Life is Like A Stream

Growing up, my mother always taught me that our “life path” is like a stream, ever flowing, moving forward. We are to follow the path wherever it leads, even if it means warding off spiders, swinging through branches, climbing over rocks, and swimming through rapids. As we grow, we gather knowledge, experience, friends, lovers, challenges, hardships and what not.

Who and what we gather are like pebbles and rocks: some have rare jewels in them, others have unique minerals. If we carry every rock with us, we will become burdened. Over time, however, I’ve learned never to disregard or throw aside the pebbles, instead, place them gently in the stream and along the path so that you may come back when the time is ready. These pebbles can filter the stream and offer clarity of thought, they can be molded into gems later on in time. But always know where your treasure lie, and follow the path. If we stay on the path, we will never lose ourselves.

If we do stray from the path, we must always know how to find our ways back. Leaving clues and signs for ourselves to explore the great wide world, still knowing how to return to the path that leads us to where we need to be. To what our brains, our minds, our bodies, and our souls fundamentally desire.

Following your “life path” means going with what you know, deep down inside you, to be true to yourself. If you feel compelled to be explore and experiment, do what will get you there. If you were meant to create and construct, build as much foundation as possible. If you were born to reflect and express, learn as much as possible, meet as many as possible.

So often we find ourselves to be

Searching for what we already have
Pretending to be who we already are
Trying to undo what’s already been done
Unbecoming whatever it was we became

What what if, just what if, we’d chosen not to change. Instead of forcing growth we could just stay the same. So much of life is letting things fall into place. What if I told you, life is not a game?

Journey on and be free, know where your roots are, know how to find your stream, know where your buried treasures lay. And do what needs to be done at whatever cost (within reason), because always, always, you can come back.

Let us be each others’ boulders, the rocks we lay by the stream.

Love and peace,

Mikavelli

Spread Your Transformed Wings and Defy Gravity

Some people are like steroid fertilizers, who enter one’s life and drench themselves so much so that there is no choice but to grow. To step out of a comfort zone and destroy all the excuses that were once sheltering and restricting. Sometimes it’s painful, sometimes it’s fun; but always, always, it’s beautiful.

When the phase of transformation is complete, when all the light and substance seeps through the cracks of a shell broken open, only beauty remains, in its finest, most pure.

The process of transformation is rarely beautiful — it is often intense, exhilarating, exciting, nerve wracking (to name the tip of the iceberg) — but what comes about it is perfect in its intent. All that was contained is freed from the cocoon that was once one’s reality, one’s whole world. Liberated from the cage that was once one’s freedom. Plucked from the prisons that once held the true essence of self.

When transformative cycles reach completion — much like the change of a season, much like the growth of a person, much like the progress of the world — the calm after the storm is the most enlightening, breathtaking moment as the light breaks the darkness.

Embrace the storm, the transformation. Often we fear the concept more than the reality, but we all have to spread our formed wings at some point…and maybe, just maybe, defy gravity.

~Mikavelli~

Does Negligence Render Us Narcissistic?

…of what does our world truly consist?
~Mikavelli~

It’s safe to say that enough articles have come up in recent years about how our generation has become, by far, one of the most narcissistic generations in human history. Not only have we been spoiled by social media’s constant reminders of self in comparison to our worlds, but we have also become so moralistic and self-righteous in our deluded drive to “rectify humanity”. What if I told you, humanity was never broken, but that our perception of self in relation to our role in “our” and “The” world is warped?

Many of us have this unspoken and almost unrecognized superiority complex where we have to “save the world” — be it the actual physical world, be it a sociologically “incepted” concept such as race, gender, status and so forth, be it sorting out other people’s relationships, be it filling in the loopholes of our memories and experiences. It is an entitlement where we feel that humanity has failed, the world is broken, and 2016 caused us to lose all hope.

I call this “entitlement” because so often we complain, about anything and anyone, which springs from the standpoint that “the person did not fit my paradigm”. Or, in laymen terms, “he/she did not live up to my standards or expectations”. And there it is, the most entitled attitude that we project our desires and expectations onto a person, or an ideological concept, or a situation, or a monetary figure etc.

We are so focused on the details of what we perceive to be our world, our reality — but of what does our world truly consist? Even as I sit here typing this behind the screen, I’m shooting myself in the foot over the irony that my world actually consists of people. Humans. My world is what it is because of the people who choose to be a part of it, and yet a screen is how we are reminded of each other. It is how we make an effort for each other.

Showing appreciation should not feel like “effort”, but how often do we get so raveled up in our own priorities, our own passions, our own perceptions, that we neglect the PEOPLE who are our reality? 

