aren’t the most exuberant people you’ll ever meet, the crowd was positively vibrant.

It did help that Amy was utterly charming and that she has a fantastic live voice. Not all artists do and it’s always a wonderful discovery when they can hold their own live. She welcomed us to Scotland… err… Hamburg, bemoaning the miserable weather, but thanking us for our resilience and showing up in numbers. She also called us beautiful in our multi-coloured ponchos and rain gear.

Her music did the rest and we were dancing in the rain, albeit in a somewhat reserved manner, trying to warm up, but not getting too wet or dirty in the process. We are Germans, after all.

The concert was a mix of some of her best songs and her latest album and I loved every part of it. I stood fairly close to the stage, smiling happily, swaying, clapping and singing along and feeling incredibly alive, despite rotten wet and cold feet.

I would have wished for one person to be there and share this experience, no matter the rain and how wet we all were. I would have loved for my brother and his boyfriend to be there as well. But I was happy and grateful for the company that was there and couldn’t have asked for more.

There’ll be a next time.

One of my favourite songs of hers, though it’s not her original song and she didn’t play it that night. Still, I felt like sharing it.

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Is this all there is?

I first asked myself this question somewhere at the end of summer 2005. I was still enrolled as a student at university, but I’d given up on Egyptology. I knew I wouldn’t work in the field and I knew I wouldn’t be able to complete my degree without the minor subjects, which I had lost complete interest in.

So I needed to figure out what to do with my life. Eventually I arrived at the idea of travelling around the world. Whilst the life I had was quite alright, it wasn’t the life I wanted. Instead I chose another path and I’ve never regretted the choice.

That’s actually quite true.

Now, nearly 11 years after I actually did leave, stayed away for 10 years and returned almost a year ago, I find myself asking once again: Is this all there is?

And once again the answer is… no.

The reason behind my question now is completely different than it was then. Twelve years ago I wanted to know what life could be like. What else is out there? What adventures are possible? Who can I become? And might I find more meaning in life?

All those questions and many more were answered. Though almost in every case the answer continues to change. That’s okay. I am a work in progress. Definitive answers are not required.

For the majority of those ten years away I enjoyed unparalleled freedom. I could go wherever I wanted. I could do whatever I wanted. When I decided to stay, it was because I wanted to. When I wanted to leave, I did. I chose the people in my life. I chose the challenges. I made commitments. I chose every path I walked. Even though I usually had no idea where it might lead. I just always trusted that I would be okay. That I would arrive somewhere. And I walked every path until it could take me no further and it was time to find a new direction.

Ultimately I arrived where I now am. I became the person I currently am. I couldn’t have imagined either. Or planned for it. And that’s quite alright. I don’t believe in planning the future. I don’t know what my future self might want, except to be happy and lead a good life. But beyond that? My past self didn’t know that I would end up where I am and that I would feel the way I do right now.

On that note, read this. It is quite illuminatinghttps://www.brainpickings.org/2014/06/18/daniel-gilbert-happiness-future-self/

In the last three months my life has turned upside down. Not so much my outer life. But my inner life. I’m going to have to digress here and take a detour into the matters of the heart.

First of all, I do things in my own time. Always have, and likely always will. I’ve experienced quite a few things ten years behind what might be considered the average. First kiss, first relationship… that sort of thing. It simply happened that way. And it’s not as if there’s a schedule one must adhere to. Plus, I don’t measure my life against that of others. So, who cares about the average?

Mind you, the first time I had a crush on anyone I was ten years old. But when I was 17 I was more concerned with my sexual orientation than dating. And dating has never been my cup of tea anyway. The first time I truly fell for someone, head over heels and all that, I was 22. My heart leapt into an abyss of feelings, which the rest of me was unprepared for. I may have gone a little crazy for a little while. And, of course, it was a disaster.

My heart climbed out of the abyss two years later and said to me: Let’s not do that again.

The next time I fell for someone I had already decided to leave my life behind and travel. A relationship was not an option. Being in love was surprisingly easy and uncomplicated, though, and it was even reciprocated, which I only learned after I had left. I held onto those feelings for some time whilst travelling. And eventually they faded. Absence didn’t make the heart grow fonder.

