inspiration, life, motivation, Uncategorized

The beauty of a pause

open air 2

Starting a series of Tango-related photos with one at the opening night of the new milonga, La Veraniega. Nothing is more beautiful than dancing under the open sky with a generous amount of wind on an unpretentious basketball court, with familiar Tango melodies playing off vinyl records

Happy first post of 2016! I hope the first month of the year has been fantastic for you so far. Summer is getting really hot and humid here in Buenos Aires (hello mosquitoes, mehhhh) but I’m always more of a sunshine girl so I’m not complaining 🙂

Last year this time, I just arrived in Rosario, Argentina for barely a week. It has been a year since I embarked on this new journey and new way of living. It is surreal, thinking back to the courage and conviction I had then to drop everything for this gravity defying move.

One year down the road, I’m still in the same country, albeit a different city. I’m currently nestled in one of my favourite cafes here in Buenos Aires, writing this entry that I would have never imagined penning. I thought I would have visited and stayed in at least 3 countries as I had planned, have exhausted my entire travelling kitty fund and might have moved back to Singapore to embark on a new career. I might have gone back to my banking job. I might have started a new way of working given my normadic lifestyle. I might even have eloped with a man for love ;p I thought I would have gained endless amount of wisdom and happiness. I thought, and I thought, and I thought.

It had been a fanatical year, and a big, grand one indeed. When they say life always works in opposition, it’s absolutely true – we can never predict or control what life throws at us next. It is also true how powerful yet powerless we human beings are – there are so many great things we can do, but also so many things that we cannot control.

cafe vinilo

One of my favourite milongas, the unpretentious and hippie Cafe Vinilo, has re-opened its doors again! (credits to the person who took this lovely shot)

When I first got back to Buenos Aires from Singapore, I was desperately searching for my purpose of being here. I had no frigging idea, except knowing that I wasn’t ready to be back in Singapore. I felt the compelling need to define myself. It sucked feeling like a useless bum who was “floating around”, “wasting” money day after day instead of doing something constructive that was “value-adding” to a supposedly fruitful and productive life. Never mind that I was learning Spanish from zero, never mind that I was learning to dance Tango from scratch, never mind that I was learning new things about myself. I just could not see concrete contributions and it was pulling me down.

Perhaps, I saw how my friends were progressing materially when I was briefly back in Singapore and got terrified. They had achieved so much socially in less than a year, but time seemed to have stood still for me. Plus the guilt I felt towards my family. Then I met people whom I had held in high regards disagreeing with my way of life. In some sense, I was seeking for approval but didn’t get any. Truth be told, I felt unsupported. I felt alone. I felt inferior. I felt scared, small and stupid. Really stupid. And in a bid to protect myself, my defence mechanism was triggered and I desperately wanted control of the situation. I tried “forcing” a meaning to the path I was taking.

The need for security, albeit a false sense of it, was taking over me.

Obviously, anything that goes by force will never be sustainable. For the last couple of months, I subconsciously sold myself back to my fear of things. Fear of being useless. Fear of getting hurt. Fear of the unknown. Fear of being stupid. Fear of being judged. Fear of loneliness. Fear that I will never be loved. Fear of the other zillion and one things the universe threw at me. And the scariest part of it all was that I didn’t realise I was fearing so much because it was so easy to be eaten up by it.

Unconsciously, I got myself stuck in a pathetic, miserable rut. I probably had the label “Miss Grumpy” plastered all over my face and “Grouch” was definitely suitable as my middle name.

I got increasingly fed up with things and myself. My attempts at finding answers were really not working and the frustration escalated at an alarming rate.

It sucked. Really sucked.

I was desperate. And annoyed. AND PISSED LIKE HELL.

DNI

Caught in action, looking *very* serious

But here’s the irony. A fiery and wild heart sometimes brings miracles. *sheepish grin*

It was the same frustration that ousted me out of my self-imposed prison. I remember waking up one morning severely in need of fresh air and new space in my head. And because I felt so trapped and sick in the guts, I recklessly stuck my head out of the rut and gasped my first breath of oxygen in a long time.

AND DAMN, IT FELT SO GOOD.

At that very same moment, I realised how thick-headed I had been. I didn’t want to torture myself anymore; I needed a break from all these heavy duty stuff. I wanted to go with my heart and have fun again.

Comedic as it may sound, the solutions presented themselves right up my alley the moment I stopped trying to find them. When I decided to embrace the uncertainty and let go. It was akin to a fog clearing since the paths had been there all along. I just never realised that they were there.

