Έφυγε η θεία Ρούλα


Funeral

Σήμερα 30 Ιουλίου 2018 μας άφησε η θεία Ρούλα. Πολύ καιρό πολεμούσε την αρρώστεια με τρόπο αξιοθάυμαστο. Όσες φορές την είδα, ούτε μια φορά δεν είπε την παραμικρή κακή κουβέντα, ούτε γκρίνιαξε, ούτε “τι κακό με βρήκε”, τίποτα. Πάντα μια καλή κουβέντα για όλα αυτά που συμβαίνουν, με βαθιά πίστη ότι είμαστε κομμάτι απο κάτι ανώτερο και υπάρχει και συνέχεια.  Πριν μερικά χρόνια θυμάμαι οτι οι γιατροί τις είχαν δώσει λίγους μήνες ζωή, προφανώς υπολογίζοντας χωρίς τον ξενοδόχο που έιχε ακόμα πολλή καλοσύνη να δώσει στην οικογένεια της, σε φίλους, γείτονες, σε ανθρώπους που την ξέραν και μερικούς που δε το μάθαν ποτέ. Άνθρωπο με τόση ανιδιοτελή αγάπη, τόσο δοτικό, σπάνια συναντάει κανείς, και όταν συμβαίνει είναι δώρο. Τα λόγια αυτά δε φτάνουν, αλλά τα έγραψα για ένα μικρό αντίο και για να πάει μια σκέψη παραπάνω μαζί της εκεί που θα πάει. Θα λείψει σε όλους.

 

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Energy


We all have some. Not all the same, some have more than others. We collect it, we accumulate it and we spend it or, to be more precise, most times, misspend it. This is our whole life. There is nothing else going on apart from that. We eat, drink, sleep, think, work, feel, fall in love (and out of it), raise children, take care of loved ones, keep a home going, aspire to become things, communicate, wait for others, have sex (well, some of us), get angry, go on holidays, meditate, do yoga, pray, travel, get sad, happy, listen to music, fall ill, sunbathe, disagree with others, support causes, have faith, believe in things, perceive ourselves in certain ways, you get the picture. All of these either give us energy or take it away, mostly depending on how we do them. Of course everybody knows that. Everybody knows too, at some level, which ones give us energy and which ones take it away. It does not mean we will do the energy-giving ones or in energy-giving ways, but we know them deep down. We do have egos that advise us to do the wrong, energy-devouring, thing, but even then we know it is wrong. We (our egos) create narratives to tell ourselves and others that this IS the right thing to be doing, but we know we are not being honest to ourselves. “I am a world expert in entomology” takes energy away. Not because I am not, I may very well be. But because I feel the need to say it or think it for some purpose. To prove something, usually that I am right or successful, or that I am following the right path, professionally or otherwise. On the other hand, “you are an expert in entomology” gives energy. It gives energy both to the speaker and the listener, assuming benevolent intentions. Someone recognises the qualities of another person, and maybe expresses their appreciation of them in some context. The intention gives energy to the speaker, for a unifying (good) purpose. This is especially valuable if the speaker too is an expert in entomology. The speaker also receives these thoughts and feelings in material form (just not visible material for the human spectrum) as energy. But there are many other cases applicable to those of us who do not study insects for a living.

energy

I really like the way you think

A kind word gives energy both ways. A nice gesture of some sort, let’s say giving someone something to eat. Lovingly preparing it too of course takes this to a whole different level, but let’s stick to basics. You buy a sandwich for a hungry person on the street and you give it to them, and you say a nice word. The energy exchange is multi-level here too. You help someone and I assume here because you actually care, not because you got guilt-ridden, as is often the case. You give them energy, in invisible form as before, and also in the very tangible form of calories in the food. Someone falls in the street and you give them a hand to get up. Energy goes their way, and you actually spend some to help them, but your body created as much as needed. If you can’t help them yourself, you ask someone. It is the same principle. I know there are far too many hungry people out there, and far too many falling around us. But I also know that those who don’t help aren’t doing so because they’ve done it so much that they now have no energy to do it anymore.  Those who don’t help are usually completely consumed with the dissemination of their own energy basically feeding several egos, as they have decided to care for other things.

My suit is great. I need to buy a better car, I can’t keep being seen in this old thing. How does my hair look? Why did Emily get promoted and not I? Why doesn’t Roger fancy me? I’ll be late again. I can’t focus. I need a holiday. I don’t think my parents really loved me. And at the same time, Derek at the desk next to me at work is suffering from depression and I had no idea until today when I overheard at the water-cooler. My friend is struggling with loneliness. I am very busy with work and family, I have no time to even pick up the phone and have a meaningful conversation. My boy/girlfriend hasn’t heard a kind word from me in years but hey, I don’t see my role as the one who says kind things. I am the one who “brings stability” (or whatever else we tell ourselves and/or others). And you know what, I do tell him/her nice things, (s)he just does not appreciate them. And it is not as if (s)he is saying nice things to me. Or doing nice things for that matter. I love her/him, of course I love her/him. What does that mean anyway? I have never seen my elderly neighbour have a visitor. But I am not the kind who talks to strangers. There is a great volunteer-based community project in my neighbourhood helping under-privileged children learn digital skills. Oh, but I don’t do these sort of things. Who knows what kind of people will be there.  And also, I am soooooo busy doing all these other things that I am doing, that I really can’t do that. Honestly. If I describe my day to you you’ll see I am right. There is so much I have to do. These people who help in these projects, hat off to them, well done, I don’t know where they find the time and energy. I secretly think they are losers, but I won’t admit to that. The people I admire are out there making money, you know? You would if you could too. C’mon, everybody would do the same in my place.   

And there goes all the energy. That’s why some have more than others. And there goes another day. And another life.

True story V


This happened about a year ago, but I have a system. If I still remember it and find it ‘postworthy’, I write about it. So, I was in London, it the health centre where I used to work as a reiki practitioner. This was a bad day for me. It had started with 3 appointments with new clients, who, during the day, all cancelled. Now, this is bad enough, but you need to consider that I had already travelled to central London, paid for the ticket and prepaid for an extra hour for the room where I work, so I was already about £50 out of pocket on a day I was expecting to be about £150 up, and I was facing a total of about 4 hours of commuting on top of that. It was also pouring down, but hey, this is London. This had never happened before (or after) and I was angry, planning to reconsider my cancelation policy on my way back home. Just outside the health centre, I crossed Eccleston str to go towards Victoria station when a golden (I kid you not) Hummer with Arabian number plates whizzed along through a puddle of rainwater on the road and drenched any remaining composure and dignity I had left – there wasn’t much of it to begin with.

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-So, I said to the guy “I want a car to reflect my elegant yet sophisticated personality”

So, as the true Olympian triple-jumper that lives inside me decided to take over, I trotted and urgently yet gingerly jumped onto the pavement to the other side, to at least avoid being run over by the Hummer. All along I am loudly swearing in Greek at the Arab-plated American monster in a busy street in central London to an internationally wide-ranging audience, that’s cosmopolitanism for you. As I landed on the pavement, still looking back towards the now disappearing Hummer, I turn my head and realise I landed in front of a man in a electric wheelchair. He was about my age as far as I could tell, driving the wheelchair with a lever attached just below his chin, as (I suspect) he was paralysed from the neck down. He had stopped, and had he not I would have landed on him. He looked at me and smiled, or at least that’s what it seemed like to me. I smiled back and nodded. He then started moving again to the direction he was going. I then reconsidered my day a lot and my life a little. You are welcome to do the same.

