Addiction

March 11, 2011


Image by gwenflickr on Flickr.

I think everybody is the addict of their own drug. Its identity does not matter — for in addiction we’re all the same. We seek the pleasure that brings us pain, no matter at what price it comes. We spend our sanity looking for it. We lose our sanity using it. But for what use is sanity in a world without pleasure?

In our darkest hours we sit in corners deprived of light, lingering in the shadows, our souls consumed by hunger. That is pain. Looking out windows streaked by rain, we tell ourselves our addiction has gone too far, and that has to end. But walking away from pleasure is near impossible to do.

Especially so as we experience the ecstasy of our drug anew, and are reminded why we keep taking it. It’s because the pain is such a small price to pay for such immense pleasure. And that’s why we persist through the torturous pain — because the pleasure — however fleeting it may be — is what gives our lives meaning.

No-one but the addict may understand the appeal. But it is there, or there would not be such a thing as addiction.

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Breathless

February 28, 2011

Deer on Hayling !?!
Image by Paranoid Black Jack on Flickr.

There was frost in the grass, the cold nibbling her fingers, making them blush and ache, as if pins were pricking them, shedding blood. A silver sliver escaped her parted lips, her breath a ghost disappearing into the unknown.

She was waiting.

Under a distant tree, far afield, lay blushing spheres, their rotting flesh spreading intoxicating fumes. Soft and sickly sweet, their whispers travelled silently, waving, luring, urging, for creatures to follow them to certain death.

Slowly fiddling with a thread spun from spider’s silk she was waiting for her prey. The sun rose, melted the frost and turned it to dew rising as misty clouds, wisping in the morning air. She was breathless; the slightest sound and her wait would be in vain.

Tentatively and with great reserve her prey emerged from the woods. Ears erect and with nostrils flared, scanning the world for predators thirsting for their blood. Each step was made as on glass, a foot set down, withdrawn, shiveringly replaced. They inched forward, lured by the succulence saturating the air.

Her heart was beating, the silk twirled round her fingers. Hands shivering with suspense, she watched the creatures draw ever nearer her irresistible trap.

The cider from the fermented fruit moistened their coat as they feasted on her bait. There was a premature twitch in the silk, and within a second they were all gone. Their silver breath faded slowly, tracing their path.

She twirled the silk hard round her fingers, turning them blue. All that wait for nothing. And it was all her fault.

Frozen Travel
Image by Moi.

The worst brings out the very best in people good at heart.

To see the world covered by cottoned water is a phenomenon very familiar to myself, as I was brought up in a faraway land where ice reigns supreme during each of the wintery months. Admittedly, the beauty grew bitter to my senses’ tongue after decades of never-late cold, but things once learnt are hard to unlearn.

So when the world surrounding my humble dwelling, outside the great city of London, gradually disappeared beneath a downy, frozen blanket, I sighed: “Oh dear,” — as I had a flight north to catch — but was never the less not deterred.

As the clouds broke to pieces that slowly swirled from the place of their heavenly birth, I wrapped a scarf around my neck and buttoned my coat. My companion — my suitcase — was already standing by the door, longing to taste air, having been trapped indoors for so long.

Eventually I stepped out into the world, having locked my door twice. However, the cold deterred my companion and friend, and my bag made up its mind that it did not at all want to go. Sitting on its (w)heels, I had to persuade it to move by pulling it along with my weight as an argument, ploughing a broad trail in the snow as I went.

Halfway to the station a taxi took pity on me and offered to take me the rest of the way. That was however not to be as the slope to the station was too steep with all the snow, but I never the less ended up having to pay a full fare.

Struggling to reach the station on time, I trudged on, eventually making it onto a train following a cancellation and a false alarm. I had a man help me carry my bag onto the train — as although I can pull it along, I cannot lift it very far!

“Normally I’d charge you for this,” the grumpy not-very-gentlemanly man growled, and I foolishly smiled. (What else is there to do?)

Having brought the first part of my long journey to a close I sank into a seat and studied the world as it passed by the window by my eyes. Knowing every nook and cranny of the route by heart, the journey never the less kept me mesmerised; for the green meadows and ploughed fields were all frozen — stunning and white!

