Watcha gonna do?!

The lack of logic frustrates me. It frustrates me deeply. I can’t help the feeling of being helpless when I am confronted, for example, with a mother complaining about her child’s weight and 10 minutes later encourages him to have a snack and use lots of mayo. Or somebody complaining about the debt burden and then, right away, proposing a long, expensive vacation.
People are not stupid. Not THAT stupid, anyway, yet they seem to not exercise any control over their live. Mostly everyone agrees that we are trashing this planet but most don’t see anything wrong throwing 2-3 years old electronics just for the sake of latest fashion, replace the car every 4-5 years, buying more junk to fill their closets. Everyone says financial responsibility is very important but when you point out their debt, they say “well, everyone has debt”. Most of the people deplore the technology invading their lives, but if one waits a few minutes you will hear “Ohhh, I am adicted to my blackberry/iPad”. All the media is filled with articles about the decline of knowledge – high-school graduates not being able to be functional even in the most modest jobs, inculture of the most shameful kind, yet somehow the main idea of the education system is to not push the children to achieve more, do more. We are surrounded by a “whatever” generation and yet many of us replace parenting with friendship and expect teachers to do our “dirty” work… but without being stressful on the children in any way.
Most people know what is good for them, know what is the correct thing to do yet they indulge themselves into doing what they want, when they want it. Of course, everything has a justification. “The more you buy, the more you save” or “we need confort” or “carpe diem”. Nobody accepts the fact that our perverse mind can rationalize anything and give a justification even to the most unjustifiable things.
Caught up in hedonism, preferring immediate, superficial pleasure to deep, long term satisfaction, we ignore willingly common sense. Of course it is hard doing the right thing, it takes self control, it takes tough standards applied to ourselves but not everything that is hard is bad. So very few children love math – yet should we remove it from curriculum just because it’s unpleasant? Does anybody want a surgery and the long recovery?! Then why don’t we just say to the surgeon “Please, dude, don’t do it because it will be, like, hard on me and, like, totally unpleasant
Why don’t I simply accept and ignore it, enjoy life?! But I do and I apply what is right mostly to me and those that I hold dear. “Whatcha gonna do?!” say all with a shrug. Spread the word, make yourself and people confront their own failures , adjust and try – to the best of one’s abilities – to live by the principles you have. And NEVER accept pre-digested thoughts just because they make your life easier.

Empty Words

There are some of us who never get tired of re-evaluating everything, for inquiring, never accepting pre-digested food-for-thought… but we are few. I remember a very smart assistant-teacher who, in high-school, proved to us that what we believed to be a just rebellion against mature people was a mere template we were using to prove we are different, not that actually made us different. Some kids become goths, emo etc. just to be different: enroll themselves into a huge movement (?) to prove they are different.
With age patience fades away – and I never had much to start with. Yes, I have much more patience in other ways but not with intellectual pygmies who repeat wise sayings and yet manage to empty them of all their meaning.


You are as young as your soul is”. HUMANITY! How many times wasn’t I forced to listen to this phrase?! Armed with this phrase one can pretend one is as young as they desire or as the situation demands. It’s not a dumb phrase yet it is misused. From my observation, most people have an OLD soul after 30 (almost random age… but not quite). Some are OLD at 17, very few manage to preserve their soul young through all the vicissitudes life throws at them. Let me make myself clear. Your soul is OLD once:

  • you stop believing in blind love
  • you start making silly calculations in relationship and let the brain decide what might work and what not
  • you believe that passion is something that will come in time
  • you stop believing in true happiness
  • IF you still believe, you are not ready to fight for it and you expect it to knock at your door at midnight
  • you are suspicious about human nature and believe that people are out to get you and make you miserable
  • you try to knock down all dreams and aspirations that people might carry inside them
  • you believe that job satisfaction is something related to money
  • you believe that whomever has the biggest house, the most expensive car wins The Game.