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Inclusive security


This is going to be a very short post, no intention to be witty or anything of the sort. A few days ago I was at Mexico City airport, in the domestic flights terminal. I took this very bad picture with my mobile.fc65c242-2604-4102-be8c-0c2e1cd6e7f2

I took the picture when I realised what was going on in the terminal, which, up to that point I thought was a strange coincidence. The man in the wheelchair is a security guard at the terminal. In the area past security check, after the ‘system’ has checked that you don’t have any knives, guns, pistols, nuclear warheads or other such like in your hand-luggage, almost all the guards are men and women in wheelchairs. I counted 7 out of 9 in that area only but there might have been more. Now, a couple of things that are not obvious at first glance: The guards are employed by a private company subcontracted by the airport. They are (the two that I tried my luck with) fluent in English, unlike the majority of other employees at the airport and in Mexico in general. I also overheard one of them speak French and one speak German to tourists. For all I could tell, their duties included making sure people know where they are going, health and safety is maintained in the area, there is no overcrowding anywhere, the queues are orderly, etc.

I now also know what the other two security guards (not in wheelchairs) were there for: They were helping people with special needs.

My facebook friends: A user’s guide

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Dear facebook user. Congratulations on your ongoing addiction with the network. You now have, or soon will have, many facebook friends. They need to be treated with care if you want to keep them in great condition for many years. I will try to cover some of the most common kinds that you will encounter, using examples from my own “collection”. In my friends collection, there are around 500 friends. I know most of them in my actual life and we have consumed calories together. This used to be my main criterion for accepting, for a while, before I “friended” anyone. I have now abandoned that and have friended some other people. Still, I have a rough idea what my facebook friends are ‘about’. I divide them in the following categories, with made-up examples:

A) The “too cool for facebook” people. These are generally professionals who go online, check what is happening, but rarely post anything. The message they are giving is “I am too busy for facebook”. In some cases it is true. In other cases, they just don’t want to do what most people are doing on facebook, for their own reasons. These people also rarely message via facebook. They are generally alright, but if you have this sort of friends, it is worth considering whether they make any effort to make contact any other way. Do they call you? Do they text? Do they return your calls and texts in the same decade that you called/texted them? Some will, some won’t. Act accordingly.

Typical post: Rare

B) The “my life is so amazing” people. Not sure I need to say more, they have been the subject of endless online ridicule and rightly so. They will post their incredible news from their award winning, jaw-dropping, awe-inspiring, super-successful life, to go with their incredibly fulfilling relationship for all to admire. They typically spend most of their time online, checking who liked their posts. Fortunately, I don’t have many of these. If you do, do not be mean to them, they probably used to be nice people in the past. There is hope for the future.

Typical post: “I have been selected by the King of Swaziland to be awarded the Cross of Honour for Outstanding Contribution to Humanity. I am so humbled. Here is the picture of me and my beautiful wife who loves me so much and I love her too, looking humbled by the honour. Long live the King of Swaziland”

C) The photographer. I don’t mean the selfie people. I mean those who take pictures of other things than their own existence and give them to the world to see, sometimes with captions, sometimes not.  I think I like this category. They show a level of engagement with what they think other people may bother to look at, may find interesting and possibly share a view about it.

Typical post:

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Hong Kong Geometry

D) The “Truman” people. I am borrowing the name from the movie the “Truman” show, for one reason only. Truman, in the movie, salutes everybody in his made-up community by saying “Good morning, and in case I don’t see you, good afternoon, good evening and good night”. The Truman people say “good morning” as if they talk to their neighbours whom they’ve just seen down the road. They don’t see their facebook profile as a painting that someone will only look at if they choose to. They probably think “I’ll say good morning, maybe someone will reply in whatever way, and even if not, what is the harm?”. Again, it is about how one understands their online presence. Mostly nice people, in my friends’ case.

Typical post: “Good Morning”

E) The “I saw it first” people. They are usually also the “I’ve been saying this all along” people. They will upload something, claiming some sort of intellectual possession of it or at least having been the first in some sort of group that knew about something. This ALWAYS, ALWAYS, vindicates their previously existing points of view, which other people may have challenged. Now that they have uploaded this post on fb from another source, it is obvious for everyone to see how right they are. After all, if something is on the web, it is undoubtedly true. Challengers for the most annoying category, in my case.

