11/11 and 1 year

Exactly one year ago on 11/11 we released Planetary Coalition’s debut CD, and what an unexpected and exhilarating journey it has been! A huge thank-you to all who supported, encouraged and participated in this project and appreciated the music we offered and continue to do so.

We are honored and humbled by the reception we’ve received from the public, press and peers. Concerts at Union Square New York, at NAMM venues in California, invitations and sold-out lecture/presentations/audio-visual performances at the Liberty Science Center, NJ, at the ArtsVille series at the University of Dayton, OH, glowing reviews in many local, national and international publications, recognition by Guitar World magazine as one of the top 50 releases of 2014, Acoustic Nation’s pick as the top 10 acoustic guitar albums of 2014, and submitted by our ArtistShare/Bluenote record label in several categories for the upcoming 58th Grammy awards.

For more information on the project, vignettes, news and updates – go to the website http://planetarycoalition.com/

Since an invaluable amount of sweat, blood, creativity. effort and expenses went into this mammoth project, please support the work of independent artists and musicians and not online illegal uploads or ripped CDs.

For the holiday season, share our labor of love as the perfect gift.
Available on i-TUNES here: http://apple.co/1zB0qiN
On AMAZON here: http://amzn.to/1ASdNg4

If i-tunes and Amazon options do not cover your country, you can order directly from ArtistShare here: http://artistshare.com/v4/Projects/OfferDetails/325/439/2186/1/6

Make music, not war! Support the independent Arts!

Here’s a video of the complete album excerpts, compiled & edited by yours truly: 


The Unbearable Heat of July…

.…in New York. Well, things could have always been worse. One could’ve been on the fated Boeing 777 which crash-landed in San Francisco airport yesterday, killing two teenagers, injuring several, but still miraculously leaving all the rest of its passengers alive.

Or, one could’ve been in a more dangerous part of the world, where governments try their best to oppress its citizens, as the latter fight for freedom.

So relatively, we are far luckier – if an insanely hot week in July with temperatures soaring over 100 degree Fahrenheit in New York is all we have to worry of. It is true that my migraines, combined with a heat stroke, have kept me indoors in bed, with the AC yanked up, the whole weekend. Migraines are incredibly annoying and at least mine are extremely painful. Suddenly – anything from bright lights, the smell of oil or perfume, or the noise of traffic can trigger it off. After that, much like a dog’s senses, every single smell gets amplified and identifiable; every sound, however soft, resonates like a bombshell; and even a bedroom side table lamp feels like the floodlight of a stadium. I have tried different medications, but alas, none have been effective. Like the common cold – I have to “wear it off.” Hours and sometimes an entire day spent in a dark room, keeping the temperature as cool as possible, sometimes an ice pack on my forehead, and subsisting on nothing but fruit, ice cream, and perhaps a bowl of edamame. And hoping that this feeling – of a head as heavy as lead, throbbing with pulsating pain – would just, just fade away. Not the unbearable lightness of being, I’m ‘fraid, but more like the unbearable heaviness of tête.

While I’ve decided to write at least one post a month, the past several months have been busy with various work pressures, a new (and exciting) development on the professional front, and many contingencies to be planned out and sorted. Also, for reasons of privacy and security, I had toyed with the idea of making this blog private, but have been touched and surprised that within just a few days of changing its privacy settings, so many readers wrote to me directly asking why, and hoping they could continue to read my writings. It is a humbling experience. More so, because although most of those readers never left comments, I am surprised how many actually would stop by and read. And so, here it is, back again……

But to get back to the start of the post – there are times when my heart gets heavy and hope runs thin, knowing and understanding the realities of the world we live in – factions at war, corruption in governments, the plight of sweatshop workers while clueless consumers keep buying, the inhumane cruelty towards animals both in the food and fur industry, the torture of innocents by psychopaths; and the fact that none of us really choose to be born – yet we are – and we have this one life to live, and that none of us are that special (at least definitely not in some God’s-special-child-kind-of-way – the way in which they would like to brainwash you,) but just that none of us are extra-special for having been born. What we do have control over or what can make a special difference lies simply in the actions we choose to perform that leave the world a little better, a little kinder than how we found it. Yes – there are special people – who with their innate talent and creativity and brilliant inventions have given gifts that have changed the course of human lives, and to whom we owe so much…..but what I mean is that none of us are really that special, the way our consumerist first world culture seems to push that certain frivolities are absolutely necessary to possess just because “you’re worth it.” Because, despite all the frills and frivolities, parades and charades of life, all that really matters – or at least all that will really, really matter in the last 10 minutes on one’s deathbed – are the ones we love/loved and the ones who truly loved us. Everything else is a corollary.

But perhaps I should not talk of this….I have ranted enough about the inequalities in the world and the effects of narcissism-gone-wild or the corruption in various systems in my posts such as Sweatshops for your sex and the city, Truth or Dare, Saltationism of Silliness, This too shall pass and a few others…… And in others, have celebrated the simple joys of life – a great piece of music, the beauty of art or satellite images or the quiet contentment one feels in the silence of happy solitude.

Talking at times with my friend, author Frederic Tuten, I feel that I often relate better with men and women who are much older – who have lived life a lot more – and somehow come out of it without their spirits broken, despite all of life’s downers. How do they do it? Tuten today shared a wonderful article written by neurologist Oliver Sacks in the New York Times on the joy of turning 80 – http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/07/opinion/sunday/the-joy-of-old-age-no-kidding.html?_r=0  My much older friends say I am a very old soul. I know this….in some ways always knew this since I was 10 years old – a sensitive, serious kid who voraciously liked reading encyclopaedia and books, but with a capacity for great joy and extremely charged to fight against petty injustices; a quiet kid who loved solitude but who would not remain silent if she saw someone being cruel to another, be it human or animal. There was a time, some four years back, where I thought I must have lost that spirit, that chutzpah. But much to my joy I discovered it was still there, always there, never to be broken – perhaps dampened and dormant for a while due to my having been the recipient of certain acts of unfathomable callousness by another, but that core – it had never left me. And, in the past couple of years, it recuperated and roared back again. 

And every time I go for a visit to a wonderful person’s studio/lab – a friend full of incredible talent, integrity, brilliance and ethics who is changing the world and is a true genius of our time (who shall remain unnamed in this post, as some day I want to write an entire post about him and his work, but let me simply say he is someone who  is a senior TEDtalks fellow, someone who Rolling Stone magazine had named among “15 people the next President should listen to,” and who had once won Time magazine’s best invention of the year award) – I smile and think – “No, there is still hope for mankind. There is still so much to live for, to laugh about, and of course, to love…love….and love more.”

So on this hot July day, here’s a photograph from New York taken by another friend (Kent Lawless) – an architect who went into computer science, and is a very gifted photographer. Life is hard and often not rosy. But the trick lies in finding beauty in special moments, to stop and smell the roses, to share a laugh with an innocent child, to stop to pet every dog that nuzzles up to you with its loving eyes, to thank the luck and fortunes we have, to accept the reality of what we don’t have, to believe in little acts of kindness, to have the discernment to distinguish the genuine from the fake, to recognize what is objectively good and not make excuses for that which is evil, and to have the courage to leave our surroundings at least a bit better than how we found them……As one of my favorite writers Ralph Waldo Emerson once said: “Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not.”

Clouds in July above Empire State Building, New York City. (Photograph by (c) Kent Lawless)

Clouds in July above Empire State Building, New York City. (Photograph by  Kent Lawless)


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*

Barter

“In the Dionysian dithyramb man is incited to the greatest exaltation of all his symbolic faculties; something never before experienced struggles for utterance – the annihilation of the veil of Maya, Oneness as the soul of the race, and of nature itself.” – Friedrich Nietzsche in “The Birth of Tragedy.”

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BARTER

(Sap-Alert! somewhat sappy, mushy stuff, written during a bout of metaphorical madness in 2009; the predicament when logical Apollonian souls get bewitched into loving Dionysian frenzied chaos, and get churned into inspired innuendos and dancing hearts. Any similarity of characteristics outlined here, with persons alive or dead, is purely coincidental.)

“Dionysus and Artemis.” Pen, ink and water color. Completed in 3 hours. (c) Maddy, 2004. “The Greek God of chaos, madness, wine and dark ecstasy Dionysius claims Apollo’s twin Artemis (the Light Bringer and goddess of the wilderness, of mountains, animals and virginity) in her own forest.”

For the poem “Barter” (2009): Wholeness within a single person can be conceptually attributed when one has been able to identify, struggle with, embrace, incorporate and balance both one’s lighter/logical and darker/emotional realms – or in other words – the Apollonian and Dionysian aspects of one’s psyche and state of being. Generally (as in the works of most philosophers as well as Camile Paglia’s book Sexual Personae) Apollonian logic, intellect and reason is seen as the masculine aspect, and Dionysian emotion, enigma and creativity as feminine.

Nietzsche for the first time presented Dionysus as the raw, wild, engulfing, destructive, angry, chthonic, impulsive, creative, powerful, sexual alpha-male and Apollo as the structured, calm, orderly, organized, rational man.

