Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Danke Berlin!

This week i am very proud of myself, i did something that is trés grown-up, i went away on a holiday trip to Berlin, Germany - not Berlin, New Jersey. Well, you may be asking yourself - how is that a grown-up thing? - but, yes, it is, because what could be more grown up than traveling to Europe for four days on your own expenses and responsibilities? To throw yourself into the immensity that is the unknown and open yourself to whatever comes your way and then be back to work on tuesday as if nothing had changed, as if 8 hours - each way - inside an airplane was the same thing as going to the deli to get a new bottle of diet coke and a wrap. I was in awe with myself, almost as in awe as when i rented a house on the beach - literally - for the summer, now that was the epitomy of becoming a true grown up!

But getting there was an even more jaw-dropping experience than i expected; not only Berlin is one of the most exciting and curious cities i have ever been, but NEVER have i seen such politeness and respect to others like i have in Berlin, to me that is what the word civilized was invented for. Someone told me that there were only nine homicides in Berlin last year - yes, nine... NINE! Well, i didn't go as far as believing in that information, but it came from a good source and i am pretty sure that if it wasn't the most acurate, the actual number would probably not be that far anyway. But my point here is: go to Berlin and learn something about proper living. Period.

So, as you get off the airplane, each gate has it's own separate immigration, baggage claim, security check, check in, etc. All is individualized and extremely simple and organized, a true shock, specially after having seen half demolished terminals and the atrocity that is the airport in Newark, New Jersey - where else!? So here is where it starts to get really good and juicy, listen up. The minute the doors of your gate open up to the terminal you are invaded by a smell that is a croos between the best croissants i ever tasted and some delicious pastry that kicks France in the ass big time. Then from the ticket booth from the transportation ticket to the flat it was a jiffy. No joke, with two euros i got all the way home, and that included changing from a bus to a train and not going through a gate or a "ticket person" once! Yes, that was the second shock, that is proof that good and honest people exist in this world, here is a country that has the doors to their trains and buses wide open for anyone to walk in at any time and they trust that everyone will stop by the machine before entering and buy their tickets. And they do.

In Germany everything works, no one crosses the street if the light is red - even if there isn't absolutely anything moving in the road, people don't speak loudly, they mind their own businesses and respect everyone else's space. At the same time there is a sense of community that is remarkable, people congregate and communicate to perfection. Punk rock mixes with art, church, school programs, families, demonstrations,cats and dogs all at once and within the space of a small park, everyone takes note of whats happening around them and if they want to join... why not?

Berlin is bustling with art, energy, music, creativity, Berlin is the German capital of fashion, movies, music and arts in general. It seems like there is a museum in every corner and it seems like all of them are constantly busy, even the ones that are temporarily built by the artists themselves in half-destroyed and abandoned buildings. But while all this energy is flowing all over the city, Berlin finds a way to remain very austere and extremely silent. Berlin is so silent that at times it becomes scary. Aside from a couple of central spots like Alexanderplatz, which would be the equivalent of a downtown area for instance, Berlin is without exagerating one bit, as quiet as being in the middle of the country or in a farm. Walking through the streets on any time of day o night all you hear is steps from other people walking near you and the eventual louder car noises, but the predominant sound in the streets is of the birds hapilly singing from the top of the trees, that are also plenty. At night it becomes so quiet that the mere steps of someone outside will seem loud, especialy since there aren't really that many people roaming around.

The nightlife and the bars are also a thing of their own. People are respectful of the neighbors and enjoy themselves inside if they want to be loud, and if you think that the streets are taken by bars and 24-hour parties, well, they are not. Berlin manages to have one of the best night lifes in Europe without being noisy and annoying to everyone else, which to me is truly bizarre and hard to achieve.

The overall behaviour in this city is of deep respect, you can be walking down the street topless and people will not be staring or making comments, you will see, like i have, men with heir butts showing in one of those fetish leather pants, walking around naturally like everyone else, and not a single person cares, to which its own.

