Monthly Archives: November 2014

Black Friday

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As funny as it is, it was only yesterday when I learnt what this Black Friday is about. I received this email from a massively popular online retailer telling me to celebrate the Black Friday by getting those amazing bargains on their website. I actually went and read a little bit about this Black Friday thing and it wasn’t without a tragic disappointment to find out that such magically beautiful name has been abused as a name for a day marking the massive pre-Christmas sales and discounts. Apparently this is the fourth year of celebrating Black Friday in the UK and I’m wondering why I haven’t realized what’s happening the day after Thanksgiving earlier. Not that I think I missed too much by not knowing about it.

I complained about this to my friend, who asked me how I am today and in response, she asked me how would I imagine Black Friday then? This got me thinking.

I’m sorry if this sounds funny, but I would want to celebrate the day called Black Friday by doing something riskier than witnessing some stressed out bargain hunters fighting over no name HD TV in an overcrowded supermarket. I imagined the black in the name of this (in my mind) beautiful holiday day representing the blackness of our own souls, the beasts within ourselves. The fears slumbering in the darkest depths of our hearts. The queen mother of all our despair and torment. And we would be celebrating this day by conscious efforts to go into this blackness of ourselves carrying only the little light of hope, completely unarmed.

I’m reading this book about ultra-long distance running and there’s this girl who’s looking forward seeing the beast, which is how she describes the moment when she gets to the point of almost unbearable exhaustion. But there’s still so much of the track ahead. So how does she beat this beast? Well, with love, with embracing it like a long lost friend. I’m not a runner at all (although I can feel I’m getting excited about it deep in my heart), but I can totally see her coming to this huge black beast, as calm as one can be facing the power so primeval, so old, so beyond human imagination, realizing that only an act of absolute and purest courage can save her. And what is more powerful than love? It must be an amazing view to see someone coming back from such battle. And this is what I would imagine being the center of Black Friday. After giving thanks for everything nice in our lives, we will be going down to the darkness of our souls to greet our demons. I have read many stories of people finding the most beautiful light within the blackest places of their hearts, during their darkest days. Now of course nearly none of them have brought this kind of battle upon themselves willingly. They didn’t plan it. It just happened. They have been thrown into it by whoever, whatever is behind our seemingly chaotic universal laws. Was it a blessing, was it a course? I think it’s up to each of us what we make it when we face it. So without pushing it too far, on Black Friday we should go just a bit further into our darkness, do something daring, courageous, bold. Say something we have been afraid to say, try to find something beautiful in something we loathe, do something nice for someone we don’t like too much, who we might even hate. I’m not sure if this is what you would imagine being the center of today’s day if you never heard of Black Friday before, but this is how I would like it to be.

Couple of months ago I started to write a short story about “something that wasn’t”. It would be a minimalistic comic story and I can use its end to show that even the blackness can make us smile if we let it to be a part of us, without fighting it like an enemy.

The unlikely hero of my story is represented by a totally uncool full black circle.

01 black

It wanders through the vast land of pure white feeling lost, abandoned.

Until finally

.

.

.

it finds its place.

02 black

Before it finally returns to where it belongs a kind of a smile appears …

03 black

And after that.

Only

black

nothing

exists.

04 black

It’s very minimalistic, almost non existing story, but I somehow wanted to share it with you today, on Black Friday, reminding you all, that even blackness deserves its place in our lives.

And although it might seem,that I have taken it harsh on celebrating today hunting bargains, I would like to tell you that if that made you happy, so be it.

Happy Black Friday everyone.

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To my 16 year old self (as assigned by Jennifer Pastiloff)

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Hi Peter,

it’s me, your 36 year old self.

How you’re doing?

I’m writing to you from Nottingham, UK. Yeah, I know, you might want to ask how did I get here. But that’s not important. I’m here as a result of many decisions, almost all of them still unmade by you.

It’s shortly before 7 in the morning and I’m sitting on a George Street bus stop, waiting for the Nottingham City Transport bus line number 10, going to Ruddington, where I work. You haven’t really worked yet and I cannot lie to you that it’s always great, but work is good, it will be good for you. You’ll meet many people at work and/or while working. People are good. It takes an effort to convince myself of that sometimes, but I truly believe they are.