Simply put, a 14-year old girl who plans to marry for money has an OLD soul. A 65 year old person who still looks for tenderness, kindness, can still bright up when complimented, still has goals in life and can fight for those goals, has a YOUNG soul.


A particular case comes to my mind. It comes from online dating. A Caveman wrote to this beautiful lady something that in his mind was probably a compliment: “You look good for your age! Use the looks while you can”. Don’t ask me why somebody would feel the urge to post something so hurtful. A simple answer would be “because he is Romanian” but it is really more complicated than that. Anyway she replied “As long as the soul is young, age doesn’t matter” or something to that effect. I had, at a latter time a private YM chat with her. In a very short time, this lady with a “young soul” told me – when discussing how I see a relationship – that I am being childish, naïve, that one should look for one’s best interest, that passion will come later, if ever… She blamed me for searching for true love because, apparently, there is no such thing. Life and some miserable love stories she went through (no details though, just innuendos) taught her that. While I told her that she was right, that I am childish and that I want to stay that way, I never had the heart to let her know that she is wayyyy to mature to get involved with me, unless risking being classified as a pedofile.

MeHarmony

I just joined the famous dating/matching website. It took me through a very meticulous questionnaire and I like it thinking, like everybody else that this is a sign of seriousness. It was my second attempt. First time, I had filled the form late in the night going to extremes: either a feature was very important for me, or not important at all… in the end they announced me that they have no match for me, that I should not feel bad, because 1 in 5 people get this result. Of course I felt bad (and since I met other people who got the same answer and they felt bad too) but then I laughed at it, thinking: “OMG, I am really bad if even eHarmony rejects me… but that means I am special”.
I called it MeHarmony after a fake commercial on SNL that was suggesting that what people are looking for and finding is a duplicate of them in the opposite sex. While I don’t think that it’s the case, I noticed that in profiles listed on other dating websites that it is true: people look not to be completed and balanced by the partner but a totally identical image of themselves. This, now I realize, is another argument to my main point of this post: eHarmony, while very good in its intentions, is based on an assumption that is generally false… and no matter who good their process is from that point forward, the result will be tainted.
MeHarmony process could match people but only if they would be honest. Users are being told that there is no right or wrong so they should answer honestly. Most of them truly BELIEVE that they are being honest. From my experience though, people cannot be honest for a simple reason: being honest would mean that they know and accept that they have defects, some being big ones. No matter what is being told, introspection to know oneself and accepting the conclusions, no matter how unfavorable they might for one is not something people do. People want to feel good about them even when they have no real reasons. They are so desperate to believe that they are intelligent, kind, generous, patient that they lie, mostly to themselves. And what a better lie is there but the one you honestly believe to be the truth?! Once you managed to fool yourself, automatically you will be able to fool everyone else, especially and automated system like the one eHarmony makes available.
I remember that when I was a kid and got a bad grade or needed to hide something from my parents, I would cycle in my mind tens or even hundreds of time the lie… until that would somewhat make it true in my mind – with details and ramifications, just like the truth. I remember I saw killers that were proven without a shadow of a doubt, still denying any involvement and taking the truth even beyond the grave – and I believe they are convinced that it is the truth they speak. I know people who spend themselves silly, every penny, are in deep debt but still continue to argue that they are savvy people because they drive 10 km to save 2$ on an item. I know people who eat themselves to death but then say “I am eating so little and I still cannot lose weight”.
I always process information from stories seen or read and I identify myself with one character or another one – and to myself it doesn’t matter if that character is good or bad. At the same time, I had the chance (?) to share with somebody a documentary about OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder).. The person had pretty much all the symptoms displayed by the focus of the documentary. After a few days, putting a little bit of distance from the fresh emotions, I asked the person if she can identify herself with that character… and to my surprise and hers – I could read that in her wide-open eyes – she said “There is no resemblance between me and that person”. I was flabbergasted and only then I realized how far people will go to avoid accepting their flaws.
What are my flaws? Oh, quite a few and I described them clearly on eHarmony questionnaire. I have short patience – I trained it and I provide signs that it’s running out, but it’s still shorter that the average. I need a partner who can be honest and when they made a mistake can admit it so we can discuss how we can avoid it in the future (even by not doing a thing one doesn’t have the aptitudes to do it). It’s not easy to admit you are wrong but I taught myself to do the very same thing. I am focused and I need my space now and then, so clinging to me and calling me every 1h at work will make me run out of patience. I am not kind and I sometimes tell the truth (it’s better than years back when I would always tell the truth, required or not, delicate but mostly not) – now I fought with myself and, unless you really annoy me, even when I say it I try to adopt a form less aggressive. I don’t like surprises – good or bad… sounds crazy not to like good surprises, eh? That is because I go by planning and when plans are broken that doesn’t make me feel good, so I need some time for adjustment in my mind, for realization that it’s good, that we can work it out. If my nerves are tried out by someone, after a while, I end up saying extremely hurtful things which, sometimes, might be the truth but are still hurtful and the choice of words can hit hard people. It’s after a while and only if I am being poked hard. I don’t suffer criticism if it’s “in your face” (one might say I can’t swallow my own medicine) but if there is merit, when I calm down I will acknowledge not only by deed but by words as well the truth of that criticism.
Well, the previous paragraph could be seen as an argument to what I was saying – I find myself excuses for all my flaws. I believe that they are not excuses but that they are true, the result of many years of finding out my flaws and working on them… but then again, maybe I am lying to myself so well that I have no chance in knowing the truth.

