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Discovery 12: Watermelons

I love watermelons. Their sweet taste. Their bright colors. Their refreshing smell.

Author: Steve Evans; CC BY 2.0 license; via Wikimedia Commons

Author: Steve Evans; CC BY 2.0 license; via Wikimedia Commons


Another reason for me to like them is the memory they bring back reminding me of how I ‘discovered’ a watermelon. When I was about two-three years old, I was given the chance to hold a watermelon on my own for the first time in my life. I was bursting with pride to be able to perform this particularly important task, but at the same time I was also eager to find out more about this green, round object I was holding so tightly. It occurred to me that the best way to do that would be to play with it and since it was round, I thought it could be similar to other round objects… like balls. So I dropped it on the floor of our living room happily waiting for it to bounce back. Seconds later, I was looking at the two inert watermelon halves with dismay and great disappointment. It was certainly not what I expected, but I discovered it on my own.

Now I strive for keeping this curiosity and pure ‘discovery’ attitude alive. And sometimes eating watermelon helps.

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Discovery 11: (Im)Perfection

“Have no fear of perfection – you’ll never reach it.”
Salvador Dalí

The notion of perfection has played an important role in my life ever since I can remember. A pinch of inborn perfectionism and education with a clear focus on perfection as an unattainable, yet the only worthwhile aim have shaped my personality and behavior.

Striving for perfection has undoubtedly been a powerful motivator for most of what I’ve done. But at the same time, it often turned out to be challenging, even detrimental to my endeavors.

I still remember vividly my second year at the university when I got my first B (not A!) grade. It was nothing less than a disaster to me which left me inconsolable for weeks… My ability to handle such minor imperfections has (fortunately!) improved significantly over the years. But I am still the perfectionist I have always been petrified by the mere thought of failure and/or mediocrity. What has changed, however, is that I started re-shaping my attitude towards (im)perfection – by venturing into new, different roles and activities, by challenging my perceptions, by embracing authenticity.

This is certainly one of my most significant personal discoveries. When I fall back into the ‘perfection’ thinking trap, I face it with my power of persuasion and the conviction that striving for development and ‘being human’ are way much important and worthwhile than aiming at perfection at any cost. By the way, I just realized that I had forgotten to enter the number in the title of my last (re)discovery blog post… I guess I made some progress in embracing imperfection after all 😉

How do you face your (im)perfection?

(Re)Discovery: Perhaps

“Perhaps life is just that… a dream and a fear.”
Joseph Conrad

Perhaps I tend to overuse perhaps, one of the most elusive adverbs there are. In my mind, to materialize doubt, hope, anticipation, apprehension, expectation, uncertainty, consideration. And in connecting with others, to gently relate to what they say/feel and suggest a course of action, to build bridges, and share possibilities.

Perhaps

Perhaps may or may not form an obstacle on the way of expressing ourselves or striving for something. At the same time, it certainly helps us reflect and view occurrences from different angles. This can possibly result in us viewing a dream differently and/or taking our fears apart.

My ‘perhaps’ rediscovery may or may not make sense to you. But in my eyes, it undoubtedly is and remains a matter deserving further exploration, sharing, and discussion.

(Re)Discovery 9: Words (don’t) matter

“Things aren’t all so tangible and sayable as people would usually have us believe; most experiences are unsayable, they happen in a space that no word has ever entered…”
Rainer Maria Rilke

I love Rainer Maria Rilke‘s notion of “a space that no word has ever entered…” and acknowledge the existence of this space. But I also believe that words do matter. In fact, they matter much more that we often think. They can compel us to take action and/or evoke strong emotions. I recall so many situations in which ‘ordinary’ words caused sleepless nights and days full of speculations, sadness, excitement, fear, happiness… The power of words is simply incredible.

The stories that we tell ourselves each and every day ultimately consist of the words we use. When speaking our voice (volume, style, intonation) conveys meaning in addition to mere wording. But in written, words are the only means to express what we want to say. Authenticity and dealing with silence are certainly important aspects when it comes to our choice of words. Add the foreign language (and cultural) dimension to that and communication can quickly become an adventure and/or a real challenge. How to go about it? I have no recipe… My simple personal discovery is that empathy is of vital importance when it comes to the usage of words in our communication. What have your discoveries been?

Author: User PiccoloNamek; CC BY-SA 3.0 license; via Wikimedia Commons

Author: User PiccoloNamek; CC BY-SA 3.0 license; via Wikimedia Commons

(Re)Discovery 8: Distance

“The further from one another, the nearer one can be.”
August Strindberg

I moved to another country more than 10 years ago. My social environment, circle of friends and acquaintances have completely changed since then. In all these years I had the chance to (re)discover many ways to view and deal with distance as it has been a significant aspect of my life.

It was not only the spatial remoteness that mattered, but also (and more importantly) the personal and emotional separation.
Conventional wisdom in slogans like “Far from eye far from heart” didn’t help at all. They even seemed detrimental in their endless and superficial generalization. In fact, in many cases infinite distances developed over time despite physical closeness and in others the spatial remoteness didn’t affect a relationship at all. I will most probably never discover a clear pattern behind that.

Author: Westinghouse Electric; CC BY-SA 3.0 license; via Wikimedia Commons

Author: Westinghouse Electric; CC BY-SA 3.0 license; via Wikimedia Commons


While technology and social networks can certainly be a boon when it comes to keeping in touch, bridging distances remains a challenge. It requires genuine motivation, even willpower, and a lot of effort to keep people we cherish “within a walking distance” no matter where they are.

