Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Night Practice

I have been looking for some practice to end my day with. Here is an idea.
(From inc.com: http://www.inc.com/geoffrey-james/gratitude-true-secret-to-success.html)

Practice Nightly
The best time to exercise gratitude is just before bed. Take out your tablet (electronic or otherwise) and record the events of the day that created positive emotions, either in you or in those around you.
Did you help somebody solve a problem? Write it down. Did you connect with a colleague or friend? Write it down. Did you make somebody smile? Write it down.
What you're doing is "programming your brain" to view your day more positively. You're throwing mental focus on what worked well, and shrugging off what didn't. As a result, you'll sleep better, and you'll wake up more refreshed.
Reprogramming Your Brain
More important, you're also programming your brain to notice even more reasons to feel gratitude. You'll quickly discover that even a "bad day" is full of moments that are worthy of gratitude. Success becomes sweeter; failure, less sour.
The more regularly you practice this exercise, the stronger its effects.
Over time, your "gratitude muscle" will become so strong that you'll attract more success into your life, not to mention greater numbers of successful (i.e., grateful) people. You'll also find yourself thanking people more often. That's good for you and for them, too.
This method works. If you don't believe me, try it for at least a week. You'll be amazed at what a huge difference it makes.

PS. [2012-09-29] I did this nightly practice for close to two months and I did not feel any benefits, and I am not doing it anymore.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Mango and Mang

In 200,000 B.C., after the biblical storm was dead and dry, Noah's boat settled on the lands we now call Egypt. Noah was sick and tired of all that water, so he started a journey across African deserts and ended up in a land we call Spain now. Spanish were great soldiers at the time, and Noah was very confused and bored, so he made a great army and invaded all Europe and finally conquered England after a bloody battle. At the time, England was colonized by India (Hindoostan) and Indians had brought Mango plants into England and had tried to grow them. But the results were defected fruits that were smaller than original Mango and were called "Mang". So Noah took the name "mang" and used it to refer to two things: (1) Bastards, i.e., children without a properly known father, and (2) because "mang" was an "o" short of "Mango", and "o" is reminiscent of testicles, he used "mang" to refer to eutenized men, and then by extension to homosexuals. Therefore, Noah coined the term "mang" to refer to faggots and bastards at the same time.

Conclusion: When you want to grow a plant in a new environment you have to be careful about the possibility of being invaded by a foreign army headed by a crazy, bored prophet.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Poetry Night

How can you tell her,
``I love you!''
when you don't know
what love is?
How can you tell her,
``I want to see you!''
when you don't know
if you want to see her
or you are escaping
the frightening void within?

So you take the bottle
and empty all pills
on your palm.
It's the perfect time:
She won't be back any time soon
and you have enough time
to finish things clean
and you ask yourself,
``Do I want to do this?''
over and over
and hear no response
so you put the pills back
in the bottle
and think
``I do not even have the courage
to do this!''

And you decide to go to Java Monkey,
Sunday evening is the poetry night,
and you tell yourself
I am going to smoke
and finish every cigarette
on my skin.
Oh Lord!
How much I need the Lord
or anything
to that effect

They recite poems
and you float in your dreams
or rather nightmares
thousands of miles away
from anything
that can be characterized
as enjoyment.
Yeah, I am enjoying
my fucking life
mang!

***************************
http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Mang&defid=6427796
Mang:

A male that acts like a Fag, Faggot, Queer and/or Fairy.
Derived from the latin term Mangina.

Clean Pool

Sunday morning is cleaning time. The pool was green with algae from a heat wave while we were gone. It is much more beautiful and presentable now, lol.

Morning started okay with my routine morning practice. During breakfast, when I was telling Sima about my plan to go on a trip alone to clear my mind, a sense of agitation started happening inside me. When I was smoking my first cigarette outside, an extremely powerful feeling of nervousness, or an enormous energy, captured me. I felt it mostly in my neck and shoulders. It seemed impossible for me to do anything. I thought about contacting a friend and arranging a few hours in the afternoon or evening to be with her. (This thought was very powerful.) Then I considered calling my parents in Iran, or calling some out of state friends, then asking Sima to give me a massage. But I decided against all of them. I should calm down myself, I thought, I am abusing my relationships and exploiting them too much. I should get though this alone. I started cleaning the pool and after a while a calmness came over me.

