Tag: essay

The Story of Books

The Story of Books – November’s Essay

What’s the thing with the written word? What’s the magic behind these weird signs that allow us to get lost in fantasy worlds, to feel second-hand emotions and to believe, love, hate with such passion and fervour?

Why do we find refuge inside the pages of a book, and carry them heavy and dusty all around town, praying to have a moment or two to read? Why do our piles of books grow with every outing and why our to read lists never grow smaller?

We pay in advance for things not even published yet; we use our hard earned money to buy bits of trees with weird markings on them and we discuss them so intensively one may think they’re real. But then again, aren’t they? As long as they make us laugh, cry, feel, want to kick something, throw them poetically out of a moving train (Anna Karenina book’s almost faith) because of frustration, aren’t they real? Perhaps their worlds are imaginary to us, but were they to the writer? What did she/he feel writing that book? That chain of events? What possessed her/him to write that particular book? Where did that character with such an influence on us came from? Did that thing actually happen? What’s this thing called imagination, and how does one learn the ropes? How does one search the imagination to find exactly what needs to make the story advance and the book sell? I am now asking as a writer, but not only.

“You can make anything by writing.”

C.S. Lewis

There are so many books out there, we cannot even fathom to read a small part of them in this lifetime. So what will happen to the books we did not get to read? Do we get a second chance in Heaven? Is Heaven, as Borges imagined, a kind of library? Will we pay for membership? Will we know what book to read and what not to open? Will we want to read them all? Will we want to read at all? Well, that’s a yes.

There’s a magic and an appeal to books that draws us in and never lets us go, as we have learnt from early childhood. We used to keep notebooks filled with quotes, character traits, list of books read, list of books to read, some fan-fiction even, when the book did not end “our way.” Well, I can’t believe I was the only one, right?

Perhaps this led us to writing the book we wanted to read. This was one of the main reasons most of us started scribbling furiously in our notebooks, arguing with characters, plotting and researching weird things, we never thought we will. Perhaps the story just came to us one day, and we could not put it down, it kept us awake and we lost ourselves in that story long before we actually started writing it. And then we have no peace until it is all written down.

Being haunted by an unwritten book is a real thing. We, as humans, we’re all storytellers. From the greatest authors out there to the smallest piece of gossip, we’re all telling stories, true stories, false stories, stories worth telling, or not at all, but stories nonetheless. And from storytelling to writing, there’s only a thin line. One so thin, sometimes we don’t even know we crossed it until it’s too late and there’s no turning back.

So I ask myself again, what is this magic behind the written word? Is there a touch of eternity? Is there, perhaps, a piece of madness? I reckon it is both. Both and many more other as such. We lose ourselves in bookstores, we’d rather go book shopping than food shopping. And even when at food shopping, we still pick a book of two. Who thought to place some bookshelves in between milk and bread at superstores? They knew our hunger for reading, our thirst for knowledge to be as deep as our mortal needs. And then again, isn’t this another of our mortal needs?

I love collecting books. Bought, gifted, found, abandoned, borrowed, adopted, you name it. Perhaps it is not a good idea to have piling up on three to four layers on the bookshelves and always wish for bigger and wider shelves. But then again, I can only imagine the amount of books I could buy with the money spent on the bookshelves. So I reconsider and keep staking them on top of another, on diagonal, on vertical, horizontal and, when needed, next to the bookshelf, creating new, independent piles.

I remember one winter, a while ago, when I did not know better, upon seeing an image on Pinterest (yes, this goes under Pinterest fail hashtag), I worked my way on making a book tree. You know whose beautiful images with stacks of books, layered one on top of the other to create the shape of a tree, right? Well, now… It took me a day to pile them in my room, dust them, arrange them by size and so on. Another day to think what would go at the bottom, what can go higher up and so on. Mathematical precision, y’all! On the third day, as I spent most day re-reading what I found in my piles, I realized it is not going to happen. I gave up. What if, as soon as I finished the “tree” I wanted to read that one book sitting at the bottom? The whole thing would crash down. Well, that what if made me gather the books, stack them on the shelves, and spent a couple more days doing the same thing I did on the first day. Christmas came next day, anyway.

This story has in full 1000 words, as per WordPress count and my promise in January. To keep in line with this month’s essay and writing books, these essays of 2019 will come out as a booklet in January 2020 on Amazon. Details coming soon.

“In the end, we’ll all become stories.”

M. Atwood

Until next month, I bid you all farewell.

