Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Reading the Signs

I don’t believe in coincidences.
I believe that everything happens for a reason and that most of what happens in people’s lives are either consequences of their decisions or the road signs representing the path that they’re on.

If fate is the checkpoints we must all go through, then destiny is the road we choose to get to them. As an adventurer, someone who takes risks in life and enjoys travelling the narrow and less travelled upon roads; I nonetheless am cautious and do my best to pay attention to the signs that life gives me. I don’t always see them, I may even misinterpret them, but I know they’re always there guiding my way or confirming my decisions. It’s easy to take a wrong turn in life but very seldom can one truthfully say that the signs weren’t there…

I woke up this morning from a dream I couldn’t control and decided to start they day putting it out of my mind. The memory was gone by the time I brushed my teeth but it threatened to submerge with the desire to have Philadelphia cheese on bread for breakfast.
This wasn’t the sign – It was the mental association one makes between things and people and I only allowed it a minute to prevail.

By the time I sat in the metro, I was in a fantastic mood ready to take on the world and decided to scan my surroundings for an interesting face. It was at the second station that we stopped that a man with a brown leather jacket walked in, jolting a spark of recognition within me. His face wasn’t familiar but the way he concentrated all his attention on his palm top reminded me of someone who was.
This wasn’t the sign either – This is the mental registration caused by a resemblance between someone you know… or knew.

Work! – The marvellous distraction in life that allows you to succumb to your talents and ambitions, drowning out all of the ego’s influence. Self-satisfied and absorbed in my tasks, I’d given very little attention to any signs that may have surrounded me. So much so that by the time I looked at the watch on my computer, I realised that half of my lunch hour had been lost. Grabbing a sandwich and a can of juice from the vending machine, I sat on my chair for a quick snack and allowed my body to relax and my senses to rein free…that’s when it caught me – the melody playing on the radio. My lips began repeating the lyrics flowing into my ears by Phil Collins. Closing my eyes I was suddenly in a very green place where the air was fresh and my cheeks were pink and I was staring at a face that was incredulous that I’d never heard the song before. In too deep – the song and the lyrics with the power to overflow me with all the emotions of the memory.
This wasn’t the sign – It was the painful reminder of things past and the automatic link that the mind makes to a memory.

Once again, fully concentrated on my work, my mind was so preoccupied that I almost missed the sign put up for me:
The colleague who sat in front of me had fallen into the misfortune of falling in love with a man who was not interested in her. Driven by her obsession by him, she was on the phone to a friend describing how she’d followed him at lunch to see who he was having lunch with and to my utter horror; I overheard her asking her friend who must work with or near him, to report back his every action. She hung onto the most insignificant of his movements that must’ve occupied every second of her thoughts.
That was my sign!
The mirror of what I might’ve become if I hadn’t made the decisions I made when I once felt a love that wasn’t returned. It was a confirmation of my decision, a cry for a help that I could give and the beginning of deeper friendship.

It was a sign and I’m grateful that I saw and embraced it.

We’re once again at a festive season where bad feelings are forgotten and we spend time with those we love and care about the most. It’s been a whole year since I felt my father’s arms around me, and the joy of a family Christmas. I couldn’t hold back the tears that fell as a Christmas tree and the making of a Christmas liqueur reminded me of some of the happiest moments of my life… it feels like they were just yesterday…
These aren’t signs – They are reminders of the blessings God gives us and the reasons why life and fight to survive.
My will was to retreat into the privacy of my room where I could weep my father’s absence but instead:
I wiped my tears and made myself useful in the kitchen where my cousin and I exchanged jokes and memories.

The signs of life are only there to pinpoint our location, remind us where we came from and warn us of the path ahead. We can choose to heed or ignore these signs, decide what to make of them and which direction we want to go.

Have a safe journey.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Metro Blues

A friend of mine once claimed that I was working with the wrong company considering that my slogan should be “connecting people”. Truth is, I thrive off the desire to comprehend people, that drive me to make that connection and lately I’ve found myself once again drawn to strangers.

It’s on my daily Metro trips that I’ve been getting my latest kicks!

Living on the fast lane implies that no time should be wasted. In the twenty minutes that takes me to get to work, I can either read 8 to 9 pages of a book or plan my day going through shopping and to do lists or all those phone calls that I still need to make. At times I’m tempted to drift off into a daydream or allow myself to think about the unresolved issues that have been stored in my mind… on some days, twenty minutes is all I need to write the best columns in my head…

I used to think that the reason that I preferred the bus to the metro as public transport was due to the scenery I’d enjoy on my way to work. Recently I discovered that it had very little with what was going on in the outside world and more what was happening inside. Vulnerable and feeling a little lost, I’d given up my travel time on observing others to tend to my own wounds… now that I’m back on my feet, suddenly I feel that the answers are once again “out there” rather than “in here” and I found myself returning to my favourite pastime: observing others.

I find that most people are too engrossed in their own thoughts to realise that you’re watching them. Never mind… I try to connect with whatever they might be thinking and even though I can never truly know or guess what goes through their minds, it doesn’t hurt to ask an angel for a blessing or two in aid of a stranger. Often I notice young girls who hide behind their coats, their glasses and avoid any if all eye contact – to those I pray for a little self-confidence. Humility is what I desire to do those whose nose is above eye-level and courage to those who’s eyes look as if they’re about to spill a stream down their faces. It can’t hurt to wish a stranger well.

It’s easy to make a connection; all you have to do is to hold eye contact. It isn’t hard or provocative; you simply choose not to look away when your eyes connect. I met my future hairdresser this way; a Brazilian woman who was on her way to a job interview when we met in the Metro. I wished her luck, she told me that she’d let me know how the interview went and suddenly two strangers weren’t so alone in a big city.

