Resolutions and regrets (Hello 2015!)

Since I failed to produce any substantial Christmas post (and am highly ashamed of it) I don’t want to miss the chance to contemplate the approaching end of this year. When each year is coming to an end it’s only natural we ponder over all sorts of things that the year has brought us and we tend to evaluate our successes and failures. These failures is what I want to talk about today, and it’s not because I try to be negative, but because these failures result in two very popular and typical New Year’s phenomena: regrets and resolutions.

I rarely regret anything. Not that my life has been so perfect but I just take everything as a lesson learned. However, I’m leaving 2014 with some regrets I must say. There were at least five great musicals on my bucket list that I wanted to see in London but I just never went. I saw the Lion King in Southampton though, but that will not make up for London. I regret not seeing every park I planned to go to, every market I wanted to visit, each gallery or a museum… there are loads of plans I did’t get to make happen. It’s not that I didn’t have time. I was just lazy, I was leaving it for later and in the end that “later“ never happened. These are in fact no regrets at all: they are all things I still can (and will!) do in the future so it’s alright.

I also rarely make New Year’s resolutions. When I was younger I gave it a go and made some, and truly wished to fulfill some of them, but all the attempts turned out quite pathetic. Now that I’m older (and wiser ha!) and have grown to be rather cynical I see New Year’s resolutions as nothing more than a useless and highly faulty social construct that basically serves to sum up all your nasty habits and point out all the things you have failed to do all the previous years, things which you are – despite your initial determination – very much likely to fail to do again next year. (“This year will be different!“. Let’s face it, it won’t).

Maybe this is one of the reasons why people want to get drunk on New Year’s Eve: they want to drink away the last year wishing that when they next come to their senses the new year will be here and they will step into it with a clean shield, starting a new chapter. There’s something definite about the new year. Someting that gives us the feeling of a new beginning. People like to round up things: “I will do this or that when the clock hits three. It’s 2:50 so I’ve still got 10 wonderful minutes of procrastination.“ When all of a sudden you realise its 3:03 and you think: “Okay then, so I’ll start at four.“ I think it is the same with the new year – people agree on making changes in their lives easier because they take the brand new year as a milestone. Plus it brings such pleasure to their bad habits: “This is my last packet of cigarettes – so I’m going to enjoy it even more!“ The truth is, though, that if you really want to quit smoking it shouldn’t be a problem for you to do it on the 30 December or any other day during the year. And if you don’t and have your cigarette the morning after a NYE party you can either postpone this decision for the next year or you simply never truly wanted to quit. So don’t. It’s fine. No need for excuses.

I think it’s only normal that by the end of the year we tend to regret things and as a consequence try to improve them by making resolutions. It is like a promise to ourseves not to fail again. But do these “failures“ really matter? If they do you don’t need a New Year’s Eve to remind you to do things differently. And are they even actual failures? – that you smoke, don’t go to gym, eat junk food, drink, or swear? Maybe you like your lifestyle as it is, not perfect, but… who is perfect? Is it not just a generally accepted indoctrination of how a life should be lived? A social construct? Live your life just like YOU want to live it. No regrets. Screw resolutions.

I am stepping into the new year with this little motto: If you want it, don’t talk about it. Do it! No more excuses.

May you all have the best year ahead!

Fear of losing

My friend once had a pet snake, which he valued a lot not only because it was some kind of a rare breed, but also because he took him as his friend. The snake unexpectedly died one day and until this day it is unclear how or why. My friend was gutted and had mourned the snake for long. After some time I asked him whether he plans to get a new snake and suggested he could even get the same breed to make an illusion that nothing had happened with the previous one. He replied he has absolutely no intention of buying any other snake in his life because he doesn’t want to go through all this pain again. He also said that after losing this one, he feels like none other can replace his old snake friend.