But I’m not writing this letter to tell you what I’m doing, what you’ll be doing in 20 years time, because even if you would somehow read this letter, you probably wouldn’t become exactly who I am now anyway, as you would hopefully read this carefully and you will avoid some mistakes that I have made. Although it’s these mistakes that got me where I am, doing what I do and I neither can, nor I want to complaint about it, so let’s cut this hypothetical bullshit what would, or wouldn’t be if you really read this letter. I won’t be telling you what to do and what not to, what I decided to tell you is this: Whatever you’ll be doing, just enjoy it more, enjoy it as much as you can. I’m looking back and I don’t think I regret doing anything. I also don’t regret not doing anything. But what I regret is not fully enjoying what I was doing while I was doing it. Not being completely present, focused. Not paying attention. Not being in love with what was surrounding me, not being in love with what’s within myself. And believe me, there was so much love and beauty surrounding you. True, some of it was only just becoming visible, tangible and perceivable, but it was there. All around you. Waiting for you to reach out for it. I want to tell you, that you grew up in the place surrounded by love. And although it takes a long journey to understand what love actually is, and I am still on that journey (just for the record), you’re on the right path. Just keep walking, trying and learning.

Compared to you, I’m more experienced (or I would dare to think so) and I could easily fall into attempting to lecturing you how to live and what to do, but I don’t want to. What this beautiful assignment to write to you teaches me is, that in 20 years time, there could be another me (you) who could be asked to write a letter to you, which is 16 year old me and a letter to the current, 36 years old me, and it could easily draft the similar story wrapped around the same spot of bother, that I am wrapping my story about:  the unbelievably merciless passing of time. Time is a teacher, very good teacher. Probably the best each if us has.

Could this time also be the God? The Judge we are all afraid of? Time doesn’t start and doesn’t end, even if all life disappeared completely and there was no one to witness its passing, it would still flow, right?

You are 16 and I know, that some of the things that you have to do don’t seem as interesting as they seem to me now. (With my senses blurred with nostalgia and melancholy, painting pictures my mind want to see.) It’s probably now when you’re getting to know the very basics of beekeeping and although I know that you rebel against it, against the summer Saturdays spent in the solitary valley 5 miles from your home, let me get this one clear, just fucking enjoy it. Enjoy the smell of honey, beeswax, propolis, of smoldering rotten wood. Enjoy being inducted to the mysterious craft of beekeeping, which is slowly becoming almost extinct. You know, our grandad, Apa, the unbreakable leader of our clan, who you occasionally dislike for his firm and seemingly unforgiving tone of voice passed away this year. Yeah, I went to see him in his care home just a month after I seen him after nearly a year ago in March this year. He passed away on the very day me and my friend (one that you actually still need to make) planned to visit him. But instead I received a phone call from my auntie Maria informing me that there’s no more need to go anywhere.
You still have all four grandparents, each of them unique and each of them will teach you something valuable, but let me tell you this, Apa is the one with who you will create the strongest, almost sacred bond. Some people said that “he waited for me” with his death. I somehow think he did. It’s something people in our parts say and although I don’t believe in all that people say, this was exactly how it felt. For everyone at home his death was just something they saw coming as he was very weak towards the end and they knew it’s near. But I felt privileged to be able to attend his funeral and I actually said the speech at the feast afterwards.

I am thankful that I was obedient enough to never turn him down although I never really had much interest in spending Saturdays helping him with bees in the beginning. But it’s this silent obedience that will teach you one of the most important lessons in life, that to gain something, to learn something, to become good at something requires time and effort. And yes, a lot of sacrifices. All of us are exchanging our time, our given time for wonderful experience of being a human. On the great market of life, where time is the most  valued, almost priceless commodity.

If it wasn’t for our grandad, Apa, I probably wouldn’t be writing you this letter. I probably wouldn’t be who I am and even when I am only learning to admit it, I am proud to be who I am. It would take you years to realise what was happening back then in the wagon in which we had the hives and outside in the little patch if green grass amongst fields of sunflower and rapeseed. The buzz of hundreds of thousands little bodies and the smell of their homes is one of the most magnificent displays of life’s ingenuity, beauty and love I have witnessed. 20 years later and I cannot give you much better reason to believe that you have been blessed. The pure rawness of life, the constant birth and death of its tiny speechless, yet tireless brown fuzzy heralds, the silent Buddha-like silhouette of Apa sitting on the hand made stool surrounded by the fume coming from the bee-smoker instead of incense sticks, barely moving, just observing the combs, the almost slo-mo passing of time. Well, you will find much of this boring and you would draw on the walls of wagon, you will be reading books, looking at the watch trying to move its hands faster. Just don’t do it if you can. Try to absorb the light that’s coming out of so much life around you, conserve it within the walls of your heart, fill it like bees fill the cells of the combs with honey and keep it safe. One day you will look back and thank God that you have seen it all.