Typical post: “I’ve been saying this for years, you idiots” – (quasi-scientific article attached)

F) The “you’ve been reviewed” people. They will comment on almost anything, illustrating their intellectual superiority – at least in their mind. Often sarcastic, lobbying for years for a “dislike” button to finish their venomous comments with. The time has come, hasta la victoria siempre. They, like the ones above, talk in the same way in real life. Facebook is paradise for these people, as the fact that they have often been unfriended by many of their fb friends in real life doesn’t seem to register with them, as long as they can log on and contribute some negativity to any topic under the sun.

Typical post – comment: “No, that’s not at all like that you moron. You are clueless. Read some history”

G) The “Oh, so cute” people. Again, not sure I need to say much, picture goes up, they like it and comment on it’s cuteness, be it a a dog, pout, handbag, car, couple kissing, wedding picture, food, you upload it, they will “oh so cute!” it. Harmless for the most part, I suspect they wish someone said the same to them every minute of every day. Wouldn’t that be nice? Yes, it wouldn’t.

Typical comment: “Oh, so cute”

H) The travelling salesman (or woman). These people are promoting something they are doing for a living and they are using facebook for that. I have nothing against them. We live in a world where people are struggling to make a living and if someone can make a penny online, good for them. Sometimes they overdo it. When you know that every single thing someone is posting is a desperate attempt to make money and 99% or more of the time you have no interest in it, it becomes noise. Nobody reads it, because they think they know what it is about. Sometimes they get it right. I have often bought things like that and I always keep an eye, especially when I know some people produce or sell interesting things. I see them as I see shops I like, where I actually am. Part of me belongs to this category, I have a soft spot for it.

Typical post: “Hey, our team at whateverproduct.com has just released this fantastic potato-peeling wifi signal enhancer, have a look!”

I) The “I saw this and I thought it was interesting/funny”. I think this is my favourite category of fb users. They use facebook as they would behave in a live conversation that included friends AND strangers. “Hey, look at this thing I came across”. Some will find it interesting, others won’t. That is life. Moving on. P.S. If you are finding and sharing 150 “interesting” things every day, you may want to reconsider your definition of interesting. Unless you are 4 years old, in which case, leave facebook now before it is too late.

Typical post: Something off a satyrical or scientific website, without any comments.

J) The “conscientious” user. These people tend to promote good causes. It may be a charity, an event, an organisation, helping individuals, animals, anything that they thought was a worthy cause. I think this is one of the good things that facebook has helped with and I often find myself contributing, when I can and want to. Facebook has helped these people also enhance networks between them, and things become more efficient. I am fine with these people, I think you should be too.

Typical post: “Hi everybody, I have found this dog, if you think you know anyone who would like to adopt him, please give me a call on 077777777”

K) The “I have a view on something, here it is”. Here, you’ll find people who want to elaborate on something, current affairs, news, ongoing debates, anything, and they have written something longer than a few lines. They may have interesting or boring things to say, as does everyone in life. These people, of which I am one, are easy to figure out whether they are worth reading or not. Read a couple of their posts, you’ll know what to do after that. Love them or leave them. Win-win situation.

Typical post: You are now reading one!

L) The selfie people. Enough said.

Typical post: No, I won’t.

M) The “why is everything going wrong in my life?” people. They will not stop complaining online. “My boyfriend left me.” “I can’t stop putting on weight.” “I crashed my car.” “I lost my wallet.” “My boss had a go at me.” To be honest, I am not surprised your boyfriend left you.

Typical post: Well, you get it.

N) The GPS people. Checking in everywhere. I am hoping this will stop at some point. I don’t know why people post that they are at an airport. So, ok, you are going somewhere, so what? I mean, I would understand it if you were flying to South Africa to be given an award by the King of Swaziland but you are at Stansted flying to Mallorca? Really? Ok. Noted.

Typical post: Rigas has just checked in at Vladivostok International Airport, flying to Irkutsk.

Share this post, I’d like to get feedback, especially if I’ve omitted any major category!