Brain – an obsolete tool

I know that I am what could be called “The Voice of Doom” but I believe that society needs people like me. Following the traditions of SciFi and distopic writers I try to show the world how bad it could be, marketed in a coherent social image. Most of the time it doesn’t really help or at least not in the short run because society has such a huge inertia. Beside that, people who, in this time of happiness, still bother reading such dark scenarios… or simply bother reading, don’t really need to be told about it because they can probably make up for themselves the society I am writing about. For those, let’s just say that I am simply adding up all the markers and unify the big picture.
Yes, the brain becomes a more and more obsolete tool. What has began as a way to enhance our lives, to free more of our time for our pleasures and to allow us to pursue the happiness, has metamorphosed into a race for removing the daily functions of our brain.
Now, let us sustain this. We use GPSes to navigate our way not only in unfamiliar surroundings but in environments that should be/become familiar, like our own cities, large or small. I met quite a few people who, after living more than 5 years in a place, still can’t name the major streets and boulevards or even highways of their town/city. At the store, the machines add, and subtract and even the change to be given/received is computed from the bills handed. In general we don’t do this and is difficult to explain to children why they should memorize the multiplication table, as long as we don’t. We don’t read and instead watch TV because images speak more than 1000 words, are easily digested. Even so, it seems that with the increase of technical quality of our TVs, the intellectual content of the programming and of movies has decreased. We have PDAs and organizers and “intelligent” cellphones that can remember the telephone numbers so that all we need to remember is “John” or “Mary”. Even guessing time instinct is quite lost since we have so many sources of finding out time. A search engine can retrieve information in a matter of seconds and children know this better than anyone, since many teachers advise them to use Google for their homework. Not so many years ago, that very same information would have taken weeks of research, a number of books read and so on – now it’s received instantaneously in a pre-digested form and students never manage to grasp the idea that education requires effort. Started as a current against the dumb memorization process of the past, the educational process now moved into the other extreme, of considering memorization a totally futile tool, even when it comes to multiplication table or the national anthem.
This advantage, of having information at our disposal, lead many people to consider that there is no necessity to store it in our brain. Just like we don’t store water in wells because we have running water, we ended up by not remembering personalities names, dates, pretty much anything that is worth remembering. As a normal consequence of this excessive “offer” process, the value of the information has decreased and the “demand” has decreased. If you can find anything, anytime, anywhere, what is the point of storing it and – mostly – processing it?
Going back to another post – many people are against using the word “STUPID”. What they fail to perceive is that using less and less our minds, we DO become STUPID, individual after individual, and – eventually – as a society! Just by not talking about it is simply pushing the problem under the rug.

