The City is Killing Me

It is a slow process, but it is a sure one. The city is killing me ever so slowly, and I feel certain that if I stay here my life will end up being shorter than it would be if I moved out into the countryside. I mentioned in an earlier post that I grew up there, in the countryside south of Copenhagen, and that I go back there often to visit my mom. I’m here now, and I’m reading my posts from last year and realising that I haven’t been all that good at following all the good advice I give there. I have been caught up in that busy life of being present at all the ‘important’ events, of being digitally represented on the social media platforms, of earning money for it all, and the result is that I haven’t been here in the countryside as much as I’d have liked to be. I haven’t been in nature as much as I would have liked to be.

So yes… the city is indeed killing me, with all its opportunity, with the light pollution at night, with the lack of a horizon, with the constant low hum of noise and with its millions of anonymous faces. It came to me as a realisation some time back, as I was walking home from a night out. It was a weird ambivalent feeling since I really like living in the city and to take advantage of all the cultural possibilities it offers. Today I was reminded about it as I got off the train in my hometown; my first breath of air as I stepped out of the wagon held so much freshness and so many tiny nuances of Spring that it almost shocked me into immobility. I hadn’t realised how much the Spring was progressing as I was moving through my life in the city. The scents of soil that is being stirred by weeds and flowers and of life returning to the black and white winter landscape of my tiny country! Those scents are so nuanced and full of so many impressions and ‘images’ from this life and remembered in the genetics of our flesh, that it’s a richness we should not be devoid in our daily lives. I believe these ‘images’ are very important for our spiritual life and for a richness of our minds, and to live a life in the city bereft of this in my daily life is what is killing me (besides pollution, immobility, stress and traffic).

I’ll stay in the city for a while yet, years probably, but eventually I will move out to live in the countryside to be close to the earth again. I am in no rush to depart this wonderful world.

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The Elusive Now

‘The mind is a great trickster, ever ready to tempt you into comparing what is with what was or what might be. Not content with peace, the negative mind seems to crave dissatisfaction.’ Swami Shankarananda.

I read that sentence earlier today as I was waiting in the waiting room at the doctor. I waited for 1½ hours before my number was up so naturally I got to read quite a lot of other sentences as well, but that one stuck because it is very describing of where I have been and to some degree still is in my life, and because it seems like it also describes where many of my friends find themselves in this modern society.

We’re always feeling either sorry for what we have lost or hoping for things to become better in the future. Instead of enjoying what we have now, or if we cannot find enjoyment in what we have then try to change it. It is much easier to grumble and mumble and think in circles about the injustices of the world or of how good life once was or how adventurous it will be in the future.

Now is so easily forgotten. Now – the beautiful fragile thing that is all alone in time, squashed between an immense past and the looming unknown of the future. Now that is all we really have, the one place in time where we are and where we act.

In Danish there’s a phrase that translates into ‘grabbing the bull by its horns’. I guess it refers to confronting your problems instead of running from them. Too many people are not grabbing the horns, they run and run and eventually they are going to be impaled if they don’t turn around and act. It’s impossible to run from problems, they will follow always. And for them to disappear, and for the bright future to become a reality, we have to act here, where we are, now.

I recognize the difficulty of this when I look around me; when I look at myself or at my friends. Acting takes courage and it takes a will to change, and it’s so much more comfortable to remain where we are, hoping, dreaming about things to come; ignoring the loneliness, the anger, the sorrow, the confusion, the melancholy of everyday life. We say we’re ‘happy’ or ‘ok’ or ‘content’ when really we know in our hearts that things could be much more true, much better, if only we would dare to act and change.

I’m not sure what it takes to reach this realization, and I’m not sure what it takes to go from that to actually acting on it. I have realized some of what I need to do to change and to create the possibilities for reaching a more harmonious state of mind, and I’m slowly beginning to act on it. It’s hard work since for me it involves changing my core beliefs and the very way I’m thinking. I’m trying to allow my brain to take control of my feelings (not completely of course, but more than they have been before). It’s funny really… for many years I thought that my problem was that I’d let my brain control my feelings too much, when really it was the opposite way around.