This seemingly insignificant conversation really got me thinking (actually, everything gets me thinking). I know these things happen. In fact they do happen more often than we think, every day even, but in various forms and shapes. We find and lose, cling and let go, begin and end things all the time. How we cope is what matters here.

Any change is hard to cope with at first. We mourn the people (or pets) after we lose them. We miss them, long for them. We think about the happy times, as though it was the ultimate experience that is never ever coming back. After every new experience I get – a new boyfriend, a new friend, new housemates, new city to live in – I always tend to worship the right-here-right-now presence and think nothing will ever be better than this. After living in Prague and having a smashing time I thought I won’t be able to live anywhere else, and here I am – after more than a year living in the UK thinking how stupid of me thinking I won’t be able to fall in love with another place. After a break up with someone I could not imagine kissing, touching or being with another person, but after a while time healed all the scars and all of sudden I found myself happy again in the company of another one. After moving out of my house in Southampton I felt like I won’t be able to live with any other people. But I did. And I was happy.

My friend actually never needed to replace the snake. In fact we never replace one for another, one boyfriend/girlfriend for another, one pet for another, one friend for another. It is different each time. Those people, those happy times don’t go away. No need to replace them because they stay. Maybe not in the form or shape that we were used to, but they have a place in our hearts forever, in the memory department of our brains. They have shaped us, changed us and left a trace on us. We are not now what we had been before knowing them.

We go through pain everytime after losing someone or something. We will go through it all over again many times. But that’s just how life is. We FEEL. The pain is necessary.

People can get used to anything. That’s what is so special about us. We adjust to our environment, with more or less success but at the end we do. And we do just fine. I’ll close this post with my favourite cliché: time heals everything. It is a huge one but it is so true.

Those goodbyes

I really hate goodbyes. But who loves them, right?

Yesterday I went to see the last Hobbit movie – the Battle of the Five Armies. Not only I cried throughout the whole last hour, but by the time the credits were over and the movie screen turned black, an intense feeling of sadness got me: this is it, it’s over. All of the LOTR and the Hobbit movies are finished and there is nothing to look forward to! Oh, but there is – like my friend Tina suggested – the movie marathon challenge, which means watching all six movies in extended versions on DVDs, which means spending approximately 24 hours in the Middle Earth. Yay! I’m totally up for it – where’s my sword?

Unfortunately, the fantastic world created by Tolkien was not the only thing I had to say goodbye to lately. The events of my real life took an unexpected twist in the plot and I had to leave London, leaving behind a year and a half of my life in England. I met many great people during my time here and I know I should be grateful for that, but getting to know them only to have to leave them behind makes me feel blue. These encounters were incredibly inspirational and life-changing for me and it got me thinking how every single decision you make changes you and your life completely. If you think about it, life is like a domino game – you make a move and the whole row of dominoes falls down. You make a decision and it sets everything in motion.

I was accepted to two other universities apart from Southampton – Norwich and Aberdeen – and am sometimes picturing how my life would’ve turned out if I went there. It’s impossible though, because I don’t know what could’ve happened, what kind of people I could have met. I only know if I didn’t go to Southampton I would’ve never known Dixie, a genuine, artistic and sensitive girl, whose purity of feelings makes me wonder whether this world has not become way too rotten for dreamers to survive; Lukas, whom I laughed loads with and bitched about all sorts of things with, things many people around us could not understand; Carmelo, funny and loyal man of his word, who breaks all stereotypes about Italians; or Ewa, a righteous and helpful girl with a pure soul. And maybe I would’ve never ended up renting a room in the house in Streatham and would’ve never met Chris, a male version of me, who inspired me more than he might realise; Tom, whose positivity and lust for life radiates on miles; Jonny, a lovely, funny and kind person, whose smile and laugh makes you love him straight away; and Cassey, a handsome guy, whose charming sense of humour made you always wonder whether he’s mocking you, is serious or just makes an innocent remark.

