An Honest Conversation

Photo by Anas Alshanti on Unsplash

I acknowledge that it’s been a good while since I’ve blogged the way I used to, and with good explanation.

I don’t know what to say, but I will say this: I don’t feel the same way about writing anymore. It used to be this thing where I had my own little space on the internet where I could speak my mind, where I could let my heart run wild, where the only thing stopping me would be the speed of my fingers, but it’s not the same anymore. The worst part: I know why, but I wish I didn’t. Knowing the reason behind a problem is sadly not doing anything to solve it, and that makes me very annoyed.

You wouldn’t believe how many half-finished drafts I have that I wish I had finished, so many songs I’ve written but none of which I’m proud of, so many ideas, but none of them good, and sometimes, I feel like stopping. Just letting all this go to the dogs, and starting over, but I’m sick of starting over. So, instead of complaining about my absolute lack of motivation, I am still keeping at all the things that I love.

And because, in my head, this blog has morphed into having an audience of one, I would like to remind you that these doors are always open for conversation. Honest, heartfelt conversation. So if you have something to say, any of you, I encourage you to let it out and let it go.

It will be a huge surprise if I don’t delete this in two days. Also, good stuff is definitely coming. Don’t worry.

Trickster Trust

Photo by Karly Santiago on Unsplash

Also stolen from Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

(please don’t copystrike me)

I believe that the original human impulse for creativity was born out of pure trickster energy. Of course it was! Creativity wants to flip the mundane world upside down and turn it inside out, and that’s exactly what a trickster does best. But somewhere in the last few centuries, creativity got kidnapped by the martyrs, and it’s been held hostage in their camp of suffering ever since. I believe this turn of events has left art feeling very sad. It has definitely left a lot of artists feeling very sad.

It’s time to give creativity back to the tricksters, is what I say.

The trickster is obviously a charming and subversive figure. But for me, the most wonderful thing about a good trickster is that he trusts. It may seem counterintuitive to suggest this, because he can seem so slippery and shady, but the trickster is full of trust He trusts himself, obviously. He trusts his own cunning, his own right to be here, his own ability to land on his feet in any situation. To a certain extent, of course, he also trusts other people (in that he trusts them to be marks for his shrewdness). But mostly, the trickster trusts the universe. He trusts in its chaotic, lawless, ever-fascinating ways–and for this reason, he does not suffer from undue anxiety. He trusts that the universe is in constant play and, specifically, that it wants to play with him.

A good trickster knows that if he cheerfully tosses a ball out into the cosmos, that ball will be thrown back at him. It might be thrown back really hard, or it might be thrown back really crooked, or it might be thrown back in a cartoonish hail of missiles, or it might not be thrown back until the middle of next year — but it will be thrown back. The trickster waits for the ball to return, catches it however it arrives, and then tosses it back out there into the void again, just to see what will happen. And he loves doing it, because the trickster (in all his cleverness) understands the great cosmic truth that the martyr (in all his seriousness) can never grasp: It’s all just a game.

A big, freaky, wonderful game.

Which is fine, because the trickster likes freaky.

Freaky is his natural environment.

The martyr hates freaky. The martyr wants to kill freaky. And in so doing, he all too often ends up killing himself.

The Martyr vs. The Trickster

Photo by Fred Kearney on Unsplash

Stolen from Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

We all have a bit of trickster in us, and we all have a bit of martyr in us (okay, some of us have a lot of martyr in us), but at some point in your creative journey you will have to make a decision about which camp you wish to belong to, and therefore which parts of yourself to nourish, cultivate, and bring into being. Choose carefully. As my friend the radio personality Caroline Casey always says: “Better a trickster than a martyr be.”

What’s the difference between a martyr and trickster, you ask?

Here’s a quick primer.

Martyr energy is dark, solemn, macho, hierarchical, fundamentalist, austere, unforgiving, and profoundly rigid.

Trickster energy is light, sly, transgender, transgressive, animist, seditious, primal, and endlessly shape-shifting.

Martyr says: “I will sacrifice everything to fight this unwinnable war, even if it means being crushed to death under a wheel of torment.”

Trickster says: “Okay, you enjoy that! As for me, I’ll be over here in this corner, running a successful little black market operation on the side of your unwinnable war.”

Martyr says: “Life is pain.”

Trickster says: “Life is interesting.”

Martyr says: “The system is rigged against all that is good and sacred.”