If the answer is more often than you’d like, then I would recommend taking a moment to personally reflect on the issue of whether negligence renders us narcissistic.* (Clear distinction: narcissistic, an adjective describing those who are self-absorbed and self-centred. This is not to say that one is a narcissist, merely that one exhibits characteristics not unlike one.)

Before we project our repressed narcissistic behaviours onto narcissists who actually have a condition (painful as it may be), maybe we should reflect a little.

Or does all this reflection just generate more narcissism…The paradox is yours.

Have a good week!

Mikavelli

References
1. Millenials Admit to Being Narcissists, but Don’t You Dare Call Them That

2. Me! Me! Me! Are we living through a narcissism epidemic?

3. Me! Me! Me! The Rise of Narcissism in The Age of the Selfie

Undefined and Therefore Free

Processed with Rookie Cam

Create for yourself a world from which you need not escape.
~Mikavelli~

Dear all,

I write to you a personal one from the heart, a theme I embrace for the coming year and would much like to share.

Needless to say, 2016 has been a roller coaster year for many, not just in daily life but also in the world. It has been physically confusing with global warming and cold spells hitting various parts of the planet, it has been mentally straining with the influx of politics sprawled across social media, it has been socially challenging with people’s personal views suddenly becoming  measurement of friendship, not to mention financially challenging for the younger generation who have been struck with wanderlust.

Many of us have spent this past year hyped by the definitions our generation has been adopting: LGBTQ, religious affliation, political stance, racial profiling, defining of gender and so forth. I, myself, have been susceptible and vulnerable to the perceived security a “definition” can hold, even the most simplistic ones such as “single” or “taken”, “drunk” or “sober”, “happy” or “sad” and what not. But this year, a few conversations and human experiences made me realize that every rambled answer boiled down to the exact same common factor: It’s all situational. Single or taken? Depends who’s asking. Drunk or sober? Depends on the company.

We hold onto definitions because we want to feel understood, to feel accepted, to feel like we have a community of people who agree with who we are, fundamentally. We allow ourselves to be defined by the same society we so openly criticize, not realizing that we are society. We generate for ourselves a new word to better describe ourselves, hoping that maybe, just maybe, the government will give “someone like us” rights or freedom. Truth be told, if you are accepting of how you define yourself, be it in any language, symbol, code, song or anything, then societal definitions should have no bearing on you.

I sit here as an actual writer with the knowledge of how much limitation there is to diction. How a single word is never enough to encompass the full essence of whatever concept is being expressed; knowing that no adjective can accurately describe the exact depth of beauty you see in a person’s eyes when (s)he smiles at you, knowing that no suffix can convey the intensity and magnitude of inner strength, knowing that only a combination of words can perhaps get a reader close to the passion one bleeds onto the screen.

Nay, words have their limitations, and for that exact reason, I still have not found a word that can accurately “define” me. The actual me. I’ll be honest, when I realized that, truly experienced the lack of words at the core, it was groundbreaking, earth shattering, and so magnificently liberating that the earthquake from my world caused ripples in the worlds around me.

Yes, being undefined, uncommitted, and unburdened, is liberating in a sense, but also completely disconcerting. It is a new challenge that some have faced, some have avoided, some have feared, and others have embraced. Whatever the outcome, undefined and therefore free will be my theme for 2017, and for those who are sick of the social media labels tying you down to what “words” tell you is “socially acceptable behaviour”, then all I can say is: create for yourself a world from which you need not escape. Build your world with the right connections, live your world with the right people, be your own world at the core.

2016 broke the world, but “you gotta break ‘em in order to make ‘em.”

Your past will make you or break you
It’s up to you to decide.
You can always rewrite the future
By living in present times.

Undefined and therefore free
That’s my 2017
If you choose to follow me
Then welcome to your new reality

~M.G.~

Season Finale 0f 2016

It’s safe to say that 2016 has been a year of transitions and change for many. Not only has the international arena taken a huge turn in development (as evidenced by Dahl, 1989-90), but immigration borders somehow started closing up the same time “wanderlust” hit social media. I could go on endlessly about social media being a physical representation of how our unconscious mind is capable of blowing perception entirely out of proportion, but I fear that digression would inadvertently lead to another novella.

