Reason #36 to Keep Living: Pain

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This winter has been the easiest for me in years. I’ve methodically incorporated wellness techniques into my schedule, including journal writing, daily gratification, a sunlamp, healthy eating (most of the time), consistent exercise, and medication. I have been efficient, productive, and social. I have been everything Western society claims one must be to achieve success.

But have I been successful? I haven’t written anything seriously my own in nearly a year. Worse than that, I haven’t wanted to write anything seriously my own. The desire to write comes sometimes, briefly, like the rank smell of cigarettes on the wind, and then drifts on by me. I write what I need to in order to get through my university courses, but my heart doesn’t settle deeply within the words like it always used to. Continue reading

“Your race is appallingly alone in its world. No other mammalian species. No other ambisexual species. No animal intelligent enough even to domesticate as pets. It must color your thinking, this uniqueness. I don’t mean scientific thinking only, though you are extraordinary hypothesizers … But philosophically, emotionally: to be so solitary, in so hostile a world: it must affect your entire outlook.”

— Ursula K. Le Guin, The Left Hand of Darkness

Reason #35 to Keep Living: Comfort, Coziness, and Cats

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It has taken me the past four years or so to realize the importance of physical comfort and coziness. Oh, and did I mention cats? Cats always help. Always.

If you study the picture above, you’ll see a squishy armchair, two blankets, a window letting in light from outside, a book, and two cats. These are all elements that make up my own personal coziness. You’ll have your own recipe for comfort and coziness, and that’s fine. Not everybody likes cats. Continue reading

Reason #34 to Keep Living: Education

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If I have it my way, the next half of this blog-series will become somewhat of a travel blog, documenting my adventures finding work in countries other than Canada. Travel, as you know from past blog posts, is one of the central reasons I stay alive. I find value in it not only from its pleasure, but also from its inherent educational tendencies. Every time I travel, my brain stretches and my heart grows a little bigger.  Continue reading

“Did you not call this a glorious expedition?

“And wherefore was it glorious? Not because the way was smooth and placid as a southern sea, but because it was full of dangers and terror, because at every new incident your fortitude was to be called forth and your courage exhibited, because danger and death surrounded it, and these you were to brave and overcome. For this was it glorious, for this was it an honourable undertaking.”

— Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, Frankenstein

Reason #32 to Keep Living: Being an Artist, Being a Woman

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I have recently embarked on the journey of being a prose reader for a literary magazine that focuses on the stories and sufferings of abused women. I at first thought (to my genuine embarrassment) that this was a paid position. On learning that it was not, and that in fact no one working for this magazine is paid, I was at first upset, and then angry, and then grateful. Continue reading

Reason #31 to Keep Living: Resolutions on Illness

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I sometimes feel that I write too often about sickness, endurance, and healing. When will the illness, the writing about the illness, end? What will the resolution be? Will there be a resolution? Can there be? Then I remember that sickness, endurance, and healing are what this blog series is all about. It’s only natural that sickness should rear its malformed, energy-sucking, laughing head every once in a while.

I’ve had the sensation lately of reaching for an unreachable summit, a height so unattainable it exceeds my vision. I feel as if I’ve tried everything and exhausted all of my options. I’ve tried therapy, medication, meditation, exercise, yoga, sunlamps, journals — the list goes on. But, like I’ve mentioned in previous posts, mental illnesses and many other sicknesses are never resolved easily, and it is only patience and endurance that create healing.  Continue reading

“For a couple of minutes, his head bowed in an expression of mental effort, he stood motionless with the revolver in his hands and considered. ‘Of course,’ he said to himself, as if a logical, continuous and clear train of thought had brought him to an unquestionable conclusion. In fact, this ‘of course’ that he found so convincing was only the consequence of a repetition of exactly the same round of memories and notions that he had already gone through a dozen times within the hour. It was the same memory of happiness lost for ever, the same notion of the meaninglessness of everything he saw ahead of him in life, the same consciousness of his humiliation.”

— Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina

Translation by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky