The moments of BEING

Yesterday, I was taken to the top of this hiking point, where one could look over Cannes one one side and St Raphael & Frejus on another side. It has been the second time in this week I was taken to witness the great touches of Mother Nature. And I wouldn’t be able to be in any of these places, if not for the guy who also saved me from spending a night “home-less” in Grasse. His name is B. As much of a genuine nice guy B is, B is also generous to accompany me and bring me to the places he loves. All of them, so far, have done a great job in reminding me to feel grateful of BEING alive.

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Cannes from uphill
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Cannes from uphill, minutes after the sun goes down.
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Cannes from uphill, when the sun is still around.

Those pictures were taken from an observation tower, which did not look as if it had been in service any recent time but still appealing enough as a spot to any people who are into good views and good moments away from civil lives. I suppose we sort of fell into the group as well. It was a little tricky to finally get on top but nothing was worth more than these. B kept praising me for still wanting to climb onto the top, and not backing down like he would imagine. The truth is, without B, I would never be able to make it.

Just like, I would never be able to see the sky transforming from day time to night time, from the sweepings of yellow lights to the sparkling dots of stars, without B. But B kept praising me, for nothing that I particular did actually. You might tell me B is trying to impress me, sure, I think you might be right. But B will always be a friend and my savior, and my company for future trips like these. I did not use his real name, not because I wanted to make him a special character (even though he is actually, a special stranger that I luckily meet to share such experiences with), but I’d like to call him B. It sounds sort of mysterious and private.

I included B in this post, as he told me something yesterday, while we were staring at the far view of Cannes lit up with lights at night.

The thing about good moments is, you cannot keep them. They will go away. You cannot even put into a bag and bring them home. Sure, you can take pictures and be reminded of, but this moment, this very moment, will pass away.

B put into words, my fear of every days for the last couple of months.

Yesterday, I graduated officially. And I was lying on top of the hill, looking at the sky full of stars (yup, like the title of music). On the left, I heard an echoed music from a party which I assumed the mid summer celebration. On the right, it was the sound of waves bouncing against the rocks, or could be the wind flowing through trees & shaking them. IN that moment, I was happy. I haven’t felt like this for a while. Or no, actually not true. I am happy this much sometimes, but it is so unreal and too overwhelming, I have to always tell myself to calm down and breath. Because as my excitement is spiced up with adrenalin, my fear for those moments to come and crash is unavoidable. I hate it. I cannot stand it. I cannot bear it—the feeling of flying so high, just to fall so deep. 

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So, at the very least to do is me writing here. Writing, again, is my only way, my only attempt to place the good and bad moments into pockets, put them in different corners of memory inventory; so that one day I have something to look back.

Nothing lasts forever, they say. There will be more coming good moments to experience and so don’t let yourself caught up in the feeling of losing this one good moment, she says. 

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This is the damp, where a historical sad catastrophe happened in 1959 in France. It was broken, leading to an unfortunate killing of 600 people and severe damage left by water pressure.

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Spontaneous, one charming word

Do you remember, when you were a little kid, you kept being told how much you needed to be careful around strangers? For example, not talking to anyone you do not know or receive any gifts without knowing the causes? Plus all sort of myth your parents whisper to you what might happen if you do not follow their advices.

Then we grow up a little more, their advices turn to be “non-sense” sometimes. We thought we knew everything.

Okay, then we grow up a little more, the myth we were told, are shockingly turning to be true. We read all the news, and we hear all the horrible crimes being done in this world. We shout to ourselves, “What is up with that?”. Our voice got weaken while our brain continuously question why, and how human can do such thing to another  human, what sort of hatred or strong reasons leading to that end?

I remember all of that. I even remember, during my first week in London, I was so excited of a new environment & a new me which I began to re-shape after months living in Finland, that I spontaneously talked to a strange woman sitting on the bench with me. I was sitting there, inhaling (rather creepily) London’s vibe, and exhaling my fresh youth breath, I was so ready for that new adventure. On the same day, I went to Mc Donald, and after nearly one hour being hesitant, I started a conversation with another woman. She comes from Taiwan. I met her another time after that for coffee, kept in touch still during first weeks there but never met her again later when life both carried us away. I don’t know how she is now, but I will never forget that spontaneous buddy I found. She could have ignored me and walked away with a weird look. At least, that is what I imagine people normally do every time I want to approach a new person.

Boy, how much I loved that word “spontaneous“, a lot back then and still averagely these days. It rises something in me. It makes me becoming alive thinking I can possibly do anything. I was raised in a big urban city, and maybe it is just me, but such environment has not given me the benefit of not suspecting people. I was raised by my parents like that, which is not to say they are wrong, or the news you watch are reporting wrongly. But I hate to see myself like that, don’t you?

I hate my own behaviours when strangers approach me sometimes. Most of the time, I link with the negative purposes as the first thing. I cannot tell you exactly why, as I wonder it myself. It can be the Finnish culture influence onto me, or my own childhood of being taught to avoid contacts with strangers, or those heart-brokenly world news I hear every day. But I am suspicious at people. And I am superficial sometimes too, despite how much I would like not to admit. I silently misjudge people if they dress strangely. I walked away from a group of people standing and talking loudly. I avoided asking help from men, if I can find another women. I possess in me this “unconscious bias” (a term used by my boss), in spite of me studying and working in the intercultural field. You can think of me as a shallow person, I cannot say you are entirely wrong. Even so, I am certain if you dig a little deeper into your own behaviour, maybe you also have such unconscious bias.

And so, I have this special adrenalin boiling up to live when I do something spontaneous—anything I normally won’t do. Don’t get me wrong, I love my own bubble too. I enjoy comfort in something I find familiar with, even if it is only a brand I am pleased with. I don’t jump to the “change” bus whenever every opportunity comes. But I’d like to push myself to jump when the pan to heat up the adrenalin is crying out for being used. I need something new, I need to know I am not wasting my time not doing something, just to reach a point when I wish I could have done so. 

These days, that needs of mine has become something even bigger—a force demanding me. The moment I fail to please my own demand, I feel guilty. I share with you this because I don’t want to make my post saying out loud that you should also not sit at home and repeat doing the same thing everyday. Maybe too much of a need is not good, it turns to be a greed. And the thing with being greedy is, it is never enough.

I am doing this again, I wander to other areas too long…

Okay, back to spontaneous topic, the reason for me writing this is because of an amazing night I had yesterday. I got stuck (again) late (yup, again too) in a new, strange city, knowing no one and the worst moment of yesterday incident was knowing there would be no train taking me back to Cannes, from Grasse.

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I thought, I was doomed.

I tried to stay calm, I was not sure how much I managed to do so as I walked up and down the hill, looked desperately at anyone I should have approached to ask for their phones to call taxis (but I didn’t). It took me more than 15 minutes to finally speak to a guy, asking for help with the taxi calling. His phone was out of money, so he walked back to the train station with me to talk with the security guy there. Another funny thing was, I noticed the security guy before, but he was talking with two of his friends. Together, they gave me uncomfortable vibe (or I just felt that on my horrible sixth sense); so I didn’t ask in the beginning. When I approached them with another person, the security guy’s  friends walked away, they were completely harmless and the security guy turned out to be so kind.

The taxi was booked. While waiting for it (and laughing at myself inside my head), I met another new person. He came to buy candy from the vending machine, and he did not have changes but the 5 euro paper. He asked me if I had any changes, I said no and told him to speak to the security guy. The guy did not have. I only had one coin at that moment and suggested I could give him that if the thing he wanted to buy did not cost more. He laughed, he said it was okay and he would pay for himself.

Then, the conversation started.

And I got an offer for a lift back to Cannes.

You might think how reckless I was to say yes, to a person I absolutely had no idea who, in a place I had no much ideas about except the perfume museums (and hey, I will share some pictures with you later). I was indeed thinking the same at myself after saying “yes” too. It was a risk (someone might say it still is), he seemed nice but one never knows. The moment I sat in his car, I thought, “well okay, so now all my balls are in his court really…“. My phone could not even make a call.

In such situations when you decide to be spontaneous, there are two scenarios to happen (ok maybe three), a good one, a bad one and eh, maybe medium one (in which nothing too good or too bad happen). I was lucky, another time of me wanting to be spontaneous, its result was good (I sort of already gave you a spoiler alert above though…).

