07 March 2010


I have fabulous friends. Life reveals them as such. Just this week, some got married in the most unusual of places, some got broken up with and got through it with dignity, some got to feel more at ease with themselves, some got their dream jobs, some got so lucky with their Guardian Soulmates date that they are parents now; and some got back into my life. This week has, indeed, been quite eventful. Yet somehow I stayed put. It reminded me of the time I spent in rural Austria when in the evenings I would climb up to a wooden hide and watch the deer graze. Just watch life and its fabulousness.

I also turned off unhelpful voices with supposedly important and urgent messages, such as: you haven’t read enough for this chapter, you should work harder, you should get out of the house to catch some sunshine, and spent the weekend listening to Rachelle Farrell. Now this is the voice! A six octave range and the heart of a lioness. When she sings, I think of a wolf howling at the Moon. Not because the sound is similar to howling (though there are some vocal exhibitions that surpass ‘regular’ singing, and I mean it in a oh-my-god-this-is-so-fucking-good sense), but because she sounds as if she has no other choice but to sing. Like, the Moon is out and the instinct is there to sing – she was born to do it. She is the sound of fabulousness.

Then something fabulous happened, or should I say transpired. I didn’t have to do or be anything that radiates fabulousness. This resonated with the words of my Aikido teacher who said – you have most power when you don’t move at all. These days, he only uses his gaze to discourage whoever wants to ‘fight’ him. In this little bubble of ‘not having to’, with my hips stubbornly anchored in stillness, I sensed fabulousness creeping up on me. Now is this madness or freedom?

PS. A friend of mine watched a girl he liked for months. Every weekend, she just stood in the corner of a room and observed people having fun. When he finally got enough courage to approach her and ask her out, she turned out to be an anthropologist.

03 March 2010

Avocado - fruit or vegetable?

I think it is safe to generalize that during communism we couldn’t buy tropical fruit in ex Yugoslavia. So, when my Mum brought an avocado one day, we all felt pretty excited. I don’t know how she got hold of it, but I do remember that we didn’t have the faintest idea of what to do with it and HOW to eat it. Was it sweet or savoury? Should it be served with dinner or dessert? Was it fruit or vegetable? Finally, we discovered that it didn’t have a particularly strong taste so it could be served any way we wanted to. My Mum cut it in slices and dressed it with lemon juice and sugar. I thought it was weird, but I kept quiet because ‘if it was foreign, it must have been good’.

With the fall of communism and me travelling to the West, I discovered that avocado, though having most traits of a fruit, was actually used in savoury dishes. I fell in love with guacamole and I would always use half an avocado to spice up my salad. Often I would remember my Mum’s recipe as a ‘wrong’ way to serve avocado and I would laugh at how ‘stupid’ we once were. Until the other night when I was invited to a dinner at a friend’s house. T. suggested to make an avocado salad alongside the main dish. I thought it was going to be the kind of salad I usually make: vegetables, avocado and dressing. But he made an all avocado salad: just avocado with a bit of olive oil, sea salt and a sprinkling of sunflower seeds. Inside myself, I frowned to this ‘wrong’ way of serving avocado. But I still ate it. Tentatively to start with and then with more appetite and appreciation. It was delicious. I can still taste the nutty flavour and soft melting texture of avocado which occasionally turned almost too salty as a grain of sea salt melted on my tongue.

It was then that I stopped defining avocado. I couldn’t care less if it was a fruit or a veg, I just wanted to taste it in all its richness. So instead of asking what is avocado I asked myself what does avocado do for me?

I am telling this story because I find a striking similarity between the avocado case and the recent ‘insomnia’ that I suffered. As long as I kept talking about my sleeping patters as ‘insomnia’ and treating it as a problem, the situation that was making me tired persisted. I complained to a friend how insomnia this and insomnia that and she said how about you stop calling whatever you’re going through insomnia? How about accepting that an intense writing time might ask for a different mind-body rhythm? Once I let go of the label – fruit or veg; problem or blessing – I was ready to follow the new rhythm my mind and body were synching into. I would try to fall asleep at 1am, but failing that, I would stay awake – no regret – until 6am. This was the most productive, magical and revealing time for me. I would find information on the internet or reach for a book that would never cross my path in ‘normal’ circumstances. A whole new world opened up for me as I let myself be awake during the night. The less I worried about my sleeping patterns, the easier it got to fall asleep after those magical nocturnal times. And slowly, as the structure and content for my next PhD chapter evolved, and I accepted the mysterious ways of creativity, I started sleeping. Whenever I wanted to and as much as I wanted to.

It you’re still unsure of what the message of this text is, it might be because I have become wary of labelling and defining. There is power in labelling: by naming things, we bring them to life. In case we then suffer at the hand of those labels, let’s not forget that we have the power to remove them. If you can’t sleep, how about not calling this insomnia? How about asking yourself what your peculiar sleeping rhythm is doing for you? And how it might be valuable?

For the valuable de-labelling experience, big thanks to my friends: C, C, O, T, J and mother (as always).