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U.S., Love & Being Here

April 17, 2015

kyiv, 01/2015

poem in lviv, 01/2015

lviv cemetery, 01/2015

lviv to kyiv, 01/2015

san francisco, 01/2015

tilamook state forest, oregon, 02/2015

with frank and lucy, california, 2015

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luna, age 15, los angeles, 2015

“directing,” with mom, downtown LA, 2015

DSC_

so I write, read on, my loves. 04/17/2015

There are some things we do in life rather mindlessly, we sleep, we wake, we eat, we sit in our offices or in the car going through the motions of day to day life. We make plans and sit with our friends, in bars or at restaurants sipping whatever it is we are used to, coffee, a whiskey on the rocks, a glass of chardonnay. We sit in front of our computer mindlessly scrolling and “liking” the things our “friends” post, we watch random videos, or we sit at dinner with our families texting our friends looking forward to that next thing. We listen to the news and base our lives around the fear of something that is not real.

We all do this, some more often than others. We are all victims of this life that has taken away the sincerity, the connection and interaction and realness of the moment. That fleeting moment that can never be taken back – that look, that kiss, that word or phrase that makes you shudder and that sticks with you for your whole life.

I’m a victim of this life at times, I will admit I get sucked into this nothingness that is meaningless, that constant search and yearning for something more rather than being here, present in the moment. I know that we all have the potential to be mindful of this, to notice whatever it is that we neglecting, ignoring, pushing away or denying. I admit that I have been been that person, allowing my energy to be absorbed by the insignificant on many levels, but I am also someone that has gone through life trying my best to take note of the experience. I have documented it all so that I can reflect as I move through the waves the day to day.

I know I am living my life the way I should be when I take notice of the little things, of the memories, of the feelings that a song, a beat, a scent brings up, or the symbols and signs that point me down the correct cobblestone road. I sometimes get overwhelmed by the amount of this consciousness or awareness, these moments and memories I have collected in my 28 years of life. Photographs, videos, notes on notes on notebooks, journals, music, emails, letters, receipts, souvenirs, postcards, writing utensils, on top of everything that’s stored in my little brain — the feelings, the scents, the sounds, the vibrations. All these things I hold so close to me, sometimes closer than I hold people.

In my 28 years I have learned and relearned a lot about myself, and I often come to these crucial moments, or return to them rather, because I realize that I have known some things all along. I sit and reread something I wrote in 2004, or 2005 and I wonder if that was really me. I surprise myself because I think I always known some of them to be true – whether it is what I want to do with my life, or who/or what kind of person I want to be with or some much larger, bigger picture universal truths. I notice that over the years I have suppressed some of them, I have followed this route that taught me new things and I forgot some of the things I knew all along. Some people worry too much about living in the past, or looking too far into the future. Everyone has an opinion on what’s best, but ultimately, we all decide this for ourselves. If we are aware, and in tune with with our mind, body and the surrounding environments we inhabit, we consciously make the choice to reflect, revisit, plan, live and love.

And so, I return to having a sense of awareness, to noting those moments, those remarkable things that happen when we pay attention and do what we love with the people we love, and importantly, with ourselves. Sometimes you just have to let yourself fall, let yourself be loved, drop everything and do what you love because you don’t know how things will be tomorrow, or next week or next year or in 10 or 50 or 90 years. You never want to live your life regretting that thing you didn’t say, that place you didn’t go, that book you didn’t write.

Sometimes, you just have to let go. Forget about the bullshit, the things that everyone else tells you to do, the worries that come with the expectations our friends, family, society have created for us. Let go and cry when you hear that song, let go and make that phone call, let go and respond to that text or email you have been ignoring. Let go and visit the friend and tell them how much they have changed your life, or tell that person you are madly in love with them. Whatever happens is what is supposed to happen.

Realize that you are not always in control of everything; sometimes you just need to let things happen and embrace that feeling that you have when you’re in the arms of someone you care about, or that pain in your heart when things don’t go the way you want because you will always recover. If you want to, you will always recover.

Happy Friday, April 17, 2015. Tell someone you love them today.

bulgakov museum, kyiv, self portrait,11/2014.

 

C O N F L I C T E D ?

