Real-life binary people: How digital has made all our emotions look all the same

Screen Shot 2015-02-13 at 11.25.21

As part of my bi-weekly creative writing project “Non-Girly Blue” where a bunch of ladies challenge each other to write stories inspired on songs, “Let’s Stay Together” by Al Green rings in my head. There’s a fine line that divides love from hate they say, and even though I love this song, today I hate it. I’ve never placed any importance to “special dates” except for today: February 13th. Friday. Bad luck.

Being a day before Valentines, listening to this song has made me think about my last emotional relationship: a once-a-month-online-to-offline relationship filled with long silences, mystery, ocassional texting and quality real-time offline company. My love story was nothing like Spike Jonze love dystopia, however I honor his manifesto about digital love in the modern world. A real depiction of this complicated human behaviour: love.

I think it’s curious how we’ve digitalised our lives to the point of developing strong emotional relations with what I call “real-life binary people”. Don’t laugh. I mean it!!! they are real-life people and binary-people at the same time. They are humans and computers. They exists yet they’re only an idea because the day they (or you) disconnect, s’all gone. Vanished. Simply deleted.

It baffles me how we’ve come to hold binary people so close to our minds and so deep in our hearts. We laugh, we share, we feel, we cry… we even feel pain because of their digital behaviours: their absences, the unanswered messages… It’s shocking how our hearts and minds can find heaven or hell because of a Facebook status, a tweet, an Instagram photo, an emoticon Peace or drama depends on the ability of self-control: the “publish” or “delete” option. Overwhelming.

Another thing that puzzles me about us, real-life binary people, is how we’ve learned to “identify” and “value” the hearts <3, the happy faces :), the sad faces :(LOL makes us laugh, T_T makes us cry (8) makes us sing, :* makes us feel kissed…  Somehow we’ve learned to give them personal meaning; to think they’re unique and original when they’re so generic; to feel they belong to the real-life person on the other side of the screen when everybody uses the same generic image to express themselves; to identify them as real and forget that we use them by default…

We’ve really come to believe that these binary emotional expressions belong to the real-life binary people we’re engaged to. Really? How come generic faces on a screen can be so powerful to our hearts? Where has detail and personalisation gone? Why has real-life companion been replaced by binary code?

It gives me the shivers when I hear about real-life “always on” humans feeling alone. Thousands of friends, hundreds of likes, constantly snapchatting, sending images, voice notes and videos all day long but in the end they can’t change reality: they are alone. Binary people is not that compelling to the heart matters after all.

I was talking with one of my best friends about love when she shared with me how she used to be so careful with the person se used to love: magic was about the little personalised details: small gifts, unexpected flowers, funny calls… Life celebrated everyday through hugs, kisses, jokes and small-talk. Nothing online can replace the sensation of real-life human contact: sharing body with body, smile with smile, hand with hand. The kind of human connection that builds your love up, reconstruct your energies and reminds you that you are alive, that you are human, that you are more than Internet likes, comments and shares… you know, the real “together” Al Green sings about.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m pro and an advocate for meeting people online: the friend requests, the likes, the shares, the comments, the direct messages, the snapchats at odd hours, the funny pictures and unexpected videos… It’s funny, it’s great, it’s worth sharing so much… real happiness can be shared and experienced through this medium too… however versatile as it is, I’m still old-school and prefer real-life dating. Real life happy (and sometimes not so happy) human company.

I wish you all share some real-life happy human company every day.

Unhappy Humans at work.

“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.” —Steve Jobs

I feel it is so cliché having to quote Steve Jobs, however, if he is quoted that much is because he is so damn right. When I first watched his Stanford Commencement Address, I felt inspired (who doesn’t?). I really love the way he becomes intimate by sharing stories… so today, I want to share a Happy story with you.

After inspiration faded away, I began asking myself about what I love. I had a great job at an agency I still consider to be family and community instead of a team work… but back then, I didn’t want to settle so I thought “Gee, what is it that I love doing that much?”

After some introspection, I found that I’m an evolving human being with a curiosity as dangerous as that of a cat. Secondly, I found that I’m a sucker for information: I love procrastinating, cool-hunting, researching if you must call it in a “professional” sounding way. After winning the lottery (I’ve never won the lottery but I think that finding this kind of insights ought to feel like that), another me (a sleazy alter-ego), whispered in my ear that I couldn’t make a living on what I am or what I love doing; that maybe this Steve Jobs’ advice meant that I had to learn to love what I did instead of going after what I loved.