Berlin has grown to become such an important cultural hub and trend-setter for Europe that you even forget the whole wall deal. And it seems like that's what they really want to see hapening. That damned wall is nothing but a sad reminder of bad days gone by, of atrocities and deep disrespect to other human beings, but still, parts of that wall remain there, as a reminder to this new generation of all that has gone wrong, of all injustice and foolishness that has been poduced by none other than human beings just like any of us - well, maybe not me, but i can't b so sure about you - just kidding.

I have thought of many theories to explain what makes Berlin such a riveting and civilized city, but the best one is that it probably was restrind and contained for so long that pople just learned to live under strict rules and respct each others space, people had to learn to live with each other and endure through good, bad o ugly. the sense of community must also definitely come from that same place. it seems to me that the ways of Berlin can be quite deceiving for those who go visit unaware of their costumes. But mostly in a good way, of course.

Berlin, made me shine, through every corner, park, grafitti, museum, river, creek and fountain, Berlin had a magic that was really hard to explain and even harder to put into words, Berlin filled my heart with joy and opened my eyes to much brighter world, where people can rely on each other and trust whoever or whatever. Berlin in its entirety was the most inspiring experience i have had in a long, a very long time!

The Wonders of Love

There is a difficulty that i believe is inside most of us, it's not the usual obstacle, it lives inside us and we don't even know about it. It only comes out in those moments when you really should not have it, and you really have to fight it in order to achieve a certain place. This place is a feeling, this place also generates many other feelings, in you, a friend, a relative, or even that someone you've been secretely admiring for quite some time. To say "i love you", or "i love this", is one of the hardest things to do.

By finding love inside myself over and over again i was able to let go of the restraints of embarrassement or fear of saying the words. I found that loving myself was the most invaluable feeling i could have ever achieved, and from that i found that i had to - A - admit it, and - B - learn to share it. It's not like i made a mission of walking around grabbing people, shaking them down and telling them to love as much as they could and love themselves above all - that would be crazy... Or would it?- but it was simply by paying it forward.

There has been so much pain and rejection in my life, there were times when it was impossible for me to understand why should people be put through so much hurt. Everyone has their share, some people learn from them, some don't, a few others keep bouncing back, others harden themselves and build a wall to make it all more distant, but i lived through all the pain, quietly inside myself and by myself. Please stop right here. This is not meant to make you feel sad or bad for me, so keep on reading. I lived through the pain, i had no one to share it with, i didn't believe in therapy, i didn't feel i had anyone i could share it with to a level where i would be heard and understood, so i looked inside myself, i searched for the elements that were already in me, because someone once told me that we hold the answers to all our questions inside ourselves, and that simple phrase stayed with me, and eventually i understood what that meant.

It started off by not feeling sorry for myself, and also by rationalizing all the pain, i could not care less for the tears, which by the way hadn't turned up around my face for many, many years, all i wanted was to make all the problems go away, one by one, and there was no way around it, i had to face the music, and that would be whatever was playing, i really did not care. As each problem came tumbling down, i grew stronger and my heart eventually could not fit inside me anymore. That was when i found love, and as tacky as it may sound, it was love that saved my life. By loving i started feeling again, the tears finally started to roll down, even when i was watching silly tv commercials i would cry, i mean, i cry for everything, and it's because i am touched, or happy, or sad, or angry, it doesn't matter, but for me it was the best thng that ever happened, because it showed me that i was alive again. To live through pain, death and illness and not shed a tear is the weirdest feeling i ever felt, and it happened repeatedly, for many years, that's why i say that crying woke me up.

When The Beatles sang "all you need is love", they knew what they were talking about, it is the most absolute truth and it's what keeps me going. Not only did love solve my problems and finished with my pain, but it also made me a much happier and open person, it made me see that the possibilities are infinite, it made me see that there is absolutely nothing wrong with trial and error, nothing complicated about taking chances and speaking up, that giving a hand to a stranger could lead to endless possibilities and that everyone needs a little love, so why not share it? I mean, i sure have plenty to share.

I found that loving is an exercise, you have to remind yourself constantly of the love you have for yourself, you have to constantly throw it around at others so that they know they feel it too. Life is hard and sometimes it toughens us a bit too much, to the point we forget we are human beings and we feel everything; that's how we were built and meant to be, otherwise we would be just like every other animal.

I have come to learn that no matter how bad things are or how hard it is to understand the world around you, you have to always keep on loving as much and as hard as you can, because there is too much negativity all around and even at the worst moment, there will be something to be loved, there is this belief inside of me that everything, anyone, all things that exist deserve love, of course there are flaws in all and any, but why should you hold on to the flaws when all else can be far more interesting and entertaining anyway?

Think about it, love is not just something for silly romance movies, love is serious stuff, and if you open your heart and sould to it you will see how good it feels to love so much and how good it makes the people around you feel too, there is no way around it, it is contagious at its best, and i love it!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The turn of the Swan

What can i say about the ballet? Well, I love it. It my sound tacky, old or boring to most people, i know, because that's how i used to feel about it too, but that was because i did not know ballet. I had never in all my years experienced what ballet really is, never had i gone to see a show from a real ballet company and experience the nunaces of the dances and the music and how they interact so beautifully to create images and how all these images lead to an exciting story.

It was the New York City Ballet that showed me what the art of the ballet is all about. This company showed me that ballet is not all about tutus and classical music, it showed me that there can be twists to it, that the music, whatever it may be can always have an interpretation and tell its story through the precise steps and gentle moves of the dancers.

The first show i ever watched was The Nutcracker; it had been a lifelong dream of mine to watch this particular show at christmas eve in New York city, and so, on my first holiday season alone in New York, thats what i did, i bought myself a good seat for the 8pm show and immersed myself in that art, i decided that if i was oing to do it, sit through three hours of ballet, i was going into it with an open mind and heart, and try to learn as much as possible aboutit and try to feel the same excitement that the people who are presenting it to the audience do.

The beauty of the stage design, the costumes and the stunning music were all gorgeous, it lifts you up, there is no other way, however, as those dancing heros, jump and twirl and glide through the stage, that's when the magic happens, because i saw people just like me and the guy sitting next to me, doing things that i could never imagine possible, every move of every part of their body was all of a sudden communicating something different, they were saying this person was happy, or sad, or in love, or deeply hurt, o confused. Their bodies also showed the unbelievable capacity of moving and reaching places and positions unseen, it was like watching a scene from a movie filled with special effects, except that it was all real, happening in front of me on the stage of the David H. Koch theater.

I could not believe what i was feeling, i was laughing, crying, being surprised every minute and all i wanted was more, more, more. When the show finished i was even more puzzled: Was this a one time only experience or did i really like the ballet? Well, i went on a search and bought myself tickets for another show, completly different, no big sets or flashy costumes, just dance and music, and this time it was even more exciting. To be able to read into the dance is a privilege, and to be able to witness those dancers making such beautiful art happen right in front of me is an even greater privilege. I since then became a member of the New York City Ballet, i make sure to get my tickets for all my favorite shows in advance and i don't miss a single one of them!

It still puzzles me why are people so resistent to such a beautiful form of art, a form of art that is so alive and is so vibrant, that brings you into the show, makes you feel a part of the action and opens your heart to feelings that cold have been long forgotten. The excitement of the ballet is far beyond my abilities to write, soi will no longer try to explain it, but it would be really amazing if every day more people felt interested by the ballet, because for me, it's a form of art that should never be gone.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Lola's Scream

i have been thinking a lot lately about how the mind works, i mean, not in regards to every aspect of it, but mostly, you know, about how our wheels spin and how our thoughts, ideas and decisions come to be. I have been thinking a lot about it, it's been very unsettling, very different too, because up until now i never really cared that much, things happened like they always do, sometimes very easily or with some difficulty, but right now, in this place where i find myself in my life, i ask myself: how does all this decision making go on? I have been thinking about it all the time, i also wonder if other people think about it too, i wonder if they even think there is a mechanism or even a "thinking"; or if they just assume things happen because they do.

