Rubicon, Point of No Return

Rubicon, also known as Point of No Return (PNR) was a reference dating way back to Julius Caesar, at River Rubicon, where he had reached a point from which he could only move forward and continue on with his current course.

Rubicon is a notion that is ubiquitous in our daily lives: from aviation, to investment strategies, to the biological markup of who we are (called R points, beyond which “cells are committed to DNA synthesis and they no longer require the extracellular growth factors during the remainder of the cell cycle”). Perhaps the only place where Rubicon does not concretely exist, is in our brain, due to the brain’s neuroplastic nature. However, in order to safeguard our sanity, it is not uncommon for people to set up arbitrary mental Rubicons. For instance, to avoid losing all of myself in a romantic relationship, I would implement Rubicons as a signal to my obstinate self to GIVE UP when things are too far gone, and my heart too far broken. Once I’ve arrived at my designated Rubicon, where I fully accepted and embraced a future without my partner in it, then the relationship would start its imminent countdown to the expiration date.

Oh and, let’s not forget, there is also:
Death—the ultimate Rubicon, the most irrevocable commitment to action.

alea iacta est (“the die is cast”)

Caesar

Safe Haven

Healing is not linear.

Perhaps what is not commonly talked about during grieving is: the intense, razor-sharp reminders of the trauma associated with the person you are grieving. Because, relationships are not black and white. You could deeply love someone that has deeply hurt you.

Healing is not linear.

Some days are harder than others. They require much more self-regulating strategies beyond a meditation or even a walk. On days as such, like today, I go to my imaginary safe haven until I have convalesced enough to soldier on again.

On a meadow of luscious green grass, overlooking the ocean and the city, I hide.
Eyes closed, warmed by the gentle morning sun, my heart slows to the cadence of waves ebbing and flowing.
I take some deep breathes, inviting the crisp, dewy smell of early summer to fill my lungs, to displace the anxiety that parks stiffly there.

Her sadness was ceaseless, but she kept it quarantined in a governable little quarter of her heart. It was the best she could do.

The Signature of All Things
Memories are also a good place to hide


5 Stages of Grief

Sometimes I forget, for whom I am writing. I catch myself thinking about what people would like to read, about the voice that reads familiar in other blogs, then remember that the purpose of this blog, is to find my voice. I am not writing to please, not writing to be mainstream. I am just writing. Writing for the sake of writing. So here I am.

Tuesday, June

Sitting on my bed alone, I turned my phone on Do Not Disturb, so as to be alone with my thoughts. Silence befell the world. If only I could quiet my mind, too.

I am anxious and have been anxious for over a week now. I know why. It’s circumstantial. This is how my brain processes and reconciles with the imminent passing of my grandma. Except I have ugly old habits associated with anxiety: When anxiety comes flooding, raging, and all-consuming, all I want to do is run. Escape. As far away as possible. Every fibre of my being aches for a new reality, a new beginning. Too bad that’s not how life works. Too bad that’s not how we get over our anxiety, either.

So instead, I sit.
In abject misery, I sit.
Staring into the abyss, I sit.
Amid palpitating heart beat, I sit.
Enveloped in fear and angst, I sit.
I sit. I sit. I sit.
And wait.
Trusting that eventually I will move onto the next stage of Grief, finally arriving at Acceptance.

But until then I can only sit. Sit and wait. Sometimes with eyes wide open, mouth agape. Sometimes overtaken by tears, heart wrenched in a fist.

No body ever said grieving was pretty.

Time moves in one direction, memory in another.

William Gibson
No place to hide

Falling Out of Love

Sometimes, falling out of love feels like a gentle awakening from deep, sweet slumber. Bleary-eyed, the person you once fell in love with slowly emerges from reality. You rob your eyes to see them more clearly. Little by little, you realize they are no longer the person with whom you wish to co-create your life adventures. And you are okay with that. Sometimes, people grow apart. You still love them, just not in the same way.

Other times, falling out of love feels like sobering up from a night of heavy drinking. You wake up to your life in absolute disarray: food scraps all over the kitchen, empty bottles, scattered clothes. You look at yourself in the mirror: haggard, make-up smudged, hair unkempt. With a pounding headache you think to yourself, “What have I done?”

Whatever was left of the alcoholic “liquid magic” now only incite a metallic, repulsive aftertaste in your mouth. The thought of having another sip makes your stomach churn.

And that’s how you feel about the person you are in a relationship with, too.