He was genuinely nice. We talked during driving to Cannes, and knowing I had never seen the city at night before, we both wanted a trip going around, stopping at the beach, looking at how the darkness of the sea is lightened up with all the sparkling lights from those luxurious hotels and the rich life this city is conveying. We passed by popular bars, where people all dress extremely nice and I heard rarely French. I used to think Cannes was only in such vibe during film festival, but I was wrong. Cannes’ film festival can be any Saturday nights in the city: nice expensive cars, nice expensive dresses, nice expensive shirts, nice expensive dinner tables and drunk rich adults who want to relax for holidays or weekends. I much wanted such life when I was a teenager. I think some days now, I even want it more because money has turned to be a thing spoiling your happiness even if it cannot bring you one. But, yesterday, when I was looking at all those people, only for moments, my brain whispered out its dream to my ears. Moments later, I started to wonder, how one feels after those glorious moments? What comes after a good-looking party? Another good-looking party?

I think I enjoyed more being in the car, or sit anywhere looking at them passing by, in all of their costumes. No, I did enjoy it more.

After Cannes, he drove me to Peninsula, where the light house was. I got to stand in a point, where you can see Mandelieu on the left, Cannes, then Grasse, then Nice to the right. The light house is lied in the middle point. I felt like I was high on drugs. I needed that sort of new thing more than I imagined. I needed to be reminded there was a reason.

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I would not have had such experience if I decided to say no and go with the taxi. I would probably pay even much more and not be able to make a new friend. Of course, I do know things could have been in a whole opposite way. But it didn’t. Many months ago, someone told me: running away is not the option. It is a big “what if” to take, but you will hate yourself for the rest your life if you did not find out what could happen. I know he is right. The screenshot of that message is still on my phone even though looking at it made me bitter to my bones. After all the things going wrong when I took that “what if”, I don’t know who to thank for about yesterday event—one of the rare “what if” going right.

And the spontaneous word? Still charming as ever.

 

Extended post from “You and me, are we different?”

I admitted earlier in one of my old posts that I sometimes was a little ignorant. I did not watch many news, and was almost “blinded” when my friends mentioned some events happening that had not yet arrived on social media (there is no such thing nowadays).

I made effort paying more attention in recent years. It was paid off, I knew much more than the inside of my own protected bubble world.

But, some day I wish maybe I could have just stayed in that bubble. Like today.

Because, the world is moving towards a place or a dead-end (?)  which I don’t understand why, and would never do.

I am sure you have heard about the mass murderer in a night club in Florida today. It is deeply upsetting, isn’t it? 50 people were killed, whose lives were ended in their most unexpected ways. You got to wonder how many of them could already say “they have lived their life”, maybe none, and that is scary. Then, there are 53 people were injured, who are most likely going through PTSD for a very long time.

I shared my feelings with the person I am currently living with. Then he said something got me by surprise and wonder even more :”Yes, and the sadder thing is they immediately link it to terrorism“. I was surprised because he was completely right, I mean to me. Maybe he will be wrong, when the police investigate for more information and reveal it is an act of terrorism. Maybe not. However, with the news today, part of our mindset are already set with a bias. This moment of surprise took me back to my recent discussion with a mentor, about the movie Hector and the search for happiness I recommended him to watch. Whether he finishes the movie, I still don’t know, but he did tell me these things:

  • Why does the Asian girl in the movie have to be a prostitute? She could just be any normal girl Hector thought he fell in love with. 

  • Why does he have to be kidnapped in Africa? 

There was another moment of surprise to me. Because again, he was right, I mean to me. I was even more surprised at myself for not seeing such. And that is the reason why I am writing here.

This post is not to defend any particular parties, or offend any particular other parties. Even if this post might be related to political topics, it is not my purpose to declare any political support or building any high relevance/ connection. I am about to write to you what I have learned recently: the sad thing we do when connecting a negative cultural trait to a whole culture.

Given the movie’s case, what my mentor pointed out are indeed what still happen in those parts of the world. But what about other good traits from those parts of the world? What about the successful Asian women, the brave and independent ones, the smart and talented ones? And not all Asians are poor. And not all Asian countries share the same culture or history. In each Asian country, there is even a difference between regions. Then, how about the countries in Africa where economy is developed or developing? And maybe there are even more that I don’t even know of (surely), I am learning but it cannot all be about kidnapping or killing.