All these people were my housemates, the people who I shared home with, which is one of the reasons why they’d become so important to me. Of course if I went to uni elsewhere, I would have met different people (maybe equally great) but I wouldn’t be the person I am now because all of these friends left trace on me, shaped me in a way.

Sometimes it even feels unfair – why does life give you all these amazing people only to take them away from you again. I guess because there is no pleasure without pain.

And why did these goodbyes have to hurt so much? Because it was REAL.

Black, white & red

I am a person of contrasts and the black and white contrast is particularly appealing to me. Those who know me probably noticed I usually wear either black or white, or both at the same time. As for photography, I think some photos just look better in B&W. Colour disturbs me sometimes. I feel that emotion that could have been shown beautifully in contrasts is somewhat scattered all over the place by too many colours. It all depends, though, on the atmosphere of the photograph. Just like some pictures literally ask for colour, some on the other hand just need to be plain. I love both.

Here are some of my black-and-whites:

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Pigeons in Covent Garden. I saw this bunch of birds on the ground and knew at some point they’re gonna fly away so I waited and waited.. for this moment 🙂

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Old man in the village of Hamble-au-rice near Southampton.

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A lonely piano.

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Taken in Winchester.

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Seagulls in Brighton. Birds again. For some reason I am fascinated by flying 🙂

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This woman was charming – dressed in her vintage clothes struggling to unlock the bike lock. But she finally did it and hit the road! Taken in Winchester.

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Those clouds made my day. And my monochrome picture of the old BB 🙂

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Gathering by the sunset in Brighton.

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Leaving. I took this picture whilst waiting for my plane at Stansted. I placed my camera on top of my suitcase and posed. Felt a bit awkward to be honest but I couldn’t resist 🙂

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No more drinks for me?

Two colours, two favourite objects. Black like a camera, white like a paper.

But what about the red?

That’s passion. That’s heart. You can’t see it, but it’s there.

Leaving home for home

I write today’s post in a rather unusual place – under water. To be precise, under water of the La Manche channel, commonly known in Britain as the English Channel, though we all know that geographically it’s no more English than it is French. Yes, I’m in the Eurotunnel. And believe me you can hardly find a better place to think and write than in the futuristic, claustrophobic tube connecting Britain with the continental Europe.

My being in the Eurotunnel means that today was my last day in London this year. I’m going home for an indefinite period of time. Leaving London sucks enough as it is, but to make it suck even more I chose to go by coach. I must have been fairly out of my mind booking this ticket, but it is what it is and I’ve got a nice 24 hour journey ahead of me. So far it is not as dreadful as I had imagined it. I’ve got two seats for myself, the person who was supposed to sit next to me either didn’t make it or will get on later, we’ll see. Weird thing is that all the people on the bus are either Slovakians or Czechs so it suddenly feels like home. Wait, but I am home. I am just leaving one home for another.

What I hate and love at once about buses, trains, or planes is that even if you don’t want to you can’t help overhearing people’s conversations. I say hate and love because it highly depends on what the talk is about. At times I am happy I could overhear something interesting or inspirational, but sometimes I wish I was deaf instead. For example from where I sit now, I can hear a girl in front of me gossiping very loudly with someone on the phone, her language is not what you could call lady-like and her giggling is starting to drive me crazy and behind me there are two girls talking about how they hate London and how people are much nicer up North. What made them think that I don’t know, but I can’t disagree more. London has been kind to me, so has Southampton and every other city or town I have visited down here. People here are exactly the same as everywhere else: kind, grumpy, lovely, nasty, beautiful, ugly… the mixture of all sorts of tempers and traits. It is true, that not the sights but the people shape your opinion of the place. When you’re alone you could be in the fanciest of the places, but it will never feel right. And when you‘re not lucky and you meet assholes all the time of course you will never love the city you live in. If the same rule applies to coach journeys, and the people shape your positive or negative feeling of it, you might guess what the outcome is for me today.

