Tag Archives: life

Thought #50. Jaded or life-loving.

Depression affects a surprising number of people. Although everyone can feel very sad and anxious on occasion, some people are more prone to undergo deep depressions during their lives than others. This medical condition and its treatment have been historically studied by numerous scientists, doctors and researchers. But as yet, knowing whether we are suffering from depression or not remains a tricky question.

As a layman on this subject, I would not go so far as to say that, more often than not, people misuse the term. Conversely, I do think that only sometimes this term is employed to describe just a rough patch. A niggling worry could render us sleepless for a few days. Does it mean that we are growing depressed? Not necessarily.

Some psychologists’ therapies go too far and are out of kilter with the patient’s problems. Why are we expected to be always happy? Fortunately, the vast majority of therapists are knowledgeable and well-prepared to treat depression in all its forms and manifestations. Life is tough and sometimes the future will be bleak, it is something that we cannot deny. However problematical the situation may seem, besides our natural ability to overcome the toughest circumstances, hope is what makes a difference.

Hope that hard times will be over one more time, as they always were in the past. I do not mean that every problem has to have a solution, not to mention a satisfactory, easy or permanent one. I just want to let it be known that hope is tantamount to the ability to dream, feel excitement and develop endurance against complications.

And when there is little or no hope for the future, you can always live the present. What else do we have? Human life needs little more than air, water, food and shelter to get by. It would be advisable to settle for just being happy.

Thought #49. On folk memory.

I still remember with heartfelt emotion the enticing prospect of a summer’s fortnight at my grandparents’ cottage. They would boast about what they had achieved, not without a great deal of hard work though. Had it not been for their financial ingenuity in hard times, my mother, aunts and uncles would have not been who they are. Mum is the eldest of six children and although she was widowed at the early age of 42, she already had five children.

My grandfather, Fermin, born on July 7th, 1919, fought in the Spanish Civil War on the Republican side. Fortunately, he survived it and became a forest guard on January 26th, 1946. He devoted his life to preserve the mounts of Castellon province, on the eastern coast of Spain. He would worship nature during the rest of his life, only coming into his own when trees and plants were literally surrounding him.

When my father died, we were living in a small suburb of Tarragona. As we did not have family there, my mother took us to Castellon, where her brothers and sisters lived. I was then eight years old and the elder brother of my baby sister. My grandparents lived between two places, their city flat in Castellon and a cottage near a small village that used to be a windmill. It was there, in that country house, where I hold so many treasured memories.

My grandmother, Adelina, was remarkably cheerful and always displayed a strong character. She was a good person, sometimes a little innocent. I would not go so far as to say that her patience hardly ever snapped but, most of the time, her company was extremely pleasant. I would play cards with her  till the small hours by candlelight, and tried to cheat her by using devious tactics. It was at those moments when she would snap fiercely.

Games apart, every summer with them was outstanding. Picking cherries and loquats, collecting apples and pears, watering tomato plants, I passed the time of those long days. We often made marmalade out of any ripe fruit. Food was never thrown away. A famine-stricken youth had taught them the lesson. A lesson inherited, as many others, from generations. Bits and pieces of a folk memory that we must not forget.

To Adelina and Fermin, from his grandson Alberto,  still captivated by your eternal humility, generosity and humanity.

Thought #37. Dust.

In the sixteenth century Nicolaus Copernicus developed a theory in which he positioned the Sun near the centre of the Universe, with Earth and the rest of the planets, orbiting around. Despite being imprecise, his theory had laid the foundations for more accurate hypothesis that would be proved in the following two centuries. Now, we know full well that neither the Earth nor the Sun are at the centre of the Universe. In fact, we already know about the existence of exoplanets, which are planets beyond our solar system. As of today, 3475 of those have been confirmed. Kepler 150-f, an Ice Giant, is the latest discovery.

How are exoplanets found? Being completely ignorant about this subject, I would never dare to give a detailed explanation. However, according to NASA’s website, the vast majority of exoplanets are detected by using a technique named Transit. Stars dim when a planet passes directly between the observer and thus, studying the amount of light shed by a star, we can detect the presence of orbiting planets. Logically, we have not yet seen a fraction of the potential solar systems among the stars that are visible at night with the naked eye. The Universe has immense proportions.

Bearing in mind the immensity of the Universe, I would like to radically change the subject and finish today’s post by talking about dust. Not stardust or cosmic dust, just dust. The one that settles between the observer and the object.  The one that accumulates on cupboards, desks, chairs, kettles, souvenirs, or any other banal item. The arch-enemy of allergics, the annoying thing, which triggers a look of disapproval on your mother-in-law’s face. That is the dust that really matters today. Ergo, I would like to praise dust effusively.

The reason is simple, dust has the ability to tell a story. A storyteller that can reveal the amount of time that has passed since you had a coffee, you read that novel, you played the piano, you used that sunglasses, you cooked your mother’s recipes, you had sex, etc. Because dust does not accumulate on living objects, at least on those parts that we regularly use.

Look around you. Read. Be an explorer like those of NASA who are trying to cast light on the origins of the Universe or the origins of life. Let dust orbit around you, love it, praise it, take care of it. In the end, you will be dust too.

Thought #26. Be all eyes.

