A Past Year’s Tale

(c) Goodbye Depression by Chiara Aime

Nothing seems to surprise us more than the abrupt realization that, yes, one more year has passed. A whole year, an instant. One moment of deciding how the story goes, where we go from here. Of course, our mind rushes to say “up, always upwards”. We want to grab this year by the hand, shake off the bad stuff, strange happenings, instances of grief or mere loneliness, and dip in the pulp of juicy moments, the joy, warmth, our deep connections and perhaps the small epiphanies.

Only that we can’t, can we? Because life itself, time is but a tree with rotten as well as healthy fruits. We can’t rid ourselves of broken-ness, or drip magic potions onto our crying wounds. We can’t turn a blind eye to our past and perhaps we shouldn’t. It is our former experiences that allow us to stand on their shoulders and view the world afresh. Hurt shapes our emotional maturity more than anything else will. Is that self-deceptive rationalization? Could be.

In the end, what matters is what we do with what’s given to us. Even after many instances when I wanted to shut down and feel nothing, I remain convinced that to feel, or rather to retain the ability to feel is one’s ultimate triumph. A hard-won trophy that required days on end of patience and tending. And yes, healing. (Well, as much as trophies can heal).

The point is, when indifference, sadness, loneliness or pain hit and hit hard, don’t escape them by using that little back door. That will lead to an even lonelier place. Choose to sit with them and welcome whatever it is that you’re feeling right now. Be honest with what’s going on inside you, alert but never reacting. Respond instead in such a way that you will not regret it days or weeks afterwards. I have not always done so and hurt people as a consequence, people I cared for deeply whom I still keep in – and they promise to never leave.

I immerse myself in the new year with as few expectations as possible, openly. More precisely, I give myself to it completely, accepting that there will be good times ahead as well as bad ones. Who is to decide how much of which, or when? All I know is that I am the one in charge of watching everything come and go, as well as everyone. Because we don’t really get to choose who leaves our life or who stays either. And it’s not god playing dice, we’re just at the mercy of someone else’s choices.

A rather steep conclusion I’ve come at the dusk of this period is that human relationships are incredibly frail. Tragically, that coincides with another breakthrough – that deep meaningful human connection is irreplaceable. It is the birthplace of all that matters, but also the cradle of excruciating pain (cannot escape duality, can we?). And frail as they are, our relationships enrich us beyond any measure, if we allow them. Frail as they are, it is our relationships that we turn to when something goes wrong, or right; whether we weep or rejoice, we are almost hardwired to share our experiences.

Complex as human connection is, I have found there are no mathematics that could explain or quantify love. In the grand equation of life, love remains largely an x. A quite essential one though. Then, no mathematics can explain why some things happen the way they do, why they happen to us, or why they happen to us at a specific moment in time. Is it perfect timing, luck, fate, coincidence? It has come to my attention lately that there is a lot of random in the universe. In fact, there is more random than our organizing brains can bear (oddly enough, I chose the Random category for this post). So what do we do with it? Some even chase it, I run from it as hard as I can. As much as I incline to believe in a benevolent universe, where the stars align at ease just to please us, I can’t not recognize how much that is the epitome of self-centered-ness. Or is it? How about collective consciousness? And what about agency? The way I see it, science has its limitations and maybe it ends where human insight begins.

But back to love. Because, as someone once said, it all comes back to that. So keep your family and your friends close (and no, not your enemies closer). That’s one of the few things we have to do, one that will impact our well-being more than anything else. In a world of chaos and never-ending socio-political turmoil and unrest, rest. Self-care is a radical act and it will shape every aspect of your life. As for me, I must go on singing, painting and writing – the three strongest forces that have kept me afloat.

I started this year from a place of hopelessness and meaninglessness. I have read and written my way out of depression (Monologue of the Déprimé, Dialogue on Depression, One More, With Feeling) and after about two years of “flirting” with what someone called “emotional cancer”, I have reached some balance. I managed to shake off the grey and keep the vibrant colors. So luckily, I have not come full circle, on the contrary. I feel most grateful to the people who surrounded me and made my days better and lighter. At this moment, it seems that carrying on is the only raison d’être, even when there’s a marching band aggressively chanting in my head “QUIT QUIT QUIT!”. Or, yes, especially then. To those still battling mental health problems, I say you can overcome them. And when you will, you will find life rewarding again.

Some things have not turned out the way I planned to this year. They almost never fucking do. But that’s alright. It would be boring if we weren’t surprised every now and again. And then, “sometimes it is the artist’s task to find out how much music you can still make with what you have left.” So let there be music and cheer. And some tears too.

Also, the psychoanalytical odyssey continues. Have a jolly good year!

Sailing Away

(c) freedom writer

Oil painting. One of the first I painted with a spoon.

This painting was also inspired by a Leonid Afremov painting entitled Towards the Winds. You may see the original painting here.

Same painting, different lighting

(c) freedom writer

There’s an Empty Red Chair in My Kitchen


There’s an empty red chair in my kitchen
At a table for two
Is it a loner? Is it a prop for a recurring show?
Why doesn’t it crumble
Under the weight of its own loneliness?
Does it envy each set of two?
In and out, in and doubt
I breathe deeply and dream of worlds
Soft sand under my feet
Saying hello to strangers
In a language I don’t know
Sailing away from an empty room
There is companionship in the fleeting breeze
And palm trees bathed by the glorious sun
I dream of lovers sharing meals and hopes
By candle lights
Dancing queens taking over a space for two
Lit only by the reigning moon
May spring come again
And with it life, love and lilacs

There’s an empty red chair in my kitchen
A reminder of what was lost
A reminder of what will fill it
Marry it marry it
Save it from this angst
Deliver it from the kitchen of lonely souls