Trickster says: “There is no system, everything is good, and nothing is sacred.”

Martyr says: “Nobody will ever understand me.”

Trickster says: “Pick a card, any card!”

Martyr says: “The world can never be solved.”

Trickster says: “Perhaps not … but it can be gamed.”

Martyr says: “Through my torment, the truth shall be revealed.”

Trickster says: “I didn’t come here to suffer, pal.”

Martyr says: “Death before dishonor!”

Trickster says: “Let’s make a deal.”

Martyr always ends up dead in a heap of broken glory, while Trickster trots off to enjoy another day.

Martyr = Sir Thomas More.

Trickster = Bugs Bunny.

I’ll Come Back When I’m Ready

My friends and I have been talking about this a lot. I’ve been thinking about this a lot, too.

My immediate circle of friends and I agree upon one thing – that this year has been an absolute force to reckon with. The stuff that we have done in the last few months alone, and the things we’ve learnt, have been beyond epiphanic. I’m at a loss for words when I try to describe how real and challenging and rewarding this year has been. I have never felt this alive, and I have never felt this scared.

You ever do something so out of league it surprises you that you even had the nerve? That’s essentially how my year’s been going so far. Everything from attending a fellowship for Instagram, performing a live audience, flying to Darjeeling on my own, to opening an Etsy shop, to making new friends, I done it all this year. I done it all. Some of them exceeded my expectations, some turned out fine, and some, well. Some been shi**y.

YLAC, for example, opened up so many doors for me, not only in the outside world, but in myself, too. The Counter Speech Fellowship with Instagram has been my biggest achievement yet, and I cannot explain how big of a feat it has been. Guys. I used to HATE Instagram. I hated it to the core. I detested the whole idea of communication via the social internet, mostly because I was scared. I was afraid I’d lose myself in a rush to prove myself to a disconnected audience, to pretend that connections were real when they were the exact opposite, and worst: I thought I’d lose myself, trying so hard to be the person I wished I was but never would be.

I hated Instagram. I hated sharing. But now I don’t.

Achievement? Yes, sir. Gimme a pat on the back, I deserve it.

Then there’s stuff like Etsy, which I did in the most sudden, random outburst of creative energy I have ever experienced. I had a little artwork lying around, I like money, I combined the two ideas, boom, Etsy.

It didn’t work out lol

I got so caught up in the idea of selling my ideas and my thoughts to people that I forgot that this is supposed to feel good. My art is supposed to heal me, before it even tries to heal anyone else. So I left Etsy at that, feeling slightly disheartened about the whole thing.

Just this evening, the universe sent out the words I needed, as always, in the form of my mom and her sage-like advice. She said, and I quote, “It’s good to try something and realize you’re not ready for it. One day, when you put your heart to it, you will be.”

To all the people who are reading this and feeling like you’re being pushed down by the weight of your own expectations, I say this — just because you did something wrong doesn’t mean you’re bad at it, or that you suck, or that your worthless without this thing to feel proud of. It just means you ain’t ready, son. Take your time. Chill. Do something that makes you feel at ease. Keep trying. Don’t stop trying. But don’t rush it. Do more of the stuff that builds you up to the thing you’re not ready for. Build yourself up to that strength. When you’re ready, you’ll know. Let me know, too. I’ll cheer for you.

A Connected Commonwealth

This essay won me a bronze medal. Yay!

9 January 2007.

A man in circle-rim glasses and in a turtleneck announces the launch of a revolution. 

In a keynote address at the Macworld Conference and Expo in San Francisco, California, the visionary Steve Jobs made the iPhone public for the first time.

Nobody could have foreseen the future from there. 

What began as the launch of a product kicked off the beginning of the biggest, most powerful revolution this world has ever witnessed.

As of today, 2.5 billion people own smartphones, and 56.1% of the world’s population is connected to the internet. Every day, thousands of people gain access to the internet, and subsequently, gain access to a whole new universe of resources.

Stephen Hawking was right in saying that “we are all now connected to the internet,” but there is still a long way to go before the entire world is truly connected. The future of the internet, in my view, will begin once virtually everyone has a safe and reliable way to access the internet and make the most of its services. 

There is, however, one major caveat to our imminent future. The online world facilitates methods of communication that wouldn’t exist in real life. By distancing ourselves from connecting in reality, we risk creating a vicious cycle which becomes increasingly hard to sustain real-life connections. 

