Of Writing, Art, and Freedom

Could a bird raised in a cage dream of flying above an open field?  

She danced in the night. Her skin becoming one with the silver of the moon. Celestial rays sifted through her flowing translucent veil. She danced of sorrow and she danced of joy. Her body… flowing. Her passion… releasing. Her life and her thoughts, her desires and her woes, her flesh and her spirit, her story painted on the living canvas of her sinuous dance. Finding solace in the lullaby of her rhythm. She danced for herself, with the Stars as her audience, with the Moon as her spotlight, with the ground beneath her bare feet as her stage. And with the soft whispers of the wind humming in tune with the movements of her veil.  She danced with grace and she danced openly, unrestrained and unmasked, unbound from the limits of society, free, at long last, to live, to feel, to imagine.

I have come to think of my writing process as being more than just a trivial creative outlet. It has become a ritual of sorts, with a purpose that transcends the limits of idle entertainment.  It is, in a way, an ode to imperfection, a tribute to the chaos that lies within the human mind. For me, writing is the metamorphosis of a dream from imagination to reality, just as reading is a rite of passage that involves traversing complex labyrinths of phrases in order to gain insight into the author’s cognitive process.

According to Fernando Pessoa, “literature is the most agreeable way of ignoring life”. While that may be true for those of us who are truly passionate about books and writing, for others it may seem more appropriate to replace the word “literature” with “art”. Be it music, dance, cinematography, videogames (may I refer you to innumerous essays and articles discussing the artistic value of videogames within the entertainment industry), painting, architecture, sculpture, photography or any other expression of creativity, the fact of the matter is we often turn to art as a means of enhancing our reality, whether we identify ourselves as the audience or as the artist.

For some, art can be a form of therapy. It can be a way of immortalizing those fleeting and elusive thoughts that come to us in brief, sporadic moments of creativity.  Or it can be a way of releasing those heavy, lingering, visionary ideas that have been obsessing us for years. It can be a way of sharing innovative concepts or it can be a way of presenting an alternative reality in a pleasing manner.

As a writer, the rush of flowing words and ideas can become a highly addictive thrill. As the concepts start forming in our minds and thoughts start taking a more definite shape, the brain starts searching for the proper words to express those notions in our language of choice. Words and phrases become vessels that contain ideas, which represent the true essence of our artistic creation. Searching for the proper way to manipulate those instruments and truly take advantage of the subtleties of each language can truly be one of the most fascinating aspects of the writing process. Moreover, it requires thinking outside the box, challenging our views and opening our minds to new algorithms and thinking patterns that exceed all language barriers, thus becoming, in the end, a truly liberating experience.

I am free to imagine and I am free to fly. My words are my wings.



On Self-criticism and Improvement

I recently read an article on constructive criticism, explaining several ways you could help people improve something without offending them. One of the methods described was called “Positive-Improvement-Positive”, and it begins by focusing on the strengths of that which you are about to criticize, then pointing out the elements that could be improved, followed by a reiteration of the positive elements you mentioned in the beginning and, lastly, commenting on the potential positive effects of those previously suggested changes or improvements.

Yet, as insightful as the article was on dealing with other people, I couldn’t help but wonder: We spend our lives trying not to offend others, trying to make them feel comfortable and turn their flaws into strengths, but how often do we extend ourselves the same courtesy? How often do we pardon other people’s mistakes, but not our own?

Could it be that our internalized fear of being judged turns us into our own worst enemy, where we are our own judges, and our minds are our own prisons? And if so, how do we break free from this self-imposed sentence?

It is said that the first step to forgiveness is understanding. Perhaps if we spent more time getting to know ourselves better we could accept who we truly are and become more lenient towards our own faults or imperfections. Perhaps the road to inner peace is actually a journey to self-discovery.

In our daily lives, we tend to focus on the image that we portray to the public, on external appearance, on the way others perceive our manners, our gestures, our reactions, on the way we carry and present ourselves to the outside. Seldom do we take time to face our inner demons, our fears, insecurities and self-doubts, our values and beliefs, even our feelings, eccentricities, wishes or disappointments. However, at the end of the day, it’s our own inner thoughts that we hear before going to sleep, not other people’s. And in order to be able to live with ourselves, we need to understand and accept who we really are.

Today I have seen the irony in the fact that the person I’ve spent every single moment of my life with is the person I may actually know the least: myself. However, I am determined to know myself from a new perspective. Not as an enemy, but as a friend.


Brief Soliloquy

I said I wouldn’t go back. I will never go back. No matter what stands in my way.


