Letter about the fragility of good things and how I’m being Here

26th of April 2020

To whoever is reading this

I’m not sure why I didn’t write last week. I wanted to. But the only thing I wanted to write was not for the internet. It was just for me, and maybe a close friend who would understand or just sit with me in this thing. It wasn’t a bad thing. Maybe that’s why I found it so hard to share. Sometimes it’s easier to write the painful stuff and not care who reads it. The good things feels so much more fragile. Like they could crumble away and disappear if the wrong person touched them by accident. Or like I could undo them just by mentioning them. Sometimes I think if don’t hold my breath and stay perfectly still till they have settled and learned to trust me, they might run away again. So when they show up I decide to be careful and slow and not just jump into sharing anything. I recently ret “The Little Prince” by Antoine de Saint Epuréxy and the chapter about the Prince needing to tame the Fox comes to mind now. Last weekend I had this thing that I was finally ready to write down and believe in, but I wasn’t ready to share it with something as big and scary as the internet. And I kept believing I would find something else to write about, but I just didn’t.

There is an old ruin on the edge of the town I live in. It’s small, there isn’t much left of it. A few walls. A few room with no roofs. A few stairs and doorways. It’s right next to the highway. And there is a constant noise from the traffic. But it still feels like magic and history and the kind of place that isn’t really real, but something out of a book. There are lots of trees around and you can hear the birds singing, and though they never truly drown out the sound of traffic, they do make you forget about it. On summer evenings the bats fly around, if you have sharp eyes or sharp ears you might catch a glimpse of them or hear them. A few years ago I went there all the time. I spent the summer reading Harry Potter there. I found a nice spot, where I could bring my bag and my book, and sat there reading. I brought snacks and sodas and once after my last final that summer I even brought sushi and ate dinner there.
You couldn’t ask for better atmosphere for reading good books, than an old ruin and I love that place. So this week, feeling like I had gotten stuck doing nothing again, I packed some lunch and a book and walked the half hour it takes to go there. I sat in the doorway on the first floor, where I almost always sit to read. It’s not the most comfortable ground to sit on, the stones aren’t very comfortable, but it’s the best place to sit and be alone even when there are people visiting the place. There is another doorway on the other side that is much more comfortable, and I move there, in the late afternoon when the sun no longer shines on my favourite spot and I get a little cold. I am much more out in the open in this other doorway, but the people visiting the place are always nice about the reading stranger. Sometimes they ignore me, other times they say quick hi and move on with their exploring.  This time there was some boys from the school across the road. They look very curiously at me for a while and then went back to playing. One of them said hi and asked for my name so I told him my name and asked for him. Another boy found the place I was sitting and came by to give me a dandelion he had plucked. I doesn’t take much for them to realise I am not scary or intruding. And my weird purple hair usually makes kids think I cool.

I read “Momo” by Michael Ende. A book everyone should read. Especially the people with no time for reading. It’s about this girl, Momo, living in an old abandoned amphitheatre (I almost changed location to the local amphitheatre and read it there, but the ruin felt better and just as appropriate), who is very very good at listening. When the locals stop visiting her and acts strange, she discovers these men in grey who are steeling peoples time. Not because they have the power to take it from people, but by convincing people they are wasting their time and that they need to save it. So the people hurry and hurry and stresses along with no time for any of the things that matter, because they think they need to save time in order to have time later. So Momo who isn’t fooled by the men in grey has to find a way to stop them and give the people their time back.
It’s a very beautiful story about time and how we spend it. We have 86400 second every day and we control how we spend it. We don’t gain another second by being in a hurry. And this book shows this better than anything else I have ever read. It feels more relevant than ever as our society is so much in a hurry to earn money and asking us to waste out attention.

Reading this book now was so important to me. And reading it at the ruin was a very good choice. I needed to get out of my apartment and I needed to get out in nature. I have been to stuck in my own head and in this one place for too long. That makes it hard to remember how important it is to stay in the present and do what I can do while I have the time for it. I get so focused on the future or the past. Mostly the future. I want to know what happens when the world isn’t shut down because of the pandemic. I want to know if I can come back to work. I want to go back to work. I want to travel and see my friends and do so much. And I feel so trapped. But I am not. The ruin is still there. My books are still on the shelves waiting for me to give them attention. I have internet access and therefore access to learn almost anything I want to. My balcony is a great place to sit when I want to go outside but doesn’t have the energy to go anywhere. And all the thing I want to do that is impossible right now, will still be there when the world open up again. And in the mean time I know I am learning a lot about the possibilities I had before and about the things I just took for granted. And I feel grateful that it seems most of the world is having similar experiences.

