I’ve been nothing but a puppets hand But nothing ever comes Without a change*
I have a new alarm sound.
And a new life.
Meanwhile I am celebrating my first month in my new position as a freelancer.
And guess what: I survived! And much better than my fears would have let me believe in the beginning.
Truth be told, the first weeks were a mess. There was such a lot to do, organize, and, above all, to be learned that, more than once, I felt like just breaking down under the weight of it all and giving up.
I have set it as my alarm which now wakes me up every morning. And the effects are amazing. Once my alarm goes off my spirit is being kindled immediately and I can’t but get into a good mood.
Been wondering, I take a chance That chance is circumstance Cause nothing ever comes without a change*
The song keeps reminding me of something I had almost forgotten amidst all the stress and pressure: that if I want my life to change, change is what I have to do. And that taking a step without knowing exactly where it will lead might in fact yield wonderful results.
And also that, by means of my thoughts, I am the creator of my own life.
So I might as well create it according to my dreams. And make it my fantasy.
Welcome to your, welcome to your Welcome to your world, my girl Let it be your fantasy, oh yeah Welcome to your life, yeah, yeahA It could be a fantasy, oh yeah.*
Which life are you choosing to create today?
* All quotes are taken from the song “Welcome to your life” by Grouplove
I’ve been lookin’ at the stars tonight
And I think “Oh, how I miss the bright sun!*
This song has a special meaning to me for two reasons:
The Strumbellas album was my travel companion on my trip through the States and as such is connected in my head to this adventurous feeling of heading off into uncharted waters and being free. Whenever I had taken my comfy seat on the ponderous Amtrak train I had become so fond of and the train started, I put on that album; and listening to it intensified my joy.
Now that I am back it keeps reminding me of that trip and the amazing time I experienced in America. And it also reminds me of what I am missing.
I got guns in my head and they won’t go
Spirits in my head and they won’t go*
It is true that also before my month-long trip I had been having these „spirits in my head“. And they basically never went away. They were there, lingering in the back, asking for more. And even though I knew there was a constant craving for something in my life that wasn’t there in my current situation; that I just was not living as would become my true self, I kind of settled for less. Because, well, ….
I thought I wasn’t ready yet. And that making a move might end up taking my security from me. Because I tended to listen to those voices telling me I had to content myself with what I had because, you know, who wouldn’t want to have security?
I’m just waiting for my day to come
And I think “Oh, cause I don’t wanna let you down.”
But something inside has changed,
and maybe we don’t wanna stay the same*
Now that I have been back from my trip for about a month, it has been dawning on me that, indeed, something inside has changed. Call it an attitude, or maybe just the increased craving for freedom. Whatever it is I feel different. I’ve been experiencing a shade of serenity that is new to me and that comes with a new tinge of audacity.
And with this feeling comes the urge to change something. And also the notion that, maybe, security isn’t all there is to life. Or might it even be possible that trusting in life provide us with a different type of security?
The decision has been taken in the past few days. Maybe it’s true what Lemony Snicket said: „If we wait until we’re ready, we’ll be waiting for the rest of our lives.“
At least this quote appeals a lot to me at the moment and so I have decided to try my luck…:
And I don’t want a never-ending life
I just want to be alive
While I’m here*
Even though I had written about letting go of what others thought about us and despite this eye opening experience in Tel Aviv this feeling of being judged somehow lingered on. I fact, it was as if, once I had recognized it for what it was and seemed to have learned my lesson, the whole thing decided to blow up in my face again, like in a desperate attempt to stay.
Couldn’t relax, couldn’t sit back,
and let the sun light in my lap
Ironically, the more I did – even when doing what I used to LIKE doing – the more it felt subject to the judgement of others. Or was it my own judgement? I was so focused on moving on that I felt like having to meet certain criteria all the time. Without even knowing for sure which, or whose, criteria these were.
Of course, this ruined it all for me.
II realized I had to change something. And in my attempt to escape this situation, instead of actually changing something I automatically chose to intensify the whole dilemma. And I ended up striving to get from the outside world which, after all, I could only give to myself.
So lately I got a bit lost in attention seeking.
And yes, I did get plenty of attention. In fact, I got even more than I was prepared to handle and than I had wished for in some regards.
What a compliment. And what a gift to the ego.
But not, unfortunately, to me.
Which I realized when I found myself feeling more and more disconnected. And kind of numb. The joys of life didn’t feel pleasant anymore. What I had liked doing didn’t appeal to me. Those usually close to me felt distant and far away. However, the pressure remained.