Then I met my ex. We were friends. I didn’t want a relationship. She was in love with me. Eventually I gave her my heart and hoped she’d look after it. She didn’t. She couldn’t. When my heart was returned to me three years later I didn’t recognize it anymore. I didn’t recognize myself. I left the life I had built once again. Mostly so I could heal and become a new self.

Three years ago I could’ve given my heart into good care. Perhaps the best care yet. I could have been sure that I would have been loved in a way that I believe most people deserve to be loved in. But I didn’t return those feelings and couldn’t have taken the same care of the heart that I would have been entrusted with. I couldn’t be so utterly selfish and it would have ended in horrible heartbreak.

And so I continued to be free of anyone and anything. Living the life I wanted, travelling around the world once more, stopping when and where I wanted. Not settling down. Eventually I realized that nothing kept me where I was and I decided to return to Germany once again. Perhaps it was time to close a circle.

For the first time in forever I wanted to establish some sort of home base. I’m not done discovering life and all it has to offer. There are so many places to travel to still. So many things to see and experience. But I no longer just want to do that by myself. I’ve done all that. The travelling by myself. The experiencing by myself. The going on adventures by myself.

There’s something I’ve never done before: share all these things with someone else. And not just anyone, of course, but someone I love and who loves me.

Since I’m not dating and haven’t been actively looking to meet someone in any way, I simply arranged my new life here in Hamburg and decided the only way for me to get out of the house is to find a job on the side. I happened to find the perfect job to meet people. And because of that job, against all odds and expectations or hopes, I also met someone who turned out to be pretty fucking special.

Someone, it also turned out, who is already in a relationship. Because, of course. Why should it be easy? How absurd that I could meet someone, we fall for each other and we could actually build something that may have a chance to last.

Let me be perfectly honest: there have been times when I have wondered, if I would ever find someone I might be compatible with. Or whether I wanted a relationship, or if it was even in the cards for me. Some people stay single and like it that way. Would I be one of those people?

I’ve been asked plenty of times, why I am still single. Usually when I’m being told that I’m such a wonderful person and how come nobody has snatched me up.

Apparently it doesn’t matter how wonderful you are, when the feelings are either not mutual or circumstances are simply not in your favour.

And it is still better than never having met them at all.

Anyway, three months ago, after meeting that special someone, I realized that holding onto my heart is pointless. I had to set it free. It’s stronger than it has ever been and it can look after itself. Whether I will ever have the relationship I want or not is somewhat irrelevant right now. What I do have is love. I have always had love. My heart is full of it. Even at its most crippled and hurt. And since I’m being honest, I do want love. It may be the only thing in this world that truly matters… in all its forms. The only thing that makes life worthwhile. Anything we do with love, we do well. Anything that gives us joy tends to be something worth loving.

What else can I do?

I love.

I always have. I always will.

Every once in a while I am in love.

And perhaps, one day, I will get the chance to grow that magical feeling into a relationship with someone.

Easier said than done.

Perhaps the answer to the question, if this is all there is, will always be no. Because there’s always the potential for more. But not every ‘what if’ needs to come to fruition. Not every potential needs to be pursued. We have to make choices, decide on a path we wish to take and accept that we will leave unlived lives behind. That’s okay as long as the life that we do choose feels as right as it can. As long as it makes us happy and fulfills most of our desires, though never all of them. Nobody can have it all, but we can decide what to settle for. Remember, we’re only as much as we settle for.

Another article I very much recommendhttps://www.brainpickings.org/2015/08/17/missing-out-adam-phillips/

Right now I know with absolute certainty that my heart wants more than what it has. That it is not okay to settle for so much less. That I can’t settle for less, because I know more is possible and that I deserve more than that. In fact, I need more.

So, what do I do? I stand by what I said in my previous post. I will keep loving, because I have no other option. I will keep hoping without expectations. I do not know that there’s anything to look forward to, but I know I won’t be waiting for it. The future has never been more of a blank canvas than it is right now. I’ve never lived so much in the moment as I have recently. I appreciate that beyond measure.