There is a fine balance between "responsibility" (what we ought to do) and "desire" (what we want to do) that I have missed in my life. Not long ago, I had no idea about what I "wanted" to do in my life. Everything I did was out of responsibility. Then, I started to drop things that I did because I had to, to find out about what I want to do. Yet, doing things that I have to do, like using drugs, brings a sense of calmness to me. This calmness is necessary for life, and I am missing it now.

I went to a nearby coffee shop around noon and practice "not doing" for a couple of hours. I would like to think that this practice helps me to calm down by myself and clear my mind. I have some idea about what I am going to do today.

Days are stretches of void, pain, and torture. In the morning, I am facing the challenge of getting through another day. I am not sure how long I can go on like this. I am worried that what I am doing (that is, "not doing" practices, avoiding putting my weight on my relationships, and refraining from doing things out of responsibility) combined with my inability to focus on my job, drive me into total madness and despair. But I do not have a better plan. And in reality, a lot of things seems impossible to do right now.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Night Sky

We saw "Beasts of the Southern Wild" at the Tara Cinema. It is a different and fascinating film. In a strange way, it reminded me of "The Tree of Life" which I watched three or four times (at the Tara Cinema). Every time, I cried for 10-15 minutes over a sequence of shots from Galaxies and creation and child birth all combined together. I like the sky, specially the night sky when it is filled with stars. In Iran, I slept under the night sky (of Damavand near Tehran) once and I watched the sky for a couple of hours and cried every now and then. It was a fascinating night. I can't describe it. Tonight when we came out of the theater, around 9 p.m, the evening sky was mesmerizing. I took some pictures. But seeing it first-hand, the amazing combination of colors, was different. Yesterday, I had a few very difficult hours in the afternoon. I changed a plan to hang out with a dear friend (for complicated reasons that I do not fully understand yet), and suddenly, a black hole appeared in front of me. The emptiness that appeared before me was frightening.

The Three of Life - Trailer:
http://www.metacritic.com/movie/the-tree-of-life/trailers/1646677

Sia - Cover of "Under the milky way"
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iRpzmAMsz90


Best night sky (in the US:
http://list.ly/list/1H-best-night-sky-stargazing-in-us-parks
Death Valley National Park:
http://www.nps.gov/deva/planyourvisit/directions.htm
Bryce Canyon National Park:
http://www.nps.gov/brca/planyourvisit/directions.htm

Friday, July 20, 2012

The Wild Horse

What are the images that most people associate with love? A romantic dinner? Holding hands? Looking into a lover's eyes?
Today, I had the image of love as a wild horse! Most of us live our lives riding an old, obedient donkey, locking the wild horse in the stable, out of reach and out of sight. The wild horse is a source of energy, wild destructive energy.

The energy in love, or more generally in human contact, can be overwhelming, destructive, and even disgusting. Think of a father caressing his little child. Something happens, and now he feels sexual tension in his touch. Something churns his stomach. He is overpowered by an unspeakable desire, unthinkable desire, that can easily destroy his entire life!

Energy is not good or bad. Energy is overwhelming, dangerous, and mesmerizing. In order to deal with the wild horse, it has to be taken out of the safe stable.  And there will be a period of time, before the rider gains the confidence and trust to properly deal with the horse, that anything can happen. Who wants to take that risk? It is only rational that most of us live happily with the old, obedient donkey. Freeing the wild horse is crazy. And yet, some of us are captivated by the risk and the possible rewards of the endeavor.

Love is less romantic than we think.

While I was thinking all these, on my way to playing tennis, Franz Schubert's String Quintet in C major was being played on radio. I caught the middle of the second movement and as I continued listening to the end, something strange in the music and in my body happened, as if the composer's inner struggles with love and its frightening energy was projected on me. Quite amazing!

Franz Schubert String Quintet in C maj:
Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kqckrCpYVPs
Wiki link (on ) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/String_Quintet_%28Schubert%29
http://www.franzpeterschubert.com/string_quintet.html

PS. I am listening to it again :)

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Festive Day

خرم آن روز کزین منزل ویران بروم         راحت جان طلبم، و ز پی‌ جانان بروم

Hafez says:
Such a festive day, that I leave these ruins
Seek peace of soul, and go after the beloved

No amount of coincidences, luck, or other powers can measure up to human beings power of grit, determination, focus, and perseverance.
`` ... I have told you already, only a crackpot would undertake the task of becoming a man of knowledge of his accord. A sober-headed man has to be tricked into doing it.''
``I'm sure there must be scores of people who would gladly undertake the task,'' I said.
``Yes, but they don't count. They are usually cracked . They are like gourds that look fine from the outside and yet they would leak the minute you put pressure on them, the minute you filled them with water. ...'' p. 28, A Separate Reality
A cracked gourd that would leak the minute you put pressure on it, how familiar!

