I am Light.

The power of surrender and of trust.

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“Waking up to who you are requires letting go of who you imagine yourself to be.”

– Alan Watts

I left my home to deal with myself. I was hurting, in pain, because I was fighting internally. I was heart broken, but I could not let go of the aching. I was suffering. I thought the hardship was mutual. I believed he was going through the same torment; wishing for the same solution. I accepted what I had to endure.

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Portrait of myself by artist and friend Anna Zapolskaya

Once he told me that his choice to commit was careless and I was not considered, I let go. I understood his agenda, acknowledged the negativity it was causing (Eckhart Tolle’s trusting of pain is noteworthy) and I carefully considered the power of my potential decisions. Love left me, then and there. I said goodbye. I was rid of this inner conflict and subsequently, light poured in. I could now grant myself the love I deserve, within me. I wanted to take care of myself and recover my authenticity. I rid myself of the pain by making a simple choice of losing the battle. I no longer felt like broken glass. The relief, the lifting of so much heaviness, was huge.

I reclaimed my soul from the lost and found within a day. It was unbelievable. I was struggling for so long to take care of myself and not feel so unhappy. I tried so hard to break free. But my subconscious was trapped. And then… all of a sudden I am… free?!

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David Wojnarowicz

Not only did I walk with more confidence; I strutted with a strength I have never known. Daily life was not so difficult. I had been to that deep bottomless pit, laid there trapped for about a year, and survived. I was myself again. I levitated. I felt like I had come out of Hans Solo’s carbonite cast. I am so grateful to my facilitator, because he gave me the closure I needed to move on. I have never felt so whole. I reached a moment of higher consciousness.

 

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Monica Lee

As I was starting to unravel inner peace, the world decided to join me. I did not ask for it to. It just happened. This is why I have a deep faith. A few weeks ago, I was rewarded for my years of diligence and courage. I was acknowledged by a powerful, impartial entity named Parsons School of Design. Once again, I was back in the game of being an entrepreneur and driving self-belief. All of a sudden, doubt was no longer an option: I was being rewarded, not rejected, for being myself. At a time when I needed to feel that.

I felt unbreakable, unstoppable. I was content. So I moved forward with everything I had. I danced like I never danced before. I talked to anyone I could. I hugged as many people I was able to. I honoured my learnings respectfully and with deep appreciation. I chose to relentlessly give out my legacy– my soul, not my ambition– to others in the present as did Annie Dillard, in the hope of bringing something into their lives. They did not need to know my name. I only wished to see them flourish. Because I knew what it was like to fall and scratch at the walls.

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I was no longer detached and dying of alienation. I did not know I was inflicting this harm unto myself. As Brain Pickings’ Maria Popova says, “it’s so much easier to be a critic than a celebrator”. From now on, I chose to liberate myself by making simple choices and giving myself to others genuinely, without ego. I only acted with integrity. And once again, within a matter of days from my last moment of recognition, the world responded.

He appeared. An instant connection. He came into my life with his soft blue eyes and his sincerity. It hit me the moment we exchanged words. Unexpectedly. This feeling… this individual blew my mind. He is everything I have wanted. He is everything I have never had. He is divinity defined. I knew this from one tiny, unexpected moment that would usually pass me by. It stung. An exchange of words… was all that was needed.

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Andre Wee

Knowing myself so well, I knew what this meant, what this was (reflecting on Aristotle’s “relationships of shared virtue”). To ignore it would be to ignore truth. No matter how vulnerable. No matter what was ahead. And the universe gave him to me. More like, I gave him to me. God, that makes me smile with tears running down my face. This joy… joy not happiness. The absolute. The most precious gift. JOY. This exists people! Joy has presented itself because I rewarded myself first. I know I am worthy. This is no accident either: he is the culmination of my life’s work.

Within weeks, my destiny has been reformed. Naturally, rapidly, without force. I tried for so long to force it. But because I chose to no longer fight, and surrender instead, the purest emancipation has taken place. Acceptance is one thing; surrender is another, as author Mark Nepo states.  I finally saw the situation for what it was, not how I wished it could be. Words of bitterness were no longer expressed. I was so bitter, so hurt, but I could not understand why. I did not see the elephant in the room; I was blinded. I was hurt by people not being what I wanted them to be as much as he wasn’t. I knew it was not personal… but I was so hurt.

Surrendering is the secret. It is not a sign of weakness. It is a sign of knowing yourself, and differentiating between what you can control and what you can not. It is spiritual empowerment. Don Miguel Ruiz’s The Four Agreements acted as my inner voice: act with purpose; make the right choices.

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It has taken me this journey to get here. I never thought I would say these words: I am in love with myself, with my life, with the world, with a soul mate; I am light; I attract light; I am defined only by my soul. I cannot thank myself enough for getting here. It is due to my actions, after all.

Only we can make these choices. I wish for nothing more, other than to share my experience, in the hope I may challenge someone’s train of thought and break self-doubt. Be honest with yourself. Confront your demons. Go through the pain, the solitude. It will only bring you joy, eventually. Trust me. It has taken me this long, this much, to get here. And the world responds: a new dream will form.

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Francis A. Silva

You Are Here

It was Hemingway who introduced me to an honest life. And it is art which offers me depth and beauty simultaneously. My dreams fill me with hope. But you are the only one who harmonises my spirit, my heart, my conscience, with the softest poetry and deepest sincerity.

Even in suppression you selflessly hand me acceptance, empowerment and profound love. You are here.

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Jamie Wyeth

Yet my mind and soul are elsewhere, chasing dreams; dreams which you light up for me. And maybe your mind and soul are elsewhere too. We are not to blame. There is nothing wrong with the intimate world between you and I. That world which encapsulates Van Gogh’s Starry Night, the philosophies of Alain Badiou, the smell of roses, the sound of waves arriving on the shore. Everything that is beautiful on this Earth. You are here.

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Robin Eley

I think of you. I think of my love for you even now and a torrent of awe overflows. I cannot escape the overwhelming rawness of emotion that exudes. I cannot escape. My heart still thanks me for having touched your hand, for having kissed your lips, for having looked into your eyes, for having adored your smile. Push aside the temporary pain and feel my hand in yours. You are with me, locked away, on my journey. You are here.

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James Tissot

All around me I will find you: in the brushstrokes of a painting, during quiet reflection, in the dreams and writing which bring me solace. You smile at me and reach for my hand. I close my eyes and feel your touch. You are here.

Love That Never Leaves

To forgive but not to forget.

Back in the 14th century, Persian poet Hafiz advised us to “stay close to anything that makes you glad you are alive”. Today, British poet and philosopher David Whyte explains how heartbreak is “an indication of our sincerity: in a love relationship, in a life’s work, in trying to learn a musical instrument, in the attempt to shape a better more generous self. Heartbreak is the beautifully helpless side of love and affection and is [an] essence and emblem of care… Heartbreak has its own way of inhabiting time and its own beautiful and trying patience in coming and going”.

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Hussam El-Sayed

I like to talk to my ex: the one who taught me reciprocated love and left me in pieces. I remain fearless and vulnerable. I have no desire to internalise and disregard the truth in it. I seem to suffer more if I suppress my inner workings as opposed to forgetting ego and just being truthful.

I like to tell him the feelings I had back then, still ascend, and I sob as I cover myself with an invisible blanket of fragility and sincerity. I like to tell him the warmth of his smile and loving gaze, of his hands holding my body and of his unshaven skin up against my face keep me warm at night. I thank him for making me feel as alive as I had ever felt at a time where my world was numbing. I find it humbling I am interwoven in his very fabric and he in mine.

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My love for him fills the room with radiating light and comforts me in solidarity when traveling. He spoons me in bed, in my Moscow apartment; even though he is living his life separately in Melbourne. I never feel alone and I no longer seek to be accepted and understood. These days, I get so much from imparting my perspective, my loving nature and lively spirit to people who have not discovered such things within themselves. I love the self-gratitude I get from sharing my life with others. It is no longer only about what I need and want. I speak of fulfillment, not of this dark emptiness which I once drowned in.

Even if he did not stay, I cannot punish him for helping me find the value myself and my choices. I cannot forget how we would naturally become something so fucking beautiful, it was beyond comprehension. Think about it: the inception of no longer knowing your feelings, your logic, what is real, what is important; when Dali’s imagination becomes more real to you than this.