Roxana

The Story of Nature

The Story of Nature- June’s Essay

If you’ve ever been to a big city, you saw those manicured row of trees, lanes millimetric planned, not a leaf out of line, those curated gardens where every plant has its place and does not overlap, those 24/7 blooming plants, so there would be no time for a respiro. You saw the people tending to them, plucking out the weeds and cutting each and every leaf daring to crawl above the fence, or between its grates. Everything is fenced in, everything is off limits and no, you cannot sit on the grass, you cannot pick up flowers, you cannot and will not in any way dare to open the garden gates, for fear that you will disturb the tamed nature contained behind them.

We have lived like that for decades, not sitting on the grass, not daring to touch the flowers or pick up the sour fruits, keeping to the paved paths and sitting on the benches, while our eyes glanced yearning at the green pasture and colourful and scented buds.

Nature was tamed. And fenced. And so were we. So were our souls. So were our lives. On the “right” paths, the cemented ones, not able to roam freely.

These days the parks are welcoming you with invitations. You may sit on the grass. First time I saw that sign I laughed and cried in the same breath. It was a decade or so ago. In a park from where we were called down by a guardian and scolded for a quarter of an hour for we dared to sit on the grass and touch its green spikes.

That was a while ago. No there is a trend to open the gardens, to encourage people to be in touch with nature and to feel their souls again.

We’re sick of “no touching” signs, we’re sick of fences and barriers, we’re sick of looking from a safe distance and yearning.

As humans, we were born free and wild and we were then trained not to be free and wild, but hang around with “no touching” signs around our necks, we were trained to become distant and lonely, to look but not touch.

Nature is to be in contact with, to be touched, to be felt. Roses to be smelled and grass to be stepped on with bare feet and trees to be climbed on and rivers to be bathed in.

And yet we’re not. We’re looking at all of this and still maintain our distance. That’s why we’ve gotten so tired and overwhelmed in the steel and brick and mortar and cement cities. Nature is being held hostage behind walls and fences and we cannot charge from it. We cannot charge our souls. We’ve been running on empty for so long we forgot what it’s like to be whole. To feel whole.

This is a petition to free nature again. Our own nature. Human nature.

So, child, please sit on the grass. Please make yourself a flower crown. Please leave away the noise made by man and step into the forest. Please breathe in the fresh air of the mountains. Please bathe your body in the ocean’s water. Please forget a little about your struggles and come watch the birds learning to fly. Please come back to yourself, you’re not made of brick and mortar, of steel and rods, of glass and plastic.

Rivers, untamed rivers flow within your skin and stars shine behind your eyes. There are galaxies in your soul and flowers grow from your fingertips. Salty waters run from your eyes and stars shine behind your eyelids. Your laughter booms and echoes with the thunder and there’s magic flowing in your veins.

Run back to your roots. And find yourself again. If you’re nowhere to be found, or there’s nothing that you like, then make yourself from scratch. This time take your time and only add what makes your whole being happy.

Come rest your weary bones on fertile soil and wet your chapped lips into a stream of icebergs.

Lay your body on top of mossy fields and cover yourself with a blanket of stars. Lay your body on sandy covered beaches and cover yourself with a blanket of salty waters.

Get down on your knees and give thanks for the scented jasmine and prickly roses, for the salty seas and icy rivers, for the eternal snow laying on top of the highest mountains and for the fruits of the earth. Let your fingertips touch the blades of grass and breathe in the cool air of the summer morning. Walk barefoot on the autumn’s fallen leaves and cool your hands in the freshly fallen snow.

Allow your heart to be open and your mind to wander. Set yourself free and resist the sheltered life.

Close your eyes, my child. For you are safe tonight. You’re where you belong.

You are home.

How do you feel? How does your soul feel inside? Does your heart beat faster? Does your blood run freely? Is your mind less troubled? How is your breath? Is it deeper? Lighter? More powerful? Does the weight on your soul feel lifted?

How do you feel, now that you’re home and you’re whole?

P.S. This post does not in any way encourage trespassing, destroying, ruining protected parks, plants; and in any way disturb the natural order of things! This post encourages to help protect special areas and support the work of rangers, by being in touch with our own nature and lending a helpful hand in teaching others to be free without in any way disturb other’s freedom. Your freedom ends where the other’s begins.

P.P.S. This Essay has 1000 words in full, as per WordPress count, as promised in January. It took me a while to write it, even if I started it mid June. I guess it is hard sometimes to be as free and wild as your soul craves to be. Doesn’t it?

