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Wednesday, 19 March 2014

This planet is a huge school.

I haven't been too active in my writing this past co
uple of months... mainly because I've been deciding what to do with my life. I still haven't decided but I am opening doors for myself, and that is something.
 I haven't been wasting though, and that is why I got inspired to write this post...
If there is one thing I am convinced of, is that this planet is a school. I'm so certain of it because learning is the prime activity of our lives/brains. Consciously or unconsciously. What do we get when we don't achieve what we wanted to achieve in something? "At least you learnt something". This is  not just an attempt at sympathy; this is also the main motor of our lives. I don't just mean academic minds and lives, but everyone's lives. Whether we are conscious of it or not, we are learning ALL the time. We are learning how systems work, how stuff works, how other people work, how our emotions work, we are learning words, we are learning lessons, we are learning skills. We make it a priority to send our children to education and in a weird weird we praise and value formal education (I say weird way because we let our students be completely overridden by crippling debt).
So I decided to take the matter to my own hands and educate myself, teach myself, everything I want to know.
I've always been quite independent with what I read. I've read books all my life, I choose them but I also consult others, I look on the internet or I ask friends that I respect what they are reading or read books they recommend. I'm the friend that reads that book you lend her. But also, I have two passions that at the moment, I can't properly afford to fund.
This are music and art. Its pretty general I know, but I've tried to bring them closer to my world by actually making music and making art, but also by listening to music and seeing art (which is everywhere!).
There is a third thing I decided to learn, and that is Russian, my father's language (well, technically he is Belorussian but Russian is also spoken there and there are more resources for learning it).
So, today as I write this post, I want to tell you that although I'm not AMAZING at any of these things yet, it IS possible to teach yourself, and it is easier than other activities, because the things you learn are the things you love and therefore, they feed you (internally).
I have painted for a couple of years, but I knew nothing about the technical aspects of drawing and etc so I got a book on it. All I do is set myself a little time and work through a couple of pages everyday day. Not too many, sometimes just one, and I do have days off. But I can tell you now that I can draw a pretty realistic bear!
For music, I feel that singing is the most natural thing and in my case, the most yearned thing. So I started to learn how to sing and play the guitar (I started pretty informally a couple of years ago) but now I got myself a book and started to read music. I also only do like one page a day or so...
Finally, I got a children's book on 'My first 100 Russian words' I stared by reading it casually, until my brain got used to it and I started studying it.
These days, I am happy to tell you that I just finished the first guitar book (pretty thin, simple and basic... but gives you a great sense of achievement). And two days ago I finished the Russian book.
I'm ready for the next stage and I'm also better at organising my time, as I really want to learn these things.
I know it isn't that easy. I know you have jobs to go to and I don't at the moment, but I will start working soon. But the point is not that. The point is not take on a lot of activities and work really hard... The point is that if you want to learn something, anything, you can teach yourself. There will be resources, for beginners, for advanced, for intermediate.. etc... and if you give yourself even twenty minutes a day, it really makes a difference, and if you do it every day, it really a difference fast.
You don't just have to go and learn what the world throws at your face and tells you its useful, no, you can choose what you want to know and be and be your own teacher, after all, that voice inside our heads is like a constant teacher too.
I'm happy I made a choice to learn. I'm proving myself that there are motivations apart from money (stronger than money) to do things.
This planet is a school, use it.

Friday, 10 January 2014

Back in Time...

So, this post is about where I am at the moment and why. Where? I am in Quito, Ecuador. This is the land that raised me, up till I turned 17 and moved to London, because of circumstances, not choice. I am back after living in England for 6 years and a half or so, if you want to know how old I am, just do the math. Why am I here? That is the hardest question. I think it was time to get back, it was time to face the life I left and the person I´ve become too.

Being back in Quito is so surreal, specially since they are such different worlds, Quito and London. Industrialised vs. developing world. Empire and colony, hot and cold, island and mountain, known and proud vs hidden and modest... I find contrasts between the two in almost every aspect! But the biggest I´ve found is the contrast between old and new. England is the old world and Ecuador and Latin America are the new world. Yet for me, Quito is the old life and London the new life. Yet here I want to make a small comment, globalisation, for better or worse (definitely for worse) has made the two places, Europe and Latin America, look strangely similar, specially in things like shops and fashion, but this is only a superficial similarity. The psyche of the people in the two places is different, especially the old people. Young people, because of the internet I believe, think quite similar in both places and seem to be interested in similar issues.