Interestingly I still live a life of utter freedom. I’m not tethered down by anything. That means when the moment comes for me to surrender a part of that freedom – for that is what you do when you begin to share your life with another – I won’t have a problem to do just that. I can do anything. I can go anywhere. And for the right person, I’d be willing to go very far indeed.

As it turns out, I’d also be willing to let the right person go. Because holding on to them may not mean that I get to keep them.

In the meantime I will keep pursuing my dreams. Well, one dream anyway. The only one within reach. Remember, Meryl Streep said that Carrie Fisher told her this:

Take your broken heart

Make it into art

My heart isn’t broken. Far from it. But it is bleeding and feeling so much. I can make that into art as well. So I will write.

And this will be my soundtrack until I find another song to dance to – then no longer by myself, but with someone:

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To love or not to love

We all want to be loved. Quite probably it’s one of the few things in life that we need. Every once in a while we’ll meet a person we fall for and we find that they are the one we hope to be loved by. With any luck the feelings are indeed returned.

But then what? Will the two of you embark on a relationship? That’s what most people hope for. But what if that is not an option? There’s a multitude of reasons why that might be so.

What the reason is doesn’t even matter. At least not right away. The simple fact of the matter is that you can’t be with the one you love.

So what do you do? What indeed…

You keep loving. We don’t have a choice in the matter. Love can neither be turned on nor off. We keep loving and hope for the best.

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What we can choose is what we do. And what that might be, everybody has to decide for themselves. It is at this point that it matters why we can’t be with the one we love. Because the reason will influence what we might do. How we choose to deal with the situation.

Hoping for the best is, after all, not necessarily going to cut it. Hope will only carry us so far. In the end we also need to protect ourselves. Our silly little hearts are not very good at protecting themselves. Especially when they are in love.

So what do we do?

There’s no ultimate answer to that. Not even a right course of action to take. Or necessarily a wrong one. The only wrong thing to do is to deliberately set out to hurt someone else.

If you don’t know what to do, try to be patient, especially with yourself. It’s the only thing you can really influence. It’s easy to give up, to lose hope, to let your heart break with the impossibility of a situation. Letting go of your worries, anxieties and of your fears is not easy.

But it is possible to love without asking for anything in return. Because Katherine Hepburn was quite right, “Love has nothing to do with what you’re expecting to get – only with what you’re expecting to give – which is everything.”

Once you realize that it’s not so much about being loved or being with the one you love, letting go is not so difficult. You do have to keep on doing that, though. You have to keep letting go, because our hearts want what they want and you’ll feel that greed over and over again.

At the same time I would never suggest to give up on that love, your own or that of the one who returns your feelings. Even if you can’t be together, whatever the reason might be, that doesn’t mean you should walk away from your feelings.

Bertrand Russell said, “Of all forms of caution, caution in love is perhaps the most fatal to true happiness.”

Not now does not mean never. Though every once in a while it will feel like not ever.

It’s a difficult path to walk. But every moment of happiness tends to be worth it. And we do deserve to be happy. Not everyone is able to pursue their happiness, but that should never mean that we have to forsake it.

As it is, I believe our hearts will guide us. Sure, wanting something doesn’t mean we ought to have it. But wanting something, or someone, enough does make us take on the impossible.

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A symphony of getting lost

“Schroedinger said, at its base level, the universe isn’t matter… it’s just shapes… nothing firm… what it means is that the real world is just a simulation anyway… that even if we’re not real, we may represent a dynamic… a tiny finger tracing a line in the infinite. A shape. And then we’re gone… Listen, all I’m saying is that, if we’re just information, just noise in the system… we might as well be a symphony.” – Root to Shaw in Person of Interest

We have this picture of ourselves in our heads of who we should be. We have an idea of who we are. Some of us even see a path ahead of where they want to be, who they wish to become.

But the question is: how clearly do we see ourselves? Do we have an open mind about who it is we are? And do we actually let ourselves just be?

Most of the time we tell ourselves stories of who we are, who we should be and why we can’t be something else or something more, because we don’t deserve such luck. We judge our failings so much harsher than we celebrate our accomplishments.

