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He thought about the future very often. Maybe too often, but he couldn’t be sure that he was outstanding in this because he could not access other people’s thoughts and use them as comparison.

The digested words offered to him were no use. He yearned for raw, intangible electricity.

And before he realised it, he had distanced himself from his friends because he couldn’t read their thoughts or make them read his. This disconnection was not physical or immediate. He would happily rest in the same room as them and exchange trivialities, but he could not detect the vibrations that made their matter buzz, so he would often fly far away while remaining in that exact space.

All of this disconnection lead him to believe that he was incredibly privileged, lucky to be the owner of this additional dimension above his mind that no other could access or experience, and while he sat there disconnected from the rest, he ignored that maybe, others underwent the same process.
That the friends whose frequency he failed to tune into maybe also lived in their minds wondering if they could ever feel that electricity that buzzed in others.

And while he thought about the future in a room full of disconnected organic machines, the future reached him. A future for which he couldn’t prepare for by simply fantasising.

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FAILURE SUCKS

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I stand tall today and underneath my feet, a tower of failures.
Every misstep, every amplified blunder, every fruitless attempt, every rejection.

The most successful people aren’t necessarily those who have failed the least, but rather those who have turned their failures into a paradigm shift.

Those failures pile up underneath your feet the moment you turn them into fuel to change what you’re doing.

This is not meant to be an inspirational post- a lighthearted piece of reassurance that failure is an amazing experience, because it’s not.

FAILURE SUCKS

It is debilitating and frustrating and terrifying.

But time doesn’t stop for anybody, and time keeps driving you forward.
Before you realise it you find yourself in a blossoming future where your failure became fertiliser for your happiness.

All the things that make you joyous today rest heavily upon your past failures and mistakes, for the present you live in this minute is not possible without the rotten things you have left behind.

Take that dreadful feeling within you and use it to propel you forward, to carry on.

Build a tower underneath your feet using your failures and you might reach higher than if you only build yourself up on successes.

Let’s go collect beautiful things

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“Let’s go collect beautiful things”

 I found myself running behind a 6 year old as she sprinted into the field and gathered numerous objects she came across.

“What kinds of beautiful things?” I asked.

A sparkly and jagged rock, one tall snowdrop, two daisies that were missing a couple of petals, a stick decorated by curved lines some mites had left behind.

So I set out to find and collect beautiful things too, but my search didn’t stop once break time was over.

Two gradient sunsets, one perfect daffodil, a moment of unexpected peace, hair blowing in the wind.

I became an avid collector of beauty. A disciple of what this small child professed and has likely forgotten. Unaware of it, this girl inspired in me a new practice.

Countless flowers pressed on pages (but their names I do not know), a steaming cup of tea that burnt my tongue a little, one night of restful sleep, the smile of a friend when I needed it most.

I have become a hoarder- myriad mental cupboards stuffed with casual beauty, motivated by the unsuspecting wisdom of a 6 year old.

A sprint through a flower field, a stolen kiss on a train platform, a bowl of strawberries in the sun, conversations shared in a tent.

All this time I had been trying to find a sudden revelation in books and in meditation, but all it took to cause this paradigm shift within me was one lunch time in the playground. Such a little event has caused me to think about my everyday life in a new way. I no longer consider beauty to be extraordinary, but something I can find if I just stop for a second to notice the things around me.

Wisdom isn’t reserved to those who are old and experienced.

Sometimes the purest and most impactful pieces of insight come from those who are looking at the world with fresh eyes.

So listen in to what they say, and let yourself be taught by them, or better yet, teach them to collect beauty too.

-teresa-

Being a part of the view

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I often forget how exhilarating camping can be.

When you pack as little as possible that you forget to bring your worries with you- paperwork that would get soggy in the rain is best left at home.

But bring your spirit, nothing will keep a canoe afloat as well as that gasp you let out when you realise that you are surrounded by purity.

As you get soaked by rain, you wish for a second that you could be confined by walls, only to realise that with dirt caked under your nails and soil stuck to the droplets on your skin, you’ve never felt so cleansed.

Surely you could spare yourself the shivers and the blisters and the windburn, comfortably watching the outdoors unfurl from a wide window by a cozy bed.

The way I see it, who would want to be a tourist when you could be part of the view?

You don’t need to seek a connection with nature when you are part of it, you don’t need to do anything but step in. You are made of the very things that have sculpted this landscape, this is your home, however hostile it might seem at first.

You’re not an outsider here, so step into the picture. Step into your boots and step into the discomfort of forgetting your worries.

Living nestled in stress can become strangely comfortable, putting it aside can be disconcerting, giving yourself so much space for thoughts can drive you crazy.

Crazy isn’t always that bad though. Let your head spin with ideas and take a breath of the very air that gives new life to trees after the winter. You need some spring rebirth yourself.

So become a part of the picture you are about to take from the outside.
And see yourself drenched by the rain.
See yourself shivering,
see yourself rising and falling with the sun.

Become part of the beautiful sight you admire, don’t let the discomfort of beauty fool you.