So what happens when completing the duality constitutes of finding the Dionysian within a “logical woman” instead, one who has more Apollonian traits and is awakened to the dark mysterious emotions of womanhood through the injection of the whimsical, sexual Dionysian within her? Hence I chose Artemis as the female anima of Dionysus – one who is an Equal Opposite – and where neither one can annihilate the other, but combine to make a balanced Whole. This resilience of Artemis (and her self-reliance) is necessary, because in philosophical texts – wherever Dionysus unleashes his turbulence, Apollonian qualities are completely destroyed. But not here – due to Artemis’ innate strength.  It is through the willful subjugation at the hands of the primitive, dominating male Dionysus that Artemis (hitherto stubborn, strong, virginal, reserved) finally learns to evoke her repressed passions and sensuality and show a vulnerability and softness of deeper womanhood, first losing herself to his pain, darkness and ecstasy and then regaining herself as an individual but more complete than before. And unlike the usual victims of Dionysus – the screaming maenads who lose control and become mad – Artemis’ intrinsic Apollonian logic and rationality keep her in balance, despite being able to experience fully YET withstand Dionysus’ intoxicating chaos and frenzy. What drove the maenads to madness, only makes her laugh. Because she willingly seeks his darkness as “the fuel for her light” as well as the space for her repose.

The no-man’s land where the overlap, their meeting occurs is a neutral territory where the union of the two opposites results in the balanced expression of art, and it is in this fertile overlap that the architect dwells and shapes his/her Will in line with a Nietzschean quote. (Architecture and Music are the two art forms since ancient times viewed as the balance of Apollonian & Dionysian qualities. It is also worthwhile to remember, therefore, the mention of Hesse’s humorous “immortals” – Pablo, the theater-designer and Mozart, the musician/composer – in Herman Hesse’s symbolic novel Steppenwolf – who are presented as those capable of living and creating in that fertile yet rare overlap, through the strength of their Will, their understanding of the facades (illusions) as well as the Reality of the world, and yet be able to create and live life fully due to their advanced sense of humor. Laughter and Love are the catalysts that can make individuation possible.)

Barter

(a spontaneous silly poem written in the spur-of-the-moment in the very early springtime of 2009, as I stood looking out into the beautiful maple forest outside my bedroom widow, on the top of the Summit Forest of Mount-Royal, Montreal, Canada. The last verse at the end was added more recently, in 2011, after a solitary walk in Central Park, New York.)

.

In the twilight hour
of no-man’s land
where dreams and nightmares
blend to one
On a narrow ledge
where both collide
and turn to mist
where secrets hide
and compress to form
an even narrower strand
on that strip that comprises
no-man’s land:

Light becomes an illusion to you
elusive, beyond a darkened tunnel
But light is where I’m doomed to live
till I’m scathed by brightness,
Scorched
and blinded.

A child of light
I long for darkness
It’s mystic calm
and sensuous madness

A child of darkness
you seek the light
to laugh and play
take off in flight

Freedom to you beckons
like a sunlit sky
But to me –
freedom’s the starlight
of a blackened night

Exhausted by light
I crave to rest
and close my eyes
in your mysterious cave
of satyrs and suffering
bogs and waves
guffaws and cries
of mirth and hate

My world is joyful
Too bright and blithe
Like constant daytime
of a thousand lamps
It burns the ones
who cause me harm
And wish I could cry
to brave the storms
But ‘stead of tears
only laughter forms
for I’ve learned to
just not give a damn.
I see too well
through social masks
and senseless rituals
of a blinking mass
I prefer the madness
of those who dare
to reveal anger, sadness
feel real pain and fear
Unlike the pretenders
who dwell in
Apathy
Or hide behind banal
hypocritical
Duplicity.
So I seek the truth
of unpredictable flights
of those who truly know
The ups and downs
The highs and lows
of Intensity
The breathless turbulence
of shifting soil
The flowing caress
The ebb and tides
The whimsicality
of roller coaster rides.

You have the gift
of forgetfulness
to hold memories
like an ocean’s
fleeting waves.
But I’m Doomed to hold
every memory
like consistent earth
in solid constancy
And etched in stone
is every image I have
from adult responsibility
to childhood’s laughs.

Will you teach me how
to be like ocean waves
So I can skip my stones
on the water’s surface?
Will you take my light
When I’m tired of it?
Will you share your night
When it swallows you?

I need the dark
to recharge my light
and if you want my laughter
my genuine joy and smiles
take them in lieu
for the dark I desire
for I need it to relight
my innate fire

So when the sandman
sends your eyes to sleep
or when on grey days
you’re a dead man walking
I’ll take your grey
should you want my yellow
or I’ll learn to live
in that soothing mellow
If you’re the thundering skies
of black and grey
I’m the autumn leaves
of golden glades
that get blown off by your breezy rage
only to renew in brighter shades

I need to die
so I can Live again
a child of Light
that found its fuel
I was frozen once
and forgot to die
but you killed me
so I could resurrect again

Now addicted I am
to the thrill I get
of cyclical resurrections
I seek my death
I seek a hollow
like you seek your life
Here – take my life
till you’re whole again.
My cup keeps filling
till it cannot contain
it runneth eternally
with warm summer rain

So when you need authentic joy
and I need authentic pain
a life-blood to both
We shall exchange;
please take my smiles
for I need your screams
to feel alive
like I’ve never been
I’ll enter your nightmares
and you’ll enter my dreams
of peace and love
and tender streams

So I’ll wait for you,
Barter my joy for your sorrow
on that narrow
ledge
to lend and borrow
Each twilight hour
when the sun is low
and the glow of day
sinks in shadow
When the night descends
and takes our hands
into the scarlet hollow
of no-man’s land…..

*

*

*

Forbidden words,
Forbidden lies
Forbidden glances
From your eyes
And yet your madness
Set afire
And freed
the myrrh
of desire
But like all else in that overlap,
that ledge where our two worlds briefly met,
I sank again,
like you knew I would
You watched me fall
To
A
Newer
Death
The Woman arose,
For the girl was dead;
And the Man subdued
her boyish ways.
He conquered her
not in weakened state
But in all her strength
Transformed to Love, not hate.
Yet unsatisfied,
He struck again
For Dionysus maenads
are maddened dead;
He forgot though, this
was Artemis
His equal opposite
With no fear of dread
And her spirit
would never give up on Life
‘Stead she
Laughed at the follies
Of his reckless youth,
And
happily shouldered
Responsibility
And
laughed and braved
his every mood.

For it is not perfection
One must seek,
But the perfect balance of the Light and Dark
And all Re-newal leads to Spring
Be it summer heat or winter stark.
If the detritus on the forest floor
Was not removed by Bacchic rage
How could the sunlight from the skies
Re-birth the saplings, Re-verse the page?
Re-write amidst the thunderstorms
A hymn of wisdom well worth singing:

The simple secRet of Re-surection is –

The Will of
Springing
Back
To

A
New
Beginning…..

.

.

(c) Maddy. The Gipsy Geek. 2009.


**

*“The architect represents neither a Dionysian nor an Apollinian condition: here it is the mighty act of will, the will which moves mountains, the intoxication of the strong will, which demands artistic expression.” –  Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche.

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The Apollonian & Dionysian here (Wikipedia link)

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A video celebrating an entwining of the two (The Apollonian science that created NASA’s satellite images, and the Dionysian sensuality of the composition of one of Chopin’s best nocturnes, yet each entity within itself – the music and the images- already have a perfect balance of the Apollonian-Dionysian duality) http://www.youtube.com/Chopin for EROS

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The ‘forest’ or rather stills of it that I stared at through the seasons and a log that held witness to a promise that I held on to with the naivete of the belief in words:  http://www.youtube.com/Memories of Montreal

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The literal meaning of ‘Re’ – http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/re-  

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Love and the Red Balloon – an ode to love :  https://gipsygeek.wordpress.com/2010/12/24/love-and-the-red-balloon/

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And evolution created Woman

AND EVOLUTION CREATED WOMAN


On the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day (March 8th) –  a list of all the past posts on this blog that featured women, womanly ways and/or womanhood as a theme. The good, the bad and the ugly of womanhood. Women who inspire your very soul, and women who irritate the heck out of you. The kind-hearted and the cold-hearted. And of course, what enchants me personally the most – the beauty (in and out) and the strength and serenity of those women who have real authentic goodness. (Click link to read post)

  1. Racqueting on a grass court
  2. Sex and the Starchitect
  3. And now for something completely different
  4. A heartfelt comment
  5. A ‘colorful’ message
  6. Anthem
  7. A whiff of IF
  8. Freedom at last ? (Aung San Suu Kyi)
  9. Sweatshops for your sex, and the city too
  10. There’s something about Clint
  11. Saltationism of Silliness
  12. Love in the time of February
  13. When words are unnecessary – 1 (Zaha Hadid)
  14. When words are unnecessary – 2 (Hilary Hahn)

“How wrong it is for a woman to expect the man to build the world she wants, rather than to create it herself.”. Anais Nin (1903 -1977)


“Beauty is how you feel inside, and it reflects in your eyes. It is not something physical.” – Sophia Loren. (You’re right madam Sophia…albeit those breathtaking curves of yours and Monica Bellucci help ;)




Love in the time of February

LOVE IN THE TIME OF FEBRUARY

I

Warning: Contains sarcasm. The following post is unsuitable for V-day stuffed-toy-worshipers and/or women and men who turn love into abuse, pain, guilt, shame instead of knowing what authentic love truly is.