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Salvador Dali

Irrespective of the heartbreak he caused me, he gave me this positive outlook from the deep love we shared. I could easily escape the past and close the gates on our story and on him being a part of me; but this would be deluding the joys that came with it. Joys that you can still carry with you which are used as miracle cures. Why would I not thank him every day for being the most precious gift?

When you love someone, there is nothing to forgive. Nothing to be bitter about. To love them is to accept their imperfections and accept the reasons why you cannot be together. When we each find another love, I will still thank his Mother for creating something so unbelievably divine. I will still thank the crappy situation in which we met. I will still thank the heartbreak for what it has given me.

Remembering him keeps me expressing the rawness of my emotions, keeps me from finding the solidarity discomforting and it sensitises me to the present. I am fulfilled with a kind of simple living. Any scratch of selflessness received I appreciate tenfold. I constantly find strength in my abilities. All of this from what people view as trauma and a closed door.

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John Green says “what a treacherous thing it is to believe that a person is more than a person”. I find him an idiot: a man who does not see the true value in relationships from the people that form them. Then again, he seems to religiously follow the joy of suffering over just joy, as many of us do. People cry in despair realising that love and associated heartbreak never leaves them. And I ask, why would you want it to? Have you realised the joys you can put on repeat, instead of the sorrows? Do you acknowledge what you have gained and learnt? Have you really loved and been loved?

The Revolution of Artistic Expression

Divulging the artistic and philosophical breakthrough of the late 19th century in Russia.

The late nineteenth century was a period of tremendous change as political empires broke up, nationalism arose, the power of the middle class replaced that of the aristocracy, and colonialism flourished. Literature emerged as the artistic medium that best expressed the social, economic, and philosophical concerns of the day, moving away from the issues and styles associated with Romanticism earlier in the century. Russian writers moved toward a new style called “realism” practiced by the major players Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Turgenev and Chekhov. Realists sought a truthful portrayal of contemporary life, a “slice of life,” from an objective viewpoint.

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The Peredvizhniki aimed to create art that represented contemporary Russian life and to bring art out of the capital and into the countryside- to the people- to create an art for the nation.

The symbolist movement in Russia is known as the Russian Silver Age (1892–1917), inspired by Baudelaire’s writings protesting that poetry become known as “symbolism.” Russian writers were strongly influenced by other Western exemplars such as Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Poe and Mallarmé. The writer Valeri Briusov was instrumental in introducing these Western works to the Russian audience. Rejecting positivism and materialism, Russian writers experimented with literary form and valued suggestion, intuition, and musicality in their work. Russian symbolists rejected the didactic depiction of the empirical world and conceived of a truer reality hidden by phenomenal experience. They believed that intuition was more important than objective knowledge.

The first symbolist movement cultivating both literature and artistic performance, thus broadening the spectrum, was via the Moscow Art Theatre. The Moscow Art Theatre or MAT was the first modern art theatre in Russia that united ethics and aesthetics on a sophisticated artistic level. At the end of the 19th-century, founders Konstantin Stanislavski and Nemirovich-Danchenko both wanted to reform Russian theatre to high-quality, expressive art that everyday society could access. It was paramount they endorsed free artistic expression and therefore were to eliminate the chances of the theatre being subservient to government control.

The pair set about creating a private theatre where Stanislavski managed the production process and Nemirovich concerned himself over the literary, intellectual decisions. Their differences proved to be complementary, and they agreed to initially divide power over the theatre, with Nemirovich in charge of the literary decisions and Stanislavski in charge of all production decisions. The theatre housed Chekhov’s first play, The Seagull, in 1898. The play successfully imitated an intimate portrayal of everyday life.


The MAT became the hub for the Moscow intelligentsia- a status class of educated people engaged in the complex mental labours that critique, guide, and lead in shaping the culture and politics of their society—where the audiences would stay on after premieres for a lecture on the play by a critic. After the lecture, lively topical discussions continued outside the theatre. They debated with particular passion. A reviewer in 1905 wrote “People with a deep spiritual wound go to the theatre. The theatre is the only place where a Russian citizen feels like a citizen, where he meets others like himself in the formation of public opinion”.

The Moscow Art Theatre continued to support the symbolist movement through its Chekhovian ceremonies and acclaimed Stanislavski productions. The movement was seconded by the likes of Bely, Kandinsky and Blok with whom presented art that expressed the inner self in a language of its own.

