Hi there, can I talk to you on something rather heart-crushing today? I have to remind myself that I’ve made progress and that I’m doing my best. Last week was a tough week for a lot of people, just as tough as any other week I presume. Kate Spade, the little sister of our queen (of the Netherlands) and Anthony Bourdain took their own life last week. I do not know these people personally. Yet, it was yet another heartbreaking reminder that things like money, success, fame, and opportunity do not change what is happening in your head. A reminder that we need to take care of our mind, just as much as our body. We need to throw out the “what do you have to be depressed about” mindset in ourselves and our society.

Hear me out, I do not want to talk about mental illness right now. I never want to glorify mental illness. I never want to tone down the severity of mental illness. And I do not want to explain more about my own mental state in this post. Right now I am not quite sure how to put into words how I feel about this personally. Heck, I feel like there is hardly any need for me to add words to all this so maybe I shouldn’t. But I hope the grim public stories remind you that there are so many more sad stories that don’t make the headlines. Please, please, please (!) be kind to yourself and the people around you. Be watchful of those you love, including yourself. You never know what people are going through.

That being said, I do really want to talk about doing the things that make you feel alive, and like you’re in touch with yourself — in a really good sense. I want to discuss that when whatever is getting to you… there’s ways to deal. Even though you don’t feel like that. For me, a big one (next to therapy, medication and thoughtful friends and family members) was books. Oh books! Glorious, glorious books!!

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“If someone puts to you the question ‘How is the name Antonius spelt?’, will you shout your way through each of the syllables? What then if they get angry? Will you lose your temper too? Will you not rather calmly go through the sequence of letters, telling each one in turn? So also in your life here remember that every duty is the completed sum of certain actions. You must observe these, without being disconcerted of answering others’ resentment with you own, but following each purpose methodically to its end.”

Sometimes I wish I had studied philosophy. Maybe even just as an elective in high school so that I felt like I had a decent foundation of knowledge. But alas, I have never. The only thing close to “studying philosophy” is when I am a bit too tipsy and start questioning life and its meaning and try to engage with the people around me. Other times is when I read an exceptional book like Meditations from Marcus Aurelius. Manalive. All that being said, I am probably not the most qualified person to discuss Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations. At the same time however, I too am a person trying to navigate through life, does that not make me qualified already? So bear with me, while I organise my thoughts… and please, don’t hesitate to disagree.

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“Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear” by Elizabeth Gilbert, yes the woman from that horrible, cheesy ‘Eat, Pray, Love’-fest that took 3 hours from my life…twice, voluntarily (it almost seems like I LIKED this story, doesn’t it?). Don’t get me wrong, I can be an intensely cynical person and I’d love to hate on books like ‘Big Magic’ just like I did with ‘Eat Pray Love’ — but I just can’t. I’m a sucker for passionate, creative and somewhat-romantic ideologies. Even if it took me over a year to finish this damned book. Wonders never cease, huh?

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