Warning: If you look too long at a cute guy on the Metro, chances are that he’ll ask you for your number as you leave!

Of course not every connection you make is the kind you were hoping. I discovered that not all old men are “sweet” old men so don’t be surprised if a friendly smile results in a wink and a pinch of your bottom! – Take it from me, smile at a distance!

Even though my destinations are the same each day, I discovered the voyage in the journey. No two trips are the same and I hardly run into the same face twice. These strangers give me courage to be more of myself, the desire to connect to more people and the awakening of my adventurous spirit.Next time you cross-eyes with someone… Smile… you never know how far it reaches.

Friday, November 04, 2005


I went to see him.
Not for any particular reason other that the desire to look into his eyes and see the smile upon his face.
Time grows short… and so I take in as much of him as I can, before it’s all over.

Feelings are eternal even if relationships are not. Some relationships are doomed to carry a biological clock with an expiry date that determines the point which two souls drift from each other. They take with them only the memories and the feelings… it’s all that I’ll be left with soon.

In life, there are those relationships which we know where they’ll end… death and distance takes away the people we care about. Others are determined by the hands of fate, which either surprises us or gradually takes a person away. I’ve read somewhere that each relationship either lasts a moment, a period, a season or a lifetime depending on what we stand to learn from it. I believe that every lesson life chooses to teach us is given a deadline and many times, we pass it by due to our own stubbornness or distraction… when life is kind, the opportunity may come by again. With people however, it seldom does… we have to wait another lifetime.

When your soul quietens and you drown out the sounds of the world, shutting out reasons and opinions – you hear it… that voice that speaks along with the beat of your heart and speaks to you of things past and things to come. Often we drown out the voice that tells of the things hard to overcome even though it is often the hero that pulls us through. Some call this voice your instinct, your spirit or even the voice of angels as it tells you the secrets of now and the future. The voice that speaks to your heart and encourages your faith… that feeling that you simply know…

I know…
I know our time is short…
I feel him slipping away…
I don’t want to lose him… but it’s not my decision to make.

There are so many things I could try to prevent it…
But I know it’s unavoidable…
I know…

Does he feel it like I do? Know it like I do? Perhaps he’s accepted it the way I have or perhaps he’s chosen not to take heed. Most people react with denial, refusing to believe or believing that they are capable to changing the inevitable. Perhaps I too should fight… but I grow tired of fighting alone in a game for two. Naïve are those who think they have utter control, for we are but fortune’s fools… there comes a time when we all surrender leaving the lesson for another lifetime… taking only the memories and the feelings with us.
Standing on the deck before the ship hits the iceberg, I know now that there’s nothing more I can do to prevent it from sinking so I make the most of the short time I have left. Taking a look at the stars in the sky, slowly saying goodbye although still praying for a miracle – tomorrow morning the sun with rise again with or without the ship afloat. One I’ll board that ship again, but not on this ocean… not in this lifetime.


I finally got my tattoo fixed.
Perhaps the timing has to do with the fact that my ruling planet (Mars) is closest to Earth now than ever. At 69million kilometres, it will only be this close again in 13 years.
Truth is – I didn’t plan it… I didn’t choose the time, the timing chose itself.

Unlike my first tattoo… there was no fore planning; no hours on end over the Internet searching for that right image… just a feeling of what I wanted and fate at hand. Walking into the parlour, my only intention was to pass the time and take a look at future options. It was a pair of green eyes so much like mine that begun creating the possibility. The artist decided to play around with the design I wanted that before we both knew it, I had in my hand the exact image of what my soul commanded. Fate made up my mind and before I knew it, I was preparing myself for the needle…

“Why the sad face?” the artist asked.
I guess that I always imagined that this time around, that someone special would be there holding my hand.
Angry with myself for thinking such things, I reminded myself that my tattoo was an expression of my individuality, needing no other input other than my own.
It will still be there after Love has come and gone; time and time again.
That is what she represents after all, my butterfly – My capacity for Survival. I shall never require a special reason or person in life as long as I maintain faith in myself.

My butterfly – her colour representing so much more than it did when I chose it and her wings big enough to fly any distance. Her four tips reminding me of the four defining years of my life in Madeira and the tribal background reminding me of my spirit… part of the design ironically contributed by my best friend, there to remind me that friends are our special angels which bring out the best in us.

I winced at the prick of the needle, swearing under my breath for having such intense ideas and desires. Before a tear could fall I closed my eyes and allowed the walls around my heart to crumble. The cruel reminder of my tattoo artist echoed in my mind:
Nothing happens per chance – Everything happens for a reason.
Phil Collin’s “Groovy kind of a Love” started playing on the radio and I gave up on fighting the signs and reasons falling into a meditative state where I felt nothing else besides the music. By the time Mariah Carey finished her “we belong together” it was over and she finally looked the way she should.

A butterfly is one of God’s most fragile creatures, yet she survives the pouring rain, the scorching sun and all sorts of predators. Able to travel great distances - needing no guide and no map. The cruellest way to kill her is to grab her by the wings, incapacitating her ability to fly free.
She reminds me of what a worm is able to develop into given the time and opportunity, never going back to its original form. A butterfly might stop to rest, but she’ll never forget how to fly. She’s a survivor – I’m a survivor.
I thanked the artist and both our angels for organising our calendars. He asked me if it had hurt, a curiosity considering he’d assumed it wouldn’t hurt as badly as the first one. I merely smiled and told him that in life there are worse pains that a person has to endure and the butterfly was there to remind me of that.