But if we handle distance gracefully, we can cover it in one time at any given moment. By starting a conversation, sending a note, making a phone call… or writing a blog. And that’s when something wonderful can start or continue.

Discovery 7: Authenticity

“The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are.”
C.G. Jung

In theory, the simplest way to behave would be to simply be ourselves: true to our own personality, and to what we think and believe at any point in time. And yet remaining true to ourselves can be a real challenge at times – with all the people we connect to in one way or another, all situations and emotional states we go through, and with the way we change and develop.

But truth (and my firm belief) is that, in the end, authenticity is always the better, and many times the only, option on the way of becoming who we truly are. I know we all have been in a situation in which we doubted this statement. It took me a while and quite a number of (re)discoveries to resolve my own doubts about it.

The fear of being/showing who we really are and/or the desire to build up a (slightly) different perception of ourselves for whatever reason might make authenticity seem almost impossible… And it does take courage and persistence to remain true to who we are and what we aspire to. But it’s a journey worth embarking on, the journey of discovering authenticity in its full splendor. Do you want to join?

(Re)Discovery 6: Where Are You, Dreamers?

“A dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world.”
Oscar Wilde

It gets harder to encounter dreamers as we grow older. Our dreams tend to become more pragmatic, even realistic over time. Our imagination becomes sluggish, tired of the daily, monotonous routine. We no longer (co-)create the enchanting stories that used to make us laugh or ponder, do we? All the stories that were so far from reality and yet so close to us.

But still, they do exist. The dreamers who still dare to create fictitious stories, imagine a possibility, a coincidence… with no purpose or rationale involved. Occasionally we could stumble upon them and be reminded of past times. And if we look closer we might re-discover the dreamer in ourselves. You can hardly find a more inspiring and enriching discovery.

Author: Ana Inigo Olea; CC BY-SA 3.0 license; via Wikimedia Commons

Author: Ana Inigo Olea; CC BY-SA 3.0 license; via Wikimedia Commons

(Re)Discovery 5: Things Are Seldom What They Seem

We usually see people and situations from the prism of our own notions, culture, expectations, experiences. But often they are simply not what they seem to us.

Today I would like to share a very simple story. A few years ago I was on a plane from Sofia to Frankfurt. Lost in thought, I didn’t really pay attention to anybody around me. However, I couldn’t help noticing that the man sitting next to me was tasting virtually all kinds of alcoholic beverages on board and was slowly getting drunk. My first thought and assumption was that he was perhaps flying for the first time and was so scared that he simply needed the drinks. My second assumption (based on the first one) was that his life might be very boring (after all, in my imagination he was flying for the first time and he was in his mid-thirties already). I couldn’t be more wrong. In our conversation I found out that he is… a pilot and air traffic controller in Kabul and was returning there after a short vacation. The few stories that he shared about his life in Kabul and the reality there left me speechless.

When we started approaching our destination, bad weather and air traffic issues prevented us from landing for some time. At a certain point, he stood up, went to the cockpit and provided some help to facilitate the landing. The person who I thought was flying for the first time suddenly helped land the plane safely!

I felt like an idiot with all my assumptions. And immediately threw them overboard… This story will always remind me that we should all do that more often.

(Re)Discovery 4: Conversations

“Conversation. What is it? A Mystery! It’s the art of never seeming bored, of touching everything with interest, of pleasing with trifles, of being fascinating with nothing at all.”
Guy de Maupassant

I just finished an unexpected, long, and genuine conversation with someone I hardly knew at all. A conversation which turned out to be one of the most surprising exchange of opinions, observations, and ideas I had recently. It left me inspired and wondering what the essence of conversing really is.

Author: Mr. Seafall (own work); CC BY-SA 3.0 license; via Wikimedia Commons

Author: Mr. Seafall (own work); CC BY-SA 3.0 license; via Wikimedia Commons


(Re)Discovering conversations over the years – across cultures, languages, fears, expectations – has been and is an incredibly enriching experience for me. It’s a mystery how conversations can evolve and make us feel. They can be boring, funny, weird, dull, inspiring, beautiful… What is certain is that a genuine dialog goes beyond the mere communication/exchange of words and requires openness and common ground. And I feel there is something more to it. Something that can turn even a ‘simple’ conversation into a source of ideas, learning, inspiration, great deeds and sentiments.

(Re)Discovery 3: Home

“Perhaps home is not a place but simply an irrevocable condition.”
James Baldwin

I spent the first 20 years of my life living in an apartment with my parents and grandparents. It was the place I ‘called’ home for all these years. However, growing up in a household of dissent and in times of profound economic and political transition, the concept of ‘home’ turned out to be very fragile, both literally and figuratively. In fact, had it not been the tremendous effort and persistence of my mom throughout these years, I wouldn’t have learned and experienced how it feels to be at home. The feeling of belonging, of being safe, comfortable, and accepted as one is.

After moving abroad I gradually started taking apart my notion of being at home. It took me a number of years to discover that carrying this feeling within myself is essential for most of what I have done, do, and will do, no matter where I reside.

Interestingly enough, occasionally the wonderful scent of lime trees reminds me of Sofia, the city I grew up in, and awakens a subtle association with home…

Where do you feel at home?

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