The train only brought me three stations farther towards my goal, and once back into the cold I found the connecting train was delayed — by heaven knew how long!

On the platform with me were people huddled up in jackets and scarves — staring, standing, waiting — what else is there really to do?

Half-way into our long, shivering wait, a train came along. It pulled to a stop, and its driver came out. Boiling water was brought and his horn was de-iced, but when questioned if his train — only standing there — could open its doors to allow the freezing people on board, the driver only shrugged his shoulders and said:

“This station is not a scheduled stop.”

And once the horn had been de-iced and the honk was confirmed, the train pulled away and disappeared within long.

The disappointment such oblivion brought was enough to tear down walls and break the bounds that otherwise keep people apart.

A man and his son — travelling north to the town of Shakespeare’s birth — started talking with a woman carrying the only cello of an orchestra upon her back. Farther away a man with a broken leg — most likely courtesy of the cold — spoke to the not-so-gentle man who had growled before.

By my side stood a man only recently arrived who ceased the opportunity to break the silence, too. He proved rather polite, and once the connecting train arrived he brought my heavy bag on board. And since the train had already travelled far, and few seats were left, we ended up carrying the conversation on.

We spoke as gingerbread villages — frosted with snow — passed by and the villages grew into towns and London gradually emerged. As the final station was reached the man fumbled in his pocket, concluding:

“I have run out of business cards!”

I took pity on his disappointment and gave him paper and pen — being given a name and a number — and I do have to admit, for me that was a first!

Stuffing it all back in my purse I carried on as I still had a flight to catch! Within the hour I reached the airport which I had sought — many pounds the poorer, and with the blood racing in my ears. (I did not at all have many minutes left to spare!)

But as I entered the airport, I realised my fears had come true, and by the time my flight had been to depart it was announced irony had sneered and snow was to keep me from returning to my home in the snowy north!

Sighing — as you do when such things are said — I caught the attention of a woman by my side.

“Oh heavens, what are we to do?” she said.

Neither I knew what was to be done.

So coffee was settled upon — it is after all human to drown sorrows with delight. A brief friendship was formed in that time of need, and we spent several hours in otherwise unlikely company.

But as time lingered on and the people around succumbed to despair, I realised nothing else could be done — that day, I was not going home. I therefore bade my new friend farewell and returned in defeat to the cold.

With no more time to keep I made my way to the trains, only to find a thousand — multiples thereof! — had come up with the same, brilliant plan! I however had no choice but to join them, within long being swallowed by the human ocean’s vast expanse.

At one point a speaker crackled to life:

“This is a security announcement,” the detached voice said. “Remember to keep close to your belongings~”

Was more said, it was not to be heard. The people crammed into one another with bags and whatnot only laughed — and I do have to admit, even my pursed lips parted with a smile.

Two hours thereafter I reached my goal, once more standing upon a platform waiting for a delayed train to arrive.

A young Canadian woman sighed from the corner where she sat:

“I am so hungry; I haven’t eaten since breakfast — and that was long, long ago!”

I took pity on her, and dug deeply in my purse. Triumphant I handed her the prize of my search; a snack — not large, but for the moment enough. She wanted to compensate me with monetary means, but I declined her offer, as I only wanted for her condition to improve.

“That’s the Christmas spirit!” she smiled, with her mouth full.

Although I nodded, I did not agree; that is simply what you do for others in need.

After a few hours more I finally made it back to my by then cold and dark home. I had to turn up the heat and light the lamps anew, silence my hunger and then crawl into bed to get some much needed sleep.

That day had proven much an ordeal. Some would have called it pointless, but as I lay back in a bed I thought I would temporarily have left, I could not help but strangely consider the day worth the while.

For, it seemed that the worst — what could so many broken plans otherwise be called? — never the less had managed to make the best surface in some kind, kindred souls. It had proven a very pleasant day, I thought, for never before had so many strangers broken their otherwise unquestioned silence and treat their fellow men as such.