-teresa-

The universe is a mess

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When I was 9, I earned the nickname “Teresa Tornado” from my summer camp counselor because my bunk bed used to look like a tornado rushed past. I was possibly the messiest camper in the cabin, or even in the whole of camp.

Since then, many things have improved about me- I no longer have long tangled hair where flies can find a home, I can swim more than 100 metres without getting exhausted and my English has improved quite significantly.

But there is a part of me that is the same as that little girl in oversized camp t-shirts:

I am still a mess.

My room gets attacked by tornadoes of lesser intensity nowadays, but it is undebatable that when you step into my room after I’ve had a tough week you will have to make an effort to recognise the material my desk is made of or the pattern of my bed covers.

It’s not out of carelessness that this comes about. And to answer all of the people who have criticised me for being a mess: Yes, it does stress me out, and no, I can’t concentrate with all that mess around me. But I find that as I get more and more preoccupied with other things, my room’s state goes from decent to post apocalyptic ruins, no matter how hard I try to keep it tidy.

Now, you can imagine the delight I felt when I read the following sentence in my chemistry notes:

Disorder is the natural state of the universe

The next time my family have me grief for being such a disaster I would be able to counteract with an argument that is supported by science:

“Well actually, disorder is the natural state of the universe and you wouldn’t want me to go and get in the way of the universe, would you, dad?”

It turned out that all the equations I was about to learn weren’t exactly going to justify the pile of clothes that were currently obscuring the floor of my bedroom. Instead, they introduced me to a interesting concept that has sparked other thoughts within me.

What does it mean when chemists say that the universe prefers a state of disorder?

As all messy people will know, it requires energy to be organised, and things that require less energy to happen are more likely to happen.

Chemists are interested in knowing which reactions will happen with more ease, which ones will need effort to get going and which reactions simply will not happen.

In a universe that tends towards disorder and that favours things that don’t require much energy, one can predict that reactions that end in more disorder than there was to begin with will be more successful, and reactions that take less energy to get started will happen more often.

Learning about Entropy in chemistry, I ended up jumbled up in a bunch of different equations and calculations which I might explain some other time, but I want to keep this short for now, because this post isn’t about entropy, it’s about the links that we make day-to-day as we discover the world.

Aside from learning how to answer the questions that will come up on my answer paper, that Chemistry lesson I learnt that when I can link my memories and previous experiences with new topics that might seem uninteresting at first, I can see my whole learning experience in a new light.

And as much as I continue to try and keep my room organised, when it gets difficult, I like to remember that the universe is messy, so who cares if I am too?

-teresa-

15 Minutes

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Would it make a difference if I stay up for 15 more minutes?

I might close my eyes and conjure sleep, but my mum always said that sleep is like a dove, you have to remain calm and give it a reason to trust you.

Stop wriggling about in bed or those 15 minutes will soon turn into 30 minutes.

But then again, what difference does it make? 15 or 30 minutes are all the same when you’re chasing doves away.

Before you know it, the plushest bed has become a prison and your idleness sits trapped and locked into your skin. Stick your leg out of the covers and a demon might snatch it.

It’s funny how when you’re younger you are told that nightmares will fade away but there are some fears that you can’t shake with a promise, so you ask your parents to stay with you a little longer.

Well now you’re promising away THEIR fears as you bid farewell to their superhero capes. They got caught in the wind while you looked away but there’s no point in chasing them because before you can pick up a sprint, your stillness has attracted that dove you’d called up and you don’t know it, but you’re asleep.

Or maybe you’re dead. You’d never know the difference because as soon as you know it, you’re safe and condemned to keep on living.

None of this matters anyway because it will all be gone in the morning and the 15 minutes made no difference to your life.
Unless maybe…

-teresa-

My Lost Leaf

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Last week, a friend and I decided to take up a challenge by the artist Nathaniel Russell, proposed on the Youtube channel “The Art Assignment”.

We made a handful of fake flyers advertising made up clubs, requesting help for imaginary scenarios and displaying some ridiculous ideas. We hung them up around our school and sat back to see the reactions of people.

Some people thought they were hilarious, others thought they were pointless.
This was all just as we had expected.

What we did not foresee was that some people felt so passionately against them. They claimed that the flyers were the most ridiculous thing they’d seen. They spoke against them throughout the day, they called us childish.

I guess it makes sense.

When I tried to explain that the flyers were based on artwork and were trying to be art, we were told we were pretentious.

I found all of this very interesting, because what was a harmless bit of experimental fun for us, caused a serious reaction out of  some people.

I guess this happens often, when people don’t enjoy a piece of contemporary art, they claim that it isn’t art. Nobody claims that a Rembrandt painting isn’t art simply because they don’t like looking at it, but people criticise contemporary artists all the time just because their art is not as straightforward as people would like.

I’m not claiming that my friend Poppy and I are contemporary artists who have been misunderstood. We simply copied an idea and tried to engage with it, but the response we received helped us understand the concept that art isn’t just what the spectator makes it to be.

Art is in the intention, art is in the thoughts provoked by a piece.

Art shouldn’t just be about the physical object that has been created.
If it has incited some thought in you, then your thoughts are also art.

Let’s break down the boxes that we have built up to categorise things.