I do not know anything. Don't know love, Hafez, or don Juan. It's easy to put words together, but it's much harder to live them.

I am a seeker of calm and peace, and those can only be found in drugs, temporarily, and in death, permanently.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WKIyFuLZ4hc

Enough of this nonsense for today, I need to get some sleep. Tomorrow will be a better day.

Confusion and Revenge

I feel confused and lost, and angry. I want to take revenge. I want to take a knife and cut myself into pieces, and destroy every piece, annihilate myself. I feel betrayed by my mind and body.

I want to go swimming!

Autumn Leaf

Today, I went to a coffee shop and practiced a couple of hours of "doing nothing." I felt that a few thoughts/decisions became clear in my mind.
In the afternoon, after a series of talks with Sima the clarity was gone.
Later on, I talked to a friend for half an hour. Nothing special was said.
After the talk, I experienced a wide range of feelings that caught me completely off guard. The emotions were so volatile and overwhelming that I felt as if I am caught in the middle of a storm and have absolutely nothing to hold onto.
Later on, this Persian song came to my mind. I could not find the lyrics in English, but the title is "The Autumn Leaf" and it is the story of a leaf caught in the senseless and violent winds of autumn, stripped of life and purpose. I was surprised by how my subconscious had found the exact song for what I was feeling at the moment :)


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MyaI5a_ukrw

I do not want to complain but the thoughts that capture my mind are so extremely opposite at times that I suspect that I am completely losing my mind!

As I meditated on the song, I realized that the underlying story is the story of a heart (soul) caught in the turbulent emotions of love. The autumn leaf is a heart broken by an overwhelming love. Then, a poem by Hafez came to my mind (see this post: Connections and the two versions of the song, Shajarian and Bastami). In that poem (Ala Ya Ayyoha Saghi), Hafez explains many different aspects of love. Hafez says, "Love appeared easy in the beginning, but then the hardships appeared." How true is that? Hafez says, "It's a dark night, frightening waives of storms around us, how do they know how we feel, those who are on the safe shores?" And this was the most depressing and frightening thought, the essence of our loneliness: How does anyone know what is happening to us, when we are alone in the dangerous, stormy sea of love? And finally, Hafez says, "All my affairs have turned me (from an honorable fellow) to an infamous person, how do one keeps a secret that is being told on every street corner?" Wow, did I not know this poem from so many years ago? Did I not know that love destroys everything that is valued in life, and replaces it with a broken heart, an autumn leaf caught in turbulent winds of destruction? What was I thinking? 

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Good to be back ...

We arrived in our house a few hours ago. About 24 hours ago I was going through the painful process of saying goodbye to my family in Tehran. Now I am back in Atlanta and I even wrote that `` (It is) good to be back.'' Isn't it strange? The way we go through life and everything. That even the most painful experiences become memory and lose their power.

My brain is dead due to the lack of sleep. I have to get some sleep.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Rain

It has been raining, on and off, sometimes light and sometimes heavy, and the weather is pleasant. All this unusual for this time of the year in Tehran.

It's time to say goodbye. I do not want to go back to Atlanta, and do not want to stay here, either.

Everything will be okay at the end, and if things are not okay, then it is not the end! --- From a movie

The noon call to prayer (AZANE ZOHR) is being played on the old radio in the house. Something inside me is disintegrating slowly. I cannot focus. I am afraid of thinking about going back to Atlanta and face the same old challenges there. I cannot stay here either, I have no real ties and no way of living here.

In Kerman, I met one of my cousins who has schizophrenia. His father has the same illness and died from diabetes and its complications a few years ago. When I was leaving their house, he suddenly went back inside and came back with a novel. He gave me the English translation of  ``A Wild Sheep Chase'' by Haruki Murakami.

Things are not that bad. I started today very sad for leaving my family, friends, and country and also was confused and frightened of the prospects of going back to Atlanta and facing some difficult choices and situations. Sima came here from her parents' house. She was in a similar mood, more or less, and they (my parents and her)  tried to relieve their anxiety and sadness by helping me pack. That does not go well with me because I like to do my packing my own way and with my own pace. Instead of getting angry and starting a fight, I withdrew and did not talk to them for a while. She got angry and then cried a little and left.
I am sure she will calm herself down as I did. But it is important to me that we do not abuse each other to overcome our nervousness, sadness, etc.
 I am packing slowly and steadily.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Struggle

Suicide thoughts raid my mind.
Two opposing forces come to heads.
Neither one bends.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Events Without Order

Sima suggests that I see her uncle's wife. She reads my coffee cup. Turkish coffee. We talk. I leave her house. Quran is played on the speakers of a nearby mosque. I feel light.

