Saturday 24 March 2018

Thoughts in Progress

Three and a half months into the New Year, how are your resolutions going? Remember them? They’re the ones you thought up as you knocked back that fourth glass of cheap prosecco, bought from your local Lidl. The Lidl where you definitely do not wantto ever be seen by your fellow middle-classers, but to which you elopefurtively at almost closing time when no one’s looking and your pockets lackthe depth they once had. Anyway, back to my main point, how many resolutions have you kept? How many have you thrown overboard, into that big ocean called “Real Life”?

Late December and early January have that self-satisfying, fresh-start effect that animates many a New Year’s Eve shindig. It is that sense of finally, finally! beginning that much sought-after, new chapter in our lives. Yet, beyond this burst of motivation lies a not-always-perceptible threat: disappointment.

What killed Icarus? Hubris or failure to realise his New Year's resolution: flying as close to the sun as possible?

There are both mental and physical consequences as a result of this grandiose vision of the year ahead. Namely, we tend to overlook small but equally important changes in our lives. Hitting the gym and attempting to go from a size 16 down to a size 10 takes precedence over going for a brisk walk in the local park regularly. The former might burn more calories in a shorter time, but it is the latter that manages to leave us more fulfilled and complete as human beings in the long term. Another mental minus is that we set the bar for our resolutions so high that not even the former pole vault legend Sergey Bubka would have been able to clear it. The outcome? Frustration.

On the other hand, having low expectations does not help either. Based on close observation, I have noticed that pessimists or those prone to having a negative outlook on life, tend to have a body language that mirrors their attitude. Slouched shoulders, bent posture and solemn-looking faces are some of the signs I usually come across, even if they are not conclusive evidence.

We live in a world full of expectations, both made of us and by us. The problem is that constant target-setting is tiring and it takes the joy out of the life we, ironically, are trying to live well. My advice? Do not ever expect perfection. Give New Year’s resolutions the heave-ho. We are broken humans after all.

© 2018

Wednesday 14 March 2018

post for my daughter, who has just turned 17

The post below was originally written in 2009. I have just updated it a bit but the core message remains the same.

my beautiful and darling cherub

as your enter the seventeenth year of your life today i feel like digging out and caressing one of my favourite mementoes from your earlier days the time when you grabbed my thumb for the first time there was so much energy and vim in that squeeze your mum and i laughed our heads off after because from then on you showed your passion for people by hugging them very tightly whilst sucking in your cheeks it is one of your trademarks gestures now i also remember when i used to sing to you that famous song performed by none other than bola de nieve drume negrita whilst tucking you in bed and you would make the motion of the pau pau with your hands in the air you were only two but you could already recognise a good tune

meine liebe tochter mi chiquipeque ma chère fille i also remember the first word you uttered like your brother you went for the practical agua thus making sure that you would never die of thirst in a spanish speaking country and it made me so proud because you like your brother are the product of this globalised world of ours my dear daughter with your hebrew first name your french middle one and your spanish surnames yes you have big blond curls reaching down your shoulders now yet you are also cuban african chinese spanish english irish gibraltarian yes you are that and a lot more you are my daughter my balletic ballet ballerina expressive and graceful daughter the one who sasses back at me when we are both angry and the one who rushes to someone when they are in need of a cuddle

and the horses did i mention the horses the ones as little as your thumb thumb horses they are trotting about in your bedroom solid equus caballus tamed by your dainty hands brown horses and black and white long haired ones which you love like your mami you love unlike your papi who has never been on one you have touched their mane and fed them and that is why you looked after that toy stable we gave you for christmas years ago because you love horses galloping on their four hooves and you dream about them and you tell us about your dream the next day whilst you laugh and your laughter is clear and loud because you laugh with your entire tiny body from the tip of the longest hair follicle in your head to the tip of your big toe mi hijita querida on this day your birthday you remind of the song you liked me to sing to you about the boy who leaves havana and comes across a chinese dog that decides to follow him and how the boy falls for the dog and how he trades the dog he loves so much for a pair of shiny boots and some money and how he is sad after his money runs out and his boots break and how you ask me to explain the song to you and i tell you that it is a song about holding onto what you love and that no amount of money in the world can buy that precious thing that precious thing that is love


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