All this is to say that reading this book was such a good reminder of what I wanted to do with this blog. Be Here. Be present. And walking out to the ruin to read was being Here. Not just attempting to find Here, but actually being Here. For a long time now I have felt uncomfortable in front of the screen. No matter what screen and what I am doing with it. No game or movie or YouTube video, no social media or even writing takes me to the place I want to go. I personally find myself using it to escape and to distract myself. Something that brings me so far away from Here. I am thankful to live in a time when I have all this information at my fingertips. I am thankful that technology allows me to stay in contact with my friends and family during this time. But mostly I just want to turn it all off and find a way to live without it. Return to myself and my present and the world around me.

It’ll never be that easy. And maybe it doesn’t have to be. But listening to that call inside me and trying to do something about it feels like the right choice for me. And I can do that for myself and still be happy that all these options exists and know that they help people in a way they don’t help me. I’m just concluding that it doesn’t work for me. I hope it works for others.

Whoever is out there reading, take good care of yourself and the people around you. Thank you for your time.


Letter about being human and having needs

12th of April 2020

Dear reader

I’ve been thinking about unmet needs. A term I learned from “Lost Connections” by Johann Hari. The book talks about the kind of needs that humans have that aren’t physical but are no less real and important. And that way of talking about it was so helpful for me.
It has taken decades to accept that I am human and have needs. My body and its needs are something that I still have a hard time with.

For most of my childhood and teenage years my parents and other adults (mostly therapists) told me human being are social animals That we need other people. And I couldn’t imagine anything worse. I hated the idea that I was forced to be around other people because my biology demanded it. It made no sense. I didn’t like being around people. People were difficult and I never knew what they wanted or what to do with them. I couldn’t imagine wanting people in my life. On the other hand I couldn’t imagine wanting life. And the way I was told humans needed other humans, had nothing to do with anything that I could understand. It sounded like I was expected to be happy being put in any situation with just anyone and then that should somehow work. There was never any talk of being accepted by these other people, if there were it was how I wasn’t accepted because I did everything wrong and I was accused of doing everything wrong on purpose. There was no talk of having things in common or that peoples social needs could differ. Extrovert and introvert were words I didn’t learn till I was in my twenties. No one talked about humans being social animals in a way I could understand. And part of that was the language chosen. The other part was that I had no positive experiences having people around. So I couldn’t imagine what that would be like.
Now I am older, I am discovering new language and most importantly I have experiences with people I to some extend am compatible with. People with similar interests, with similar minds and worldviews, with similar kind of problems and diagnoses. And when I now read how humans evolved and became what we are in this planet, because we worked together and formed tribes, it makes sense that I feel this need for people around me. I understand that what I am missing is a tribe. Not just a random collections of people, but a group of people who are my people. A group of people who look out for each other and care for each other. And suddenly I see examples of this through in my life and understand why some people I know seem so much more secure and stable and adventures. They have a home base, they have people who have their back, they have support and their needs are being met. And I feel how fragile my life is when I don’t have that. How unsafe and unsecure life is when there is no one who can help you. And suddenly that thing I was told all my life, but never given proper examples of, makes so much sense.

And I had to go through a similar thing to understand why I miss touch. I read and read about being touch starved, to understand why I missed something I never wanted in the first place. Something I feel like I lived without for most of my life, until it was forced upon me, and suddenly I didn’t know how to live without it. I felt so broken and mistaken. Like the nice feeling of being hugged or held had somehow broken something in me. How am I supposed to be independent if I have this need I cannot fulfil for myself? And reading about what it means to be touch starved and how the brain makes certain chemicals when you have that kind of physical contact with someone, help me understand I wasn’t broken. I am human. I have human needs.

That gave me language and understanding that made it possible for me to embrace being human and having needs. I suddenly understood that I wasn’t supposed to be everything or find everything within myself. I didn’t have to be all I needed: And as much as I hate that it feels kind of nice to take that pressure of my own shoulders. I am allowed to have needs. I am allowed to need other people. And that is kind of beautiful. And a lot scary.

Being aromantic and asexual means I am not sure where to find people to help fulfil these needs. I cannot offer up the traditional romantic and sexual relationship in return for what I need. And even if I could I think the traditional idea of finding someone to be everything for you is faulty. I don’t believe that is the right way to do it. I think we all need more people in our lives. Because just like it’s unhelpful to place all our needs on our own shoulders it’s not fair to place them all on one other person.

So what I am struggling with is how do I find that kind of people. How do I build me tribe? Who will be there for me and who needs me to be there for them? My friends all have partners or kids or have a different kind of social need than I do. Which means there are other people who take priority and who fulfil their needs. And as much as I understand that, it stings a little that everyone else have someone, but I don’t.