I think it’s different from person to person what the remedy is. How to reach the realization and how to act on it depends on individual tempers and histories, all I do know is that many people don’t act at all and so they don’t evolve. They get stuck in the same mindset and slowly they degenerate into unhappiness and lethargy. Most of them don’t even realize what is happening because it’s such a slow decent, but they feel a glimpse of it once in a while, when realizing that they’re not as happy as they used to be or that they’re not doing as much in their spare time as they used to do. They might have stopped cultivating their creative hobbies, they might not see their friends as often as they want to, they might have stopped making love as often as they want to or they might have stopped respecting themselves. And what answer to these foggy emotions and thoughts do they come up with? They dream of a better future, saying it’ll change soon, it’ll get better again. An excuse to not act and to not be in the now that is the only place where true change can happen.

Why do I write this here and now? Maybe because I’ve realized the importance of continuous change and evolution, maybe because I know how difficult it is to act and because I find it difficult myself. Or maybe just because I hope that someone will wake up to a new realization when reading this. That they’ll wake up to this one and only magnificent now.

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The chrysalis is breached

Today I wrote my first poem in years. These past few years (or maybe it isn’t really few years, maybe it’s more like six or seven years) I have been incapable of writing creatively. I have been incapacitated by love, studies and stress and maybe… just maybe… from having moved to the city. I’m not sure about that last statement, but I think moving away from nature and into a hive of thousands of people has done something to my brain. It seems constantly overloaded with impressions and people, and I have been incapable of filtering the unimportant ones out. An example could be how I look at every person I meet, when I walk down the main pedestrian street in Copenhagen, I always look at people’s faces and eyes, and I give each and every one a thought on the way. It’s a remnant of my past OCD where I collected everything; I could barely walk by a leaf or a stone without picking it up and bringing it home. Now I can do that, but I collect faces I guess. I’m trying to stop. I guess it could all be seen as part of my process of regaining my original personality, of getting back to who I would be without the depression and all its side effects.

Now, as I’m getting closer and closer to my core I am getting closer and closer to normal rationality and a normal emotional life, and I guess this leaves me more energy and cognitive space for being creative again, as I think creativity thrives best in a mind that’s not beset with troubles and leaden down by the toil of OCD (I know that many brilliant minds share their homes with OCD and compulsive behavior, I just don’t think mine works very well while sharing its space with such house mates). Therefore I was quick to say yes to a friends’ proposal that we should meet on a semi-weekly basis to do creative writing together. Well, maybe not together (maybe in time who knows), but in the same physical space, so that we can have ‘an excuse’ to get started again and so that we can get feedback on what we write (she’ll read this in a few minutes).

The poem was in Danish and I don’t think it’ll be shared here yet, maybe later, when it’s been revised a bit. I will hopefully write more soon, and hopefully some of them will be fit for public disclosure (and maybe some will even be in English).

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The fire inside all of us

I live in the city. I move amongst the masses. I sit in front of a computer. I am always doing something, but often that something is sitting still applying my brains on various tasks. I don’t see nature much these days…

Today I am in the countryside visiting my mom. She lives alone after my dad passed away last year and I try to visit as often as possible, so that she doesn’t have to do all the hard work of housekeeping and tending to the garden on her own. She’s getting older and is retired now, have been for a few years now. She used to be a nurse and she used to be able to take care of house and garden and kids and husband and work all at once. Now she appreciates the help and the company I supply and I appreciates the slower pace and the cleaner air of Home. And also I get a chance to contemplate the loss of my dad a bit more than in the city, it’s good and important to deal with it, and this way I can take it in smaller bites.

I also go to the countryside to be close to nature, albeit nature in Denmark means neatly kept plantations and square fields, flat grassy lands and only the occational knobby hill. It’s a cultural landscape, not wild nature as in the rest of Scandinavia, but it is the nature I grew up with, such as it is, and it makes me calm to be sorrounded by it. I need to see the dark night skies and the thousands of stars it offers and I need to rest my eyes on the occational Horizon, that I so greatly miss in the city.