Later I knew that thinking this way was a highway to mediocracy.

~

I consider myself as a modest cat. I don’t really need nor want much to live. All I need is to express. Since childhood, all I wanted to be was an artist. I wanted to create beautiful images for the world to enjoy. I wanted to capture emotion on a single perfectly crafted frame. I wanted to share a point of view and create concepts that would entice people so much that we would change our way to look at the world together. That’s what great art is all about.

From an industry perspective, all I wanted was to create  sticky heart-felt ideas such as MasterCard’s “Priceless” campaign or McDonald’s “I’m Loving It” campaign.

“Too dreamy” the sleazy alter-ego thought.

Due to [insert any excuse here], I ended up in the advertising world: jumping from one agency to another, working along with fantastic creative human beings, learning to do and forcing myself to love a job for which I invested myself for so many years at the university… but there was a catch: I never wanted to be a MadWoman. I never aimed to travel and shoot T.V. commercials, design billboards or build websites. I never dreamed of winning Cannes Lions or Clios. I never thought of myself as a selling agent and I never saw myself as a commodity to the marketing/sales department.

So I left. I’ve never had trouble [inserting any excuse here] to leave but this time I didn’t excuse myself, this time I was brutally honest about why I wanted to leave.

I trust my intuition when it comes to the heart matters and as well as my friend the rat Remy, I too have a highly developed sense of smell and I can tell when something’s rotten in Denmark… I know when things just don’t feel right.

I’ve left so many jobs that my resume starts being asked about my leaving, but it’s not the jobs thing or the Human Resources inquiries what’s important. What’s important here is that I left my love and my dream too.

~

Over year ago, I had an epiphany, a brief moment of clarity that “the art of choosing is also the art of leaving and that the art of leaving is also the art of finding the unexpected.” A happy friend who now lives in Budapest with her husband and beautiful girls even shared a poem with me about this losing art.

Now, when I think about this epiphany I think it’s true but it’s bullshit at the same time. I realise how stupid “choosing” is. I found that I don’t have to choose anything since choosing is the art of closing to posibilites because “something is desired”, and that this “desire” is nothing but a mutating opinion.

And there’s nothing more stupid than to be miserable over mutating opinions, meaning: doing what you don’t love. If you don’t know what you love, you are doomed to spend your days “excusing” yourself for your non-development, for your unproductiveness, for your wasted time, for your unhappiness.

This is how I can define failure and in spite of my professional career advancements, I’ve been productive at failing for so many years.

However, when I think about my Failure Master, it is fair to think about the Happy Human Company I discovered unexpectedly and that made this MBA bearable: valuable gems of advice and warm hearts have crossed the sky and lit my way.

Last year, a-now-happy-back-then-miserable-soon-to-be-dad friend of mine hated his agency responsibilities as much as I did. He resigned his status quo to work independently and build a pizza joint.

He recommended me that I had to read Scott Belsky, here’s an advice extracted from his book “Making Things Happen” :

“Productivity is not about how efficient you are at work. Productivity is really about how well you are to make an impact in what matters most to you.”

A box of full of paint, watercolours, pastels, ink and brushes; folders of quality artist papers and canvases; a box of written notebooks, newspaper cut-ups and random papers lay in my house. Loads of word documents, spreadsheets and annotations are stored in my computer. Tons of ideas in my head waiting to meet the world.

Yes, I know what I love. I commit myself to be truly productive.

I hope you commit to your love too.

.

Happiness: You’re doing it wrong

Screen Shot 2015-01-06 at 10.16.10

Oh the Internet… It is amazing how it is filled with inspiring quotes and cats and rants and advice and LOL things and random things as this.

It’s 10:10 a.m. I should be working but I’m guess I’m procrastinating, using my time to find anything curious and useful… or not. I wear my earphones but no music is playing, I’m just pretending to be busy so people won’t disturb me in inspiration hunting. I’m on Pinterest, when I find this image posted by some apparel store. I stop. I don’t like it. I don’t pin it. It just makes me think whether it is some actionable recommendation or not.

“Think Happy Thoughts” seems like an easy reminder, however, it’s not. Instead of a motivator, I think this quote is a stressor. What if I forget this piece of advice? What if these happy thoughts aren’t truly mine? What if these happy thoughts are a distorted tale I tell myself for the sake of happiness at my own convenience, ignoring, and what’s worst, choosing to forget how things truly are? Been there, done that. Awful.