April 12, 2015

krakow_ssw15

Foreword:

March 2014 was an intense time in Ukraine. By mid March I had already been living in UA for 2 months. It was a weird time – in my adaptation, in family circumstances, in love and life. I did not miss home or regret I had left, I kept myself busy with work, writing and exploring. The winter (the first real winter I was experiencing since I left in the 90s) did not allow for too much but despite the cold, the snow and crisp winds, I was lucky enough to make it to the beautiful Carpathian mountains with a climate action group УМКА, (Ukrainian Youth Climate Association (UYCA)/Українська молодіжна кліматична асоціація), I explored and re-explored various cafes, parks and points of interest in Lviv and admired all the things I had been missing about my hometown. I had made a good group of new friends – expacts and locals and others living in the this magical city. I was also busy helping my grandfather readjust to life along living without my grandmother.

Conversations on a daily basis would revolve around the situation in Ukraine. All focus was on Kyiv and the Euromaidan. If you’re not familiar with the term, I recommend brushing up on some of the most climactic points here on Wiki and taking a look at this well done Ukraine crisis Timeline by Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) or this one by BBC. My February birthday fell on what they called during that time the most bloody and violent week of the protests in Kyiv. BCC’s timeline at that point had described it as the “worst day of violence for almost 70 years. At least 88 people are killed in 48 hours. Video shows uniformed snipers firing at protesters holding makeshift shields.” My heart constantly ached. My aunt/mom’s best friend who was living with me was constantly on edge as her two sons, & my childhood friends were in Kyiv “on the front-lines” as we would say. Luckily they made it back OK. By March 8th, Women’s Day in Ukraine we were able to reflect on everything. I wrote about it here and on Thought Catalog. 

ymka4ssw14

Skimming through my Ukraine Moleskine notebook I found this:

March 11, 2014

C O N F L I C T E D

♦ Living life on this planet without war and conquest and imperialism – is it possible?
♦ Don’t people that have it worse always want something better? Isn’t that how wars start?
♦ How to live and be okay without striving for more?
♦ Don’t people naturally want more?  >> at least the ones that know how to achieve/grasps something better?

For me, it’s hard to live life only thinking of myself. I live with intentions and thoughts on how to make things* better on a daily basis – whether it’s for those around me or on a much bigger, global scale. How can we get to a better state of life?

 [*things: my environment, foods, the cocktail I’m drinking, my health or the health of someone else, a stranger’s day, etc. This list is endless.]

There is so much conflict in everything, though. Listen [read: read] up, my dears…

♦ Conflict in the sense/or simplicity of wanting two good things for your country, or for yourself, or for someone you love, perhaps.

Some examples:

○ No “war” but also not giving up or showing weakness (could be a county or a person)
○ Not succumbing to the madness and propaganda of the imperialist(s).
    ? But there will always be empires, won’t there be?

      With empires in existence on this planet, isn’t this impossible?

♦ How to live and think more locally? It is not possible to think locally without being interconnected globally these days. We are in an era of globalization, we have been evolving and progressing for so long as species, we have come such a long way since our “ape-y days.” 
      >> With all of the troubles that colonialism, neocolonialism, imperialism and globalization has caused, ultimately, a lot of good comes from being interconnected. 
Amazing initiatives, people across the world thinking about how to live better w/out reliance on nonrenewables, eating food that its sustainable and not harmful for the environment, building in a way that protects the environment and enhances our surrounding natural beauty (or as my friend Kevin the landscaper might say, the “Natural Boooooty” ;).

♦ What about individuals?
Despite wanting to do something good and positive with my life, I am still selfish, allowing my emotions and feelings to get the best of me. Letting the cycles of up and downs of daily life that we all experience affect my ambitions and the deep down desire to GET SHIT DONE. It also impacts my relationships with loved one because I become SO INTERNAL and reflexive. Some may think this is a good thing, and often it is but when you don’t have the time/space/energy to process and decompress things can go awry.

♦ What makes us happy?

♦ Love, freedom, prosperity, having the means to live adequately.
> Do we need more?
> What if we didn’t have all of that?
> What if what we have is sabotaged by another county, another person or simply our own internal feelings and needs.

We are constantly in conflict with ourselves.

