Nostalgic

Tags

, ,

IMG_20151210_213047

I am a nostalgic person.

I have a hard time giving up on things, of saying goodbye and letting them go. And by things I don’t necessarily mean physical things in the literal sense of the word.

Over the last couple of years, helped by moving into a new flat, traveling, finishing my university degrees and a continuous, if often subliminal interest in minimalism, I have trained myself to let go of objects. It wasn’t easy, and if I said that fight was completely over, I’d be lying. But I have come to a certain standstill, an equilibrium where I no longer feel like my life is filled with useless crap that I don’t even know where it comes from. I have enough, and in the rare occasions that I feel like my things are turning into too much, I know how to react (usually with throwing out and filing paper).

So, when I say that I’m a nostalgic person, I’m not talking about objects. Mostly, I am talking about projects. Because I have a much harder time letting go of those.

I have folders filled with unfinished writing projects. I have lists of ideas for more. I have a whole plethora of half-abandoned internet projects (which is why I kept this post). I have over a hundred unread or unfinished books. I have so many things I want to do and learn.

This blog is one of them; and so is the reason for coming back to it.

Over the last couple of months, I have had time to think about what I’m doing in the time that I’m not working on my PhD. I have found answers, some of which I like (a lot of reading, meeting with friends, traveling, museums and the like), some of which I don’t (way too much time spent on tumblr being the most obvious choice). Among other things, I have also realised how much I miss talking and thinking critically about the things I enjoy: Mostly books, but also various movies, TV series, and pop culture. I can do some of that on tumblr (and I love my various fandoms on there), but it is not a platform that lends itself particularly well to writing. Texts, especially longer ones, often get lost among hundreds of gifs, vines and pretty pictures.

So, I came back here. I’m not sure I have a definite concept for this blog yet (I’m not even sure I ever will), but I have some ideas what I want to share on here. I want to write more; that is my first premise. I want to share whatever I come across and like, be it books, TV shows, museum exhibitions, art or music; that is my second premise. I want to reflect on my life, my creativity, my writing; that is my third premise. Beyond that, we will see.

Advertisements

Quote

The Road Goes Ever On

Tags

, , ,

The Road goes ever on and on

Down from the door where it began.

Now far ahead the Road has gone,

And I must follow, if I can,

Pursuing it with eager feet,

Until it joins some larger way

Where many paths and errands meet.

And whither then? I cannot say.

 

~ J. R. R. Tolkien – The Lord of The Rings, Part 1: The Fellowship of the Ring

Happy Birthday, Professor! 🙂

Two years…

Tags

, , ,

2015-12-10 09.16.00

Two years is how long I have not written anything for this blog.

Two years is how long I have wasted time in other places on the internet.

Two years is how long I have juggled ideas, impressions, and images.

Two years is how long I could not put my thoughts into proper words.

Two years is how long I have thought about coming back.

This is the moment I do.

 

Shiny Objects

Tags

, , ,

Garden Gate with Berries I have a confession to make. “Another one?”, you might ask. Well, yes, you better get used to it. This blog will be as much about my writing, my projects and the things I like as it will be about self-exploration, thoughts and ruthlessly putting truths about myself on paper (or, well, the internet). Especially those truths that I have known about for ages, but hardly ever admit to in public.

One of these is that I suffer from Shiny Objects Syndrome. I love new things, new ideas, new projects. The trouble is, I hardly ever see them through to the end. I am excited to start, but I hardly ever finish because I usually lose interest along the way. This is why the only writing projects I have ever brought to some form of close were a number of short stories. This is also why I have a huge pile of sewing projects, unfinished notebooks, half-finished letters, and half-finished books. And that is not counting the millions of paper scraps and postits where I noted down ideas, inspirations and things to look into. So you see, even more dead bodies in the cellar. Only now I have finally found a name for what is causing them.

Apparently, this kind of behaviour is rather common with my personality type, INFP. The emotional outlook I have on life lets me get easily excited about just so many things, and makes me feel about them strongly. Unfortunately, liking anything and everything also costs a lot of energy, and I think that’s why so many things get dropped and forgotten about, especially if some new and equally shiny project comes along.