Much love,
Roxana

The Story of Travelling

The Story of Travelling – March’s Essay

Well, you see, when you ask someone what would they do if they had money, most people would say, without even thinking- Travel.
We, as humans are born with such a desire to know, to see, to explore, that had us climb mountains, cross seas and oceans, dive deep and fly high in search of something to soothe our souls. In this search of ours to know, we have encountered billions of stories and seen millions of people living their lives and sometimes, we had even imagined ourselves to be a part of that local universe.

We travel to belong. To find our place in this (still) undiscovered world, and think of the different lives we would have lived if we were just been born someplace else. People from the valleys imagine living on top of the mountains. People from the mountains daydream of the sea and people from the tiny and remote villages wish to be in a bustling and vibrant metropolis.

It is perhaps that we are born on this planet, but we don’t quite belong here? Have you ever wondered why are you here? Well, that is a really good question.

Setting aside the travelling to say we’ve been there and saw that and taking pictures to prove it to our friends, there is the other kind of travelling, when we just go in search of ourselves.

And when during those quiet moments on a plane, train, car, boat, whatever means of transportation is available, including one’s own feet, you space out and imagine you are not a traveller, but a local.

Travelling means being part of the everyday lives of other people. We catch a glimpse on how other people live, how their lives are, what their normal looks like. And we marvel at it while sitting in a local pub and eat hot sweet potato chilly soup with warm bread and butter and sip a glass of white wine, listening to the locals’ chatter and their laughter. And our lives get richer, our imagination awakens and we find ourselves believing for a moment we are also one of them. That is the magic of travel. That fleeting moment of belonging.

We lose ourselves in forests, foreign alleys, take the less beaten path and see the new world with wonder eyes. We see new faces, new customs, we taste new dishes, new wines, we hear different languages and even different realities than ours, and we marvel some more. How is it that people are so different?

And then, you find yourself in a book shop reaching for the same dear-old-book as a stranger, and you both smile. Or you take the wrong coffee cup at the local brewery and after taking the first sip, you realize it is the same as you have ordered. Perhaps sweeter than you would have liked, but it is the same, universal latte. And you and the real owner, both smile, like before, sharing something. Or when the friendly dog of a local comes to you with the ball, pleading eyes and wiggling tail to invite you to play with him. And you throw the dirty ball a couple of times, while the owner of the dog watches you amused and bursts into laughter when the dog – at some point – seems confused. Or that moment when you are so caught up in your writing that you do not hear the stranger asking to share your table, but he sits down anyway, while you scribble furiously an idea that just came to you in your rugged notebook. And when you finally get out of your head you see the stranger next to you drawing with a passion in his own tiny notebook filled with colours and stains, always on the rush, always with a fear of not being able to capture the entire feeling. And you smile. Or when you go to a church to clear your head and rest your tired body, and the person greeting you says they’re having an organ concert that evening, would you be staying? It seems that there is an emeritus organ teacher playing, such an amazing feat for that small village of theirs. And you start nodding so furiously that they smile. And you listen to the wordless emotions, the grave and vibrant tones of the instrument, and you get transposed into another realm, without borders, without another language than the universal one of emotion. And at the end of it, you turn to leave and you see an old man coming down from the choir helped by a younger boy, and you get introduced to the emeritus professor, who moved out there from the big city after his retirement, bought an organ, repaired it and now is teaching the village children music, including his own nephew. And you know you still have tears in your eyes, and the old man puts his thin and parchment white fingers on your forearm and thanks you. And you think to yourself- shouldn’t be the other way around? Or when you find yourself giving directions to others, because they took you for a local, and you just happen to know the way as you just came from that place. And they thank you, smiling and pocketing their maps, and follow your instructions. Or when you are staying in line to get some ice cream and one local comes to ask the ice cream lady if they have brought some pear and rosemary or mulberry and thyme to take home, and you end up thanking him for the recommendation afterwards.

These are just tiny bits of things that may happen when one travels. Near or far.

Travelling does not need to be thousands of miles away, on the other side of the globe, in order to be called travel. The simple idea of removing yourself from the usual known and extremely beaten path is travel.

And then you may find tiny stories like the ones above.

Much love,
Roxana

The Story of Time

The Story of Time -January’s Essay

Time is a weird concept. It can be measured in seconds, minutes, moments, memories, breaths, feelings, laughter, words, songs and books. The best spent time, however, is that one we do not measure. We do not feel passing.

Time well spent is the one that turns into memories.

Remember that time when…I wish I could turn back the time… Time waits for no man…

But it does exist. As in nature’s course, there is time for different activities. There is a time for everything.