♦  Our feelings drastically change, do they not?
> Confusion, frustration, sadness, dislike, annoyance – how can all these feelings affect friendship? romantic relationships? day to day interactions with anyone and everyone we come across in life?
> How to recover, and is that possible? of course it is. everything is possible. literally. everything.
> The question of something happening or not can change the atmosphere.. or is it just my own head creating games/fiction?
> Why am I afraid to ask or question something/someone? [Truth is, I’m not anymore, I grew out of that self-consciousness and fear. I have since learned to be more direct, perhaps more brutally honest.. but at the same time a little more jaded and insensitive. I have given myself something else to work on in return, so the process of self-development continues..]
> Am I playing games? Am I avoiding something or someone {some impending doom or pure bliss, perhaps?]?

♦  HOW TO LIMIT CONFLICT and reduce tension? We should all ask ourselves this when it comes to the day to day struggles and interactions with loved ones, with colleagues, with people we come into contact throughout our days.

WAR & PEACE:

I thought to myself – how did war, or the like tear up my family? How did social and civil strife in one country facilitate an environment that caused stress, anguish, fear, disappointment? Did those feelings and tensions not arise in a different country, a more prosperous one, under different circumstances with different people living those same lives? Or did they manifest in different forms?

Would under different circumstances we be a different family? Would I want them to be?

Think to yourself – – — — – – –  –     –     –      –           –                    –                        –

[photso above, Krakow, Poland 03/2015 & Tyhla, Ukraine 02/2015]

New Stuff Coming Soon… stay on your toes

April 8, 2015

… and read the old stuff while you’re at it.

besos,
miss trina

comingsoonoffice

“saying see-ya-later to UKRAINE for now” (Autosaved).docx

March 10, 2015
photo by @nashker, 2014.

THIS WILL BE UPDATED again and again until new website is finally up!

January 7th, 2015

I have always liked inconsistency, instability, uncertainty – at least I thought I did. Or maybe I just ran from the antonyms of those words, never allowing myself to get too used to anything – always looking for something new and different. Then, changing my mind again and again about what I want. I thought I could shake it, or come to terms with the fact that I don’t want to be in one place because I’m attached to too many.

It took me time to really fall in love with Ukraine, to get used to this strange little life I created for myself in the midst of revolution. It took time to make friends, to understand the intricacies, to get used to the changes, the fears, the volatile nature of what was going on in this country. The first few weeks, maybe even months, I found myself at home often drinking tea, hiding behind the computer, trying to figure things out, writing about the feelings, associations, attempting to understand what it was I was doing here and if I had made the right choice to leave California behind and move to Lviv. That was January 2014.

Soon enough I began to realize that I was here for so many reasons.

On February 7, 2015, over year later, I found myself in Seattle, sitting in the dark in the early morning, thinking too much. By pure coincidence, I opened up one of the last drafts, this one above.

Lying in bed those last few nights in the Pacific North West, an area that I had not once visited (I keep having to tell people “Yeah, this is my first time in Seattle,” or “I had never been north of Mount Shasta” which is often a surprise to many since I lived a pretty decent chunk of my life in California), I thought and thought. My mind will keep my body from sleeping, something it likes to do at least once a month, sometimes once every few months, for a few days. This winds up being the time where I am most inclined to write, or actually be productive with my creative, research and  other projects.

lvivsswcsmcc
[photo above: Lviv, January 2015]

So here I am, [gradually] making a “list” of everything a few/lots of things I learned in 2014…

/// please note: this is a DRAFT, and that’s ok. relax. just because I can’t relax that the bullets (read: Bulleit[s]) are coming up as ☆stars☆ in Firefox on a Mac instead of circles like I want them to. Mac, you can’t be trusted. DTA. forgive the formatting, it has annoyed me for weeks but luckily, soon enough, I will have my awesome programmer in Ukraine working on my site, and not my clients’ so I can give it a rest. also, this DRAFT was updated again and again and will be updated until I get my new website up. when will that be? inconclusive but I could use some Bulleit right about now, though. anyone? ///

♦     //  You will always have doubts, about everything and everyone (at least I do!) when it comes to making decisions. Especially major life decisions where you are questioning yourself (and perhaps everyone around you, in some way) whether it is a “good idea” to move to a country across the world, leave your job, your beautiful home, your best friends and family behind for some unclear prospects, no set plans, no definite job, and no idea really what you will do there. I sought affirmation mostly because of some deep seated fear of failure, or the desire to have some one tell me I’m making a good choice, but who was I kidding? I wasn’t going to Germany or Dubai or New York for some amazing and ridiculously well paid job or relocating for partner/husband/boyfriend/etc. (those things seem like they would fly well on the parent, and responsible friend approval scale).