As for the right method to dealing with SOS, I am still trying to figure that out. I do, however, have an inkling that publicly pledging to do something and tracking my progress helps with holding myself accountable. So, expect more of that here in the future.

~~~

One other way in which I plan to hold myself accountable is a new blogging project I’m about to start with some (online) friends: Minimalistenfreun.de We will write (in German) about our experiences with and our road towards minimalism. There will also be personal essays, posts on minimalist fashion, useful websites, sustainable living, book reviews, personal challenges and a number of other things. If you care about the topic at all and have sufficient German to follow us, please do!

Thoughts on Mental Clutter (Repost)

Tags

, ,

This post, like its predecessor, was written about a year ago for another blog where I was concerned with decluttering and my journey towards minimalism. This blog died, but the thoughts I voiced here are still relevant to me. The entry is not edited in any way, although I’d probably not use the same didactic tone I used in this entry (and it’s follow up, which I will re-post shortly) where I to write it today.

~~~

Contrary to what intuition might tell us, clutter does not have to be physical. It can also be mental and it can appear in all shapes and sizes, disguises even. That is possibly the kind of clutter which is harder to identify and to deal with.

In fact, identifying physical clutter is relatively easy. Take a walk through your home an put everything that no longer works, that you don’t really like anyway, or that you haven’t used during the last six months in a box, and you will see immediate success. Physical clutter has a tendency to creep into our homes unnoticed, but once identified, getting rid of it is fairly straight-forward: Most things can simply be trashed (true, some need a kind of “incubation phase” where you keep them a little longer just to figure that you indeed do not need them), many just need a proper place, and some need returning to their real owners.

Some few, tricky things need finishing, and those border on the line between physical and mental clutter. In fact, mental clutter can also be physical – that unfinished pair of socks you wanted to knit, those letters you wanted to answer -, but it doesn’t have to be. Sometimes, mental clutter is just things you wanted to do but never got round to, things you thought you should be doing but don’t really want to, or things that you can not come to terms with.

Some would say that physical clutter is the outward representation of mental clutter – you can not let go of events, thoughts and ideas, and thus you also can not let go of things – but this is not always the case. In my experience, mental clutter has a tendency to especially build up with people who do not have too few ideas and things to do, but too many. Too many ideas, too many plans, too many things they’re interested in. Sometimes, they are very well-organised outwardly, but their mind is still a mess and they’re constantly running after things that still need to be finished.

What is especially difficult about mental clutter is that very often the process of getting rid of it either involves a lot of effort – you have to muster all that mental strength you did not manage to come up with all this time to finally push yourself to the end – or it involves some serious thinking about priorities, wishes and who you really are (or want to be). Often, it is both.

This, I believe, takes a lot more courage than simply dumping an old pair of shoes. Because we have to stop pretending to be a person we are not and face who we truly are. Because we have to stop lying to ourselves – and we have to admit that this is something that we all like to do.  Because we have to rethink, reevaluate, reorganise – including the realisation that some things are just never going to happen.

Getting rid of mental clutter also involves coming to terms with our previous decisions, since we often have a tendency to beat ourselves up about the fact that our priorities of today are not the priorities of our past. Even if you now wish that you had written that letter months ago, it is not going to help since obviously something else was more important at the time. The only way we can achieve this is through forgiving ourselves for making decisions which have been proven wrong by hindsight (procrastination, especially) and by accepting all others. This may be the hardest step of all, forgiving, for while we readily forgive others, we rarely ever do ourselves.

However, not only thoughts are involved when dealing with mental clutter, actions have to follow. At some point, we have to sit down and make a list of all the unfinished, unlived things in our mind and decide what to do with them. There are only two options: Finally taking action or dumping them. The first of these things involves a clear plan of which steps to take next, the second involves honesty. Both also need time.

So do not worry if this process of mental decluttering takes time – and more importantly, try not to get impatient if it does. We’re getting there, one baby step at a time!

PS: It took me quite some time to fully understand all this (and not simply know, which is something different altogether). In fact, I’m still playing catchup on all things mental that I think require finishing. Letting go of everything else is a step which yet lies before me.