Forgive me for what follows — but I think humanity as a whole would regain much of its worth were only more “disasters” to occur. For there is nothing that unites people with others of their kind as shared circumstances — and that, I do think — is something the world very regrettably has lost ~.

Regrets

March 22, 2010

My Little friend follows netdog around
Image by netdog

She had always been bit of a loner. In some ways it was because she had chosen to, in others because she had failed to find friends.

That changed when she came across a red-haired girl when she still was very little. They became the best of friends and spent all their time together.

But for a loner such a blessing may sometimes turn bitter, and she found that she needed some time for herself. Foolishly, young as she was, she believed she had grown tired of her very best friend.

She ended their friendship.

Not long thereafter she changed her mind. She could see her best friend walk through the same corridors as she did in their new school, and she missed her. But she was too embarrassed about her former rejection that she dared not apologise.

When three years had passed she had found the strength she had lacked and spoke to her friend again, saying that she missed her and desired to go back to the way they were.

Her friend only laughed and said that it was too late for that, and that she did not desire to ever be spoken to again.

The girl walked away from her former red-haired friend, not desiring to admit she had broken down in tears.

More time passed, and the girl reproached herself for the folly that had robbed her of her first friend in life. Sometimes she could see her red-haired friend walk past in the distance, reminding her of the mistake she had committed.

Such regrets never fade, continuously being stirred to the surface by reminders that it was a mistake easily prevented. A decade later, it still hurt.

Poor Little Thing

February 11, 2010

Borboleta - Butterfly
Picture by Giba N.

Although it had snowed overnight, spring was in the air. The small birds tittered in pinnacled canopies, the sun casting warming beams upon an otherwise bare landscape. In a flower-bed a few daffodils mirrored the glory.

But that was outside the city. Within it, the sun was all that whispered of spring, the golden light causing her figure to cast a shadow upon the ground.

At one point her shadow fell upon what seemed like nothing but a fallen leaf to the thousands of feet that hurriedly threaded upon the crowded path.

But she saw what it was, wishing she never had.

The first butterfly of the year had escaped someone’s notice, it having met its fate beneath the feet of a city-dweller, blinded by the concrete.

It saddened her for the rest of the day.

Freedom

January 23, 2010

Aged Jetty

If only freedom was less of a notion unreal,
Oh, how delighted I would be!

I am not foreign to studies, in fact, I adore to read and learn new things; I love the fulfilling sensation to have my eyes opened by novel insights. I do however loathe to study subjects that interest me little, or not at all, as life is too precious to be allowed to go to such waste.

I understand that chemistry is one of the corner stones of science, but as a person whose interests forever shall be enamoured by the theoretical nature of science — which once upon a time was labelled “natural philosophy” — I find the act of studying it a chore best avoided.

I need to say I desire to help push the frontiers of science forward, for nothing less is expected of me. What my heart truly desires, I cannot allow to cross my lips. It’s a notion so foreign it is best silenced; tucked away in the jewelled box of my mind where I keep my most treasured secrets.

Still, as I force myself to study subjects that fail to appeal to my curiosity — by imposing alien restrains upon my own being — I find my mind floating into the vacuum of delight that unsatisfying discoveries create; I find my gaze abandoning the print on the pages to soar into the skies, into my own little world where my mind can be free.

forgotten glasses

Potential is something that needs be realised in time in order for the world to thrive through the accomplishments of its inhabitants. Is the promise of certain improvement denied, ambition will falter and forgotten geniuses are all that remain.

Time is a relentless beast leaving nothing without scars as it passes by, casting its shadows upon what is below. As it circled me — before leaving me to be one more time, however promising to return — it shaved off a cloak of denial which I had draped myself in previously, and made me realise that what I currently study are studies studied a decade too late. To learn the characteristics of all the modern-day phyla in the animal kingdom now interests me little, despite the fact that I find zoology one of the most fascinating sciences.

Ten years ago, when I was ten, I would have treasured the opportunity as I then studied it all on my own, dreaming of the day when I had come of the age when university studies were to be allowed for me to indulge in. Had I been allowed to move at my own pace in my younger years, I would have made everyone proud – because my passion would have rendered me unable to disappoint. When I now study the course a decade too late, I have moved yet further forward, being unable to remain still and await the time of mine which never comes.