As for London however, I’m leaving with the best of feelings. Too good I would say. If it were otherwise, leaving would be a lot easier. I knew it’s going be hard, just like nothing worthwhile in life is easy. You find yourself in a beautiful place but there comes a time when you have to leave. You meet amazing people but one day you or them are gone and they become a memory. You try to repeat what was so good in the past, but you realise those things are not coming back. Things, people, places, everything is changing in a cycle of life. Change is necessary, inevitable.

Now all I can hear is rumbling of wheels taking me away and it breaks my heart. And I am thinking how amazing it is that one moment you are in this big strange city with nothing more than your suitcase and a few moments later you find yourself at home.

See you soon London, this is no farewell.

Post-uni contemplation

When I was a little girl I used to do this silly thing from time to time: practicing my signature with a different surname and a degree inscribed before it. The surname was changing every time, depending on which boy I fancied at the moment and those three or four letters indicating a degree were changing too because I wasn’t at all decided about my future career destination. Once I had written down this fictional name with a medical degree and was imagining how would it look like on a name tag on my doctor’s white coat, another time I was a psychologist with my own fancy office…

This habit included two dreams at once: to be an educated and a married woman one day. One of these dreams recently came true. No need to congratulate a newlywed – I “only” have been awarded a masters degree in social science. What a news! This reality, however, left me with several confusions. In the period between submitting my dissertation and getting my results back I knew I couldn’t consider myself a student anymore, but neither felt disconnected with the student life as I still haven’t got my degree. But after Monday this week, I came from being “waiting-for-the-results unemployed” – which is still quite justifiable (or is it not?) – to “officially unemployed”. A non-student adult. I am also left with somewhat mixed feelings: I have always wanted to come to this stage of life when I can actually feel I achieved something and even have evidence to prove it but now that I’m there, I’m kinda lost. Not in a depressing sense but lost as in: NOW WHAT? Is there any direction board saying which way to go – which road to take? Is there some kind of information centre that gives out the maps of life? No, there is not. Before it was parents, school, or teachers with all their rules, obligations, deadlines and directions telling me what, when and how to do things. Now it’s me on my own. Sounds almost like freedom. This is a circumstance in which every single person wanted to see themselves when they were younger. To get away from all these rules, duties, teachers, parents. I was no exception. Only now that I am so to speak free to do whatever I please, I don’t know where to start. Which road to take. To make all these decisions that eventually influence your whole life is the most difficult and a bit scary part. It also takes a great deal of time to become what you wish to become. To make your dreams come true. But fortunately, time is a commodity I possess now. It is all in my hands.

Confusions aside, I am a master! I have mastered (at least I think I have) a tiny bit of social science. That’s a good stepping stone I guess. I’m on the road and I know it’s long, wide and curled. And it probably goes all around the world.

And strangely enough, since getting an actual REAL degree I didn’t write my name with the three magical letters down once.

City lights

Every city looks special with the night fall, giving out a whole different feeling of the place. London by night is amazing. Thousands of city lights contrasting with the emptiness of the dark sky is a beautiful thing to watch. It is sad at the same time too – you can’t see the stars. They were replaced by light bulbs.

The other day when I was walking down the South Bank I was imagining what if all the stars just burst and fell down setting all the bulbs alight. They wouldn’t be called city lights then, but the city stars. As an incurable daydreamer, I’d rather keep thinking that instead of the fact that the lamps are actually killing the starlight. What an atrocity.

That day by the Thames I realised how much I’ve grown to be fond of London. At first the city was nothing but the noise, chaos, and confusion for me but now I see it differently. I see the beauty in its diversity. The diversity that can offer you a lot if only you don’t allow yourself to be intimidated by it, if only you reach and grab it. I learned to hear music instead of noise, feel joy instead of pleasure, see the soul instead of gold, appreciate creative work instead of business and live by passion instead of foolery. Thank you Hermann Hesse for the last sentence (I got inspired by one of his quotes).

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