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Protecting yourself

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There is a personal balance, different for everybody. It’s a shame really, because if it was the same, we could follow the manual and find it, and live in bliss. There will be voices around you that will tell you otherwise. Some with the best intentions, some not. Unfortunately, even those with the best intentions don’t have access to your manual, and the one they have and promote as universal is not. Your balance is your balance and it is, right now, in a place that may require a little or a lot of change, in one direction or another. For example, you may need some more rest, or some more action than now in your life, two different directions. You may need some more human interaction, or some less. Overall, the point is nobody can tell you. You’ll need to work out what is better and sustainable for you. By sustainable, I mean you may go out one night and get wasted and forget about everything that moves you away from your balance, but this is not sustainable. You’ll know what is sustainable when it makes you feel god long after you’ve had it, throughout the day. Alcohol can’t do it. Drugs can’t do it. Comfort food can’t do it. They all lead you further from your balance, not nearer to it. Your body usually tells you too. Think of it this way: If you do 4 hours of it a day for a year, how will your body be? There you have it. Vodka is bad. Yoga is good.

Unfortunately, not everything is so obvious. You’ll need to try different things. How about reading literature, maybe fiction? How about applying for a job every day or every week, just to make you feel there is hope to get out of the place you are stuck now? Plus, it may happen. How about carving half an hour a day for yourself, no matter what else, and you meditate? How about creating a circle of goodness around you, where you are the main force. Tell a couple of people that you like what they are doing. There must be some people that you like what they are doing, big or small, otherwise there must be something really wrong with you, ok? It can be someone selling honeyed nuts on the high street who always has a nice thing to say to passers- by. It can be a blogger 🙂 It doesn’t matter. Just find them and tell them. This will protect you from being always vulnerable to negativity, which permeates your thoughts, and from there your mind and your body. This actually isn’t as deep as it sounds.

I feel really limited in this hotel room, I think I am going to write a blog post about it.

I feel really limited in this hotel room, I think I am going to write a blog post about it.

Ok, you have problems. You may have family problems, children, health issues, financial problems, career issues, and problems that you can’t even tell anyone for whatever reason. I suspect most people do, and I am sure more of them exist than you’d think based on appearances. It doesn’t matter how big yours are. Do something irrelevant to it, if this is what is needed to create some balance. Do you live in a huge city but you are alienated? Try one of the 1000’s of clubs and societies that operate in the city. Small town with limited options? The internet is big. Is your great career in danger because there is a new boss or a horrible colleague? How about writing a funny post about it? Turn them into fictitious characters, keep as much of their horrible actual existence as you want in it and write a funny story about it, or draw a satyrical painting of them, or a poem. (Actually, you can also try reiki, you’ll love it) You’ll be amazed how cathartic this is. All I am saying is there is always another angle to approach things. And your balance is there. Not in finding it. It is in believing it is worth looking for it. Because you’ll be finding new things, where negativity hasn’t got yet. If it turns out it has, keep looking.

Brought to you by www.reikiinvictoria.com

Just this once.


I have read the news about the thousands of refugees trying to get to Europe at any cost, as I am sure you have. I have previously written that I think help starts very near home. We miss out opportunities to help people around us who become invisible, and make our towns and cities worse for that. Still, this is a tragic time, exposing many of the horrid truths about what exactly is happening in the middle East, what is (and isn’t) happening in Europe where some countries, organisations and people offer some help while others don’t. It took a picture of a drowned boy to activate a big response in the UK; was this because those living in the UK didn’t know what was going on before? Hardly. Media power at it’s best and worst, for what was happening before.

Can you, me, everybody, help? Where does this start? It starts here. Have you helped anyone today? Is it because there isn’t anyone to help around? I doubt it. Is it because you can’t help? If you can’t, maybe you can tell a friend about it. £2 will help, and there are endless charities, organisations and events ready to take your equivalent to one cappuccino and turn it into a blanket for those who need it. What the hell is it worth to you? You can, probably, still have the cappuccino afterwards with another £2 that you also have. Are you going to tell yourself the lie that it doesn’t matter, that it is not for YOU to do anything or that it is someone else’s problem?