As I am sitting here contemplating all the things I’ve wanted to achieve during this lifetime, I find myself counting more failures than successes. Then, inevitably, I try to find a culprit. It’s human nature, after all, to search for the most convenient scapegoat: circumstances, acquaintances, life, society, others’ expectations, peer pressure… anything and everything but my own true self.

Truth of the matter is I write my own story on my way towards my goals and ambitions. If the road to hell is paved with good intentions, then the road to failure is paved with excuses. So then what is the road to success paved with? … Failures. And learning from those failures. Failure is one of the most underappreciated opportunities life has to offer. I am a better person now thanks to all the times I have been broken and put back together as a stronger, more cohesive entity.

My mind is like the lens of a camera: it will only see the aspects that it’s focusing on. The beauty of it lies in realizing that the only person operating that camera is me. In a way, I am the author and I am the character. I am the hero and I am the villain. I am the victim and I am the culprit. The obstacles that I have to face are my own demons. And it’s my choice whether I want to overcome or simply ignore them. Today I have decided to fight. Win or lose, it’s a for life. My life. A better life.


From now on I will be building my way to success… One failure at a time.


On dreams and reality

As I’m sitting here wondering if I should write, what I should write, how I should write, for whom I should write, how often I should write or how much I should write, my need to escape is rising at an alarming rate.

Why am I sitting here typing in front of a boring computer, when I could be living in a unique, exciting, skillfully imagined world that I sketched, molded, constructed, changed and adapted according to my own personal needs?

Why am I sitting here being my own boring self when I could put those headphones on, start pacing and instantly pretend to be whomever I want?

Why am I sitting here grounded in boring reality when I could be exploring the endless possibilities offered by my own imagination?

Because life has taught me that there is a time for dreaming and a time for waking up.

I feel like, in a certain way, there are two hypothetical sides of me. The distinction between the two is very subtle, perhaps even imperceptible, yet it’s as if it were there.  One of them lives for the thrill of dream-hunting, impatiently waiting for the next daydream rush. Pure. Raw. Intense. Exhilarating. Toxic. Addictive. The other side is the one that takes over once the fireworks subside. The other me is the one everyone knows, the one that lives for the thrill of achievement-hunting, for the love of reading and writing, for traveling and for learning.

Sometimes, it all starts with a trigger. A sound, an image, a fragrance, a memory. Then, anticipation. The onset of mental thirst. Elevated pulse. A sudden flow of delicious and vibrant ideas. The world starts building around me. It never completely takes over, though. The real world is still there; I am very aware of it. I sense every sound, every object, ever movement that was previously there. And yet, it’s as if there were two parallel stories occurring at the same time. The new world slowly layers around me like a semi-transparent veil. I feel a surge of electricity traveling down my spine, racing towards my extremities, engulfing me. An exalted deluge of sensory bliss. As the continuous flow of ideas runs its course, my movements mimic my part in the story. I’m absentmindedly pacing, repeating the same movement, mouthing the words, gesturing, acting out the scene. A passing tear, perhaps. A glimpse of hope, maybe even a touch of sorrow, and the faint trace of a smile. Once I reach the plateau, satiation ensues, often followed by a need to conserve my dreams by inscribing them onto paper.

I never follow through, however. They’re far too personal. Far too intimate. They’re alive and ever-changing, therefore writing them down wouldn’t do them justice. Like fresh flowers that we try to preserve by drying them between the pages of an old book, only to discover that their former beauty will, inevitably fade so that they can be transformed into something different. Equally beautiful? Perhaps. But different. Lifeless.

At this moment, my two hypothetical selves have no choice but to ‘coexist’ through what could only be described as a type of commensalism: both take turns benefitting while neither is being harmed. Could it have developed into a parasitic relationship where only one benefits at the expense of the latter? Yes. Years ago, I found myself on the brink of that crisis. And that was when I learned the importance of awareness and self-control. And, most importantly, dedication to certain goals. I am fully aware of the face that my desire to dream-hunt will always be an integral part of who I am as a person. It has shaped my personality, it has helped develop my creativity and it has extended the boundaries of my imagination in ways that I cannot even being to describe. I am not ashamed of it, and I will not deny it.

Yet, I will admit that potentially excessive daydreaming needs to be controlled. Ultimately, we cannot rely solely on our imaginations to get through life, as our relationship with reality and the exterior worlds is essential to our survival. Consequently, I only allow my imagination to run free at certain times, as an occasional break when I am able to relax, refresh, and restart. Or, in this case, as a reward for completing my daily writing goal.

As I’m sitting here writing these last few words, the music is beckoning me. I can feel myself being liberated once more. I let myself go, and as I unlock the door to my mind, releasing the whirlwind of thoughts and ideas, I surrender to the electrifying sensation of bliss. I am the dream huntress, and I have found my prey.