Look around you. Things are objects, stuff, concepts, matters, affairs, facts, features, tasks, phobias, obsessions, remarks, possessions, equipment. People are people like your husband, your wife, your son, your grandmother, your archenemy, a stranger, yourself. And then there is your thing, your cup of tea, what floats your boat. Life is all about that but, what are the unique or essential components required to live a life?

As of April 2017, we are 7.5 billion people in the world. If you could ask them all the same question, each one would give you a different answer. Maybe that is precisely one of the characteristics that make us human, our ability to think independently.

Our planet Earth is suffering, struggling, fighting a losing battle. Our planet is finite and so are its resources. We must become aware that indefinite population growth is not an option. Experts have been raising concern about overpopulation for a long time. The reason is simple: it is the main cause of environmental pollution, mass unemployment, depletion of natural resources, severe poverty…  Yes, you may want to stop reading this post right now but, by depicting a dismal future, contrary to all your expectations, I would like to convey a message of hope.

One of best ways to contribute to a better future is by thinking ahead. It could be as easy as foreseeing any long-term problem and trying and doing our utmost to achieve sustainable development, once and for all. We have enough data to figure out what are the most urgent needs.

Try to type in “sustainable development” in your preferred search engine. If you are a lazy person, you can utter “Hey Siri” or “OK Google” and that should do the trick. The question is why we have not done anything yet.

The essential components for human life are water, air, food and adequate shelter. If we fail to take careful care of them, we are in big trouble. So, it is time to go and look for solutions. Rack your brains and contribute. We need to be wide awake. We ought to look around us but also ahead of us.

Thought #24. Keep calm and take life philosophically.

“Unfinished India” is a personal favourite of mine. Photography is a tricky discipline not only from the point of view of the photographer but also from the viewer’s. When I took this one I had to carefully choose the framing. There were infinite options and I decided to include the minimum amount of information needed to leave it open to interpretation. Half a cow, half a man and a pool of…

To make an interpretation (artistic or not) is always extremely difficult. The aim of philosophers is to try and work out the best way to think about things. For all intents and purposes, we all try and work out how to think about things. A simple picture but also an existential question demands something more than mere observation.

In this example, the most important element is neither the framing nor any included visual clue. Interpretation is what really counts. This post is entitled “Keep calm and take life philosophically”, a message not intended to be conveyed to the reader but to myself. I know full well what was going on there when I took the photo, thus I can find meaning from this passage from my memory recollections. And as yet I prefer to devise a different story.

Premises could lead to hasty conclusions. The man and the cow were just sleeping near a pool of water in the shape of India. I often try to disavow the link between my beliefs and my thoughts; I seldom succeed. Realising how to deal with everyday problems philosophically is a tough job. Only by dismissing some of the obvious premises or facts will I be able to achieve my goal. And more often than not, I am confronted with a new situation or problem that requires a different approach.

My life baggage must have served a very useful purpose. However, little did I know that someday I would be discarding my deeply held beliefs in an uphill struggle to take it easy, to take life philosophically. But I have to, I need to, I do not have any other option.

There is only so much a person can learn through life. Fight or surrender.

Thought #8. Childhood.

Since the very instant we arrived at New Delhi’s airport I was overwhelmed with mixed feelings. I was fascinated by the display of hospitality so characteristic of these dwellers but at the same time, I knew I would have run into shocking scenes.

We were going to leave the hotel at the crack of dawn. I am not a morning person but that night I did not sleep a wink and decided to wander around the area. A flood of rickshaws ready to be pulled by skinny riders was the first reminder of how different life must be in India.

Being a child is not the same everywhere. My holiday in India, one of the biggest countries in the world, taught me a lesson. The harsh lifestyle that these human beings have to overcome every minute of their lives is miserable. Living in such conditions could undermine anyone.

Astonishingly enough, I have not seen so many children grinning from ear to ear in my whole life as I did in India. They probably have nothing but zest for life in their struggle to get by.

Later that day, I was pointing the camera through the window during the planned sightseeing in New Delhi when a little boy hidden behind a makeshift mask appeared. I had a split second to trigger the shutter. A red wall, a child, a kite.

Each time I look at this picture I see the kindness of a child that innocently helps me to keep those mixed feelings alive, forever.

Thought #2. A pain in the neck.

Saturday morning. By the blazing sunshine invading my bedroom through every little hole in the curtains, I guess it may be around ten in the morning. Luckily, oversleeping is not going to cause me any inconvenience. It’s weekend, indeed, a long weekend as next Monday is a local bank holiday.
– ‘Honey, honey!’ I shout to grab Marta’s attention.
The door bursts open as she appears. Her radiant smile and the sparkle in her blue eyes, signs of a woman still deep in love.
– ‘What do you want for breakfast?’ she asks almost whispering.
I wonder how well she is able to read my mind. Only a raised eyebrow and a freshly squeezed orange juice with a toast is waiting for me in the kitchen.
As I prepare myself to get out of bed, a terrible pain freezes me, I’m unable to make the slightest movement. A pain in the neck which is a far cry from those I find at work, pernickety individuals incapable of seeing the wood from the trees.
This pain, however, is different, a simple one that hopefully will wear off in a couple of days.