I think we forget sometimes. Because the highlight news on top of the page is always something “wrong and big” with the world, not something “good and small” with the world. I think anything we are not familiar with, we tend to hold onto our prejudices or stereotypes or any traits we pick up in our life to reassure ourselves we do know something and know how to handle. I think any strange things scare us because we are not sure what we know are true, and if they are, we should definitely be scared too.

I also think it is a complete normal reaction. I do that too, I am heading towards cultural studying, and saying all what I am saying here, but I do that too sometimes.

Here, is why I think we all need to be aware about differences in our world, and if even better, we should have cultural awareness and understanding. We should know about the other good traits of that culture—the part that are different from what we were told. You don’t have to be a specialist, you don’t even have to “like” other cultures, but you should know there are differences. As you know thing are different sometimes, you at least take a few minutes thinking, before making any conclusions.

You and me, are we different?Young generator travel more and more these days, as a result of globalization that has been happening over recent decades and is still happening within our community. I refuse to think we have come this far here, so that we can retreat to the starting point. We are given easier chances to see the world. We are not forced to lose our root in this mixed pot (you might say), we can choose just to see and know. I personally have never met anyone loving to travel, want to stop their passion. The moment they see and experience, they crave for more. It is tempting—the feeling you have when you discover something you would never know if you have not tried to see it.

As on some days, whenever the person I am living with turn on the news and I might comment “this is going to depress us a little” but he will reply, “Yes, but it is still good to know what’s going on anyway“. I have kept myself not ignorant because of that.

As I am sadly feeling sorry for all the families and friends to people who passed away because of the mass murder, I am in no means of trying to say the attacker is not guilty, or the news are saying anything wrong. I share with you simply what I assume the best motivation for me (and hopefully for you) to learn about differences and the necessity for cultural awareness.

 

A reminder of a valuable friendship

I came across today by accident this post on the blog link below (please check the post out!). Its blogger has a beautiful tone of writing, and I specially shared this post because her words reached my heart at the right time.

Earlier today, I received a lovely message from a friend—without whom I don’t think I’d ever be where I am even though where I am is not perfect. When I was a teenager, I always fancy having a lot friends. Now I am a few years older and standing right at the beginning of adulthood (or I have already been there, I don’t know), I still fancy having a big network for good connections for future, stuff like that. The difference I learnt during those years apart is the big network I’d like to build, I don’t see them as closed friends, as people I run into, cry on their shoulders or show to them my worst form.

Going along with time passing, I have lost touch with many people, unfortunately, I even lost touch with some particular people I wish I had been better to remain in contacts. It bugged me. The way life carried you away sometimes, or the way you used that as an excuse to blame (talking to myself here). It scared me even more, at this time of my life—when I thought I had been through a hard tough time just to find out there always comes worse—I am sucked into the act of isolating. Then I am frightened, thinking, what if there would be no one there when I am ready to step out my own shell?

Today, my friend’s short message reassured me. One is not perfect. One can be really annoying when you get to know one more and more. One can have many bad habits that you cannot stand. One can have this philosophy of life that you cannot even bear to listen more. But for some reasons, one has become your closed friends and one has not left yet. Among all people I have let passing me by, she is still there and I am grateful everyday for it. As much as you crave to be alone sometimes, you also crave for good “open arms”.

Making friends is not hard for some people, but being a friend is difficult for each of us. You surely have your own definition of how a friend should be, but mine is “I just need you to be there. I just need to know you will always be there“.

Friends, we need each other. Live bravely today. Live shamelessly. There are people that will take your invitation. Not only will you find belonging, but most likely you’ll give the gift of it to someone else.

via Panic Attacks. Anxiety and why we need friends. — WONDEROAK

Memory Traits

Have you realised how much we have become impatient with everything? 

A sculpture designed by a Spanish artist. Taken by me.
In Antibes, France

Think about those moments when you sit in front of a computer, ah no, maybe moments holding your phones, and 3-5 seconds of page loading or the length of texts might already push you to do something else. At least, I am sure speaking from myself.