I know that this letter won’t reach you. There’s even a name for letters that never reach their addressees – dead letters. Apparently some countries even issued special labels for envelopes that have travelled through the dead letter office. And used examples are highly prized by collectors. Actually, now when I re-read the article in Wikipedia about dead letters again, this one wouldn’t actually classify as one due to possibility of being returned to the sender. And while we are on this subject, I found this one paragraph extremely intriguing:

people interested in postal services throughout the world sometimes deliberately send mail to fictional addresses throughout the world to see if a particular nation’s postal authority would return the mail to the sender.

This makes me actually think of our dad, who was a postman (now retired). And I am tempted to send this letter somewhere very far to create a little whirl in the world of postal services. You see, this, and more can happen if you listen to people like Jennifer Pastiloff. You don’t need to know her yet, you don’t need to know any more than you already know. I probably said too much now anyway. What you however should know is, that I’m doing well, with usual ups and downs as everyone else, but it seems that life is great. Keep doing what you do, don’t worry too much, life is gonna sort itself out anyway. Just please, enjoy what you do, try to put your soul into everything you do and be grateful for what you have. Be very, very grateful.

PS: (A letter should always have one. I love PSs in letters.) I’m not exactly sure when you will have the first opportunity to clink the wine glass with Apa, but when he pours you the first wine, from his own vineyards and moves his glass towards yours, look into his eyes, clink and drink it with pride, gratitude and love.

~ Regards

Your 36 old you

Nottingham, UK, 17-20. November 2014

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~ Dedicated to my grandad, Štefan Tóth. Thank you Jennifer Pastiloff for this assignment.

To be who we are

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“I came here with the last wave of refugees, expecting a hell. It sure is hot here, but there’s some tranquil comfort in observing those slag harvesting monstrosities minding their business, harming no one. It’s unbelievable that such horror would have no intention of killing unless disturbed, or provoked.”
~ Dejvjiri, The Igniter

Sometimes I struggle to understand why am I trying to write so hard, why am I thinking about things. It becomes especially hard after hearing “too much thinking is bad and useless” from someone. (Which I heard recently and worst of all, it mad think even more! Like – Why the hell did he need to say that?) I always start to doubt myself and I somehow fall into judging myself based on someone else’s opinion.

But too much of anything is bad, right?  Even too much love will kill you (as sung by Queen). So if one of the greatest things, if not the greatest of them all, known to mankind can kill us, if we are exposed to too much of it, it’s easy to imagine how dangerous all the shit that we consume, or are exposed to, must be. So yes, I totally understand that if I would start paying too much attention to things that don’t matter I will eventually not be able to focus on what does. But I guess this is how I am. A thinker. I just think. It’s difficult not to think for me. Not impossible, not that I could not do it, not unimaginable, it’s just difficult. And I am still only waiting to experience the divine state of mind when nothing exists within it, only silence, peace and love (to me that can only exist after death.) But it seems that even those who can reach this state are capable of staying at peace with their minds only temporarily.

My mind is a playground, war zone, school, library, zoo, hospital, graveyard, church. A hiding place. It’s where I am becoming me, it’s where the roots of my self are holding onto darkest depth of my sou(i)l, it’s where I decide what I do. It’s where I find peace. But sometimes there just is no peace. Sometimes it feels like a mine field full of beautiful flowers, whispering silently “pick one if you dare…” But that’s ok.

It’s becoming clear to me that if this is what I am, if this is inseparable part of me, I cannot ignore it, or worse, try to change it, get rid of it, just because someone said something. Imagine if someone said to the nightingale “You sing too much. Too much singing is bad for you. What you even accomplish by so much singing? Nothing. It’s useless. Just stop it. Stop it right now.”

Not everything we do, we do in order to accomplish something. Sometimes we just are who we are and it’s then when we create, communicate, connect at our best. Right now I am not writing what I write, because I want to achieve something. I write, most of the time, because I feel like it. It’s like singing in the shower, apart from this being transferable into the blog post, which I can share if I want to. I can’t imagine someone’s singing in the shower becoming a massive hit on internet and so I am not expecting this jabber of mine becoming hit either, but there is magic in sharing certain intimate details of one’s life with the world. Sharing who one is. I’m really interested in knowing people who know true me. I don’t mean the most intimate things, we just cannot share everything, some things are to only be savored by the chosen ones.

There’s nothing wrong with letting others know that “I sing in the shower.”, “I write poetry.”, “I go to the near forest once in a month and make tea and coffee for others.”, or even things like “Sometimes I walk naked in the house all day”, or “I’m peeing in the shower” can be wonderful to share. They sound like they should breach some silent covenant what is acceptable and what is not, but there’s no covenant to breach. We are who we are, whether we try to hide it, or not. Just because the world “doesn’t need to know” about these things, doesn’t mean you cannot share them (if you want, if you feel like it). They don’t add “value” to how we live, they probably don’t make the world’s problems disappear, but what they do is, they are creating a bridge between us, they open us to each other and they create opportunities to understand we might not be that different from each other. I think that’s enough to stop being afraid who we are.