Thoughts on Decluttering (Repost)

Tags

, ,

This post was written about a year ago for another blog where I was concerned with decluttering and my journey towards minimalism. This blog died, but the thoughts I voiced here are still relevant to me. The entry is not edited in any way, although I’d probably not use the same didactic tone I used in this entry (and it’s follow up, which I will re-post shortly) where I to write it today.

~~~

I think one of the easiest things to do when starting on the minimalist road is to declutter. At any rate, in many guidelines on becoming a minimalist, it’s advertised as one of the first steps. That is not to say that throwing things out is easy. Quite the contrary. Very often it requires a lot of determination and effort to let go of the things that have become a part of one’s life one way or another. But it is still an easy step because it’s just so obvious. Physical clutter is visible, and in most cases the steps to get rid of it are very straightforward. Throw it out. Return it. Recycle it. Sell it. Whatever.

There’s very little problem analysis needed to do the first step; that comes later. When we ask ourselves how all that clutter ended up in our lives in the first place. When we ask ourselves what fears hold us back and what it is that makes us keep so many things “just in case.” But that, like I said, is not the first step.

I, too, start with that first step, decluttering. It’s quite satisfying to throw out things and to carry all that unnecessary rubbish to the trash bin. It’s also a rather quick fix for the need to get something done. What is hard is going on with the more difficult tasks later on. That is, I fear, what I really need to work on.

The Bodies Hidden in the Cellar

Tags

, , ,

I know that my last post is already a couple of weeks old (almost a month, as I just realised), but I have not been idle. I have been thinking a lot about my writing habits and other projects, and I feel I have finally formed a proper idea of what I want to do with my life.
As a result of these ponderings, I have come up with a number of new year’s resolutions (I call them “Golden Goals for 2014”) that I want to see through this year. Amongst these are “Write more” and “Finish those unfinished projects (or let them go)”.

I have also come to the following realisations about myself:

I am a person of many interests.

I’m interested in nearly everything (to a varying degree), and I love to start new hobbies, projects, writing experiments. I get excited easily, and I invest a lot of energy and emotions in things which I deem important. Unfortunately I very seldom have the energy to see things through to the end.

I love various media.

One thing I like about the internet and blogging in general is that I can combine various media like videos, music, quotes and pictures to form a view of the world that is more holistic than pure text ever can be. That is one of the reasons why Tumblr, Livejournal and blogs in general appeal to me so much. I have tried emulating this effect in my paper journal, but since printing out stuff is such a hassle (and pasting music is next to impossible), I can’t be bothered. That’s why I need more than one platform to collect my thoughts. However, there is also a drawback:

I tend to spread my thoughts and reflections over too many different places.

This makes me “(…) feel thin, sort of stretched, like butter scraped over too much bread.“, as Bilbo so eloquently put it.1. I have this tenendcy to register new blogs and other random accounts of all sorts to try out new platforms, and then I just lose interest after a while. I never get round to deleting those accounts, though. That’s how I ended up with all those dead bodies in my cellar.

These dead bodies are mostly unfinished writing projects, website accounts, and blogs that I started and lost interest in. There are some which are severely ill like my LiveJournal (although I occasionally use it as a late-night let-out for overflowing emotions), some which are close to taking their last breath (my twitter) and some which have been coma patients for several years (like this blog in German). A lot of other accounts are just dead, and many have been for a while. These are the ones that I need to weed through in the near future, and finally lay to rest. Other projects, however, have only died quite recently because I finally managed to admit to myself that it was no use keeping them alive any longer. One such project was a blog I started in late 2012 where I wanted to chronicle my journey towards minimalism (it was called The Romantic Minimalist). I lost interest in this blog shortly after I moved into a new flat a year ago, the reasons being my exams and not seeing the need to declutter so much any more. Today, I finally deleted the blog. Because really, who wants to look at pictures of things that I chucked in the bin? This was a first for me, and though it felt strange and very final, it also was kind of liberating.
There were two posts on there that I liked, though, and I will repost them here in the following days. They mostly contain thoughts on decluttering (both physical and mental), and are still relevant to me today.

1. JRR Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring

On Writing

I have the urge to blog again, and I don’t mean blog as in “random nightly posts on LiveJournal” but rather blog as in “write some serious texts on one of the countless wordpress blogs I’ve started over the years.” Yes, there are at least three that I still remember the password to, two in English, one in German, and each given up after a couple of months. I tried fashion, I tried cooking, I tried travel (mostly during my semester abroad), and I tried decluttering/minimalism. None of these managed to grip my attention long enough to make it over the first months. And yes, this blog is one of the orphans forgotten along the way.

