In the heart of life

dan-eldon-4Dan Eldon is my hero. He died at 22 while photographing the Somalia civil war, ironically in an attack originated by the United Nations. Dan is the person that satisfies my quest for the foundation of moral, he said: “Man’s inhumanity to his fellow man is due to ignorance, not intent. Children must be taught not to hate.”

I used to wonder why people, such as journalists, would put themselves in professions that may cost their lives. So I tried to work as a human rights journalist for a very short period of time. Then I understood – in the middle of extreme danger and inhumanity, I always found some heroic acts of people and tremendous compassion. The job of telling the stories then became natural. In such moments, I found my way to my both vulnerable and fearless heart; and I had never felt so alive.

– Skye

A place that scares me

An imperfect moment 

photo 2.JPG

I have a habit of screening through pictures, years of pictures, maybe once every week. I have always looked for the perfect moments in the past. For some reasons, I have an ideal version of the past – it is always perfect.

I was born a perfectionist.

I live for the beauty. I have even created some scenes that might just appear in fairy tales. In thousands of pictures, I always dressed up perfectly; the scene was always magnificent. Venice was private, despite millions of fellow travellers. Paris was filled with love, albeit our wicked fights. Even London was always sunny. Someone said I would make a great stage director.

I often ask myself – Is my mind too busy that the present moment never seems so beautiful, until a few years later when I sit down and look at the pictures?

In my present, nothing is ever enough. Some little success has taught me a lot – I felt nothing but emptiness standing on the top of a mountain that I had tried so hard to conquer for so many years. What I thought was “happiness” (perfection) has also taught me a lot – No flower was perfectly beautiful; no moment was perfectly perfect – until a few years later when I sit down and look at the pictures.

I always feel so jealous of the person that carries my face in the images – she always looks so happy and successful. She has everything that I truly desire, although the moments, in reality, were quite imperfect, according to my standards.

At one point I was so overwhelmed with life just going completely different from my plans and expectations, I just sat down…

I sat down and wrote an imperfect book of science (my Master thesis) that had a deadline attached to it.

Then I sat down again…

I sat down and allowed myself to enjoy a full Sunday.

Then I sat down again…

I sat down and texted people – “I am sorry. I think I overreacted!”

Then I sat down again…

I sat down and just listened to someone for hours then told him: “Your stuff is important. I am here for you!”

Then I sat down again…

I sat down and planned some celebrations.

I sat down and breathed!

Staying in the place that scares me the most – (beautiful) imperfection – has been the hardest thing to learn. And I am progressing. Thank God, I am making good use of the lessons!

– Skye

Meditation on Preparation

Louvre; Nike von Samothrake

One can never be prepared enough to be Alexander the Great, one can never be prepared enough to be the President. Similarly and realistically, you can never be prepared enough for the new, the bigger, the greater, and lots of times the unimaginable.

What is in the word ‘Preparation’?

Preparation is the art of building your stairs, gaining altitude (or flying for the first time, in case your preparation means a balloon). Preparation is to equip yourself firstly spiritually, secondly mentally and lastly technically.

Planning takes time, thinking takes time. The pursuit of happiness is meant to be a selfish design process that might take years, decades, solitude, blood and tears to produce a lot of false prototypes. However, the pressure and pain are truly worthwhile, for the sake of a majestic and elegant diamond you are meant to become.

It is true you can never be prepared enough to be. But once your preparation gets you to the place where you thought you desired, you should be prepared to execute bloodily with grace, like the Romans.

– Skye 

Business of imagination

Oxford, England

We strolled around town, museums and colleges looking like castles. Alan, in his navy suits, ran after some kids and indeed made one cry. I laughed mischievously while comforting their poor mothers. Everyone on the street stared at us and somewhat envied our carelessness.

There were days when Alan sat with the chief officers of some major financial institutions while I joined some diplomats and Frankenstein-scientists. However, saving the world was not our main concern back then; more often we found ourselves laughing at each other in French cafes, daydreaming on the grass, counting deers or making our way to the secret rose garden of Cecil Rhodes.