We don’t allow ourselves true happiness. Because what have we done to deserve such things?

Even the most open-minded among us recognize that we’re just doing the best we can, trying to be good, trying to do good, that we won’t always succeed and that it is okay to tumble and fall. But we still don’t embrace happiness when it hits us in the face. There’s always a second-guessing, a doubt, a pause to consider whether we deserve this or not.

Until the moment you feel yourself falling for someone. And I mean the moment when it actually happens. When you’re just there, inside of it, allowing yourself to feel all of it.

All of a sudden you’re lost and you don’t mind. Happiness has a way of turning your head around. There’s a part of you that can’t resist. Doesn’t want to resist. You’re willing to follow wherever it may lead. And then you look up and you have no idea where you are anymore. You’ve never been here before. You don’t recognize the landscape.

But you find yourself wanting to explore it. Where does this path lead? Where that? You’re in uncharted territory and none of the paths ahead would take you anywhere you’ve ever been before. You’re lost in a way you’ve never been before. And you don’t mind it at all.

I don’t get lost. A friend once said to me I have a built-in GPS. I always find my way, no matter where I end up, even when I’ve never been there before. I don’t get lost.

But this? This is different. This is the best way to get lost, if ever you do get lost. In some strange way you let go of a part of yourself, lose it and yourself to the experience of the unknown. That’s when those preconceived ideas of who we are or who we should be cease to matter.

We can’t truly lose ourselves. We’re stuck with ourselves. What we can lose is the second-guessing, the doubt, the need to see our shortcomings before our strengths. We can learn to simply accept ourselves and not have expectations of ourselves. We can bravely walk into the unknown and walk a path that we never would have allowed ourselves to walk before. To explore the road ahead with open hearts and believe in the possibility that we might actually deserve what we find along the way.

The most incredible part in all this is: when you choose the path that feels right, you won’t be walking it alone.

Get lost in happiness. Be a symphony with the one who shares the path you’re walking on. Or be a song all by yourself.

 

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Heart Pickings

It seems that when something is on your mind, perhaps more so on your heart, you keep seeing, reading, finding things that relate to what you are feeling or thinking about. It may very well be that we are more attuned to these things, because they weigh so much on us. You may even be inclined to think that the universe is sending you signs… if you believe in such things.

I tend not to believe in signs, tempting as it might be. I blame hyper awareness instead. An unconscious need for some sort of explanation, even validation. That what I’m feeling is not so outlandish. That my thoughts have at some point been shared by another, perhaps even investigated in a manner that might now enlighten me.

You may have come across Maria Popova’s blog Brain Pickings. She’s a smart woman. And I love her writing. The range of topics on Brain Pickings is extensive. There’s always a hint of philosophy no matter what she chooses to write about. Lately I’ve read quite a number of articles that related to love, relationships and what others have said about it. Writers, philosophers, artists of any kind. Every time I think I’ve got it now, I understand, something else comes my way, which does not negate the previously understood, but enhances and deepens it.

I’ve been spending a lot of time lately thinking about love and relationships. Needless to say this was triggered by an experience I’m currently going through. As an introvert I spend an awful lot of time on self-reflection when something like that happens to me. Past experiences are examined, how much I’ve grown, who I’ve become and ultimately, what it is that I am looking for.

So, naturally, when reading an article on that topic on Brain Pickings, I find it speaks to me, I hold onto some of the thoughts, realizing that someone else has so perfectly put into words the things I’m feeling. I can’t say this any better than they have already and it makes so much sense that there’s no point in trying. I just read this article and I think it hit me like a ton of bricks.

https://www.brainpickings.org/2015/02/12/the-missing-piece-meets-the-big-o-shel-silverstein/

“In 1976, The Missing Piece Meets the Big O (public library) was published — a minimalist, maximally wonderful allegory at the heart of which is the emboldening message that true love doesn’t complete us, even though at first it might appear to do that, but lets us grow and helps us become more fully ourselves. It’s a story especially poignant for those of us who have ever suffered from Savior Syndrome or Victim Syndrome and sought a partner to either fix or be fixed by, the result of which is often disastrous, always disappointing, and never salvation or true love.”