By sentencing ourselves to a mode of only digital connection, be it through social media, news sites, blogs or just Wikipedia pages, the lines between digital and real society start to blur. We might start to lose our idea of social responsibility, replacing patience and politeness with instant gratification and the power to use our voice without consequences. 

If we go down this road, we will very surely be the architects of our own doom. Own our creation could, in the end, become our undoing, as all our current principles of social livelihood will fade away. In humanity’s endless quest to be social and connected to all, we might end up doing exactly the opposite.

Is this what our future holds? Like how Robert Frost predicted, will the world end up in ice? Cold, dark and lifeless?

Will man’s finest creation be his eventual end?

Fear not, reader.

There is hope.

Helen Keller famously said that “the world is full of suffering, but it is also full of overcoming it.” Likewise, we as a species might not always make the best decisions. We make mistakes and we pay the price. But no matter what the obstacle ahead of us might be, together, we always overcome it. We wouldn’t be human if we didn’t fight back.

In the years to come, more and more people will gain access to the internet, and by about 2035, the entire world will, for the first time, be truly connected. 

As social media’s importance in contemporary social life continues to rise, influencers all over the world will begin to use these platforms for more goodwill reasons than mere self-promotion. We will organize marches, cleaning drives, non-profit organizations–anything that connects people in the real world while also doing our bit to fix the planet.

With millions of new children entering schools every year, the online education field will skyrocket. Students will supplement their school knowledge with a fun and free way to learn beyond their current level. New branches of education will open up to the youth through the internet, giving them the opportunity to explore the unknown and the paths less travelled, and they will be given the chance to decide their career options for themselves. Online courses in environmental management will be on the rise, and so will children’s ideas to reduce the effects of climate change.

The internet has the power to break all socio-economic barriers that were once thought to be the most powerful man has ever seen. As internet usage becomes more secular and open-minded, so will the people influenced by it. Gender bias, racism, and casteism, to name a few, will be completely eradicated as we will become more aware of the rights every human deserves. 

YouTube, amassing over 400 hours of video per minute, will become the hub that facilitates this social paradigm shift. The power of visual content will be used to move the public, moved to do something good for society.

I know this sounds utopian. But a hundred years ago, women’s voting rights would have seemed utopian, too. This could very well be our future, where we all connect through the internet and spread love, not hate. This future could be the beginning of our species going forward as a galactic dominator. 

But, for this future to be a reality, we must be careful. We must be fully aware of the power the internet has over our decisions. We mustn’t become reckless and let our invention get the better of us. 

Take care of that, and our future will be the birth of a new, digital era. One where the possibilities of mankind will be endless. 

On Love — Khalil Gibran

Then said Almitra, Speak to us of Love.
     And he raised his head and looked upon
the people, and there fell a stillness upon
them. And with a great voice he said:
     When love beckons to you, follow him,
     Though his ways are hard and steep.
     And when his wings enfold you yield to
     Though the sword hidden among his
pinions may wound you.
     And when he speaks to you believe in
     Though his voice may shatter your dreams
as the north wind lays waste the garden.

     For even as love crowns you so shall he
crucify you. Even as he is for your growth
so is he for your pruning.
     Even as he ascends to your height and
caresses your tenderest branches that quiver
in the sun,
     So shall he descend to your roots and
shake them in their clinging to the earth.
     Like sheaves of corn he gathers you unto
     He threshes you to make you naked.
     He sifts you to free you from your husks.
     He grinds you to whiteness.
     He kneads you until you are pliant;
     And then he assigns you to his sacred
fire, that you may become sacred bread for
God’s sacred feast.

     All these things shall love do unto you
that you may know the secrets of your
heart, and in that knowledge become a
fragment of Life’s heart.

     But if in your fear you would seek only
love’s peace and love’s pleasure,
     Then it is better for you that you cover
your nakedness and pass out of love’s
     Into the seasonless world where you
shall laugh, but not all of your laughter,
and weep, but not all of your tears.
     Love gives naught but itself and takes
naught but from itself.
     Love possesses not nor would it be
     For love is sufficient unto love.

     When you love you should not say,
“God is in my heart,” but rather, “I am
in the heart of God.”
     And think not you can direct the course
of love, for love, if it finds you worthy,
directs your course.