I love the idea of chosen family. And that is what I hope to find in the future. But in the mean time I am trying to be kind to myself about all the unmet needs I have. I am trying not to blame myself for them and I am trying not to be a burden to the people I care about, to whom I am just one more person and who already give all they have to give in other places that are far more important than I am.

I try to embrace being human. With all the complicated thing that entails. I try to embrace the idea that I don’t have to fix everything myself. But also remind myself that I need to try until that day when I am not so lonely. I also try to rely as much on myself as I can. Because I believe that independence and self-reliance is important, and it has always been a goal for me.

Right now, during a pandemic, I feel how alone I am even more. But now is not the time to go out and look for new friendships. Even if I knew how to do that. Now is the time to be stronger in being on my own. It hurts that I am not needed or missed during this time. It hurt that I need other people more than anyone needs me. And being needed is another need I have discovered is very human and very universal. But I cannot make anyone else need me. I cannot make anyone else make me a priority. But I can stop making people who will never prioritise me a priority. I can chose to be kinder to myself. I can chose to have more patience and understanding for myself. Just like I try to always have with the people around me. I have been trying so hard to give others all the things I need. I need to stop that and try to give it to myself, even if I needed an external source for those things just once in a while. That external source doesn’t exist for now.

I wanted to write more about the needs I discovered and how reading about how human they are makes me feel less broken. But I feel empty of words now. And writing this makes me a little sad. Because I am still discovering and learning and my thoughts and mindset haven’t found the right balance with these ideas yet. And knowing I have to be there for myself, when I am learning that I can’t and that it is human to need someone else, is hard. My mind doesn’t like the contradiction. With this as with everything I am on a journey. Discovering and learning and finding new ways. And that takes time. I am grateful for knowing that my current state of mind isn’t my final state of mind. I know I am on my way somewhere and that allows me to rest here, because I know there are other new places to explore later. But this mindset, this place, this part of the journey is what demands my attention right now. And that is what Here is all about to me. Being better at being Here. Even when Here hurts, even when Here is full of contradictions, even when Here is alone and I would have loved to share it with someone. Of all the places my mind goes, of all the places my understanding are looking for, of all the places my curiosity and learning takes me, I know I am really looking for my way Here, to the present, to whatever moment I am in. And that is so hard, but often made easier by remembering that no matter what Here I am in now there’ll be another Here later, and searching for the other Here isn’t bringing it closer, it’s only robbing me of this Here, this now.

I hope this made sense. I hope there was something worth reading in this. I hope whoever is out there reading is doing well. Thank you for your time.


Letter about choices

5th of April 2020

Dear whoever is reading

I believe in choice. I truly believe a lot more than we think is within our control. That how we respond to things and how we think and talk about things are powerful. I believe we have so mane more options than we often realise. And when we feel backed into a corner it’s not because we are, but because we don’t know the options we have.
Which is a weird thing for me to believe in. I know better than most people that life throws things at us that are so far beyond anything we can control. I know how much can happen that throws us of course and how often that means there is not getting back on the track we were on; now it’s all about finding a new track, or building it. I’ve seen and felt this happen so many times.
And yet… I keep being surprised by the things I discover I can do. I have so many choices and what limits what I can do is often my perspective.

Sometimes life feels like a labyrinth. We walk abound unsure of where we are and what turns to choose. Because we don’t have perspective. We don’t know that we have choices. We so often think the only way we can go is forward. Going back or taking a few steps to the side doesn’t feel like something we can do, because put brains aren’t trained to see those things as possibilities.

I love people who see the possibilities that I never learned to see. I love people whose response to a problem is to think how can this work, instead of throwing in the towel. I love people who doesn’t limit themselves.

And a part of what is happening in my life right now is that I am realising just how few of those people I know. I feed of that energy that is ready to problems solve and that catches an idea or a dream and says “Yes! Let’s make this work”. People who will ask the questions that allows me to see that half the walls in the labyrinth aren’t really there, they are just in my mind.
What I meet a lot of instead is me throwing idea and dream out there and someone asking all the questions that boxes me in. The questions that point out the obstacles and instead of finding ways to deal with the obstacles.

I am one of those annoying people who when told about a problem will try to find a way around it. I will problem solve and give advice or ask questions to make you realise the solution might be right there anyway. And a lot of people don’t like that. A lot of people want to complain about problems they have no intention to solve, because what are they then supposed to complain about. And if I know my job is to listen and support I will do that. But if I am not given that kind of instructions I will problem solve. I want more problem solving people in my life. I want more people challenging my view of the world and the way I limit myself.