I’ve suffered from Saviour Syndrome. I didn’t choose to be in a relationship where I could fix someone. I ended up in it without having a clue what I was getting myself into. I developed Saviour Syndrome. And yes, it was disastrous. It nearly destroyed my ability to love and for a long time made me wary of relationships altogether. In the end I had to save myself and let go… and ask to be let go.

When I read above article, I realized that I’m the Big O in this scenario. I’m not a missing piece looking to fit with someone. I’m complete already. But finding someone who rolls along with me… that’s a different story.

I can’t fix anyone. I wouldn’t presume to try. When you love someone, you want them whole. You don’t want them to suffer in any way. You don’t want them to doubt, especially themselves. If the person you love is not whole, or does not feel whole, you can’t do anything but be there for them and support them in their own efforts to grow.

Tell them “I’ve got you. I can’t fix you. But I’ve got your back. I’ll be by your side, because I love you.” And you hope that is enough. You’re in this together, for better or worse. And ideally, you both end up growing. Just because I’m already a complete whole, doesn’t mean there isn’t room to grow further or perhaps even in an unexpected direction. We never stop becoming, after all.

I believe in unconditional love. You take the other person just as they are. You want the same in return. Most of us aren’t complete wholes. Most of us have missing pieces or they are a missing piece, or think of themselves as such. Growing isn’t easy. And it does require a certain amount of self-awareness. It’s okay to not be complete. It’s okay to look for the missing pieces. But you may eventually have to realize that it is up to you to fill those missing pieces, or remove those sharp edges that bother you.

Happiness comes from within. It’s a process. It’s in enjoying the moment. It’s in accepting yourself for who you are, and allowing yourself to grow without having a plan what that should look like.

Of course, the greatest happiness is the one you share with the one you love. But experiencing that is impossible, if you’ve not already been happy on your own.

I’ll never arrive at the end of my understanding of love. Love is the ultimate unanswerable question. You will always find yourself wanting to know more and trying to dig deeper. This article simply reminded me of something. I’ve known for years that I’m not looking for someone to complete me. I’ve not felt incomplete for a long time. It also reminded me that loving someone means letting them go sometimes. So they may do their own growing and walk the path they think is right for them.

I don’t know how long ago I first came across this quote from the inimitable Khalil Gibran, but I’ve always known it to be true.

khalil-gibran

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Living dangerously

It is rather rare that you meet someone, hit it off right away and end up talking about life, the universe and everything. Surprisingly, none of the answers are 42. Unsurprisingly, the questions are legion.

There are two ways for me to learn more about myself: contemplation and conversation. I have a penchant for the former simply because I’m an introvert with a lot of alone time. And I find that I do know myself quite well, but I would not claim that I know myself fully or completely, because there’s a lot of potential to learn about oneself through another. That is where conversation comes in. (Let’s keep it simple, because there are other ways in which we can learn more about ourselves through another that doesn’t involve conversation.)

Through conversation we may voice thoughts previously unspoken. We find validation or discourse that allows us to further examine thoughts we’ve been having but couldn’t form completely, with any sort of conclusion.

And it’s oddly difficult to hold up a mirror to ourselves. The best we can usually do is not to lie to ourselves, but it helps infinitely more to have someone hold up a mirror and show you what they see. Because we can never see ourselves through the eyes of another. They have to show us what they see.

I learned an enormous amount of things last night during the course of what turned out to be a nearly non-stop conversation of almost five hours. And I did not just learn a great many things about my conversation partner, but about myself. I’ve not had a talk like that in far too long. Needless to say I walked away from the evening with a gazillion thoughts.

Most of these thoughts and the things I learned are mine to keep and perhaps to share with the one who caused them. But I’ve also arrived at a conclusion that I felt the strong urge to write about. Because it’s the urge to write that woke me up with vengeance this morning after barely five hours of sleep.

I write every single day, mostly for my clients, and there’s not an awful amount of creativity involved. That I have been bottling up. I’ve been holding it in and keeping it to myself. But over the last few weeks and, oddly enough, even more so since the beginning of the New Year I have found that I need to let it out. Need to let it go.