Giving voice to those…

Giving a voice to those who never had one” seems to be the message of the day. It is viewed as a quality, public figures receive praises for doing this and the message behind it seems to be that democracy itself leans on this principle. Since it is such a revered course of action, more and more people either promote this generous idea or take advantage of its application.
Yet nothing is all-good, just as nothing is all-wrong. It is a good principle but its implementation leaves a lot to be desired. We live now in a world of cacophony where everybody seems to have been given a voice and uses it in the most violent way. I believe that the idea behind this phrase was for the society to employ caring, intelligent, knowledgeable individuals to voice the desires and aspirations of the silent ones to those groups of governance and organization who can do something about them. Yet this idea was somehow lost and now everyone, no matter how educated, how informed, how intelligent, is given the gall to speak up. And that exposes the weakness of democracy – where the vote of a very informed person, intelligent, who pondered heavily on the matters at hand can be voided by the vote of somebody who doesn’t have the slightest clue about parties, candidates, what they stand for. The same way, the clear, informed voices get lost very often in the cacophony of the well-intentioned, ill-informed masses.
Now, please, don’t get me wrong. People should have a voice, no matter how wrong it is. After all I sincerely believe in the freedom of the speech and one of my favourite quotations is Voltaire’s “I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.” I admire any opinion, no matter how contrary to mine, if it’s presented with arguments and with a sound reasoning.
I used to believe myself that there are lots of people, admirable ones who due to a lack of exposure, could not have a beneficial impact on the society. And it is true. After all my grandfather, a simple peasant, but educated and self-taught, who would stop reading and getting informed only until the harvest, was such a man. Still, life has shown me that the vast majority of the people doesn’t have opinions. This situation doesn’t seem to prevent them from voicing the opinions of others without stopping and considering their validity. And it would be impossible to analyze these ideas/opinions/ideals because they do not have the tools to do this. They don’t have the tools and the biased leaders of opinions don’t offer them (for good reasons – they might work against them and their agenda). In an age where ignorance is cherished and promoted, all one has to do to push his ideas is to wrap it in a good intention and decent, but sub-mediocre minds would embrace it. Examples for this thing happening are in the thousands. Take for example, the help given to Africa. It seems like a “no-brainer” (oh, the love of the society for this term shows where we are heading to), a good and generous instinct that we have to send money over there, to help the poor children (no, I’m not ironic, they are poor, they are destitute, they live difficult lives), to send them fertilizers and help them grow a solid agriculture. Unfortunately, it only seems. There are a number of voices – smothered by high-profile do-gooders such as Bono or Bill Gates – who point out correctly that the western help, if anything, made the Africans even more helpless, it made the rich more rich and that many average people were pushed below the poverty line. Fertilizers made them more dependent of the prices of oil and fertilizers destroy the soil as it did to India in the 70s and 80s. Still, trying to point this one in public will make them treat you as a criminal who wants to condemn those poor people to eternal hunger.
And that brings us to the next point: it is ironic that exactly these new voices stifle the voices of reason, those who try to understand, investigate and debate things. Well intentioned people write to magazines complaining about racism in a 19th century depiction of N American society (duh! wasn’t there any?). When somebody dares to state the fact that Hitler did – a side effect, unintentional – a social service by confiscating and then hiding thousands of art works in protective bunkers, masterpieces that would have probably been gone in bombardments or vandalized, then he is bullied out of the job because he, an anti-Semite for sure, dares see some good in a sacrilege.
To me this seems like the radical groups who want to be given a chance to use democratic tools to get in power and then destroy the very same democracy that gave them a voice. Any lucid opinion that is perceived as an attack of the human values is shamed and destroyed with rush. This contrasts with times not long passed when stupidity and uninformed opinions were shunned and publicly ridiculed. One might say that is better kindness than intelligence but I beg to differ. Idiotic kindness can lead to more evils than considerate intelligence.
I guess my opinions make me an elitist. I am sure they do, but what other option is there? One would not want a bus driver piloting the plane one flies with. One would not desire his children taught history by a mechanic or have his food cooked by a chemist. Then why let uneducated, uninformed or even stupid individuals (yes, stupid, like in low-IQ but not as low as to be considered mentally challenged) make the decisions for our present and/or future?! Voice, like respect should be given to the ones who deserve it.