Alas, a small pattern has seemingly formulated within my immediate arena of social life, and as it would stand, December seems to have picked up a tad in contrast with the rest of the year. Large players in the game have shifted strategies as we embrace the alleged “New Word Order” with new players re-entering the arena. We’ve had the whole of 2016 to adapt to an unstable and ever-changing world, and many seem to be awaiting 2017 with the same anticipation seen just before 2016, 2015, 2014……

Nonetheless, there are definitely exciting turns to look forward to in the next year: all things considered, for the first time ever, I feel like history books are coming alive. As a kid with a vivid imagination, I was always curious about what the world I read about in books would be like in real life. Everything our millennial generation was taught in school, the world we were braced for, the regimes we challenged as powerless students, are coming to life with the snap of a finger. I have not lived long, but just enough to know that no era has seen a global change at the rate 2016 shifted. While we attribute the “change” to technological advances, how many of us have actually considered that perhaps it is simply our attitudes to what we’ve been absorbing that changed…?

Does our generation now possess the necessary apathy that enables us to survive these constant fluxes and cycles? Is it the instability of the external world that has forced our generation to look internally and strive for stability within ourselves?

It is for these reasons that I say with mournful delight that the key events of our year, 2016, have encompassed a few “necessary evils” that shook the globe, awoke humans, and pushed us out of the caves where thought we were safe. Yes, our generation is adequately prepared for a conceptual “war” – one that takes place using words, using technology, using ideas…but in the grand scheme of things, how important is “our role” in “the world” if we are the world?

When I was young, I had to learn that time moves “forwards” and history will remain as such, which made me wonder, “why learn history when we are preparing for the future?”

Then I grew up, and realized that time is cyclical. The human condition was once called “human nature”, and nature has a cycle. Yes, “global warming” has shaken things up with the carbon and pollution, but human “nature” is, too, reaching a season of change. Have we truly become so complacent in our place in the world that we are genuinely and deeply angered by change?

Is it anger or is it fear?

Yes, many a concept has been challenged over the year, many a regime threatened. Many weak minds have been offended, and the strong-willed have somehow lost hope. But we enter 2017 with the experience of how extreme our species is capable of being, of realizing that we are not as evolved as media wanted us to believe.

If, even for a second, we could strip from ourselves any form of definition we adhered to by way of social-media pressure, then maybe, just maybe, we’ll find out who we are..

My Love, you are more prepared than you realize. Embrace the experiences you never thought could happen; without having to think, analyze, or over explain, we now have the opportunity to experience history in the present. It is a frighteningly beautiful thing, exhilarating and nerve-wrecking to say the least.

But it is as real as whatever fictional literature we’ve ever read.

With 2017 around the corner, I guarantee it is the year dreams become reality. Fantasy becomes actuality. Fictional characters become autobiographies.

Walk undefined.
I dare you.


Peace,
Mikavelli

Merging Worlds

There are some whose worlds come together and complement each other as they merge and formulate new worlds in the making. The worlds intertwine with the commonality of foundations, where there is acceptance of differences, where there is an understanding that each individual world has its specialty.

There are others, however, whose worlds come together and collide, not in the magical, chemical way where passion goes both ways. No, the collision where all that’s left is destruction. Where all that’s left is ash and decay. When you walk past a land that was once beautiful, once solid, once secure, only to see it for what it has become. A fragment of history, a world that was once reality.

One can have multiple worlds: family, friends, work, academics, romance, and so forth — it does eventually become a constant shuffle of juggling the compartmentalization of each world. It’s knowing when to take breaks, when to go “all in”; when to rush, when to pace; when to love, when to fear…

Have you ever revisited old worlds that you’ve destroyed? Ever tread your history as if it were a biographical museum of your selves — past and present?

I have.

When you sift through the debris of the destruction from your past,
You slowly rediscover enough raw material to recreate worlds that last.

Life is an unending journey of transforming worlds: of gathering the necessary tools to construct actual worlds within worlds, to reclaim land that was never ours to claim, to build, create, and shape. It is knowing when to let go and when to push through, when it’s acceptable to rest, and when you’re just being complacent in the excuses made for laziness. When to walk away, when to confront; when to build and rebuild, or when to ditch and destroy.

Every now and then, worlds change. They change internally when one learns from experience, and externally when one strives to make an environmental difference to physical habitats. Worlds can change with the flux of the world, and ones response to the flux.

But as worlds come together, as different entities meet at a metaphorical crossroads in the middle of the universe, it results in:
a) embrace the new worlds and let yours expand or,
b) defend your world to the death by keeping out every one who tries to be a part of it.

Each of us come from a world where things work differently, where we’re taught to perceive things differently, and where we, despite how much similarity may be drilled through convention, cannot fight the unique and individual design of our DNAs. Our whole lifetime will be a journey of figuring out the roles of our worlds in the world; there is no one right answer. There are so many ways to do what’s “right”, why restrict it to the one thing you were taught from that one world you were in before it expanded?