I cannot sit any longer on all these words and ideas I’ve been collecting. All the things I’ve started but have yet to finish. It’s time to start finishing things.

I’ve been running from safety for nearly 11 years. The safety of a comfortable life and a career. When I decided to ditch university and travel around the world instead, I was chasing my dreams. And I abandoned what most people want to keep. Granted, I’ve been lucky enough to know that I could always return, because I have a wonderful family and incredibly supportive parents. But even now that I returned to Germany I chose to live alone in a different city rather than hurrying home.

Yesterday I realized that I have been holding on to two things, however: my heart and my writing. And then I realized that I have absolutely nothing to lose. My heart’s been broken before and yet I’m not afraid that it’s in danger of being broken again. It might happen, but I’ll only find out if I’m not afraid of it to happen.

And if I never get my writing out there, then I’ll never know if it’s worth anything. It’s my biggest dream and the thing I’ve been most afraid of. But what is there to be afraid of? Rejection? No. I don’t think so. Not for me. Failure then? How could you fail if you don’t try?

I already write for a living. I just have to start getting my own stuff out there. The writing that I truly care about.

I have a few dreams I want to pursue, a bucket list of things I want to do. But I’ve also done so many things already, seen so many places, collected experiences, that I would have few regrets if my bucket list remained nothing more than a list of things I’ll never get around to. But this, writing, is something I have to do.

I came across this two days ago and it says it all.

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I may have been running from safety, but does that mean I’ve lived dangerously? I think not. But it feels as if I might just do that by no longer holding onto my heart or my writing. Instead setting both free and hoping for the best. If you’ve got nothing to lose and nothing to be afraid of… the possibilities are endless.

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Personal Space

I value my personal space. Quite highly, actually. Considering that I am an introvert that’s probably not a surprise. Quiet and peace is where I can collect myself and even thrive. I hate crowds, but I can manage them when necessary.

At the same time I have chosen to work in a job that brings me in contact with people constantly. It’s been a very deliberate choice. As a freelance writer I work from home and don’t get out of the house unless I need food. That’s been true for most of the last nine months that I’ve lived in Hamburg.

I get my social contacts from visiting friends and family or when I’m the one doing the visiting, then usually leaving the city altogether. But working as a freelancer in a new city, where I basically don’t know anyone, makes it difficult to meet new people and make new friends. Hence I decided to get a mini-job, which has the benefit of earning me a little extra cash but also gets me out of the house.

And does it ever. Instead of going for an office job, I got a job in the hospitality industry. That is so very much against my nature, but I’ve been enjoying it immensely. Home is my comfort zone. Going to work means leaving my comfort zone, but truly, I’ve never actually been afraid to leave my comfort zone. I just do it and consider it an opportunity.

Not only does my mini-job bring me in contact with a great number of co-workers, but also the guests we’re looking after. And whilst my contact to the guests is fleeting and ephemeral, I do enjoy it more often than not. Few people thus far have chosen to be difficult and whenever it happened, I handled it.

I have been getting to know a few of my co-workers as well. Most of them are lovely people, some of whom I wouldn’t even mind having as friends. In other words, I’m achieving what I set out to do when I got this job.

Fundamentally I still don’t like crowds, of course. And there tends to be one at every event I work. Most of the time my personal space does not get encroached on too much. Only when I am around my co-workers is there actually any opportunity for anyone to get closer than I might be comfortable with.

On two occasions this week people have gotten closer to me than I really would have liked them. Once a colleague noticed that my black jacket was very dusty and he helpfully brushed all over my back to remove the dust. Whilst that was a nice gesture, I did not welcome his touch and ended up holding the jacket away from my back so he would not touch me more than absolutely necessary.

I appreciated the help and thanked him, but I felt uncomfortable regardless.

A day later I needed to produce an ID badge to security guards, but it had gotten tangled up in my scarf and I had trouble freeing it. Another co-worker helpfully turned around and grabbed for it, almost ending up with her hand in my cleavage. In her case I fumbled quite forcefully to solve the problem myself, because her hand really had no business being where it was.