Being happy is not about thinking: It’s about being.
Thinking is a habit of the smart (read “Happy vs Smart” the very first post of this blog). Thinking is something you learn, you’re trained for. Thinking is something, that if you don’t build as a habit, you forget to do.

Being is something inherent to yourself. It’s what you are. Happiness is like air, you cannot choose not to breathe. Happiness is what you become, consciously or not, by your thoughts, actions and words, and since we are always changing our actions, we never “are”. We are always becoming. Constant change all along the watchtower! (ok, not this has nothing to do here, but I like this song!)

Descartes said “I think, therefore I am”. Sure it works like that as well but personally, I find it too elaborate for a living. I say, stop thinking, over-thinking. Reconcile with your feelings and start being. Being what you want to be without judgment, without constraints. There’s nothing wrong with feeling for the sake of feeling. Feel sad if you must, Feel happy if you have to. Feel love above all.

Word of advice: feelings are great. Beware what you think about your feelings.

So, stop thinking happy thoughts, read this NY Times article and don’t fall in the trap of positive thinking, wishful thinking.

Just feel. Just be.

La cara del Terapeuta

Screen Shot 2014-12-22 at 20.38.01

Me fui por poco tiempo, 21 meses. La idea del auto-destierro es atractiva, seductora. La idea de salir de la jaula para encontrar nuevas cosas es fascinante, es embriagante. Pero también lo es la idea de regresar. Algo que pensé que no me iba a pasar era verle la cara a la felicidad de regresar. Es algo extraño, todavía no sé como funciona, pero es maravilloso poder tomar alas y salir, y poder ir y hacer y poder estar y soñar y poder compartir… y poder regresar, y encontrar que las que uno creía jaulas, que no eran jaulas cerradas sino que siempre estuvieron abiertas para ir y venir, como esa pintura de Rene Magritte, “Le Thérapeute“.

Hace poco, un mes quizás, un cliente de la agencia de publicidad donde trabajo realizó por segundo año consecutivo su programa de reencuentros. Este año el caso fue de personas inmigrantes que no pueden regresar. Pensé que era un gimmick publicitario, y mi yo sarcástico esbozó un “bah, que hueva”, pero como alguien que vive afuera, alguien que declara que su terruño no es el país sino la gente, realmente las historias me golpearon, me sacaron lágrimas y no porque fueran historias nuevas, total, todos tenemos un inmigrante que no puede regresar, todo sabemos “mas o menos” alguna historia de estas…  meh, nada nuevo… pero cuando sos vos el que se plantea el regresar o volar, el cortar los lazos o volverlos a unir, pues la histora cambia. Realmente debe ser difícil irse y saber que no podés regresar. Que el destierro es real y que el destierro es para siempre. Realmente les deseo la oportunidad de regresar de alguna forma a todas esas personas que no tienen opciones, a esas personas que no pueden hacer más que tripas corazón, como dicen, levantar la frente y seguir en alto aceptando la distancia.

En fin, es extraño ese juego de regresar-no regresar. Creo que entonces la felicidad no está en estar en un lugar o en otro, sino que en aprender a estar en el momento presente, en donde se eligió estar. La felicidad tampoco se encuentra en el tener o el poder, sino que en el compatir con la gente con la que estás, no con la que quisieras estar. Eso, creo que eso es algo de lo poco que aprendí en 21 meses.

¿Qué es Happy Human Company?

Escribo poco, si, lo sé… cualquier cosa podría escribir al respecto pero sería solamente una excusa, una justificación de la falta de disciplina bloggera.

A cuatro años de haber abierto este blog, he tenido algunas reflexiones sobre la felicidad, desde las experiencias de situaciones que puedo catalogar de “momentos felices” hasta las aproximaciones filosóficas y budistas de “una felicidad duradera”.

A veces, durante el proceso de bloggear, parecía que las palabras se me ocultaran o que la felicidad me abandonara de repente impidiéndome escribir algo que fuera verdadero. Pero así es la vida, una constante de recordatorios de que estar conscientemente en el momento presente es lo único que garantiza la felicidad.