Let’s relax a little and stop jumping up to disagree with the things we don’t understand.

It’s ok to be confused, let’s not get hostile when presented with the unfamiliar.

And if you find my leaf anywhere, please let me know.

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I tried to paint
the scent of your jumper
Tried to sculpt
the colour of the sky
but failed

So do not ask me
to explain the way I’m feeling
Or I might disappoint there too

You do not hold a breeze
in your hand
you cannot turn a moment into stone
Don’t expect me to transform
buzzing emotion into
simple words

Blind balance is not my strong suit
I may need to get used to the current
maybe if we both swim
together we might stay afloat
lest tiredness drags us both

If I can’t feel the spicy taste
of ginger in the stroke of
one of my fingers
If I can’t weave a carpet
using just my eyes
well I can’t explain how I feel
and maybe I shouldn’t try.

-teresa-

Lub-dub

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Put two fingers on your wrist.
Just where you can see a faint blue line, that should work ok.
You might feel a beat against your fingers.
Can you feel it?
Well done! I’m proud to inform you that you are alive.

This might not be news to you, but how often do you think about the organ that keeps you alive? How well do you understand the pulsing that you feel in your chest?

Let me offer you a small insight into this non-stop involuntary process.

A bit of background knowledge-
Your heart is an organ made out of muscle, it is the approximate size of your fist and you can find it in the middle of your chest pointing slightly to the left.

It has four chambers as seen in the diagram below-

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So what is a heartbeat? Why does it happen?

Cells in your body need oxygen to do their thing- be it skin cells, nerve cells or muscle cells, they all need the oxygen which is taken up in your lungs.
But as you may have noticed, your lungs aren’t close enough to your body that the oxygen might just magically get passed on.
This is why blood exists. Blood carries the oxygen from the lungs to all other body parts that need the oxygen. It must keep moving around, so an organ is in place that pumps the blood to allow it to pass through your body at speed, preventing it from becoming static.
The heart is this pump.

Every time your heart beats, it undergoes contraction (known as systole) and relaxation (also called diastole).
One round of these two is one heartbeat, and it happens in approximately 0.8 seconds.
In this fraction of a second many things happen:

1. Atrial Systole: The left and right atrium (1a & 1b) become smaller as they contract. This allows the blood to fall through the AV valves and into the ventricles (2a & 2b).

2. Ventricular Systole: The sides of the ventricles contract inward, pushing the blood out of the ventricles through the valves and up into the arteries- the aorta on the left side and the pulmonary artery on the right.

3. Diastole: The heart relaxes, allowing for blood to reenter it in order to complete the cycle all over again.

Where does the famous lub-dub noise come from then?

Lub: AV valves that separate the atria from the ventricles exist to prevent blood from flowing back into the atria, so when the ventricles contract, these must close. The noise these make when they close is recognised as “lub”.

Dub: After blood has been pushed out of the heart, the valves at the opening of the main arteries must close so that blood doesn’t fall back into the heart. The sound these make as they close is described as “dub”.

So next time your heart interrupts your attempts to fall asleep, take a second to thank it too for its hard work.

-teresa-

Counting sheep

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I’ve recently noticed that as I settle into my bed and get ready to drift off to sleep, I no longer count sheep.
Instead, I have caught myself counting ideas and questions- listing the things that I hope to understand better.
Some quite trivial, some quite deep; I revisit these concepts over and over in search for answers or some insight into why I think about them or what they mean.

Hoping to get some quality rest at night, I will attempt to resolve these ideas in my posts these coming weeks.
Here is an introduction to the things that keep me up at night and eventually send me to sleep:

1. What is that Lub-dub sound?: As I try to fall asleep at night, I can hear my heart pumping and it makes me wonder about the little quirks that maintain me alive. This involuntary beat is one of the many things that my body does to keep me alive and maintain my mind working. But isn’t my mind a part of my body too? That leads me to my next question-

2. Where is my mind?: I don’t mean that I’m very distracted (although I am) I literally mean: where is my mind located? Where do these thoughts take place? Is consciousness physical or is it just a metaphorical way of grouping our cognitive abilities?

3. Why is this place so messy?: Now, I’ve always been absolutely disorganised and messy. So when recently in a chemistry lesson I learnt that disorder is the natural state of the universe, I was delighted. Of course it turned out to be that it wasn’t a good way to excuse the messy area I live and work in, but entropy did turn out to be an interesting concept which still makes me wonder late at night…

4. If I stay up another 15 minutes, how will my life change?: Well for one I may be more tired in the morning, but that doesn’t seem like a huge impact on my life. However, learning about chaos theory has changed my perception of small things and the possibility of them having huge impacts.

5. What’s the difference between 15 minutes and 30 for that matter?: Yes, I know there is a difference between them and I can tell that one lasts longer than the other, but the concept of time is a strange one. How did it originate? what does it mean?

The list could continue for miles, but these are the questions that I have had in my mind long enough to mature and that I feel most ready to seek answers to. This way, I’ll have more space for different questions to arise and keep me awake at night…

Or maybe I’ll finally be able to get some sleep.

-teresa-