Apr 22, 2013

Birthdays are not happy occasions at all

I’ve been feeling very low lately, because of my birthday coming up. I love my birthday month, I plan trips on my birthday month, I plan on having tattoos, or piercings, or losing weight, making career plans, and remembering my last year of life that past. When it comes to the actual day it’s different.  
My family has been through something of an ordeal the last 5 years. Every time I try to be happy or try to forget the problems that my family has had, they fall on me and I don’t get a chance to really be happy, or to at least live a normal life. This year, I just had a small wish that the series of problems that we've had for the past 5 years, maybe, just maybe were going to be solved before my birthday, so that I could maybe, be happy on my birthday. My birthday will be in half an hour, and yet another year of my life will begin with this huge cloud drowning me. And that is why I've been down, so much down lately. My favorite book Three Comrades of Remarque starts with Robert Lohkamp on his birthday, writing down all the birthdays he could remember and where he was in them. I’d like to do that, even though I don’t have horrific war stories.

2012 I was in Barcelona with my friend Kamela. I wanted to escape the country, because I didn't want to celebrate it, I didn't want to have any expectations on that day, especially because it was an anniversary, 25 years. Kamela and I went out before midnight and went to a place that served tapas and beer so we had a cute time there. That day we went to a nice place in the evening. It was nice to have my birthday in Barcelona, even though I missed my family. But then my sister did a number on me. A few days after I came back home, she had planned an impromptu birthday party for me and basically tried at the last minute to invite whoever she could find, friends and acquaintances and family. At first, this person who doesn't like being in the center of attention was completely surprised, and not in a good way, but alcohol and the presence of the karaoke machine, lowered the pressure and I had a good time. The funny part was that I was supposed to go on a first date that day, which I had to push. That whole thing went…well…another train wreck.

2011 I wanted to go out with my family, but my parents were leaving town and they weren't exactly in a good mood. I went out with my sister at the Japanese restaurant. My parents not being there and my overly depressive dad’s face weighed on me all day.

2010 I spent my birthday at home with some people coming over. I remember crying that day. I don’t know exactly why, but it must be because nothing was as it was supposed to be.

2009 I was preparing myself for a career fair at school. I did get a job because of that career fair, the worst job in the world that humiliated me and crushed my self-confidence for a year and half. I was writing resumes and preparing for the career fair and wasn’t in the mood to celebrate at all. I just wanted to find a job as soon as possible so I could start helping out at home, or at least stop weighing on them. I didn’t care what job I was going to start, I just needed a job. I guess I had something like a family dinner.

2008 I think I went out at Serendipity with family and my friend Migena. It was the year before the robbery that took all of my family’s money and other people’s money from us. It was before things were so fucked up that I would want to quit school and would not even want to go out with friends or date, or even be able to feel like a normal person who can socialize or understand other people who didn’t have grave problems like my family did. But that day I wasn’t very happy. My new boyfriend had forgotten my birthday and he hadn’t called me or texted me or emailed me or anything. I forgave him, I’m an idiot.
2007 My twentieth. Family at the Durrës house. I had my tatoo, I had a cute dress, I had the nice cake with the candles and the lyrics of a song about being 20 in my cake. I had a great time that day.
2006 Oh my, I remember. I went out with my best friend Elda and my boyfriend of the time. I don’t like remembering that relationship. I was so clueless towards my friend and so awful breaking up with him later that year.
2005 18, that’s a good year. I’ve no clue how I celebrated it. Maybe I didn’t. Maybe I took some friends out for coffee at Real Skampini, the coffee shop in the middle of the castle of the town, on a sunny day. I don’t know if that was 2005 or 2004 No clue.
2003 Sweet 16. Big birthday party. My whole class, I think that was the last time I had a big birthday party with just friends. It took me two hours to get my hair done, my classmates were surprised I could actually pull off a skirt, and I have no idea where the hell my camera went. It was a nice little club. It was a great collection of music, and a lot of dancing. I miss those days when we actually went to a club to dance, not to hump the table while looking like whores. I think my best friends at the time were talking about the party for the whole month until it happened.
2002 No idea
2001 I think I had a birthday party with my class at a place near the house. We actually had fun.
The others before than that, I can’t really remember, I know I did have a couple of birthday parties at our house with classmates, the big Elbasan house that we sold. That was a good house. I used to be so thin. I have no idea where photographs of these events are but they are imprinted in my mind. I know that in one of those birthday parties a couple of Kosovar classmates came at my party. It was the year the Albanian population doubled when the war of Kosovo struck out. I heard about genocide for the first time as something real, not from the history books. Before that I thought I lived in an era where wars didn’t exist anymore. I used to have this stupid concept in my mind that people of my era, of my generation were somehow evolved and didn’t believe in wars or hate, or racism anymore. It took me a long time to realize that there are homophobes, and racists, and wars in the world. That’s what happens when you watch too much TV but no news. I was such a happy child.
As for today, Happy Birthday to me I guess. But that’s no day more depressing than a birthday, to an adult. It’s a day that gives you so much pressure and expectations, a day that is supposed to be about you, a day that is supposed to be a celebration of your life. I didn’t go to a war like Robert Lokamp and I did have some good birthdays, but that bastard met Patrice Hollman, the love of his life later that day. What did he have to complain about?  Maybe if I liked Rum and I had a crazy friend like Gotfried Lenz, I could actually try and celebrate the day of my birth, but then again, I really feel like there’s not so much worth celebrating, not this year. I’m alive, whoopdeedoo.  