Siempre pensé que este blog era para escribir acerca de la felicidad, pero este fin de semana me dí cuenta que no se trata de escribirla, se trata de compartirla, como cuando entre risas en el almuerzo me dijeron “vos haces que me sienta feliz, de verdad, me siento feliz, me dan ganas de reirme, me siento bien.”

 Entonces lo entendí. Entendí que sí somos rayos de sol en la vida de otros, que sí se trata de potenciar a los demás, que sí se trata de sacar lo mejor de uno mismo para sacar lo mejor de los demás. No se trata de escribir filosofías o manifestos que nadie entiende. Una Compañía de Humanos Felices (Happy Human Company) es compartir la energía con los demás, esa energía que trasmuta en felicidad, que comparte felicidad.

Quizás por eso he escrito tan poco sobre la felicidad, porque me cansé de escribirla y me salí al mundo a compartirla.


HHC.DA20141130

5 things I’ve learned while climbing

It’s all about perspective.

Fear is one of those things we all have to deal with, and heights is not a thing I will play stupid with, but when I think about it, I don’t think I’m afraid of heights. I’m most likely afraid to fall. For example, you cannot get me to climb a ladder. Anxiety plays in. Legs begin to tremble. Panic is so hard that paralizes me and then I cannot move. I can’t climb up or get down. More anxiety plays in. Repeat. If you fear falling down, perhaps you can relate to these symptoms. Not funny at all but I think it’s less funnier to be afraid of things you know you can change.

Then again, what is fear but a stop sign on the road to prevent you from going further?

When a friend from the office invited me to go and climb with her one saturday, I was kind of afraid, then saw my right arm tattoo that says “fearless” and I said “Why not? Break the cycle. Face your fears.”

So, there I was one saturday morning, waking up at 6 a.m. with people I’ve never seen before, secretly regretting going out on a chilly morning instead of being on my warm bed, quietly sleeping. There I was walking and climbing a mountain to find climbing spots. There I was getting dirty and feeling my burning lungs. There I was in the end, learning more about life than about climbing and here I’d like to share my thoughts and impressions:

1. Little steps get you to the top.
I’m a “fast-lane” addict, I work in advertising where everything is for “yesterday”. You want to make big, fast steps to get things done quickly, missing lots of important details in the end.

What I’ve learned while climbing is that every step, big or small, do count. One mistake we rookies make is trying to reach the bigger cracks because you think it will be safer, but rarely happens that way. In the end, you end up making more effort, wasting more energy, getting on to difficult spots, and most of the times you have to return to the previous position because that was not the smartest move.

When you are patient, when you stop to actually “feel” the wall, you realize there are lots of tiny-almost-invisible cracks right at your fingertips to help you advance. Small cracks are more abundant (depending on the wall) and used in “strategic” ways, they can save you lots of energy and get to the top quicker.

Exactly the same happens with life: most of the times you focus on the big stuff, the “whole picture” but life is more than big pictures and fast lanes. Life is about  details, tiny things that make every day  great: tiny moments of happiness, tiny accomplishments, tiny help from friends. Those tiny steps can get you to the top as well, and makes the process more enjoyable.

2. Technique might* be more important than strenght.
I’m a total passive person and to make things worst, I smoke a lot. My weekends are about 20 hours in bed sleeping and eating, and sleeping back again, so I’m not in the best physical condition.

Even though climbing requires lots of training and strength, I’ve learned that technique and knowing how to use and move your body might be more important than being tall, having strong muscles and strong arms. Of course a strong body will make things easier and will avoid damage, but as in life, instead of making things happen by force, use your brain and learn techniques to get results in a better, smart and painless way.

*Disclaimer. I’m not a pro, so that’s why I use the word might, because I know there is more to it than just technique vs. strenght.

3. Invest in Gear.
I don’t know exactly the moment when it happens, but there comes a point in life when you just get used to the mediocre. You get used to “good” instead of “great”. When they ask you “How was your weekend?” you say “Good”. “How was vacation?” “Good”. “How is your job”, again “Good”. Very few people actually reply “Great. Fantastic. Amazing.” and I think it’s because we learned to make excuses of ourselves. We excuse on time, on resources, on politics, on family… on anything.

However, what I’ve learned while climbing is that when you “feel” your life is at stakes, you cannot be satisfied with “good”. You want things to be great, to be the best.

When you feel your life is in the equation (and it always is) you want a great gear that will play in your favor, because a great gear will facilitate things, a great gear will protect you. I know the shoes will not take me to the top, but they will protect my body. The ropes will not make me go faster, but they will secure my life.