Ah! February! Ever since commercialism unearthed Valentine’s Day and made it into a Hallmark-etched, marketing-approved, commodity-crazy phenomenon, it’s practically impossible to see any mall, store or plaza without the ubiquitous pink and red hearts, chocolates, flowers and stuffed bunnies and bears (don’t get me started on the last, as I’m an outspoken critic of the way REAL animals are treated for the fur industry while fake animals – at times made using the fur of the real ones – are shown ‘affection’ in our culture.)

Consumerism comes colour-coded. Blacks and oranges for Halloween, red-white-green for Christmas and then a burst of pink & red for Valentine’s before pastels dominate the Easter shelves.

Anyhoo – I’m not a cynic about Love. Far from it.  Yes – although I proudly love Spock, Sherlock Holmes and Monty Python, my ideas of love and its practice in my real life is very deep, very intrinsic and a few of my posts have been on it – without revealing private details. I believe in the poetry, the poignancy, the applied pragmatism of love, and its indescribable beauty so deeply that often words are not enough to describe its depth and those who have known me closely know that perhaps my ways of loving are from a lost century where reality resonated more than virtuality and the commercialism of ‘love’ was not yet so ubiquitous.

Perhaps that is why I’ll never quite understand the allure of stuffed toys and chocolates in heart-shaped boxes and the Valentine-day-special-dinner-coupons that dominate this day and almost make a joke out of relationships, a gimmick, some Hallmark-approved, stuffed-bear-endorsed, follow-the-crowd-and-corporation joke. It’s ‘cute’, I guess depending on how one defines ‘cute’. Having some cute-alert-chip missing, except when it comes to REAL animals and babies and sorry, that too minus the gushing – I don’t find commercialised Valentine-products cute. Cheesy is more the word. And I thank life and luck every day (or most days) that in spite of being a late bloomer in the ‘land of loving’ and having had relatively very few intimate ‘love’ relations (by choice, not due to a lack of chance), I am reminded everyday just how beautiful love and life truly is: Intensely, passionately but with a basic simplicity devoid of all the frills and goo and  commodification that the whole concept of ‘love’ has been turned into.

Come February, and it is hard to notice any glossy or newspaper or online news channel without every medium screaming out helpful ‘tips’, tidbits, analysis, prognosis, assumptions, presumptions, ‘premonitions’ and all sorts of ‘helpful’ strategies, stratagems and statistics about dating, loving, relationships, sex, pursuing, gifting, wooing and…. the list goes on and on and on. Logically in the freezing month of February, the coldest in most of North America, chances are that one’s libido is anyway climatically low. Yet it seems the buzz of a looming ‘V-day’ is supposed to make groins magically tingle in some mass unison of dating delirium. A men’s ‘game’ (a.k.a pick-up artist) website helpfully says how chances of getting laid are tremendously increased due to most women’s ‘romance fantasy’ getting peaked at this time. And don’t get me started about all those ‘women’s websites’ which in fact ‘train’ the women into looking for this ‘fantasy.’ As I’ve once written earlier (Racqueting on a Grass Court) – all their articles can be neatly filed under two categories : (1) How to get a man, (2) How to get over a man.  Or depending on whether  it’s written by an angry feminist  or a feathery floozy: “How to screw a man.” (both versions of ‘screw’ covered by each cranky camp.)  Or the way I phrase sans frills and frosting their usual take: “Flirt, Fuck, Fight, Flight.” Naturally, V-day articles in those ‘modern-women websites’ concentrate on the first two Fs.

Okay, now to get back to more pragmatism: Since I’m no psychologist nor trained therapist to give out  relationship advice, and neither some experienced sexoholic who has slept around with thousands to give ‘helpful tips’, the best I can do is this: Attach some links and articles from probably two of the most grounded, factual and no-nonsense sites that looked at, for a change, on how to comprehend wisely and not let crazy relations vacuum- suck or exhaust you. Having had one of those ‘crazy’ experiences in my first relation (lasted 18 months and being a late bloomer, I was in my 20s) geez, wish I’d come across these sites before. Also, working in a profession where there are nearly 90% men and often finding myself as an accidental confidante and ‘free-shrink’ to my male buddies and colleagues, now I can safely hand these sites to them instead of trying to figure out the crazy partners most geeky men in engineering and architecture often end up with initially.

Introverted, sensitive, ‘problem-solving’ men are often prime targets for female bullies as are those men who willingly exhaust their youth, love and passion to ‘rescue’ professional victims or conversely lose their own masculinity under dominating narcissistic women. The same applies to  introverted women too. Kind-and-good-hearted girls often fall prey to the ‘lost-puppy’ type dangerous man or become victims to dominating narcissists who are pathologically cruel but ooze initial outward charm. The two conditions that do the most damage are when you get hooked by women and men suffering from ‘personality disorders’   known as ‘borderline’ and ‘narcissistic’ disorders. Of course, like financial acumen is not taught in high schools, these facts are not taught either. Can you believe how much time, love, energy, money and broken dreams and hearts would have been saved if the psyche of emotional ‘predators’ was taught back in school?! Oh well….

An important note: Most crazy, tumultuous ‘love’ stories we read about in fiction or see on film often involve these drama-crazy characters since after the hell one suffers in these turbulent, crazy-making relations – perhaps to find closure or solace, most men (and women) HAVE to write stories, songs, screenplays (think Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, 500 days of Summer etc. amongst more well-made films of covert abuse, while of course you have the more blatant crazy-lover types) to make sense of it all or as self-therapy. (Some even develop magical thinking to make sense of it – either joining religious cults or embracing new age trends where they encounter even more narcissists and borderlines. Those who have been bitten too badly and cannot overcome the trauma even turn into misandrists and misogynists – generalizing entire genders based on the bad apples – and not self-reflecting on what qualities or predispositions within themselves caused them to attract the ‘crazies.’) Trust me, Logic solves ‘crazy’ puzzles way better than emotional reasoning. There is a reason behind Spock’s equanimity ;-)

Do NOT get fooled by the way unfortunately ‘great romances’ have been captured in film and tales as though turbulence, pain and insanity are requisites for them to be great. Real Love (and by ‘real’ I mean authentic and honest love) is calm, healing, all-accepting, forgiving, reciprocal and inspires you to be more balanced, more free, not less. Intensity in a healthy relation is deep yet peaceful; the initial ‘intensity’ in a crazy relation is an illusion based on swings and drama – not rationality. ‘Crazy’ love by these disordered folks distorts ‘love’ into feeling like fear, pain, guilt, shame, turbulence, craving and longing, a push-pull rollercoaster, walking on eggshells or avoiding landmines and convert relations into sick, co-dependent prisons. Quite simply stated it is ‘emotional abuse disguised as love.’ And yes, men are abused equally too except society does not want to acknowledge it. Kind-hearted, stable and ‘giving’ men and women need to know about these ‘emotional vampires’ and also try to understand where their own self-sacrificial, ‘fixing’, and ‘rescuing’ compulsions are coming from. It can be from your own childhood where a parent or sibling gave you less or your first adult romantic relation where you may have paired up with a manipulative cruel person. Such cruel, unempathetic persons – whether they initially portray themselves as perpetual ‘martyrs’ and ‘victims’ or as the ‘misunderstood, dark, unknowable lover’, or just outright blatant bullies –  are sadly those you can’t ‘fix’, no matter how endless your love is. They either have voracious needs that will never be met or they literally have the ‘empathy connection’ missing in their brains (like the sociopath) or are pathological bullies.

So, in the ‘spirit’ of the month, instead of offering ‘how-to’ tips and bunnies and bears and flowers and chocolates, I’ve decided to include articles and links by two smart experienced therapists. Dr. Tara Palmatier of Shrink for Men and Shari Schreiber of Getting Better have broken away from the mould and have no qualms of calling a spade a spade  without the ‘romantic’ frills; and redefining what healthy love feels like, in lieu of the way abusive, commercialized and fake ‘love’ is marketed as acceptable in our society. Though Dr. Palmatier’s site is geared more towards men, for this post I’ve placed two of her more gender-neutral articles. I like her no-nonsense, non-sappy, rational style of writing. I like the way she stays clear of new age or mushy lingo, and is a refreshing breath of logic and rationality. Perhaps because my brain seems to be wired more like an analytical, visual-thinking geek-man I can relate to her style of writing more.