Apr 4, 2013

Within Human Limitations

My brain and my sister's brain work in completely two different directions. She is smart in things I am completely lacking, and I understand concepts that aren't her forte. She's not very interested in philosophy, she's much more practical in her thinking, but people's brains work sometimes in ways that they aren't conscious about, and she did say something very beautiful the other day, that got me thinking, about my dog being happy of being a dog.

Allow me to explain: My mother, who has recently in the last year discovered that she loves dogs, or at least, she loves our dog, despite being completely against them her whole life, pities him sometimes, thinking that he doesn't get much out of life because he's not human. And that is what she was saying the other day when the three of us were hanging out; she said that she pities Yuki, our puppy, who was snoozing in the corner of the room, because he couldn't understand what we were saying or doing, or basically, just because he wasn't human. And my sister in that moment, uttered something very clever, about how we shouldn't pity him, because to the dog being a dog and doing dog things is great and enough.

I've been thinking a lot about the idea of human knowledge and human perception of reality being obviously limited, and with my thirst for knowledge, despite my procrastination tendencies into acquiring it, is saddened by the limitations of the three dimensions and the limitations of our human perspective. Neil deGrasse Tyson, who is one of the most brilliant minds alive, as I cannot really use the word of our generation, regarding the age difference between me and him, was explaining in a science blog interview for the Huffington Post, with the nerdist Cara Santa Maria, about the idea of the fourth dimension, and other dimensions. He explained how the easy way to understand the idea of other dimensions beyond our human understanding, is by seeing things at a lower level. Basically an insect that cannot fly, confined in a two dimensional space, in a square shaped prison, is walking around the confined area, going towards the wall, being unable to cross it, and than going back and towards the other walls, but still confined. If that insect were to see above, and if that insect were to be able to fly, it would pretty much discover the third dimension. But the insect doesn't, the insect cannot. This very simple experiment of thought, serves to show us, that we are limited in our perception of reality, and the way we are made, we are unable to perceive beyond what our human DNA entitles us to perceive. Aliens can perhaps perceive much more, other dimensions, and they can see much more beyond. To aliens we could be a lower species he was saying, and not worthy of being considered intelligent, as we like to call ourselves, and than not even the smartest human is worthy to have a conversation with. As a matter of fact Tyson was explaining, the difference in DNA, between us and chimps, is very little, we share most of the genetic code, and than there is a slight difference, but this slight difference makes all the difference that makes us capable of music, poetry, philosophy, science, etc. A very slight difference between us and aliens, who knows what other talents, or what other activities, and capabilities that we cannot even begin to understand, can a slight difference make happen in evolved humans, or aliens. I was loving this way of thinking as I was watching the tv show Fringe those days, where some evolved humans of the future could walk through time, and some even more evolved humans, could see beyond different timelines.