I actually always had two cultures in me, my mum being Ecuadorian and my dad being Belorussian (its very random, I know), but my father´s influence has only ever been genetic in me, I know nothing about his culture, and Ecuador is where I grew up. So Ecuador is by all means, my land.

When I left, I felt like a plant that was taken from one soil, planted in a completely different soil, made to grow and now, I´m back in the old soil... and all before I even ripe and give fruits! Sometimes this saddens me. I feel, like I´m 6 years late to the party. To everything. Everyone is bigger, they´ve graduated, some even had kids, and some of their kids are big... I missed out on everything. Supposedly the love stays and I´ve witnessed with my own eyes how the essence doesn´t change, but trust me, there is a special connection and beauty that happens when you spend real time with people, when you see them grow. Moving countries stops you from doing that, and although everything is new and fresh and exciting, it´ll never have the warmth of that familiar, of home, of the known. In a way, I understand gypsies, and I have had the privilege to explore the human mind in two languages and to really meet people, not just live of stereotypes.

Yes, I do think I am lucky enough to have experienced many cultures, two cultures to a big extent and now I feel like I see, I see far and wide but sometimes, flying away, my heart gets caught in the wind. Life is constantly changing. In England I had the opportunity to completely reinvent myself. I studied, worked, made my own enterprise... I didn´t have to hold on to the old hang ups of my childhood and school life of here in South America. I was able to change my views, my aesthetics, my life choices, my view of people. I grew to love people because of who they are much more than before, when my infantile mind was focused on strange concepts of popularity. This sounds like a fun adventure, but it was actually the hardest things I´ve ever had to do. We are unaware of how much our identity is based on the culture we belong to, conscious or unconsciously, yet we only really see it and get to question WHO we are, when we are taken away from the comfort of belonging to a land, to a people.

In a way, this is the best experience I´ve ever had. Seeing the country and the friends I grew up with after 6 years. It feels as if I just stepped into a time machine and now we´re all big, in the future or present. Here I am, in the time of the reckoner. Full of choices and life, right in the land that made me, and with the choice of returning to the land that freed me.

Sunday, 24 November 2013

I'm gonna start a revolution from my bed (desk)!

The summer left. It sunk it the deep colours and unexpected rains of Autumn. Its ok, all is well. Its natural to change. In case you haven't noticed, all is in absolute movement around us. We are changing, trying to find static things to hold on to will do nothing but damage. We must be dynamic, dynamic and kind, kind to others.

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Patriotism is an Act of Violence!