The reality is that i am really tired. I am tired of making decisions, and thinking about them, and thinking twice before doing something, you know, like in that saying? I know it may sound premature, but i think all the time, all day long, i make decisions for myself, for my clients, for my friends, for my family, for god knows who! I decide from the moment i wake up and lately i have been deciding even in my sleep. Lately, the "decision making" has been heavier than ever, the "thinking" has been more frenetic than New York traffic during the holidays and all of that has translated in so much noise in my head that sometimes it becomes so loud that it is unbearable to carry on, or stand still, or have my eyes open or closed, it's all so loud and so messy that it's hard to just be.

I can be standing still but i won't be, i can try to lie down but i won't rest, i can sit in the darkest corner of my room and i will still be in motion, my body still moves in spasms and twitches from all the thoughts floating in my head, it's a clash that comes from all sides, from the noisy silence that comes from the street or from the just finished day still echoing in my ear drums; it's the actual physical manifestation of my thoughts that lately hasn't even allowed me to sleep, that wakes me up in the middle of the night to say: REMEMBER THIS! DO THAT! BE THAT WAY! This is why i am tired, because never before have i had to think about thinking, never before have i had to try to stop myself from thinking in order to conclude a thought and get to a decision, never before has the white noise become so poisonous and loud.

I have all these pictures that pop up on my mental screen, they are references from movies, songs or plays, of those moments when the carachter stops everything and analyzes that scene or moment, or in a song when a singer screams and every sound stops... to only then resume in perfect synthony again. But the image that has been haunting me lately is of Lola, from the German movie "Run Lola, Run", a brilliant piece of work from the early 00's; and in it Lola, is running so desperately to save her lover and everything is so frenetic, and her head is spinning so fast, that there is a moment when she screams with all her strenghth, and she screams so loud that people around her can't even bare it, glasses break, clocks stop running and at the end of that scream everything is perfect and well and she can then return to her running yet again. That's the image i have been visualizing lately, and as awful as i know it may sound, i wish i could scream even louder, but so loud that even some people's heads would pop and they would cease to exist, they would not die, because i don't necessarily want that for them, but they would just disappear with the head, and they would disappear from my microcosmos. Maybe they would carry on living in their own space, but they would just be inexistent for me. Wouldn't that be nice? But i wouldn't want any controle over it, this would just be something that could happen or not, and when it did it would be very random, according to what fate judged necessary, like popping a pimple, instant relief to something that is really annoying, like a torn in my foot or a pebble in my shoe. It would be like a bonus for excessive thinking.

I don't know what to think anymore, my mind wonders and wanders away, it thinks of completely unnecessary things constantly; i mean, why should i be thinking if i will live long enough to have a house by the lake or children to raise, when right now what i should really be thinking is about my career; or that date that went really badly because i couldn't stop thinking about the bad date that i had the previous week. It is complete insanity, but it is what it is and this is the point where i am at in my life, when thinking is such hard work that it even hurts. I am not joking.

Maybe there is something that is tangled in there, in my little box of thoughts, because to me that's all the brain is, a little woody and wide box where everything is stored in files and cabinets and sometimes in computers and hard drives too. Sometimes there are spirits floating around too, i don't know if i would call them that, but they would be like clerks or librarians or something, and i guess they make the mess; maybe the clerk's assistant files something in the wrong cabinet and next thing you know i am taking a train to Jersey while i still live in Manhattan, that kind of stuff, the kind of stuff you do when you are really exhausted.

So, the hope here is that this will help my head to untangle, maybe writing this will send a clue to the guys up there in the box that maybe it's time to put things back in order, and i certainly hope that they read this before they put it away.

Yours truly, the body.