When I was hearing all the above, at first I felt quite saddened about our limitations, and the fact that we cannot ever, ever, ever understand beyond our limitations, and we cannot communicate with a species of higher intelligence than us. We can barely make a simple conversation with people like Tyson who have higher levels of IQ than the rest of us, and can understand concepts the human with average intelligence can't, let alone a whole different species, that is more intelligent than us, as much as we are more intelligent than chimps. But than I realized that in this universe so vast and big, that probably isn't the only universe, that we can see only in very small percentage of it, if you can actually have a percentage on something infinite, has many more intelligent species that are higher in intelligence than others, and so on. What I am responsible of, is understanding and comprehending the universe around me, within my limitations, be that of DNA, and/or of intelligence. Within these limitations I have thousands of lifetimes worth of exploration, and I should be happy about the great gifts of poetry, music, art, science and philosophy I can enjoy.

The practical mind of my sister, had quite simply reached the conclusion, that I had to walk around the world through China to get it, that the dog is a dog, and the human is a human, and the higher intelligent alien species is an alien, and we are happy within our limitations. We don't feel sad because we cannot do the things we do not even know they exist. What the hell does a dog know about philosophy, doesn't make him unhappy. He likes to chew his bone, sniff the world around him, and pee in as many bushes as possible, and that makes him happy. Just because he cannot watch an episode of the Voice on tv, doesn't mean that he is sorry that he cannot comprehend what his human friend can. He just doesn't know about it.

On a broader perspective, what this got me thinking is about everything transcendental, and especially about what humans like to call God. We cannot perceive God, and yet we have created such a mystical being to be able to comprehend what's in the shadow beyond the light, what's beyond the cave of human thought. There will always be God, or something like God, for as long as humans are limited in their perceptions, and humans, just like every other creature, every other existence will always be limited. That's how the universe was built. Water will always be made of two hydrogens and one oxygen, and that is how the universe is built. with formulas, with codes, with limits of "identity". We are all programmed, built a certain way, and we are what we are within ourselves. If death transforms us into something else in a different dimension, we as humans cannot know anything about it, and as something else that we will be transformed in, will not care about being human anymore, we will in fact not be humans anymore. We cannot care, about what's beyond. What we need to care about is within our limitations of perception. Of course, rationally, and step by step, we will explore to overpass as many limitations as possible, but we cannot jump the shark and think about things we cannot perceive, beyond human reason.

Believing in God, is probably a good healing method for some, but I would recommend to people, to believe in things they can see, touch, smell, taste, hear, because these are the senses we were given. And maybe we have other senses that we will discover in next generations, and maybe we will be able to have a sixth and a seventh eye into another dimension, but for now, let's focus in what we can really perceive, and stop worrying about what we were, and what we will become, in an afterlife. Life is here, in this planet, in three dimensions, in the now. It is not in the past and it is not in the future. Life for us is within these three walls of the tree dimensions, and we cannot travel through time, and we cannot go to a dimension of heaven, or hell, or purgatory or whatever. We are here, now, at this moment, at this place, within these walls. Let the journey of our existence take its course, and let us not worry about the beyond. Everything will happen as it was supposed to happen. We are too tiny to take on the world and the universe, and the all-existence. Let us focus in what's on our hands, rather than speculate nonsense about things that aren't within our knowledge, or our control. Imagination, yes, is more important than knowledge, as it allows us to travel to lands that are beyond what we've conquered, but let us not let our imagination take over us, making us lose perspective. Let us use imagination as a way to explore the beyond, not as a way to lose ourselves in the beyond.

My dog is happy to be a dog. And I am happy to be a human. And you know why? Because frankly, I do not know otherwise. I don't have a God. I don't worry about death. I don't worry about the future, about the past, or about more intelligent species. I don't even worry about all the smells my dog can smell that I can't. What I worry about is within my DNA, within my brain, within my capabilities, and that is a lot of free space. Even though I am in jail, it is a jail so vast, I can walk for thousands and millions of lifetimes and not be able to cross it, so in the end, this jail, to me, is some sort of freedom. Let us be humans, and let us stop worrying about Gods and about the afterlife. Life is already too busy to worry about other things.