Facing Loss

“The pressure of adversity does not affect the mind of the brave man… It is more powerful than external circumstances.”

– Seneca

I enjoyed, and still enjoy today, running, but I despised the difficulties faced when running with standard headphones.  The earbud would fall out of my ear every 2 or 3 steps, my arms tend to swing like a pendulum when I run, which thusly pulled on my headphone cord every 2 or 3 pumps, resulting in a fiesta of ear-tearing and general frustration.  I quickly learned to run without headphones, without music.  Two years ago, on a random Friday, I cashed my combined paychecks from working in the Electronics Department at Target and concocting Starbucks-guided beverages to supplement my first major purchase: Plantronics Backbeat Fit Bluetooth Headphones.  These headphones revolutionized the way I ran.  No more frustrating ear-tearing!  The headphones sat perfectly in my ears, allowed free range of arm movement, and were my favorite color as well!
Well, after two years of constant use, my headphones have finally taken an abrupt leave from my life.  Last night, when I was walking with a friend, my headphones fell from around my neck at some point.  When I realized the loss, my initial reaction wasn’t that of a distressed individual, but one of a collected mind.  I calmly searched through my camera bag, didn’t find them, searched through my laptop bag, didn’t find them, searched my pockets, and didn’t find them.  My friend was relatively worried about them, more worried than I was.  In fact, my worries never even surfaced.
What is the point to stressing over things that cannot be changed?  I can’t reverse time (not yet) to stop them from falling, nor can I bring them back into my life with a snap of the fingers.  I retraced my steps to no avail, but that’s okay.  I don’t get upset when I look down into an empty mug of delicious coffee, nor did I become hysterical when my backpack containing all my electronics was stolen on a bus going to Frankfurt, Germany.  I didn’t even remain upset for more than a half hour when I lost my almost-filled-up journal that contained postcards from every city I visited.  Everything in this universe harbors an inherent transient quality.  We live, we die.  Things are obtained, things are lost.  This is the reality that we all live in.
Every emotion is validated just by being a fleeting feeling.  I get upset.  I get angry.  I can be immensely annoyed.  But these feelings are temporary, dissipating just as they arise.  I’ll dwell on what is negatively impacting my life at the moment, and more often than not, realize that it is only temporary and that I have the power of mandating my own emotions towards said negative thing.  This doesn’t mean developing a “No Fucks Given!” attitude; that is the exact opposite of how one should deal with loss.  To care for an individual, thing, place, etc. is one of the most significant actions and traits that we have been privileged in life.  To become upset in the face of loss is normal, truly humane.  It infers a loss behind the tears and outrage.  When it can become destructive is when loss, grief, and incense occupy the mind.  Free up thought space in the mind for more relevant thoughts, such as creating enterprises, designing the optimal life, and “What am I going to eat for dinner?”.
While loss of anything remains relevant for a brief period in time, our lives continue forth on their journeys.  Everyday there are people making wonderful experiences and people that are dealing with tragedies.  What is the true difference between these two types of days?  Is it not correct that one can face a heart-wrenching tragedy on the same day that one experiences real delight and happiness?  Change the outlook, change the day.
Facing Loss

a Lesson on Learning Languages

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

– Theodore Roosevelt, Citizenship In A Republic, delivered at the Sorbonne, in Paris, France23 April, 1910

Español Terrible

Without hesitation, I can freely admit that my español is terrible.  Maybe “middling”  at best.  Weekly Spanish lessons have propagated a sharp increase in my everyday, conversational speech, but the eureka sensation has yet to sprout.  On my own, I read poems written by the likes of Federico García Lorca and Alejandra Pizarnik, with the aid of SpanishDict! and Google Translate.  Actually, this is how I came to the realization that when compared to English, Spanish is completely backwards!  When everyone around you is speaking the language that you’re still in the process of learning, it’s almost impossible to be immune to the pangs of inadequacy, or even stupidity.  The common Spanish phrases that are used to inoculate these pangs are “tranquilo” and “poco a poco”.  The sentiment is present, though if you’re anything like me,  these phrases will frustrate more than alleviate grammatical vexations.

I am ambitious.  I fancy to attain fluency in a matter of weeks after first initialization, so maybe I’m more impatient than anything else.  However, if I have learned anything about language-learning whilst traveling and living abroad, it would have to be that to learn, one must practice.

Fail at speaking the language!

Practicing What I Preach

The plane alighted in Sofia, Bulgaria around 1AM.  De-boarding was relatively easy since I only travel with carry-on luggage, as well as the time was late enough for the tiny airport to not receive too much air traffic.  I managed to find a taxi driver almost immediately, or rather, he found me.  The drive to the hostel was super quick and light.  Neither the taxi driver nor I had much to say to each other.  In fact, even when we got to the hostel and I was duly ripped-off on the price — a price that is extremely laughable — I didn’t exchange more than a few words with him.  This isn’t because of the time, our individual moods, nor due to a mutual, instantaneous disdain for one another.  The onslaught of silence was perpetuated by the lack of possible words that we could’ve said to each other that would be understood.  It may come as a surprise, but the Bulgarian dialect and the English language are completely different!  The alphabets are different from each other too!  How could we possibly have had a conversation when I couldn’t even say “hello” in the native tongue?

Well, when I got inside the hostel, I was determined to right that wrong.  For five minutes upon first introductions, I had the hostel receptionist repeat “hello” in Bulgarian until I could accurately pronounce it.  This was at 2AM.  Bless her soul, she is a trooper for dealing with my curious antics at such an early hour.

Over the following two weeks, I acquired some basic words, greetings, and questions to add to my Bulgarian language repertoire.  I committed a TON of errors, but I wouldn’t have progressed without asking questions and speaking the language. 

I then translated this working theory into learning basic Turkish, Italian, and Slovenian.  While I am not fluent in any of the four languages, I was able to understand the  conversational flow for each of them.  This was incredibly eye-opening, as well as entertaining, considering the amount of time I spent in each country.

Ambition doesn’t prohibit humility or modesty.

Re-read that last sentence again.  It can be tailored for any and all goals and aspirations.


I might have a dismal Spanish vocabulary and grammatical knowledge, but I am comfortable with speaking, writing, and reading in Spanish.  I might not have attained fluency yet, but I have accepted my own deficiency.

Fallar, preguntar, probar, y mas importante, estar humilde.

Related Links

pizarnik__alejandra_-_poesia_completa – Poesia Completa by Alejandra Pizarnik.  A huuuugggggeeeee pdf to read at your own leisure.

http://www.hostelmostel.com/ – The best hostel in Sofia, as well as Veliko Tarnovo.  A bit biased, but oh well!

http://www.spanishdict.com/ – AHHHHHH, the more precise and accurate alternative to Google Translate.  This company has a mobile application that works offline as well!  Perfect for wandering through any Spanish-speaking country.

Здрасти (‘zdrasti) ZDRAHS-tee – hello (informal) in Bulgarian.


a Lesson on Learning Languages