That’s when I learnt that a moment of stillness is not necessarily a bad thing after all.

De Querusa 2

De Querusa

Dancing with a great lead at De Querusa

And of course, I found another teacher in the dance, Tango. It has also played a big part in teaching me appreciate the beauty of a pause, allowing me to learn that I do not need answers to everything. At least not now.

It is a paradox since I had earlier intentionally wanted to move away from Tango. I had a ton of sentiments associated with it that I wanted to erase from my memory. But as the old wise saying goes, what you resist always persists ;p

What can a girl do when the fight is futile? I decided to let go and let it be. I stopped resisting and controlling how I was supposed to feel, and faced the feelings that I had been avoiding squarely instead. I know it sounds scary, but guess what? I not only found the beauty of the dance again, but also got reminded of why I fell in love with it in the first place. Perhaps this is what Love is – to keep trusting what we believe about someone or something, and to keep letting the negative associations go.

I’ve allowed vulnerability to take over me again as I danced. I started going with the flow of things. I used to fear the suspense of a pause, the discomforting moment when I felt helpless because I had absolutely no clue to what the next move would be.

Now, I am learning to embrace the suspense. When my partner stops, I stop with him. When he pauses, I give him that extra second more to communicate with me. When he builds the suspense, I build it up with him. When he does something to surprise me, I create the space and allow him to deliver the magic.

It all happens in split seconds. And it has been incredibly funnn 🙂

I found myself enjoying the dance so much more. So playful, endearing, fluid and intensely exciting. I especially love it when the moves are firm yet gentle, definite yet light-hearted. Oh, and the magical embrace and connection. I feel like I am having an exclusive conversation with my partner, and that beauty is priceless.

La Bici

At La Bicicleta

Embracing the pause has also taught me to hold and occupy my space. In the course of it, I have inevitably learnt to trust myself, that I will know what to do when the next moment comes.

The idea of letting go, and of giving space to allow things to enter, are invaluable gems that I’ve gained these days.

It’s ironic, it really is. More often than not, we keep our hearts closed, especially when we are hurt to prevent ourselves from getting marred further. Letting go and being vulnerable sound like the dumbest things to do. But when I threw myself out into the open again, it has, on the contrary, given me a new sense of strength, courage, and liberation. And having new-found space has allowed me to create new things and to see unbiased, unadulterated answers. It has given me new energies.

Where did I find all that courage and strength? I have no idea. It just came.

Where did the hurt go?  I have no idea. It just disappeared. Maybe, I allowed myself to be open and started seeing people for who they are again. When we focus outwards to others and recognise that life doesn’t just revolve around ourselves, the negativities often melt away.

So many times, things happen to make us doubt our visions. We start questioning our beliefs and in ourselves. We wonder if trusting the good is stupid. If being open, vulnerable and loving are just naïve and foolish concepts that hopeless idealists believe. That goodness is overrated and we need to guard our possessions and our forts.

That we need to be selfish.

I probably lived the last couple of months in this manner. And I was absolutely miserable.

Because deep down, I know this is not what I wanted and believed. To me, a life and world filled with generosity, love, compassion and passion is so much more worth living.

canning

A world-renowned milonga that I have come to love, Salon Canning

In the last few months, I’ve learnt to live so much with myself, for myself and by myself. I’ve had miserable times with myself. I’ve had fights with myself. I’ve also had beautiful moments with myself. I’ve literally, been in a relationship with myself and the journey of accepting me for who I am has been a rocky road well-travelled. The good and the bad, the naughty and the nice.

And now that I have once again chosen to embrace my life and open my heart to everything again, I know that I’ve made this choice despite everything I’ve experienced. There’s no need for external validation, there’s no need for others to tell me whether it is right or wrong. Because it’s simple; nothing, absolutely nothing, can destroy my vision of how a beautiful life should be.

It has given me the excitement, motivation and desire to believe in all the things I had lost sight in for a while.

I couldn’t have seen all these if I hadn’t allowed myself that break and appreciate the beauty of a subtle pause. A moment to breath, a moment of respite, a moment of silence from the deafening crowd.

The same pause has allowed me to reconnect with the present and see the answers I have been seeking all along.

I now remember why I made my bold move to embark on this journey in my quest for autonomy and freedom – time to be back in action.

IMG_20160121_175152.jpg

My latest favourite workplace, Libros del Pasaje in Palermo. Plus a douse of gorgeous sun 

P.S. I love summer, I really do. It’s now 8pm and I’m still shrouded in sunlight. Life is good 🙂

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