At night we went ghost hunting when Alan talked to me in Dutch. I just assumed he said he loves me. Under the winter moonlight, as we walked through the cobblestone streets, I asked Alan what was his profession back in the 16th century.

“An astronomer”

“You know what, I was Princess D’Annam!”

banner-2.jpg

– Skye

How much is enough?

There are two types of questions – Good questions and useless questions – “How much is enough?”, to me, is sort of both.

I have always known for granted that no one has the intellectually satisfying answer for another person (and in most cases for oneself). I have also acknowledged there is a high chance I will get lost, disappointed and shattered if I stubbornly grip on the question, yet I have naturally held on to it – “How much is enough?” After all, things that seem natural, they don’t tend to argue, they exist.

I have come to the conclusion that to look for an answer for any philosophical question is not a smart way to solve the riddle. In fact, such questions are standalone statements that best serve as reality checks for (ever-changing) realities.

“How much is enough?”, for instance, is just another question among the brilliant (and useless) questions, such as “Who am I?”, “Why me?”, “Why am I even here on earth?”, etc.

For existential questions of which there is no single answer, a good momentarily answer is an answer that will enable one to take meaningful actions. What is a meaningful action? A meaningful action is a significant action. A significant action is neither important nor urgent, it is pattern disruptive. Significant actions – for example, zooming in and out of realities – helps one to evolve into the next and better version of oneself, especially when one is trapped in the past, the future, or the routine of present.

IMG_2918

– Skye 

Enemy

“You have changed. You don’t even talk anymore. Why, Skye, why?”

The text reached me almost a year ago. Indeed, my life had changed. After all these years of rejections of all kinds, one day the UK government sent me an email said: “We believe in you and will invest in your future.”

I was showered by hugs, congratulations emails, texts, yet found myself unable to reply to any of those. I stood on a rooftop for a long time, about 10 hours. I cried. As hard to believe as it sounds, I didn’t know if I were happy, I had a panic attack. Everything seemed like an earthquake; the ground shifted. “Maybe I’m too happy!” – I convinced myself.

I had a man in my life at the time. The last time I saw him we sat opposite each other with our laptops. The thought of saying goodbye to him scared the hell out of me. I looked at him very closely that afternoon and didn’t say goodbye.

The following six months were the longest winter of my life. I found myself walking endlessly on the streets of London asking myself endless questions: “What’s next?” – “Why I’m not happy although I am finally being able to fly with own wings?” – “Why am I here on earth?”… At the end of each day, my brain resigned and I cried myself to sleep.

I then travelled, I flew to wonderful cities, went horse riding, brought myself to Skye island where I dreamt about for many years. I desired a moment of joy, yet found myself so disappointed and lost.

One day I heard a voice in my head: “Why do you treat me so terribly Skye? I have worked endlessly for your ambitions, I endured all the storms, I escorted you everywhere on earth, why do you still hate me so much? Why have you never thought, for once, that I’m enough?” – It was the poor me that talked to me. I suddenly realized I have been so hard on myself all the time, I have always dictated the human in me and punished her for every little mistake, I have never been compassionate with myself, I have never let myself go, and worst, I have never truly believed I deserve to be happy and successful. I suddenly realized my enemy.

Things got better quickly as I shifted from punishing myself for little mistakes to rewarding myself for little accomplishments. And honestly, I have never felt this light before; the feeling is almost like walking out of a hurricane, putting on a relaxed knit and stepping out for some air of nonchalance. I am happy things turned out this way.

I can now talk about this horrifying experience with a smile, but it takes courage to even talk about it. My family, my friends, everyone, even myself thought my life was so perfect; and it didn’t make any sense to be depressed. It took courage to let myself accept that I was depressed, then tried to find the way out and looked at things in holistic ways.

