Don’t Worry, Just Write

“I write to give myself strength. I write to be the characters that I am not. I write to explore all the things I’m afraid of. ” 

― Joss Whedon

The past couple of weeks, I haven’t been regular with my blog posts. This got me thinking. Because I’ve done this before – started writing a blog with enthusiasm, slowed down as days went by, and eventually I gave up on it. So perhaps I’m heading the same way again? That thought had me concerned.

Image of a man sitting on a bench as he writes
Photo Credit: dhammza via Compfight cc

The truth is I’ve been working on a story, a book that’s leading me into fascinating and unexplored territories, in my writing and in my life. And it’s taking up a lot of my time. This is probably the first time that I’ve ever mentioned writing a book in public. Except for a few people, no one knew about it. No, it’s not some secret mission. I’m taking it seriously now and it makes sense to tell people about it. As I’m juggling my time between a number of writing projects, I wanted to tackle the slack in my blogging by reminding myself why I began writing in the first place. And it turns out, it all began with worrying … a lot.

I used to worry about my career, about my life, about where I’m going in life. I love jigsaw puzzles. It’s thrilling to figure out how the pieces fit together. But in my life, when I couldn’t find a piece or I didn’t know how the pieces fit together, I would worry. My eyebrows would furrow and I would squint at the pieces with everything I had to find some connection, and I would worry. My imagination, though extremely helpful while writing, would take flight unbound, and I would worry. The result: a muddled mind filled with uncertainty. And I waited almost in a limbo to be sure, for things to be clear. When that didn’t happen, what did I do? I worried.

That’s when I started writing. I don’t know why, but that just seemed like what I needed to do. I wrote and pages filled up. Perhaps my imagination was preoccupied with writing, but clarity that I sought found its way into my life. So I wrote more. My writing improved. Strangely enough, I stopped worrying. I was happiest when I wrote. The words that appeared on the screen were like the magic wand that cleared the clutter in my head – I could finally label things. From a sense of feeling emotionally retarded, I could express what I felt with my writing. I had to write, for my own sanity. Writing became my catharsis and I know it’s going to remain so for the rest of my life.

Writing has brought me so much joy, I wanted to share it by blogging. The more I read why people write, I realised, I was not alone in using writing to face my fears and doubts. That’s how I found the courage to share my writing with the world. I didn’t know if anyone would want to read it. But once you have taken the leap of faith with writing, you want to jump as high and as far as possible.

I read this brilliant article on the benefits of keeping a journal, where writer Susan Sontag says, “Superficial to understand the journal as just a receptacle for one’s private, secret thoughts—like a confidante who is deaf, dumb, and illiterate. In the journal I do not just express myself more openly than I could do to any person; I create myself. The journal is a vehicle for my sense of selfhood. It represents me as emotionally and spiritually independent. Therefore (alas) it does not simply record my actual, daily life but rather — in many cases — offers an alternative to it.”

If you are unconvinced by the astute writers in that article, let me tell you, science agrees with them. According to a 2005 study on the emotional and physical health benefits of expressive writing, the researchers found that writing regularly can improve your health. The article, Science Shows Something Surprising About People Who Love to Write, highlights several other studies which have found that writing helps people evaluate their lives and get through traumatic events, thereby reducing stress. In fact, one study suggests that blogging might have the same effect as running or listening to music by releasing dopamine in our body.

So here’s what I’ve learnt – don’t worry, just write. You don’t have to necessarily open your heart to the world. You can share as much as you are comfortable sharing. If you don’t want to share, that’s fine as well. It doesn’t have to be a blog or a book or even a story. It can be a journal, your observations or thoughts, or just a series of events that happened to you. But trust me on this, you want to write. You may or may not find that book in you, but I promise you, you will find yourself. You will be surprised, you might be puzzled. But if you keep at it, you will be amazed by the insights you gain, about your life and the world we live in.