My dad is remembering his old time friends. Many of them are dead. His eyes well up. Something in his face reminds me of the old man, Bill's father, in "Kill Bill" movie. His trembling eyes. I want to cry.

There are two paths, a difficult choice, but they both end in the same place, and there is an opening. You will succeed anyway.

We go hiking. We talk, a lot. I feel happy. I forget my problems for a few hours. But they rush back. And I break something. This is broken, can you repair it? Broken, repair. Repair, broken.

You are angry at someone and you have turned your face.

We talk about sex. We say things that are never said before.

High expectations, excitement. I go to Kerman for a few days. The day that I go to Mahan is fun. There are a lot of difficult  moments. I leave my uncles house before dinner. I cannot stay there anymore. I walk for a while, buy a sandwich.

You have helped someone with "N" in his/her name. S/he is grateful and prays for you. Something good will happen.

I can't sleep. I think over the events. I read cards. You do not have resources to end this relationship. I sleep. I have a dream. I wake up disoriented. I write an email. I am angry and frustrated.

We wake up in the middle of the night and make love, with our whole bodies and no mind. Making love. How do we make love? What is love made of? How do you break it?

You hear an unexpected new. You will be surprised.

We go to a mystic figure (SHAH NEMATOLLAH) place in Mahan. We sit inside. I look around and wait. We leave when it's the praying time.

I take my cousin to an event. He is on wheelchair because of M.S. When we are leaving, I drop him on the floor. Everyone is looking at me. I am angry, I am disappointed, I am frustrated. Responsibility. Anger. Resentment.

We go to Damavan, northeast of Tehran. Night is cool. We sleep outside. I want to sleep in the open one more time.

"Las Meninas" is an important painting in the art history. It is done by Diego Velazquez.

Holding hands. Touching and being touched. Trust. How do we trust? Is trust in the body or mind? How do you let someone inside you? Does it feel vulnerable?

High expectations bring frustration. Know your limits. Accept them and then push them a little.

I am out of cigarettes. Short Bahman is 500 Tomans (~ 25 cents) a pack. They are okay. I finish a pack in a couple of days. I buy "Camel Light" 3500 Tomans (~ $2) a pack. I finish it in a couple of days too.

I smoke outside. Sometimes in the basement suit. I used to bring prostitutes there back in the days, and a lot of other things would happen too. Now it is an empty place, with a lot of memories floating around.

Three Dots

...
The symbol of continuation. Life goes on. From point A to B to C. Can I stop the flow?
A line passes through them. It can be my life. Starts from the birth, ends with the death.
The dots can be on a spiral. The spiral goes either up or down. I go through the same cycles, almost the same, and by doing that the life repeats itself, going slightly up or down.
Infinite random paths go through the three dots. Randomness. The butterfly. The birth. The love. Where are you?
Do and don't. Does and Does not. Can and Cannot. Ideas. Body. Nevertheless. Click. The door. Destroy. A story. A well. A mine. The abyss. The call. Are and are not. When and where. Should and should not. Animals. Creatures. Darkness. Destroy. Nevertheless. Whatever. A crazy mind. A beautiful body. An eye for an eye. Default. Given. Unappreciated. Abandoned. Distance. Control. Breeze. Where are you?
Dots. Three dots. Happy dots. Endless possibilities. Limited capacity. Do you love me, do you, do you? Hallucinations. Determination.
The illusion of going somewhere. The illusion of creating something worthwhile. The illusion of patterns on a random existence. Exist!
Where did the story begin? What is a beginning? What is an end? A gathering of all possibilities. Happy feet. Did you see? Back to the line. An obedient creature. Revolt. Repugnance. Result. Distinguish. Back to the line. It is the beginning, it is the end.
Portfolio. Port. Pajamas. Partial. Differential. Equation. Uncertainty. Stochastic process. Endless possibilities. Love. Control. Definite. Delusional. Degree. Distance. How far are you, when you are in my mind?
Stop!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Revolt

All my life I have been afraid: of hurting other people and of people leaving me, hurting me, getting angry at me. I do not know who I am, because most my decisions have been, directly or indirectly, out of this fear or out of my desire to please everyone and win their approval.