Yesterday I burned. I burned all the dead and withered weeds and flowers from my moms garden, I had a bondfire that I fed all day. I love bondfires! All the members of my family have always loved bondfires… I think all Danes love them. We even have a national day for burning huge bondfires, it’s on midsummers eve in celebration of the light. I think bondfires and nature remind us of the important things i life. I think they remind us of Life itself. These days with all their time consuming digital gadgets and all the demands of social media seem to steal the time we would normally have spent on being in some kind of contact with nature, and we feel it! More and more often I hear of people living in the city who dreams of a simpler life away from the digital World, in touch with nature. I believe this is a growing tendency, I believe that humankind at least in the Western World is on the werge of parting roads: some are descending ever deeper into the digital world and embrasing every new gadget with curiousity and creativity and others try to minimize their use of it and get back in touch with nature at some level or another.

I thought of this yesterday as I burned the garden, smiling, enjoying myself. I thought of what it is that calls me and so many others back to nature. Now this is something I often think of, you might even say that this is central for many of my main interests: digital technology, communication, religion, biology and art. I will not go too deeply into these subjects here, since they deserve a post of their own in time. I will only say that I believe that there is a very clear line going from how we belong in nature to what most religions call God, and the things we encounter along this line are central for the future of humankind. I’m thinking of creativity, lust for life and eachother, compassion for living things, the potential of the unused parts of our brains and the light of our spiritual world. I am not a very religious guy, but I have a great and unwavering faith in humankind and of the compassion we possess, and I believe that compassion to be the fire by which God is fuelled, nomatter what religion you believe in.

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A Cancerous Growth

So today my brain overloaded… let me hurry to write that the headline is metaphorical, just so that none of the readers will worry too much about me. Yes, my brain overloaded! Not in the oh-what-a-surprise kind of way, but in the What-is-the-Matrix kind of way! I was given the choice between two pills and obviously chose the one that exposed the true nature of my world to me. It was a very big experience and a very incomprehensible one as well… I’m still digesting and might not be able to render my thoughts and emotions very well here today, since I’m still muddle in my brain. I have to go to work in a bit and will try before that to write a little bit about what happened about two hours ago.

Where to start… I’m listening to Elliot Smith: Needle in the Hay from the soundtrack of The Royal Tennenbaums by Wes Anderson… favourite director and cool song from strong scene… I’m weaving… The music is good for my mood though! This Autumn I began going to sessions at a psychologist. These past two years have been crazy and they’ve left me pretty shook up and confused about many things, so I finally decided to stop to take a look at the condition of my mind and soul. So far my psychologist and me have decided that I have four main areas of interest (or parts of my life which cause me trouble), we have also discovered that I have had a depression since puberty set in (to varying degrees of course) and finally we’ve discovered that I have found many creative ways to deal with the situation some emotional and some rational.

Now I have always considered myself to be a creature of emotion before rationality, although my intellects are fairly keen. Now in my sessions at the psychologist I’m asked to look at my thought patterns and to identify negative thoughts. I find this difficult, very difficult actually! I think it’s because these patterns of negative thoughts have had two decades to settle in and become part of my mind. I’ve realised that the things that triggers trouble in my mind are confrontations where the stakes are high and big changes in my life. Today I realised that whenever I have had such a confrontation or have had big changes in my life I have come out stronger afterwards… feeling better. Despite that fact my mind has done all it can to avoid confrontations and changes by making then into dangerous Beasts of the Unknown. That realisation had a tremendous impact on me. The sharp mind I pride myself of possessing has been working on false assumptions for two decades! Think of the uncountable mistakes I have made because of that, and think of the repercussions following all those wrong decisions! I was dumbfounded and just sat staring out the window while trying to encompass it all… my psychologist remark was ‘Bingo’… Very suitable. I felt right then and there like I was a cyst. Like I am layer upon layer of scar tissue and disease and wrongness and beneath it all is a person I have to re-discover.

That is the journey I’m setting out on now. I’m going to try to re-discover myself while ridding myself of all the layers of history, fear of confrontation, fear of change and of all the stuff, mental as well as physical, I have collected over the years. Phew! Good thing this realization came to me now and not in another two decades. When it did I had the profound notion that had much more time passed I wouldn’t have been able to go back. I would have been trapped in my own self-image, never knowing I was lying to myself… what a poor fate!

Ah well… that was a hasty bit of egocentric scribbling, I hope you’ll find it in your hearts to forgive me. It has been quite a monumental day for me!

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First listen to the bands of Roskilde 2013

Ah! As the winter has Denmark in a tight grip and the temperature dives below minus 10 degrees celcious, I am beginning to long for summer and blue nights and festivals! So I have spent the afternoon looking at the first few names announced for this year’s Roskilde festival.

There’s hip hop (not really my genre), elektronica and punk, and a bit of the more alternative stuff. The large names so far are Sigur Ros, Animal Collective and Rhianna. The last one was quite a surprise for a lot of the regulars t the festival, since it is traditionally considered a rock festival. Well… it hasn’t actually been a rock festival for more than a decade, since it has had lots of elektronic bands, hip hop acts and pop music playing there in that period.

What really have changed the face of the festival are the hipsters. They are also indirectly the reason why the festival now for the first time that I can remember hosts a main stream pop artist as one of its top names. I guess a statement like that would need an explanation, since a lot of hipsters might tend to dissagree with my analysis. Hipstery is the main fashion trend of today, it is what most people tends to follow, which is why there are so many fine little shops and bars that are opening up in the run-down parts of big cities all over the world, it is why the left wing has gained some more support than it has seen the past decade and it is why people are now dressing themselves presisely as they please… it is fashion to be unique and to be politically correct… it has become pop culture to be alternative. This is all very confusing for most people. People like myself who has always considered ourselves alternative are now only mildly updated on where to go and what to listen to. And people who are now alternative used to dress in the ways dictated by the mainstream trends and listen to pop music, unless off course if they were too young to follow trends themselves before the hipster revolution a few years back… then they truly are matured into alternativity from the innocemce of childhood.

Anyways, to get back to the point! My point with all this is that since hipsters are the pop people of today, and since hipsterfication dictates that festivals are alternative and therefore should be attended en masse at all cost, the rock, folk and alternative festivals of the world are now swarming with pop people. These pop people want to listen to the alternative music, since that’s what pop is about at the moment, but the big festivals need to cater for nostalgia as well… and what could be more nostalgic to a hipster than a bit of r’n’b from back when they were followers of that pop trend? Hence Roskilde festival has procured Rhianna to play this year.

I feel like I should finish this post by saying that I’m not in any way against the hipsterfication, sure some of us lost a bit of our exterior identity, but we gained so much more! I love how the city has blossomed over the past five years and I love how much good new music we get today, and how many cool shops and how much art we get to see opposed to just a decade ago. And I love how the left is gaining strength and all the thoughts and ideas that folow from that (although Danish politics can be a bit bleak in that asspect). And Roskilde festival… it’s a blast! There’s more partying and more good dance-able music than ever before, I love it, and I’m pretty sure I’ll be amongst the audience when Rhianna goes on stage in July, and I’m not even a fan!

PS. This is my favorite from this years program so far:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7pwTmu2-YGU

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It is alive, ALIVE!

So this is my first short post on my blog. It’s the first because beginnings are necessary to create a basis for continuity and continuity is a good trait of a blog as I see it. And It’s short because I, like about a million other Danes, have got the flu these days, so I don’t really feel like writing heaps of stuff today.

Now, what I will write today is a little bit about why I am starting this blog.

I’ve long had regrets about not doing enough leisure writing. I just finished eight years at uni and in that time I didn’t write much in the creative genres, despite the fact that I used to write lots of letters and poetry and other kinds of texts. I hope to remedy that by creating this blog. I might make other blogs simultaneously as I have a desire to write about different stuff. This first one will be about thoughts and ideas and everyday things… the narcissistic one of the lot, where I offer my point of view on different topics. The second one will be about science fiction and fantasy, be that in games, books, movies or whatever media. The third one I have planned will be with my poetry and prose and other such literary exercises.

Oh! And I like photographing as well, so I guess I’ll post a few of those from time to time as well, oh and music as well… I hope you’ll enjoy!

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