In a world addicted to instant gratification, writing gives you a few precious moments to pause and think, to figure things out for yourself, so you are not blindly swept away by the ever changing trends and what’s “in”.

The beauty of writing is that it forces you to stay in the present, to live in the moment. Try as you might to dwell in the past or project into the future, you have to be here, in this moment, to write your thoughts down. In that moment of solitude, you are free, to see what’s important, to feel what you want to rather than what you think you should. You are free to be who you are, instead of all that you thought you should be. You find connections that you didn’t know existed, the common threads that bind our universe together. When you connect the dots, make sense of things in life that seemed meaningless, that appeared to serve no purpose, it’s a rush you are better off experiencing yourself. A word of advice, that leap of faith I mentioned earlier, you have to want to take it. You must be willing to launch yourself from solid ground into the unknown. When I started writing, I had to let go of many preconceived ideas I had about myself and my life. It was not easy. But it was necessary and it took me a while to see that. So take the leap, open your mind and jump into the unknown. Just … write.

How has writing helped you? Why do you write? Do you want to write but don’t know where to begin? Share your thoughts in the Comments.

Advertisements

Let’s Take Responsibility For That

“What we call our destiny is truly our character and that character can be altered. The knowledge that we are responsible for our actions and attitudes does not need to be discouraging, because it also means that we are free to change this destiny. One is not in bondage to the past, which has shaped our feelings, to race, inheritance, background. All this can be altered if we have the courage to examine how it formed us. We can alter the chemistry provided we have the courage to dissect the elements.” 

― Anaïs Nin

Image of a child holding a globe
Photo Credit: marcokalmann via Compfight cc

 

How did we get here

Become a society where

We know what we do is wrong

We do it anyway

We think that’s okay

As long as we don’t get caught

We complain of the watching Big Brother

Yet, we behave as if

Being watched is the only thing that

Keeps most us in check

 

Or we do the watching

Drawing some perverse pleasure in

Using others’ suffering

To feed our agenda

Make our point

Everything becomes about

“Just me and what I want to say”

Forgetting others’ troubles and pain

Trying to understand is too much effort?

 

The blame game

We’ve learnt to play so well

We shrug and claim

I didn’t do it

We point fingers at

The government

The media

Even our corner shop grocer

Everyone but ourselves

How do any of them exist

Without our support?

I’m looking at the (hu)man in the mirror, sang Michael

It’s up to us to make a change

Let’s take responsibility for that

 

We fight over

Causes misunderstood

We standby and watch

Starving children

Tiny palms scoop up diseased water

The only thing to keep them alive

Education a distant dream

Staying alive takes all their energy

When we don’t speak up

When we ignore and turn away

A conscious choice we make

To deny their fundamental right to live

With freedom, without fear

Let’s take responsibility for that

 

We hide behind glowing screens

Take false courage from being unseen

We hurl cruel words at each other

We think we don’t know them

Why care for the feelings of strangers

But not for a moment do our thoughts go

To the lives we burn

The irreparable damage we cause to bright young lives

Is consideration such a rare thing today

That we must remind ourselves

To be just a little human each day

When we post derogatory words

Threaten people for thinking different from us

A conscious choice we make

To spread prejudice

To pump more strife into our troubled world

Let’s take responsibility for that

 

A woman is abused

We hear in the news

We question her character

We judge her views

A woman is raped

We ask what she wore

Where was she when it happened

Wonder if it was her fault

We say we live in the 21st century

Yet our attitudes towards women are

Conflicted at best

Goddesses to be worshipped

Mindless virgins to be protected

Sluts to be slammed

Is any middle ground so difficult to imagine

When we get on our high horses

And victimise the victim

A conscious choice we make

To allow the aggressor

A free rein to continue his abuse

When he disrespects and objectifies women

We pat his back and say “we approve”

Let’s take responsibility for that

 

A loved one steals

A friend commits fraud

To buy a second or third house in an exotic locale

We say we aren’t committing the crime

Why not reap the benefits of someone else’s “daring deed”