What would have meant everything to me oh so many years ago I now find rather mundane, my ambition having been allowed to go to waste because it was before its time. What does it matter is a ten-year old is allowed to go to university as long as they enjoy – and is good at – what they do? Talents differ and everyone should be allowed to realise their own potential when the time is right. Such people as my younger self should be supported and valued instead of being neglected and forgotten. Instead of creating geniuses one then ends up with people such as myself — geniuses forgotten.

Two days ago I attended a lecture on the topic of human evolution. I have been fascinated by humans and their nature for about five years now, and that is well enough time for someone to learn most of what there is to know, rendering lectures such as the one two days ago rather pointless. Though it was designed to invoke a sense of awe in its listeners it failed to affect me to any mentionable extent. It is not because I found the subject topic boring, but simply because I am past that stage; I am a listener no more, I am a doer; I wish to be the person holding the lecture for I feel that there are so many more things which also could have been said!

My childhood self — the person I now would need to be — wanted to work in, or own, a very special museum because that was where I believed scientists and ponderers perched, wandering through never-ending hallways where every zoological wonder in the world was stuffed and placed in cabinets to which only the most accomplished had access. I was truly mesmerised by the thought and its implications for my future life. I believed it to be paradise and my greatest desire was at that time to gain access to the winding hallways I sincerely believed ran throughout the entire museum; passageways I then was not allowed to enter. But one day when I had grown older and more accomplished I would. And I could not wait.

I have not visited that museum for over a year now, despite me passing it by every day. It is located just outside the university campus and I have to pass by outside its archives in order to reach my home. The last time I went there I became gravely disappointed, for despite I then knew that the paradise did not exist there in the form my imagination had suggested, I on that day realised that it was true; that I never would find happiness there. My reason for being there over a year ago was because I wanted to see their latest exhibit “The Human Journey” that had been praised in every review as the exhibition to visit was one interested in human evolution.

But when I ventured there I became disappointed – not in the exhibit – but in myself for having once more succumbed to the allure of the dream of a paradise for people such as me: the exhibit was not aimed at people such as myself; its target group were the others, the ones who did not mind if some things were wrong. Pressing my nose against the glass, as if I wished it to be a force field camouflaging a portal that would remove me from the confined space where I stood, I sighed and asked myself why the models of the pre-humans looked the way they did with fair skin — although with dark hair — despite living on the African savannah where such lack of pigmentation would have meant certain death.

But no-one was there to listen, for I yet have to accomplish enough to gain access to the winding hallways of zoological wonders that I know are out there in the world somewhere. All that was there was a fair-haired model of a pre-human that stared without blinking at me where I stood. I turned around and left, and I yet have to set foot in my childhood self’s paradise again.

What saddens me most — however — is that I know I am not the only forgotten genius in this world. Until it has been realised that not everyone is one and the same, the amount of people stunted in their intellectual development will be innumerable; and it is all at the world’s loss.

Tell me, do you ever feel like a forgotten genius at times?

Emmanuel College at Dusk

To be sophisticated is to handle rejection proudly and well; considering even the most painful of experiences as being valuable opportunities from which important knowledge may be derived.

My year 2008 was dedicated to fulfilling a dream which had been brewing in the back of my mind for some time; to apply to a university abroad. Certain of my own abilities; knowing myself able to one day be as accomplished as successful within the realm of the sciences, I decided to aim for the skies.

I applied to the University of Cambridge.

Having attended an interview at the university on a beautiful — however cloudy — day in mid-December, I learnt a month thereafter that my hopes and expectations had been in vain; though the university found me a lively applicant, they felt that I did not possess the level of knowledge which they during a competitive year sought. My application, and therefore also I, had been rejected. A year of anticipation had turned into nothing. Of course I was distraught and sad.

However, I knew that being upset would accomplish nothing, and I told myself that I could not allow an unexpected setback to affect me in any way; do I wish to accomplish something and make full use of my academic potential I cannot remember the past with a sense of regret; I must see it as valuable experience from which to learn!