To anyone out there who is feeling unwell, although things seem to be alright, it’s okay to feel anything you want to feel. Be a little patience and selfish, give yourself a big hug because you deserve it! 

L1020070

– Skye

Love and a little light

The emotion of Love brings out, and develops, the artistic and the the aesthetic nature of man. It leaves its impress upon one’s very soul, even after the fire has ben subdued by time and circumstances.

Memories of Love never pass. They linger, guide, and influence long after the source of the stimulation has faded. There is nothing new in this. Every person, who has been moved by Genuine Love, knows that it leaves enduring traces upon the human heart. The effect of Love endures, because love is spiritual in nature. The man who cannot be stimulated to great heights of achievement by Love, is hopeless – he is dead, though he may seem to live.

Even the memories of Love are sufficient to lift one to a higher plane of creative effort. The major force of Love may spend itself and pass away, life a fire which has burnt itself out, but it leaves behind indelible marks as evidence that it passed that way. Its departure often prepares the human heart for a still greater Love.

Let’s go back into our yesterday, and bathe our minds in the beautiful memories of past Love. It will soften the influence of the present worries and annoyances. It will give us a source of escape from the unpleasant realities of life, and maybe – who knows – our minds will yield to us, during this temporary retreat into the world of fantasy, ideas, or plans which may change our lives for good, forever.

shutterstock_93326353

If you believe yourself unfortunate, because you have “loved and lost”, perish the thought. One has loved truly, can never lose entirely. Love is whimsical and temperamental. Its nature is ephemeral, and transitory. It comes when it pleases, and goes away without warning. Accept and enjoy it when it remains, but spend no time worrying about its departure. Worry will never bring it back.

Dismiss, also, the thought that Love never comes but once. Love may come and go, times without number, but there are no two Love experiences which affect one in just the same way. There may be, and there usually is, one Love experience which leaves a deeper imprint on the heart than all the others; but all Love experiences are beneficial, except to the person who becomes resentful and cynical when Love makes its departure. No experience, which touches the human heart with a spiritual force, can possibly be harmful, except through ignorance, and jealousy.

– Napoleon Hill

Midnight in our minds

Deep down in my mind lies some secrets, some sentiments I cannot describe. Those sacred and private feelings are all about you & I; and about the beautiful stories of our lives.

Our hearts speak the eternal language of devotion and undying loyalty. No one can touch this land in our minds. I would not travel to this place with anyone else but you. We are friends, partners; and this is the story of our love:

You show me your love by fulfilling your promises. Your actions speak for the truth. Your expressions speak for your true feelings. You define your love to me by your respect for yourself and myself.

At the furthest corners of our minds lies the private world of two little kids. We talk about things that no one else can hear. We forgive each other, and sometimes we start again from scratch. We always stay strong together. We do not undermine our relationship by talking behind one’s back and we do not betray the confidence of the other.

Time has taught us many things, good and bad, about both of us. I’m very grateful for this relationship. At midnight in our minds, we are always together. Our love is not something that we feel just for a moment. We will not replace the other with something else. We will not chase one happiness after another. I believe in our love.

Our love has no time limit; it is not just to be shared today or tomorrow. Eternity is the only language of our hearts; and you could be anyone that shows me your true colors without any label, be my trusted friend!

I love you too!

two-kids

– Skye 

Lighthouse

London, November 3, 2015

Skye, by any other name would sound like Odyssey.

However, I have just realized my first love for a place was dedicated to Saigon. There wasn’t a thing in Saigon that offended me. Even though I was pretty much alone, it was two magical years.

A dusk cityscape of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam from the Air 360 sky bar.

I would never know if I loved (or didn’t love) something if, for a moment in time, there wasn’t any distance.

My feet couldn’t always get me to where my treasured memories stayed, my heart could. My own heart has never failed to be my lighthouse.

I don’t always follow my heart, but I let it speak – that’s the shortest way I know to my every dream land.

– Skye