Can I change after 40 some years? I am trying, but the process is scary itself. It is hard to talk to a friend and say things that may hurt him. It feels vulnerable, lonely, and scary to be myself, my real self. Every step of the way, every single decision, has an unbearable weight. Can I get through this?

I am going to be my self, my naked self, and not try to please everyone around me. Easy to say. Painfully difficult to do. I do not know who I am, so I have to pretend that I know, and make decisions accordingly.

I trust that I can go on living without the help of people around me. That sounds trivial. But the fear of losing those close to me has been with me for the longest period of time.

We will see. I have already started showing my self and hurting people. We will see how/where it will end ...


Sunday, July 08, 2012

Opium

Over there
toilets are,
essentially,
holes in the ground
decorated and sometimes modernized
and you sit on them
feeling a lot of pressure
on your knees
and it's hard to imagine
that one can masturbate
in such an uncomfortable position
But it can be done ...

I want to forget ...

Monday, July 02, 2012

Random Thoughts

My mind is disorganized and so is this post.

I spent a few hours in Tehran's metro system today. It is better than Atlanta's marta system, for sure. And you get to see different types of people, so many. I saw a few teenage boys and for some reason they reminded me of my fucked up teenage years and my love affairs and sexual fantasies back then. I had a brief period of stillness too.

My sister and I went to see the Art Expo 2012 in the Vahdat Amphitheater. (link) Some works were nice. Range or prices: 1,000,000 - 20,000,000 Tomans (~ $500-10,000). I realized there that a good way to know yourself is to spend money on what you like. The decision to buy an expensive work of art (worth a month of your income or more) is really intriguing, I imagine. I have never done it because I have never had the guts.
Talked a lot with my sister there too. I had a feeling that the source of my problems (my indecision in two important matters, related to my career and marriage) is something deeper than the problems themselves. Just a feeling.

Last weekend (in the Iranian calendar, weekend is Thursday and Friday and a new week starts on Saturday), we went to my sister's villa in Damavand. About 40 minutes drive to the Northeast of Tehran. Very cool weather specially at night. After many years I slept outside: something we used to do a lot as kids.

I cannot see any solution to my current problems, specially the issue of my job and the eminent transition that I am supposed to go through. Something inside me does not let me get on with this decision. It is a very frustrating situation, worse than anything I have experienced in my life. Maybe not. I had very difficult period only a few months ago!

I need to touch, and being touched by, many different women and even men. I do not know if this is sexual or not. I am not sure if I give a fuck. I mean this urge is so strange and off the wall that I do not know what to think of it. And this happens in the middle of all problems with my career and life. I feel I have lost my internal compass, if I ever had any.

Am I depressed? I do not know. It does not really look like it.

A few nights ago I had a very strange dream and I woke up in the middle of the night totally convinced that I am a homosexual and I need to come out and talk to my family, etc. In the morning, I was out of the panic mood but still managed to talk to my dad a little about his hypothetical reaction to me being homosexual.
Honestly, I think being a homosexual for me is an easy way out. I have been in love with boys and girls, but have not had sex with boys. So I cannot say for sure. But I wish the answer to my problems was as easy (or as difficult) as coming out of closet.

You read this post, and at the end, you definitely ask: What the fuck is your "problem" anyway? The career problem is this. This coming year (2012-13) is my last year at the GSU and I have to look for another job starting this fall. I cannot convince myself to do that (look for a job), partly because I am not sure I want to stay in the same type of job. In fact, I do not have any idea what kind of job I like. I just cannot sort out this situation and this has been going on for the past two years or so.

This past weekend in Damavdan, I tried to organize what I learned in the past few years. I realized that the two focal points of my practices are "returning to now (being in the present moment)'' and "returning to self (knowing who I am)". Right now I feel that I am as far as I have ever been from these principles. I am far away from now, and the realities of the present and its required decisions, and know very little about myself, who I am and who I want to be.
I feel that I have wasted these past few years, totally, and am not sure why I continue.

This is my life. I can do ANYTHING I want with it. I have amazing things in my life: My parents and family, my wife, my job, my income, my house, my friends, and I have worked hard to get many of them. Nevertheless, I can give up ALL of them. It is my right to do so. It may be a very stupid decision, irrational, whatever. But I am the only one who has the right to make that decision!

Freedom, Religion

A couple of days ago I read a discussion between some friends regarding religion, worship, freedom, and slavery. In Farsi and Arabic, the t...