The future you once imagined to be alluring now falls flat, unappealing, even daunting. “What have I done?” You think to yourself.

Some people come in our life as blessings. Some come in your life as lessons.

Mother Teresa

Our Warring Self vs. Loving Self

The beauty of the world which is so soon to perish, has two edges, one of laughter, one of anguish, cutting the heart asunder

Virginia Woolf

Within most of us, there is a lovingself, and a warringself. While our loving-self endows us with bottomless source of love, our warring-self shelters our hearts from the sometimes abrasive and hostile world. Undeniably, both of them serve a critical purpose in life. However, in order to not sever and wound the people we love, we need to be able to discern when to let our loving-self surface.

Hardened by reality, it is common for us to forget how to lay down our warring selves—especially when we are with those who are closest to us. We sometimes find ourselves in heated conversations with fingers pointing, guns blazing, occupying as much physical space as possible, only to camouflage how small we actually feel inside.

“Why can’t you just see that I am hurting?” We scream loudly and hopelessly in our heads. But only in our heads.

So HOW do we stop our warring, raging-self before we irrevocably damage the relationship? HOW do we summon our loving-self amid such blinding emotions?

It only takes a split second—a willful, courageous split second—to picture your loved ones as their child-selves: benevolent and hurt. Hurt. Because after all, anger, frustration, and resentment, are all byproduct of hurt and fear. If we can take a moment to see beyond the warring-self of our loved ones, then we could change the trajectory of the conversation, and even the entire dynamic of the relationship.

No, it is not easy. But nothing worth fighting for comes easy, does it?

Dichotomy Between Never and Forever

Lately, my mind has been riddled with the dichotomy between never and forever—both equally immutable, final, inconceivable. Are never and forever both stuck on the Event Horizon, imperceivable to us?

Penrose diagram of the complete, analytically extended Schwarzschild geometry

If I were to be brazenly honest, all these astrophysics and linguistic musings, are just my vain attempts to hide from my restless mind as I process and grapple with the gravity of my grandma’s rapidly deteriorating health, as well as the recent suicide attempt of someone whom I care deeply about.

I’d like to think that, at the end of this never, as in, never seeing my grandma again, somewhere on the other side of the Antihorizon, there is a forever.

The day which we fear as our last is but the birthday of eternity

Seneca

3 Tips on Rewiring Your Neuroplastic Brain to Be Happier

The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts

Marcus Aurelius

Our experiences that inform our perception of reality and our behaviour are built upon both explicit and implicit memories. Explicit memory, are the ones we can actively recall; whereas implicit memory, are much less articulable. They are our expectations, modes of relationships, emotional proclivities, and outlooks on life. Interestingly, many studies have shown that what shapes our perception of the world, are predominantly unconscious. In other words, in order to effectively and meaningfully rewire our brain for a more positive, optimistic, happier outlook, we need to consciously work on our subconscious.

1. Understand the Negativity Bias of Your Memory

In order to work on your subconscious, it is important to understand this: our memory has an innate, biological preference to not only hold onto, but also intensify, negative memory. Evolutionarily, this bias has been instrumental in keeping us safe, by preventing us from repeating the same mistakes, from traversing back into dangerous, hopeless territory.

The sheer act of recognizing and identifying how your memory gravitates and magnifies negative experiences will allow you to take a deep breathe when you are faced with a less pleasant experience, and to mindfully interrupt the pattern of intuitively cataloguing the negative aspects of this experience as the dominant, default baseline reaction for the future.

2. Actively Seek Out Good News

Besides Negativity Bias, we are also susceptible to two other biases: perceptual bias and response bias. Both of these biases happen when we are motivated to shape our perception to better suit our intents and purposes. To favourably utilize these biases in rewiring your brain, you can actively seek out good news; this will motivate and prime your perceptual and response biases to perceive and translate the received neurological signals positively.

3. Bask Yourself in Good News

Now that you have carefully curated and fostered more positive experiences, the final step is to securely fasten them onto your implicit memory, to your subconscious, so they become the intuitive, default physiological and psychological response for the future.

Since your implicit memory is derived from your emotions and bodily sensations, the key to fortifying and securing your positive experiences to fully immerse yourself in the visceral responses of them.

And there you have it—3 simple steps to a happier life!

Isn’t it humbling and mind-blowing to think that: every time we consciously work on our subconscious, we are literally, synapse by synapse, rewiring our brain?