Here is the debate, what are the things we have caused and can be accounted for and what are the things we have not and are can therefore not feel responsible?
Nationality is as accidental as eye colour. We did not consciously choose them. We cannot yet say they are our fault or responsibility.
Another example is the current war in Iraq. People do not currently feel their actions or lack of them are part of the reason for this ongoing massacre, even though our life style might be part of the reason. Nonetheless we hear countless amounts of people feeling proud of this or that Empire’s achievements regardless of the destruction it brought to others. Maybe your ancestors were very active in it. I do not know. But I have seen people very willing to ascribe the achievements of certain historical periods upon themselves; and of course, we have a selective memory on what events really took place, and which ones we are ‘proud of’.
To me, to belong to a nation is a violent act as it starts the mindset of division we live under. The concept of otherness is one of the first steps towards violence. It justifies hurting other people, we thus create: the enemy. The argument of tribalism is far too removed from our current black tie politics. Thus I look at nationality as it currently stands.
But nationality is not the only division we accept; there is also race, religion and gender, just to name a few. We have not learnt yet to accept and acknowledge our humanity first? But no, we insist on wearing flags as drapery and as a poor excuse for selfhood, for an identity. Who are you? An English man? A Hungarian woman? A Congolese child? Or are you not David first? Are you not yourself first? An autonomous individual perhaps? A thinking-feeling-breathing being. I believe that before you subscribe to your assigned political identity you might want to have a look at the aspects of yourself that you are actually responsible for.
Nationality as such, for millions of human beings, is a very new thing. It may come as a shock for the English for example, who have a relatively old nation, to hear that there are over 30 new countries created after the 1990s. How would you feel if you were an old man from current Croatia but who grew up on former Yugoslavia before its dissolution in 1991? Who is he? A Croatian? A Yugoslav? A man. A human. With rights and an identity, regardless of politically designed boarders. We owed it to ourselves to have an independent outlook on political maps and divisions. Maybe you can see how to be a patriot is a difficult matter, a very confusing matter indeed, for millions of human beings. There are other examples of this, the artificially created nations and their manufactured culture, such as America the land of hamburgers from Hamburg and Israel who now wants to claim hummus as its very own. Humus comes from Hum, a city in Syria.
Please don’t think that with this article I am trying to undermine the feeling of community that belonging to a culture brings. I believe nationality and culture to be different to a great extent, and saying that, I do believe we can and should feel pride and joy about other people’s achievements. But in our world, to speak about the achievement of a nation has usually imperialistic or colonialist (or underdog) connotations. Culture is a very relative thing which usually means variety on our outlook on life. Whereas nationality usually brings political connotations as it is derived from boarders, not from common goals.
Speaking from a mixed background I perhaps have a more flexible outlook on this. I come from a nation where ‘our’ biggest achievement for a while was to qualify for a football cup. Perhaps you remember us, Ecuador. The whole country celebrated together as if, we did it together. I do agree that the sharing is all very nice, but looking at it objectively, it was all a bit artificial and there was nothing of substance to really cheer about. We all went back to our lives, judged by our passports. My other half belongs to a recently dissolved ex-Soviet Union country. The day I was born, Belarus, where I was born, gained independence from the Soviet Union. Shall this inflame my chest with a feeling of passionate patriotism and belonging? No. Why? Because some political figures that do not remotely care about me or the people (Belarus is still a nation under a dictator, look it up) signed a paper? No. To identify me, my personhood, my mind, my body, my experiences with a nation, is simplistic, is separatist. It would be a lazy outlook that we have designed to classify fellow human beings and to put them in boxes. We enjoy the classifying and standardising of everything, after all, this is a confusing world, is it not? And getting to know something is way too hard, is it not?
I do understand that belonging to a nation such as England, with its proud history, which I do appreciate in terms of inventions for example, can become overwhelmingly appealing for someone. Its might really want to make you go out and run and shout in the streets: Im English goddammit! Well done me! I made the Victorian era myself! Woooo! Rather than, is what am I doing with my life of any consequence? We only have to have to look upon Rhodesia, named after Cecil Rhodes, one man, one name to see the strangeness of the act. I would feel very weird indeed to be proud of my children being from the country Cecil Rhodes ‘invented’ so to speak. I would feel proud of the daily smile on my children faces, not on them belonging to this random territory.
Yet to subscribe to a nationality, to this principle of division is to me, to ignore the long history of humanity, our migration, our sharing, our eclectic cultural heritage, it doesn’t matter where you are or who you are, you have a little bit of everyone in you. Time to act like it. Time to feel proud of the work you do every day for whatever piece of land you happen to be standing on, rather than reminiscence on a past you might not even understand properly. It’s time to acknowledge your humanity first, our similarities. The sense of community will naturally follow when we actually interact and respect each other. A community is formed of people you have shared interests with, not interests bestowed upon you by politicians and individual interests.
One day I want to hear a story that goes like:
“Once upon a time there was a planet where people feared each other, they built walls to hide from each other, but still looked upon others to make their life decisions. Once upon a time there was a planet where people had everything they needed but they denied it from each other, because they felt different from each other. Once upon a time, there was such a planet, were everyone was waiting to be saved by another, instead of saving themselves and one another. Once upon a time there was a thing called patriotism which kept them away from one another. Believe it or not, that is how people lived in this so called planet. Once upon a time.... but not anymore.”

Good bye

By: Eliza Veretilo

Monday, 21 January 2013

My kid's crippled wings...

I believe in transcendence. I feel transcendence. I am a witness of the unbreakable human spirit rising from the ashes into greatness, into eternity. That's what I understand by transcendence and I believe in it. I believe in actions done where there was no hope left, and from them, real changes, real miracles happening.
I believe in happiness defeating despair. I believe that we are able to create our own happiness and I believe in meaning. I believe in the infinite capacity of human beings and I believe in our inherent goodness. I look at the horrible and chaotic world around us and I still believe. Why? How? I see ignorance as our enemy, when we ignore, when we know better but don't act better, that's where our downfall lays, and a pretty deep downfall too.

For a month or so I've been working at a Center for young offenders, delinquents and problem kids. The interesting thing about these misfits is that instead of being completely impossible to rule and complete mavericks and different... they are not. They are just like each other kid, except with less to loose. They are not original heroes, they are children who have fallen through the gaps of a system, a system designed so that some inevitably loose. Here are the losers, craving they last stance to worthiness: street credibility. They are victims and also perpetrators of their situation. They were told they can have no dreams and they believe it thus they don't try. The spit out what the media feeds in. Yet they have so much energy...