I did do my research and found these two ladies to be the healthiest ‘therapy’ resources online and they are two rare emotionally healthy women. I call this ‘rare’ because a well-kept secret in the psych world (which most laymen should know by now) is that high functioning disordered folks enter the profession of clinical psychology and psychiatry in large numbers – a way of ‘figuring’ themselves by ‘figuring’ others. It is better to find therapists who are more the ‘caregiver’ or ‘rational problem-solver’ type than those who are disordered themselves but  hide it very well.

I have never been in clinical therapy myself as I like solving problems through logic instead. (As well, having traveled to and spending long stretches of time at a young age and in adult life in some countries where I saw unimaginable poverty and suffering, and yet  saw people with remarkable optimism and resilience despite all the odds, has always made me very grateful for the gifts and resources we have  in more developed countries – which is why I often retort that we all have the right to feel sad at times, but we do not have the right to feel ungrateful. Because things could have been much, much worse through a stroke of even worse luck and I count all the blessings I have. ) But I have to confess that four of the craziest people I came across (personally, not professionally) in Canada & the U.S. – the two women were ‘therapists’ and the two men were psychiatrists. The women seemed to suffer from some permanent ‘women- are-victims’ syndrome – part mixed with some rabid man-bashing misconstrued version of feminism, part a self-righteous wallowing of self-pity. I abhor the ‘perpetual victim’ attitude and shoot more for determination and self-reliance so their notions seemed to be very self-defeating and blame-shifting rather than solving real problems in a productive manner.  The two male psychiatrists were well-read and very intelligent, but boy – were their perception of reality incredibly warped! It was nutty to say the least, and I later understood that their behaviours included projection‘, gaslighting and a problem separating fantasy from reality.  Regardless, I will always owe an immense gratitude to one of those men because it was his puzzling mysterious behaviour and ultra-baffling swings of cruelty and kind intellect I was subjected to that finally got this geek who never cared about psyches but more about buildings and geography and music to start searching deeply in the labyrinths of the human mind.

I am sure there are far saner examples in the therapy field and those four, I hope, were anomalies – though writers on many forums, including wikihow and yahoo answers have stated how their therapist seemed to need more therapy! But I have to honestly confess that in my life, a person I knew who showed the least integrity and exhibited mind-blowing pathological narcissism and Machiavellianism – literally seeing and blatantly pronouncing himself as “Jesus” (!!) yet never practicing what he preached – was a church pastor. I have met some very kind and ethical pastors too but, due to that particularly bad apple, am very skeptical of those who do excessive ‘God-talk’ yet have a different character behind the mask.

Both Schreiber and Dr. Palmatier have faced flak for whistle-blowing the fact that there is a great deal of hypocrisy in the ‘therapy’ business and there are many many psychologically disordered folks in the clinical psychology business which she has aptly named ‘estrogen-ghetto’. In fact there’s a blog or two that exposes out the misdeeds of those in the helping profession: http://psychrapereporter.wordpress.com/ and http://psychsex.wordpress.com/

In the world we live in, often the people we are told to blindly trust the most – caregivers, religious or political leaders (be they from churches, temples or cults), therapists, close partners – can misuse their positions of power. I quote here from systems engineer Barbara Oakley’s book ‘Evil Genes: Why Rome fell, Hitler rose, Enron failed and my sister stole my mother’s boyfriend’ which I have mentioned in my post Truth or Dare‘ as a reminder on how being too innocent and trusting can make one ripe for victimization.

When kindhearted people are unaware that a few leading individuals in “their group” are likely to be sinister, they are ripe for victimization. Their own kindness can be turned against them and others. Hitler’s greatest strength, for example, was his ability to appeal not only to the worst characteristic – hatred – but also to people’s best qualities – faith, hope, love and sacrifice. As with most Machiavellians, he was a master at turning people’s best traits against them. “He confided the secret of his approach to an intimate : ‘When I appeal……for sacrifice, the first spark is struck. The humbler the people are, the greater the craving to identify themselves with a cause bigger than themselves.’”[ix]

At the root of all such misconducts, a lust for ‘control’ is what pushes disordered people to inflict incalculable psychological injury to those who trust and love them. It is easier to get out of social institutes. It takes a far greater amount of discernment and self-analysis to get out of unhealthy relations with covert bullies. And while developing discernment and healing yourself, perhaps the most important aspect is to never, yes never, let innocent close ones in the future suffer the consequences of a past partner. If you have been in an unhealthy relation, not only should you get away and heal and strengthen yourself, but STOP that cycle of abuse and be open and receptive to healthy, loving and giving partners. And be ready to receive. Living well without holding anger, revenge or regret but rather equanimity and perspective is the best antidote to those who have hurt you in the past. Never let others’ poison infect you or worse, turn you into a conduit of cruelty yourself. That is giving too much power to your past. And as I’ve often written here, determination can get you out of every mess.

Here’s wishing to happy, safe and truly authentic love lives – where differences are sorted through mutual respect and understanding, and love is a place of solace and peace – not a four letter simile for pain. Where passion means intimacy with healthy vulnerability, not anger diffused with controlling demands. Where love sets you free to be the best you are with all your strengths and weaknesses, instead of being held hostage in some guilting-and-shaming prison with no escape.

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LOVE IN THE TIME OF FEBRUARY

II

The following article is more suitable for those partners in relations who tend to be more of ‘givers’ or ‘fixers.’ It is very important to fix one’s own ‘fix-it’ tendencies. It is even more important to feel comfortable in a mutually reciprocal relation and not relate ‘pining away’ to love. And more importantly, to be more open to ‘receiving.’

I used to be one of those unconditional ‘givers’. I have understood the root of my habit and ‘training’ (a bullying abusive, demanding and controlling older sister who I loved dearly and perennially ‘gave and gave and gave’ to,) a habit which was replicated in a future relation.  Though after that I did have a wonderful 7 year long relation, when that ended on sane, mutually-respectful and very friendly terms,  I found myself again relating love to ‘giving’ and ‘puzzle-solving’ and developing a high tolerance to the other’s cruelty much like  in my first relation.  I tended to offer ‘unconditional acceptance’ far too easily loving both  the other’s strengths and weaknesses and was often baffled why  someone who had prior relations with abusive partners was so bewildered at the lack of my idealization-devaluation swings. It was sad to realize that steady kindness was a concept not fully understood by the other person who had only known the ‘thrill’ of dramatic push-pull relations.  It was then that I started reading the root of such patterns, both to understand others’ psyche and to stop my own ‘overt optimism’ and ‘gushing giving’ and ‘working immensely hard’ to work at and ‘help’ situations. I have  since learned to  receive and am very content now in my relation which has healthy mutual affection and respect with a deep loving connection on many different levels.

Please note that sometimes ‘givers’ are not necessarily feeling ‘worthless’ or ‘inadequate’ as stated below. (I have never felt  ‘worthless’ though of course I’ve certainly had my moments of self-criticism and been hard on myself.) There can be other reasons sometimes for excess giving, such as  an overabundance of energy, or a subconscious habit to be overtly kind  or “hoping my unconditional love will cure all your problems” sort of mindset without the discernment to see who your recipient is, or letting our taught lessons of the ‘virtues’ of ‘patience’, ‘sympathising’ and ‘sacrifice’ dictate our behaviour, or believing you have to ‘work hard’ to receive or earn something – a habit that needs to be cured in order to be comfortable with receiving love just for who you are.

While it is hard to admit, there is a subconscious pride attached in the notion that we can ‘give and love someone into health.’ Let go of that hidden ‘helping’ pride and ‘rescue’ compulsion. Unfortunately, for pathologically emotionally disordered people, all your ‘loving and giving’ will go down their bottomless pit – and you too, if you’re not careful. They will themselves have to do their own healing work – you cannot ‘love’ someone into emotional health (unless that person is an innocent child in need, not a grown adult. Trust me, there are plenty of poor children in the world and abused animals you can show that compassion to.) You’ll only get exhausted and frustrated giving endlessly to manipulative emotional vampires. Instead find what predisposes you to get attracted to those adults who only suck.

  • Healthy Self-Love. The foundation of good relationships by Dr. Tara J. Palmatier, Psy.D. (A Shrink for men)

You can’t love anyone else until you love yourself.” Everyone knows this platitude. Self-help “gurus” and therapists regurgitate it as a mindless mantra ad nauseum.

I don’t know its exact origin, but whoever first uttered the phrase confused things terribly. Accepting and loving yourself is a precondition to being in a healthy, reciprocal relationship. However, the oft-recited advice has it backwards: Before you can LET YOURSELF BE LOVED by another, you must first accept and love yourself. If you’re not capable of receiving love, you will attract and be attracted to others who will give you anything but love.

There are men and women who have no trouble chasing after romantic quarry; “loving” them without rhyme or reason, only to have their feelings rejected and their needs unmet. They languish in their unrequited anguish. These are usually the same people who run in the opposite direction when they’re offered real affection by another person. When they have a chance at a real relationship and love, they’re uninterested for a variety of reasons.