Relish in moments like these🤍

4 Steps to Get Them to Commit to You

Are you in a serious relationship and wanting to move forward with your partner but they are not quite ready to fully commit to you? Then this post might offer you some insight!

Step 1. Find Yourself a Self-regulating Routine

Find at least one self-regulating routine that settles your thoughts, harbours your heart, shelters you while you process and heal. Diligently practice this routine until it is securely locked in, such that you can access this safe space for solace at will.

Step 2. Silence the Noises Around You

All our lives, we are surrounded by explicit and implicit social pressure to comport ourselves a certain way. It is important to silence the noises around you so you can discern whether your desire for settling down, for marriage, is truly what you want, instead of what you should want. Allow yourself to marinate in the discomfort of visualizing what it may be like in a myriad of scenarios.

With crude honesty, picture yourself in your old age, what do you see yourself doing? Are you salsa dancing with other old folks, laughing to your heart’s content? Are you meandering in and out of the streets of foreign cities, savouring the sweetness of exotic air? Are you held by your significant other, recounting the adventures you’ve had whilst planning for new ones? Are you surrounded by your children, who are probably adults now, organizing your next family vacation?

What do you see yourself doing? If the thought of having a family and a lifelong partner by your side brought a smile to your face, more so than the other scenarios, then proceed to Step 3. If not, then enjoy your relationship for what is it and what it isn’t. Life is too short to adhere to abstract societal expectations that don’t align with your own dreams.

Step 3. Have a Safe Conversation with Your Partner

First of all, a SAFE conversation means: no ultimatums, no judgement, no condemnation, no contempt, no guilt-tripping, no gaslighting, no threats.

Have a safe and honest conversation with your partner about what you are looking for in your relationship. Keep an open mind to actually hear what your partner has to say. Allow your partner the time and space to process because they most likely haven’t had as much time to think about this topic as you have. Agree upon a time to reconvene and finish the conversation if your partner needs more time.

When you reconvene, RESPECT your partner’s decision, even if it isn’t what you want.

If they come back, wanting to commit to you on their own accord, because the thought of not having you in their life hurt more than any other alternative, then congratulations to your happily ever after!

If they come back, not wanting to commit to a lifetime with you, know that it has nothing to do with your worth or theirs, and then proceed to Step 4.

Step 4. Let Go

Acceptance is a small, quiet room. You cannot change anyone else but yourself. Let your partner go. Repeat Step 1 until you no longer feel the void that your partner has left behind. Muster up some courage. Begin again.

Hope this helps!

His face had softened: as if just being a moment with her had relaxed him, allowed him to be someone different. I guess this is what marriage is, or was, or could be. You drop the mask. You allow the fatigue in. You lean across and kiss the years because they’re the things that matter.

How Do You Know If You Are Cherished?

Every human being needs to know what they’re fighting for. And he fought for her.

A Man Called Ove

One of the things I’ve decided to never settle for, is being cherished in a relationship. But being cherished is so subjective, so fluid, so abstract, how can I put it into concrete terms such that my partner can understand? While this may seem like a trite thought exercise, it has actually forced me to be brazenly honest about what is important to me.

1. Allocation of Resources

In this world where everything is a finite resource, be it: time, money, energy or affection, when the other person is willingly (NOT at your behest) offering you the best of their resources, that would be indicative of how important you are, how cherished you are.

For instance,

  • Do you get the best of their time, or what is left of it?
  • Do they spend time reading what you read, learning about what captivates your mind in order to better understand you, to grow with you?
  • When they can only afford one materialistic item, do they buy something for themselves or do they buy something for you?
  • Does your relationship feel like a quid pro quo wherein you have to protect and defend your own rights?

2. Loving You for You

  • Do you feel safe enough to be unapologetically you, knowing that you won’t be judged?
  • Are you loved because of your imperfections not despite of them?

3. Surrendering Their Ego

  • Are they willing to lay down their ego and have a vulnerable conversation with you?
  • Do they apologize even when they are not wrong, because no amount of ego is worth hurting you?
  • When push comes to shove, do they choose to take care of themselves or do they choose you?

By now you may think I am an unrealistic, hopeless romantic. To be fair, if it wasn’t because I have witnessed the aforementioned unfettered love from my own parents, as well as from a few other close friends, I may not have believed such love exists, either. Alas, what has been seen cannot be unseen—to cherish and be deeply cherished is a non-negotiable.

Friends that know you need some TLC🤍