[pause]

// I was moving to UKRAINE in January 2014 when all hell was just about to break loose. Ultimately, I realized I was the one making the decision, I was actively purchasing a cheap, non-refundable, one way ticket at the end of November 2013 and packing up all my things (in constant doubt, of course) and taking myself via a ride from a friend also heading north to south from the Bay Area to Los Angeles where I would fly from. By January 9th, there was no backing out. Somewhere down the line, I think my heart or my gut was telling my brain, fuck those doubts! We do what we want! And it was the best decision I made. If only I could do the same with people, but that’s another story.
[break]

 

♦   // You can’t do everything alone. Since I was a kid – 12, 13, 14-years-old I wanted to be independent. I learned that I needed to fend for myself. No one was going to hand me things on a silver platter (I don’t think that really happens to anyone nowadays but I wasn’t like some of my friends who grew up with doctor or lawyer parents and lived in beautiful multi-story houses in the Pacific Palisades and Brentwood and Santa Monica. Or even like friends of immigrant families that had been well established for much longer than my parents who moved themselves little elementary age me to LA in the early 90s rather than the 80s before I was born.) But I go on a tangent here, let me return. Growing up, I realized that I needed to do anything and everything to make money here and there (shit, I was doing this even in elementary school with friends in my apartment building, trying to milk all the money I could from the 20-somethings by offering to help them with stuff, putting on talent shows by the pool, selling random stuff, baby sitting the younger ones.. ahh the 90s were good in Los Angeles.) By the time I was in my early 20s, I thought of myself as a grown ass independent female that could fend for herself for the most part.

[pause]

//As I get older, though, I realize more and more how important it is to have a support system – weather it be close friends, family that you can come to for help in difficult times, or a (romantic/life) partner that you can trust and have a balanced relationship with (the last not being my strong suit, but hey! I’m learning! ; ). Despite being a very internal person for a lot of life’s moments, I look back and see I have always had someone (sometimes, too many people, in fact). Maybe not all 3 were needed at all times but the support you get from others – emotional, spiritual, financial, etc. is the only way we can go about living our lives sustainably as human peoples in this weird little world. We need to take care of each other and not drop those we care about during hard times. Weather we are simply there to hear someone out or give them space when they need it, or buy them groceries or a washing machine, we should be considerate and empathetic because one day they will return the favor. Maybe they already did and we just forgot (because they are our grandparents, or parents and we take them for granted), but even if they don’t, it’s ok.

kyivsswcsmcc-dos
[photo break: Kyiv-Sviatoshyn Metro]

 

♦      // Don’t be afraid to be challenged. Challenged in the sense that you’re not always right, but neither are others. Learn to be okay with the opinions of others even if they are radically different than yours. This is something I’m still learning because it’s damn hard to be wrong. Especially with family, parents, best friends, or people that are older and wiser (though sometimes, not necessarily true about the older and wiser). I have learned, or perhaps come to realize that I am a very defensive person, but also have been surrounded by, raised by and constantly encounter people much like me. It’s (slowly) taught me to easy up (or BE EASY. this song comes to mind. the video is kinda intense though, but appropriate, just FYI) on others and myself in arguments, disputes, etc. especially with family and close friends. The way my life has gone thus far, and the way I was raised kind of resulted in this having a tough skin mentality/condition. I think it’s a good thing, overall, but can create ignite fires when it comes to being challenged. I was the child that wasn’t lucky enough to be spoiled because of limited resources and lots of change, transition, etc. growing up. Living the places I have lived as a kid made me be a bit on the defense, perhaps.