If you believe the cliché, “You can’t love anyone else until you love yourself,”then there should be no pursuit of a love interest until you learn to love yourself. If you’re attracted to others who can’t love you in return, you’ll begin a futile cycle of pursuit and distancing behaviors. Think of it as “mutually assured unhappiness.”

This pattern of behavior typically reinforces your inner and oftentimes unacknowledged feelings of worthlessness and inadequacy. In other words, you seek intimacy and love from others who either can’t tolerate or aren’t capable of intimacy and love, which confirms your faulty beliefs about being undeserving or having to work for love.

The end result: When you’re lucky enough to meet someone who sees your positive qualities (that you can’t or won’t see in yourself) and who offers you affection and acceptance; you push her or him away. You devise many reasons and excuses why the other person isn’t“the one.”Typical excuses include:

  • The other person is nice, funny and smart, but there’s some missing ephemeral quality you can’t quite articulate. (Like a proclivity to be rejecting and/or abusive, perhaps?)
  • You’re just not feeling “it.”
  • You only date a specific “type.” (e.g., abusive).
  • He or she is “too nice.” (Isn’t that what we all claim to be looking for?)
  • He or she is “boring.” (This is usually because the thrill of having a corrective emotional experience with an abusive personality who reminds you of mom, dad or some other early formative relationship is missing and you don’t have to work for or prove yourself worthy of love).
  • There’s no “chemistry.” (Mind you, the only “chemistry” you’re likely to feel is with someone who isn’t interested in you, has their own intimacy issues and keeps you at arm’s length and/or an abusive personality).

Buying into the above excuses are how many men and women end up in relationships with narcissists, borderlines and other abusive personality types. These excuses enable you to reject people who are capable of love and who would accept you as you are.

“Loving” someone else is easy enough, especially since people who languish in this position tend to idealize those whom they “love”—at first. If you’re caught in this pattern, you may tend to have an unrealistic, highly selective vision of the other person—until one of their flaws are exposed and then your “love” disappears as soon as you realize the other person isn’t “perfect.” Alternatively, if you’re attracted to abusive personalities, you probably minimize, rationalize or ignore their hurtful and abusive behaviors and tell yourself you need to “work harder” to win their love.

How do you begin to love and accept yourself?

First, you must acknowledge and wrestle with your inner daemons. Explore your faulty relationship beliefs, for example, the belief that you’re unworthy or undeserving of love. Figure out where these beliefs come from, challenge them, lay them to rest and adopt healthier beliefs.

Second, you must accept that you’re not perfect, will never be perfect, but that doesn’t make you unlovable and unworthy. “Perfection,” if there is such a thing, has nothing to do with peace and wholeness. If you can’t tolerate your own imperfections, you won’t be able to tolerate them in another person. Others will always fall short and you will reject them. Alternatively, you will accept hurtful behavior from others because you’re not “perfect” and on some level believe you deserve to be treated badly

Third, you must develop the ability to hold and sit with the discomfort and strangeness of the new and unfamiliar, such as being with a kind, loving person who accepts you warts and all. Being with a woman or man who is capable of returning love and values you—including your imperfect parts—will initially feel really strange and uncomfortable. At first, you might feel the urge to flee or push away. You need to ride out any feelings of discomfort until feeling good in a relationship feels normal and feeling bad feels strange and uncomfortable. It will be a big change from your previous relationships. Remember, if change felt the same as what you’re accustomed to, it wouldn’t be change. (Repeat the last sentence to yourself a few times.)

Fourth, you need to be able to tell the difference between forgivable imperfections and abuse in all its forms: covert, overt, emotional, physical, psychological and financial. For example, leaving the toilet seat up, talking too much or difficulty expressing emotions are forgivable “imperfections.” Abuse is unforgivable—at least while it’s active and ongoing. Loving yourself also means creating boundaries and not accepting bad, hurtful, crazy and abusive treatment from others.

The fear of being loved is related to the fear of being “discovered;” of having your vulnerabilities and those aspects you don’t like about yourself exposed to another. This is fundamentally silly because we all have things we wish were different or better about ourselves. It’s the fear that he or she won’t love you if they find out how “horrible” you think you are. At heart, this is what causes narcissists, borderlines, bullies and other abusive personalities to lash out and try to control others and it’s what causes you to be the target of these emotional predators.

Having a healthy and happy relationship begins with you loving, accepting and forgiving yourself. Once you cultivate love and acceptance of yourself and let go of old, counterproductive relationship beliefs, you’ll be surprised how good being in a relationship can be.

by Dr Tara J. Palmatier, PsyD

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  • Ever wondered why  some folks find it difficult to break the habit?


InWhy We Stay in Bad Relationships” – Dr. Tara J. Palmatier, Psy.D. (A Shrink for men) asks why many people stay in dead end, unfulfilling relationships despite immense personal dissatisfaction. Yet they stay on against their better judgment. Why?

To read the full article, go here : http://shrink4men.wordpress.com/2009/01/26/why-we-stay-in-bad-relationships/ (copy paste the link)

It outlines the reasons of the main causes of why we repeat old patters of inaction and inertia – for instance:

The Familiarity–the comfort of dysfunction vs. the discomfort of the unknown. “Oftentimes, relationships are a matter of “the devil you know is better than the devil you don’t.” We all make choices about how much we can deal with and what we can tolerate. Some people worry that they’ll end up in an even more dissatisfying relationship. They tell themselves that their current situation is a better option to meeting a new, possibly even more damaged mate or being alone.” – Dr. T

Other reasons include :

The investment of time and energy.

The trap of working harder. Yes, relationships take work, but they shouldn’t be a continuous struggle. Healthy relationships are a source of mutual comfort, support, and growth, which often involve challenging each other to be your best selves. Every relationship hits some bumpy spots in the road, but it shouldn’t be the Bataan death march.If you keep having the same problems without resolution, the same arguments, the same hurt feelings and resentments, and have been to couples counseling for a significant period of time and can’t reach a place of understanding, just end it.” – Dr. T

Shame and failure. “It’s difficult to admit a relationship needs to end. Many experience ending a relationship with a sense of shame and failure.” – Dr. T

And if it is an emotionally abusive relationship, Dr. Palmatier states that:

“counseling rarely helps because the abusive partner uses treatment to blame and control and/or quits when confronted with his or her bad behavior and goes “therapist shopping.” Don’t confuse “working harder at the relationship” with entrenching yourself in the problem. It’s better to get out than dig your heels in deeper.”

Wise words at the end of her article:

“The real shame and failure is to waste your life in conflict and dissatisfaction or, in extreme cases, an emotionally abusive relationship. Growth and change occur across a lifetime. Partners we choose for ourselves early in life when we’re still sorting through childhood baggage make sense at the time. However, as we resolve those issues, if our relationships don’t evolve with us, they will no longer fit.  It’s never too late to let go of misery or resignation and embrace change.”

Think about that for a few minutes. The full article is available on that link. A must-read.

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Related: Are you stuck in an unhealthy relation pattern? http://shrink4men.wordpress.com/2009/07/10/are-you-stuck-in-an-unhealthy-relationship-pattern-part-three/

Do you need to be loved and love to be needed? (An absolutely spot-on piece by Shari Schreiber directed towards eternal ‘fixers’ and ‘givers’):   http://gettinbetter.com/needlove.html

Did you have to  find closure all by yourself when a man or woman you deeply loved and cared for and were endlessly kind to, suddenly or cruelly disappeared? http://shrink4men.wordpress.com/2009/08/28/divorce-and-break-ups-there-is-no-closure-with-a-narcissistic-or-borderline-woman/

Have you wondered what the hooks of control are that keep you on your toes and in an unhealthy relation? Do you have a fear of loss and a need for approval? http://shrink4men.wordpress.com/2009/07/27/how-emotionally-abusive-women-control-you-the-fear-of-loss-and-the-need-for-approval/

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  • Abuse is often seen as a male-on-female problem. Wrong! Women especially in countries where they have far greater rights are equally abusive, except it is not spoken of. In fact men in western countries are quite frequently abused by their female partners  (and the legal system is skewed to protect women even when they are at fault) while the reverse is often true in more patriarchal Islamic countries. How do you tell if a woman is an abuser?

In “10 Signs Your Girlfriend or Wife is an Emotional Bully” Dr. Tara J. Palmatier, Psy.D. (A Shrink for men) outlines the tell-tale signs of both overt and covert crazy-making and psychological abuse that women may be doing to men in relations, and how to spot them instead of living in perpetual denial. An excerpt:

Does your girlfriend or wife yell, scream, and swear at you? Do you feel like you can’t talk to anyone about your relationship because they just wouldn’t understand? Is your relationship making you feel like you’re slowly going crazy?

If so, you’re probably involved with a woman who is an emotionally abusive bully. Most men don’t want to admit that they’re in an abusive relationship. They describe the relationship and their girlfriend/wife using other terms like crazy, emotional, controlling, bossy, domineering, constant conflict, or volatile. If you use words like this to describe your relationship, odds are you’re being emotionally abused.