I sat down and wrote a letter — however one which I never intended to send — for the process of writing and phrasing a letter has great potential of clearing one’s mind; almost as if the ink with which it was written was derived and harvested from the thoughts swirling before one’s eyes.

In times of distress I recommend this approach to you; when there is something on your mind; write a letter or a piece of prose. You need not show it to anyone do you not feel like it, as it after all was written for no-one but you.

I will however share my letter with you. Having written it I shared it with friends who believed it uplifting that I dealt with rejection so well. Therefore, are you interested (or perhaps in a similar position as I were) then I wish for you to read it and realise that if I can recover from such a stunning blow, then so can also you.

.-:’*’:-._.-:’*’:-._.-:’*’:-._.-:’*’:-._.-:’*’:-._.-:’*’:-._.-:’*’:-._.-:’*’:-._.-:’*’:-.

“Dear Professors of the University of Cambridge,

You will never read this letter of mine but I never the less found writing it worth my while; my purpose none other than to allow my mind to understand a decision never anticipated, one which paralysed me with its absurdity. Certainly there is a reasonable motivation underlying your final decision — of which I have no doubt — but I find it in my right to question the accuracy of your reasons never the less.

Monday January 5th was an ordinary holiday morning for me: I woke up at too late an hour before dining with my family. Having laughed with the people whom I dearly love I returned to my room to complete a line of reasoning — a hypothesis you would probably call it — which I had begun to formulate during the newborn hours of this day now already mature.

Truly, my affection for the sciences is a part of me; there is no other reason for why I allow it to occupy so many hours of my days; there is no reason for why I consider the sciences as one of my foremost priorities. I am not proud over the fact that I consider other assignments to be far inferior to the lines of reason which I entertain, but it is yet a fact I cannot deny. Indeed, substance is what I value, though I realise this may be something which I failed to make you understand.

Although my day had started with a morning like all mornings past, this changed as my mother entered my room. As excited as she was at that moment I do not believe I ever have seen her, the reason being a small envelope in her hand. The envelope was waved before my questioning eyes, and the red letters spelling ‘Cambridge’ on the postal mark told me that the white, small envelope contained the letter which I had awaited for more than half a year; inside laid the sheet of paper that would forever come to change my life!

For what seemed like hours — however a moment lasting only seconds — I held the envelope carefully in my trembling hands, my heart beating with the strength a fate soon revealed is alone in causing. On my left hand my mother stood, her back turned to me; she did not want to know what the letter said, her excitement most likely surpassing even mine. After all, I know my own abilities by heart, I know my strengths and weaknesses; I know what I am able to achieve. I did not doubt the contents of the envelope my hands embraced, never in my entire life had I been so certain of any thing!

Following a deep breath to calm the beats of my cheerful heart I reached for the exquisite pewter letter opener in shape of a crocodile which my parents had given me for Christmas; a piece of metal handicraft which I intend to treasure for the rest of my life. Today was the day when it was first to be used; the knife-like tail of the crocodile with its silver sheen would assist me in opening the letter of a lifetime. Truly, this was the purpose the pewter reptilian had been created to fulfil!

Carefully, I opened the envelope, the paper tearing perfectly as it met the blade of the crocodile’s tail. Holding my breath I placed the animal with its silver scales by my side and peered into the envelope, a single sheet folded three times lingering inside. I removed it from its protective paper and studied it; to unfold it I did not yet dare. I wished to treasure the moment; the moment illustrating the few seconds remaining of my old life before a new fate was to be revealed.

With hands still trembling, the heart in my chest still pounding with cheerful excitement, my mother standing by my side with her face teasingly covered by her hands, I unfolded the letter. ‘Dear Elisabeth’ the letter began, but my eyes were unable to linger further on those two words alone; something else had caught my attention. A few lines down the words ‘regret’ shone with a colour red I am certain my mind conjured on its very own as I have not seen the bright glimmer of defeat shine as brightly as it did then.