To every thing there is a season,
and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to get, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to rend, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate;
A time of war, and a time of peace.
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

It is important to recognize where we are in every moment while we are alive. And respect it. Perhaps for some is a time of growing or of planting, maybe sowing, for others is a time for dancing, laughing or perhaps breaking down. We must acknowledge that time and honour it.

We must not await time out.

Some of us have been waiting for something all our lives. For a sign, a certain day, a certain season, or even for a certain mood. For something exterior to validate and motivate our internal wishes and desires. Oh, how much time have we wasted waiting for the weekend. Or for money, love, inspiration, summer, a better life, a better exchange rate.

And how frustrated we’ve become with every second waiting and waiting and seeing nothing changes.

Nothing will change, however, with that mindset. Because time is our own commodity of our own making.

Pondering now on how January is almost at the ending and New Year’s Resolutions and wishful thinking started already to dull their light, and we find ourselves again at our old antics, again on the run, again restless, at war with ourselves. Or even worse, stuck, uninspired, unmoved, cold and lifeless. Feeling unworthy of goodness. Undeserving. Fake. Impostors. Not good enough. Simply not enough.

There is a reason for that. And it is simple. The time for resolutions, wishes upon a star, on the New Year’s fireworks, on a birthday cake, on a dandelion, on a shooting star (and so on) is over. All gone!

Some very wise men once said- The time is gone, the song is over. (check it out here). To paraphrase them I would say that the time is gone, the waiting is over!

That time is over.

It is done!

We’ve dreamt it. We’ve wished for it. We’ve longed for it. We’ve even prayed for it and manifested it. That is great, but enough.

Now it is the time to do it.

Good, but…how?

We should start with what we can. Changing that mind frame. Working on an idea, or a seed of an idea. With the first step- be it a word, a flower, a 5 minutes meditation, a 76-form Tai Chi routine, a sequence of Sun Salutation, 10 minutes walk, an apple, a healthy dinner, ironing 1 shirt, 6 cycles of deep breathing, calling 1 person, 10 min hike, writing 2 emails, texting back, throw away just 1 piece of junk, recycle 2 papers, plant a tree, say no to one plastic straw or even just by saying Hi to someone we’ve been meaning to get in touch with again.

Without pressure, without expectations, without analyzing (or overanalyzing- hey, I’m feeling your pain, my friend!), without beating yourself up, without guilt.

Start our first month of this blessed year with a word. Chosen wisely. And enwrap ourselves in it. Build around it, plant around it, dance around it. You get my point.

How can we make the most of this year by reporting all our actions around a word? By calling it a call to action. A hope. A dream. A wish…

Picking our theme for the year and then working towards that goal. With small steps, with big leaps of faith, with both.

As long as at the end of the year we will have something to “quantify” and measure our growth, we’re on the right path.

Food for thought and soul:

  1. Do you feel restless (go to the thesaurus and pick any of the following: antsy, agitated, anxious, fidgety, UNPEACEFUL) or perhaps, au contraire… you are just stuck, uninspired, humdrum, indifferent, desolate, dulled, LIFELESS? Do you want to change that? Then pick your dream word. It can be a word, a phrase, a saying, a chapter, an entire book series if you want. Write it down. (disregard this step if it is an entire fantasy trilogy concerning hobbits or a seven book series with muggles in it)
  2. Do you want more, something else, something different, anything at all? Even if it means to shake yourself a bit. (*the correct answer is YES!) Can you link it somehow to your dream word?
  3. Thinking about what you want to achieve (you know what it is), what would be the first step?
  4. Why aren’t you doing it? (*list your fears, worst-case-scenarios, insufficiencies, motivations or lack of them)
  5. What would it take to convince you to do it? (*insert any type of bribe here- I suggest you think big! I mean, you’re only trying to convince yourself. So you have to be smart and creative and use all the arsenal you have. You know yourselves so it will be easy. I know bribing only goes this far, it is sometimes frowned upon, even considered the bane of our own existence, but- hey, I said no guilt, haven’t I?)
  6. Breathe. Deep, for at least 6 cycles. Repeat if necessary.
  7. Ignoring, or in spite of step # 3, take step #2+ step #4 and START.
  8. Keep going. Until you’re done. Or moved. Or calmer. Or happier. Then, on to the next step. It may (or may not) get easier with every step.
  9. Optional -tell your friends about it. You can start with me. Afterall we’re a part of a small tribe, right? We’re building here a small village fit for a tribe of awesomeness.

Sending my love out there to you, darlings.

Until next time, let’s keep in touch!

Roxana

Post Scriptum: For those counting words, I confirm my essay has now 1000 words as WordPress knows to count.