Do you recognize any of the following behaviors?

1) Bullying. If she doesn’t get her way, there’s hell to pay. She wants to control you and resorts to emotional intimidation to do it. She uses verbal assaults and threats in order to get you to do what she wants. It makes her feel powerful to make you feel bad. People with a Narcissistic personality are often bullies.

Result: You lose your self-respect and feel outnumbered, sad, and alone. You develop a case of Stockholm Syndrome, in which you identify with the aggressor and actually defend her behavior to others.

2) Unreasonable expectations. No matter how hard you try and how much you give, it’s never enough. She expects you to drop whatever you’re doing and attend to her needs. No matter the inconvenience, she comes first. She has an endless list of demands that no one mere mortal could ever fulfill.

Common complaints include: You’re not romantic enough, you don’t spend enough time with me, you’re not sensitive enough, you’re not smart enough to figure out my needs, you’re not making enough money, you’re not FILL IN THE BLANK enough. Basically, you’re not enough, because there’s no pleasing this woman. No one will ever be enough for her, so don’t take it to heart.

Result: You’re constantly criticized because you’re not able to meet her needs and experience a sense of learned helplessness. You feel powerless and defeated because she puts you in no-win situations.

3) Verbal attacks.This is self-explanatory. She employs schoolyard name calling, psychopathologizing (e.g., armed with a superficial knowledge of psychology she uses diagnostic terms like labile, paranoid, narcissistic, etc. for a 50-cent version of name calling), criticizing, threatening, screaming, yelling, swearing, sarcasm, humiliation, exaggerating your flaws, and making fun of you in front of others, including your children and other people she’s not intimidated by. Verbal assault is another form of bullying, and bullies only act like this in front of those whom they don’t fear or people who let them get away with their bad behavior.

Result: Your self-confidence and sense of self-worth all but disappear. You may even begin to believe the horrible things she says to you.

4) Gaslighting. “I didn’t do that. I didn’t say that. I don’t know what you’re talking about. It wasn’t that bad. You’re imagining things. Stop making things up.” If the woman you’re involved with is prone to Borderline or Narcissistic rage episodes, in which she spirals into outer orbit, she may very well not remember things she’s said and done. However, don’t doubt your perception and memory of events. They happened and they are that bad.

Result: Her gaslighting behavior may cause you to doubt your own sanity. It’s crazymaking behavior that leaves you feeling confused, bewildered, and helpless.

For the signs, explanations and results of the other 6 tactics used such as unpredictable responses, projection, emotional blackmail and withholding affection & sex as well as isolating you from friends and family, read the full article here: http://shrink4men.wordpress.com/2009/01/30/10-signs-your-girlfriend-or-wife-is-an-emotional-bully/ (copy paste the link)

As Dr. Palmatier concludes at its end: “Life is too short to spend one more second in this kind of relationship. If your partner won’t admit she has a problem and agree to get help, real help, then it’s in your best interest to get support, get out, and stay out.”

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If you are a woman who has faced the turmoil of being with a man with BPD (which for men is often misdiagnosed as bipolar), Shari Schreiber has written an excellent article with wisdom and humour, though her site graphics are a tad too colourful: http://www.sharischreiber.com/casanova.html

Also from Schreiber, for men who suffer from the ‘hero-syndrome’ and like to ‘rescue’ waifs and ‘professional victims’: http://gettinbetter.com/waif.html

Is your girlfriend/wife a “professional victim”? http://shrink4men.wordpress.com/2009/01/27/is-your-girlfriend-or-wife-a-professional-victim/ (copy-paste the link)

Saving your life after being excavated to exhaustion after loving a borderline: http://www.sharischreiber.com/anycost.html

Dr. Palmatier’s site has many great articles in the index section of both her old and new site. Here are a few links:

If you are a woman in love with a man who has come out of a relation with an abusive woman or with a man who has a history of being with manipulative women and you are not one (a very important and poignant read because often the kind girl who comes in a man’s life later has to bear the brunt of the misconceptions about love and trust created by the disordered women in his past): Excerpt:

Men who’ve been involved with emotionally abusive women need to go through a period of “deprogramming” and relationship “re-education.” Being with crazy, abusive narcissistic or borderline women warps these men’s perspective on love and relationships. They view crisis, criticism, conflict, drama, insults, neglect, etc., as normal because, with these women, it is the norm. Sometimes, it’s difficult to break  this pattern because of the rush from being on constant high alert and the exquisite thrill of the rare occasion when these women are nice to them.”

http://shrink4men.wordpress.com/2009/04/27/can-a-man-who-was-emotionally-abused-by-his-narcissistic-or-borderline-wife-or-girlfriend-have-a-relationship-with-a-healthy-woman/

Deciphering the code of female mindgames in ‘crazy’ relations: (if you are  a rational woman in love with a BPD man, just change gender for the perpetrator.) This article is  for those men who have spent months in a war zone at home with advanced bullies and are looking for a logical explanation of the ‘pattern’ of their tactics: http://www.shrink4men.com/2010/11/15/high-conflict-phases-of-abuse-blame-shifting-distortion-rage-and-manipulation-diagram/

How ‘brainwashing’ occurs in abusive relations: http://shrink4men.wordpress.com/2010/02/24/how-abusive-women-brainwash-you/

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Yes, Love truly is a wonderful phenomenon. To love and to be loved – one of life’s greatest joys. But before you run around outpouring romantic love, make sure that the other person is worthy of unconditional love. Nobody is perfect, but  imperfection does not include abusive behavior. Love wasted on emotional predators, bottomless vampires and bullies – be they in the form of Waifs who need constant rescuing or Monsters who need to constantly control – is a loss of youth, a loss of kindness and a betrayal of trust. It takes a long time to heal and longer to overcome that exhaustion. It is unfair to those who come later in your life, especially if they are innocent, and bear the burden of the wounds of your past patterns.

An ounce of prevention is worth many pounds of cure or self-immolation. Because knowledge IS power. Love well, for sure, but even more so, love wisely. And when you find the one with whom you can share healthy, reciprocal, connected Love, love with abandon and without fear. And above all, believe in the power of Resilience. The power of Love. And the clarity of the power of Logic.

And that doesn’t need to be confined to only the 14th of February.

As for me, I am very happy to live this dream in reality:

xkcd. “Beautiful Dream”

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Below, a poem, written from years back – before I’d even fallen in love. It was about the way I thought love could be, would feel like. (It’s a side I rarely show on this blog, it’s very hard for me to show my deepest feelings or dreams, or the mushy side, but what the heck – ‘Love’ goes beyond an xkcd cartoon depiction.) And when I fell in love, was it like this? Oh yes, yes it was. Authentic Love always is.

LOVER

My lover,

You bring me love,
More than I could ever dream of.
And emotions that were alien once seem all too omnipresent now;
The shell I thought my heart was in seemed all too fragile, all too thin
When it came to you to penetrate, it broke to pieces and set me free.

Perhaps we had been strangers before, perhaps wayfarers traveling along the same road,
But in subtle, soft, mischievous ways, our love happened because it was meant to be,
Like unpredictable destiny, or for that’s what Nature intended to see:
A Man, a Woman with a child in each who hold hands like lost twins reunited
A love which has no legal name, no rhyme nor reason nor sanity.
And yet it spells out innocence, untainted, untarnished purity.

It’s your love which gives me happiness and warmth from the cruel winter
Of complicated mechanical beings who do not rejoice at others’ well-being.

I don’t want to think of the morrow, or of yesterday for it is now that matters,
I don’t want to think of the sorrow which I have felt before or shall later,
Let me live in this moment where time stands still,
Let me bathe in this ocean of love –

Because,

My Lover,
I never knew how beautiful love could be
Until I rose in love with you.

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Hmmm, so much for the cynic in me ;-) Must be the smell of all those flowers in every shop on the streets….

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Related:




Red December – Post 3

RED DECEMBER – 3

LOVE & THE RED BALLOON

The heart has its reasons that Reason knows not of.”  – Blaise Pascal

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The Red Balloon. Albert Lamirosse’s 1956 Oscar & Palme d’Or winning 30-minute Film.

It is a liberating feeling to know that writing/journalism is not your mainstay profession – that way you are free to write for the sake of writing and let your stream of consciousness  transfer through your mind and heart to your fingers without a plethora of intellectual/politically-correct debates sprouting up. Just a thought. This is the last of my ‘Red December’ series. In a sense it was the idea of this post that had first made me think of the associations of the colour ‘red’ – isn’t it interesting how the most extreme ranges of human emotions are associated with this colour? Danger, alertness, action, stoppage, sexiness, war, anger…..but most importantly the emotion of Love.