And all this is not to say that there aren’t real limits. There are real things that prevent most of us from doing things. Health and financial situation and a lot of other things. And those things are so hard, and I am not good at accepting them when I meet them in my own life. They hurt so much. And they are real and I don’t want to invalidate anyone’s struggle with those things.
But maybe it’s because I have problems like that in my own life and in the life of the people I love, that I believe so strongly in the choices that are fully within my capability. I get angry at all the choices that could be made to make life better, for ourselves or for our loved ones or for the world in general, and that aren’t made (and sometimes then complained about).
Because I do get it with the real limits. I get it with the stuff that is totally out of our control. And because I know those things and how it hurts to have any power, agency or choice striped away, I value the places where I do have control so much more. My life is in my hands. Even when I am struck by misfortune and bad health. I have the power to do something for others, even when I am in a bad place myself. And I have the choice to do those things are sit back watch it fall apart. It might fall apart anyway. But then I know it wasn’t my inaction that allowed it.

I am not sure I am making sense. I just know the words haven’t flowed this easily and I have not been this excited about writing in… years maybe.

This is what have been making the last few days really bad for me. I believe I have so many choices and options and that all I have to do is choose and prioritise the choices.
And yet…

Here I am. Stuck at home, alone, with all the time in the world. And I feel limited and sad and uninspired. I feel like there is nothing I want to do, nothing I dream of, nothing that stimulates me, nothing that sparks that fire of energy and inspiration and joy. Nothing. And I am so mad at myself. Because I used to want to write. And here I am with nothing but time and my computer, and suddenly I realise I am not sure I want to write. I have all this time and I do not feel like reading. I have the internet at my disposal, with YouTube videos about anything I might want to learn, and I cannot think of anything I want to learn. So I feel super disappointed in myself. Why do I have no ideas and no joy and no inspiration? Why don’t I care about anything? A part from that is the depression, a part of it might be that the people I have the most contact with are people who doesn’t understand my drive and my need for that energy and fire. How am I supposed to grow if I mostly talk to people who think growing is only something plants do? Who scoff at the idea that I want something more in life?

In those thoughts I am experiencing something else that is new and not good. I find myself judging these people. People I care about. People who live lives they have chosen and lives that might be very different from mine, but that are still very valid, honourable and respectable lives. I don’t walk around judging people. That is not who I am. And suddenly I find myself full of judgement and resentment because their lives look small and stagnant to me. And even if they are small or stagnant who am I to say that is worse or less than my desire for something more or something else. I have never measured myself against other people or the lives they live. And I don’t recognise this side of me that is angry at other people. They are not holding me back. They are just in a different place than me, they are living different lives than me, and they are making the choices that are right for them. And I want to go back to the me that think that is beautiful and wonderful and worthwhile.

A part of me does feel like I am being asked to make myself smaller all the time. Or not talk about the things I want out of life. One friend always responds to my dreams of growth and my drive, with his lack of dreams and his happiness with standing still and building bubbles that holds the world away. And I know he doesn’t mean to, but a part of me feels like he is telling me my dreams make him uncomfortable and that he doesn’t want this talk of growth because even the idea of it isn’t welcome. And suddenly a big part of me doesn’t feel welcome in the conversation. I wish he and other would just smile and say “yes!” and be happy and encouraging on my behalf. I feel like I have to make myself so small to fit into the lives of the people I care about and suddenly I don’t feel at home in my own skin and feel like I am having all the wrong people in my life.

I want to choose to be a better person than that. I do what i can to combat those thoughts when I have them, and not allowing them space inside me. And I am going to look for more choices I can make to not allow this negative view of other people become my new normal.

I need more of the people who will meet my drive and my dreams with encouragement. I am not sure where to find them. But that is what I want and need.
I also need to feel needed and wanted and like I make a difference. I don’t care if I only make a difference to a few people around me or if I change the world. I know I want to make a difference. And there is nothing like a pandemic to tell you that you are not needed. My work is shut down, so thought I often tell myself I do something worth doing, it’s not essential work that is needed for anything to function. That might be a little sad, but a good reality check. What really hurts is how no one needs me. Not a single person around me is feeling a loss at us not being able to see each other. I am not needed. And that is the kind of thought I don’t need to give space to. They feed my depression and that leads me down dark paths.

This feel like a good place to stop. Not because I am empty and no more words could be squeezed from my mind. But because I think I wrote the things that was on my mind and I am not sure where the words take me if I keep going.

I wish I had the energy to read this through and edit and all the other stuff I should do. But that is going to be the victory today. Wanting to do that. I know I won’t post if I have to do that. I’ll get stuck in not getting it done and this will just be a file on my computer that I don’t look at ever again. And that would make me sad. Because this is more the kind of thoughts I want to be writing about here. I do hope I made sense and I am so sorry if I didn’t.

I hope you are well and that the state of the world isn’t too hard to be in right now. Thank you for your attention and your time.