Some days were so much packed, I did not have enough time to even finish a catch-up conversation with a friend. What I have realised about being busy is that, such satisfied feeling of having purposes is addicted. There are goals to look forward to, there are projects to be done, there are meetings to go to, there are posters to be created and there are social media posts to be updated, for example. You don’t get to wonder why you do this, you just do it because time is limited, and deadlines are waiting. You don’t replay your life in your head like playing a video recorder file on computer, because when there is free time, you spend for sleeping, or hanging out with friends you haven’t had time to do with. At least, that was my life before I got burnt out.

Then, there was that moment when I was forced to stop, and started wondering. This wondering has lasted longer than I expected it to be, unfortunately.

But, this wondering transformed my head into a movie player of my memories. If you are fan of Grey Anatomy like I am, you might remember this sentence someone said in there, “how amazing memory works”.

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In Jyvaskyla, Finland

Memory flashes back, not fully, we mix things up and we filter certain things. When only good parts come out, some will call it a result of nostalgia, or grief. To me, it is like a path full of traits. One step you take, you might stumble onto a trait, which will soon either turn to be a picture or even a whole book’s chapter containing parts of my life within. Some moments, memories are so vivid that they became strangers to me. My self-consciousness kick in and I wonder if I am acquainted with the girl in my memory movie.

Today, I sat quite long under the rain, in the middle of forest. I walked long under the rain too, but I am not sure why this detail matters to you. So, I was there, staring in that empty areas of the air, tried to unburden myself with every single rain drop touching and sliding on my face. My memory went back to those days when I was this little kid running around with other kids under the rain, naked. It was our excitement act when we knew it was going to rain. I recalled myself being all hyper about the rain back then. We would run around, made these big laughs when we stood under any big water pipes that poured a huge amount of water on us. We would feel dirty and fresh at the same time. We would not bother screaming a bit more because the rain’s sound had blocked other people’s ears. Then, our parents would call us all in since the longer we stayed, the higher chance we would lie on beds next days. We were like those growing flowers needed fresh touch of water, besides the harsh sun shining. Then, I thought about me being a teenager and began to look at rain in more sad ways. Rain then became a symbol of hiding tears that cannot be shown in public. Rain then became a mysterious, romantic but sad ending for any kinds of broken childish relationships.

I even recalled me not liking the rain for a period of time. Reason for it, I cannot remember. It might have been I have had enough of grey colour and gloominess living in Finland, London and the Netherlands. But the rain was the first difference I noticed after moving to Finland for a month, because it was different there even though it was also so much the same. My life was taking a turn.

The rain was there too when I had to bike home fast from school in the Netherlands, while the wind kept slowing me down. Some days or weeks later, the rain remained but I was not alone.

I got soaked wet in the rain also biking home fast from a morning shift at work in Finland, during last autumn. When I reached home, my tiredness took over all my body. I quickly took out my clothes, changed to dry home clothes and crawled into the bed, under warm blankets, preparing for a good sleep. Those moments were extremely good, because my sleep was not bothered by disturbing images.

Today, the rain was there, slowly filling into my emptiness.

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In Mandelieu, France

I thought about “memory movie player” because I was amazed how much I got to rewind back to my lives now, while there was time everything just got slipped by so fast that I did not even think twice. I opened one of my journals, and I saw this small paragraphs I wrote about this same thing, but not with rain; it was with a part of road I took to go home. It was on one of last nights in Finland, months ago. That road brought me back to the time while I was still working for AIESEC and biking through the path for like 1000 times. Few steps further, I was brought back to the night of LAS seminar—an event of AIESEC—the night I first started to talk to Jo. Many more steps further up, I turned to look at the lake view in my city, allowed its extravagant beauty to hug me. I recalled me thinking to myself “You only start to appreciate things in a positive way when you have to say goodbye“.

 

“..as a hollow society where the choice is to either tell the truth and be destroyed, or to lie and make it.”

As I walked out of the theater after watching The World of Extreme Happiness, I was reminded of the time eleven-year-old me tried to watch Schindler’s List by myself because I thought it was necessary for my moral education. I only made it as far as watching the old one-armed man get shot. The World […]

via The World of Extreme Happiness Is Extremely Unhappy — The China Girls