Yes, despite all the downers in life, the one ’emotion’ that kept me in balance, kept me optimistic, was that Red Balloon of Love. And I don’t mean ‘romantic’ love. Just ‘Love.’ The kind that just lives and redeems for itself. On watching the film again, I realized why this movie is so profound – it is a metaphor of what love is – the kind that stirs your heart like never before, like an understanding playful friend reaching out to you against a shared loneliness or greyness of the apathy and complacent cruelty in the world around – the way love lifts our hearts, the way we grow attached to it, depend on it, nurture it, are loyal to it, sacrifice for it, learn lessons in pain and longing from it, and finally, the way Love sets us free because of the epiphany its magical presence brought in our lives.

In November 2008, while going through a period of metaphorical insanity that produced volumes of writing, I’d had a powerful epiphany about love. It still remains one of the most profound times of my life where logic and love found a balance, and Love truly lifted me from my own darkness. Many chapters and stories were written in that inspired frenzy, and the following is an excerpt from a chapter I wrote titled ‘Love and the Lameness of Logic.’ Today I read it again, and though I have grown more since then, I am glad in retrospect that I grappled in those dark depths, if only for the euphoria that this realization had brought me. Not that I had not experienced ‘love’ before – but this time the intellectual, the practical, the emotional (and every other ‘al’) finally found congruence and I was set free. The condition where ego no longer matters but the Self finds itself. And truly discovers the capacity, the power, the unbridled abandon of Love.

“……..As much as we’d like to think of ourselves as constantly kind and just, sadly, we are cruel in life. Sometimes. Often. Unintentionally or through ignorance. Why? Because we keep those waiting who love us the most; We take love for granted. I know I have which is why I can write so. We waste our energies convincing those who do not care for us. They become a challenge to please. We show our bright lights to the uncaring. Yet we let those who care for us remain forgotten in the shadows. We do not remember them until it is too late. Until after facing the coldness of the world we turn around to seek them, thinking they will always be there and then find they have walked away finally exhausted, or are dead.

“Pride and ego work antithetically to love; silencers of confessing the truth to ourselves and to others; we are so concerned about how we will be perceived, so concerned that we will make fools of ourselves, so concerned of the stuffy and pretentious dictum of social protocols that after a while we stop listening to our hearts. I know this because I have sometimes noticed that ‘pride’ in myself and in others becoming the blockage in expressing love. But really, Pride for whose sake? Although in my case more than pride it has mostly been a sense of overwhelming shyness to express. The mind often thinks it knows better but in the end the heart is the one that breaks free when love is real. Hurt and its fear is the barricade that blocks the flow of love between our hearts and brains and since amongst the logical, the brain mostly transmits our words to our lips – we blurt out the wrong words because that bridge between the heart and the lips has been blocked. And now that I have confronted the hurt – or rather the shock – how clear it is to cherish the understanding I had received and yet had not wanted to see blinded by stubbornness so as to allow only Reason to overpower emotion and everything else. In a strange way – logic almost becomes the thwarter of love. As Tagore (the Nobel laureate Bengali poet) had said – “A mind all logic is like a knife all blade. It makes the hand bleed that uses it.”

“Or As Blaise Pascal had said: “The heart has its reasons which Reason knows not of.”

“Useless by cartoonist Randall Monroe of xkcd.com

“Love is what keeps us. What makes us. What saves us. And love is for love’s sake only – it completes and redeems itself. And the love that combines romance, strength, spirit, intellect, body, mind and compassion – and ah, so very very rare to find – and the one we all search for in one person and find it only in parts in many – that is the closest to salvation we come to. At the end one realizes that that is how one has to love one’s own self inside, to view the “love” inside in its multitude and then when it dwells as an integral part of one’s state of being, it becomes both the flame that enlightens one and the flame that gives warmth to others. It is difficult  to reach at this stage for many, but it is true nonetheless. My mother used to say that “Every human has his own limited capacity and within that some try to reach their own limit, some do not even recognize what they have inside and never even try to expand. And then there are those who break away from even their own limits to a higher state.” And the holistic state of love is the fire that breaks the limit. It is true. It is a personal journey. The mantra has been tainted, ritualized, made clichéd by various forms such as religious quarks, cheesy commercialism and even extreme ‘free love’. But it is an internal philosophy that at the end reveals the truth through personal reflection and experience only. It is only then that Love translates into the type of self-actualization and exaltation that covers and becomes one with the entire universe – a truly cosmic experience. This is something that some wise (or crazy) souls had discovered and tried to pass on, but forgot the folly that comprehension cannot be distributed second-hand. That just that personal knowledge was enough and not it’s craving to pass it on. But it is a lonely craving to share with similar minds. Ah – the craving to share, I know it. Because the solitude of epiphany is a peak where you wish to see others yet have to let them make the climb themselves.

“And that is why I looked back at the gift of understanding  (although Reason had clouded sight) and I realized that love is the one quality that as humans we should never forget in our hearts no matter how many times we get caught in earthly disappointments. I read words I had received of a few who shall remain unnamed for their privacy, of those who were not poets or writers and seemed so rational and restrained; and yet love had evoked something rare in them. I understood how it is love or its loss that makes men of logic and reason, finance and institutes turn into poets and philosophers. I understood how love arises in the human heart and why introverted men and women with their quieter ways take longer to put their thoughts and emotions into spoken words (never mind that they may be writing treatises in the privacy of solitude). And how it also causes sadness when the object of one’s love moves away. And  that it was not conquest but absolute surrender that could open the heart to love.

“Oh, how could I have forgotten such beauty in my search for logic and reason?? How could I have started reading on the ‘biology of chemistry of love’, terrified that my heart would overpower my logical brain. How can any brain chemistry or neurology explain such poignant honesty of the heart? Actually it can – but what good is prose in life without poetry? There is no substitute for pure unadulterated love. How telling it is of why in petty human misunderstandings there is no real reason to get sad and angry because many truths are simply hidden. Comprehension ignites compassion; Learning enlightens love. Just as love inspires learning.

“so really it’s not just a matter of “understanding men or women”, it’s understanding understanding.” (quote of an old long-lost friend.)

“And at last the honesty of acknowledging the truth about love was released.

“As a child I believed in love in spite of my visions of war. Till 28 I believed in personal love even after seeing hatred. How did I – who could give love so freely to everything else – restrict myself from believing in its power when it came to my own personal life and looked for answers in purely logic and reason? And have evaded from seeing the powerful love behind words and simply started seeing words like an arrangement of letters of the alphabet? I know why I did it – it was to avoid the pain of disappointment by those who did not mean their words – and now that folly has been rectified; the lodged bullet that blurred that vision removed. Words are the expression of our deepest thoughts, our innermost psyches – the purest form of an invitation into the chambers of the mind and the heart; as is music and painting and most art forms of course – but words by far the easiest to transmit and share. And love which I believed in as the most beautiful abstraction in the world since childhood spread out full force inside in every pore again from the unrestricted heart and I could express it through language again.

“I think when love gets held back by fear or not finding the right words to express itself, it comes out silently as tears. Or falls inwards like pricking icicles hurting the heart.

“And when love becomes part of one’s entire being again – one understands its force in the world, in the everyday. And one also understands that it is truly the absence of love that creates the horrors of the world. Some may say a love for power creates a mess. That is a blasphemy of using the word ‘love’ – ‘love’ is not what those power hungry people feel. It is a Greed for power, a greed for control, a greed for forceful assertion that creates the chaos in the world. As I walk down the street – it is so obvious……the power of love: It is love that makes the baker put his artistry in the delectable pastries, it is love that makes the artist pour out his soul on a canvas, it is love for their children or families that make men and women take up jobs they don’t like but to sustain a livelihood, it is love that makes people seek beauty, it is love for their work and their conscientiousness that make architects and engineers and all the professionals who we cannot do without build up the pillars and the infrastructure of the urbanscapes we dwell in, it is love that makes us smile for no reason when we feel happy, it is the love of a mother for her child that makes her do anything to get the best for him, it is love for one’s music that makes a musician produce such beautiful notes, it is the love of his work that makes the craftsman make those musical instruments, it is love for knowledge that makes the scientists and inventors of the world go to the amazing lengths of medical and technological advances and space travel that we have today, it is love for compassion that makes some people risk their own lives to help others…….on and on it goes………Love and a love for their work; or love and love for duty. That really is what makes the world go round. And of course ecology – but that’s another completely different aspect. But it is love that makes at least the human plane survive. At least the love of those who are the pillars that carry everyone else. And those who say love is foolish, presumptuous or the idea of fools have sadly perhaps never experienced genuine unconditional love, except perhaps from a mother.

All ideologies end up killing people. If you separate love from nonviolence you turn nonviolence into an ideology, a gimmick. Structures that are not inhabited by justice and love have no liberating or reconciling force, and are never sources of life.” – Jean Goss.

“It is sad to realize that in a sense the men who hound bars, the women who do the same in the seduction game, lonely inside, are actually all looking for love but trying to find it through temporary pleasures. Or perhaps that is all there is and they are genuinely happy in that physical expression of love, but I believe no person and animal can survive without love. A kind lady had once told me that love is often even more needed than bread. That love finds a way to provide bread. Which is why it is so beautiful, so wondrous. Love brings joy and joy generates peace. Of course peace becomes a whole different system of world politics and………oh well, that logical brain always has to butt in once in a while.