Six characters pulled me down from the ninth cloud, and I fell into a black hole of the darkness of a midwinter night. A knot formed in my throat and I blinked back tears, returning to the letter in my hands; truly, this could not be! I must have doubted myself one time too many, I must have allowed my mind to play tricks n me! I returned to the letter, reading it carefully through. The six letters were no longer ablaze, but they never the less remained. My application had been rejected. I believed I had failed.

Sharing this disappointing realisation with my mother she believed me pulling her leg, but the blankness of my mind and the tears rolling down my cheeks made words obsolete. I had failed to succeed. Surely, my mother mused, unwilling to accept that my dream had come to an end, my application must have been pooled; surely, my application must have been sent to other colleges for consideration, the college of my choice unable to offer me a place but without failing to realise my potential. They did not, my application was not pooled. I had failed two times over; it was over, my dreams had all been lost. Not even mercy was a kindness bestowed upon me!

These were news for which I had been wholly unprepared, how could I have been so wrong? I asked myself: how could this be? The anticipation and excitement of half a year — or more! — disappeared as the tears filled my eyes and rolled down my cheeks. I could barely phantom my fate, could this be true? Was there not even the slightest possibility that this was an evil dream from which I was soon to wake up? The pain I felt as however too real to be denied.

By now half a day has passed since the devastating news reached me and it all lies in the past. A new day has arrived and though dawn lies many hours away my day of disappointment has passed. I can still feel a few tears burning behind the lids of my eyes, but I see no point in allowing them to fall. Crying cannot do more for me than what it has already done, and my eyes are still all too swollen and red; I am no beauty in distress — but then again, who is? Indeed, I am beyond the stage of crying; I am now curious. How could a mistake such as this have been made?

Dear Professors — once again I turn to you — some people are scientists, born to lead through no other cause than reason — I am no world leader bringing about change through my words. Believe me; it is all for the best as the time has yet to come when the world is ready for me to make everything right. Yes, I have great faith in myself — too much some would say — but I am not incapable of doubt. To quote Shakespeare: ‘the fool doth think he is wise and the wise man knows himself to be a fool‘, I can quite safely say that I am a wise fool; doubtful of my wisdom.

A mistake has been made — this I know whether or not I am a fool — for I am indeed a fool, however one wise. The amount of scientific passion which I harbour, the creativity which has blessed my mind, the determination which defines who I am; they do not make me the perfect student — this I readily do admit — but they make me so much more; the make me me, they make me Miss Josephine, they make me a person of future success. I am determined to make something out of myself, no matter whether you are willing to aid me or not. I will get by, though the sting of disappointment has not yet faded, and I will re-emerge as a person stronger than she used to be.

This setback was no stone which broke my bones — it hurt more than so — but it will help me grow and it will help me succeed. I am in an admirable situation; I cannot deny this without lying. Though I wished to become a student of your university — ranked third in the world — I have secured an offer from another university, an offer which is no shame to accept at all. Nothing has been gained, but neither has anything been lost. A life of opportunity awaits me, no matter whether you want me or not.

One day you professors are going to realise the magnitude of your mistake, but I will hold no grudges as it is human to falter. It is not easy to understand people such as myself; those who are awkward by nature and not by nervousness, those who are the sophisticated scientists of the future whilst being unable to articulate their thoughts, those who were asked factual questions when philosophy is what defines their every thought. I am a regrettably slow, but immensely deep thinker. Do you ask me a question I require time to think; do you wish to know this and that you must give me time to ponder the implications of why and what. It is first after I have done this that I can give you an answer, but it cannot be reason enough for you to think less of me.

I know in my heart that I am one of the most able candidates who applied to your college and your university this year. I am intelligent, inventive and ingenious. I am determined, deterred by no disappointments and with the desire to derive substance from all matters of reason. This is what you have mentioned yourself as interested in educating and perfecting, and this is what I offered you. You turned me down and whilst the pain is mine, the regret is bound to eventually be yours. I will rise from my own ashes as does a phoenix bright and wise, and one day I shall attempt to convince you again — foolish would I otherwise be — and mark my words, one day I will succeed.

Yours sincerely,
Miss Josephine”