Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Happiness

 


Happiness is an exquisite kind of torture, sweet, slow and unrelenting. Like a drug, once we had a taste of it, we want more, need more, yearn for it with every fibre of our body. Its perfection is too appealing. It makes us endlessly chase our tails, forever trying to catch that ever elusive butterfly, yet never realising that the more we chase after it, the further out of reach it gets.


When we do eventually give up, we soon realise that what we tried so hard to catch is all around us, even in places we'd least expect to find it. C. P. Snow once said that "the pursuit of happiness is a most ridiculous phrase" and I wholeheartedly agree with him. He also said that "if you pursue happiness you'll never find it". Wise words, for if we're busy bustling around, turning our world upside down, looking for a slice of happiness, we'll never see what's already there.


When we pursue something we have our eyes set on the goal, our entire being is focused one one single target: finding happiness, preferably before everyone else does so we can brag about it on social media. What we then fail to acknowledge is everything around us. The divine pleasure of sipping a cup of hot tea in perfect silence, that sense-assaulting first bite into a sweet, juicy strawberry or even that comforting feeling of wrapping your hands around your favourite coffee mug, inhaling deeply, than carefully taking a series of small sips, delighting in every single one of them as we close our eyes and let reality be for a moment.


There's that friend, who seemingly always seems to know what's irking us, even when we're dead sure we haven't given anything away. There's that stranger, who smiles at us for no reason as he walks past and our favourite barista who draws a smiley face onto our coffee mug.


 


Then there's that fresh smell that lingers in the air after the rain and that rewarding exhaustion after a long, stressful day at work.


And the list goes on and on and on...


I could effortlessly list a million things, but the point is, happiness isn't just an isolated event in our lives, it's a bunch of things all put together. One piece of a puzzle does not a picture make. Keep taking another piece and another, eventually you will get to enjoy the elusive beauty that is happiness. As you slowly but surely piece the final picture together, you may even find yourself realising that happiness is in fact life.


Don't forget to remind yourself of that every once in a while. Remind yourself to let go, to worry less, to spend less time angry and to let go of all that troubles you. And if you can't see the silver lining, get a friend to show it to you. Believe it or not, each time the rain stops a rainbow appears, but we're usually to busy chasing the unattainable to stop and stare.


 

Sunday, 5 February 2017

Perpetual Confusion

Whenever I return to Germany for a visit I find myself utterly confused about where exactly it is that I belong.
Having left Germany about twelve years ago to live abroad, I struggle to figure what who I am. My passport says German but after having lived in Ireland for the better part of eight years, I find "European" a more fitting label, which I lately, after nearly four years of living in China, have also begun to question.

When in China, I mostly follow local customs, but then there are those times when things get so utterly intense that I find myself rejecting all that is usually norm for me, an inner rebellion if you will. I compare everything to familiar places such as Germany and Ireland, and unable to cope with the oppressing avalanche of a completely different world, I find myself deciding that a European lifestyle suits my needs, is easier to stomach and most of all comprehensible.

Then, ultimately the moment passes and I find myself embracing the different culture I chose to adopt. I master it better than some expats around me, stubbornly find ways to deal with all the nonsense and then -all of a sudden- find myself so at home that those very things that drove me nuts just a few days before, become perfectly normal.

Until... Yes, for there's also a but! Until I find myself suddenly ripped out of the familiarity of a life full of unfamiliarity. I find myself on a plane, bound for Germany, a long overdue trip home to see family and friends. Once off the plane I'm oddly confused. I mumble to myself in Chinese, my eyes drink in the familiar bilingual airport signs... Those peculiar German words fail to make sense and my tired eyes drift to the English signage, ah yes now that's easier. In a dazed state I follow the crowds, grab my suitcase and find my sister. For the next few days I proceed to speak an oddly familiar language where I have to translate half the words from English because I simply can't remember them. A few days later I find myself in a Vorlesung (lecture) at the University of Applied Sciences in my hometown, dragged there by my best friend, and while I understand every word, on the whole it makes little sense. Maybe it's because I lack the expert knowledge, though I presume it's because my brain is utterly confused about which language to use... 
The words mix together, forming a sticky, unusable mess. As the days advance, things slowly get easier but unless directly spoken to my mind thinks in English, my fingers type Chinese. Someone asks me count to 30 while watching me closely as I administer CPR to a plastic doll and my brain goes into overdrive because I don't know in which language to count, it's maddening. German? No too difficult... Chinese? No I might forget a number, get confused and mess up my compressions. English then! Well, yes, surely that's the safest bet, isn't it? I'm so torn up about which language to chose that I decide to leave it up to the adrenaline and once I start those compressions I naturally, without much thinking, count in English in my head.

Then there is that familiar sense of belonging brought on by being surrounded with known things. Yet, it doesn't feel quite right. Something's off. It's all a false sense of security. It's all unfamiliar. I find myself sure-footedly walking the streets I grew up on yet at the same time asking for directions to places that should be familiar, that I should know, that I couldn't possible have forgotten, yet I have. A night out? No clue were to go. Park the car? No idea either. Busses to surrounding smaller cities? Friends will surely know the answer. Doctors, pharmacies, shops, supermarkets? I ask a million questions, a habit I adopted in China, instead of just doing my own investigation.

A few days later it then all comes back, like an avalanche, dragging my feet from under me, throwing me off key, and I'm left more confused than ever!

Where do I belong? Where is home? I've no answer...yet.

 

 

 

Friday, 27 January 2017

Words

I'm in need of words, yet I have none.
Some hazy connections flirt constantly my mind, but they never stay long enough to grasp.
There are half-baked ideas and yearnings, insatiable cravings for words yet none are worth coming.
One might think I'm short of words but I think I'm just full of the wrong words.
It's frustrating.
The more I want the less I get.
Or is it that I don't want enough?
Blasted words.
So much to say, yet no start.
I'm stuck in a maze.