     Love has no other desire but to fulfil
     But if you love and must needs have
desires, let these be your desires:
     To melt and be like a running brook
that sings its melody to the night.
     To know the pain of too much tenderness.
     To be wounded by your own under-
standing of love;
     And to bleed willingly and joyfully.
     To wake at dawn with a winged heart
and give thanks for another day of loving;
     To rest at the noon hour and meditate
love’s ecstasy;
     To return home at eventide with grati-

     And then to sleep with a prayer for the
beloved in your heart and a song of praise
upon your lips.

Photo by Kamal Bilal on Unsplash

Uncertain and Afraid

Photo by Alfred Kenneally on Unsplash

Forgive me in advance if this post doesn’t seem like your cup of tea. I’m unspooling a lot of thoughts from my head at the moment, but fear not, I’m fine. I’m just taking my time to speak my mind.

I’ve been mesmerised by this poem lately after watching it on Vlogbrothers, called September 1st, 1939, by W.H. Auden. Like John, or even more so than him, I only treated the poem as a glimpse of the past, a past I could never fully understand. As a fifteen-year-old, I barely understand my own time, let alone an era of war that existed eighty years before I did. But as I read the poem again and listened to John, I found that there were certain parts of the poem that I could comprehend.

I find myself in this spot of my life where I feel responsible for things I’ve never done or never intended to do. There’s this strange aura around me right now that’s both very new and very discomforting, to say the least, which makes me feel terribly guilty of my actions, and until now, I didn’t know what was causing this.

The poem begins “I sit in one of the dives/ On Fifty-second Street/ Uncertain and afraid/ As the clever hopes expire/ Of a low dishonest decade“, and while these lines refer to the 1930s, it holds true for the present as well. I can’t put a finger on what it is, but something about the the decade we’re living in feels deeply scary. Sure, we’re at the pinnacle of scientific and technological breakthroughs, countries are way more secure than they were back then, but there is still a lingering aftermath of the hatred that the past endured. We find ourselves at the mercy of the social internet and its vagarious nature. Virtual communication is usurping the need to form real-life bonds. Relationships (not talking about just romantic ones, mind you) are made and shattered in seconds, and I hate it.

I find myself deeply and consistently aware of the transience of life, and though that’s an accurate description for any decade — the truth that life as we know it will end — now, that’s mixed with another, more disturbing truth: in today’s world, we are precariously tied to being fake and happy at the expense of being real and honest.

What I hate the most is how most people, including me, are terrified by this image, but not moved enough to change it. In John’s words, it’s like we’re all actors stuck in a play that we can’t rewrite.

We call people trash. We lash out at them for things they don’t necessarily control. We say it’s fine to break trust as if it’s something transitory, easily mendable, and in the process, we actually end up treating people as trash, we break trust, and we hate people just for the sake of not being able to love enough.

I now realize why I feel so guilty. It’s because I let myself be swept away by these waves of fear and hatred. I actually believed, even if for a moment, that loving people and being kind to them was not only stupid and dumb, but also extremely dangerous in this world, where hate runs everything. I hold myself responsible for the things I say out of hatred, but now I realize more and more, that the world we live in pushes me to treat every interaction with a neutral, indifferent tone. So who, exactly, do we blame? Ourselves? Circumstance?

I realize that I probably should reiterate the statement that I’m fine, but I am at the same time, absolutely clueless about how to resolve this. The last stanza of the poem does well to translate my thoughts into words:

Defenseless under the night
Our world in stupor lies;
Yet, dotted everywhere,
Ironic points of light
Flash out wherever the Just
Exchange their messages:
May I, composed like them
Of Eros and of dust,
Beleaguered by the same
Negation and despair,
Show an affirming flame.

As we grow older, and just a little bit wiser, I hope that we can learn to put our intense emotions aside, and just for a while, feel safe, knowing that the light we shine towards others is fair, real, pure and full of love. As Auden said,

We must love one another or die.

/it is a wild hell/

it is a wild hell/
to live with yourself/
& love only beginnings/

to see balance in what’s falling/
to have a soft spot for crash landings/
& things that don’t last.

to be so committed to your truth it doesn’t matter who you lose/
you scale the summit & jump off the mountain just to know why every heaven isn’t always for your kind/

to stay true regardless/ to remain real/
takes wild, violent & tender love.

I know I didn't give you an explanation.
But I hope you understand.
I hope you'll understand.

-Chris Ferreiras