Category Archives: Reflections

An Appreciation for Loneliness

Dear Loneliness,

My loyal companion, my dedicated friend. For as long as I can remember you have always been there for me. Throughout the years you have always stuck with me no matter what.

I must admit that I did not always appreciate your presence. At times I felt that you dragged me down and that you stood in the way of my personal development. I looked down upon you in disdain and I’ve often tried my best to shut you out of my life. I did not want you hanging around me with your overwhelming influence and melancholic demeanor. No, what I craved for, what I thought I really wanted, was the attention of Happiness and Love. They were fun and popular. They were the cool kids that everyone wanted to hang out with. If only they would accept me within their inner circle, I thought to myself, then my life would become richer and more satisfying. Alas, Happiness and Love did not deem me worthy enough to step into their circle. So I sought to change myself. I strove to become a better person, whatever the hell that may mean. I tried to conform to their standards, their expectations, all in a desperate attempt to prove that I am worthy for their attention. I failed of course. Miserably. But then again, could there really have been another outcome? How can I possibly succeed when I could only think of changing who I am?

When I returned to you, you were there to welcome me back with open arms. You did not chastise me for my shallowness. You did not blame me for shunning you in the first place. Instead you merely embraced me with silent understanding. All the more unforgivable then that I turned my back upon you once again. You were not good enough for me, and this time I sought my refuge with a different crowd. I started to hang out with those dangerous types like Indifference and Resentment. After the sadness and the disillusionment I had felt, their philosophies upon the world appealed greatly to me. They whispered at me that nothing else in the world matters except ourselves, and that we should always only look out for ourselves, first and foremost. They took great relish in badmouthing Happiness and Love, much to my delight. Once again, I lost sight of who I am, and I fooled myself into a state of non-caring, and that feeling empowered me. It made me feel like a big man.

Just in time you pulled me out of that environment through your everlasting presence. As I look back, I shudder to think what would have become of me had I kept associating myself with Indifference and Resentment. I thought their words strengthened me, but in reality they were just leading me further down along a negative spiral. And I always thought your presence weakened me, but in reality it is you who kept me sane and lent me strength. After all, it is you who reminds me that I am only human after all, that I’m just an imperfect blob of flesh and blood just like everyone else. I always thought that feeling lonely was a great sin, but I realize now that feeling lonely does not mean that I am a failure nor does it mean that I am forever destined to be alone. On the contrary, I realize now that feeling lonely means nothing more than that I care deeply, for better or worse, and in the end, isn’t that the only thing that truly matters?

Ah, my dear sweet Loneliness, we have been together so long, that I cannot even start to imagine a life where you no longer exist. I know now that you will never ever truly disappear from my life. However, there may come a time when I start to yearn for greener pastures once more, so that our grips upon one another may loosen again, but I also know you will always be there waiting inside me, within the deepest and darkest recesses of my heart, ready to embrace and welcome me whenever I have need of you again.

And for that I am deeply grateful. Forever and always.

Sincerely yours,

Daniel

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Reading and Writing on the iPad

I’ve been thinking a lot about how to find the time to do all the things I want to do lately, and I go out and buy an iPad? Talk about a time-consuming piece of gadget! All those games and comics I’ve downloaded are going to gobble up the free time I have at my disposal.

But it’s not all bad. There are a lot of ways that the iPad will improve the way I handle my reading and writing activities. In fact, I am currently writing this very post on my iPad using the WordPress app as an experiment. As you might expect, cranking out a long post using the touchscreen keyboard doesn’t work as well as on an actual keyboard, not to mention that it does not contain all the functionalities. But it still works surprisingly well, much better anyway than I’d have expected at first as I’m able to type this at a decent speed with reasonable accuracy, especially once I got the hang of switching between letters, numbers and punctuation (moving the cursor remains quite a hassle however… I need arrow keys in addition to the magnifying glass!). Obviously, the iPad won’t fully replace either pen and paper or my laptop as my tools, but it is still a very welcome addition to my writing arsenal nevertheless.

There are also some apps which dramatically improves the way I read and organize the news and articles on the Internet. I’m currently using a combination of FeeddlerPro, Read It Later and Evernote for these tasks. I use FeeddlerPro To read the RSS feeds I’m subscribed to. In my opinion this works better than going to Google Reader via a web browser. Instead of reading the articles immediately, I would now just browse through the feeds to find the articles I’m interested in and use the built-in sharing capabilities to transfer them to Read It Later. The articles are then stored as offline documents which I am able to read wherever and whenever I want. Finally, I would send the articles that I like and that I want to save for future reference to Evernote. Not only is Evernote great for organizing these articles, I can also easily add annotations, highlights or attachments to these articles. Both Read It Later and Evernote support tagging and syncing capabilities with my laptop so I can easily do these tasks on my laptop as well. In fact, both were already available on the PC, but I just recently learned of their existence. Besides, there’s something about the touchscreen functionalities of the iPad that makes the whole process feel more streamlined.

I believe Evernote will be great for my writing activties as well. It is not just a tool to organize the stuff I find on the Web, but as the name already implies, it basically functions as a collection of notebooks. I can just as easily add my own personal notes to Evernote, so it’s ideal for combining snd organizing online and offline research material, as well as plot and character outlines and the like, all with just a few simple button pushes with my fingertips. To be fair though, I haven’t actually used Evernote extensively yet, so how useful it ultimately remains to be seen, but I will experiment with it the coming months. In the meantime I am also still searching for and experimenting with mindmapping and wiki apps which can also sync with Evernote. Hmm… I wonder if there is some way I can use these apps to help me at work as well, especially in documenting the reports and data sources we have created…

As you might have guessed already, I am really happy with my new iPad. I believe it can really help me increase my productivity. That is, if I can tear myself away long enough from playing yet another round of Jetpack Joyride or Zombie Highway…

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2010 – The year that was… in writing

Last week I wrote a post reflecting on 2010, and particularly on my emotions. I had intended it to be the first part of a series, but I left it a bit on the side after writing that first post. Now I’m reading the post again, and it seems to me that  I’m trying my best to sound positive, but it all feels a bit forced, like I’m really just trying to convince myself. Underneath that thin veil of optimism there is a strong underlying pessimism that is constantly trying to claw its way onto the surface. Maybe it’s just me, but the whole piece just feels so indecisive… so messy. Then again that was probably the way I actually felt last week, so in that sense it is an interesting piece to read back. Fortunately I feel much better now. Why? I don’t know. Maybe it’s just the usual cycle of emotions I’m going through, and next week I will feel horribly down again. But let´s not dwell not that for now and make use of this rare bout of optimism to write some more reflections on 2010…

When I think of 2010, one of the first things that comes to mind is writing. I started the year as a real wannabe writer. I’m still reluctant to call myself a true writer, but in 2010 I’ve taken my first real steps to shedding the wannabe label. People say that time flies and normally that’s true. But then I think back on the very first writing course I’ve followed via Amsterdam Writing Workshops which is taught by Lisa Friedman. That was March this year, a mere nine months ago, but it seems like such an eternity already.

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