There isn’t a single person who would love everything you do, or agree with everything you say, think, believe in. But this diversity is the beauty and the essence of life. So please, be who you are. That’s how you will fulfill the purpose of being here. I am sure no one would end up being completely unlovable for being who he is. It must be difficult to be loved for what one isn’t anyway. So let’s be who we are.

Yours

~uth~

A promise (Meet child of mine)

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I went for a walk yesterday. Going out for a walk was actually a task I had to accomplish (as funny as it sounds). But it wasn’t only a walk I had to do, I should also get into touch with my inner child and talk to him (I suppose if there is an inner child in us, it would be an entity similar to us when we were children, each of us unique and unrepeatable, still dreaming, hoping and innocent). So my task was to open up myself to this hidden entity inside of me and find out how he is (I’m referring to it as a boy as that’s how I imagine it).

I hope this doesn’t sound too extravagant as now when I write about it here, shortly before 7 in the morning going to work, with all of this going public, I find it all a little bit too dreamy myself. I know that people do crazy stuff and that there must be socially acceptable level of weirdness and it’s this weirdness that makes us ourselves and sometimes we even full in love with each other’s weirdness, but I still feel a little bit strange about talking about it, but I’m going to do it anyway, this is what getting out of comfort zone means, right? And it’s a good thing, right?

So I went to the forest, with my camera, to find out what it’s like trying to talk to someone you never knew existed and who’s existence might even be on the same level as that of an imaginary friend. It turned out to be a nice autumn day, it was quite warm and wetness of the morning rain still hanged out in the forest air. I’m not going to describe how did I talk to this inner child of mine, I don’t really remember, it was pretty much like Gandalf’s encounter with Bilbo at his doorstep, awkward, uncomfortable, but somehow enchanting and uplifting. It felt like a beginning of something important, something meaningful, like there is an unexpected journey ahead of me.

The trees in the forest looked all the same and I decided to reward myself with some nice profile pictures, I wore my nicest scarf and my favorite hat (I hope this doesn’t show me as narcissistic, I hope it is acceptable for a man to tak pictures of himself (unless it’s a topless selfie in the bathroom, that’s just wrong)). I was supposed to walk alone, talking to my inner child, finding out what he wants, how can I help him, protect him, make him happy. But there were too many people around and I had to interrupt my dialogue quite often. (Now this is actually weird, man in his late thirties trying to have a dialogue with himself. Well, that’s what I was doing, not much point in hiding it.) Since this was supposed to be an initiation of the inner child into my life, like I was summoning it into existence from some long forgotten world beyond this world, I felt slightly strange about it all (well, wouldn’t you too?). I guess everything unusual, every step in new direction, every journey into the unknown feels like this. You just don’t know. But it’s ok to not know. To not have a clue what is going to happen to you.

Half way through my journey a met a solitary man standing behind a folding plastic table offering coffee, tea, hot chocolate and cordial water to all passing by. It felt so great to see him. To witness his own weirdness, to spend four hours of serving local community by this act of kindness. I’m only calling it weirdness, because that’s how would it be called by the standards of this world as it is (deep in shit). Somehow, after talking to my inner child for about 45 minutes, I found him being in the forest perfectly normal, acceptable and, most of all, enjoyable and encouraging. So I asked him for a cup of coffee and after he made it we started to talk. I found out that he’s doing it every first Sunday of the month. He was part of Church of St. Mark which was a church in village down the road. Although I’m pretty tolerant towards religions that try to help people and build them in spirit, I found it even more impressive that apart from a banner on the table he didn’t say a single word suggesting we should, in return for a coffee, or tea, visit a church, pray, or in any other way repay for his kindness. As far as I’m concerned, he was there, doing his little job, serving others as we all should, I’m unsure how often, but once in a month sounds acceptable. I’m sure we would learn a lot about ourselves and world this way. I will think about it.

I said bye to this man, letting him serve the big group of dog walkers and went away continuing on my journey.

Towards the end of my journey I discovered a beautiful tree and I decided to make myself a picture sitting in front of it, on a stump. It was actually three trunks growing from one and it really looked amazing, I imagined I am sitting on the throne of the king of the forest. (Picture here) I think it’s pretty cool picture and I like it (think what you want).

On the way home, as I was walking out of the forest, I promised myself to do this again. I think I really enjoyed being out there, not knowing much about myself, like I forgot it all, trying to remember. I think I remembered a bit of who I was. Who I was meant to be. The freedom, th hope, the joy.

Childhood.

I’ll bring it back.

I promise…

Yours

~uth~