Defending words, balancing self-confidence, speaking up and other things…

I recently joined a FaceBook group fighting against usage of names derogatory for special needs people. I read the description and it seemed to me well-balanced and having a good point – many groups created on Fb have very offensive names. After just 2 days, when reading some points of views in the discussion list I noticed very one-sided comments… well, let’s not hide behind words (and I am doing this on purpose) stupid comments. While the group included people with very balanced and rational comments, quite a few people would go as far as saying that words like “stupid, moron, cretin, idiot” should be outright banned from language. One person, mother of a child with Cerebral Palsy was even going as far as saying that she feels like slapping over the mouth the people who use the word “stupid” – never used against her son. I could, of course, let her know that my feeling was that she had issues accepting the terrible affliction of her son and was taking on the world, but I doubted I would be listened.
Words are just words. Like the atom technologies, they can be used to construct hugely beneficial things or destroy. They make up for the variety of this world and suppressing them would be totally wrong in my view. Of course, they should be used in the manner they were intended and adjust them to the sensibilities of the modern world but NEVER banned. I cannot describe the actions of a child playing in the street where cars drive +60 km/h with “less-than-intelligent”. A stupid person is NOT the person who by nature’s/God’s will has limitations but I believe it’s more appropriate to describe a person who has the capacity, the intelligence of being better and choosing not to do it. Education of how these words are to be used correctly is the only viable approach I can see. Banning? Even it would make some sense, which I don’t believe, it would never work since it doesn’t change attitudes. If “stupid” would be banned, people would use “oagadugou” or “phadhoum” (make-up words; can’t vouch they don’t mean something in some language 🙂 to describe the same thing. (When I was an adolescent, a friend has invented the word “babar” to describe cigarettes whenever his parents could be eavesdropping.) Education, on the other hand, could explain to some kids using “Look – here goes that retard again!” that in actuality they are the stupid ones because they choose to behave so hurtful despite having all the natural assets (intelligence, empathy etc.) to be something better.
I evidently withdrew from that FB group because I don’t want to be associated with hysterical people who want to social-engineer the very language. Then, at a party I mentioned my feelings about this, in approximately the same terms I am using here. A woman, teacher, retorted she doesn’t allow children to use the “stupid” word even when they describe themselves or their actions. Asked “why?” she looked at me as if it was obvious – “This could erode their self-confidence”. I started to argue that a balance should exist between boosting self-esteem and keeping it in check with reality. When one did something stupid, he/she should acknowledge that and apologize and try not to repeat it. Unfortunately, the teacher took the “higher ground” and kept silent. I say unfortunately because I honestly believe that only dialogue can educate free people – monologues are meant for slaves. In fact the whole assembly – about 6 people were witnessing this conversation – kept silent because, apparently, it is very embarrassing to have a contradictory conversation at a party, even if kept within decency boundaries. Later, reviewing the moment in my mind I reached the conclusion that the general silence was the saddest thing of that evening. 2 of the witnesses were very down-to-earth people and from other opinions they launched throughout the evening I strongly believe they were on my side. 2 others were Eastern-European immigrants and I have still yet to meet one Eastern European, who was educated there, who believes that artificially boosting children confidence is beneficial for anyone. What was sad is that no one of the 4 took any defense unless later, out on the porch, in private… at a time when it didn’t matter anymore. Some might consider this behavior good manners, I personally believe it comes from cowardice. I’ve seen it in team meetings (people loving the way you “told them off” but only in private conversations), I’ve seen it in high-school, basically I’ve seen it in any social environment. I remember a question a Women Studies Group from Algonquin posted as an answer to somebody accusing the group of manipulating The College: “How do you think 70 people could manipulate 1500?” This is exactly the way to do that: shame people into keep their mouth shut, throwing at them “guilt by association”: “he/she is a racist for saying that and you are one too if you defend his/her words”, being bullied into keeping your mouth shut because of what others could do or say about you… The silent majority, focused on every-day problem, allow “political officers/activists” take over and dictate their lives. What is more disconcerting is that later the same silent people complain of the results of their silence.
To come back to the conversation I had with that teacher, I had a vague compensation because the very next day I tripped over an article on BBC: Warning over narcissistic pupils! which confirms my belief that by boosting the self-confidence of children without any anchor in real-life performances is as bad as trashing it by continuous criticism (as it was done in Eastern Europe). Already we all witness the behavior of the Generation Y: demanding before giving, believing that they are entitled to everything and asking more and more, coming late at work and leaving early, suing over anything that discomforts them, abandoning their family/employee duties at the first sign of hardship… Imagine what 20-30 years of such education might do. I know it will all bounce back – the selfish, narcissistic generation will have children and faced with the choice of catering to their needs or the children’s, they will chose the former. Those children will probably grow with self-absorbed parents, trapped in an eternal pursuit of happiness. They will be neglected, ignored, their needs will not matter and as such they will grow to detest these attitudes and the wiser of them will write books, will work hard to avoid what they didn’t like (after all the Generation Y is the result of the New Age parents who preferred to be friends than parents, who didn’t believe in impositions of any kind). I know it’s a full circle but what good will that do to me, to us as a society in 50-70-90 years from now?