I’ve found what I’ve been looking for in myself
It’s funny how, the moment I became aware that all this attention from outside wouldn’t bring me forward, things started to somehow resolve themselves. Which doesn’t imply that it wasn’t, at times, a painful process. Realizing that the attention I had received from outside was not what I had wished to take it for in many cases certainly hurt. But at the same time this realization pointed me back to the source that could give me all I ever needed.
Which was myself.
And there I found it: the connection to myself; and my self-awarenss.
And with it, the awareness that those close to me had been there all the time. Thinking of me and supporting me.
From the concrete to the coast,
I was looking for a holy ghost,
Like the land joining the sea,
Happiness it followed me.
I will not be the girl stuck at home in the ‘burbs
With the baby, the dog, and the garden of herbs
I will not be the girl in the sensible shoes
Pushing burgers and beer nuts and missing the clues
I will not be the girl who gets asked how it feels
To be trotting along at the genius’s heels
I will not be the girl who requires a man to get by
Before I went on my last trip to Tel Aviv a very sweet friend of mine told me that by traveling you always travel to yourself as well.
And she turned out to be right.
Heading off for Israel I had no idea how this trip would confront me with questions eventually touching on the very essence of my being.
Most notably, one idea popped up on several occasions, and that was the notion how we seem to be depending on the goodwill of others in everything we do – even – or especially – when we decide to follow our dreams.
And, quite fittingly, this is the song I brought from Tel Aviv.
But are we really?
My experience in Tel Aviv made me wonder: do I really depend on these people or do I rather make myself dependent by thinking that I am?
And I realized how this went even as far as to my adopting the idea these people had of me and of making the way I perceive myself subject to how they saw me. Which eventually put me in the situation the girl in the song experiences when she starts questioning everything she does and bashing herself.
And then something beautiful happend. When I was forced to let go of certain people I in a way had felt dependent on, and once the initial panic had subsided, a certain feeling of freedom gradually started to prevail. And I got to learn that I wasn’t dependent at all.
Granted, it took me a while and some cups of that amazing coffee they have in Israel, to remind myself that I am certainly not defined by the way others see me; and to tell myself, like that girl in the song, that
I am a good person.
But when I finally got to the point of letting go of what those seemingly important people thought of me, it felt as if an open range of possibilities opened up in front of me, giving me room to do whatever I felt like doing; and to find my own definitions and set my own standards independently.
Which I did while exploring and enjoying this beautiful city of Tel Aviv; and while, funnily, feeling like I was always walking uphill.
Looking back, I smile at this and prefer to regard it as asymbol for actually climbing uphill.
And so, together with this amazing song, I brought this feeling back with me. And I am grateful that my trip reminded me that
I am a good person
I’m an attractive person
I am a talented person
Grant me Grace!
“If you knew you had only one more year to live,
what would you do?”
The other day I was talking to a friend of mine, discussing that very question. And I had the answer ready even before I had raised this question: Of course, I would quit my job at once, take what little money I have put aside and travel the world. Get in touch with people everywhere and learn about foreign cultures. Just because I knew that this would be the thing that would most make me happy. There was no question about it.
And still, I regarded it impossible. But while I was still going on about all the reasons why, of course, this option was not available to me, he simply said:
And with that answer, as if he had granted me permission to seriously consider this “childish” idea that had been hiding at the back of my mind for a long time, I could sense a slight, but clearly perceivable, feeling of freedom and happiness – as if, somewhere deep inside of me, something was rejoicing.
So it seems no wonder that, lately, I have found myself resonating especially with songs about this issue. Songs not only about travelling, but rather about setting off, and songs about taking that step into the unknown and following your heart’s calling. Just as this cover of a Tom Waits song by Rebekka Bakken.
Ever since that discussion I have been musing on this idea. I started thinking about actually making it reality. And I have come to a point where I do consider it a possibility at least in parts.
But still, I am wondering about this concept of following the true calling of your heart, by finding out about what truely makes you happy and turning this into that one big goal. On which you should focus with all your energy. Is this really the only sensible approach to living a purposeful life? And how do I even know if – just because they feel good – the things that make me happy now will eventually lead me to “the ultimate goal”?
And if I failed – wouldn’t I then have left all my safety nets behind? How can I make sure of the outcome if I just follow an idea out of a whim, just because, now, it feels good? And without knowing where it might take me?
This is where, again, that song kicks in:
If you want to go
where the rainbows end
you’ll have to say goodbye
all our dreams come true
baby up ahead
And then a friend shared a video with me recently. In this video, Australian comedian, actor, and musician Tim Minchin kind of laughingly discloses his “nine life lessons”. Starting off with the lapidary statement that “you don’t have to have a dream”.
Granted, that kept me thinking for a while. Until I finally realized that I might indeed have got the whole idea wrong. At least to me, Minchin made a point by implying that focussing on that one big dream you might miss out on your life completely. In fact, I found it to be true for myself that whenever I assign very high importance to a goal (and what could be more important than living your true calling?) I put a lot of pressure on myself that whatever I do must bring me closer to that one goal. This seems to be the apporach I have always taken.
So for once, with Minchin’s words in mind and supported by all those beautiful songs, eventually, I decided to try something new:
Yes, I am going to travel, and by doing so, I will be pursuing the road that seems to be the one I want to have a look at now.
And why shouldn’t it be true that by following our heart’s current cravings we are heading for a direction that eventually brings us where we are supposed to be – no matter if we have a clear picture of it now?
Well, the road’s out before me
and the moon is shining bright
And so my next trip is going to start as early as tomorrow.
Hey, love and mercy, that’s what we need tonight So love and mercy to you and your friends tonight Love and mercy, that’s what you need tonight.
So, obviously, Brian Wilson had a huge effect on me. I am still addicted to the “Smile” album and keep listening to it wherever I go. It just consoles me – even more so with the images from the movie in my head that showed how this music just seemed to pour out of him.
And that was Brian Wilson’s apparent ability and willingness to forgive. And his focus on the positive aspects of even the worst situations or people.
It seems to be a fact that this therapist clearly bullied and abused Brian Wilson over years. The scenes on this in the movie were almost unbearable to watch. And the reality is reported to have been even worse. In an article published by the New York Post, I read that “the largely unknown true story of his overmedication, psychological abuse, financial control and virtual imprisonment of Wilson is even more horrific”.¹
And still, after going through all this horror and pain, upon looking back, Brian Wilson simply states:
“I still feel that there was benefit (…) I try to overlook the bad stuff, and be thankful for what he taught me.”¹
Simple as that.
It took me a while to take this in. And the more I pondered on this the more it left me in awe.
I believe that it is this attitude that actually helped him survive through all the dark times he faced throughout his life.
It is easy to regret and lament about what has gone wrong. Even easier if you have someone you can blame for the bad things that happened to you. And still I think that this kind of attitude Brian Wilson shows is the one that really helps you move on and let go of whatever bad things you encountered.
And I do believe that we could all do with a little more of this attitude. Because it cultivates a focus on what really matters, which I think is love and forgiveness, first of all. This is what I take from Brian Wilson’s words.
So why not start today? Why not finally forgive those who have done you wrong and focus on the good stuff?
And speaking of forgiveness: why not start with yourself?
Baby, baby Ain’t it true I’m immortal When I ‘m with you But I want a pistol In my hand I wanna go to A different land
So I’ve come to learn that there seem to be different shades of letting go.
And I ended up finding myself in that state of inner chaos, like riding on a roller coaster going up and down without an end, feeling both thrilled and….yes: terryfied.
…like it’s the end of the world.
All of a sudden, this headless “hit you in your face” sensation, which, to me, is so perfectly expressed by PJ Harvey‘s song, also hit me. And, with my head still up in the clouds, at the same time I realized that I might have practiced the art of letting go to such an extent that, in the end, I had let go of myself. And of everything that matters to me. I had so gladly, happily dived into all those little amusements life offers that in the end they, and not I myself, seemed to rule my world. I was lost in distraction.
Gradually, this hilarious feeling of complete carefreeness and freedom had taken on a morbid tinge – the happy chaos had become frightening.
I walk on concrete I walk on sand But I can’t find A safe place to stand I’m scared baby I wanna run This world’s crazy Gimme the gun
I knew I wanted to get out of this situation and back to myself. So, trying to readjust and to get back on track I let my inner critic take over. Which, in its assiduous attempts to regain control of the situation didn’t really help. Instead, it added to all the pressure I felt. And, again, to my being in a stalemate.
So what do you do when you are lost and at the same time feel the urge to do something sensible and successful? And, also at the same time, seem to be completely abandoned by intuition and creativity?
Since there wasn’t much I felt able to do anyway I decided to do…nothing.
And go for a walk in the park instead.
Inhale the fresh air. Feel the sunbeams. Stop thinking. Stop questioning myself. And stop fearing.
I have once heard one of my favourite speakers suggest to just say “yes” to everything you encounter for a while, and then see what happens.
Turns out he was right.
In accepting the situation as it was I could virtually feel the tension reselase. That well known feeling of pressure subsided. And intuition seemed to flow back to me.
And so, after all, I have picked my shade of letting go. Instead of letting go of myself, or of pursuing my dreams, I decided to let go of that pressure to solve any given problem asap; and of the pressure to make each day a perfect day.