We think we beat the system

We smile in smug  satisfaction

We ignore the people we harm

We deprived someone of their hard earned pension

A heart-broken father lost all his money overnight

He cannot afford to send his child to college

A single mother whose investments have disappeared

She doesn’t know how to keep a roof over her children’s heads

When we turn a blind eye

A conscious choice we make

To be as guilty and involved as the getaway car

To take from the innocent and feed the greedy rich

To let their “system”  make you the Grinch

Let’s take responsibility for that

 

The propaganda our governments feed

Killing thousands of innocent people in another country

They justify it with

We are better

We are bigger

We are threatened

And everything else under the sun

When we do not pause to think it through

Use our smart brains to know the truths

When we blindly accept what we are fed

Fill our heads with false pride and so called national interest

When we do not question their motives

Let them abuse power for their selfish dreams

A conscious choice we make

To let those power hungry people

Put human beings in a cage

Commit genocide and mass murder

And show the world a concocted image

Let’s take responsibility for that

 

When we make assumptions

We react with fear or contempt

All we see are

Gender,

Colour of skin,

Economic status, and

Faith

A conscious choice we make

To spread hate

To embrace the dark and shun the light

To not dig deeper for our true loving Self

Let’s take responsibility for that

 

When someone questions what we do

We say “They are doing it too”

Is that all it takes

To make us forget what we know to be true

Why the need to ape

Why bother about what others do and say

We cannot control how they see us

Let’s just  focus on what we do

What matters is the choices WE make

Let’s take responsibility for that.

— Srividya K

 

What do you think? Are we being responsible enough? How can we change things?  Share in the Comments.

One morning in Bergen

“Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colours. And the people there see you differently, too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.” 

― Terry Pratchett, A Hat Full of Sky

 

Bergen – The city of colours, the Gateway to the Fjords of Norway

As part of our trip to see Sognefjord, after we cruised through its scenic waters from Flåm to Bergen, we had one morning to explore Bergen, a UNESCO World Heritage City. You can read all about my Sognefjord trip here: To Sognefjord and back – Part 1 – 1222m Above Sea LevelPart 2 – Finding my Rivendell on the Flåmsbana, and Part 3 – Through the Waters of Sognefjord and Back

What do you do when you have just one morning to spend in a city like Bergen? Simple, you walk around, stroll through its streets filled with history and colour, and soak it all up as much as you can. And that’s what we did. We stayed the night at the Grand Terminus Hotel, which is right next to the Bergen Railway Station. That proved convenient when we needed to leave our bags at the hotel and collect it before we caught our train to Oslo the next afternoon.

History

Bergen was founded in 1070 by King Olav Kyrre. Thanks to its harbour, it soon became a centre for commerce. In 1360 , it attracted the attention of the Hansas, the German medieval guild of merchants, who built their import and export offices on the wharf called Bryggen, the iconic wharf in Bergen. The rows of coloured wooden buildings with ancient gables facing the picturesque harbour are probably the most familiar attraction in the city. Though devastated by several fires, especially the Great Fire of 1702, which burned down the entire city, Bryggen was rebuilt on the original foundations and entered UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 1979.

Travel to Bergen

Here are some links to help you plan your trip to Bergen:

http://www.visitbergen.com/en/

http://www.bergen-guide.com/73.htm

http://www.visitnorway.com/uk/where-to-go-uk/fjord-norway/bergen/what-to-do-in-bergen/attractions-in-bergen/

Exploring Bergen

What many tourists may not know till they walk through the streets of Bergen is that colours, on murals, on buildings, and on flowers, embrace you at every turn. We saw some beautiful street art and art displays as we walked down from the hotel into the heart of the city. Shades of ultramarine blue, crimson, chrome yellow, fuchsia pink, purple, and orange, depict a different story on every wall. We even found a house with shoes stuck all over its exterior wall.