Give them a life-line and watch them grab it. Give them some light, an exit, help them make sense, and they take it. They are a good thermometer to measure what works and what doesn't, because these traumatized souls require you to explain why they need to do this or other exercise... and if you have a reason, they will do it. Thus I still believe in transcendence, because I see their broken creativity try to be and to float on a murky sea where they live. Transcendence doesn't deny struggle. I work with a group of four girls, I'm gonna try to re-establish their brain connections. They need colours, shapes, music, they need something that grabs their attention but doesn't break them. They are too young to decide the rest of their lives, I am too young to decide the rest of my life too, but they are not too old to patch up the gaps, to re-find their kindness, their softness, their intelligence, and with that at hand, we can do anything.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

The somnambulists

The day... the amazing synchronicity, mainly. I can see them clearer. Maybe.

Here is a story, or the recalling of a dream...

The world of the somnambulists. Half asleep. Eyes always squinting as if because of the light. Half way between truth and lies. Ahhh but they wont turn around, since they prefer the ground. Crawl and howl! Twice she fell through the gap. When the dream feels this real, its hard to wake up.. He was walking around, yes, in circles, and then he told her a poem. First he asked for permission and dipped his feet into a small pond. A puddle of grey-ish tones. She claimed not to have much time left. Hurry. He started. You do rock me like a ship in the open sea. She could feel all the feelings but she couldn't see the sea. She had to go, like a wave. She was being called from another world. The call from another world. He wrapped his thoughts in a towel and mounted them onto a horse. Off we go. She woke up in a sweat and yes, there was an injured bird in her bed. Its feathers red. Dark red blood on bright red feathers, the bird also had some blue feathers. She turned around and curled up. Blanket in hand. She tried to ignore the bird, the elephant in the room and the day ahead. The bird suddenly started to make a sound. She recognized the first eerie, then familiar sound... children screaming in a playground.... She was then back in school running around with all the little children, scattered around like lost butterflies. The sleepers are expert escapists, specially when it comes to escaping their own selves.
She was her, she was her teacher, she was a man with a beard all dressed in grey, all at the same time. They all tried to fit into a small box. So small. She woke up out of discomfort. The bird was by then gone and the day was thus born. She got her legs out of the covers and slid her feet into a pair of sleepers., to avoid cold meetings with the floor.
The only problem with the world of the somnambulists is that it assumes that anybody, at all, is awake.

dreaming state.

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Saving the world through a mustard seed.

It's 2012. The world is pretty mad. Political instability, economic crises, war going on even though we have been talking about peace and the brotherhood on man for a while. Technology is on a role, each new gadgets does something even more incredible and therefore you do even less. And then there is world hunger and world obesity going on at the same time. There is no Berlin wall falling or Chinese Revolution or the discovery of new lands happening, but anyway you see it, these are crazy times.
I am sure not to be the only one to have had this thought of changing the world, of saving the world! I have heard it so many times its almost a cliche actually. But what can we actually do?
I found a way, a something that gives me hope because it is so ethical and sustainable that looks like a way of saving the world.
Perhaps you have heard of organic farming, perhaps you think its something far removed and practiced by hippies or something. Its more than that. Organic farming is a way of fixing so many of the issues that make our world so crazy.
Organic farms are first of all, completely ecological and don't use oil based pesticides which are a big source of pollution (the fact that they don't use these pesticides is what makes them organic). They work with the ecosystem and allow natural environments to be what they are meant to be. The land stays fertile and your food is healthier. Because this farms are focused on local action and the people who work in them are mainly volunteers, this farms create a real sense of community. You know you grows the food you eat! Therefore you have more communication and become more involved with the area where you live, which means that if the council wants to build a bridge for example, on top of a beautiful garden, you know what's happening and can take action. Imagine if that happened around the whole world!
One of the reasons why there is a famine in Africa is because much of the water that can be used for growing crops is redirected for growing palm oil and roses and different things that Africa exports to Europe (mainly). The idea is that the money made by selling the exported goods aids the economy. The problem? People don't have land and water to grow the food they need to survive! Its a terrible situation that could be fixed with thinking locally. The big businesses are taking it all, we need to reclaim it back and food is definitely a good place to start. Caring about organic food means that you will add more vegetables into your diet and less crap, which also targets the obesity problem, by eating healthier and having a relation with what you eat. My claim isn't that you should go work in an organic farm, but if you have time, perhaps its not such a bad idea. Also, money has a voice now a days, if you choose to buy local organic produce rather than mass produced 'who knows what it's in it' imported stuff, you will be doing a bit both for your health, and for the world.

This is a great organic farm in the edge of London, check it out: