What if I’m giving up too soon?

When does the struggle to know the purpose of life end? Or can it at least sit quietly at the back of my head?

This has been a week of sadness. Yesterday I had a panic attack. Funny, I almost forgot how it feels. I always almost forget how things feel until they come back to me. How crushing sadness and forgetful happiness can be. How waking up and moving your limbs can be a feat. How the ray of sunshine warms my skin, how the rain and cold get into my bones.

The same questions resurface with a new force – is this worth it? Is there anything that will make my life feel like a worthwhile pursuit? These thoughts got out from the wrinkles of my brain, even though I carefully hid them in this jungle. I try to catalogue them, put them on the shelves that would fit into arbitrary categories of what my life should be and what I want it to be. Soon the shelves crack and my thoughts go back to their unavoidable state of entropy, like pieces of a puzzle from completely different boxes.

How much do you weight, thoughts? How come other thoughts, weighting the same number of letters and words, do not weight on me as much as you do? Is it possible that you occupy more space and have more mass then some of your siblings and distant cousins? Maybe that’s why you don’t want to leave me – you feel at home in the cracks of my skull and refuse to move out. Go find somebody else who would want you. Your time has passed, thoughts. I should have broken up with you the day I met you. You bring doubts to everything I do, question every decision, judge me when I need your support.

Am I giving up too soon? When should I give up on my life and try to get the little things that would make me happy in my dull life instead of endlessly chasing the big ones?

Maybe I should have a family and hope that my biological material will do better in the next generation. Perhaps it’s time to put the weight of my hopes and dreams on somebody else’s shoulders; holding them hostage to my half-forgotten passions and unrealised potential. Maybe they’ll make it, but what if those pieces of me, carelessly scattered in my family-to-be, rearrange themselves to form the same doubts and fears?

Maybe I should stay lonely, wait out these years until I can safely exit the game nobody can win. Maybe I shouldn’t wait and end it, saving myself disappointments along the way. What if I don’t wait this out long enough? Maybe the wrinkles carved into my body need to match the wrinkles in my brain in order for me to understand – what’s it all about?

I told you many times, thoughts, that I will see a specialist, a lawyer for unwanted thoughts, and I’ll divorce you. I’ll turn my passions into after-hours shameful hobbies reminding me of what could have been. My obsessions will turn into passing thoughts I’ll be able to shake off like a shiver in a summer rain. I’ll settle down choosing a life of a quiet impersonation of myself.

But maybe not just yet.

*written back in May.

Do I have the time?

It’s a funny thing how we speak of you. It’s as if I own you and control you. The way I speak and think of you is a fallacy of my ancestors as well as my own. I have you, I cease you, I can amend you. I can put you in a sentence trying to contain you; make you less unruly. It might be an error of the languages we perfected across generations or a way to keep us all sane. We can fit you in a sentence and make it appear as somehow the world is orderly.

You’re not malleable, you pass me by even with my best intentions of stopping you. I can’t cease you yet I can say that I have you. I can only live with you and try to make peace with you. I can live in your excruciating paws and make the best of you on my good days. Or let you consume me on my bad ones.

Even when I think of you, time, you outsmart me. How do I reconcile all the things I could do with you? How can I trick you into believing that my existence matters? And I hope that it does and it will, everybody does. Without you, although it’s impossible and something that I can’t imagine, how could my life be so precious?

What I can do with you comes from my privilege. How I think of my future is a gift I was given by the system I happened to be born into. The community I was raised in was pure luck, but the opportunities I had been given were not. It was with your passing that I was given more than the others. I was given you in abundance it seems, so much so that I can think of you and me as I was, I am and I will. Even though I say ‘I’ you’re inseparable from me. And I hope we won’t part for decades to come.

Future is something that we thought of thinking of you, time. An abstract concept of our existence that hasn’t yet come. Us in the future makes us just a little bit less unsettled about growing old and finally giving up on a fight we’re doomed to lose. It’s a concept of you that has already become the past as I write it in the present that has already gone.

What can I do with you? I want to tell stories, write them, live them and share them with people who might be moved by them. You, time, are a part of every story we tell. You rule me as you rule the rest of us. I hope I will do you justice and the people who don’t have you as much as I do. I hope I can give you to others so they will have a bigger piece of you too.