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Kandinsky’s Composition VII, 1913

How I Got Here

I speak the truth not so much as I would, but as much as I dare, and I dare a little more as I grow older.
– Michel de Montaigne

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Dirk Dzimirsky
Growing up in a five-person household where love and encouragement were aplenty but money, stability and staples were lacking, I was compelled to be a dreamer from an early age: a complete romanticist. I dreamed of being a ballerina, a superhero, an archaeologist, a writer, an artist, an Olympian. As an example, I enjoyed playing G.I. joes with my twin brother where the front-yard tap was located, pretending the running tap was a waterfall and the gush of water was a natural obstacle where few figurines survived. Not to mention the battle fought against the worms and the butchy boys. I remember watching the animation film Fern Gully and for days after at school, I attempted to grow beautiful gardens with nothing but a tree seed, my hands and belief!

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Danielle van Zadelhoff
Throughout all of my childhood, creativity was encouraged. Making mud pies, drawing up my own paper dolls, dancing six days a week, creating our own news reels. And wander: Dad and I would collect seashells; Mum would excitedly show me the city lights over the Westgate Bridge, calling them “fairy lights”. There was always magic and optimism and beauty and freedom of expression in everything around me. My imagination was unlimited and all consuming. I was happy making characters out of grapes and toothpicks; I was happy looking at art and seeing depth, colour and unknown endeavors.

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Henrietta Harris
As I grew up I kept romanticising, kept dreaming until it became an escape- an escape I never seemed to act on. Struggling with social pressures, I thought too much. I forgot patience. I then forgot how to create freely. I then forgot to accept mistakes and to appreciate failure. I forgot to waste time. The magic left me and I became no longer free. I had to prove who I was and what I was doing and why I was doing it. I traveled and was starving to be successful, trying to grasp the status I had worked so hard for. I wanted to prove myself so much in order to be understood.

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Flora Bursi
But I was a contradiction: hugely ambitious but transparent and not ego-driven. If I kept within social parameters, I was easily manageable. I struggled with false ideals, feeling more and more lost and inconsolable. I did not know what loving yourself was and I did not apply the notion of self-belief. Extremely confident and bubbly, passionate, curious, enthusiastic and intense. Yet that seemed to be the problem. Internally I was fighting anxiety, depression and insecurity, showcasing denial through a constant journey of “self-improvement”. I felt rejected and incredibly alone. I broke.

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Hussam El-Sayed
When I did, I realised I could not keep improving and searching for the next flaw to cure. There was no cure. I had to then break the mould. I learnt to be honest with myself. I would say it has been the most liberating aspect of my existence. From then on, I have stripped back the unnecessary layers of conditioning starting from my childhood through to intimate relationships through to current expectations and biases of a Western, 30 year-old corporate, single woman. Every day is a battle against comparison, conditioning, self-doubt and influence. It is exceptionally difficult to stay true to yourself, please note. It is a very lonely and confrontational journey, serving you more tears and joy than you would experience in a lifetime without it. You learn, however, to be present and to appreciate the simplest things. And you start to believe you are enough and discover exploration is interwoven in the fabric of living.

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James Jean
But it is an ongoing adventure of trial and error as you get closer and closer to being completely truthful. Recently, after twelve months of working for an income to support my start-up, it dawned on me more and more frequently that I had no time for living, for enjoying, for magic. I accepted I had lost all the freedoms which personify my character. Even though I was full of self-acceptance, my environment did not align with who I was. I was exhausted and miserable, living and breathing a societal norm that did not accept me (and I did not accept it). Feeling suppressed, I decided to return to the purest form of myself. I realised I was more than capable of fulfilling my dreams and enabling myself without any dependency. I taught myself to look outward and I changed my path: one which led me back to a more refined purpose consisting of wandering, connecting, immersing and absorbing. One where magic would reappear.

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Jeremy Miranda
This takes me now to the present. In two days, I leave for Moscow- a place exuding history, arts, philosophy and culture. The trip is indefinite and I hope to then move to Western Europe. Then possibly Eastern Europe. All I know is there will be an adventure of living and honesty. A whole cycle of emotions and thoughts to follow. Snow gently falling and haunting folk music and ornate, beautiful objects, and a new world full of people to meet. The harsh winters, the sometimes-not-so-great cuisines and the language barriers. I am returning to my authentic self. And it is a wonderful time to be curious.