“But if love is so unimportant in life why do our greatest songs, our greatest epics, our most beautiful works of art always deal with the beauty of the presence of love and the ugliness of the absence of love (war)? It is love which gives us life and its absence death. And when we resurrect ourselves, it is due to our love inside. And death has its limits but it is truly love that is limitless.

“It is love that makes people cross oceans and mountains to bring back their beloved home, it is the understanding of the knowledge and power of love that gives the meditator nirvana. It is the echo of the beauty of first love that people try to recreate in all its innocence – no matter how much they try to rationalize. Einstein had said something to the effect once that how on earth can you ever explain in terms of chemistry and physics so important a phenomenon as first love. The chap was right of course. So when thoughts of that causes one pain, or a craving to recapture that sense of wonder and innocence and the unadulterated love in one’s heart – what does one do? One remembers just the love, that fire inside one’s heart and forgets the ups and down of the attachment factor in the past. And that fire within oneself then translates into a luminance of Love inside of the Here and Now.  That fire becomes one with all the other types of love inside and the light inside glows  inextinguishable. A supernova-of-sorts constantly regenerating…. And one is then at peace with one’s darkness too.

On the other hand, it is the absence of love that causes the worst horrors of life. Because hatred consists of the absence of love. War is the culmination of all the negative forces of the human psyche. And within it too emerge acts and flashes of incredible courage and love. Jealousy that causes some women to do horrible things to others is the absence of love for others’ better qualities. Isolating others because they are different in some ways is the act of withholding ‘group-love’ to psychologically torture another. The advanced Self realizes to churn out a powerful love from within oneself and not get caught by the immature dictum of society.

It is important to remember though that in a bustle to ‘exoticise’ love in other places, logic is not abandoned. Sometimes there is a trend to think that those who prefer solitude or are introverted may not need love, while those who always wish to be a part of big social groups are more “loving” in some ways. This premise is not entirely true. Rather, in highly communal societies the ‘groupism’ present is often not so much out of extreme brotherly love, but because there is a direct relation between bad infrastructure and tighter communities. The worse the infrastructure of a country, the tighter the communal camaraderie of its people – because they have to depend on each other for survival, not on the government. In more technologically advanced societies it is precisely because the infrastructure is more developed that groupism becomes a choice, not a necessity. A person’s individual capacity to generate love is independent of his civic structure. And this then starts off an entire new debate of inherited values, ingrained bonding abilities, and of individual love, communal love and the balance between the two………..but that’s another story. And another post for another day.

For now all I know is this : If we were told we only had 10 minutes to live, the only people we would remember are the ones from whom we learned and the ones whom we loved. And those who truly loved us. It is strange how clear life becomes when one thinks with a bucket list.”

– written during a bout of ‘madness’ in November 2008, during the stillness of nights on Rue Dizier, Old Montreal.

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LE BALLON ROUGE

34 minutes of your time that will bring back  the rawest and purest form of childhood’s  joys, tears, injustice, cruelty and redemption. And love that can speak in the language of silence. Happy Holidays and wishing you the best for 2011!

My little gift (thanks to youtube) to all my readers who have read my random words through this year, and especially to those who sent me beautiful mails, insightful comments. Your feedback makes it worthwhile to keep writing.

For a long time it was very difficult to get a copy of this gem of a film. It’s available on this link. Enjoy!

https://archive.org/details/LeBallonRougetheRedBalloon

and here (without the opening title) :

For more on Le Ballon Rogue : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Red_Balloon

& and a beautiful analysis of this film, done by author and illustrator Brian Selznick:  Here

O

Red December – Post 1

RED DECEMBER – 1

New York, December 1, 2010. In North American seasons, it seems more appropriate to say ‘Red October’ as the leaves change colours. ‘White December’ would seem more apt since most of the north has received its first snowfall by then. But for this December, I feel like writing three posts with a ‘red’ theme in common – Red – the colour of cherry-red lips, the predominant colour of Christmas wrappings and stockings, but most of all the colour of blood, of the heart, of the glow in a fireplace, and of Love.

I just returned from a week in Miami and Fort Lauderdale, cities I lived in for 2 years in 2006 and 2007 for work. Moving from Montreal, Canada, with its cold northern winters, the two Floridian cities were escapes to sun and sand and sea……the stunning turquoise blue waters of their Atlantic shorelines obliterating all the other problems and urban – sprawl lifestyle. Greedy to soak in the waters, I lived on the high floor of a condo on Pompano Beach directly overlooking the vast endless ocean. After two years of filling my eyes and ears with the colours and sounds of the ocean waves that I woke up to every morning, I returned back north. On this visit, after nearly 3 years, I met again those who were dear to me, those who were my friends; and after the hellos, I said goodbye more as a closure once again to those with whom I had shared talks and walks and an occasional drink on patios and on white sand beaches or gone on boat and canoe rides in the picturesque waters of the Atlantic ocean and the Florida Keys. Some friends will remain so forever, no matter how far the distance in miles and years. Here’s to lovely Michelle and Gladys and Debbie and Sharolyn – four versatile, multi-dimensional, incredibly good-hearted women, and to four other straightforward male buddies. Thank you all for your senses and sensibilities!

Florida Keys  

It often takes a visit back as a traveler to appreciate what you left or find closure and peace for why you did. It IS true that familiarity breeds contempt and scarcity creates value. That is sadly a truth about human nature. The scorching sun and the serene waters that I’d begun to take for granted towards the end of my stay there in 2007, bogged by the lack of intellectual or ethical values that predominated much of flashy-car-and-silicon-boob-and-loud-showing-off South Florida, reminded me that the warmth of the sun can be appreciated only after experiencing the bitter northern winters, and the fakeness that used to affect me could disturb me only as long as I allowed it to – for if I chose to look beyond the noise, I could always find a quiet little bench in a hidden boardwalk on a marina where the boats docked where I could sit and enjoy fresh oysters I’d bought from Mr. Fish on Pompano, or find quiet beaches away from the crowds and choose to bicycle and canoe without giving a damn of ‘what car I drove or someone else drove’ (a predominant showiness of status that is found most in South Florida and Los Angeles-area-California when you live there.) And I discovered that beneath the surface, there were many authentic, happy, laid-back people and friends who did care about Florida’s fragile ecosystems and had a joyous relaxed attitude, sunnily different than the neurotic “Go-Go-Go” hustle of the Big Apple or the overtly-intellectually-competitive climate of Cambridge, MA, that I had grown more accustomed to.

When I transformed into a traveler again, I became more open to the charms of the city that a fresh revisit can bring back, (unlike the fear I’d experienced while getting lost driving in Overtown, the most crime-infested neighbourhood in Miami; or another time when I naively was walking into a dangerous trap while buying something off Craigslist and was saved by a friend.) This time, I let it all be, and just went along without fear, focussing more on all the far better memories I had of the city. Fort Lauderdale brought back its lovely beaches and my favourite hangs behind porches of lesser-known gems of restaurants that looked out into the ocean. Sadly I saw on this visit that many smaller cafes and shops which I’d frequent had closed down due to the economic hit this region took during the recession. Chatty business-owners told me tales of how the economic crash had affected their lives and those of others. Some of those stories were sad, some were funny and a few outright bizarre. In another honest talk, a good friend of mine (who is a self-made entrepreneur and a rising star in the building trade, with a residential project-in-construction even on the exclusive Star Island that he walked me through,) explained to me that he bought his Porsches truly for their engineering, not as any ‘symbols.’ He explained how given a chance, most men who liked cars would like to own a Porsche – more for its speed and amazing engineering, not necessarily for any ‘show.’ Thanks to him I can now say I have experienced what driving a 2009 Porsche Turbo feels like ;-) (Still, nothing beats flying a humble Cessna…but that’s just a personal preference.)

And this time, with a renewed perspective free from any past preconceived ponderosity, Miami brought back its Latin flavours, its predominant whiffs of delicious Cuban cooking,  Spanish guitars and the heat of its warm sun-kissed Decembers.

I am no ethnic gypsy, just a metaphorical ‘gyspy’ due to my nomadic travels and the many cities I have lived and worked in, but what better way to start a Red December than the haunting strum of the musical mastery of a real gypsy group of Catalonian Romani gitanos who reside in Southern France – The Gipsy Kings? Though I had received training in classical dance for many years, for a couple of years later in my 20s I took a rigorous training in the style of dance known as Gypsy Flamenco. And it is hard to remain still when the Kings take off on their guitars and lively vocals. But for this post, I have attached one of their pure instrumental compositions – a sensuous Red rendition that stirs one’s inner passion, and reminds us once again of the poetry of love, of longing and long nights under an open sky, of the hopes and desires of timeless youth when hearts were open, and gazes held fire, and the flow of your blood pulsated against your skin with a Dionysian rhythm of an inspired frenzy surpassing the Apollonian mind……..

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