[pause]

//Also this half Lebanese, half Ukrainian thing makes me a little more fiery than normal at times, and kinda impartial, laid back, I don’t care, mne vseravno at others.Now, as an adult, the people I surround myself with or environments I inhabit definitely dictate where I will be on that spectrum in someway, but I see more and more now that it is important to find that balance in yourself and attempt to maintain it at all [err..most?] times (it’s freaking hard, dude) but doable, I think. Or hope. Also! Understanding that there are some people you are simply not compatible with, and acknowledging it and letting them go, or working to create the kind of relationship that works for you both (since sometimes those people can be your family, best friends, or even those you have decided to move in with, or marry! if it’s the last, then sheeeeiiittt, good luck, son. : )

[break]

 

♦     //Take the time to get to know your family, relatives (even the distant ones you don’t know if you really want to or need to), friends from childhood or friends that you grew up around as a child but grew apart from, your parents, siblings, etc. OR RE-GET TO KNOW THEM! People change. Humans are creatures that evolve (or regress) and just because you have known your best friend or sister for 15 or 20 years, does not mean that that person will be the same for all those 20 years. Maybe something happened a year or two ago that you don’t know about, maybe you’re getting older, or your babushka is starting to forget more things, maybe your cousin that you were best friends with all through high school is now doing hell’of drugs, but no one has any idea. Figure that shit out.

[pause]

//As adults we pick our friends because of work, social circles, bad decision making skills, etc. but the former (the fam, the old friends, relatives, etc.) are not really chosen for us. It is important to know where we came from, if it’s possible. Not all of us have that luxury – for many those decisions were made by parents or others, but for those of us that have those opportunities, to find out something about our histories, genealogies – why not try? There might be interesting facts, family secrets, and new found relationships to uncover. They might not always be the best or at times difficult, but they are still things to acknowledge and overcome (or sometimes they might just come back to haunt us).kyivsswcsmcc [photo break – kyiv, near where I got these photos processed]

 

♦    // I think many of us forget how closely we are connected, not just through blood & genes and hereditary patterns but through the energy that we absorb being around certain people, and growing up in the places we have. You would be surprised of the uncanny family resemblances that can date back hundreds of years, or the similarities in life choices between those connected to you, or patterns that recur every generation (births or deaths – weather planned or not, illness or disease, they are not always just coincidences).There were a lot of things I learned spending time in Ukraine around my family (both immediate and those that became family through friendship, marriage, or other connections).

[pause]

// Going through what I like to call “The Archives” of endless photos, notes, recipes and saved documents from decades past, I was able to connect not only to the family members I barely knew or never met, but learn something about what they went through living through the times of the Tsars, Lenins, Hilters, Stalins, Khrushchevs of Eastern Europe. Maybe I’m a geo-political history nerd, but anything that connects my understanding of UC Berkeley international development theory courses to my own history makes me pretty stoked. Less lucky for me, most family relics that date back further than the 1950s in Lebanon were lost during the war in the 70s, or perhaps I need to do a little more investigation (I can already imagine how this broken Arabic conversation with my close to 90 year old grandmother will go…)
[break]

♦     // Don’t forget: solitude is bliss, sometimes. So tell some people to leave you the F alone before you bite their head off, or worse, something like this happens: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vxvf7gR4-2M. Fun fact: turns out this Tame Impala video was filmed in Ukraine. : ) Cheers!

So here’s my list. I’m not checking it twice. I’m posting this because this is only the beginning. Or the beginning of the end of some new epoch of mindless bullshit that is what it is, si? Si, mis amigos.

Stay tuned for the next level. 2015!

EL GUINCHO | Bombay
from Plus 4 years ago / via Vimeo Desktop Uploader Mature
Directed by Nicolás Méndez.
Produced by CANADA (lawebdecanada.com)

photo
photo above by @nashker, 2014.

[curtains]

Prognosis: Unsure.

October 19, 2014

I wanted to revisit something, and could not decide what it was. After a weekend in Kyiv (the first one since September – work trips have taken me west, south and east so far, and a return to Lviv was also much needed); I decided something needed to get written, or at the least, revamped. Sunday night — I sat at a cafe near Maidan with two friends, who, too, were largely sucked into their computers – Facebook, checking article posts, discussing journalist stuff (mostly, irrelevant to me – I can’t keep up with the whole Ukrainian journalism world right now – too many names), even playing a game (?!) while I tried to write. To be quite honest, I was sulking a bit about how I was tired and accomplished way less than planned for a Sunday off. I wasn’t the only one affected by post-weekend “jet lag” – my compadres were not far removed from my general vibe of bleh. I scoured my notebook for something I could not quite find, or perhaps did not want to. I edited and made yet another list of things that need to be written. I still was not sure. But maybe you never really need to be.