I, Robot!

Last night, although tired, I got stuck in front of the TV watching Star Trek – First Contact. No, although I don’t have much of a life, I am not a fan Star Trek – I was just cleansing my brain (already pretty well scrubbed by the exhaustion; but, you know, one can never be too meticulous about these things).
I was watching quite bored The Borg assimilate humans when suddenly a weird thought came to my mind. Nothing new here – the antithesis between the humans and machines is used and over-used for decades if not for centuries. Who is better? Stupid question! From where I stand it looks even worse – as an IT worker, for me the machine is a machine, a tool to perform some tasks. Am I better that a hammer?! WTF? Still, for some reasons this issue has risen to the level of a real obsession – books are written, movies are made, scientific or pseudo-scientific articles are published… Very few of them come to bring anything new to this conundrum. Last night, somehow, my mind managed to overexpose this (fake?) issue over what I think it is a collapse of the responsibility in society and it got me thinking. I believe that, indeed, there is a collapse of individual and collective responsibility: very few people still want to do what is right, very few people want to live by rules, hence the rejection of religion (people, religion is not equal to sexually abusive priests, to “don’t eat pork” etc.), of academic rigors, of systematic parenting and so on.
What if – pause and think for a second – what if all this behavior, this shedding of responsibilities has a fundament in us trying to make a clear-cut statement: “I am not a machine. I am not a robot.” Yes, I know it sounds far fetched but, incidentally or not, I can find many arguments for this. Technology has reached a level where it suppresses our individuality. While very often claiming to boost individual personality and liberating ourselves, technology – and modern society as a fact – does quite the opposite. Instead of a big fish in a small pond, we more and more identify ourselves with a tiny, tiny fish lost in the pond of globalization, of Facebook, of huge corporations. Yes, we communicate more and world has become a village but it’s a humungous village and we really feel lost in it.
Society managed to impose those rules within relatively confined spaces. Social rules are always much harsher and inflexible in smaller communities than in large ones. In face of technology and of this globalization that tries to change us into little robots, the self defense mechanism might kick in and it might try to assert itself by doing silly things and continuously trying to break the mold.
Even the dullest of persons will not agree that they are boring. We used to distance ourselves from accountants but that is so passé – now we are trying to distance ourselves from The Borg and as it becomes more and more difficult to do this, we are forced to become more and more inventive in doing so. 30-40 years ago stating that you will not marry every was enough to be stamped as different. Now, wearing in public thong, declaring that you are gay, live in a commune and will adopt children would probably not even get a shrug.
This is probably the dichotomy – our desire to be accepted vs our desire to be different. I used to wonder what the heck is with youngsters who, after covering their body with piercings and tattoos, complain that they are not accepted. You made this to be different and when, as different, you are treated differently by the society, you say it’s unfair. We should all understand the truth that lies in “one cannot have the cake and eat it too”.
Technology makes us embrace it by making us believe that we are different. Everybody seems to brag about their GPS, HDTV, PVR, Shine vs iPhone vs Chocolate. At the same time, our strong association of technology with The Borg makes us behave in more and more irresponsible and aberrant ways, trying in a futile and childish way to distance ourselves from The Borg. Sometimes I really yearn for the age when grandmas were baking cookies and telling stories, not getting plastic surgery, marrying men 30 years their juniors and jumping with the parachute.
The dichotomy above presented is present even in this article. On one hand, I come up with this idiotic idea – we are irresponsible because we want to draw a line between us and the machines – and on the other hand I really want people to say “Wow! I never thought of that! He might be onto something” (ok, you may lose the “wow” – there are so many words in English to describe amazement).

