Alternative

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Yep, Latin again! You’d think by now I would have been able to find alternatives…

It means to do something by turns or to have options, choices, possibilities. This is not nearly as easy as it seems, especially if you consider that alternative is not always the synonym of option. It involves interesting linguistic exercises based partially on the origin of the word from the “alter” (other) root so you can’t really say “the other alternative” because that would sound as “the other other thing”. Fun and games, huh?

Anyhoo, back to the meaning of the word, I was musing on the importance of having them. Alternatives, options, possibilities, choices. What you can live with and what you can’t leave without, to paraphrase a common expression. They seem to go hand in hand with culture, upbringing and, most especially, expectations and anticipations, already covered somewhere else in this blog.

It occurred to me that half of my perception of choices is related to my attitude towards life in general – optimistic, life is good and can be enjoyed. The other half of my perception is linked to my upbringing as an individual. My body, my soul, my spirit, my right, my heart, my choices.

Entitled, you might say, and so I couldn’t possibly understand what it feels to have no choice at all. But can we not? Imagine, at least, and try to understand, and try to change some of the status quo? Empathy is not so rare once you start looking for it, although good intentions can and have to be thought out better than the golden rule might imply – imposing one’s values on someone else never a good colonialist made

But there is another choice, if choice it can be called. If we are hit over the head with our vocation, what choice do we have? If a deity is apparent, if an ideology is enacted, if a person suddenly becomes the world, what choice is there? Whose is this body that I used to call mine? To whom does this soul answer to? Towards which ideal does my spirit fly? What right do I have other than serving? And what good is this heart if not as an object of toil in a very specific endeavour?

And yet we stand, we breathe, we fight and work and life goes on – reality as a choice… who’d a thunk it?

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Hope

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Between possibility and reality several concepts shoulder and elbow each other, trying to maintain a continuum, it seems. I have written about expectation, but its sister, hope, knocked on the door as well. Is there a difference? Are they one and the same? Twins maybe? They are both in the waiting period, both of them concerned with a future and a belief… and yet to my eyes they are not of the same realm.

Looks like expectation is formed objectively (even when unrealistic) from our interactions with the others (family, society), while hope is subjective, linked more to our resilience and optimism rather than the choices we face.

And I think we can agree that our hopes and expectations can sometimes be miles apart. Like my younger self realized, when she was supposed to study for university entrance but a pair of blue eyes were somehow more compelling… 🙂

Hope is not always portrayed as positive. Just thinking about Pandora’s box (jar, really!) is quite depressing, notwithstanding her journey from Earth mother to deceiver. Does hope really help, or does it prolong the torment? Norse mythology goes even further and doesn’t even pretend to look at hope as good.

Yet without hope resilience is just a bad joke, the future is random and, let’s face it, the human’s reproduction imperative isn’t nearly on par with other species. But hope, aside from being considered one of the three great virtues, is also stubborn and active. For good or for bad, people have realized that the future is coming towards them like a freight train anyway, so you might as well come on board and check what’s at the next station. It is that realization, combined with a certain talent for manipulating reality, plus a huge degree of consideration for one’s comfort that make hope a fearsome motivator.

Because, let’s face it, it is not with real life details that hope is necessarily concerned. Sure, we can hope for good weather to dry out our clothes, and we can hope for a pay rise to deal with the credit cards, and we can hope to make a good impression on our first date.

But hope has bigger fish to catch, and this comes with a price to pay, in introspection and religion, meditation and principles. We will all die, as we know even without having to think carefully about it. But the death of the body doesn’t scare us nearly as much as it is portrayed (looking at embalming procedures over the centuries, I might have to eat my words!). Beyond reality, beyond knowledge, beyond even belief, hope is humanity’s way to stand up against the annihilation of the spirit.

This, our pride cannot concede.

Clichéd

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I was reading a lovely book the other day, The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George. She’s German writing about the French so the English translation is occasionally quaint 🙂 Life, love, (the universe), death, mourning, polyamory, dreams, reality, it has many threads. It’s probably not the type of book you will call “a classic”, but it is the kind of book many read once a year at least, whenever you need reminding of some things that are really important. It is a wise little book, and getting a list of books to be used as medicine for the soul is an added bonus, but what really got me writing about it was actually the reviews. You see, they called it predictable and clichéd. Predictable it is, in the sense that you know what she will write next and sometimes you wish she didn’t. But clichéd? I guess it depends on the subject but I took exception to it, so in return I decided to write a list of clichés on the most “done” subject in the world (no, not the Bible. No, not Lord of the Rings either 🙂 )

I love you. The you I love cannot be subsumed by the parts of you I love.

I love your voice. It soothes my soul to hear your voice. And yet if you couldn’t speak I couldn’t love you less. And if I couldn’t hear you I would only have the regret of never being able to hear you.

I love being in your arms. And yet if any touch would be agony for my body, I could only regret that I cannot be in your arms.

I love laughing with you. And yet if laughter disappeared from our togetherness I could not love you less. I could only try to give you back your laughter.

I love how your mind works. I love second-guessing (mostly right!) what you will say about any given subject. And yet if your mind gave way to time or illness I could not love you less. I could only regret that I have no partner to spar with.

I look at the world through you and yet if my lens was taken away from me I could not love you less, I could only regret the lack of depth or colour my eyes can see.

I love our times together. And if those times should be over I could not love you less. I could only contemplate the times alone, cherish the memories of our times together and regret the lack of them.

I love you. And if the you I love should perish I could not love you less. I could only regret…

See? There is more to life than reality. And there is definitely more to reality than just the senses.

Oh, wait… that’s what she wrote about, too! Oh, well….