“To live in the shadow of the Holocaust, where 6 million of your people were systematically murdered, is, without a doubt, the most traumatic psychic wound that any people could endure. To really understand Israel today, you have to understand the depth of the trauma that led to Israel’s birth … and the long-term psychic consequences. Abuse, like violence, is cyclical. If one does not break the cycle, the victim can just as easily grow to become a perpetrator. Such is the tragedy of Israel today.” – Adbusters. “Palestine on the Couch,” 23/04/14

25/04/14 Ukraine & Lebanon. Between the two, I doubt I will ever see complete peace, prosperity, coexistence among the people of these countries, but particularly so – these regions. The prognosis does not look good. Negativity aside, I’m just being real. Life on this earth is a bit… tragic for humanity, these days (or perhaps always). But is this merely a dream? Have we been conditioned to live in this state of constant worry, fear, anxiety, or even simple concern? As an adult, or even as a teen growing up and understanding what it meant to be from Lebanon or from Ukraine, I often felt guilty ignoring the issues. I was certain that there was little I could do from across the world, as a teen, and as a woman during the short periods of time I have spent in my home countries over the course of my life. Regardless of action made or not, there was still significance in being an aware, informed and concerned citizen of 3 nations that I feel equally strong ties to. My upbringing molded me in so many ways. It brought with it the importance and empowerment of being a US immigrant much like it shaped me to think critically, question everything, and often plan for the worst. Over time, however, a reality has been engrained that, at any moment, it can all be lost – this detached me, physically, historically and emotionally from my home countries. But not for long. I’ve decided I’m lucky. FinalFrontier-ssw Final Frontier. Lebanon, 2013.

Imperfection and Putting the Gun Down

September 17, 2014

It is strange how some things in life – fleeting moments, conversations, a drink, or a film, maybe a note or email written at the crack of dawn, or just some time to take a photo, paint a picture or take a walk through the park can make us see things differently. They can give us inspiration, motivation, reduce fear or anxiety, and provide some sort of glimmering light at the end of the tunnel when we have been mostly starring into the void of unclear futures and the brinks of societal collapse (well, at least in some parts of the world!)

How to embrace more of that? The former, that is. Not the part about societal collapse, of course. Stay with me here. How do we understand that it is passion, creativity, nature and the freedom to pursue these things — that is what makes us happy? How do we, as individuals, and societies reconcile this with the fact that we are living in a era where we are (or can be) constantly aware of what is going on everywhere (yet not ever really knowing the entire truth)? How do we engage and connect with one another when we are all going through something completely different, but we are all ultimately here and present.

I may be getting a little too philosophical here for your taste but this is fact that perhaps many of us fail to consider when going about our days, myself included. We live in our own little worlds; we work, or we don’t, we check the news on our iPhones on our commute, we send photos and messages to friends across the world while on a camping trip or hiking in some park in California, we pick up food from our favorite places because we don’t have enough time to cook or clean, or we spend hours and hours over a fire preparing something amazing. We fight with each other over money, expectations, emotions we have limited control over but more often than not we make up. Sometimes our disagreements over politics or management of our children or life choices cause rifts that are never fully resolved. Sometimes we make up over text messages, or break up over Skype. Sometimes we get the best ideas strolling down the street in a foreign city away from home and sometimes we don’t know where home is. In the end we are all here, somewhere – on some street or unpaved road, in some city of 825,000 or town or village of 1,498. Where we live may be so peaceful and quiet we don’t even consider that somewhere 100 miles, or maybe even 100 kilometers away a civil war rages or a teenager was shot by a police officer or a group of people thinking they have answers killed another group of people because of conflicting religious beliefs.

Yet! We are still here, on this little planet, going through something completely different than our neighbors, our friends, our colleagues. Values are subjective, and what is important to us is subjective. How do we come to terms with the fact that we can travel, see different countries and meet people so different from us, have entirely distinctive experiences, lock in jobs, volunteer in some region that doesn’t have it as well as “you” or “us” while others have no choice?