The Culture of Happiness

We all want to be happy, that is a fact. The writers of The US Constitution believed this is important enough to enshrine it in a public document. There is absolutely nothing wrong with searching the happiness and wanting to be happy. The search for happiness can, on the other hand, lead to a skewed way of life and unrealistic expectations.


I was reading some time ago on BBC that many marriages break due to people trying to live up (or down) to the stereotype imposed on them by the culture of happiness. Apparently movies and books teach people that, given enough effort, a couple can dwell in eternal bliss. When – as it is normal in real life – they encounter the first hurdle in their marriage, they are quickly to say “I don’t need to take this s…” and drop the towel. This is due to false image that happiness is a contiguous state. Happiness – at least in my understanding – is a mosaic: an experience created by hundreds and – hopefully – thousands of good moments, memories, sensations, and satisfactions. The grout between them is gray cement from the daily grinding mill or simply crap. We should collect the shinny and colourfull pieces of happiness and place them in our mosaic and – again, hopefully – at the end of our life we managed to create a meaningful picture with them.


And what would be wrong pursuing the eternal happiness? I found myself confronted very often with the view that nothing bad should enter our lives. People don’t watch the news of fear they might encounter death, don’t want to listen to sad stories although they might be carrying good lessons, even the children’s stories are modified so the wolf in Little Red Riding Hood will survive and, after getting in touch with his conscience, be repentant and become less wolf. Anything even remotely sad is quickly forsaken from our lives, and we forget that without Hell there would be no Heaven.
It reached the point where art productions creating negative emotions are avoided and deemed as unworthy forgetting that art should simply create emotions, not necessarily positive emotions.


Many people shudder and can’t understand how apparently some mild and happy-faced, family man, accountant by profession, comes one day home and kills everyone in his family over something as trying but still trivial as getting too much in debt or losing his job. “It doesn’t make sense!” they say. On the contrary, I argue, it makes perfect sense. Such people, who never contemplate nasty things, once they are confronted with a major crisis in their life, simply don’t know what to do and commit stupid things. And, when they turn around for help, everybody is so absorbed avoiding upsetting stories that they find nobody to give them advice. That is, if they are strong enough to ask for help and don’t put a frozen smile saying “Great, great, couldn’t be better”.