Gear is essential to anything you do: from living to working to playing and having fun; so always try and go for the best. Think, research, compare, and if getting the best gear means additional investment, do it. You will feel the  results in the long run.

4. Trust your team.
As everything in life, climbing is all about perspective. When you are a rookie, it’s hard to see what a pro sees in a wall. While you see nothing but a plain rock, they see hundreds of cracks to climb. While you see a tiny crack, they see a huge one. While you get tired, they tell you to change hands, change feet or even will tell you how to lay on the rock to save energy. While you think you cannot do it anymore and you want down, they will cheer you up and seek for different routes to teach you and help you get to the top. (They will also find a great perspective to take pictures so you can brag about your climbing.)

One thing I’ve learned is that trusting your team’s perspective can be more important than trusting your own. Sometimes, instructions might sound weird and unreasonable, but you have to let go, trust and do without hesitation, because at that moment, everybody wants the same as you: get to the top.

Most important than perspective, is your team. It’s hard to find the right team, because great teams are not found, they are made. So choose your people with great care and build trust with dedication. Remember: trusting is like breathing. If you don’t do it, you die.

5. Getting to the top is not important.
You know that saying that the road is more important than the destination, but once again, as cliche as it might be, it is true.

Living on the fast lane, you get used to the “achievement” mindset, you become a dopamine addict, you want results, the system wants results, and results feel good… until they do not. Until you forget to have fun and really enjoy the process.

The first wall I climbed I got so scared that I “fell” and got bruised because of my eagerness to do it right and perform. The frustration of not being able to get to the top hurt more that the bruises. Dopamine addict. I forgot to have fun.

What I learned was that it’s not about making it right or wrong, it’s not about getting to the top what matters the most. It’s not about getting that big fat paycheck at the end of the month, or getting that promotion in spite of losing your team, family and friends. It’s about having fun. Life is a game, a journey, whatever you want to call it, but in the end it will mean nothing if you forget to have fun. Remember to a child again. Play. Enjoy. Have fun.

Despite my suspicions, I know climbing is a very safe and fun sport to do. Even though I’m not willing to become an expert I love doing it because it becomes a form of meditation and it helps me find new insights into my life.

If you climb, I would love to hear your impressions, insights, techniques and tips as well.

For what you wish will come true

warmwishes

“Be careful for what you wish for, for wishes will come true.”

I guess I wasn’t looking for him. I guess he wasn’t looking for me either. But somehow, somewhere in time we just found ourselves together at the center of *this* maze, unwilling to leave. That same maze we both dared to enter only to satiate our natural curiosity thinking that we would escape on time, following our own path through different ends. Nothing so far from the truth.

Another year is ending and the question everybody (or almost everybody) is asking is “what’s for New’s Year?,” “What about New’s Year resolutions?.” Honestly, I don’t really trust resolutions.

Being a Buddhist myself, I mostly trust in wishes and space, for what you wish, if it benefits others, will certaintly come true.

“To love & fly away.” Two simple wishes for this soon-to-end year, and believe me, it happened. Life fulfills itself when you trust.

I’m too young to know, but I guess that’s how it works: when you least expect it, you fall in love; just as with happiness: the less you expect and attach yourself, the happier you become. And that’s what this year, this dying year has been: a year of loving and leaving.

To live “leaving” is a very interesting game to master. I don’t know if I’m on the right track, however the reminders are always there: impermance is real; karma works. Certaintly they both are as true as everything else. For that I cannot afford myself the idea of staying. I don’t have a plan. The only thing I have is the idea of owning only that what I can carry on my back (or 2 suitcases if the airlines allow).

So, Dear New Year, there I will go, loving as much as I can and leaving when I have to leave even when I want so deeply to stay. For now, that’s the only way I know to make it work: to prevent myself from wanting more… from him.

Happy New Year of patience and detachment.


DA20131229

Fearless

I am fearless. Not because I’m not afraid anymore but because I choose this state of mind as the most freeing I’ve experienced.

Fear only closes doors, fixates ideas on things, shatters the present moment with funny ideas, mistaken perceptions and disturbing emotions. Who wants to feel that? Not me.

Here and now I choose to jump, to drive power directing all energy by viewing things the way they are: open like space providing possibilities. Realizing this is freedom and  happiness.