I don’t have you, I can’t cease you, but maybe, just maybe I can give you to somebody else. Should I even try? There are people who have nothing and everything and they weren’t given you in abundance as I was. Am I stuck in my own delusion, thinking I can redistribute you? Maybe I am, like others before me, who taught me to speak of you this way.

“Nothing good happens in the world by being happy and cozy” – Free Solo (2018)

For Alex Honnold the danger of death is more immediate than for others. Free Solo, a documentary directed by Jimmy Chin and Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi beautifully captures Honnold’s struggle to realise his dream – free soloing El Capitan in Yosemite National Park. Climbing 3,200 feet of sheer rock took Alex 3 hours and 56 minutes. The practice, however, took years. He was the first to came out of this challenge alive.

This documentary gives a glimpse into a community where death is not a distant worry. Where simple mistakes, like putting your thumb in the wrong place have grave consequences and usually one outcome. Yet despite the dangers it is wonderful to see the portrayal of Alex, of people who care about him, of other climbers who tried but failed or who don’t dare to. How they think and where do they think their limits lie.

What makes this film different is that nobody claimed to understand Alex and his need to defy the limits of human achievement. The cinematography captures the beauty as well as horror of the human achievement. Seeing a human on a steep rock fighting to stay alive and conquering his fears makes you feel small. Yet, it gives you hope that no matter how small we are some of us will defy all odds. “You will face your fears because your goal demands it” Hannold says.

You have sympathy for Alex, you watch him struggle and achieve what no one has done before him. Yet, most of us won’t ever understand him because, as he said of his girlfriend Sanni, want to be happy, fulfilled and have a good time. That’s not his goal. He wants to pursue his path with excellence. I think this also goes for the documentary crew, who needed to take on far bigger risks than a regular crew.

Their worries are discussed numerous times. It is rare to see documentaries that are aware of how their filming might influence the process of what’s being filmed. How this project might turn out to be a distraction and contribute to Alex’s death. Both Alex’s passion for free soloing and the filmmakers’ passion for documenting incredible stories comes through.

Is it love that I’m feeling?

All my loves were abrupt, dramatic, short, intense and they seemed to be forgotten quicker than the last one. Love never made me happy – not long term. It made me powerful, merciless or unsure, unstable and crushed. Love made me think and act differently – there was a time when I suddenly wanted children or could give up travelling or changed my taste in music completely.

From the latter one I haven’t yet recovered and I don’t think I ever will. Till this day every song is a faint lingering of a love almost forgotten. I can trace every band, every chord, every voice to a person, to a moment, discussion or fight. Music is a stamp of time, a mark of relationships unrealised, loves not fulfilled, mistakes and words not forgiven.

In two or three years it will be a decade since my struggle with love started. I’ll be in my mid-twenties. Only this year I experienced a love that felt whole, but not all-consuming, abrupt but steady. I did not think of changing my life, I did not want to move across the continent, change my career, preferences, hobbies, myself. I felt equal. I felt as if we are the same but very different and was at peace with it. I didn’t feel the need to change my mind as quickly as I have made it up.

We’re sixteen years and a continent apart. Our minds think very differently, but at our core there are coincidences and commonalities that feel wonderfully odd and unbelievable. It was barely a romance that stemmed from a friendship that grew quickly. Yet, it feels like it will blossom for years.

So is it love that I’m feeling? Is it a more mature and responsible kind that I’ve never known? I don’t know if I’ve changed as a person or found an equal. Has my relationship to people and time changed? We knew that this odd week of togetherness will end. I knew I will have to let go, even though normally I wouldn’t. It’s still different.

I think what changed was my relationship to time. I don’t see it as an enemy anymore. I look forward to getting older for the first time and seeing what the time will bring. I enjoy my youth and take full advantage of it, but I’m at peace with its passing. I have a curiosity not intertwined with jealousy. I want to see if he has another kid, grows his business, maybe remarries or divorces again, travels. I want to see where I will be, but I’m not scared or already disappointed with the future that is yet to come. I want to see us on our very different paths in 10, 15, 50 years. I want to see us reunite one day but I’m at peace if we don’t. I’m okay with change.

Is it love without jealousy? It’s an odd feeling – being at peace with myself. Is it love without expectations? I love without sadness or happiness. I love the comfort of knowing that things will change.

Is this an adult, mature love that I’m feeling? Whatever love this is, it feels liberating.