Some people don’t seem to have a concept of personal space at all.

Now, I’m not a recluse and I actually like hugs from my friends and family. I find that I miss that when I’ve been by myself for some time. And I do allow a fair number of people in my personal space. Usually not straight away, but eventually. It’s the rare exception when someone is allowed to be close to me practically all the time (which means whenever I am with them). Those few people are special to me and not only are they allowed in my personal space, I invade theirs as well, usually without even thinking about it.

The reason I’ve been thinking about this and paying closer attention is the fact that I have this new job and meet so many people after having been alone for a considerable amount of time. Living alone and working from home I seem to have become a little more sensitive where my personal space is concerned. So I notice more when it is being invaded or when someone is inside of it and it doesn’t feel like an invasion at all.

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May the force be with you…

It’s been said that 2016 can’t get any worse. Two days ago George Michael passed away. Incidentally I was at a gay club when I heard the news. I was shocked and so were many others around me who’d come to enjoy a Christmas party. My friend, who’d shown me the news, said something about the curse of immediate news in our connected world. You can’t escape.

George was not the first icon we lost this year. It started with David Bowie, continued with Alan Rickman, whom I adored, moved along with Prince and Mohammed Ali and on and on.

Four days ago Carrie Fisher had a severe heart attack on her flight home. I was worried. But since her mother said that she was stable, I had hope that perhaps Carrie would recover.

Alas, she did not and 2016 dealt us yet another sucker punch.

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I’ve loved Princess Leia long before I came to love Carrie Fisher. I’d always liked her, but I didn’t know much about her for the longest time. I knew she had struggled with mental illness and drug abuse. But I learned much more about her when “The Force Awakens” came around. She was on every talk show and spoke oh so candidly. It was refreshing and amusing. She was smart and witty, delightful in many ways and I just loved to hear her perspective.

She was 60 years old. She was a princess. Then a general. And to her adoring fans she will always be a queen. I hope she knew how much we loved her.

RIP Carrie. May the force be with you.

Or, as some others on social media are putting it now: Carrie is one with the force and the force is with her.

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Living on hope

The appeal of writing science fiction and/or fantasy is quite simple: you can do anything. Everything is possible. That is amazing.

Tonight I decided to have a glass of wine. Okay, maybe two. I just felt like it. I never really drink by myself, unless I feel like having some Baileys and actually having a bottle of it at home. But that’s usually just a sip for the flavour of it. Nothing to actually get drunk on, because that would be rather sickening. Too sweet. Anyway, it’s red wine today. For once. And I’m watching ‘Interstellar’ to accompany the glasses of wine. Or perhaps it’s the other way around.

It’s a fascinating movie. Relativity, time, metaphysics, interstellar travel, wormholes, the end of humanity and our future. It’s a quiet sort of movie, which is perhaps why it is rather a long movie. It’s introspective. It’s better on second viewing, too. It’ll probably be even better on third viewing.

I chose the movie because of Anne Hathaway. I might very well be harbouring a crush on her right about now. She’s quite a gorgeous creature and a pretty good actor, too. Earlier I watched ‘Becoming Jane’, which is a lovely movie and one that appeals to me as a writer. I admittedly have never actually managed to read any of Jane Austen’s novels, though I watched ‘Pride and Prejudice’ ages ago and want to watch it again, especially after reading some of what Emma Thompson wrote about the making of the movie. I might have to read Austen’s novels now, too.

I’m buzzed. Slightly all over the place, which I find quite enjoyable. I wonder what it’d be like if I attempted to actually write whilst being buzzed. I mean, beyond writing a blog. I do feel inspired, mind you. Very much so.

‘Interstellar’ is bleak in many ways. But there’s hope, too. We need hope. I think, fantasy and science fiction is often very much about hope.

This year was pretty hopeless. If the electoral colleges cast their votes for Trump tomorrow, we’ll need a lot more than hope not only for next year, but for the next few years beyond that. I digress, I suppose. When you’re not completely sober your mind scatters.

Still, I’m happy. For no particular reason at all.

And then there’s this:

Do not go gentle into that good night.

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

We live on hope.

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