For some, there is this perspective that we were born where we were born at a particular point in time, into those families, genealogies, histories for a reason. We have no choice, no control. Our histories and our pasts always come back to haunt us, so to say. We can only take some of the opportunities that are put in front of us, but in the end we are all limited by the environments, perhaps the connections that have been established for us by our roots which hold us down and sometimes keep us from moving forward. We may have the ability to escape the harsh truths that limit us, to immigrate, to be refugees in hopes of a better life somewhere else, to provide something better for our children but we have no control over what the future, our children and those connected to us will seek out.

gatos

While this all was not intended to be about me but as a rule, a more general expression and product of thoughts gravitating around the last few months and current events in the parts of the world I have an opportunity to inhabit. I have found myself in places that prompt comments and questions about safety, peace and overall well-being from friends and family. My father in Lebanon, and frankly, many people in my life still do not understand my reasons for being in Ukraine. There is this curiously, bafflement, perhaps about why I would leave the States, a place that I was lucky enough to be brought to as kid by my mother and stepfather who went through a lot to get there as many did during the collapse of the Soviet Union. Answers to those questions fill pages which I have not had an opportunity to share in more intimate details but they resonate with the idea that your roots are important, change is important, and things do not always have to be perfect. In fact, imperfection in life is important.

If we all took some time to make meaningful connections with others we don’t understand, to understand ourselves and our needs better, maybe do something out of the norm, like take a step back from the daily grind, from all the fighting and violence and corporate greed, make the decision to put the gun down and walk away – where would we be? Things would still not be perfect but maybe, just maybe we would be a little happier.

R1-01508-007A

photos above shot in Kryvorivnia or Lviv, Ukraine on 35mm or digital.

Don’t Trip

June 5, 2014

arewealone-youtube
Are You Alone? (In The Universe) on YouTube
via Kurzgesagt

There is a lot to say and a lot to process these days. It’s essential to take it a step at a time, because otherwise you might trip.

In five days, I’ll be in Ukraine five months. I still can’t decide if time is moving faster and faster, or is it just this association with similar patterns of life else where across the world that I didn’t expect here. Would it have moved slower had I been in California? I would still have had the same emotions, feelings, things to do, things not to do, but in different situations and under different circumstances. Or would I?

Thing is, I’m still here, and that’s the important part – but only 2-3 months into being here, I started to feel “at home,” whatever that may mean. And yet, while I do feel “at home,” I’m also OK with the inevitable transition, change, uncertainly – or am I?

Learning to live day by day or week by week, or at least month by month, is key here (perhaps in life, but right here, right now in Ukraine). Not thinking and planning too far ahead because things are never ever for sure, never in our control, perhaps truly somehow destined to be as they are and as the will be. Some calculation of numbers. Change, fluctuation of energy that causes us to be were we are at, at a given time.

Someone today said something about bravery? What is that, really? How and why am I brave? What is different between living here with this unclear future of Ukraine compared to living somewhere else in the world? Despite the stark contrasts (like day and night to some), I find many similarities between the places I lived.

There are some luxuries, some comforts, but those can be found anywhere under different understandings and expectations but most of all, acceptance. We give up something to be somewhere else, just like we gain something. We let go of our own desires to have life be predictable, comfortable, “home,” in order to create new homes, new spaces we occupy – apartments, bars, movie theaters, school buildings, public spaces, offices.

They are all in some ways “same but different.

You can find the same familiar face, or something you hold dear in many places, (maybe something intangible), no matter how extremely different it is (climate, culture, environment, etc.) but you can also find familiar in the new just as quickly. It all depends on how quickly you learn to adapt.

We are creatures of habit, I guess. But some of us have this ability to transform, perhaps, “to work on ourselves,” in essence. How important is that for the development, understanding, cooperation between the “old familiar” and the “new familiar”? but also how important is that it to the understanding of the global climate, international relations, development?

If nations or unions or countries cannot do this, how can we expect people to? It really, truly comes back to the local. It’s cities, towns, villages, it’s the small, the manageable. Too bad it’s still about power, empire, greed.

How are we going to change that framework of thinking in the next 5, 10, 15, 20 years?

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