"This can actually save a life? We have messed up big time"

“This can actually save a life? We have messed up big time”

However, if you are feeling really generous and you can donate over £6, I attach links for three organisations who do this online- the top one is the Red Cross, the second is the International Rescue Committee and the third one is Hope for Children, all focusing on the refugees from Syria in the links below.

Apologies, I have nothing witty, funny or particularly unusual to say. Just this once. Maybe next time.

The Red Cross

The International Rescue Committee

Hope for Kids

This post is brought to you by www.reikiinvictoria.com (This one is not a charity, but if you have any interest in Reiki or who is writing this blog, go on, click!)

Learning from Novak Djokovic

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Most of of you know who Novak Djokovic is, and for those of you who don’t, he is a phenomenal tennis player, number 1 in the world at the time of writing and current Wimbledon champion, having beaten Roger Federer in the final. Also, he is the guy in the picture. I have watched Djokovic play many times. This post is not about learning to do anything specifically related to tennis, from the way Djokovic plays. I am sure advanced tennis players have a lot to learn from him, as he does most tennis “things” exceptionally well, and quite a lot of things better than anyone else. But it is not about that.

This post is about something that he does during play, more than any other player I have ever seen do. Djokovic applauds all the outstanding shots of his opponents and sometimes an exceptional rally. He taps his racket, effectively saying “well done”.

djokovicapplaudsreuters

This happens obviously when he has lost a point, and it happens even if the point in question has cost him a game, a set or a match. Why does he do that? Here is why: By applauding, he creates a better world for himself to be in. He has just lost a point by, say, an outstanding cross-court backhand that the opponent did exceptionally well to even get to in the first place, while Djokovic was almost sure to win the point. He could turn to himself and start swearing in Serbian or any other language. That would get him angry, nervous and negative, even for a little bit. His mindset would go into a negative spiral, even for a little bit. Everything about him would go on ‘minus’ mode. Instead, he raises the whole thing. He becomes part of a great point, won by a great player, his opponent. He wins thousands of these himself, there is no need for jealousy, no need for impatience, no need for expression of frustration. He may even be getting a great idea for a similar future shot, assuming he’s never done that himself (…unlikely). This way, he puts himself in the center of a positive sphere. He is buzzing when he is playing, and he remains buzzing. This is keeping his frequency higher, and therefore he is capable of more. (For more info, enquire within 🙂 ) He is more likely to win the next point, game, set and match. At the same time, he has honoured his opponent in public, and added value to the tournament he is participating in. Crowds love him, the world over. TV loves him. Sponsors love him. Everybody wins. He then returns a happier man to his wife and son.

The moral of the story is that there are a lot of ways to make things positive. You don’t need to win Wimbledon or the US Open, and let’s face it, your chances were slim to begin with. (Having said that, I strongly recommend you do, if you can!!!). It doesn’t need to be tennis. It can very easily be any other sport, competition, a professional interaction, a discussion or even an argument.

This is your life. Make it better.

This post is brought to you by http://www.reikiinvictoria.com

Go to bed with your vibration

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This is something I’ve learnt from reiki. And from going to bed with girls I shouldn’t have. Here is the gist of it. We are vibration. Each of our cells, every bit of our existence is a form of vibration, and it goes up and down. The healthier and more spiritually aware we are, the higher the vibration. The more negative and less healthy, the lower the vibration. This is why children are so genuinely happy and why negative people become ill. Coming back to my original point: our vibrating bodies resonate, like all frequencies, to some vibrations, and do not resonate to others. The right vibration stimulates further vibration, and we get a buzz, the wrong vibration is like a wrong note in a music piece. It is not harmonious, does not resonate, and while in music it metaphorically brings the whole thing down, in vibration it quite literally does.