Submerged in this culture of happiness, people never reach a full understanding of the world and life and never fully grow up. It’s like the situation when, surrounding by the bright lights of the city, one can see very few stars – it’s only in the darkness of a remote countryside that the full beauty and richness of Milky Way reveals itself to us.
Indeed, knowledge does not lead to happiness… but it leads to wisdom and, eventually, to peace. Yes, I wished sometimes to be a bumbling idiot, happy and strong in my ignorance but finally I had to admit that this is not possible, not acceptable, at least for me. Once we bit the Apple of Knowledge, there is no turning back.


Conclusion: Happiness is good and searching for it is good too. Sadness, misery and despair are bad, but avoiding them by using horse (murphy’s) blinds is even worse. Not dwelling in bad feelings is one thing and it makes sense, rejecting everything that might make us remotely sad is another one.

Carpe Diem

These days, in a world where Latin is quasi-dead, carpe diem seems to be the motto. Everybody seems to live the day – in every meaning of the expression. Young people in debt because they lived the day too hard, old people forced to work because they didn’t think there will be a tomorrow are examples of misuse of this philosophy. Despite my better judgment, I have to recognize, it makes me feel quite inadequate. Slave of the opinion others have about me, I was ashamed to admit I don’t live too much in the present. Today I muster the courage to step out of a closet… probably in another one, since we move from closet in closet (I guess that the trick is not to die in one).


Even so, my analytic thinking says I am not doing anything wrong. My present is not interesting at all. It moves at an even rate with its little joys and upsets. My future? My future was, as somebody said in a radio essay I listened last year (I apologize for my poor memory), amputated when I divorced. Now and then, I catch a glimpse of it but then fog covers the vague shapes.


What is wrong with living in the past? What is wrong, when times are tough, to cuddle back with your parents on a Saturday evening in their bed and watch a black-and-white western movie and then go content that Sunday follows and that I can sleep as much as I want? So what if my nostrils fill with the smell of steak and mashed potatoes and pickles and I read “The Three Musketeers”, or I laugh my ass off watching “Tom and Jerry”, while waiting for Mom to call us in the kitchen for the weekend lunch? What is the crime in remembering the smell of lime trees embracing my street in a warm spring night, after I just returned from the student campus where I met my girlfriend?
We all go places where we felt happy, safe, loved. Some go to Disneyland, I visit the space of my memories. I sift through them and then, when I discover a warm and fuzzy one, I nest in it and let it carry me through the neither-interesting-nor-promising present.


Memory-triggers very seldom make sense. I listen to Gloria Gaynor and I remember visiting my cousins – not having siblings, they were my brothers. I remember the nights I slept over and we kept yapping until midnight, whispering so our parents would not come in. Not that we ever listened “I will survive” together. I smell the freshly-cut grass and I remember the feeling I was getting at my grandfather’s place, in the country, in a cold spring, hidden behind the stove. I remember the smell of burnt wood.
Why is the present so great? We have a lunch with somebody we love, it’s peaceful, the conversation is great, and one sees glitters of love in the other’s eyes. It’s good but it will be a long time before being able to refer to this lunch as one that brought the most happiness in your life. Watch a movie – it’s good, it’s titillating, intellectually stimulating but one will have to waste hundreds of hours lost in stupid productions before acknowledging that this movie was one of the best.


Live in the present? Buying the CDs of all the latest fashion bands just to realize within 12 months, once the craze passed that they are worth even less than the plastic used in their fabrication? No, thank you!


Personally, I don’t see any value in present – it’s a fad, it’s a moment and then it’s gone, it’s without memory and it’s made for people who want to live without history and without future.


I promised myself I will shed my shame of not being aligned with this “carpe diem” society. I will sleep myself in lost times and wait for a spring where, hopefully, I will be able to love more the present through the remembrance of the feelings that crush me today, the past.