We are what we are
We are what we choose to be
We are what we merge
We are…

Peace!
Mikavelli

as-we-sift-through

Is Grammar Actually Important?

As a former educator, I often ponder why the concept of “grammar” has become one of those slightly less debated grey-areas.

While I do understand that grammar can be subjective in the sense that different types of English use different types of syntax, it does breed the question “how far is too far” in terms of change? If you were schooled in East Asia, English grammar is one of those unavoidable subjects that most spend fifteen years trying to escape. It is true that many native English schools don’t stress the importance of grammar the same way second-language schools do, and have come to believe that over-emphasis on grammar is useless.

I’ve explored these areas both as a student and as an educator, and in my “research” I have found the statement to be simultaneously true and false. Yes, over-emphasis on anything is generally seen as pointless, but the argument I’ve heard from a few well-experienced Asian instructors is that “English is a second language in most parts of Asia, so we don’t often get the chance to use it daily. That’s why we need to drill grammar.” Is this true? Does drilling grammar truly help people’s standards?

Yes and no.

Yes, because while the spoken English might be somewhat lacking in confidence, secondary level English writing has shown significant improvement in the last few years. Surprisingly, university level English has been reported to be decreasing. So drilling grammar is limited to being beneficial in writing. Literally.

The “no”, however, is when I personally think about my own English learning process. Yes, I went to an Asian school for my formative years, which meant that I, too, underwent a decade of grammar drills that lets face it, can be done with your eyes closed once you get the hang of the first two or three questions. Most grammar drills were fill-in-the-blanks, choose the correct tenses; English that could be easily grasped with the right balance of reading novels and watching cartoons.

But is the drilling of grammar absolutely useless? Also, no. I’ve had friends who speak other language assess how they were taught English in their schools, versus how they were taught their native languages. As it turns out, languages that have more rigid structure such as Chinese, German, or elementary French, would actually benefit from a rote-learning tense-drilling grammar learning style. However, languages like English, Spanish, or general French are somewhat more free-flowing, and these are best learned through application and interaction.

So why do some systems choose to drill English grammar and other systems seemingly ignore grammar, entirely? Is grammar important?

Traditionally, many European schools had various types of “grammar schools” where students learned the rigid, structured way of English. It was the post-structuralist era in the twentieth century that created a general industrial system that prepared students for factories and industrial work; there were also many chances to join military positions due to the globe’s political situation in this century. However, in the late twentieth/early twenty-first century, education took on a type of “reform” where a lot of the traditional structures were removed and replaced with more modernized education. Students were told to prepare for the future, but it was a future for which no one was truly braced.

One of the more prominent aspects that were removed from Western education was the emphasis on grammar; however, still retained heavily in Asian education. Though the twenty-first century has advanced most of the world, including parts of the Third World, Asia is still reliant on the West when it seeks English language education. Since most communication in today’s world is done online, I personally think it is vital to bring back grammar education in schools.

Yes, grammar has become so very subjective in that we are now to accept two types of spelling: American and British. It has become stylistic in that American favors active voice and British favours passive voice. It has become discrepant in that American television now refers to humans as “that” instead of “who” such as the person that spelt this wrong, vs the person who spelt this wrong.

So how do we generate a universally understood set of English? We don’t. We break it down instead.

Traveling around Asia and hearing stories from friends who’ve traveled South America have taught me one thing about universal English. It was a secret that I will happily share here:

Simple tenses will save your life.

Simple present, past, or future tenses are generally understood by most second language speakers. I’ve presented a few real-life examples where I’ve personally seen native English being misunderstood, and have found ways to rephrase it into second language English. Simple tenses.

Native English speaker:
We wouldn’t be arriving until around midnight, would it be possible to check in a tad late?

What I “translated” to the hotel staff:
We will arrive at midnight. Can we check-in late? Is it ok?

Native English speaker:
Could you possibly add a dash of salt and pepper to the salad, please?

My translation:
Can I have salt and pepper, please?

Native English speaker:
Do you think you could possibly get me a copy next week?

What I re-wrote:
Can you please send me a copy next week? Thank you!

Yes, English takes a few different forms, and there are dozens of ways to communicate exactly the same message. In grammar words, it is up to the subject to convey the predicate with accuracy. Sometimes we get so caught up in how we talk or ramble that we forget to adjust our syntax to be better understood by the audience.

My friendly advice from personal experience, is that if you like to travel, to write, to meet people, take a short course in Second Language English. Of course, the common one for millennials these days is TEFL, but there are a few more that are not limited to teaching. Taking the course functions as a simple reminder that different cultures speak English differently, and there is no model answer. There are only results, and the result is simply “to be understood”.

Peace!

Mikavelli