Now, here is what happens when you go to bed with someone: your mind has told you that they are the right person to go to bed with. Because they are good-looking, because they are smart, because they treat you well, because, because, because. All of the above may have done some work towards bringing your two frequencies closer (and up), but it may also have not. Because they were too different to start with, because it wasn’t the right time, because, because, because. This is something that you shouldn’t try to fix. If you really like the person and they like you back, the frequencies are either already near, or will find each other. It will happen by spending some more time together. When that happens, going to bed with them will be great. You will be making each other not only happy in bed but (…as if that isn’t enough) you’ll be making each other healthier. Because your vibrations will be increasing, your body will be executing its functions – including renewing its own cells – faster. On the other hand, if the two people shouldn’t be together, their frequencies will let them know, regardless of what society will tell them, which may be to get married, be in the same bed, and have children. All of that may happen, but it doesn’t mean it was right to happen. It probably wouldn’t have happened to dolphins, panthers, eagles or any other creatures with a much higher spiritual awareness than us. It only happens to us because we have put our mind in charge, and our mind watches tv, listens to friends, has aspirations and, unavoidably, desperations. And we go to bed with them, instead of that person with the right vibration. All of these aspirations, desperations, shortcomings, fights, anger, hatred, hidden, unspoken feelings, night after night, become our mattress. In terms of energy, this last sentence is exactly literal. And scary. And the wrong person’s energy in the same bed, combined with yours, doesn’t help either. Rings a bell?

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What bell? I hear nothing!

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An invisible world in crisis


This week the world news was dominated by the Nepal earthquake, with the thousands of victims and the millions of people affected, a tragedy of incredible magnitude. This comes at the back of the ongoing anguish of the immigrants losing their lives in the Mediterranean trying to escape horrible conditions of life in war-torn countries in Africa and the Middle East. For most people, these tragic events are happening in places that appear distant both geographically and culturally, as most of us do not live near Lampedusa or Mount Everest. I think that for a lot of people this perceived distance either brings a sense of unjustifiable indifference or a slightly more understandable powerlessness, possibly with the exception of donating money to organisations that take action to alleviate or help with the pain where it happens. By all means, do that if you can. I did. You really can’t hop on a search and rescue boat and go save the immigrants in the Mediterranean. Nepal, the same.

However, while all of this is happening, there are endless situations, life stories much nearer to all of us that often fall through the cracks of a life of the powerlessness that I mentioned above. A life combined with a daily diet saturated with social and other media consumption, from which little energy escapes. The result is a social environment where everybody only cares about their own physical, social and financial ‘self’ as if it exists separate from the people, life and energy around them. We have neighbours who are elderly, alone, have mobility problems, have health issues that are often physically and socially marginalising, and we don’t see them. This, in my view, is a tragedy of equal significance. It may not become visible in the format of a news program that counts dead bodies to terrorise, confuse and subordinate an increasingly powerless electorate, but it is there. Invisible, as we look elsewhere. After all,  everything is invisible if you look elsewhere. Immigrants are invisible when they are drowning but not invisible when they survive and wander in the towns of the northern Mediterranean. This is the story of immigrants in most countries, I suspect, since the first ever war or natural disaster. They then become a convenient villain, a hated enemy or a humanitarian failure of our developed society, depending on your interests and level of understanding. But the elderly man who lives alone for years on the ground floor flat is always invisible. The unemployed single mum of the child in the wheelchair is always invisible. Unless you look. Unless you talk to them, even if it is to smile and say hello to them. Then they become visible. They may even smile back. The millions of these people, facing their own struggles, may smile back. You can even ask them if you can help them with something, maybe help them carry their shopping, which may be really heavy for them as they are, for example, 87 years old and really really weak. What is it to you? 5 minutes less on facebook? 5 fewer minutes wasted on Instagram? 5 minutes of bad TV less? The worldwide suffering will not end. But one personal tragedy, for one little moment, or maybe for more, will be slightly more sufferable. And this is the world you will live in, which you will have improved, and there will be a little bit more smiling around you. Go on, be selfish. Smile.

Japanese American National Museum, Los Angeles, 2013      (I knew I would get to use this picture at some point!)

Japanese American National Museum, Los Angeles, 2013 (I knew I would get to use this picture at some point!)

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