Forgotten, and remembered.

The urge to write at the moment, that’s more about reflection, and personal writings. Essays. Something I’ve never written before, at least not in a non-scientific context. This urge may well have been prompted by reading Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own which I took out of the library the last time I got books for my English exam, and a couple of her other essays. It may also have been influenced by more general thoughts about writing I have entertained during the last couple of weeks especially. Thoughts about being more open to experimenting with new forms of expression. Thoughts about trying out shorter forms of prose, or different forms of text altogether.

I always considered myself a novellist, and I still do. I have these incredibly long and complex storylines in my head, those myriads of characters, places, events, feelings. The trouble is, so far I haven’t managed to get them on paper in a remotely coherent manner. That is not to say that I haven’t written (although creative writing has been on a back burner for the last year or so due to uni obligations) – but I haven’t written regularly, and not coherently. My “novels” still consist of a dozen or so (probably more, the doc is about 100 pages now) of losely-related scenes and viewpoints, with huge gaps between them, and in two different languages.

All of this made me think whether I should probably start on a much smaller level. Like on a scale of about 1500 words, of an essay, a short story. Heck, I have even considered fan fiction, and there’s this horde of plot bunnies running wild all over my laptop screen whenever I turn on Downton Abbey. (Don’t ask me why this grips my imagination so much; maybe it’s because it’s basically history, something I know about and know how to do the relevant research for…)

More importantly, I have actually started thinking about writing as something I want and need to do seriously again. I haven’t done this for quite a while (at least a year, as far as I can recall) because my exams and papers took up just so much of my time. I’m bad at writing two different things at a time – be it papers or other stories – and I’m also bad at writing while I have a lot of reading to do.

I think, this has something to do with immersion. Immersion is extremely important for me when I write, and I’ve never written anything slowly, one page per day, or one chapter per week. This holds true for both papers and other writing, and it’s probably the reason why paper writing is so very exhausting for me.
When I write, I do nothing else. At least, nothing of much consequence. I manage to do the shopping, wash the dishes and go about daily life fairly normally, but everything else distracts me and makes immersion impossible. I don’t read (unless it’s relevant for the topic I’m writing about), I try to avoid meeting people, I don’t even watch series.

But immersion also works the other way round. When I read a book or watch a movie or TV series, I’m both intellectually and emotionally invested in the story, and very much so. Books can make me cry (and induce all sorts of other feelings), and so can movies and series, albeit to a lesser extend. While I read, I am transported to a different place – not necessarily the one from the book, just somewhere else – and distractions break that kind of magic. I can not – and believe me, I’ve tried – imagine what my own characters feel and think like while I’m still suffering or rejoicing with someone else’s.

Maybe I’m in the right state of mind now to try and do this little, but oh so very hard thing: to give writing more time in my life, while trying to retain all those other things I love. Maybe, the secret is called compartmentalisation. Writing today, reading tomorrow. Finish one story, give myself time to let the wounds heal over, then start with another. I love multitasking – I just have come to think lately that it might not be the right thing for me. What is right instead, I still have to find out.

Finally, I’m in the right state of mind to look forward to the process.

On Reading

Tags

, ,

During a walk to the town centre today, a beautifully serene late summer’s day, I finally figured out why it is so hard for me to finish some books. I say some books, because it is usually not the ones with happy endings or endings which I already know.
Rather, those are  books like Waverley. Books where I have an inkling that something terrible might happen before it’s all over. Books where I think that one of my favourite characters might die. Books, in short, that I don’t want to end, especially not in the way they do.
I know from experience that it gets better the second time, and then every time after that. But the first time is always the hardest, and it’s usually the time I cry. Then, I can remember that feeling of empathy and melancholy ever time I read that particular book again.

So much for friends who never lived; and yet they can die.

Intermission

Tags

,

If I say I’m not really here nor there, it’s not meant metaphorically.
I am currently in the in-between state between fantasy and reality, between action and thought, and between novels and travels.
I have been in this state ever since I returned from Scotland late on Wednesday, and am sure that this is entirely this trip’s fault.
I feel that, for the moment, songs can explain the state of mind I’m in much better than my words can.

Photobucket

I promise a write-up soon, and more news also.

Let us go, lassie, go
Tae the braes o’ Balquhidder
Whar the blueberries grow
‘Mang the bonnie Hielan’ heather
Whar the deer and the rae
Lichtly bounding thegither
Sport the lang summer day
On the braes o’ Balquhidder

~ Robert Tannahill

PS: Seems like you can’t avoid Bonnie Prince Charlie and Robert Burns on a trip to Scotland, even if you try. Which I didn’t, of course. 😀