Image of a mural in Bergen
These are the happy blues!
© 2014 Srividya K
Image of a woman holding a cat
Oh, I see the lines of your life
© 2014 Srividya K
Mural of bird and flowers in Bergen
You keep strange company, birdie
© 2014 Srividya K
Mural of a flower in Bergen
Soaking up the sun, are we?
© 2014 Srividya K
Mural of people and things in Bergen
There’s a mural Star Wars going on here
© 2014 Srividya K
Image of a wall with shoes on them
The places people’s feet have been to!
© 2014 Srividya K

 

The bright colours gave the whole city a freshly washed look. We walked through a local market selling all things touristy. The prices though, were typically Norwegian (read expensive). As we had just a few hours to spare, we wanted to make the best use of it by taking the Fløibanen, the funicular railway that takes you to the top of Mount Fløyen in just eight minutes.

We caught the funicular at the city centre, not too far from Bryggen. As we stood in the queue to get out tickets and waited for our ride to come back from the mountain top, the dark surroundings made me feel as if we were in a cave and were waiting to be transported through tunnels to some far off place. The ride on the funicular was interesting, the compartment going up and down at an incline. But as it left the dark dungeon-like station behind, it opened up to breath-taking views of the city. By the time I knew where to look, we had reached the top. We streamed out into a viewing area overlooking the entire city. At around 320 metres above sea level, we could see every little detail of the city – the harbour, the fjords around the city, roads, the green oxidised copper spire of the cathedral we had just walked past on our way to the funicular, sea green lake in the heart of the city with a little fountain in the middle – and the spectacular cityscape gave up all its secrets with dignity and pride. The slender arms of Bergen stretched into the sea, creating strips of colour, the teal of the sea mingling with the lively hues of the city.

Image of view of Bergen harbour from Mount Fløyen
View of Bergen harbour from Mount Fløyen
© 2014 Srividya K
Image of view of Bergen cityscape from Mount Fløyen
View of Bergen cityscape from Mount Fløyen
© 2014 Srividya K

 

After a photo frenzy (obviously!), from every possible angle at the viewing area, we moved on to the exploring the nature trails nearby.

If the 360 degree views of the city were magnificent, the nature around the mountain top was out of a fairy tale. The green grass, trees and bushes were so vibrant, it was as if someone had just painted them onto the mountain surface. Thin gurgling streams were on their merry way under adorable little wooden bridges. Stone sculptures and interesting displays entertained us on our trail.

Image of a board on a tree which says "Don't insult the witch"
You heard them, don’t you dare!
© 2014 Srividya K

As we walked further into the forest around us, among tall trees, stony paths, fallen logs and cascading moss, I could see why the legend of trolls became so popular in the north. Nature and time seem to have sculpted the rocks into clear shapes and with the mossy grass tumbling down them like windswept hair, it’s easy to mistake them for trolls. I was so lost in its magic, I almost hoped I would see a pair of eyes peeking out at me from underneath some rock and I would quickly snap a picture before it vanished behind a tree to hide from prying eyes. Well, that didn’t happen and I had to settle for befriending a troll statue instead!

 

Image of a troll statue
I made a troll pal 🙂
©2014 Srividya K

We had to part ways with Mount Fløyen, thanks to the ticking clock reminding us of the train we needed to catch. We took the funicular back to ground level and took a leisurely walk one last time through the flower-filled streets of Bergen. We had lunch, collected our bags and got to the station just in time to find our train waiting to take us back to Oslo.

I will end this post with two displays I saw in Bergen. This one is from a shop display on one of its streets:

Image of a t-shirt on a shop window
Are you sure you want to be caught wearing this when the dolphin army comes?
© 2014 Srividya K

This sheer contempt for nature and other living beings, despite the city being steeped in nature, is just sad.

However, something I found on one of Bergen’s walls sums up the feeling I left with from this beautiful city:

Image of lights on a wall that says "There are a lot of good people around"
This is the Norway I’ve come to know
© 2014 Srividya K